|"Oh yeah, there'd better be snacks."|
HOWEVER. This time, my train was delayed numerous times, stranding me in the Syracuse train station for four hours. FOUR HOURS. I was very glad I'd brought an extra library book. (An important fact I learned from this trip: all train stations only have two food options- Dunkin' Donuts and Subway. Except the Albany–Rensselaer station. But more on that later.) My train was supposed to leave the Syracuse station at 11:38am. It finally arrived at 3:30pm, having been stopped twice (possibly thrice, I gave up paying attention) due to engine trouble. They gave us packs of snacks as sort of an apology, but that didn't change the fact that instead of 8:00pm, I was now due to arrive in Hartford around midnight.
|These are times that would try a nun's patience.|
There was also a nun who had been there since 9:30am. It was the first time she'd ever been on a train and she figured you had to get to the station at least an hour ahead of time, like you do at the airport. In Albany, a young man took the seat next to me and told me he'd been on the train since Chicago. He'd been on the train when it stopped for each of its engine failures. He was on his way to Boston. I heard him on the phone with a friend telling him when we were estimated to be arriving in Springfield. "Yeah, we're moving along pretty steady now. No, not nearly as fast as a train could- or should go!"
|"I'm coming for you, Sister Immaculata!"|
Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. It's fabulous. You should see it. Right now. I'm serious. It's that good. But in the midst of all this fabulousness and fantasticosity, there are numerous interview segments with Harper Lee's older sister, Alice. Miss Alice, at the time of filming, god bless her, was 99 years old and still went to work every day in the law office her father founded in Monroeville, Alabama. Alice is still adorable and sharp as a tack.
BUT HER VOICE.
Imagine if Scarlett O'Hara ate E.T.
Imagine Tom Waits and Harvey Fierstein had a child and she was raised by Paula Deen.
It's indescribable. Really. I can only suggest you see it for yourself. (I looked everywhere but the clips that are posted online from the documentary don't include Alice.) I have no idea how she fits every vowel that exists into the word 'toys' and also manages to stretch those four letters out into about seven syllables. Of course, it appears that my one true talent in this life is being able to do a spot-on imitation of Alice Lee, which I proceeded to do until my throat was raw and LB was millimeters from peeing herself.
Every time I visit LB, I make her go somewhere she's never been or do something she's never done, which annoys her to no end. I had found a BBQ place in Hartford called Black-Eyed Sally's that I wanted to try. Even though it meant driving and going "downtown" (which is just a few blocks from where she works everyday) she agreed. However, we were still kind of full from our large Italian lunch and as we sat down, realized we were not exactly ravenous.
Saturday, we went to breakfast at a place that serves traditional breakfast and Mexican food, side by side. I had a delicious California omelet with avocado and chorizo hash. LB defied convention by wearing a skirt. Something she has literally not done in years. (Again, with the doing things she's never done during my visits.) We went to the Downtown Book Club at the Library where she works. Even though neither of us had finished the book (I at least got to page 25; LB never even cracked the cover) we felt we owed it to E., who was leading the discussion, to show up as thanks for driving up to Springfield to rescue me from Amtrak. The book was Mister Pip and I irritated LB by calling it "Mr. Pibb" like the Dr. Pepper knockoff. I also irritated her by referring to the older white gentleman who works in the Local History Section as "Mr. Pibb."
|"You! To hell you go!"|
Since there's always at least a two-hour layover in Springfield before the next train comes to take me to Syracuse, I decided to look around. The Springfield station has no wi-fi, just a couple of vending machines, and incredibly uncomfortable hard plastic chairs. When I was planning my trip and trying to see if there was anything interesting within walking distance of the train station, I saw that the Seussian Memorial Gardens at the Springfield museums were only four blocks away. So when my train arrived in Springfield at 12:15pm, I decided to go take a look.
|Get yer hot soup here!|
My train was only 20 minutes behind when we finally arrived in Syracuse. It seems like the last couple hours of a journey like this are always the longest and the hardest. Especially when there is a woman with a very high-pitched voice yammering on in Indian on her cell phone (loudly) nonstop for a solid hour and forty-three minutes. Not kidding. Even my headphones couldn't drown her out. I almost wished I understood the language so I could know what the hell she had to talk about for nearly two hours. Almost. Almost.