And so, the (holiday) end is very near

And so, the end is near, though the video isnt going to be My Way…well, not the one you’re expecting at least!

Yesterday, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, was Thanksgiving Day, here in the US. And for the first time in my life, I got to experience what that magical day is like.

It started off with what I gather is another US tradition nowadays, the Macy’s parade in New York City. Lots of hype, lots of over exuberance from the commentators, so I kept the volume low, and survived. Then, a little NFL, a phone call to start getting ready (into dress, and low heels), and then over to the home of my wonderful host, James.

The afternoon was wonderful, the conversation, his family, and the meal, all of them. If, and when I repeat this delight, no idea, but I’m so glad I’ve done it once in my life now, at least. Put it this way, I had absolutely no need to eat again after that until this morning!

Black Friday is a crazy shopping extravaganza, that now seems to start at 6 pm, on Thursday! Yes, I know, but thats the way of life nowadays, seemingly. Anyway, I ignored it completely, both last night, and today. So I headed off down town by bus, and went to the New York State Museum, for a very interesting visit. Then back into town, via the State Plaza, and a lunch break, and then finally back to the hotel.

Yes, with all the snow still on the ground, I didnt go out to eat tonight. I know, I’ll probably regret it, but… and tomorrow, I head back to the UK, James very kindly running me back to the airport. Hard to believe, its less than 2 weeks to the Work Christmas dinner.

Not only that, but by the next time I return to the US (Hollywood, next April, if all goes to plan), I should look even more stunning than now, as I will be a beautifully made up lady, looking even more like Jean Harlow, I suspect.

Last, but not least, I’d like to thank my 2 wonderful hosts on this trip, James, for letting me fulfil that dream of celebrating Thanksgiving, and to S, for letting me discover that I was indeed a Hollywood actress in a previous life, and for letting me find out how much fun life as ‘Jean’ can be.

The next blog, probably a jet lagged one from the UK, on Monday.

As I said, the video isnt ‘My Way’, but…

Shopping with ‘Jean’, and other tales of the last 2 days

So fine, picking up from where I left off last time around.

Yesterday morning, at 11.00, I was picked up from my hotel by S, and whisked back to Worcester, to catch the bus back to Albany. Another entertaining chat en route, which led to me discovering that in fact ‘Jean’ was still in my head, and just needed releasing, to make a show. First S did it, just to sort things out between him, her, and me. More correctly, him, my sub concious and me, but that’s just nit picking. Next thing I know, I’m told to do it for myself, and lo and behold, here’s Jeannie!

But before anyone gets any ideas, there are only 2 people that can wake her up, S, and me! Carla is safely tucked away though, before anyone thinks otherwise.

So fine, I’ve quickly discovered that there is a firm that makes Trans Pennine Express look punctual, and that’s Greyhound buses! Anyway, we finally get away from Worcester about 20 minutes late, and head for the Mass Pike, and the journey home. Big snag, accident on the Mass Pike, was a crawl (or slower) for the first 10 miles, and we finally reached Albany 2.5 hours late! Consolation, the most wonderfully sweet taxi driver on the way home, lovely guy, got a better tip than I normally would give, for sure!

Fine, it was well publicised on the news, and on websites that Albany was going to get hit by a big snow storm about the middle of today. So fine, I went out early, and not far, to a nearby Mall. Alright, time for a little fun, I let ‘Jean’ go shopping instead. Now, that was fun! Main moment of amusement, well it seems that Jean possesses quite a Kansas accent. Slightly combined with my own, but predominantly…

Fun moment, when I mentioned about flying back to the UK to one of the cashiers, given my Kansas accent, she asked me when I moved to the UK. I muttered some random year, and just left it at that! Alright, I did think about getting my sub concious to swap me back, change accents totally, (and huskiness of voice) and confuse her, but I’m a good girl, so I didnt.

By the time I got back out of there, the snow was in free fall, with plenty on the ground. Sadly this morning, I’d lived up to my blonde reputation, and only gone out in shoes, and a medium ‘strength’ coat, instead of boots and anorak. I knew it was coming, so why I did that…no idea?

