Friday, August 8, 2014

I'm on my way, I'm on my way, Home Sweet Home....

That's right. I quoted a Motley Crüe power ballad.

I'm not much of a heavy metal/hard rock/hair band girl, but who doesn't love Motley Crüe?  (Favorite song:  Dr. Feelgood.)

But this isn't about hair metal bands;  I'm coming home!  Hooray!

It's been a hard week for The Working Family.  The Boy's been sick. Dad's not feeling well. Dad was over-stressed with the solo duty with a sick kiddo, and handled it all like a champ. (Love that guy.)  And I, I worried and worried about them both, feeling (and mostly being) helpless, from afar.

But The Boy's doing better, now, and Dad's doing what he needs to do to feel better too.  And Mom's ever so glad. 

The last couple of days' work was pretty productive, but I'm happy to be coming home to continue the job.  This hotel living is for the birds.  Or maybe it's for the birds and the young and childless....  It's not for the 43 years and 11 months old mother of a three year old.  I feel for the frequent business traveler. 

I nearly had a heart attack just now because I thought I may have lost my "Mom" bracelet going through security. Fortunately, it was in the last place I looked ( ;-) ), and I have this beverage to bring my heart rate back down.  (Why does every glass of wine in this town cost at least $12?)

I'm bringing home with me a sore throat and a cough (always happens when I travel), presents for The Boy and The Working Dad, a new understanding of how my department works at the national level, and, mainly, joy that I'll be with my boys again.

Also, random:  apparently my plane will be filled with a bunch of Brazilian teenagers on their way home, and me. Hmm. 

I do like my job. And I think the new assignment that brought me here is going to be really interesting. But I'm ever so grateful that the job can be mostly done from my desk at home.  Ever so grateful....

I'm on my way, so set me free...Home Sweet Home. 

(After a glass of wine, those lyrics actually make me tear up a little.) 

P.S.  Aisle seat!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bus-man's Holiday

I've never understood the people who enjoy business travel. They're out there, I know. And I know some of them. But I am not one of you, friends. 

You're in a bed that's not yours, with unfamiliar sounds and smells. You're away from your family. Your body clock is off, but it doesn't matter because the garbage truck or some other racket outside your window will wake you up at what feels to your body as 4:15 a.m.  Then you go and work for 8 or 10 hours and do whatever it is that you do. And maybe the people you're working with want to go to dinner or, God forbid, drinks afterwards, when all you want to do is get back to the hotel, get a quick dinner (at ridiculous room services prices -- $43 for a hamburger, salad and glass of red wine?), FaceTime with your family, and go to sleep because you want to get onto the next day as quickly as possible so the trip will be over.

But if you're one of those people that likes business trips, then you don't feel that way at all do you?  You're shutting down the hotel bar every night after work, bless you. 

Still business travel in DC -- at least, in theory -- offers some unique opportunities, especially if your hotel is only about three blocks from the National Mall, like mine is.

However, the aforementioned after-hours socializing has, until tonight, hindered my after-work efforts to see some sites. But tonight, I finally got to visit a museum, the coolest museum ever, definitely in my top three favorite museums, if not #1. (And, importantly, I got the opportunity to shop in its store for my main men at home.). Wish I'd had more than an hour, and wished my guys were with me the whole time.  Where did I go?  Here's a hint. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting Lost on Your Business Trip.

Washington, D.C. is a nice city. A neat city. A great city to visit. 

But, alas, it is not user-friendly.  This whole wagon-wheel thing is for the birds. 

So I got lost walking fom the hotel, where I'd dropped my bag off, to the office that was theoretically easy an 11 minute walk away.

Thankfully, it was in a nice part of town...because there can be some scary parts to this city too, for the uninitiated, like myself. 

One hour later, totally stressed, with a lump in my throat (and, not to mention, a bit of a sweaty glow), I hailed a cab. 

Funny how a cab is not to be found when you desperately need it. But, eventually one drove past and I threw up my arm.  And the driver was very nice and gentle with confused, frustrated, embarrassed and frazzled me.

I finally arrived in the office. The people were lovely and sympathetic. 

I did some work. I participated in meetings. 

And then I walked back to the hotel the right way, and it took about 11 minutes. 

Now, I'm about to settle into the most expensive hamburger and glass of wine I've ever had (did I mention that getting lost meant I missed lunch).

Ah well, tomorrow is a new day. (And one day closer to me being home with my guys.)

P.S.  The book I chose to start on the plane was Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. 

Business Trip

As I write this, I'm on an airplane somewhere between Dallas and DC at, according to the captain, about 33,000 feet above the ground.  (As you read this, if you read it the date of its posting, I am likely in my hotel room ordering room service, missing my boys, awaiting a call from them for FaceTime, and possibly writing another blog post...or reading.)

I don't travel for work that often, other than driving to the courthouse (which doesn't really count), both because my work doesn't require it and because I hate it.  So I try to avoid it as much as possible. 

I hate it because being away fom my family...well, to be inartful in my 

And I hate it because I'm a terrible flyer. I'm a bit phobic, in fact.

Here's how a trip begins for me:  I wait at the terminal trying to distract myself from the scenes of downed and hijacked airliners that play round my subconscious from decades of news-watching. If it's not too early in the morning (like today -- 7:40 a.m. flight -- too early), I'll probably get a drink to take the edge off.

Eventually, we'll board and I will inevitably have the middle seat because (a) I don't fly that much and (b) government contract travel is not known for its posh accommodations. Today, my middle seat isn't so bad because the people on either side are quite good at staying in their allotted square footage.  Small mercies.

Once seated and buckled in, I'll develop a lump in my throat and my eyes will get hot like I'm about to cry. Except, I won't cry, by dint of will, because that would be uncomfortable for everybody. But I do want to cry. I'll stow my purse beneath the seat in front of me, glance through the Sky Mall magazine, look at the emergency card to find my emergency exit, and finally fold my hands and try to breath normally. 

As we taxi to the runway, I squeeze my hands tightly and clench my teeth. As the plane leaves the ground, I gasp slightly and tears well up to rim my eyes, but don't escape. Once we're actually flying, I calm down, the horrible images mostly receding. I'm able to function relatively normally, reading a book or magazine, or writing a blog post or whatever.

I rarely sleep on airplanes. I can never relax that much, and this despite getting up at 4:30 Central time this morning and waking up every hour on the hour last night because of nerves. 

If I'm lucky, the person in front of me will not lean his seat back. I am not lucky this morning.  And I find myself wishing I'd brought earplugs with me. I'd forgotten how loud airplanes are, and the fellow to my right has been snoring since before we left the gate. He smells as if he does not have the same personal prohibition against the early a.m. tipple that I have. Good for him, I suppose, but not good for me, my ears or my nose.

As soon as the drinks cart passes, I'm going to annoy my seatmate on the aisle and make my way to the flying loo. This always happens too. About 30 minutes into a flight, I feel like I need to pee like I've never needed to pee before.  And this is so, even though I went 15 minutes before boarding.

I do try not to converse with people.  Best for everybody.  I'm just generally bad at small talk, for one, and, for two, who knows whether a Malaysian Airlines or World Trade Center or Lockerbie comment might accidentally escape my lips.  Best to stay mum.

So, presently, I've set my watch to Eastern time, and it looks like I've got about an hour and 45 minutes until we land. Landings are a little less horrible for me, but I still tense up, tear up, grasp my hands, and hold my breath on the approach until we're on the ground.

But for now, I'm going to fire up the Kindle app on this iPad to read a book. Will it be Oscar and Lucinda or Lucky Jim?  Perhaps I'll let you know in my next post.