Destination: Minnesota, the place of my birth.

This guy. I wish he was here.

 

After exactly nine days back in the place we currently call home, here and once again I am blogging from the road. Our bags or as I say it, “Behgs,” well, they are packed, and we are somewhere between here and there, Phoenix International Airport, to be exact. Indigestion is settling in after ingesting our overpriced airport food. I’m sitting on the floor just outside of gate A10, leaning against a poorly painted pinky-beige column, guarding the outlet we found. Kyle is sitting over at gate A12, and Eli is sitting behind me.  I cannot see him. He came over and assured me he was there, and now we communicate via text.

Blogging from Europe was not only an insane writing goal, a goal that I thought up during a Red Eye; in truth, it actually kept me sane.  While traveling through England and Ireland, instead of things getting under my skin, when I felt like screaming, I would reach for my phone and take notes. In truth the happy moments were equally motivating. Recording them assured me that I would not lose the memory of those lovely times. It worked. Now today and seeing as how Kyle, Eli and I are on our way to a family reunion, a little sanity is what I could use. I am also counting on a lot of happiness.  (Yes, it is also true. I am sure this family reunion would make a most excellent Lifetime Television movie.)

It is Day one. Between the time the Salt Lake City gate attendant scanned our boarding passes until the moment I dropped our carry-ons off for gate pick-up, the boys looked over to me and said, “Mom, we think this whole family reunion is making you a little nervous. You are not yourself.”

My boys are right. I am nervous. And as much as Kyle and Eli know I love and adore my family, the truth is my two brothers, three sisters and I have not been in the same place in fifteen years. It was October 1999. I was pregnant with Kyle. My oldest sister was getting married, and even my biological father (Will) was there.  I believe he touched my pregnant belly. Uncomfortably weird, which was exactly how things were between us.  He will not be in Minnesota, and coincidentally he currently lives in Arizona. My sister’s wedding is the last time I saw him too.

October 1999. My mom and I flew to Minnesota early. I was at the end of my you-can-fly-safely-while-pregnant window. And it is a memory that started with pregnant and frustrated tears, lots of tears.  My mom and I booked our flights late and could only get middle seats. My tiny-sized mom got her seat, and eight month pregnant me was seated in the middle of two colossal people, each using their own “extend-a-belts” that they attached to the regular airplane seat belt.  However un-cool and un-PC I was, at the sight of their individual extend-a-belts, I immediately burst into tears. I am certain they were heaving sobs. The moment the lady lifted the armrest between the two of us and said, “Do you mind if I keep this up for the flight. It just doesn’t fit,” I short-circuited. could only give her a blank stare.  I was pregnant and just as big, and had no idea how we would all fit. I jumped to my feet, waddled my way past the extend-a-belt guy, and found a flight attendant. “For the love of the three of us, please find me another seat.” I couldn’t stop crying, and he complied.

 

