Vol. I, No. 3 Conway, Arkansas, Feb. 12, 2005 Next Edition: Mar. 25, 2005
Vietnamese Roasted Pork Salad
For the marinade
For the dressing
For the complete recipe in print-friendly format, follow this link.
Fact: Rail Slow
Dec. 28, 2004
Two and a half hours.
That's a long time for this 37-year-old body to stay curled up on a wooden bench, backpack for a pillow, in the tiny hours of the morning. I had been the first to break all pretense and get comfortable. Then, it was the Greek-born truck driver from Toronto. Then the children, a few adults. The last holdouts were two older women, wearing elegant hats, quietly discussing family business. As I finally fell asleep, their muffled conversation, echoing through the train station, sounded like prayer.
The Amtrak train bound to Chicago is supposed to arrive in Little Rock at 11:54 each night, but it's often late, a victim of the freight trains, which get first priority because Union Pacific owns the tracks. As passengers arrived and were told of the delayed departure, not a single one complained. No one wondered aloud when the !@#$ train would arrive. No one really seemed to care. I like to think, though this may be a bit of whimsy on my part, that the scene would have been drastically different at the airport: people would be complaining, angry-faced, impatient.
I like to think this because I believe rail travelers are a different breed: we're not in a hurry to get anywhere. Time for us is a nebulous and malleable construct; we shape it to fit. See, I can fly to Indianapolis in 4 hours and drive in 11. Still, I won't have much to show for it. In four hours of sitting still, I might be able to knock off some pulp fiction, if I can distract myself from my discomfort long enough. My choice of food: peanuts. If I drive, about all I can do is listen to music or a book on tape. The dining experience? McDonald's and more McDonald's.
Now, if I take the train, I will arrive in Indianapolis in 24 hours. You may think that's too long, but in that time, I will have had a good night's sleep; showered; eaten an excellent breakfast, lunch, and dinner, walked around Chicago for a bit, written an article with my laptop, read the newspaper, met a few people I didn't know before, made arrangements by cell phone to visit various family members, taken a few pictures of St. Louis...well, the list goes on. Time passes so much more quickly in those 24 hours than in the alternative 4 or 11.
But it's not only that. There's something to be said for making a slow transition between one world and the next, letting the changes unfold gently. In my car, as I approach the St. Francis River, which forms the boot heel border between Missouri and Arkansas, I always get teary-eyed: "Goodbye swamp, goodbye alligators, goodbye magnolias! I hope I see you again real soon." It's too abrupt to be foisted into the North like that. Better to take it easy, let the rhythmic rocking of the train cradle you into the difference.
In the end, it's not about getting somewhere; it's about enjoying the ride, the perfect metaphor for life.
Fiction: Shooting Azimuth
I have recurring dreams about maps. In my dreaming hands, I've held maps of the Sahara Desert, the extreme north of Canada, Russia, and even Atlantis, long gone, whose ruins have sunk into the ocean never to be found except by me.
In these dreams I have traveled to Hawaii, the Florida keys, the jungles of Mexico. I've been to the North Pole twice. The first time, I remember that it took almost forever to get to my destination. The second time, I knew my way around—as if that were possible in the constantly shifting, landless territory of the Arctic. My journey magically traced itself on the map as I walked through the white expanse. I was there in no time. Aha, yes, no...time.
They seem disparate, from tropics to tundra, but in fact, all the places I've been in these dreams have one thing in common: they are outposts, last stops before the void. I'm always alone and, therefore, lonely. My first trip to the Arctic, I sat atop an iceberg, surveying all around me and realized that for the only time in my life, I was truly and completely alone. I was frightened.
Despite the isolation, I feel strangely in control in these dreams, deciphering the signs and symbols, a geographic cryptography, that tell me where I am and where I want to go. Exploring not just the landscape, but the possibilities. I shoot the next azimuth: I know where I'm going, but I don't know. I can't wait to see what I'll find, but I'm afraid of what can happen. Is there a name for this strange admixture—fear of the unknown, love of the unknown?
Day Trip Arkansas
Once archived, thumbnails will no longer link to the larger version of the picture.
Ozone Burger Barn
Here's the menu:
As the sign says, The Burger Barn is open 7 days, unless the proprietor decides otherwise!
All images and text copyright © 2004-2008 by Jennifer Deering. All rights reserved.