Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Viva Las Vegas!

Well, here I am, a day late and (if you're lucky) a few words shorter than usual. ;) After my epic post from the Conniption Zone, I'll be be as brief as possible. We joined Paul on a business trip to Las Vegas as it is the kids' Spring break. He always has a 10 or 11 day trip here in April and for the last few years, we've made it up here for a few days. I have very mixed feelings about Las Vegas, so perhaps I can tie my weekly bread baking in with this trip.

What about Las Vegas gives me consolation? Truly, truly, truly, there is little about Las Vegas that gives me consolation. That said, making this annual trip has its life-giving points. Similar to tornado season or hurricane season, the LUE family has convention season. Starting in April, Paul will be gone over 21 days between now and mid-June. That doesn't include any extra travel he may have to make between this Vegas trip and InfoComm in June. It has been this way for years and it will be for the foreseeable future. By joining him here for a few days, we alleviate some of the separation. The kids look forward to the trip and that, I can tell you, is pretty much of a miracle. Getting two kids who are eight years apart in age excited about the same place is a beautiful thing. They'll play for hours in the pool and every day we are here is a day I'm not NOT cleaning my house at home. Also, Paul has a home office and works on the opposite side of the country from most of his co-workers, some of whom we have known since before we got married. I usually get a chance to catch up with a couple of these guys here (and sometimes we get a free meal--whoopee!)

What about Las Vegas causes me desolation? Where to begin? Las Vegas brings out my hyper-idealistic nature. While I have aged enough that a lot of my idealism has been tempered, it flares up like a sun spot causing interference in my rationality and I usually end up with an underlying feeling of heaviness while I am here. I remember the first time I brought the kids up. Marley was just beginning to walk, so Colin would have been just 9 years old. Vegas has in previous years made a concerted effort to bring families to town, adding attractions for the kiddos as well as the adults. We walked down the street one night and there were all these men passing out cards to everyone who passed by. When they would see we had children with us, they would turn the card over so the kids wouldn't see the naked woman on it. The ground, though, was littered with the cards that others had discarded. Cards advertising clubs with shows featuring nudity or something similar, I'm sure. I didn't like my children being exposed to this seamier side of the city.

I see every woman on every billboard, bus or playbill and think about whether or not this life is the one her parents dreamed of for her. I look at my daughter, my beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed firecracker and my heart breaks to think of her making a living by dancing, posing, modeling in Las Vegas. (I am not judging women who do this. I do not know their circumstances or the journey which brought them here. They may be perfectly content. In my ideal world, however, no woman would have to make this choice.) It doesn't take too long for my mind to wander from the women dancers and models to the other women here in Vegas. The women who sell more than their image.

For a long time, I thought that was my main issue with Vegas and then last year, Paul and I were at a buffet for breakfast. I sat, eating my crepes and potatoes and what not. I looked around and saw people with their plates heaping. It occurred to me that pounds and pounds of this food was all going to be thrown away once it was time for the lunch buffet. I felt sick, thinking about all the hungry people in the world and all the waste here.

Do you see what I mean about hyper-idealism? I know that the money spent in Vegas provides salaries for a lot of people. Children's parents feed them, clothe them, send them to college with the money they make here. I'm sure the state of Nevada's budget owes no small part to the taxes paid by business owners, etc. I can see all that, but deep in my heart, I am saddened by what lies beneath the dancing waters, bright lights and lively atmosphere. Instead of the world being supported on the backs of turtles, as in the Hindu myth, I imagine Las Vegas supported on the backs of those whose lives are not what they imagined they would be.

And so, in choosing to come to Vegas, I have made a choice. Paul has to be here, no matter what I feel/think about the place. He doesn't have the same response to the place that I do. I could, on principle, never come here, but then I would miss out on a few days of not having to be on my own, the kids getting to have some fun and their seeing a little more of their dad than they would otherwise. So, I choose to be here and to live with my discomfort. At least for now. There may come a day when I can't do it any more. I'll have to wait and see.

I hope I haven't completely bummed everyone out. :/

If you are interested in other Sleeping with Bread posts, you can click here. I don't have the links up yet, but if you look on the sidebar, you will see the regular bakers listed.


Julie Pippert said...

It is something else to be awed by---and even enjoying---the privilege of overindulgence we have access to, all while regretting the lack so many others have access to.

I'm a little bummed, but I think I attain that state regularly enough on my own about this type of topic, so don't blame yourself.

I did like this post, the juxtaposition and explanation.

daisies said...

i've never been to las vegas ~ i've never had a desire to go but that little piece of natural excess close by ~ now that is somewhere i really want to go, that little place called the grand canyon ;-)

a well written thoughtful piece my dear ..

Beck said...

You know, I know several people who are very angsty and unhappy in Las Vegas, and since I've never been I always wondered why - now that I've read your post, I understand.

Terri B. said...

I can hardly stand to drive through/past Vegas without getting depressed. I've a little history with the place that makes it so depressing, but really even without any history with the town its a depressing place to me. The surface is so thin you can see right through it and what is just underneath is uglier than anything I've ever seen anywhere. Anyway, I much prefer my quiet Arizona/Utah canyons and can't wait for my annual "sit" on the edge of my favorite canyon for some much needed soul restoration.

Mel said...

It's a place the Brit wants a chance to visit--but like you, I see more desolation and it creates an inner conflict for me.
Been there--felt like by just showing up I was endorsing the desolation.

Anonymous said...

I like this post. I have a love-hate relationship with Vegas, and I attribute some of it to the weather, but in the end all, it's the whole city vibe, the whole 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' mentality.

And I agree, in my ideal world, women would NEVER make that choice.

Aliki2006 said...

I've never been to Vegas either--and I'm not sure I really ever want to, actually. It's one of those places I never really thought at all about visiting, and perhaps there's a good reason why, given your thoughts!

atypical said...

You put into words exactly what I was feeling when you first mentioned Vegas. And no, I am not offended by the buffet comments (especially since I agree).

I'm glad you choose family time (and that the kids actually look forward to it together! Wow), but I hope for your sake that at some point that family away time changes locations.

Would it surprise you to know that I get similar feelings anytime we go ANYWHERE even remotely commercial for vacation? We still do it, though - once in a blue moon.

Thank you for this enlightening post.


Pendullum said...

Perfectly said!

V-Grrrl said...

My husband has traveled to Vegas many times on business and hates it. Too much of everything and such a hollowness beneath the brightly lit veneer.

EnnuiHerself said...

The first words that come to mind when I think of Vegas are excess and waste and overindulgence. Your post makes me feel a little better in my, more or less, firm resolve to never set foot in Las Vegas.