Day 1

  • Eli, Kyle and I are flying to MN while Dave works in San Francisco. My mom took an earlier flight. My sisters are driving in, and my other Utah brother, yes, I have a brother that lives in Utah and yes, we hardly speak, well, he flies in I don’t know when. I have one brother and one sister who live in Minnesota, the land where I am from.
  • OCD. Did I lock the truck? Did I shut the garage door? Did I start the dishwasher? Did we get the lock on the storage unit? Safety is my OCD. Where did it come from?
  • Boys know I’m stressed. They tell me so.
  • We are on the plane.
  • Taking off.
  • Kyle and Eli hold my hand.
  • We are seated in Row 22, seats, A,B and C . It is the best back row I have ever sat in.
  • Dave offered to fly out for the weekend. I felt heard. Way to go, “Big Daddy!”
  • Now listening to Sigur Ros’, “Alright.” A little Icelandic music is good for the soul.
  • Mumford and Sons is playing.”We run and scream. You will dance with me. We will fulfill our dreams and we will be free.” Turbulence. I don’t like turbulence. Pressure change. Ouch! My ears. “We will be who we are. It will heal our scar sadness. We will be far away…I will love with urgency. Not with haste.”
  • Yes, music always always connects my heart. It eases my mind.
  • Kyle us playing on his DS. Eli is watching,  “The Simpsons.”
  • Kyle has been getting into Simon & Garfunkel so I put the Concert in Central Park on my iPhone. I am glad.
  • The Acronym BFF is on Coke can I am drinking from.
  • There is a soundtrack  playing in my head, because I hear it through my headphones. Even though you may not know the melody, I hope the words connect. Now playing: Avett Brothers, The Perfect Space. “I want to have friends…that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was…all alone is when being alone is all I need… I want to fit in [pause] to the perfect space…” Now from The Concert in Central Park, “Hello darkness my old friend…” The song makes me think of home. Singing with my sisters, sitting at the table in the back of our camper. “But my words like silent raindrops fell.”
  • Remind me to charge my iPhone.
  • 25 minutes left of the flight.
  • Ouch. Pressure. Ears.
  • Don’t tell Dave (because I always give him grief for doing the same): I gave Eli a few sips of my Coke.
  • Yes I have “Blurred Lines,” on my iPad and yes, I’m doing a little shoulder shake while I type this.
  • “It’s 98 degrees in Phoenix.” The captain says over the loudspeaker and I think of boy bands.
  • “Every time I see you falling I get down on my knees and pray.” I am so glad New Order’s “Bizarre love triangle” made it on the Shuffle.
  • We are about to land, and the cups haven’t been picked up. Oh well. We piled them onto Kyle’s tray.
  • “She keeps it simple and I am thankful for her kind of loving, because it’s simple.” Bobbing my head to the Alt country (is that what you would call them), Avett Brothers as we hear the landing gear ready itself.
  • Words do mean something, even without the melody. Although I readily admit the melody makes it much better.
  • The Avett Brothers continue, “I hope I don’t sound insane when I say that there is darkness all around us…in January, we’re getting married…it no longer matters what circumstances we were born in.”
  • Did I mention I’m taking two poetry classes in the fall?
  • And Bohemian Rhapsody shuffles on at just the right time. Freddy Mercury aptly sings us into our turbulent landing. Yes and perfect.
  • Kyle teases me when I grab his leg.
  • “Don’t mean to make you cry if I’m not back this time tomorrow. Carry on. Carry on.”
  • Hello Arizona.
  • Crazy companion fare: SLC – PHX – MSP

Touchdown

  • “Mama Mia. Mamma Mia. Let me go.”
  • Landed.
  • Airplane mode off.
  • First text shows up from our friend Kevin. It says, “yep. Breathe.” Exactly.

 

PS. Hours later.  My lifetime, BFF, Marianne,  picked the boys and I up at the airport. On the way home we stopped at my oldest sister, Brenda’s house. All six kids (and my mom) were there. We hugged. We laughed. We were awkward. We hugged some more. It was amazing. I would call this weekend a success and it is only Thursday night. So cool!

A Little Turbulence

Coming Home

Day 17 (really Day 18, when you include travel, I think)

Europe
We won’t miss:

  • Inconveniently placed hair dryers in every single hotel.
  • The Shining bathroom
  • Inconveniently sized spoons
  • Paying for parking everywhere
  • Under seasoned food
  • Roads too narrow for cars
  • Fighting over dessert
  • Painted ceilings
  • Hampton Court
  • The Tower of London
  • Overly complicated but ineffective European plumbing — toilets – hot water on one side, cold water on the other.And what I won’t miss about the journey home.
  • This is really not about Europe, but I will not miss the Newerk Airport. I am sure I will have to fly through you again, but today you have let me down.

What we will miss:

  • Superior bacon
  • Dark chocolate covered rice cakes
  • The Chalk Cliffs (especially Kyle & I)
  • Dublin
  • The Cliffs of Moher
  • The Fountain Inn, Whales
  • Cornettos
  • Croissants every morning
  • Bulk loads of Nutella to smother all over the croissants.
  • Tea kettles filled with piping hot water
  • The Kensington Whole Foods
  • Ruined castles and abbeys
  • Walls adorned with hundred of guns and swords as decoration
  • Downtown Leeds
  • Brighton
  • Beachy Head. We loved Beachy Head.
  • The cute boutique London Boutique hotels
  • Dave says he’ll miss Marmite. I do not believe him.
  • Little Ass Burrito, DublinAdditionally,
  • Grandma, additionally we will miss you! <3
  • I will and I will not miss the parallel universe, and overly reserve, polite people.

And about today, it is not over, and we are about to board another plane.

