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You’re getting very, very sleepy. (Or not.)

3 Apr
Not me.

Not me.

I’m in London for work this week. I flew out of DC Friday night after work and arrived Saturday at the crack of dawn.

Every time I travel internationally, I am reminded of how bad I am at sleeping on planes. Who ARE those people who are so knocked out they’re snoring? Aside from the times I’ve traveled in First Class in a seat that reclines to a create a fully flat bed, or the time I took a Xanax on my way to Australia, I’ve only gotten – at most – 30 minutes of uninterrupted sleep on a plane.

This trip was no exception, despite my luck in seating. I was lucky because a) I had checked in online early enough to secure myself a window seat with only one companion (as opposed to being in the center row, which sticks five people together), and b) I was in one of only a few rows where my seatmate never arrived. Theoretically, with two seats to myself, I should’ve been able to sleep. But try as I might – and I DID try, using every inch of those two seats to full advantage – I was never able to make it work.

I passed two hours watching the movie, “Sisters,” starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It’s definitely on the low-end of the intellectual spectrum, but I found myself laughing out loud at lines from time to time. (“You’re so full of shit, I’m going to buy you pull-ups.”) It was a perfect distraction as our plane bounced around for what amounted to 90 minutes of on-again/off-again turbulence while we left the DC area.

When the movie ended, I found that the cabin was dark and around me – with few exceptions – people were sleeping. Glad I didn’t have a slumbering seatmate to awkwardly crawl over, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Other than knowing my row was empty, I hadn’t really paid attention to WHICH row it was. I thought the emptiness would make it easy to spot, so when I returned to the bathroom, I found an empty row and set about tidying up the loose blankets strewn across the seats. Except I learned that it wasn’t ACTUALLY my row when my hands connected with a BODY under the blankets. Um, oops?

The person I’d groped was either a sleeping zombie or paralyzed by fear of imminent sexual assault, because he/she didn’t move or say anything after I patted him/her in various places. Mortified, I continued on my way without an apology for fear of waking him/her. I walked down the entire aisle to rule out other “false positives” before confirming my row was really mine.

The rest of my evening unfolded without any drama (or further trauma), aside from the lights cutting back on with a harsh brightness, JUST after I’d finally zonked out for about 20 minutes. One fruit cup and a cup of tea later, I saw the city of London out my window, it’s landmarks obvious even from the distance. The Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben: I was immediately oriented and – despite my nighttime challenges – wide awake.

Here’s hoping I manage to sneak in some rest before I show up in the office. It’s one thing to have accidentally pat-down a stranger on a plane; it’s another thing entirely if it happens in an office. While Europeans DO tend to think Americans are overly-friendly, I think our HR team might have a problem with it.

Totally dropped that ball…

10 Mar

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Imagine you’re planning a trip to Europe with a colleague. You’ve put together to do lists and have reminded your colleague to authorize her bank card for overseas use and make sure her passport is still valid. “Check the date,” you tell her, “because you technically can’t travel on a passport that is set to expire in the next six months.”

You continue on your merry way, booking arrangements and finalizing your agenda. Then, four weeks before your trip, you wake up at 3am on a Saturday, staring at the ceiling, haunted by a question. “When does MY passport expire?” you ask yourself, a question you should’ve considered months ago with the trip was an initial glimmer in the back of your brain.

You calmly rise from bed and approach your safe, reassuring yourself. “I’d never let my passport expire. I’m sure it’s fine,” you repeat as you tap in the code. The door springs open and you retrieve your passport. You open it and see the date of expiration: January 2016.

 

NO. WAY.

What then unfolds is a scramble. You’re grateful for the internet because you quickly learn that you can rush a passport renewal for a small fee. You call the passport agency to see if you can get an appointment to do a same-week passport. You learn that unfortunately (fortunately?) you must be traveling within two weeks to warrant the kind of desperate service that results in an in-person interview and passport replacement.

Instead, you’re told you need to go the “expedited processing by mail” route. It makes you nervous to entrust your passport to the USPS and a post office box. You imagine all the scenarios in which you could be worse off than you currently are: your application could get lost en route to Philadelphia; it could fall into a crevice in the processing center and never get renewed; your new passport could get lost in the mail on its way back to your; it could get stolen from the lobby of your apartment building if the envelope doesn’t fit in your mailbox.

All the scenarios you imagine end with you not having a passport, unable to go on the trip you’ve been meticulously planning. You imagine telling your colleague that she’s flying solo. You imagine her eyes widening like saucers as she realizes she will be single-handedly leading ten days of training for 60 people.

You decide not to tell anyone about your predicament until you have your new passport safely in-hand.

You sit back and wait for your passport to arrive, so you start writing a blog post to bide your time…

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I suppose it could be worse…

GUILTY! Of being clumsy.