Its different, seeing so much snow, when its only November. The last time I saw this, was about 2000, in Kirkenes, Norway, and thats the other side of the Arctic Circle! Mind, that was the beginning of November, not the end, so…

Right, you’re now up to date, and no, despite the clearness of the roads at least, I’ve decided to forego the Ice Hockey match in town tonight. I’m not the biggest fan of the sport, but if the weather had been good, I might well have gone. But now…

The video, sums up today’s weather really.

Welcome to Hollywood, small time actress, Clara Johnson, aka me!

Yes, fine, I know, ideally this would have been written yesterday evening, but lets just say that given what I discovered yesterday, I wasnt in the right frame of mind to do so. Hey, some of it is still whirring around my head now, but…

Monday started in a dull fashion, the delights of the Greyhound bus station in Albany. No, its not the most delightful place to spend the best part of an hour, waiting for your coach, but hey, thats America, and public transit for you. Most people of even moderate incomes drive, so many of those on the buses are the less fortunate ones. Not that the place felt dangerous as such, just a bit of a depressed area, I guess?

Anyway, about 15 minutes late (making me feel at home, with TPE), we pulled out, heading for Worcester, where S was meeting me. Yes, thats all you’re getting of identification, for his sake. Driver must have known what he was doing though, as we pulled into Worcester, pretty much on time. Then the fun began.

Lets just say that neither of us knew the city at all, and we had some fun ‘getting together’, and getting out of town. But soon, we were heading north, to New Hampshire, and his place of work.

S is a really interesting guy, much my age, and we had some great conversation en route, a lot of it 70’s related, so before a lot of my readers time! 😛 We arrived, and after a short while, set to the first event of the day, my past life regression. Thankfully, he let me remember things, but only after events. I started by getting younger, and younger, until eventually I was back in the womb. Then we went one step further back. I’m guessing we did it this way, to ensure I got the relatively recent life we were looking for, but dont quote me on that.

It worked, I ended up back in the 1920’s…in Hollywood! But no, not Jean, before you ask. In a sense, that might be for the best, because now I know it was real, and not just my influence on things. A dark haired actress, doing bit parts, and extras, named Clara Johnson. Hey, we found one mention of her on Imdb, in a 1937 movie, so she was real! Nothing else, but as a friend who knows these things told me, bit part actresses didnt get the credits back then, that they do now, so nothing to concern myself about there.

But fine, the most stunning part about all this, Clara got married, had a baby girl. Yes, I was a mother, seemingly a good one, oh wow! Died in her early 50’s, sounded like the cigarettes got her in the end, but I suspect she drunk a bit too! Unlikely, but I may have a daughter, or grandchild somewhere in the world!

Yes, fine, as S realised afterwards, he should have asked Clara if she knew Jean at all (possible, they would both have been doing that sort of thing in the late 20’s), but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Lets just say that it took me a while to get over this news, to any degree. As I say, even now, I’m still trying to comprehend it all. So little I can find out about her, so I suspect sometime, I’ll have to arrange for someone (possibly S, via Skype) to talk to Clara again, and find out more that way.

Then, after enough recovery time for me to stop saying “Oh my God” at regular intervals, we went for part 2. Yes, the Jean Harlow moment. He handled this in a fun (for me especially) way, by creating Jean-bot, via a nanite injection (a pen pressed into my hand, he showed me afterwards), and we took things from there. So fine, I might know a few things about Jean, and her life, but some of the stuff that rushed into my head, no way! Or at least I didnt think I did!

I have no idea why, unless Jean sort of absorbed my thoughts, along with hers, but her reaction to modern life was pretty blase. Or maybe thats because she knew she was a robot, not the real person, but I’m guessing S is the only one who could truly answer that, he created her, after all! Then we did it, the mirror test. I was walked to a mirror, looked at it, and it wasnt my face looking back at me, oh wow! My voice changed, my attitude did too, all quite something!

Anyway, after a brief interview, and Jean seemingly hinting she wanted a drink, stronger than water, I was brought out of trance, and allowed to remember things. Just as I was doing all this, he turned me back into Jean for a few moments, and the voice was back.

Then, after a brief recovery period, I was whisked (film star style lol) to my hotel nearby, for the night. Monday night football, including that gorgeous Jon Gruden, and then to bed.

Truly quite a day, and so many thanks to S, for letting me experience all that. As I say, at some point, I’m going to have to let Clara be interviewed again, absolute must!

