Travels and Adventures

Thoughts from The Detroit Airport

I am sitting at the Detroit airport on a Saturday afternoon. The gloomy overcast is finally passing and rays of light are warming up the carpeted floors of the North Terminal. I have a couple of hours before my flight takes off and I’m on my way back to Phoenix. I will write until my mind unwinds…and then it will be time to prepare for Monday evening’s midterm.

My ride from Essex to Detroit was pleasant because of the company of my driver, a man named Rene who drove a brand new Chrysler 300—a retirement gift that Chrysler gave him. We talked about the complexity of Labor Unions, and the inability of American automakers to stay competitive with foreign carmakers.

One of the unexpected subplots of my life as an adult is recognizing trends that I willfully ignore. Maybe it’s that adulthood frees me from blindly following the crowd, that is, I am too busy to care. My list includes, but is not limited to, the following: American Idol, skinny jeans, Survivor + 95% of all other reality shows—including my own show—the Real World, and American Idol. The newest addition to this list is the book/movie Twilight. These are facets of modern day pop culture that I am completely comfortable knowing nothing about. I don’t beat people over the head with my gleeful ignorance. Again, who has the time?

The reason why I bring this up is because I’m sitting at the Detroit airport waiting for my connection to Chicago before I’m back in Phoenix. I spent 10 minutes at the magazine stand amusing my mind with words and pictures of pop culture. Twilight is the new thing and I expect that I’ll eventually have to figure why these teenage vampire movies have the attention of every high school girl so I won’t be considered out of touch. But I’m in no hurry.

I moved to the “grown up” magazine section. I read in Time Magazine that Detroit has a 29% unemployment rate. That is one out of every three people who want a job do not have a job. It makes the national unemployment rate of 9.5-10% look like good times. Part of our drive on the outskirts of Detroit was particularly dismal. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live here. I don’t want pick on the city anymore, but it’s clear that the decay of Detroit is real and shows no sign of stopping.

It’s remarkable how much cities can change. Downtown Tempe, once a mecca for nightlife and shopping, is no longer a worthwhile option. People would much rather go to Phoenix or Scottsdale to spend money and be seen. I’ve read many articles about the evolution of Downtown Tempe, but it doesn’t seem like anyone knows why the trendy college town just kind of went away.

So I ate at Ruby Tuesday this afternoon here at the Detroit airport. I felt like I owed them a trip because they’ve worked so hard to entice 20 and 30somethings into their establishment with a new menu and a drastically upgrade to their restaurant ‘s image. In short, it seems like they ditched their whole concept and started over. I’m assuming everything is new because I have no personal encounter with the “before” version of Ruby Tuesday, only this afternoon’s “after”.

For my entire life, I’ve never been able to tell the difference between TGIFridays, Ruby Tuesday, and Chili’s, and where applicable, Benegins. My indifference towards these establishments has not always been rooted in snobbery. When I was young, we were too poor to eat there on the rare occasion we traveled out of our small country town. By the time I grew up and had enough of my own money to go out to eat, the last thing I wanted to do in my new big city was to patronize restaurants that became famous for serving predictable food within 100-yards of a suburban shopping mall. So for an entire decade now, I’ve ignored these restaurants.

On the drive from Arcadia to the airport on Friday, Candyce and I passed a new Ruby Tuesday next to an equally new Aloft Hotel (W Hotel’s new line) along Phoenix’s newly Light Rail. It was an impressively urban “Creative Class” snapshot. My vanity was tugged with curiosity. So 24 hours later I ate at Ruby Tuesday here at the Detroit Airport. It was a good meal inside an airport, but I don’t think I’ll make it my Saturday night destination any time soon.

Well, that’s it for me. It’s time to get on the airplane and start studying for my Statistics midterm.

Get Well Soon, Tales of Arm Wrestling in Public

I am in a rare moment of rest at the end of a busy and complicated summer. I’ll write more about why it was “complicated” when the time is right, but I can speak on the busyness…

We traveled to Atlanta + Tiger, San Diego, Tucson, and Prescott (and hopefully back to San Diego later this week.) Somewhere in there I went to Ohio for a weekend. I am infinitely thankful that Candyce and I planned out the summer back in early May, otherwise this summer would’ve felt like our lives were spinning out of control. Our planning paid off because our summer was fun and rewarding, even when you throw in the fact that Candyce and Norah have been sick…

…after several days of worsening head and sinus pain, I took Candyce to urgent care last Thursday. The doctor told us she had sinusitis. The prayers and antibiotics have combined to help her get better each day for the past five days. Norah had two bad weeks of teething that coincided with Candyce’s sickness. That meant both of my girls were in pain and sleep deprived, which ultimately meant they had no patience for one another.

I had to stop all of my projects and just try to hold our household together. I had to cook, clean, care, and coordinate. (I don’t think that it’s cute that each of those words started with a C. It just came out that way.) Thankfully they’re both feeling better now, and most of our weekend was spent trying to get our lives back in order.

Last night at Pei Wei Candyce’s aunt Stephanie declared that she could beat Candyce’s dad in an arm wrestling match. It seemed unfair to let a challenge like this go without resolution, so I used my force of personality to get two adults to clear plates off the table to make room for the main event. Big John Stud pinned her to the table in a matter of seconds. Next match up? Big John Stud v. Johnny Jr.–tied. At this point I realized John was tired and therefore easier to conquer. I figured I’d impress Candyce and challenged the Grizzly to go knuckle to knuckle. John pinned me with both his left and right arms. He’s just that strong. We spent the 10 minute ride home challenging John to increase his fame by arm wrestling random people we know. It was an oddly satisfying end to the Sabbath.

Arizona and Georgia Photos from May and June

First, some random photos from the last couple of months. After clicking on each photo, be sure to read caption on the lower left.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve been a speaker/presenter at three big events: summer camp for junior high kids at Covecrest, a Steubenville Conference for teenagers in Ohio, and the Life Teen Training Convention for adults in Carefree, Arizona. Each stop was a powerful experience of community–people taking time to care for other people. It is good for the soul.