Saturday, January 07, 2012

Home for the holidays

I'm not a big fan of holiday travel...basically, if you want to fly internationally during late December, it's double the price, and seems to come along with a greater risk of delays due to weather and business (or maybe the risk is the same, but it's way more annoying when your $2900 flight gets cancelled than your $1400 one). And maybe I'm a bit of a Scrooge but I'm just not that into Christmas- Thanksgiving is more my speed in terms of holidays. However, since I was in Australia for the last Christmas I felt a bit bad about missing two in a row so I made the trip back to Massachusetts.
Of course my flight got cancelled, which put in in a pretty sour mood, but at least the one day delay allowed me to attend my institute's Christmas party, where once again, the nutbush happened.
In total, I was home for 7 days and it was pretty jam-packed. I packed a couple of boxes of Christmas crackers in my suitcase (and did start worrying about halfway through the flight that they might be considered an explosive...whoops) and brought them to Christmas dinner- my nieces were not that impressed but the adults really enjoyed the bad jokes and paper crowns. My grandmother kept her crown on for the whole day. The rest of the week was spent hanging out with the family, catching up with friends, and eating at some of my favorite places (Mexican! Sushi! La Cantina! Framingham Bakery Pizza!). Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do a big night out in the city with my Boston friends, nor a lengthy trip to the mall- two of my favorite vacation activities. So although I had a great time, I'm already looking forward to my next trip back.

What I read and watched on the plane:

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin. I picked up this collection of short stories set in Pakistan due to the National Book Award finalist seal on its cover, but it lingered on my bookshelf for ages. The stories feature various characters in modern Pakistan, most of whom are somehow linked to K.K. Harouni, a wealthy landowner whose fortunes and influence are on the decline as the feudal system becomes outdated. Despite its critical acclaim, I didn't like the book- it all felt a bit too cold and distant, and my biggest problem was with the depiction of women, the majority of whom were young peasants who sleep with their employers, with the main exception being a rich socialite who cheats on her new husband. I don't know much about Pakistan, but surely there are Pakinstani women who aren't sex slaves or sexpots.

Nightwoods, by Charles Frazier. This novel, which tells the story of a reclusive young woman who becomes the caretaker of her niece and nephew after her sister's murder, was very different (much shorter and paired down) from the epic Cold Mountain, and I didn't love it, but I did like it.


Our Idiot Brother- Paul Rudd as a stoner who causes upheaval in his sister's personal and professional lives. Pretty good.

The Way- Martin Sheen stars in this Emilio Estevez-directed film as a man who ends up walking El Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage route in Spain. Not surpising that they didn't find a role for Charlie. The kind of movie my parents would love.

A Better Life- A father in struggling to raise his son as an illegal immigrant in L.A. A surpising choice for an airplane movie.

Real Steel- Hugh Jackman, Kate from Lost, a little boy, and fighting robots. Awful but entertaining at the same time.

Crazy, Stupid, Love- Steve Carrell stars as a family man who goes through something akin to a mid-life crisis after his wife cheats on him. I had high expectations and thought it was okay but not as funny or edgy as I would have hoped. The babysitter was my favorite character.
Crazy, Stupid, Love

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