austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

World of sunshine, bright shades of gold

Saturday was to be the last full day bunny_hugger and I would have together this trip. We still had plenty of things to get to, such as the delayed-still-further barbecue, but where we actually spent the day was on and around campus.

We went to the university campus, where she had studied for her doctorate, and a spot we had circled around several times but never quite touched. She was able to point out buildings where she had classes or worked as teaching assistant, although since it was a Saturday, and in the early summer, and she hadn't kept up much academic contact with them, we didn't have the chance to step into any of the buildings. None of the specifics of the campus were familiar to me, except in that general sense that I did go to Rutgers, and all state universities have some resemblances, particularly in the campus buildings dating to similar areas.

One thing catching my eye, but which I didn't have the chance to photograph, was a car for which each piece of paneling was a different color. It looked like something for a Sesame Street giddy fun imitation of a car. I'm curious what the story of that is; given the good shape of the panels I suspect an art major.

She guided me to the parts of town adjacent to campus, which was new in detail but felt comfortable as reminiscent of the boundary between New Brunswick and Rutgers. They have more statues in Lansing, more public artwork, but then Lansing is probably more relatively important and they have a bigger university anyway. bunny_hugger showed some of the places she'd get food --- one of them with a lovely-looking open-air section that must be fun in February, and which had a chalkboard sign out front identifying the top 46 rules those using the open-air section must obey --- or coffee or such with other grad students and share complaints about the undergraduates they were TAing (undergraduates are a steady source of exasperating entertainment for the TAs, if you had any doubts), and we went into one of them for tea. They had bubble teas, in fact, although I skipped the bubbles because my experience with the concept in Singapore suggested to me that bubble tea was really not a concept for me.

The [bubble] tea spot was one she had gone to often as a grad student, and not so much since then, but she did still have the customer loyalty card and that program was still running, so we were able to get that card advanced to whatever the reward was. We had the shop pretty nearly to ourselves, which I suppose businesses next to campus have to get used to in the summer session, but we did our best to look like a healthy crowd. And we wondered about the TV monitors and coin-operated things off to one niche that seemed to have no clearly defined function.

On an upper level of the stores is a comic book shop, which in a remarkable change of pace for campus-adjoining comic book shops is jammed full up front with dense racks of roleplaying game books protected from the sunlight by faded posters stuck up over the windows, and a huge model table with a floating band of people in back playing some elaborate simulation. We looked over various games which we didn't buy, though bunny_hugger admitted having heard a lot about these Killer Bunnies card games, and marvelled at the large number of German card or small board games with intricate or elaborate backstories and rule sets. I also confessed my fascination with railroad simulation games, although I can't make the leap to imagining playing them with board and pencil rather than on the computer. I'm certain we also found some of the toys for sale to be fascinating, although I'm not sure anymore which particular toys really amused us. I'm fairly sure there were comic books in there, too.

Farther down the street and into the evening we came to a Barnes and Noble, which had a more interesting collection of magazines and newspapers than the ones around me. I think this might reflect the influence of a diverse student body insisting on weirder magazines to leaf through. bunny_hugger picked up the new Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine I used to subscribe to but let drop off my reading list over a decade back. I got worn out by their obsession with how The X-Files was a threat to civilization what with its popularizing the idea that the government is hiding aliens from us, which was Skeptical Inquirer's cover story for about 800 issues in a row. There were still good parts to it, and I do like that she still reads the good parts after I quit.

Visiting the bookstore also let us get at the Local Interest books, which let me find a picture of the former Lake Lansing Amusement Park in one of the books. I believe it was just the roller coaster, but that's something; we had better success with other parks and recreation areas that are long-since gone. I also found one of those Books Of Old Photographs for the Oldsmobile plant, which very neatly fit another need. The week I was there was also my father's birthday, and I hadn't had the chance to get him anything before I left, so a belated present like this would be just right. It proved to be, too: he was delighted by the book and I'm fairly sure he's looked at most of the pictures in it. It's also got an honored place in the pile of books he keeps behind his laptop on the coffee table so that you can't just leave the TV remote on the endtable and have the cable box actually receive signals from the remote.

And from there --- it's hard to believe that a day so filling and so eventful can be described in so few words, but maybe that is how time compresses when the joyful thing is spending time together rather than running through a menagerie of events --- we walked back toward campus, and the night was falling, and the rain threatened to finally appear when we were awake. There had been evidence of water all week, but we never saw it except in the form of beads on car windows on leaving for somewhere; now we were faced with being drizzled on, and went back to her home.

With the advanced hour and the drizzling rain we had to postpone again the backyard barbeque, which what with this being the last evening together strongly suggested we were going to miss it altogether. This was disappointing, but the consumables would freeze well and it would serve as a promissory note to make me return before long. (At this time I was planning to use a fairly good pretext to ask the owner of my company to drop to four-day workweeks; that was before my horrible day with him, though, and we have not spoken more than a few quick words since; I believe he means to be jovial and friendly, and I don't feel all that friendly.)

That did leave the question of what to eat, however, and bunny_hugger had an excellent plan, that of ordering a pizza. This would be nearly novel enough for me --- I've ordered pizza delivery for myself maybe twice in my life, since I'm usually on my own and can't fathom eating a whole pizza and besides restaurants often have free refills --- but then she compounded the wonder by ordering it online. Really. It turns out you can go to web sites and place specific orders for pizzas with varied toppings (I think we got olives and peppers; I'm generally an olives fan), and charge it to a credit card and have it delivered. Considering my habit of not buying stuff online, which was a faintly charmingly obsolete quirk five years ago and is now how the part of me which would otherwise be yelling at clouds is kept from turning on teenagers and their obnoxious habits of being young, that was stunning.

The choice of pizza was only a little constrained; she has a web site which offers delivery of all kinds of foods in the area, but it also noted restaurants that weren't offering delivery or were closing early because it was summer and the college crowds that keep delivery places hopping were getting less busy. It took us longer than you might expect to sort out just where we could buy what we wanted, but we managed. The only curious thing is it took surprisingly long to actually deliver; I'm fairly sure it was more than an hour, but we got lost in time talking with each other about each other, and about her rabbit. So the actual delivery came at just about the moment we were starting to realize we were still hungry and the pizza hadn't yet arrived. I guess that's good timing but I still don't think we'd ordered that complicated a pizza.

And, alas, that was getting to the end of the day. I did take the chance to do my laundry again, so that I would return home with an all-but-completely clean set of clothes --- not really necessary, but it made it easier to keep clean and dirty clothes separate in my baggage, and it would give me an important extra chance to lose something in the wash --- but otherwise, that was the end of our last full day together. Pizza, and a rabbit, and bunny_hugger, with a hint of rain outside.

Meanwhile, back home, my mother was having a great time at her reunion.

Trivia: 740 books purchased during the Jefferson administration for the Library of Congress were burned in the British invasion of Washington, DC. Source: Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought The Second War of Independence, A J Langguth.

Currently Reading: Beyond Singularity, Editors Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois.

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