Andrea’s Travels, Part I: The Flight to Seoul

She’s got the Eye of Fatima/ on the wall of her motel room.

Camper Van Beethoven

Dateline Buenos Aries: Friday Morning

The plane eases into its docking point, 15 minutes late. Andrea wasn’t fretting; she’d been around a bit and knew that things sometimes worked. Other times, well they didn’t.

She is not on the run, not exactly anyway. Nonetheless, the 27 hour trip from Buenos Aries to Seoul via Atlanta will put half a world of distance between her and M. Azur. Welcome distance for Andrea, as the formerly desultory attentions of her blue friend have recently taken a turn for the more incessant. In short, he’s been calling her daily, one thin pretext after another. “Everything’s thin,” she mused, and M. Azur could thin paint. A classy guy who makes decisions and implements is what she needed, not some milquetoast beta-male in the medical tubing industry.  For Christ’s sake already. So Seoul beckoned, and the plane, the plane was late.

Andrea scratches her nose, adjusts her glasses. The turnaround crew would need 20, 25 minutes minimum to turn the plane over for the flight. A quick scan of her messages shows three new bleats from her would-be paramour. Pretext, text, context—still a no. She could handle herself, could Andrea. “Many apologies, I have been so busy,” she texts. “Dinner meeting is not possible this week. Tubing sales are up—talk again.” M.Azur would be a blue mist in no time. Ground staff opens pre-boarding, and Andrea, zoned in section 4, makes a lateral move into zone 3 to make sure her carry-on has the room it needed. “Who’s better than me?”

Andrea settles into 14A, a window seat. Bottle of water, headphones and a sleeping mask. Structured correctly, a plane flight can be made to feel like an undersea journey. All it requires is a little imagination.

Andrea has all she needs to swim a little up there in the ether. Her phone is set to airplane mode and the seat next to her is vacant. Bonus, she tells herself. A non-descript business traveler has the aisle. He looks more like a brown than a blue. Won’t be an issue.

Andrea is a lady, a women really, somewhere in her later 20s, probably. We won’t ask. Attractive, but no waif, she enjoys fine dining and a glass or three of wine. When she drinks her cheeks get rosy red which accentuates her dimples. The gym is not the place to find a girl of her kind; the Mr. Blues of the world are advised to try the patisserie instead. Buy her a piece of pie. Cherry, lemon, coconut cream. Pumpkin, peach, pecan. Andrea might be a little picky with her guys; her pie game is more omnivorous. Without really trying, she has the attention of a half-dozen men within a thirty-year age range, all of whom she deflects with the grace of a fencer. Buenos Aries, Rome, Tampa, Algiers it doesn’t seem to matter where she goes there will be a guy or two. Boys on board and boys on deck. What’s the opposite of a chick magnet? Andrea might not be quite that, but she has options. A passing funny thought, so she dials up an early Bitch Magnet record on her phone.  That was Sooyoung Park’s first band, pre-Seam. Little Park, big city, Korean heritage. Going to Seoul, apropos. Bitch Magnet rocks.

What does Andrea do? It’s a question she can’t quite answer herself. Broadly speaking, she is in sales, a cog in the vast machinery of deal making between multi-nationals. In other words, she is around transactions, helps to facilitate them. An “industry conference” awaits in Seoul. The Korean word for blue is “puleun.” Will there be any puleuns at the industry event? almost surely. Andrea sighs at the smallness of it all. White wine please, make it a double.

The plane is well up over the Pacific by now and Andrea is tipsy at thirty-thousand feet. Where is she really from? It would take a month of pies to get that out of her.  A month of pies and a month of Sundays. So we shall say she is post-racial, like the women in Code 46.

“In a dystopian future, insurance fraud investigator William Gold (Tim Robbins) arrives in Shanghai to investigate a forgery ring for “papelles,” futuristic passports that record people’s identities and genetics. Gold falls for Maria Gonzalez (Samantha Morton), the woman in charge of the forgeries.”

