Take The Train to Charlotte


So, it’s Sunday morning when I’m writing this. I note it because, usually, I allow the magic of posting ahead of time give you the (false) impression that I get up every morning and write some purple prose. Actually, some days I write nothing, and others, such as this past Saturday, I might compose three.

I mention this because I may be offline for a while, not responding to comments, not visiting other blogs. Or not – I don’t know yet.

Friday, my sister Marcia called me at work. She said that our mom seemed fine that morning, took a shower and started getting dressed. Suddenly, she started complaining about a severe headache. She was screaming, like she did when she was in a car accident a few months ago. Marcia decided to take her to the doctor, but by the time they were trying to get ready, my mother had become listless. So my sister called an ambulance, and Mom went to the hospital.

It turned out Mom has a brain bleed. Apparently, this layman has discovered, there are two types of strokes: one in which the blood vessels are constricted and one in which a vessel can burst; my mother has the latter.

Some factors: my mom is 83 years old, with high blood pressure plus other medical issues, and possibly most significantly, does amazingly poorly with the various anesthesia she’s had in the past. So calling Dr. Derek Shepherd of Grey’s Anatomy to do some sort of surgery is not a high percentage option.

Marcia called me Saturday. Mom has developed a full-blown case of pneumonia, from a little spot on her lungs to much worse merely hours later. My sister Leslie flew into Charlotte, NC from San Diego, CA on Sunday, for an extended visit she had been anticipating doing for a while anyway.

I’ve decided to go to Charlotte, too. But taking the plane is not only expensive, it becomes more so because I don’t know when I can come back. I can book it for a week, but then I might need to change it and incur a $150 change fee; no, Southwest doesn’t fly to Charlotte. Moreover, the best deal on a flight from Albany, NY to Charlotte, NC goes through Detroit, MI, an airport I HATE, HATE, HATE. Going through Atlanta, GA is not much better. The one direct flight is way more expensive.

Most of all, I really have come to despise what now passes for air travel in America, where I get to toss my four-ounce bottle of shampoo because I could be a terrorist. (More ranting at another time.) It’s become a flying bus, and I’m just not fond.

That leaves taking the train. It’s 15 hours, and I’ll either have to leave Albany or get to Charlotte in the middle of the night. Still, I like the train. I like walking around on the train, going to the dining car and meeting people on the train. The train is civilized; the plane is a meat market. At some point, quite probably by the time you read this, I’ll be in Charlotte, and I don’t know for how long. Since there is no real round-trip ticket, the return is more flexible.

All of this to say that I’ll probably be posting every day for the next week or so, stuff already written, or perhaps not. I’m sure I’ll be blogging from Charlotte once I figure out what the situation is.

Fiddlin John Carson And His Virginia Reelers-Take The Train To Charlotte