Saturday, January 18, 2020

After the magic

The dawn will send me on a chase to nowhere
Why cry as if I were the first to go there

It’s past the midpoint of January and my cold hasn’t quite let go.

I probably didn’t do matters any good by dragging my sick self all over the Disney realm and the rest of Orlando.

A quick look back at the trip.

We had a crazy early flight. OK, boarding was at 7 something am, but that still meant I set the alarm for 4 am to have time to caffeinate myself properly for the journey.

Despite the caffeine, I slept through the flight. I slept on the runway. I slept in the air, I slept while we taxied after landing.

We caught Disney’s Magical Express to the Coronado Beach Resort, where Luke and Blake were already ensconced. We checked in, had lunch, and spent the afternoon by the pool, where I dozed in the sun. I have to say, that part was lovely.

In the late afternoon we took a bus to Magic Kingdom, where we stopped at Guest Relations to iron out some details. I exchanged my last 22 year old park pass for a new one. Once upon a time, park tickets didn’t expire.

From there we rode the monorail to the Contemporary hotel for a wild and crazy character dinner at Chef Mickey’s. The food was good, that is one thing Disney consistently does well.

Luke’s plan for the next day, Friday, was to wake at 5 am to catch a 6 am bus to Hollywood Studios, to be at the park when it opened at 7 am to get a group number for one of the Star Wars rides, Rise of the Resistance. (The ride sold out by 7:01 am.) Neil was planning to go with Luke and Blake. I said, I’ll sleep in and meet you at the park sometime later in the morning.

As it turned out, Neil had some tummy trouble, so after a fitful night, he called Luke at 5 am and changed the plan. Luke and Blake went ahead, we caught up with them later.

It was a sticky 86 degrees and the park was packed with families with kids still on holiday break. Lines for the other Star Wars ride, Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run, were 2 to 3 hours long, with no fast passes. We had lunch in Toy Story land, the boys rode some spinning cup ride and then it was time for Luke and Blake to build a couple of droids, for which, weeks ahead, Neil had somehow managed to reserve the last available time slot. Neil and I helped Blake, who totally enjoyed himself.

Then Neil spent the equivalent of his first Shell paycheck on four cups of blue and green milk, which was something like a cross between indistinctly flavored tapioca pudding and plain vanilla yogurt.

Luke’s group number was never even called for the Star Wars ride. We were all pretty tired by mid-afternoon, so we decided to ride the cable cars, which run from Hollywood Studios to some of the resorts and from there on to Epcot. The cable cars were my favorite ride on my first visit to the World in 1997. They were torn down before my next visit but recently were re-imagineered. They did not disappoint.

Our plot was to wind up at Epcot where we thought we could grab a bus back to our resort. As it turned out, we were on the opposite side of the park from the buses and would have needed park tickets to pass through. Instead, we caught a boat back to Hollywood Studios, which turned a mistake into another fun experience. Who knows where the time goes, because by the time we reached our rooms it was getting dark and time for dinner.

The next day, Saturday, we made a decision to sleep in and have a late breakfast at the hotel before heading to Magic Kingdom. On the bus ride over, down came the rain. We got quite soaked, sprinting from bus stop to park entrance to shelter on Main Street USA. The rain eventually stopped but the day stayed gray and cold. Happily there was a Starbucks on Main Street, with typical Starbucks prices. They even let me pay with the app. Yay for stars. Blake rode the carousel and then we stood in line for a few rides, Pirates of the Caribbean, Small World, the Barnstormer. We took pictures with Ariel and went on the Under the Sea ride, which (contrary to my misconception) was not an actual underwater ride in a submarine but a track ride in a clam shell car.

The boys drove race cars at the Tomorrowland Speedway and we all rode the Transit Authority People Mover and watched a Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor show. We had fast passes for the Haunted Mansion, which naturally meant we sawed the park in two again. Blake was amazingly good the entire time, except for a couple of minor bumps and bruises, and wanting to be carried a lot, but only by Luke. We walked out of the Haunted Mansion just as the fireworks show began, and we had a great spot to view it, so that was a nice end to the day. We bused back to our rooms and had a late dinner at the resort. And then it was time to forget the magic.

Sunday started slowly but the pace picked up. Luke and Blake were headed home, via Disney’s Magical Express and more conventional means of transport. Neil and I checked out, checked our bags with the bell desk, and caught a bus to Disney Springs, home of the erstwhile Disney Marketplace and a slew of new trendy shops. From there we crossed a pedestrian bridge to the Hilton hotel where we picedk up a rental car. We drove that car right back to Disney Springs where I window shopped mostly while Neil found a Starbucks.