7 Mar

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I had jury duty a couple weeks ago. As it turns out, I wasn’t selected for a jury, so my service was all of eight hours long. On one hand, I’m glad because I had a lot going on at work, so it would have been inconvenient to miss more than a day; on the other hand, if I were on trial, I would hope that the jury would be made up of people like me. And I think I’d find it interesting to serve on a (short!) trial.

Before I go any further, I should knock wood. I can imagine my friend Betsy – who has served on the super-long grand jury twice – wanting to punch me for thinking I’d enjoy “real” jury duty.

Anyway. The exciting part of this story isn’t actually about jury duty (if you can believe that?!). It’s about what happened during my lunch break.

Rain had been pounding the city in waves since I’d woken up and it was still coming down when they released us for lunch. Despite trying to walk carefully, I was fairly drenched by the time I arrived at Cava Mezze for lunch. After grabbing a falafel wrap, I popped my ear buds in so I could continue listening to Stephen King’s latest collection of short stories on my walk back to the courthouse. I raised my umbrella and started walking.

Out of no where, my foot hit the slick sidewalk grate grate and started to slide. The next thing I knew, I was on my butt, rolling around in a puddle like a turtle flipped on its back. My hand and my elbow were screaming as if someone had gone to town on them using some combination of a cheese grater and a hammer. In my ears I heard a woman begging to be slapped, thanks to Stephen King’s twisted imagination.

It was sensory overload, so I combatted it by loudly narrating everything that was happening, thinking (I guess?) that it would help me get my bearings. “Holy shit!” I called out. “How the hell did I just fall? I’m on my butt in Chinatown in the middle of the day! What is going on?”

By this point I was crawling around in a puddle, trying to get my feet under myself. I saw legs approaching and receding. In hindsight, I think people were probably coming to help me – then backing away when they heard my rambling narration of events. I finally righted myself and returned to the courthouse, drenched and disheveled.

I sat there, figuratively licking my wounds as they called the numbers for panel after panel of potential jurists. Yet my number was never once called. I can only assume that they they decided I was too discombobulated to serve.

I was reminded of a previous time I’d been called for jury duty, when I was excused because the courthouse caught on fire. So far I’ve been dismissed due to water and fire… should I assume that my future appearances will be thwarted by an earthquake and a tornado?

Whatever the case, I’ll take it. Proud to serve.

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At least I can’t taste the eggs.

14 Jan

I might be the only American alive who hates eggs. Can’t stand them. The concept. The texture. The taste. The smell.

In fact, want to watch me go berserk? Microwave an egg near me. Gah!

So you might therefore find it a bit surprising to learn that I made a quiche on Sunday. I have a recipe for a bacon leek quiche that uses only 2.5 eggs and about a pound of gruyere, so the egg is really more of a binder than the main star, thus making it tolerable. Also, I double the bacon (science be damned!) so it basically becomes a bacon gruyere vehicle.

The catalyst for the quiche was two things: I had thawed a pound of bacon and realized I didn’t have any firm plans for using it (other than just sitting around and gorging myself on it), and the leeks at the farmers market looked amazing this weekend.

(Alan might have disagreed – I made him take a long whiff of them on our walk home, thinking he’d appreciate the fresh earthy smell. “Gross,” he declared. “What? Gross? They smell like green onions,” I told him. “More like green onions and FEET,” he corrected me.)

 

Undeterred, I transformed them into a quiche. My recipe actually yields two quiches, but I knew there was no way I’d eat two, so I halved everything, thinking I’d cook all the leeks, then reserve half of them in the freezer to add the next time I made broth. Only I forgot that was my plan and ended up adding ALL of them to the quiche. So it was a bacon, double-leek quiche.

Even so, I thought it tasted delicious – mainly because I couldn’t taste any eggs. When I served it up to Alan for dinner, I didn’t tell him I’d accidentally doubled the leeks. He took a bite. “Very. Um. Oniony,” he declared.

I waited, seeing if that would be considered a good thing. “Delicious,” he finally concluded. “It’s just not every day that bacon is overpowered by something else.” Agreed.

But it could’ve been worse – he could’ve said it tasted like feet.

Smells like feet.

There goes my Uber score.

25 May

Image Source: Groupon April Fool's Joke

The sun is setting on Memorial Day as I write this. I imagine most people feeling relaxed, rested and reflective after a nice three-day weekend. Not I.

I spent the day agonizing over whether I should take Miss Moneypenny to the animal hospital or wait until my vet’s office opens tomorrow morning. Because when I woke this morning, I discovered that my cat was pacing laps, alternating between peeing blood, licking herself and crying out in pain.

A quick Google search revealed that she likely had some sort of urinary tract issue that – according to the internet – could spiral out of control if left untreated.

I dialed the animal hospital to ask if I should bring her in or if I should hold off and take her to my regular vet on Tuesday. “You can schedule an appointment later this week,” the unhelpful girl at the desk told me.

