Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Not Annoy Me when You're Taking Your Kids on Vacation

So it's the Summer Vacation Season again, kids, which means that I, like most people who travel a fair amount for business rather than pleasure, will be spending more time in the airport fuming at stupid people and counting down the days until school starts and we can get our quiet, hurried, peaceful security lines back.

Having just completed two trips this month that challenged my ability to stay zen in the face of supreme annoyances, I have compiled a list of Things To Not Do In Order To Avoid Pissing Me (and any other business travelers) Off.

Please study and remember these before you take the kids off to Disneyland this summer.  There will be a test, in the form of the number of sighs that come from the be-suited, briefcased person behind you.  Less than three, and you're doing ok.  Between 5 and 10, we won't kill you.  Over 10, and you are officially on the Business Travelers Family Horror List and we reserve the right to roll our eyes at you, repeatedly.

1)  Just because you CAN get 2 free bags plus a carry on plus a personal item on Southwest doesn't mean that you HAVE to.  I CAN jump off a bridge.  Doesn't mean it's a good idea.  Listen, you don't need all that shit you're taking.  I can guarantee that in two weeks you'll glance at those cute little outfits that you never wore and wonder why you lugged them along.  Why do overpackers like you piss off people like me?  Because you clog up all the walkways with your carts and your luggage spilling out over it, and you stop in the middle of the walkway to readjust your straps and pile up your bags again, and your crap gets in my way.  You take forever in the dropoff areas lugging your bags out of the car.  I'm in a hurry.  You might not be, but I am.  So please, when you think you're done packing, go through your suitcase and remove half of everything, and repack.  You will take up less space, you will move faster, and you won't annoy me.

2)  Follow the signs.  When you're on an escalator or moving walkway, and it says "stand to the right, walk on the left," do that.  Again, I'm rushing.  I'm trying to get to my appointment and get home so I can spend some time with my husband on our deck.  Follow the directions and we'll get along ok.  Make me squeeze through you, walk over your luggage, or correct your kid, and you're toast.  I will plow right over you.  I swear to God I will.

3)  Speaking of your kids, be responsible for them.  When you're in an airport, you're in a place where, nine months of the year, the vast majority of the people who are there are doing business.  They're making phone calls, skyping Hong Kong, etc.  I get it that you have a right to be there - that's why there are tiny chairs and play areas.  But for the love of God, don't give your kids a gallon of coke so they're bouncing off the walls while I'm trying to read the Financial Times.  Just because you think it's cute that they walk up to strangers and try to undo their shoelaces, that doesn't mean everybody else thinks it's cute, ok?  I don't want to have to slug your kid.  Don't give me a reason to.

3B) Equally annoying are those parents who scream at their children for no reason.  Don't be a dick to your kids in the presence of a hundred and fifty people on your plane.  You'll just look like an asshole and make us all uncomfortable.

4)  Now is not the time to study the menu at Starbucks and ask the barista what the difference is between an Americano and a Frappuccino.  Do that at your neighborhood Starbucks at 11am on a Wednesday.  Not when there's a line of people behind you, all of whom are rushing for a flight and are itching for some caffeine so they can prepare for their meetings.

4B)  Don't act surprised when you get charged $5 for a cup of coffee.  It's annoying and reminds those of us who do this all the time how much of our lives and money we've wasted overpaying for stale grease sandwiches in crappy airports.

5)  Be prepared.  Be prepared for the security lines.  Pack your liquids in a handy spot so you don't have to stop and hold the line up while you go through a suitcase full of socks to find your ziploc baggie.  Watch what other people in the line in front of you.  For example, if you're behind 20 people, and they're all getting out their ID and boarding passes, and showing them to the nice TSA officer, that means that you will probably have to do that, too.  Don't be all surprised when you get up there and he asks to see it.  You saw this one coming a mile away.

6)  Don't act retarded.  This means: don't try to be cute and cut in line in the security line because you're a single man traveling with no luggage when you clearly haven't traveled post 9/11 and don't know that you have to take off your belt, keys, phone, shoes, dignity, etc., and you wind up holding us all up because you were too cool to wait while I lugged my suitcase up on the belt (oh, and if you're a man, and you offer to help women with their bags, this act of chivalry goes a long way to avoid us blogging about what an asshole you are after you pull a cute stunt like that).

7)  Don't act all freaked out.  It's really not that scary.  You're stressing us all out with all your nerves.  Listen, bags usually don't get lost.  If there are enough of you on a late flight, the connecting flight is probably going to wait for you.  If they don't, you'll get the next one.  If there isn't a next one, they'll put you up in a hotel and give you food vouchers.  It's really not that bad.  Be cool, remember you're on vacation, and leave your stressy energy at home.

Thank you.  I feel better now.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I voodoo, do you voodoo?