I did buy a hoodie at Uniqlo (marked down 50 percent), because the store had nicely made apparel at non-Disney prices, even though I don’t need another hoodie, but let’s not go there. We also sat out by the lake and soaked up some sun and I willed it to bake away my residual respiratory malaise.

Eventually we made our way to the African Kingdom Lodge, where we traditionally go to see the exotic animals and eat at the “flavors of Africa” restaurant. That’s probably politically incorrect, if not downright racist, but it is what it is, and we’re creatures of habit.

Monday was more or less a free day. We visited two yarn stores where I admired much and bought nothing. Neil went to view some coins and bid on some auctions. We wound up our last night in Orlando at Cape May at the Beach Club Resort for the seafood buffet, another of our Disney traditions. A vague plan to ride the cable cars one more time was thwarted by discouragingly cold temperatures.

On Tuesday we just had enough time to sit in the sun at a park before going to the airport and home.

I coughed so much that I pulled something in my rib cage, so I’ve been coddling myself since getting home, resting a lot. Knitting. A lot.

Lace! And time to buy proper blocking mats and pins.
I saw my therapist again. I’m not sure how she can help me. My sessions are a lot like this blog. I talk about my longing for things that I am missing, while expressing how conscious I am of all that I do have, how I have all the most important things, and how much gratitude I feel for what I do have.

She makes sensible suggestions for how I can seek more of what I want, more visits to my children, more activities - a gym, volunteer work, classes, meetup groups - to meet potential friends. I agree, I throw up roadblocks, I procrastinate, I waffle. She says it’s up to me, I’m doing it for my sake, not hers.

I know all this.

Strangely, you’d think I had nothing but time. And yet the days fly. It’s easy when Neil is around. We make a plan. We see a movie (Little Women) (my thoughts about this to follow). We go to Sam’s or Publix for supplies. We get Starbucks or smoothies. We take walks. We read (just finished up Dick Francis for now, back to Red Stout). We watch telly (Howard’s End, Sanditon, The Good Place, Miracle Workers).

I walk on the treadmill. I cobble together dinners. I load the dishwasher. I do laundry. I read (Drums of Autumn). I go to my two yarn groups and other yarn-related happenings. I write email. I write here a bit. I look at Instagram and Facebook and the news.

There is no spare time.

OK, my thoughts about Little Women 2020. It feels like only yesterday when the last remake (with Susan Sarandon and Wynona Ryder) was released, but in reality it was 1994, although there was a very good BBC version released in 2017 that aired in the USA last year. I did not love the 2020 version. I especially did not love the timeline jumping. Why did the movie start near the end of the book? Why was Beth alive, then dead, then alive? What did that add to the story beyond confusion?

In the 1994 version, I didn't like the fact that two very different actresses portrayed Amy, but I also didn't like that one actress played Amy in 2020, or at least I didn't like the actress cast, who was unconvincing as the child Amy, and unappealing as the grown up Amy (her Oscar nomination indicates that my opinion isn't universal). There were other casting choices that I questioned, notably Laurie, but many that I liked, including Marmie, Meg, Jo, and Beth.

The last thing I'll say is that I didn't appreciate how the movie strongly implies that Jo's own romance was invented because readers demanded happily-ever-after endings. While it's true that Louisa May Alcott never married, in the book, Jo does fall in love (and gets married and has a family in the sequels). The scenario with the publisher did not happen in the book and serves to mock the clinching of the Jo's relationship with Friedrich in the movie, which was also portrayed in a silly departure from the heartfelt mood of the book.

Bottom line, maybe I know the novel much too well, because every small deviation irritated me, and I noticed them all. And none struck me as for the better, in contrast to the Outlander series, where every change strikes me as an improvement, and the series characters have more substance and credibility that their written counterparts.

And now I take off my movie critic paper hat and we return next time to our regularly scheduled reflections.

Rain comes from the east one night
We watch it come
To hang like beaded curtains
Till the morning sun
Water dripping from our clothes
You with raindrops on your nose
Ask me sadly, please don't go away now
Till the rain is done, I say, I'll stay now

Rain outside but inside we don't mind at all
Shadows by the fire slowly climb and fall
Kisses fade and leave no trace
Whispers vanish into space
The dawn will send me on a chase to nowhere
Why cry as if I were the first to go there

And I know I shouldn't be here
Yes, I know I should go home
But that eastern rain drones in my brain
And I'm so all alone, so all alone

Morning comes up from the east
We watch it come
And far away now rolls the ancient rain god's drum
You with daybreak in your eyes
Afraid to speak for telling lies
I watch you search for some reply to lend me
But when the rain is done, there's no pretending

And I know I shouldn't be here
Yes, I know I should go home
But that eastern rain drones in my brain
And I'm so all alone, so all alone

(Joni Mitchell)

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