August 1st, 2008


Frontier Airlines loses my big red suitcase. Honestly, though, I don't mind. This is actually a whole lot more convenient than dragging it around with me today, and it'll be delivered down here from Indianapolis tomorrow, or something like that.

The shuttle bus from the airport is exactly what I want it to be: on time, mostly empty, and driven by a friendly middle-aged lady with silver hair in a bun. She asks where I want to be let off the bus. "Memorial Union?" I say, hopefully, unsure what the locals call it and feeling a little like I'm speaking a foreign language, but I seem to make sense to her. I'm in a sleep-dep stupor for most of the drive, but when we get into Bloomington, I sit up and look around. It's a warm day and the sun is shining.

When we get to the whatever-the-locals-call-it, I walk around the building for a while, looking for coffee. I find Starbucks, which is open, and I find the coffee shop that is not Starbucks, which doesn't open for another half hour, and damned if my first purchase in Bloomington is going to be from Starbucks. So I set off on a short walk across campus in the direction it seems like Lindley is in -- and I'm right. I go in. I walk up the stairs in the entrance hall. It's cool and quiet and green leaves filter the light and the sound of my footsteps echoes off the limestone walls. Nobody's around. I don't remember this part from before. I feel like I'm sneaking into a church. A church where the words "Computer Science" are on the wall. And there's an LCD screen showing photos and biographies of people in the department, and at the moment I walk up, it just happens to be on "Douglas R. Hofstadter", and I just stand there, vacantly grinning, until eventually it rotates around to "Steven D. Johnson" and right at that moment I hear someone come in behind me and I become nervous and scurry off down the hall and out one of the back doors. Don't want to get caught in here, you know.

Back at Sugar & Spice, I purchase a large coffee and a piece of banana bread for roughly what the banana bread alone would have cost me back in Portland. I sit down in what is apparently the South Lounge, and "IU Secure" comes up in my wifi list, and I log in with the username and passphrase that I use for everything here, and it Just Works. Just like everything here. And a shaggy bearded man walks in with his roughly-three-year-old, and they sit down at the piano, and now they're playing it together. Or, well, gently hitting it. And, wow, it actually looks like she put two pieces of banana bread in this bag!