The (airfare) Gods Must Be Crazy

So, I'm pricing out airfare to buy my ticket back to good ol' Columbus for Christmas. So, I do the usual song and dance: Expedia, Travelocity, Independence Air. Then I check out America West - I used to fly them back and forth home back when I first moved to D.C. and they used to have pretty good fares out of National.


One thousand eight hundred and seventy U.S. dollars. If I fly out a day earlier it's $2025. WHAT?!?! I keep looking for the fine print. Am I somehow renting the plane? Is it business class for the all of 65 minutes of the flight? Is it a private jet? And it's not even direct! There's a plane change in NYC! Even better, if I fly out of Dulles, it's $4129 with the baffling routing of Dulles to Pittsburgh to NATIONAL to Laguardia to Columbus.

What are these people smoking?!?

Let's see where I can go for less (same dates):
$791 - Paris
$574 - London
$943 - Rome
$950 - St. Petersburg, Russia
$1414 - Rio
$1030 - Athens
$827 - Oslo
$1025 - Reykjavik
$1140 - Madrid

I rest my case. These people are insane.


The final sprint

I always feel like the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's is a sprint to the finish. Something to tolerate and muddle my way through. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, I never know what to buy as presents for people for Christmakah/Chrismukkah, I have no idea what I want for myself. It's all just a mess.

I don't know why but it always takes me half of December to wrap my brain around the notion that it's nearly Christmas. There's just so much going on in the 35 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's: Turkey Day, my cousin's birthday, Hanukkah/Chanukah, Christmas, birthday, New Year's Eve and countless other occasions that I'm undoubtedly forgetting.

How do you force yourself to swing into the season? I remember having trouble with this last year, too. Is it shopping? Listening to holiday music? I'm sure getting off my butt and finally buying my plane ticket to Ohio would make things seem a little more real but right now I'm just not buying it.

Any ideas? I need suggestions to get into the spirit of things. Decorating? Holiday music? The lighting of the National Christmas Tree is this Thursday, I think. And the Scottish Christmas Walk is Saturday. Help me!


The first Thanksgiving

I first moved away from home the first week of November, 1993 (best birthday present I ever gave T). I had friends from college whose parents lived in Suburban DC and they were kind enough to invite me into their homes for the holiday.

All week I did my happy food dance. At last, a night without ramen. A night without hotdogs or mac and cheese. Every time a commercial came on with a succulent turkey or steaming mashed potatoes, I'd become nearly light-headed with anticipation.

Finally the day arrived. I took the Metro out to Vienna and my friend P picked me up and took me back to his parents' place. We hung out, played with his new computer and generally caught up until his mother called us for dinner. We started up the stairs (his room was in the basement) and I wrinkled my nose. I didn't smell any turkey but I didn't think anything of it - maybe their kitchen's exhaust system was better than at home.

We all sat around the table, gave thanks and started on salad. Again, not what I was used to. At home, 'Turkey Day' was about a table groaning under the weight of food, me dodging the sweet potatoes/yams/whatever orange veggie it was, and fighting with my dad over the drumstick.

Again, I wasn't too suspicious. Maybe with such a large family instead of setting everything up on the table, they did it buffet style and we would go into the kitchen to load our plates with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and all the trimming.

Then his mother brings out a huge platter of pasta.

Alarm bells started going off.

It turns out, P's clan doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving the way I was used to. At all. The pasta and salad were wonderful as I recall, but all I can remember is the devastation of realizing I was going to be turkey free.

[Should P. ever read this, I just want to say that I'm still grateful that I was taken into their home for my first Thanksgiving away from my own. I'm simply saying that I was slightly taken aback at the menu.]

Fast forward a dozen years. I'm a couple of hours away from heading to my friend PP's house. This experience is a whole other can of worms. I went there for Thanksgiving last year and had a wonderful time. It's half family (though not mine) and half friends. A huge table groaning under to weight of way too much food, dogs stealing turkey, babies dropping cheerios (to be hoovered up by the dogs, as well). I can't wait.

Ultimately, I'm thankful for my health (such as it is), my friends, my family, my job, and the fact that there's a James Bond marathon on for the next 4 days. To anyone out there reading, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and fare the nasty hoiday travel with ease and patience.


Who wants an orange whip?

I'm so tired but of of my grandma's favorite movies is on and I can't turn it off.

The Blues Brothers.

To this day, I remember watching this movie at the former Raintree Cinema in Columbus, Ohio with my aunt and my cousin (who lived in Chicago at the time). My aunt literally fell out of her chair laughing.