Is “topian” the opposite of dystopian, she wonders? Three drinks and an hour of Bitch Magnet in and she’s feeling a little topian herself. Andrea would be fine in the world of Code 46. Hell, she’d probably thrive.

to be continued…

On “Shortcuts” and “Backways”

Cassius Clay was hated more than Sonny Liston/ Some like K.K. Downing more than Glenn Tipton/ Some like Jim Nabors, some Bobby Vinton/ I like ‘em all

Mark Kozelek

There are a lot of items in the world. Two of those items are “shortcuts” and “backways.”

Shortcuts and backways are far from identical, however I posit that they belong in the same general category. What is this category? Well, they are both alternative paths to an intended destination. In other words, they are minor (perhaps) but still important navigational options. And, both have unique, and in my opinion potentially attractive, features.

I like both shortcuts and backways. However other folks may well like one and not the other. This is because in a certain sense shortcuts and backways are opposites, or at least on different ends of a continuum. Shortcuts take less time, clearly, and backways usually take more time. The midpoint of this continuum I guess would be “the normal way,” or just “the way.” A lot of folks will just take the normal way because it’s normal. Or, they may not even be aware of a shortcut or a backway. Sometimes we have to scout around a bit to find these items.

What might a shortcut look like in practice? Could be jumping a fence, maybe an alleyway, a tunnel, perhaps cutting through someone’s backyard. Could be a path through the trees on a ski slope, or a secret set of stairs in a mansion (the servants’ stairs perhaps). I would suggest, just float, the hypothesis that shortcuts always, or at least almost always, have a degree of real or perceived danger or risk to them. Alleyways are known to harbor RATS. Paths through the trees may have BUMPS and EXPOSED ROOTS. Sneaking through a backyard, we may encounter AN IRATE PROPERTY OWNER with a BIG FAT GUN. Even the servants’ stairs may have GHOSTS, DARK SECRETS, or even ECTOPLASM floating about. When you take a shortcut it’s best to be a bit on your guard.

What about backways? What do these look like? Here we are in slightly more complex waters. A short cut, as mentioned above, when executed properly, takes less time. That’s kind of the point. But while backways often take more time, they need not. In other words, it’s not definitional. Indeed, if there is a normal way and a backway to your home from your work, for example, you may time the two routes and find they are in fact fairly similar. However, the backway is likely to feel longer. This is because the backway, and I believe this to be more definitional, is more scenic. And scenery (scenicness?), being absorbing, can sort of mentally slow us down. Is that right? I’m not sure, but it’s in the neighborhood of right.

After all, what is a backway really “back” of? I mean, a backway doesn’t like automatically lead to a “back door” or anything. Also, we don’t call the normal way the “frontway,” now do we? It’s just the way. Therefore, the backway is back of the way. In other words, again, it’s kind of minor, less populated, or in some other way odd. That’s why it’s the backway.

Now, an interesting difference between a shortcut and a backway is that a shortcut is not only applicable when navigating physical space, but is also applicable when navigating all other kinds of spaces. You can find shortcuts in decision making, in writing, in computer coding, in all types of places. According to Mr. Google a shortcut is:

1. an alternative route that is shorter than the one usually taken.

2. an accelerated way of doing or achieving something.

You see what I mean. On the other hand a backway is mostly applicable to physical space. Mr. Google in fact simply defines backway as “a back alley.” But Mr. Google is way off here. As outlined above, I don’t even think a back alley is a backway per se. I think it’s a subset of shortcut. Mr. Google needs to re-examine the situation. Mr. Google needs to read this blog. Nonetheless, we don’t generally refer to “a backway to a decision,” we might instead say we took a longer time (time not space), or used an unconventional method to reach a conclusion (process not space). Therefore, “shortcut” as a term is much more capacious than “backway.”

That’s about it on shortcuts and backways. Like Mr. Kozelek, I like ‘em all.