Wednesday, April 21, 2010

trains and tea, continued

Yesterday I began exploring the gaps- and the similarities, too--between certain personally interesting ideas for venues, and how they actually unfold in real life. To begin, I chose two slightly unusual activities: having an elaborate tea service in a high-end tea room, and spending the day writing while on a passenger train.

On impulse, I made an essayist's side-trip to the library, citing briefly the gap between my romanticized concept of libraries stemming from my childhood (and the media, although I haven't explored that yet) and the actual library in my current neighborhood.

Note: The original post's library story has been given an Orwellian trim. /b

* * *

That particular morning, all I knew was I wanted to get away to somewhere. This was just over a week ago.

Creativity self-help coach and author Julia Cameron promotes the idea of the Artist's Date, whereby we agree to treat ourselves to inspirational outings alone, on a regular basis. She calls it "filling the well". And while I wouldn't want to model my life on that of the well-meaning but often erratic Ms. Cameron, her idea is a good one. As it turns out, it's not something I do regularly.

Even up until the last minute that morning, as I was getting dressed, I wasn't sure what to do... only that I needed to do it. Almost without realizing it, I found myself driving to the Amtrak station in nearby Solana Beach, lugging along my notebook computer.

So, apparently, that was it-- I would ride the train up the coast to Los Angeles, relax for a while there in the old Union Station with its surprisingly intact original Art Deco sensibilities... then ride home again, in time for dinner. With all this atmosphere in place, I would... write.

And you can probably imagine the kinds of mental constructs I have around the idea of train travel. Some of them are even based on reality: previous Amtrak trips, and a long-ago overnight journey through the spectacular Canadian Rockies. Not surprisingly, the type of train I fixate on is the so-called luxury train, 20th Century vintage. (Less interesting to me personally is the freight train, or an early cross-country passenger train).

The passenger train as a confined space for drama to unfold is a natural and familiar one: North by Northwest; Murder on the Orient Express. More about this later.

to continue later today, or tomorrow...

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