So I'm in New Orleans which is known for a couple of things - music, alcohol, girls flashing themselves for beads, parties, food, and...voodoo.  There is voodoo stuff everywhere in this town.  Palm Readers all over Jackson Square, outside of the big churches.  It's all intermingled with organized religion, and nobody seems to take it too seriously.

I decided to jump in and get a reading done at the most touristy-looking place of all.  Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo.  I decided it was a sign that I should go there when I saw one solitary newspaper article up on the wall about the store, and it was how the woman who owned it had some kind of magic spoon (not to be confused with the magic beans that the magic spoon stirs) that, when women ate soup with it (or something), helped them get pregnant (no shit.  Where do I sign up?).  I went in, said I'd never had a reading done before, and didn't say much else.

The first thing that the reader said was that my son and daughter loved me very much.  WTF?  I don't have a son and daughter, I say.  No, you do, she says.  I see them here.  It's the biggest thing in the spirit world that I see about you right now.  It's the biggest message.  Your son and your daughter are devoted to you.  Then she shuffles her cards, sees a 9 of diamonds, and says, "oh, your son and daughter you lost this past year.  Saturn's orbit sure has been a bitch to you this time around."

That's some creepy shit right there, folks. I always said it.  F*ck Saturn.  What has Saturn ever done for me? Now it all makes sense.  Stupid Saturn.

(A side note on my opinion of all things occult-like: I posted once before when I talked about the tarot cards, this stuff doesn't scare me.  It's the spirit world, and to me it's the same place where the angels are, and some people are in touch with it, and some people are able to share their gift, and being all freaked out and thinking of them as "witches" seems so medieval to me. I just don't like to give the Devil that much power, you know?  Evil feeds off of the power you give it.  If you just take things as gifts and accept them, and don't make it all "evil", things work out a lot better in the end.  I mean, five hundred years ago the priests used to read rune stones to predict the gender of the king's children.  It's all relative.  Thus endeth the lesson.)

Anyway, back to my reading.

She also said that my son - Baby T - is going to come back to me, but it might not be as a natural child I carry.  I'm apparently going to have three children.  One I will carry, one will be adopted, and she couldn't tell on the third.  The jury's still out on what my ovaries will accomplish.

She said she could tell that my partner was going to come into his own skin sometime soon and in the next few years would start a business or do something that would really amaze me and make me super-proud.  Sweet.

Apparently the worst of everything is over.  Again, this is because Saturn's orbit is receding.  Stupid planet and its stupid orbit.

What else...

Oh, she said that J is so crazy in love with me.  She said she rarely sees people with partners as crazy in love with them as my partner is with me.  Awwww.  Bless.

She picked up on travel and wanting to live abroad, and before I even mentioned anything about it, she said that I would live in many places and many countries and my children would grow up speaking many languages.  I asked how that was going to happen, and she said that a close male with brown hair and brown eyes was going to be instrumental in having it come to fruition.  She thought it was Jonathan, but he doesn't have brown hair and brown eyes.  Sandor in London, I'm looking at you for that, ok?  Make it so, Number One.

Oh, and I have four guardian angels.  I wonder whether they're anybody famous.  I can just see it.  Beethoven, Henry VIII, Heidegger and my grandma are all sitting around having tea, planning how to protect me from Saturn.  Henry VIII wants to chop some of its rings off.  Beethoven wants to scream at it.  And Heidegger wants to question whether it exists at all, and if naming it Saturn gives it too much power in my life. And my Grandma wants to chill out and try to appease Saturn.

Anyway, that was my psychic reading in a nutshell.  I spent the rest of the evening wandering around listening to music.  All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In the world of Small Things That Make You Happy: I've finally got my Girly/Dido station on Pandora exactly to my liking.  It's taken nearly three years of tweaking, but I realized tonight that I didn't click "dislike" once in nearly two hours of listening.  I am happily bopping around now listening to The Cranberries, and remembering college, and thinking that maybe I have a paper due tomorrow, but then realizing that I don't, and then I feel relieved.

So something new I did today was wear my sunglasses inside, all day.  I am having a hard time this weekend, if you hadn't noticed from yesterday's post, and I didn't really feel like facing people.  When I went into the convention center, I was hit in the face with 25,000 shiny happy people/librarians, and I wanted to hide from all the festivities.  Plus, there was free food, and nothing gets librarians on city-budgets excited like free food.  I was early for my first meeting, and wanted to sit somewhere quiet and read, but I couldn't get away from it all, so I decided to put in my headphones, and put on my sunglasses, and it really was like being in my own little cocoon of a world.  I had Bob Seger on (Roll me Away is one of the greatest road-trip songs ever) reminding me that I've been running against the wind, and the world was a nice shade of muted pastel blue, and no one smiled an annoying bright smile at me, and I didn't care how aloof I looked.  Damn, it was fun.

