Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Joys Of Holiday Travel

So, I ended up having a great trip to see my family down south and surprisingly everything went smoothly…until my return trip.
Well, I take that back. I was annoyed on the flight to Tennessee because, being the cheap frugal traveller that I am, I tried to just take a carry-on and not pay $25 to check luggage.  So I’m proud of myself for remembering to do this and I get up to the ticket counter and I realize – I brought a bunch of liquid stuff. Son of a... So I have to pay the $25 and check my little bag anyway lest I throw away $25+ in shampoo, body wash contact solution, etc….
UGH. Darn you terrorists!
But whatever, that was a tiny issue and the rest of my trip was great. Until my flight back to D.C.
I was supposed to leave at 6:40 on Sunday, stop in Detroit, then land in D.C. around 11pm. My parents and niece dropped me off and as I waved at them walking through security, I wait for my bags to come through the Xray machines. And I wait. And wait. And finally the TSA agent asks if I have candles. I do – like four of them in two different bags.  They are Christmas gifts.  Are we not supposed to have candles either now??
Ugh! Terrorists!
The TSA agent explains I AM allowed to carry candles, but they have to run some swab thingy over them and send them BACK through xray. And by the time they finally finish this process, I have to RUN to my gate to catch my plane.
I frantically ask the guy at the counter about getting on the flight and I’m told: it’s three hours late. And that it will only get me to Detroit tonight. Forget about getting all the way to D.C.
But, they’ll pay for a hotel. In Detroit. Fine. Mom,  Dad, Niece? I know you want to come back in and get me and take me to have coffee for three hours somewhere!
So we do that, and I have to go BACK through security, explaining again that yes, I have scary candles in both my bags, blah blah.
I get to Detroit and am exhausted. And as I stand in line to check in at the hotel, I let my bag fall to the ground and hear something hit –
After all that, I nearly break the darn things on the hotel floor!

Which reminded me of a ridiculous incident back when I was on an overseas trip during college with my friend Laura. We were souvenir hunting in Scotland and what did we decide would be a fantastic souvenir to drag home?
I'm not even kidding. We really did. She and I both had porcelin dolls given to us as we were growing up and we spotted this little boy doll in a shop called "The Piper" and he was wearing all the traditional Scotish gear and something broke in our heads and we honestly thought - we should buy that to remind us of Scotland! And drag it back to our hotel! And then pack it in a suitcase to go to a new continent!
We couldn't have found something more fragile if we tried. Stupidest idea ever. But after running around all day, getting to this store right as it was closing and BEGGING the owner to let us in, we bought those ridiculous dolls. As we walked back to our hotel - far away - Laura and I were swinging our bags when - THWAP! - our dolls crashed into each other. Both of stopped dead in our tracks, afraid to look. We finally found that the dolls were still in tact and we burst out laughing realizing we TOTALLY DESERVED THAT for buying something basically made of an EGG SHELL to travel home with. I've bought Souvenir Spoons ever since....
The candles ended up being fine and I get to my room and realize - I have nothing to wear to bed and no toiletry items…since I had to check my bag with all my liquids.

Dang it, terrorists!

Fine. Skin to the wind! I’m tired and don’t care what I’m sleeping in anymore! But I do feel gross from travelling and have no face wash.
Dilemma: Do I sleep in my makeup and risk whatever that would do to my skin? Or do I wash my face in hotel soap, with no follow-on moisturizer, and risk getting wrinkled by morning. I go with wrinkles and move on to the next problem:
Contact lens storage!
Thankfully, I have “gas permeable” (AKA basically glass contact lenses…I’m blind as a bat, don’t ask) lenses that don’t have to be in solution. So I grab two drinking cups from the sink – one for Left eye and one for Right, and start to take out my first lens.
And promptly drop it on the floor. On the DIRTY HOTEL FLOOR. And I have NO CONTACT CLEANER.
Grrrr! Now I may have wrinkles AND an eye infection.
I think about my NEXT problem – teeth.
I look around and see – bar soap. And one bottle of shampoo.
I begin to wonder how bad it could really be to have your mouth washed out with soap …when I call the front desk and thankfully they stock toothpaste I can get in the morning. I can just use my finger if need be. Fine. Going to bed.
And at some point I have the water running and I go to turn it off-
And it won’t turn off.
The cold side will, but the hot side just keeps on running!
Neat! I’ll be sleeping with no clothes, the skin on my face drying up, my teeth rotting and water running all night! Thanks Delta airlines!
I wiggle the handle multiple times and finally FORCE it all the way to the Left and it stops.
Ok! Now we are ready to get…..3 whole hours of sleep before having to wake up for my next flight.
I get up – get the water stuck on again, throw on the same clothes as yesterday, inform the TSA agents that I am, in fact, smuggling Candles, and finally make it back to D.C. in time to work and then sit in grad school class. ...And then stay after class for a group project. Longest. Day. Ever.
And to think I actually flew to Tennessee this time as a “treat” to myself to make the trip easier. From now on, I’m just driving the dang 8 hours and holding every bottle of liquid I own on my lap, just because I can.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top Ten Ways I Will Have Culture Shock In Tennessee Over Thanksgiving

10. Dinner does not cost as much as a car payment
9. People at cash registers are actually nice to me
8. People have houses. With yards.  And driveways.
7. Everyone roots for the same sports teams
6. Everyone has the same accent
 5. My social plans will not be altered by protests, motorcades, or security threats
4. There are parking lots. With multiple spaces. For free. And I can park my car in any of them. At any time of the day.
3. People will not honk at me if I hesitate at a green light (ha! Like I ever do that, but still…)
2. I will at no point during the week be wearing a suit or ID badge
1. Big. Trucks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aaand We Are Back To Gut Instincts

You'll be happy to know, I once again went against my intuition and agreed to meet up with a guy for coffee this week. And once again we can add to the volumes of Bad Dana Dates. This one's short, but still amusing so I figured I'd share.