  • We had breakfast in Belfast.
  • On the drive to airport, we joked about the Utah pronunciation of the word mittens pronounced, mih’ ins. We promised to name our pet Mih’ ins (if we ever get one).
  • I was totally thrown at Belfast Security when they sent Eli’s jams through the x-ray another time. That is where we kept the jam(s), and somehow my very lovely toiletry bag did not return to my backpack. Arhg!
  • Yes, and about airport searches. Really, about airports… I think airports are their very own governing unit/police state, with the ticket agents representing say War Lords.  (Um and yes in this moment we are a little frustrated with frustrated rant to follow):The ticket agents know the system and know how to manipulate their power. Everything is always “out of their hands.” And apparently in the Country of Newark, it is ok for four ticket agents to stand in the path of people trying to check-in.  When we first went to check in the agent, Shereen snapped at us and sent us to a computer. When Dave asked her a question, she snapped again, and told us we had to call Award Travel, because some of our tickets were paid for, and some were Frequent Flyer tickets. We kindly stepped away and called the Award Travel People. They couldn’t help so we decided to simply take our original flight. No problem. We walked back up to check in.  As we did, the same United Airlines Premier Access Ticket Agent loudly said to the three other agents she was talking to (instead of any of them helping customers),
    “Oh great, they are back!”
    Yes, that is what she said. And yes, Shareen R. we are back. Where else are we supposed to check in? And when we, the  lowly customer, say something like,
    “I heard that (which I did as we walked by, and I am also tired of bullies, who come in all shapes in forms 00 my bad ;) ),”
    it is apparently also ok for the not-doing-their-job-gossiping ticket agent to grunt and then say,
    “she should not be eavesdropping on our conversation.”
    (Um, I don’t think it is eavesdropping when you give us the obvious once-over, as you share loud enough for us to hear.)Anyway…
    I caught my breath and while walked over to see if Dave heard, the lovely ticket agent quickly went across the way, and called a supervisor  over to talk to us (we found out  who she was calling moments later).

    True story.
    Lame.
    Customers are powerless.

    Shereen R. was using her knowledge of the system to bully us, the customer, and to avoid responsibility . She should have just apologized, helped us and moved on. Instead, she lied and undermined our credibility.  This is one of the reasons why I think airports are no longer places to feel free or safe, especially as the customer. We really are powerless, and it is their (stealthy and practiced) word against ours.

    The three other lady agents are not without blame either. They knew Shareen was wrong. Instead of helping us, they covered themselves, and went back to work.  Yet before I called out the ticket agent, instead of helping all the customers, they thought it was ok to stand in our path and complain about us.

    It is my understanding that a ticket agent is a customer service job. Apparently I am wrong. By calling a supervisor over (Dina), Shareen cut me off at the pass, saving her own bacon.  Instead of saying that what she did wasn’t cool, she created a drama that did not exist.

    We couldn’t change our flight, and were ok. We moved on and as we were walking away, Dina (the supervisor),  stopped us (got in our path) and began to accuse us of having a “confrontation.” We were puzzled and really confused.  When I pushed for answers, she said, “the gate agent called and said there was going to be a confrontation.”  What the what?  We explained, she didn’t listen, and then she kind of did. She actually said, “well, I don’t see why we couldn’t help you.”

    Honestly, we were so tired and worn down. We know airports. We were actually were calm and nice. Because Shareen was protecting herself, the supervisor kept waiting for us to strike. We did not. After a few seconds the supervisor could see that we were harmless. We were simply confused (like I said), and caught in the path of a ticket agent, who apparently, has a problem with personal responsibility and integrity. Her reaction was bizarre and also calculated. She knew what to do to avoid punishment and what she did was sicl. She has the power.  We were no one really.  Just people who got in her way. So gross!

    And because of the police state airports have become, there was really nothing we could do. Dina, the supervisor, promised to call both the United Lounge and Customer Service. We stopped at both. Neither knew who we were. Customer Service was useless. They did not listen. Our original concern: “can we get on an earlier flight?” United Airlines, you blew it. Shame on you!

  • We found a Smash Burger in the airport. I finally ate.
  • I talked to two very lovely men in the United Lounge.  Renewed my faith in humanity. Reminded me of Brian and Robbins, my favorite, favorites, who really do make the world a better place.
  • Oh hey and my brother Bill just called. I told him not to hold me to anything I say in this conversation. I’ve been up for awhile.
  • The boys are good. Dave is settling back into the work groove and we are very excited for the next leg of our journey.
  • Ahoy!

Next Morning, which is this morning:

I tried and I tried and I tried to post the post from Newerk. Alas, I could not, so here it is from Los Angeles.
Today is a new day. After twenty-four hours of travel, at midnight, we arrived at our hotel. Sure, once we arrived they had lost our reservation. After watching Eli pass out on the hotel couch, Brian, the front desk guy, took pity on us.  In on fell swoop, and a few calls, the hotel went from full to one room left.  High fives to that! Dave was up at 3:45 AM for his 6:00 AM flight, and is already back in San Francisco. And from our Los Angeles hotel room I am already knocking away at all the things we missed while we were away. It is nice to be back in the United States. Sure, everyone came to the hotel breakfast in flip-flops and sweats, and a lady stole Kyle’s pancake right out from under him because and I quote, “is going to miss her flight.” I am curious. What do pancakes and morning flights have to do with anything. And yes, it was literally the last pancake, by the way. Anyway, we are home (sort of). As I reach for my adaptor, Eli reminds me that those plugs, plug right in.