"How much for the little girl?"

It's SO ridiculous, but it's such a great movie. Simply hilarious.

"I hate Illinois Nazis."

It wasn't until I was much older that I realized the fantastic array of blues musical talent that they actually managed to assemble for this movie: Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker.

Time to climb into bed and wait for my favorite quote:
Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.


Danny Turner's Not Gay

Just got home from seeing Bob Saget's stand-up routine at GW. I didn't really have any expectations going into the night but I have to say that some of his stuff was HYSTERICAL. Not everything - there were definitely some eye-rollers and stuff that was a little too offensive - but I had tears streaming down my face on several occasions.

My friend DS is a dead ringer for a young Bob Saget - he's actually the one who motivated us to all get together and go see him. He got in touch with Saget's publicist and told him that his friends thought he looked like BS and wondered if there was anyway he could get to meet him. DS arranged to meet with the publicist before the show and apparently the guy was blown away by the similarity. He told DS that he would find a way to get DS backstage after the show so he could meet Bob S. He even gave DS his cell phone number so he could track him down. So, true to his word, after the show DS gets to go backstage and gets to meet Bob Saget who autographed a poster to him that said "Yo cousin!" or something like that. He was SO giddy.

The rest of this week is going to be just as social. Tomorrow night is pho for dinner, Thursday I get a breather and Friday is fondue with IMF. Saturday night I'm hiding b/c the roommates have once again decided to make plans involving my house without consulting, asking or even mentioning it before sending out the Evite. I'm not their mother and they don't necessarily need to ask me permission but common courtesy would be a nice change of pace.

Next week is Thanksgiving - where in the world did that come from? I think I'm going to do the Josephs' Thanksgiving with dinner with Pete and Pam the night before. I wish I could go to Savannah for turkey day but right after the cruise and right before Xmas, it's just not going to happen. I have to figure out how to buy my ticket home for THAT holiday.


Sweet 16

Sixteen years ago today, probably right about this time, I met one of my best friends in the world. First he was a crush, next abusive demigod, then reluctant buddy, then a distant acquaintance, THEN we finally became friends. [For anyone thinking "When Harry Met Sally", don't!]

I keep trying to figure out exactly what I can say about Tom in a short and sweet entry and there just isn't anything that comes to mind. I used to glibly state that he was "the love of my life and the bane of my existence." I haven't had any romantic feelings for him for well over a decade, but I still don't know what I'd do without him in my life. We never talk on the phone, and I'm lucky if I see him once a year. We email nearly every day - rarely anything serious or specific, just the random flotsam of our day-to-day lives.

He introduced me to one of my best friends, helps keep me relatively grounded, took me to an Ohio State game and listened to me sob my way through heartbreak.

I don't know what, if anything, I bring to his life but I'd be lost without him. Here's to another decade and a half of friendship.


It's been real...

Today is our final day at sea aboard the good ol' Star Princess. We stopped in briefly at Princess Cays - the southern tip of a Bahamian Island owned by Princess Cruises. I did my level best not to pour any additional money into their coffers, but I did have to have one teensy weensy strawberry daquiri to get the day started.

Yesterday was a full day at sea. We had our hash in the afternoon and Boner and Timmy managed to pick up about 20 virgins - all gay boys and women. Shocker. A good time was had by all, or so the story goes. We also had our formal photo taken. We all looked quite snazzy, I must say, and the boys were particularly handsome in their tuxes. Or maybe that's the vodka and tonic talking.

Ocho Rios - I believe - was the day before that and that was awesome. Climbing Dunns River Falls and the catamarran (sp) ride back and forth were so much fun. The anti-freeze disguised as rum punch, notsomuch. We all had to take a bit of a nap after we got back. It was the only way to survive.

All in all it was a pretty good vacation. Beat the pants out of the last cruise, that's for sure. I didn't manage to get in touch with my inner ho and it's something I've been thinking about quite a bit. Not the ho part exactly, but more figuring out what to do with the self-consciousness and the shyness factor. I think for all the times I feel awkward and left out, it's because I put myself in those situations. Hrm, something to think about when I get back home.

Tomorrow's an early morning - breakfast, debark and sprint for the airport. I have a 12:30 flight which should get me home by 3:30. I have last week's race taped and I really want to watch it before I know the result but if I have the opportunity to watch this week's race with scanner, I feel like I need to get my Trackpass money's worth.

