Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Whoever Said It's The Journey, Not the Destination Had it Only Partly Right



If you want to get to the other side of the world, here is a little warning: It takes a long time. You will sleep for an hour at a stretch on the plane in a strange contortion of your body that is anything but comfortable. You will brush your teeth in the airport bathroom, and then wash out your armpits in the same sink. Your underwear will be very dirty and you will opt not to change them because the next pair are going to get just as dirty anyways. You will stand in one million lines behind one million idiots. The plane will shake and rumble and you will not grab Carol from Winona or Matthew from Melbourne or the husband of the lady from France's hand but you will want to, and you will give yourself permission to at the last minute when things get serious. You will put your passport back in your purse even though somebody will need to see it again in 30 seconds. You will ride a train all the way to gate D and then find out your plane leaves from gate B. You will make friends on that train with John and Tricia from Nashville, en route to Italy to stay for the 9th time with friends they made just by eating at their restaurant. You will make such good friends with them, in fact, that after the six minute train ride, you will hug them and he will kiss your cheek and they will wish you luck and tell you to be safe and you will say have fun! and you will wish you could see them again but you can't. You will ask the flight attendants to please let you go up and down the spiral staircase because you've never been on a double-decker airplane before and they will let you and then you remember that you totally have been on one, you think, with your sister Kim, but you can't be sure. Maybe you're just thinking of Snakes on a Plane. Some lady will cut the customs line in front of you and your eyebrows will raise because WHATS THE HURRY and then her husband will see your eyebrows raise and you will feel bad because WHATS THE BIG DEAL and then you will wave your hand GO AHEAD and then you will both laugh. You will put a sticker on the bandanna you brought to wipe sweat and catch sneezes but mainly to act as an eye mask on the plane and it will say "please wake me up for meal service". You will help Carol from Winona with her seatbelt, her headphones, her TV, the bathroom, and her Immigration card. You will choose the salmon bisque but only actually eat the mashed potatoes because you are a fake vegetarian but really you're just not hungry because WHAT TIME IS IT? You will watch Lucy, Edge of Tomorrow, and Boyhood and several episodes of 30 Rock and you will get mad when the captain interrupts any one of them to tell you something important in another language. You will decide that fine, you will watch Guardians of the Galaxy, but only because other people are watching it around you and WHATS THE DEAL WITH THE RACCOON but you will be too tired and you will fall asleep instead. You will read a half-chapter of your book at a time and then fall asleep and then put it down and not remember anything you read. Matthew from Melbourne will tell you about his severe nut allergy and how on the way to London he had to ride the plane connected to an oxygen tank for four hours and you'll feel bad that you made fun of his gluten free sandwich. "It's all they had for me", he'll say, and you'll selfishly take the two free seats between you but unselfishly put your head next to him and your butt far away because you're feeling gassy. You will ask strangers to watch your things while you go to the bathroom and you will hope for the best. You will be seen in this getup because you're going to Africa but the airplane is freezing, and you won't even be the slightest bit ashamed:


Your body will say, "wait a minute, where are we?!?" and refuse to poop after teasing you with feelings of having to poop. You will hold your head high because you are a seasoned traveler who carried on and it takes only seconds to get your shoes off and your liquids out and your suitcase up on the X-ray machine belt and this being in airports feels SO GOOD because you're GOING SOMEWHERE and you will laugh at yourself and your ego and dip your head a little because it was probably holding itself up too high. You will make jokes with every. single. person. you encounter but less than 6% of them will laugh or even get it but who cares, you're GOING SOMEWHERE! You will wish you had the courage to ask the men in Dubai who wear those beautiful white robe-dresses to the floor with beautiful checkered scarves on their heads for a picture but you don't because they're a culture, not a tourist attraction plus you're worried because you have ignorant prejudices about their opinions of women but later you wish you had gotten that photo anyways.

You will patiently wait until everybody gets their bags from the overhead compartments but HURRY UP ALREADY JEEZ and then finally you will get off the very last plane and you will want to kiss the ground but you don't because EW and then you will see this...:




...and you will cry a little because it's so good to be here and you're sleep-deprived and then you will arrogantly walk right by all of the people trying to get you to rent a car because you thought ahead and reserved one and the steering wheel will be on the right and the stick shift on the left and you will grind the gears in front of the man and you will hit the windshield wipers instead of the blinkers but who cares because YOU'RE HERE.