We enjoyed the journey and are very glad to be back.

 

Last Day in Europe

Monasterboice, Ireland

We are at the Hilton Golf Resort near the Belfast airport. Our European adventure is nearly complete. Moments ago the boys came running in the room.  “Mom! Mom! We are stung by wasps!”

“What?”

They both walked over and showed me. Kyle on his torso, and Eli was bitten on the back of his right leg. “Mom, it hurts! Mom, look! Mom! Mom!” Sure enough, some angry wasps attacked both of them. Their limbs were swelling. “MOM! It hurts so bad!”  Quickly I located my Benadryl, because I always have Benadryl, and my histamine two blocker, Pepcid. Both Dave and I are allergic to stinging things so I come prepared. They are sore. They are swollen, and I am hoping they fall asleep soon. I just packed our stuff for our journey back. And thanks to Kyle’s blind side in my moment of weakness, we are going home with an additional sixteen (that is correct) pairs of socks. Good grief and kind of hilarious. After realizing my memory card had popped out of its slot earlier today. Meaning that all of the pictures I thought I took between Killarney and now, are gone. Well, after realizing my blunder, I feel into the pit of despair. Shortly after that we stopped so the kids could buy treats for their friends, and somehow we walked out of the South Belfast area mall with sixteen pair of socks, and two new pair of sunglasses. Mind you, this is Kyle’s second pair of sunglasses purchased on this trip. Luckily they are very cheap Rayban knock offs.

We are settled in for the night, and we never made it to the Titanic Museum or the Giant’s Causeway. We are cooked and all the things we wanted to see will have to wait until next time. It was a good trip. It was a long trip. I feel happy and that is nice.

Here is a little run down of today.

  • Grapes in Dublin are really good. Apples are not.
  • We had breakfast and then we packed our things and checked out of our hotel
  • The waffle situation. Oh yes, the waffle situation. Let me back up. See, somehow Eli ended up with three Belgian waffle pieces, which led Kyle to claim, “unfair, unfair.” To make up for the disparity and to entertain himself in hopes of getting some waffle himself, Kyle at about seventeen (ok two or three) croissants smothered in Nutella. Yes, the waffles arrived, and both boys had more.
  • At breakfast I started singing, “Beth” by Kiss after asking Dave who his favorite Beth is. Eli said, “that is a lame song.”  And I responded, “Oh, my son if you could only know how awesome that song really is.” To which Dave said something about, “Cecelia,” and “Amanda.”  And now that I think about it, “How cool would it be if my name was, ‘Sister Christian?’”
  • We walked around St. Patricks’ Cathedral. No pictures to show for it except a few obscure iPhone photos.
  • Driving out of town. We saw a ton of folks who seemed to be showing their team spirit. Many were wearing blue team  shirts, and many more were wearing green and yellow team. What were they going to watch?
  • There was a peacock waking down the busy road by Monasterboice.
  • Millafont Abbey was closed. Seriously?
  • We stopped at a bayside town. We walked along the shore, by a ruined castle and into the town. The boys wanted to stay and skip rocks.
  • And because I am an idiot I just realized all the pictures I have been taking for the past few days are not there because the memory card was not inserted properly.
  • So mad! So angry I can spit. (still so frustrated)
  • Crushed – that would be me.
  • Feeling sad. Dave and DeAnne (my mother-in-law) came to the car with ice cream for themselves and the boys. Feeling sorry for myself is not my thing, nor is say jealousy. Tears of frustration are  rolling down my face, because that is how I roll. Somehow being allergic to milk fat and not being able to eat a damn ice cream cone made me more frustrated.
  • In that moment I wrote: I feel alone. I need a connection. When I am frustrated a loving connection always does the trick.
  • Then I posted my frustration to the great human connector on the internet, and within seconds so many cool folks were helping me feel better. Thank you for that!
  • We are at the Belfast golf resort. Kind of funny. The dinner was super yummy. We are tired and ready to hit the road.
  • Hoping all goes well tomorrow. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you!

And of course now we are on the phone Skyping another flight reservation for an upcoming family reunion.  We needed a number, and had to talk to all these different people, and thank goodness we found what we needed!  Crazy. Crazy!

 

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