The only funny thing was when I accidentally walked into a wall because, in all my aloofness, I wasn't paying attention.  Whatever.  I'm a klutz, but I'm an aloof klutz.

Seriously, I'm going to do this Sunglasses Inside thing all the time when I don't feel like facing people.  It's such a good trick, I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

The only other time I've work sunglasses a lot (other than, you know, like in the car driving, and on the beach, and obvious stuff like that) was when I was 17 on a school trip in Europe, and I discovered alcohol.  There were a whole bunch of us from different schools and I made friends with this guy Craig, who was gorgeous.  He was subsequently my "date" to the senior prom.  "date" being in "quotes" because he was gay.  But he was from another school, and pretended that he was my boyfriend really well, and picked me up in a red porsche, so I was stoked.  Besides, I'm a nerd and spent most of the prom studying my flashcards for all my AP tests that were going on the next week.  Yep, you read that right.  In my tiny little beaded purse, I had stashed a set of flashcards on the French Revolution, and an extra lipstick.  I rock like that.

Anyway, Craig was gorgeous.  And there was this other gorgeous girl - I forget her name, but let's call her Kristen, because in my high school Kristen's were all really pretty.  So Kristen was tall and model-gorgeous, and I think she didn't realize that Craig was gay, but she probably figured that they should be together because the two gorgeous people are always together, right?  But Craig had already told me he was gay, and he and I spent all the bus-rides sitting together listening to Andrew Lloyd Weber soundtracks, so we were already tight.  So Gorgeous Girl - Kristen - was super-friendly with me, cuz I think she thought maybe I would somehow be an "in" to Craig.  So it was the three of us, together.  The two model-gorgeous people and me, drinking champagne with diet coke (yes, you read that right.  Champagne with diet coke.  Don't ask).

Actually, I might just be inventing all that in my head.  The motive, I mean.  I just know that it was model-Kristen and Craig and me and I was really drunk for the first time in my life, and discovering the deliciousness of being slightly out of your head, and then having bloodshot eyes the next morning.

Hence the sunglasses, which never came off, the entire trip.

Speaking of being drunk, you know what one of my favorite feelings in the world is?  You know when you're out at a club, and you get really drunk, and the music is throbbing and pulsing, and you're dancing, and you're sweating, and you're laughing and giddy, and the room is sort of spinning, but it's all kind of fun and crazy, and only slightly woozy? And then you go to the bathroom.  And you're in the stall and you're peeing, and for the first time it's like, kind of quiet, except you can still hear the beat thumping around, and you're like, "Ahhhh, this peeing feels really good.  Man, I'm hungry.  What's going on?  Did I just make out with that guy out there?  What was his name?  Or was it a girl?  Huh?  Who's calling me?  What phone number is this written on my hand?  Damn, I'm still peeing.  Oh man, this is taking forever.  I'm just going to rest my head against the wall here..."

I LOVE that feeling.  Like, totally love it.  I'd go out clubbing every night (if it wasn't so tiring - seeing as how I'm not 23 anymore) just to get the peeing-while-drunk feeling.

This has been random, hasn't it?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Same Sh*t Different Year

I'm moody today.  I'll tell you why.  Because I'm at the American Library Association's annual conference in New Orleans, which happens every year around this time.  Last year it was in Washington DC.  And I had found out I was pregnant about 10 days beforehand.  I was trudging to the Safeway near the convention center to get Good Food since there was a little life inside of me, and was thus avoiding Convention Center Food, which basically sucks all around.  I was still all excited.  Reading the What To Expect When You're Expecting book, highlighter in hand, post-it stickies marking every relevant page.  Thinking about how the next year, we'd all drive to ALA because we'd have a 4 month old, and I've been on enough flights with 4-month-olds that I wouldn't want to inflict that on anyone.  Stupid planning.  Stupid What to Expect book.  They don't tell you to expect that your heart is going to be literally torn apart.  They don't tell you to expect to have emotional mood swings even 8 months later.  They don't tell you that you'll burst into tears doing the most mundane stuff like picking out raspberries in the grocery store.  They don't tell you crap.  Everybody knows to expect morning sickness.  Duh.

In addition to the fact that, since last year I have lost two, count 'em, two babies, I'm also reminded of my friend Jim Buescher.  Jim Buescher was my bestest friend from the time I was about 12.  He went to a different school - Penn Manor whilst I went to Pequea Valley - but we met in drama classes at the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster (a mysterious place which, to a country bumpkin like me, was brimming with sophisticated things like coffee houses called The Monks Tunic, and convenience stores you could walk to.  Imagine that.  Walking!  Like on a sidewalk!  Slurping your slusheee.  Amazing!).

