Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Univ. of Tenn. Band Heads To D.C. For Fun Times At the Presidential Inauguration Parade

I am a UT Pride of the Southland Band nut and am not alone. There are many of us. I was a member of the band and continue to be an avid supporter. The band will be performing for the 12th consecutive time in the presidential inauguration parade in Washington D.C. next Thursday. They will have a blast. I know--I performed in one of the previous parades. There is nothing like riding up in one of the buses in the caravan and checking into the hotel (Ours had a mental hospital on the top floor. Hmmmm. We never could figure that one out.). The whole city is abuzz with excitement. Going to parties and sightseeing. Practicing marching the parade in a parking lot covered with solid ice. The fancy restaurants, the people, the fun, the memories that stay with you forever.
Ask any Pride member about their trip to the Inauguration and you will invariably hear two things: the bitter, ass numbing cold that besets the city like clockwork for every Inauguration, and the memories. Yes, the memories. There is nothing like passing the grandstand and playing Rocky Top.
List of Events for the Inauguration:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Brokedown Palace--A Nightmare Travel Story

I am watching Brokedown Palace again today, and once again it is giving me the willies. It is the story of two American girls who go to Thailand for an adventure. They meet up with a charming and good looking Australian (Yes, young American women always have charming and good looking, and some not so good looking men, wanting to befriend them on trips abroad.) and he invites them to travel to Hong Kong. Gosh darn, he just forgot to mention he had slipped some heroin into one of their bags, and they get caught at the airport. They may have to spend the rest of their lives in a Thai jail. What also gives me the willies is the behavior of the father of one of the girls toward the other girl when he arrives at the Thai jail. His comments to the other girl are just creepy and mean at that point in the story.

The scariest thing is how easily this could happen, and I am grateful it never happened to me. I never traveled to Thailand, but I did travel to Mexico, Greece, Spain, and Egypt, etc., sometimes just with another young woman, and this could have been our story too. I have a good sense about people, and I always seemed to know what was in our bags, but I guess these drug smugglers are just really good at setting people up.

I remember when a friend and I traveled to Egypt, I was 25. When I came back through U.S. customs, the custom agent spent an inordinate amount of time rifling through my bags. "Egypt--that is a wierd place to go," he said, watching me closely, as he went through my things with a finetooth comb. "Not really, I said." I was mad that he was taking so much time going through my things. I was tired and thought he was being a jerk. I guess he thought I might be a "mule," the name for young women, such as those in Brokedown Palace who bring drugs in and out of countries, often without knowing they are doing so. Egypt is one of those countries. Luckily, that wasn't my situation and I could move on. But I feel for those who have been trapped in these kind of situations.