What happens to the soap? Every day I check into a new hotel and unwrap at least one small, packaged, and apparently pristine bar of soap. I use a tiny amount before I leave. What happens to the rest? I can’t believe they’re throwing all that out. I haven’t seen any big soap collection trucks backing up to hotels, and that’s what they’d need to haul away all the leftovers. They must collect the used bars, mold them into new ones somehow, and repackage them. So when I’m in the shower, I’m actually rubbing myself with soap that has passed over hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bodies before mine. Maybe the way to look at hotel soap is as a hundred million invisible skin particles from everyone who stayed there before you, compressed into a sweet-smelling bar.
Feeling more connected to humanity, I head down for some breakfast. There’s a TV running FOX News, and on screen people are agreeing that the only way to deal with Iran’s seizure of British soldiers is to “make them feel some pain.” Anything less, like diplomacy, would cause the UK to become “a laughing stock.” It’s amazing how similar all this is to the last time I was here, and the time before that, and that. The names of the countries change (Iraq, Iran), and the precise issue everyone’s agitated about, but the solution is always the same: send in the military. And I understand that mindset. But I don’t understand how they can still be talking as if it’s February 2003.
A little later I receive the following email from David:
In today’s blog entry (March 28, 2007) you mention that Finlay crossed her arms for the first time earlier in the day, and express wishes that you could have a picture of this occurrence. I cannot provide you with an actual photograph of this important milestone in your daughter’s life, but I can offer this artist’s rendering of the occasion. I hope that it will convey the situation to you just as well as an actual photograph would have.
Now I don’t really want to encourage people to Photoshop pictures of my daughter. But that completely cracks me up, so I have to share it.
At Madison airport, the woman at check-in is surprised that my final destination is Chicago. I figure out why on the plane: I’ve just about finished buckling up my belt when we commence our descent. I spent more time going through security than actually travelling anywhere.
Chicago is a great city. I’ve been here twice before, once in January and once in July, and I love how completely different it looked each time. And I still think that having a beach right in the heart of the city is one of the best ideas ever. Of course, I’m going to see practically nothing of the place this time except through the window of my taxi. I keep getting great tips for incredible places that I absolutely must visit, but never get to use them. This is not much of a way to sight-see, catching a plane every day.
My reading is at Barbara’s Bookstore, and it’s an especially chatty, interactive crowd, which is awesome. I like that I’ve done enough of these now to be able to relax and have fun—in the early days, it was all a little too nerve-wracking to do that.
In the long line of wonderful people who want me to deface their books, I meet Joe, who rode 11.86 miles on his bike to be at the reading. I know people who drove for many hours to make one of my readings (I believe the record is 6.5 hours), but Joe posits that nobody has ever cycled further than him. So there you have it, people. The bar has been set.