Monday, November 24, 2014

More like Slow-Zam-Bique

We'll, I'm in Africa.

All summer I've been semi-thinking-about going to Medellin, Colombia (at the low low price of only $396 for a roundtrip ticket!), but then my mom got breast cancer and I couldn't quite commit until I was for sure on the date of her surgery. With that squared away I went online, but as most of my goings-onlines go, I hit Facebook first. There I read that my old fun roommate Sarah (who is now a flight attendant for Emirates and flies all over the world all the time) would be in the Seychelles for the same dates as my loose-plan and so naturally I totally changed course and invited myself along on her trip.

It was a complicated ticket, with several stops and layovers and connections and somewhere at the end of it all I will have taken off and landed 24 times. Anyway, after an hour on the phone with cheapoair.com and paying about 7 times more than the Medellin ticket, I had a nice little trip with a departure date only three weeks away:

  • Minneapolis to Seychelles via London and Dubai where I will meet up with Sarah and her friend Lydia for 4 days
  • Seychelles to Mozambique via Nairobi
  • Mozambique to Cape Town via Johannesburg where I will meet up with my buddy Beata for 6 days
  • Cape Town to Minneapolis via Amsterdam


Except I forgot I better look up Visa requirements for all of these places to make sure I could get them all on arrival. Nope. Mozambique requires in-person application or Fed-Ex delivery to their Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles embassy locations. 10- business day turn time. No rushes. No paying for a rush. Don't ask for a rush. Don't call and ask about Visas until it's between the hours of 3 and 5pm, EST. I decided to ignore that and call them. "Call back at 3", they said. I called back at 3. "Can I pay for a rush?" I asked. "No", they said.

WELL. I had fifteen business days between the day I purchased my ticket and my departure date with two of those days taken up in transit. Also the Embassy is closed on Fridays. Easy!

I sent my passport and all the required info (flight itinerary, two 2x2 photos, hotel reservation - which I didn't have but fast-tracked) on Monday November 3rd and thus began a daily phone call to the Mozambique embassy to speak with one of two ladies who I renamed the Mozam-you-know-whats because they never told me anything but "call back at 3" or "call back tomorrow" no matter how much I explained my situation and no matter how sweet I tried to be. The first time I called it was because I accidentally threw away the Fedex tracking number (idiot) and simply wanted to verify that they received my application. "If you sent it we received it," they said and then hung up the phone.

Once I hit 11 business days I started to be a little more assertive. That day my mom was having her lumpectomy and from the waiting room I called and said "ok now we need to get serious, because I am flying out on Friday and I really need my passport back, even if you can't give me a Mozambique visa." "Spell your name," they said, and I did. "What's your phone number?" they asked and I gave it to them. "We will call you back before end of business today." And of course they didn't. That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday I called from my desk at work and when she asked me to spell my name, I said, "we already did all of this yesterday! I'm not hanging up to wait for you to call me back because you're not going to call me back." "You and I have never spoken," she said. "If we had spoken your passport would already be on its way to you. Call back tomorrow at 10:30, here is my extension." she said. I freaked out. "I can't call you back tomorrow because you need to put my passport in the Fedex TODAY. Do you get it? I'm flying out Friday. I need my passport on Thursday." And that's when she told me the man who does them had gone home for the day and his office was locked and that's when I started crying. Like a little child. With my whole office listening. "Do you know there are snowstorms interrupting flights on the east coast right now?!?!??? I have no room for any Fedex error if you send it tomorrow." I started hyperventilating to her on the phone. Finally the Mozam-you-know-what softened and said, "ma'am I swear to God I will put your passport in the Fedex tomorrow. You will have it on Friday."

