I've spent a lot of time in the US, but have never been to Las Vegas before. As soon as I stepped off the plane in Las Vegas there was no doubting where I was. Less than 10 yards from the arrival gate was a huge bank of gaming machines (see above). I could just picture game-hungry passengers staggering off the plane and over to the one-armed bandits, like thirst-crazed desert travellers to an oasis.
I'd flown in from New York, leaving the apartment early this morning. Coming from a small island, it's easy to underestimate the size of the US. It's very, very big. Today I crossed 3 time zones, in around 5 hours. On the Atlantic, I crossed 4 time zones, in around 3½ months. At human-powered speed, it would have taken me months rather than hours to get here.
And the distance is not purely geographical. New York reminds me of a city in the developing world - it's all a higgledy-piggledy and grotty and gritty and, well, REAL. I love it. It seems exciting and edgy and full of possibility.
By contrast Las Vegas, the little I've seen of it so far, seems manufactured and unreal, a plastic cut-out of a place. From my hotel window I can see distant dusty mountains, nearby palm trees and enormous parking lots. In the air-conditioned comfort of my room, the scorched landscape out there seems like stage scenery, almost as if it's painted onto my window. And looking through Las Vegas Life, the magazine on my coffee table, all the people seem unreal too - airbrushed and immaculate and glossy.
I'm staying at the Green Valley Ranch, a 'small' hotel, according to the shuttle bus driver - a mere 500 rooms. I'd got talking with the woman next to me on the flight, during the game of guess-the-weight-of-the-plane, first prize being VIP tickets to see Blue Man Group at the Venetian (I didn't win - I never win anything, so best I don't gamble while I'm here). She'd told me she was 'envious' of me for staying at the Green Valley Ranch, and it is rather gorgeous. My room here is larger than the entire SoHo apartment I was staying in last night.
I'm here courtesy of The Network - the amazing and kind assortment of people whose lives have somehow touched on mine at some stage, and who do what they can to help me in my mission to do daft things to make everybody else happy to Not Be Me. Without The Network the Green Valley Ranch would be way out of my price range.
I arrived here feeling like something of a Cinderella, but without the fairy godmother to conjure up the appropriate outfit for the occasion. In this glamorous, manicured city, I felt like an interloper. I skulked self-consciously up to the reception desk in my scruffy jeans (decent label, but now rather old) and vest (bought for about $3 in Peru), and shyly suggested that I might have a reservation. The impeccably polite staff refrained from sneering, and issued me with my room key.
It was only when I got to my room and was checking out the fragrant goodies in the enormous bathroom, that I looked in the mirror and realised to my horror that not only was I scruffy, but in my haste to get dressed, get ready and get packed this morning... I'd put my $3 vest on inside out.
view from my window
Just thought it fair to warn you - I am going to start blogging more often. I am trying to find an easy and user-friendly way for you to filter the updates, e.g. so if I categorise them into travel, technology, exercise and nutrition, etc, you can choose which category or categories you would like to receive alerts for.
But I haven't yet found a solution that a) works and b) is easy for you to implement. I am on the case, and will get back to you as soon as I can.
In the meantime, if there is a technical guru out there who knows all about RSS, BlogSearch, or suchlike, please get in touch and enlighten me.
I've been researching video blogs to find out what it's all about. Trouble is, they're too entertaining and I find hours passing while I meander enjoyably but not very purposefully around cyberspace.
My favourite so far is a very talented doggie dancing to a 'You're the One That I Want' from Grease. It's priceless!
[New York subway. Photo taken by me in 2001, shortly before 9/11]
Sex and the City writer Greg Behrendt was inspired by the lengthy we-had-a-great-date-so-why-hasn't-he-called-me? conversations of his female colleagues to co-author a book called He's Just Not That Into You.
The book is in the format of an agony uncle dealing (very frankly) with letters from women frustrated with their non-relationships. His point is, if the guy hasn't rung, no matter how great the date was he just didn't like you enough to see you again. Get over it and move on.
I was reading this book on a rather brutal 10-hour Greyhound bus journey from Montreal to New York overnight last night, feeling rather smug to be out of the whole dating game (never in one place long enough, and increasingly hard to find a man I can look up to), when it suddenly occurred to me that I've made exactly the same mistakes as these fictional women, just my mistakes were in the sponsorship game, not the dating game. Suddenly my illusion of superiority deflated and I felt as pathetic as Bridget Jones sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring.
So, with apologies to Greg B, here is my adaptation of 'He's Just Not That Into You':
I'm dating this guy [pursuing this sponsor] who ends conversations saying he'll call me. Like, "I'll call you over the weekend." Or "I'll give you a call tomorrow." Or if he has to take a call on the other line, he promises, "I'll call you back in a few minutes." And then he doesn't. Should I read something into this, or should I just know to ignore whatever he says?
'Dear Call Waiting
Yes, you should read something into it. In fact the very something is "He's just not that into you." Here's the deal. Most guys [sponsors] will say what they think you want to hear at the end of a date [meeting] or phone call, rather than nothing at all. Some guys [sponsors] are lying, some guys [sponsors] really mean it. Here's how you can tell the difference. you know they mean it when they actually do what they said they were going to do.
Here's a multiple choice:
A guy you went out with [had a meeting with] once hasn't called you in two weeks. Do you:
a) jump to the conclusion he's just really busy, lost your phone number, and was struck in the skull, and is now suffering from short-term memory loss, and you should call him?
b) quit your job, stay at home, call the telephone company to make sure your phone works, and wait for him to call?
c) realise he's jut not that into you and move on with your life?
Correct answer: (c)
We men would rather lose an arm out a city bus window than tell you simply, "You're not the one." We are quite sure you will kill us or yourself or both - or even worse, cry and yell at us. We are pathetic. But the fact remains, even though we may not be saying it we are absolutely showing you all the time. If a dude isn't calling you when he says he will, you already have your answer. Stop making excuses for him, his actions are screaming the truth: he's just not that into you. Move on, sister! Cut your losses and don't waste your time.'
Am now in the heart of Sex and the City country, staying in my friend Dwight's apartment in SoHo tonight before flying on to Las Vegas tomorrow. Great to be back in my old stamping grounds of Seventh Avenue South.
I bought myself a US mobile phone today - contract made better financial sense than pay-as-you-go. Also feels more like a commitment to America. I hope to spend a lot of time over here in the run-up to my Pacific row, immigration officials permitting, and am childishly excited at the prospect. In this most can-do of countries, I hope to launch my Pacific campaign in all senses of the word.