The video, seemingly quite apt, seeing I was a bit part movie actress in the 1920’s, and 30’s, and it gives me a chance to let you hear a lesser known Gerry Rafferty piece.

The holiday, story of the first 2 days

Its funny, how when you expect to have problems, everything goes smoothly. Pretty much sums up yesterday’s journey here.

OK, fine, the roadworks on the motorway getting to the airport was a pain, but in all honesty, I got there with time to spare, and walked to the booking in counter, in about 15 seconds flat, from the queue. The challenge of security…absolute stroll!

Plane took off pretty much to time, landed much the same. Funny point, I started the journey with a double seat to myself, then a few hours in, a man excused himself, and moved in next to me. Said his viewing screen wasnt working, but anyway…Fine, it must have been that, as he went back to his original seat about 30 minutes before landing. Ah well…

Then, the only low point of the whole trip, Philadelphia Immigration. Seriously, they are the main reason I dont travel more with US Airways, they are awful. Transatlantic jet arrives, hundreds get off, and 2 Immigration officers are on! Eventually, and I do mean eventually a couple more turn up, I get through, and… you have to go back through security after clearing customs, and generally at Philadelphia, thats as much joy as going through Immigration. Yesterday, sailed through! I was actually at the other terminal waiting for the Albany plane 20 minutes before boarding, instead of dashing on at the last moment. Hey, I even went to the rest room, got a coffee, and…amazing stuff.

Met at the airport as planned, and a smooth journey to the hotel. Hey, I suspect I even spotted the Albany hotel I stayed at in 1988, but dont quote me on that. But it was in the right area, had the right colour sign, so…

Hotel is very good, not that I expected anything else from Best Western, to be honest.

This morning I went across town, to meet up with James for a short while, then back into town, a bite of lunch, and currently, a little NFL. Oh, the lady in Dunkin Donuts loved my accent!

Tonight, I wont go too far to eat, just tossing up between the restaurant here, or a pub/restaurant about 2 doors up.

Tomorrow, off to New Hampshire overnight, to be hypnotised by an expert, and see what develops. I’m pretty sure, at some point, I will believe I’m Jean Harlow! Still, more of that on Tuesday, I suspect.

For now, a video that sums up how things have gone so far

Planes, and buses, and thinking I’m Jean!

So fine, lets start this off with the news that I will be getting to ride the bus, but only one in each direction, instead of two. Yes, the past life regression, and other matters will be happening, on Monday, all sorted and confirmed! So its fair to say, that regardless of whether I really was her in a past life or not, on Monday, at some point, I will be thinking I’m Jean lol. Of course, there is that one in a million chance that I really was, but…

Anyway, more on that nearer the time, and definitely after the event, either from me, or from Jean, depending on who I’m left thinking I am. Me, I’m sure, but…I suspect I will get to see life through her ‘eyes’ at least.

Before then, I get to have the long flight to Albany, via Philadelphia, with US Airways. Should be fine, but that 2 hours or so connection between planes, dealing with Immigration, Customs, and a walk back through security, before a bus ride to the other terminal, it will be tight, I suspect!

I’ve been to Albany twice before, in 1988, and then again, a couple of years ago. Neither time have I seen a lot of the city, something which I plan to put right this time around. No, I suspect I will not get experimented on at the Nanotechnology building, but if I do…Even with the side trip, and all, I hope to get to see a few of the landmarks there.

But principally, the big thing for me on this trip, is my first ever Thanksgiving dinner. My huge thanks go to James for letting me experience this, should be amazing. And no, I have no intention whatsoever to go shopping on Black Friday! Thankfully, given the current weather, I’m going nowhere near Buffalo!

Fine, to the video, and yes, its Jean. I was tempted to make it from Saratoga, given that town isnt a million miles from Albany. Sadly, she never managed to complete that film before her death. it was completed using doubles, and the like, by public demand. But as I used that elsewhere, lets have a snippet from Bombshell instead.

Even if I get to think I’m Jean, I’ll never be the bombshell she was, thats for sure!

Riding on the bus

And by that, I dont mean the public transit service around the towns, and cities on both sides of the Atlantic, though its a reasonably well known fact that generally I think the public transit service in the big cities, in the US, knocks ours for 6, both in terms of prices, and generally reliability too.

