Going to Paris

Matt and I are going to Paris on Sunday for a week. It will be Matt’s first trip to France — and, in fact, his first trip to a country where the main language isn’t English. I was in Paris for three days when I was a teenager, but that was years ago and it’s kind of a blur in my mind. (Here are some photos I took of Jason Bateman in Paris.)

We’ll be landing in Paris Monday morning, and flying back the following Sunday evening. In addition to Paris itself, we also plan to visit Versailles — as well as Disneyland Paris. Matt and I are Disney theme park nuts, so we couldn’t go to Paris without seeing it. Part of me feels like it’s a waste of a day when we could be seeing more world-renowned treasures, but I’m sure it will be fun, and there are some rides and attractions there that the other Disney parks don’t have.

Even though I’m really looking forward to the trip, I’ve been stressing out about it lately. In fact, I’ve been stressed out because I’ve been looking forward to it. I’m worried we won’t have time to see everything I want to see. But I also don’t want to feel rushed. I’ve made a mental list of things I definitely want to do, which should help. (Matt doesn’t really have any must-sees other than Disneyland Paris — he’s cool with whatever.)

I love history, so last week I started reading a book about the history of Paris: Seven Ages of Paris, by Alistair Horne. It’s longer than I’d realized – 422 pages, with smallish print — and I’d been hoping to finish it before we left for our trip, so I could know as much as I could about the history of the various sites before we got there. So I was sort of stressing about that, too.

But yesterday I realized that I’ve been treating our trip to Paris like some sort of exam. I don’t need to know everything about a site before we go there. That’s what guidebooks are for. I can read more about it after. Matt gets stressed out enough about travel; I don’t need to add to it.

So I’m going to try to just chill the hell out about all of this and try to enjoy myself. When you travel, it helps to go with the flow, and to not worry too much if things don’t go according to plan. Part of the point of traveling is having new, unexpected experiences. You can’t plan everything out ahead of time.

And it’s not just a city of the past: it’s a city of the present. People live there. We’ll want to spent time just people-watching, and taking in the atmosphere of the city.

And after all, it’s supposed to be a vacation. So I’m going to try to just enjoy what happens.

Capturing Memories Through Flight Tracking

If you follow my Twitter feed, you know that I was in Santa Fe last week. I was there for a work conference and I annoyingly Foursquared and tweeted my way through everything.

I get romantic and wistful when I fly on airplanes. I get daydreamy and introspective as I fly above the earth and look down at the vast landscape beneath me. I love sitting at the window and staring down at everything. On this trip I flew through Dallas, so part of my trip was Dallas< -->Santa Fe. The plane flew over numerous crop irrigation circles and isolated north Texas towns, and I imagined all the people living in those little places. People I will never meet, towns I will never visit. It makes me sad that I’ll never meet them. I spot what is probably a high school football field, and I imagine everyone from the town and the nearby farms getting together there on Friday nights for high school football games. They live in these self-contained places where everyone knows who everyone else is. I wouldn’t really want to live there. But it still makes me wistful.

I see a small town, and then a long, straight road that must go on for a couple of miles, and then at the end of the road I see another small town. I’ll never know what towns they were.

But no. The thing is, with the internet, I really can see those places again. I can see the flight path I took, and I can click on the Google Earth link and see my flight path in Google Earth and zoom in on the towns I probably flew over. Maybe I was looking at Tulia, Texas, and Happy, Texas?

It’s so cool that with the internet, we can capture these moments and memories and places that used to just flow through our fingers like sand before disappearing forever. Now we can revisit them. I love it.


Tomorrow I’m heading to Montreal for a few days in order to spend the first night of Passover with my brother’s inlaws. Once again I’m pulling out my suitcase and my toiletry kit; I’ve done so much more traveling in the last few months than I’ve done in ages, with more to come in the next few months:

October 2010 – Walt Disney World
November – Tennessee (visited Matt’s family)
February 2011 – Houston, TX (business trip)
March – Charlottesville, VA (glee club reunion)
April – Kiawah Island, SC (business trip); Montreal

June – Pittsburgh, PA (business trip)
July – Santa Fe, NM (business trip); Delaware (family vacation)

I love traveling, so this is a good thing. It’s just that it’s… a lot!

My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada

Tomorrow morning I’m going to Banff, Alberta, Canada, for a business conference. (I can’t help but think of Avenue Q when I think of Alberta.) I fly into Calgary via Houston. Why Houston? No fricking clue. I’m flying south to go north. (On the way back I fly through Minneapolis, which will be much better.) Then once in Calgary, I take a two-hour airport shuttle to the hotel in Banff.

So it will be a long journey… but it should be beautiful once I get there. I wish Matt could come with me, but it’s one of his busier times of the year and he can’t get away.

I’ll miss him, even if it’s only for a few days.