My name then was Heather Buettner and he was Jim Buescher, so we were only separated by a very few letters in the alphabet.  He was worldly and knew all about Paul Simon's albums post-Garfunkel and pre-Graceland (when he wrote deeply poetic songs like "When Numbers Get Serious" and before he became a plastic surgery disaster).  After the SAT's one Saturday afternoon we were driving along a back country road and he started driving in the oncoming lane and saying, "Look!  We're in England!"  And he taught me how to say a French phrase, which, roughly translated meant: "I like to frolic with gay soldiers in New Orleans."   Only he didn't tell me what it meant, and I wandered all around the French-speaking part of Switzerland on a choir trip one summer thinking I was asking people where the bathrooms were.

Anyway, I'm in New Orleans now for the first time (which, coincidentally, got me the jetsetters badge on 4square today, thank you very much) and Jim Buescher is...wait for it...passed on.  Like my (count-'em) two babies.  He died in a car accident last summer.  I found out about it while I was at an OB appointment.  That's some dramatic foreshadowing if I've ever seen any.

So here I am in New Orleans and I want so desperately to call him up and say, "J'aime jouer avec les soldats gais à la Nouvelle-Orléans" only he's not there.  And I want so desperately to hold my baby boy, only he's not here.  In a town that's been descended upon by 25,000 librarians, you'd think somebody would effing be here.  But nope.  Nobody's here.  It's a ghost town.  

I've gotta go to bed.  Oh, and I'm sick, too.  To the couple who sat next to me on the plane from Vegas:  sorry for all the hacking, folks.  I hope you had purell handy.  I tried not to breathe on you.

I'm gonna go cry my little shrinking self to sleep now.  Cue tiny violins.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hi there people... Long Time No Blog!  Man, I've been busy.  We went back home to Amish country Pennsylvania for five blissful days of being social with the folks who've known me since I was in diapers, which was actually exhausting.  Man, we are so totally unsocial out here.  I'm out of practice.  It was nonstop social-butterfly-ness.  My throat got sore and I ran out of things to talk about.  Except with my dad.  Have you ever noticed how, when you go home, even if you're 35 like me, you suddenly revert to being a 13 year old again around your parents?  Maybe it goes away once you have kids of your own (which I am supposed to know about, but don't yet...ahem, cue tiny violins) or maybe it's just me, but I found all kinds of shit to argue about with my dad.

Like so:

1) Britney Spears' music is not terrible, and there were plenty of bubblegum bands in the 50's. Isn't that where the term came from in the first place.  They weren't all The Platters.  For every Fatz Domino singing about Blueberry Hill, there were probably a dozen Britney Spears-alikes of cookie cutter harmonies.

Let's check.

Hang on, that might be wrong.  I googled top songs of 1957, and they're all actually kind of good.  I mean, I'm not going to go clubbing to them, but even a promising one called "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" had some funkiness.  That was the only one on the list that I hadn't heard before, or didn't know, and I expected it to be lousy (a word that reminds me of 1957 in an 'aww, gee, Mrs. Cleaver, can't Wally come double date to the soda shop with us?' kind of way).  In my defense. the lyrics are pretty hit-me-baby-one-more-time awful:

I wanna squeeze her but I'm way too low
I would be runnin' but my feets too slow
Young man rhythm's got a hold of me too
I got the rockin' pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu

Maybe I just appreciate all kinds of music, so it's a bad argument to have.  And really, Brit's music has gotten a lot better in the past few years.  At least, her producers have.  I really like her new album.  Really.

So whatever.  That one's a tie.

2) Posting on Facebook does NOT mean that the police have access to your bank account.  My dad is a privacy freak.  I suspect it has something to do with the fact that he grew up in post-WW2 East Germany, but his biggest fear is Big Brother.  He hates cameras on the street.  He hates facebook.  He hates the GPS on phones.  He hates gun laws.  He hates helmet laws.  

My dad needs to join the Michigan Militia. 

Are they even around anymore?

Google break... cue Jeopardy Music...

Yep, they are, claiming that they're Homeland Defense, with a page on their website devoted to Militia Babes.  Stay classy, Michigan.  Stay classy.

So yeah, my dad.  He's got something going on with the whole privacy thing, and it's hella freaky.  But good fodder for arguments.

3) The 50's were NOT the greatest decade ever known to man, it was NOT the most innocent time, kids these days AREN'T really that much more stupid, and perceptions are all relative.

4) Building the mosque at ground zero isn't insulting.  My dad claims it's the same as a mass murderer building a shrine to Jeffrey Dahmer outside one of his victim's home.  J pointed out, quite reasonably (despite the steam that was coming out of his ears) that my dad had just compared God to Jeffrey Dahmer.  Things got weird after that.

Yep, good times and good arguments were had by all, except my stepmom and husband, who had to listen to us bicker like we did when I was 14.

But I'm back and getting caught up now, and I'm still learning Italian and I'm still losing weight (though it's getting much harder these days) and that's the update.  Eventually I'll get back on a regular schedule.  

Teysko Out.