Long ride to Loserville

I suppose it was fitting that last night’s NBC Thanksgiving Weekend premier of Titanic was interrupted by Gov. George Bush’s presidential victory speech. As I watched the presumptive president-elect flare his nostrils and furrow his brow while he haltingly read from the teleprompter, I decided that this week’s column just can’t go there.

Since I very clearly am not giving thanks for the outcome of the presidential election (because no, I don’t feel Al Gore should continue to contest the results at this point), I am going to focus on a few other things I have learned to praise this holiday season.

1. Trains. A few years ago, I started become an uneasy flier. When I went away to college and began flying home alone every time BU closed the dorms, I grew more uncomfortable each time I stepped onto a plane. Finally, I realized something. It’s my life, my body, and these are my vacations. If I feel uncomfortable barreling down a runway at 9 million miles per hour, or if I feel uneasy speeding through the clouds at 30,000 miles above the earth, I have every right to avoid planes. The clincher: my return flight from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles this past August.

After four harrowing hours of turbulence, crowded runways and deplorable TWA service, I made a decision — never again. Then I discovered Amtrak. Sure, Boston is a two-day trip from my ol’ Kentucky home, but those two days are spent in style. Ample leg room, friendly and talkative passengers and the chance to see the country are among the many advantages of rail travel. This Thanksgiving, I totally bypassed the crowded airports and delays by hopping a train back to school. I made some new friends and enjoyed the beauty of the Buffalo snows without any delays. I think rail travel should be opened up to competition so that this wonderful mode of transportation becomes even more attractive and convenient.

2. Boston. As I said, my holidays are spent in Kentucky (I am from upstate New York, but my family moved to Louisville the fall I came to BU), which is, ostensibly, a different world. The day after Thanksgiving, I joined my family for Louisville’s biggest pre-Christmas celebration, “Light Up Louisville.” Sponsored by a tobacco company, “Light Up Louisville” is a day-long festival featuring smelly meats, stinky horse-drawn carriage rides and culminating in a tree-lighting ceremony hosted by Santa Claus himself.

Louisville’s personality was demonstrated when the event’s announcer mentioned that Santa was on his way — not from the North Pole, but from New York. The afternoon only got weirder as we watched the parade, which featured a dozen or so groups of poorly dressed kids dancing to inaudible Christmas tunes played on small boom boxes, and in which rode local celebrities on convertibles — local weatherman John Belski, for example, and Little Miss Nascar. As my younger brother argued with my parents to go out to dinner with his girlfriend’s friend, who, he explained, owes money to the Vietnamese government, I gave thanks for Boston, a city where people are civilized and where celebrations have a point. Oh yeah, and Kentucky went to Bush.

3. My room. Sure, there is a lot to be said for a house. But isn’t there a lot of charm in a dorm room — where one whole life (nay, two whole lives) are contained within just a few square feet? I was thrilled to return to my little room, where I keep shampoo on the refrigerator and soda under my bed, ramen in my desk and water on my dresser. When else can I hang chili-pepper lights from my walls and call them beautiful? Can we really decorate our houses with Gore-Lieberman paraphernalia? For as wonderful as my Thanksgiving was, I was just warmed to the cockles of my heart to see the cheerful walls of 827B.

4. Turnips.

5. NBC. I am thankful that an otherwise sad Sunday night for the Democrats has been overshadowed by the drama of Jack Dawson and Rose Dewitt.


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