(Aside - apparently the way to get lots of comments on this journal is to post about feminism, as both times I've done it recently I've set a record high. I'm afraid I don't have time to start replying to things that have been said since I last saw a computer on Friday, but thanks for all the interesting views)
So on to the actual update. Last Wednesday I was having a meal with jamesofengland
and I mentioned that I'd never eaten veal. James was shocked and appalled, and suggested that the best place to get veal was Florence, and that we should go there for the weekend. I blinked a couple of times, thinking that this was a bit last minute, but the next day I dug out my passport, rescheduled my plans for the weekend.
Unfortunately, then James called and said that as it turns out, there are no flights to Florence from London that give you a sensible amount of time there, so that plan fell through. As it happens though, because of the way the time difference works, it is possible to get to Houston, and have nearly 24 hours there, which would be time for a reasonable amount of touristy stuff.
As you can imagine my initial response was somewhere along the lines of "!?! You're suggesting we cross the Atlantic for a day trip?!?" But on the other hand, it sounded pretty shiny, and I've never left Europe before, so I figured "Why not?"
Getting through immigration was interesting. They also seemed to think that travelling quite that far for quite such a short time was a little odd, but after the eighth or ninth time of asking they seemed convinced that we really were going to be going back again the next day, and we went on our way, with me making very clueless touristy comments like "Gosh, everything's a lot bigger than it is in London."
After dropping our things off at the hotel we met up with some friends of James' and went out, first to a bar called the "Poison Girl", which was, well, exactly like you'd expect a Texan bar called "Poison Girl" to be like. After a drink we went on for dinner, and I did indeed have veal, and it was wonderful, although the experience was made rather odd by what is probably the worst service I have ever encountered. The wait of nearly two hours for a table was unfortunate, but the fact that they managed to fail to understand that the question "is there any dairy in this" applied not only to the main focus of the dish, but to everything on the plate, was quite impressively bad. The fact that they managed it two courses in a row
rather beggars belief. Still, as the dairy-free was because of James' Advent fast rather than because it would make him ill, it was quite funny, and the food really was good.
By the end of the meal I was pretty exhausted, since it was effectively about half past six in the morning, so we went back to the hotel, and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. In the morning we got up bright and early and went to church - it was my first ever Greek Orthodox service, and I got a lot out of it. The familar-but-not-familar liturgy was interesting and moving, and I think it's an experience to repeat over here, but perhaps after doing a little bit more reading so I understand how it fits together.
Onwards then, to the Rothko Chapel
. I can't write about this in a way that would do it justice. I'm not good at writing or talking about art at the best of times, and the way that the space affected me was so profound and unlike anything I've ever felt before that I think trying would not only be futile, but would also be damaging to the memory.
Afterwards we went on to look at the Menil Collection
, which was fun and interesting, although less "punch to the stomach" affecting. I liked most of the Magrittes, and also the work they had by Robert Rauschenberg, who I'd never heard of before. It was a relatively whistlestop tour though, before we went off for lunch at a place called "Bubba's Burger Shack". This was another venue that was exactly what you'd expect with a name like that. A tiny wooden structure underneath an overpass, which serves burgers - either buffalo or beef, and not much else. They have a wine list of one, except on Sundays when there's a choice of red or sparkling. The red comes out of a box and is served in polystyrene mugs. The burgers are delicious, and despite buffalo meat being very lean, they make sure there's enough cheese and bacon to ensure a proper artery-hardening experience. It was fantastic.
And then, full of buffalo, it was time to head home. We went back to the airport, calling briefly at the "Water Wall", a sort of artificial waterfall type structure, which was strange and wet. They were much happier about letting us out again, and I slept for most of the flight, getting in to Gatwick around seven, and coming straight to work.
All in all, it's been quite a weekend.