All day Thursday I refreshed and refreshed the tracking screen on my package. Nothing. The nice lady (I no longer thought of her in that other way) called me at 9am to tell me my Visa was processed and that I could have Fedex come and pick it up. I called them. They charged me $4 extra and promised it would be picked up at 12:38 EST. That came and went. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

You can bet I didn't get any work done on Thursday, refreshing my tracking page one million times. I called the nice lady again. "Have they picked it up?" "No," she said "but don't worry! Our regular Fedex pick up is at 4pm, I will give it to him." (Remind me to call Fedex to get my FOUR DOLLARS BACK.)

It was hard trying not to worry, but true to her word at 3:53 my package was scanned and in transit and escaped the snowstorm and was delivered to my office on Friday morning at 9:45am. And then I got on the plane and flew away.


The End.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

What the Heck is He Doing?

One day on the farm, a million years ago, my dad accidentally locked himself in the feed room of the barn. I guess the door to it weighed a ton and the old rusty lock was on the outside, and it somehow latched shut after him. He realized that he might be in trouble too because my mom would probably never go looking for him or wonder where he was to go and let him out. He tried yelling and screaming for her, to no avail. she was in the house. He started looking around the room to see if there was anything he could use to force the door open.




Quick side point: even though my dad is a mountain man and fearless and can wrestle a black bear with his bare hands while opening a beer, his Achilles heel is claustrophobia. Being stuck in a space and not being able to get out will start him to behave like a little girl.


He did find a red strip of cloth and a piece of wire, however. He rolled the strip of cloth around the wire tiny tiny tiny, and shoved it through the keyhole in the door. He waved it around and bobbed it up and down and waved it some more, hoping that my mom might see it. He almost gave up several times but decided to keep waving it around because, you know, it was his only hope of being discovered.


Meanwhile my mom was in the house. She saw a tiny wire coming out of a keyhole in the barn and then a red strip unraveling. Then she saw it waving around and bobbing up and down for a really long time. She watched, wondering, "What the heck is he doing now?" and kept on watching it, mesmerized.


Lots of time passed. Finally the phone rang and it was for my dad. She yelled out the back door for him. When he didn't come to the phone, she went outside to tell him to come and get the phone.


She figured out somehow that he was locked in the barn and when she let him out his face was beet red and his hands were in fists and oh boy was he mad. She didn't tell him right away about watching that flag the whole time.


These days.





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

easy beach clothes for short girls

I finally figured out my mom's cancer situation and timetable and so I was able to book a little vacation during her four week surgery recovery. I'm going to the beach, but I forgot I sort of have a sad-summer-clothes-situation. I imagine I'm going to need some long sleeved button down white shirts and some long linen pants, you know, like  this:

Easy Beach Clothes. Keeps out the sun, mosquitoes and potential admirers.

So I got desperate and got to Googling:

"Easy beach clothes for short girls"

Well that would have been a complete waste of time...I did, however, order the wearable towel with whale detailing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Men! They're SO STUPID!

My sister Keri sent me the following text, accompanied by a photo:

I was ordering a couple of bras yesterday on the phone while Marc was present. Today these boxes arrived on our doorstep and Marc hollered to me "Keri I think your bras are here."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Favorites: 6 Vocabulary Words I Learnt in New Zealand

"Sussed out" -- figured out. Like if somebody wants to know if you have the rest of your trip planned, they might ask "Do you have it all sussed out?"

"Sweet as" -- Cool. This means somebody is happy with the decision you just made.

"Wrapped" -- Excited. As in: "I got over to Kiri's house and she bought groceries. I was wrapped."

"I reckon" -- Use this phrase anytime you think something might be true. "I reckon it's gonna be cold outside tomorrow."

"...as" -- Whatever the first word in the phrase might mean. As in, "cool as"..."tight as"..."old as"

"Gutted" -- Upset. As in: "We couldn't get tickets and we were gutted."

Pronounciation Techniques:

Anytime we might use the 'i' sound in English, substitute the 'eh' sound, and vice versa. For example, the words Bitter and Better would be pronounced Bettah and Bittah. In the exact opposite way and meaning.

"Classic Hits" = Clessek Hets

"Hair Dresser" = Hee Driss Ah

"Yes" = "Yiss"

"Excellent" = "Ick-Sillint"
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