Traveling with Sneakers. Or: Stuck at the airport.

I’ve grown bored of all the posts and articles that claim to teach us how to travel: things you should know before you go, how to pack, what to pack, how to get upgrades. The information is almost always the same, just recycled with different pictures and minor edits. I stopped paying attention to the advice: “Pack light!” “Roll your stuff!” “Be prepared for different climates!” I’m sure there’s new and fresh information. I wish someone would publish it.

Also: in response to a common question (“how can I not stand out as an American?”), the number one guidance is: “don’t wear sneakers, especially white ones.”

Well, from my perch at Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik (Iceland) this morning, as part of the Itinerary From Hell that is my current trip (will rant about that separately), EVERYONE but me is wearing sneakers.

Photography: me. Models: fellow passengers

The sneaker-wearers are women and men of all ages. They are surly teenagers and hyperactive adolescents. The wearers were Americans, Icelanders, Arabs, French, Spanish, and a host of other nationalities I could not readily identify based purely on spoken language.

I know all this because I had a pretty decent amount of time during my layover (did I mention itinerary from hell?) to people-watch quite extensively. (Greatest sport of all time.)

I saw white sneakers, some with stripes, on not-American feet. There were lime-green sneakers and black sneakers and orange sneakers and a few startling shades-of-fuchsia sneakers.

There were a few sparkly sneakers too, worn mostly by 50+ not-American women. Go figure, globalization knows no boundaries nor age groups.

Anyway, because I have time before my next flight, here’s my travel advice:

  1. Pack light, because you just might have a long trip with multiple stops before your final destination. It just may be that the gods will conspire to make every escalator break down and you’ll have to lug your suitcase up and down the stairs to get to the restroom, the gate, and the coffee. These three places are not necessarily on the same floor.
  2. Take a sweater or warm scarf, because who doesn’t travel in 3 different climates on the same trip? If you don’t take some warm clothing, you may find yourself shivering in a corner of Keflavik Airport, trying to discreetly draw warmth from fellow passengers who are appropriately dressed but who now think you’re a creep.
  3. Oh, hell. I give up. Wear the damn sneakers. This is so you “blend in” when experiencing 1 and 2 above.

I survived the trip. Looking back over the past 24 hours, now that I’m back in Istanbul and finally warm, I’d say it was a tiring but good day. I got lucky with my seats on each leg of the trip: an exit row, an aisle seat on an overbooked flight, and a near-empty row on the last. It could have been so much worse.

Writer’s Block. Or: Writer’s Block.

person typing on typewriter
Photo by on

I’m staring at my laptop screen again and wondering why it is that I often think I have a lot to say but then suddenly draw a blank when trying to express my thoughts.

I’m told this is writer’s block. (Does that mean I’m a writer?)

It’s sort of funny, this writer’s block thing. The other day I responded to someone on Quora – and that’s another story, the story of Quora and how my new hobby is to obsessively answer some interesting and some outrageously stupid questions posed by others.

Anyway, the person’s question was how to get motivated to write. In their situation, they had plenty of thoughts but nothing came out when they tried to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. So I suggested they do something else, like take a walk or watch a movie or read something. I assured them that soon enough, inspiration would come.

So why can’t we take our own advice? We tell others not to stand up their friends in favor of a date, or to walk away when a relationship is bad, or to confront our demons. Then we rationalize our own indecision, poor choices, and stupid mistakes.

It’s always easier to dispense advice than to live by our own words. It’s easier to be objective and clinical when it’s not our own hearts or emotions or feelings on the line.

In any event, I’m now going to go for a walk. Then I’ll read something, and later tonight I’ll watch a movie. And hopefully I’ll start taking my own advice when I say and do outrageously stupid things.