Thursday, September 6, 2007

Now it begins...

September 5, 2007

We knew it was coming.

We were warned by faculty and by last year's fellows. But warnings never quite prepare you for reality.

So I played. And I paid.

"Come out over Labor Day weekend," I told Lee. "I'll work ahead and we'll have time together."

He did. Found reasonably priced (under $200 round trip) tickets from Tampa to Birmingham. Flew out Friday afternoon and I picked him up at the Birmingham International Airport--to which there are no signs on the freeway or on surface streets. Navigating the parking garage was another adventure.

We had fun...played tourist and went to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Talladega SuperSpeedway. Took the van tour, drove through the tunnel and onto the infield, stood in the winners' area and up in the stands, saw how incredibly steep the turn banks are -- imagine four cars side by side roaring around the inside of a bowl -- and heard the sound of one car running laps then tried to multiply that by 40 or so.

Drove into the town of Talladega and hung around waiting for the stock car races that evening at the Talladega Short Track ... only to discover when we got there that the races had been postponed due to weather. A line of unhappy racers at the barred gate didn't get the message ahead of time either.

That was Saturday.

Sonday morning we tromped around the woods up near The Star, which is also near two museums and a community center. There's a mountain bike trail near the community center and we followed part of that, then did part of the nature trails near the museum. Nice being outdoors ... I feel a bit cooped sometimes. I think I'll be comfortable on those trails by myself. Or I would be except that twice now I've seen groups of loose dogs. Not a good sign.

Later we went to St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, a historic building in town -- incredible architecture and pipe organ.

Wandered around, ate, shopped--even did a Home Depot date!--cooked, Lee fixed stuff in my apartment (shh...don't tell the landlord) and made kumquat pies & calamondin jam, I did some school work. Had my fellow fellows over for dessert Monday night, back to class on Tuesday, then drove Lee back to the airport Tuesday late afternoon.

That was hard.

Then I had to pull my head back together and get two assignments in some kind of shape to turn in on Thursday. Which meant I worked straight through until midnight on Wednesday, got up early and worked another hour before classes on Thursday.

I paid.

But you can bet I'd do it again.

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