I called Alan. “What do you think?” I asked, knowing it was unfair of me to pin my cat’s health prognosis on a recovering lawyer.

“Get a second opinion,” he offered.

So I called another animal hospital out in the boonies and reached a more helpful person (and cat owner), who said she would probably be fine if I waited a day, but that if it were her cat, she’d probably run it in.

I was torn. On one hand, the thing that would give me peace of mind would be taking Miss Moneypenny to the animal hospital. But I didn’t want it to turn out like when I took her in for eating the Christmas ribbon, when they looked at her and sent me home instructing me to “keep an eye on her and bring her back if anything changes.”

If I owned a car, this might be a no-brainer. But since I don’t, I have the added complication of figuring out how we will get to and from the vet. And Miss Moneypenny hates being in her carrier, so she is guaranteed to scream the entire time, making it traumatic on both of us.

Should I go? Should I wait? I was truly torn, so I decided to give it a bit of time to see what happened. Good news: Miss Monepenny eventually stopped pacing and took a nap, so I used that opportunity to run to Petco and get some remedy that is supposed to relieve the symptoms of a UTI.

All was well until Miss Moneypenny awoke from her nap and went straight to her litterbox – where she began howling, then pacing, then licking, then howling, then repeat. And repeat some more. Indefinitely.

Since it was looking like it would be a long night for both of us, I decided to bite the bullet and take her to the animal hospital. My driver on the way there was awesome – very understanding and sweet about the fact that he was transporting a cat. He went so far as to call himself a kitty ambulance, though he got a bit uncomfortable when he asked what was wrong and I told him she was peeing blood.

I guess that IS something of conversation stopper.

All was fine at the vet – they gave me two different medicines to get her started on immediately to help with the pain. And while I hadn’t spent my afternoon at a cookout, I’d only spent a few hours at the ER, so I was willing to consider it something of a win…

Until I had to get home. I was so relieved to have the worst behind me that I’d forgotten that the Uber ride is part of the trauma. Without thinking, I summoned a car and hopped into it. As soon as I set the duffel back containing Miss Moneypenny on the backseat, she let out a Volume 20 MEOW.

The Uber driver (named Cynthia) let rip with a blood-curdling scream and almost ran us into a telephone pole. “I’m sorry,” I began, but before I could finish, she interrupted, “What IS that?”

“It’s my cat,” I started to explain. In fact, I usually warn Uber drivers that I have an animal before getting into their car and ask if it’s OK. This time, however – probably because Cynthia had exercised a splendid lack of respect for other motorists and stopped for the pick-up in the middle of the road with a line of impatient cars honking behind her – I’d decided to just jump in for the sake of efficiency.

“Where IS it?” she yelled.

“It’s here – she’s zipped in this cat carrier,” I said, pointing.

“I hate cats,” she yelled. “They scare me. My ex-mother-in-law had cats. They sneaky. They all quiet. Then they just be there. Looking at you.”

“Well,” I offered, “This one isn’t quiet. She won’t sneak up on you.”

Miss Moneypenny hadn’t stopped howling from the second we’d sat down. Just then, as Cynthia turned around to look at us and confirm everything was manageable, Miss Moneypenny’s head came exploding out of the carrier. Cynthia screamed. I grabbed the duffel, somehow managing to halt Miss Moneypenny, who by that point had gotten both front paws out as well. Apparently the vet hadn’t zipped the carrier completely.

“Get that thing back in the bag!!!” Cynthia screamed at me.

I was doing my best, but if you’ve ever tried to force a cat to do something, you know it’s a lesson in stubborn wills. It felt like time stood still as Miss Moneypenny and I fought the containment battle. I finally prevailed, but had clearly lost Cynthia’s trust in the process.

About this time, we almost got hit by a bus because Cynthia pulled out into traffic. “My nerves!” she exclaimed.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I don’t want to stress you out. Do you want to drop me off here and I’ll call a different Uber?”

“Naw,” she said. “We almost half-way there now. Just keep it in the bag.”

I assured her I would.

About this time, she started scratching herself wildly – her arms, her legs, her head.

“Are you allergic to cats?” I asked.

“Only when I see ’em,” she responded as she scratched.

Throughout all of this, Miss Moneypenny continued to shriek, making sure that no one forgot there was a cat in the car.

Finally, when we were a block from my place, we hit a red light. “I’ll jump out here,” I offered. “I feel so bad that this has caused you stress – I can take it from here.”

Cynthia didn’t argue. I just saw my door lock flip open. “Thank you so much,” I said, pulling the carrier from the car.

Without a word, Cynthia flipped a U-turn – at a red light, from the right lane – and burned rubber as she left us in her rearview.

You know I felt compelled to give her five stars. Out of guilt. Somehow I don’t think she had the same compulsion.