I'm rambling. And running up a $.35/minute internet charge. I'm out.


It was the best of times...

...it was the worst of times.

Today was the big day on the ship - we stopped at our first port of call (Costa Maya, Mahajual (?) and it was also Cathy and Kevin's wedding day. First things first.

We got off the ship around 10:30 or so, fought our way through the first level of people seeking to get our hard-earned cash and took a shuttle bus to the TINY fishing village of Mahajual (I know I'm spelling it wrong, I'm going to have to fix it later). We walked the 3/4 mile from one end of the dirt road to the other, enticed and encouraged all the way to stop in and eat/drink/buy/bargain for any and everything. You'd think a single gal walking with 6 guys could've gotten a purchase out of one of 'em but nada - you'd think chivalry was dead or something.

At the end of the dirt road there was this little grass-roofed beachside bar with swings for stools and ice-cold XX. Our friends the Jenns, Pete and Arthur were already there so we decided that was a good enough spot to stay for a while. We spent the entire afternoon - well, until 2:30 - sitting in the crystal clear waters of the lagoon, drinking cold beers, sunburning our noses and laughing about what we'd be doing at work if we were back in D.C.

We scurried back to the ship to nap and change before the 5:30 wedding of C&K up in the Skywalker Lounge. Things got started a little late but Kevin was handsome and Cathy was gorgeous and Captain Nick Nash married them without (or with) a hitch. As soon as they were prounounced, I bolted for my room.

See, the Skywalker Lounge is this immense structure built port to starboard across the top of the ship. It's the 17th or 18th floor and stretches across like the top of a T. We hit some rough weather yesterday and the good ol' Skywalker was shimmying and shaking like there was no tomorrow. Normally I wouldn't say I'm prone to seasickness but I think the combination of a tummyful of Dos Equis, an earlier pitstop at the buffet and the non-stop movement of the Skywalker just pushed me over the edge. Unfortunately I missed a great deal of the reception b/c I was Dramamine-ing in my room, but I did make it back upstairs in time for their couples dance. I wish them all the luck and love in the world.


Short and Sweet

I'm currently somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, just west of Cuba. Seas are fairly calm and we're chuggin' along at 17 knots or so. We'll hit Costa Maya early tomorrow a.m.

Everyone's onboard safe and sound and there haven't been any seasickness incidents as yet. The whole being-on-a-different-deck-from-everyone else is shaping up about as I expected. I accidentally ran into a couple of people when I made it to the Lido Deck to scarf down some lunch and bumped into the boys on the deck by the Terrace Pool, but other than that, I haven't seen anyone for a couple of hours.

Last night was Cathy's bachelorette party. It went a lot better than Kevin's bachelor party (which wasn't hard to do since Cathy had to escort Kevin to bed from the dining hall around 9ish). We went up to the Skywalker Lounge (which I think is where the wedding is taking place, too) and danced for a few hours before the 12 hours of drinking finally caught up with us and we started dropping off one by one. I think she had a good time, but I'm fairly certain we killed her with the lemon drops.

Well, I'm off to take a stroll around the Promenade Deck. It's about 82 and sunny hear so I should take advantage of it.


Screw the list

I'm so tired I don't care what I forgot to pack. My suitcase is wicked overpacked. I'm not quite sure where my contacts are. My taxi will be here in 6 hours. I still don't have a place to stay in Ft. Lauderdale. I'll probably be better off going to sleep now and dealing with the last minute stuff in the morning.

I probably should've gotten my pedicure earlier in the day and blowing of Knit'n'Nosh but I caved in to Holly and Pamela on the peer pressure front.

Contrary to how this may sound, I am really excited about this trip. OH! I forgot to mention that I may get to see two friends from college in Grand Cayman! They happen to be going on vacation the same time we're docked there so I'm going to try to meet them for lunch. I think that should definitely make the "It's a small world" hall of fame. Most everyone that I know is going scuba diving that day so I'm really glad to have something else to do. I'd like to go to Stingray City, too. We'll see how much time I have left.

Please oh please let my pre-vacation adrenaline help get me out of bed tomorrow.

So tomorrow a.m. at o'dark-thirty I'm hopping on a plane to Ft. Lauderdale and then we're spending a day there running around - I'm not sure if we're all getting together or not - then Sunday afternoon we head to the port. W'hoo!

And, according to our good friends at the National Hurricane Center, "There are no tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at this time."


Love, exciting and new...come aboard...we're expecting you!