But in the US, long distance travel is a whole different ball game! Yes, if you have the inclination, flying between the major cities in America isnt too much of a challenge either. But you try to get from ‘smaller point’ A, to ‘smaller point’ B, and apart from the main coastal strips, it becomes a whole different challenge.

I know, most people wanting to get from those bigger cities, well, its still cheaper, and quicker to fly between the 2 points (even with a change of flight) than it is to travel long distance by train, or by bus, but all the options are generally there.

I mentioned it at the time I visited, but do you know the extent of public transit, into Cherryvale, Kansas? For passengers, pretty much zero! Freight trains, yes, but passenger trains, sorry…

Anyway, to get to the point. Medium distance travel, for non drivers.

I’ve actually crossed America, and back, by train. Fine, the last stretch from Philadelphia, to Atlantic City came about 6 years after the rest, but I’ve done it. And yes, you dont measure the journey time in minutes, or indeed hours, more like days! I liked Amtrak, though admittedly, I havent needed to use it since that day I completed that epic trip, back in 2009.

But, when people in the US talk about taking the bus, they dont mean the service bus into the city centre, they mean riding the coach, the Greyhound bus, to be exact.

Me, despite all my trips to the US, never done that. I’ve generally been in one city, or I’ve travelled with Kate, by car. And yes, I’ve seen ‘the bus’ a few times, I must admit. But now…

I’ve told you already about a friend, who is planning to hypnotise me, if we can get together on this trip. I’m pretty certain if he gets hold of my mind, not only will I look (a bit) like Jean Harlow, I’ll think I’m her too! Just one snag, I’ll be in Albany, NY, he’s near Manchester, NH (fine, not THAT close) but I cant give too much away…about 200 miles apart.

Over here, between those 2 points (both reasonably large cities), you’d probably have a number of coaches in a day, connecting them, either directly, or with one change. Today, I looked to see how practical getting to him would be. Albany, to the connecting point, yes, fine, plenty of choices. From there, to err, near Manchester, just one! Early evening going north, very early morning coming back south. Thats it!

Why, because most people drive, of course! Except, little old me! The fare (even Thanksgiving week, so I suspect it might be more than normal, is pretty reasonable. The number of services though…

So, to visit him, be hypnotised, do my past life regression, and become Jean Harlow for a while at least, becomes a logistical challenge. Lets see, the only way to do it, go up on the Monday afternoon/evening, stay overnight, then have my mind ‘played with’ on the Tuesday. Then the first chance to come back, is Wednesday morning, at the unearthly hour of 6.40 am! And we’d to leave his town before then, to get to that point anyway!

Of course, he might turn me into Jean-bot, and I never return, but somehow…lol.

So I might at last, get to ride ‘the bus’, or I might not, we will see. But I do wish the US had a decent long distance coach service like we do over here.

The only song I could immediately think of, that mentions Greyhound buses, was this one. So sue me, its Simon and Garfunkel, so I’m biased!

Gold flight status (almost)

To be honest, apart from my twice yearly flights to the US, I really dont fly all that much. Certainly not for work, call centre operators arent generally required to fly the world for their company! I do the odd domestic flight to Ireland, or as earlier this year, to Jersey, for breaks, but thats about it.

But despite that, I tend to join the airline, and hotel reward schemes, because lets face it, it always puts you at an advantage in their eyes, should the need arise. But lets face it, because I share my love between 4 airlines, depending on where I’m flying to, and who has the best fares, I never thought I’d do enough to hit gold status on any of them.

But then, US Airways, and American Airlines decided not just to be friends, but to become one company. And in time, sometime early next year in fact, their 2 mile schemes will be combined. And then, combined with the trip next week to Albany…Yes, you’ve guessed it, I will have enough miles for gold status! Now, as they are saying that this will happen in the 2nd quarter of next year, I have no idea whether I will get these privileges in time for the Hollywood trip. If not, it might be September when I enjoy them, if I head to Idaho, or it might be next year, if my body suggests a trip to New England is the wiser option, as I would then fly with Aer Lingus.

Of course, if Delta/Virgin offer me a cheaper option to LA, it might be delayed anyway!

But little me, a gold status passenger, wow!

The video, just thought this was a fun choice