I wasn't initially excited about this guy. I got an "uptight" vibe off him. But, once again, I told myself to give him a chance. Besides, he's a teacher out in Virginia so:

A. He at least won't be the typical Tool that is a DC Politico.
B. One of my exes - one of the few guys I've actually really fallen for (and the Old Mark in the Mark Scenario here)- was also a teacher in Virginia so I take that as a good sign.
And then I quickly realize I should stop talking myself into guys.

His suggestion for our meet up? Starbucks. After work. On a week day. Which is fine since we are just getting to know each other and that means we won't be stuck through an entire meal together if things never get interesting. But he chooses a Starbucks in an underground mall in a part of northern VA that few people hang out in. Have I mentioned I get easily confused in anything underground? Parking garages, malls, they are all labrynths to me. So I'm already anxious but I find it fairly quickly.

Then he arrives.

So I start to walk up to the counter and he says: "Oh, I'm not going to get anything because I just ate dinner and I'm full. Plus I already had Starbucks today."

Um... I already had Starbucks today too, buddy, but don't you think we should order something since we are here? And not sure if you remember this, but you are the one who picked the place.

Fine. So I'm like "ok, well I'll get something."

And I do.

And I pay.

He doesn't even offer to pay. Even though he asked me out. And chose Starbucks. Then indirectly forced me to buy something since he was not going to.

So we end up having small talk for like an hour. Which included him whining about the fact that D.C. drivers are too aggressive (to which I proudly announced that I'm one of those aggressive drivers), then we moved on to other topics- like the hike I was planning to do that weekend. He says he has done that hike - and wasn't a fan.


He says he doesn't enjoy scrambling over rocks (which, incidentally, is the part of hikes I enjoy most. I mean, come on. It's like a giant, natural jungle gym! What's not to like?!) and he warns me there's a part where you have to leap from one set of rocks to another, over a drop that would kill you if you misstepped.

Hmm. I've heard a lot of people have hiked this. I assume I would have heard by now that there is a CHASM OF DEATH involved.

But still, now he has me a bit nervous as we end our little chat and go our separate ways. So not only did this guy invite me on an underground date like we are a pair of Ninja Turtles, and made me pay for coffee I didn't need, but now he's given me anxiety about my hike and causes me to foolishly announce to my fellow hikers that we will be leaping over certain death at some point on Saturday.

Then I wait through our FIVE HOUR HIKE for this scary leap -- and it never came.

Done with him.

The next time someone encourages me to "just give a date a chance," I'm just going to yell "DEATH CHASM!" and run away....


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Can Someone Turn That Reticular Activating System Down, Please?

I’ve been asked recently to blog more about my ridiculous dating life. And unfortunately (?) I haven’t had many crazy incidents recently on dates themselves but instead, I’ve been uncannily reminded that I apparently should be in a relationship. Don't get me wrong, I’m absolutely a romantic at heart, probably to a fault. I grew up believing the movies about love that makes people go to the ends of the earth for each other and I just assumed eventually that just happens -? In the meantime, though, I had things to do! There are OTHER COUNTRIES out there people, I needed to touch them. And what is all this STUFF to learn about? And OUTSIDE! There are so many things OUTSIDE!
In other words – I was never that girl who sat around pining away for some guy to “complete” me. But that’s not to say I didn’t want someone, I just wasn’t obsessed with it and wasn’t going to settle for someone I didn’t have a real connection with. (Actually, I physically can’t settle anyway. I’ve tried. I dated a guy twice many years ago because he was so darn nice and I thought I should date him …. I ended up physically repulsed by the end of our relationship. My body actually REJECTS affection if my heart isn’t interested. Neat, huh?)

And not to say I haven't fallen for people, it just doesn't happen often. My heart is extremely picky and even when my brain finds someone "perfect on paper" for me, my heart is usually like: eh, not in the mood, sorry!
Anyway, that was all fine until recently when the universe conspired to forcibly "turn my light on."

(Some of my friends believe people - particularly men - get to a point in life when their "light comes on" and they just decide it's time to get married. Then they go out and find someone to do that with. Boom. Done.)
Which brings me to The Reticular Activating System. My pastor, Mark Batterson  -who is a voracious reader and geeks out on all sorts of topics during his sermons, which I love - was the first to introduce me to this term. Among many other things, it’s basically the part of your brain that puts things into categories and tells you what to pay attention to. It’s what makes you all of a sudden notice how many other people on the road are driving the car you just bought.

Lately, most unfortunately, mine has been “activated” around Pairing Up. It's gotten to the point of being downright humorous.  I feel like all of a sudden, every song on the radio is about love. All the people I pass on the sidewalk are holding hands. During my trail runs, I’ll look over and see that all the ducks are in pairs. Or, things happen like a few weeks ago, when I was with TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS OF PEOPLE at TWO COMPLETELY SEPARATE EVENTS and no joke, within a span of a couple hours, this scene played out:

One Person, to an entire circle of multiple people of which I’m a part: Is everyone here single?
Then, specifically only to me: Dana, are you?
....Couple hours later, in a different setting:
One Person, to an entire circle of multiple people of which I’m a part: Is everyone here single?
Then, specifically only to me: Dana, are you?
What tha?
Then, this morning, I’m simply getting a parking pass for my garage at work. And the lady goes through the whole spiel and is writing down what spot I get and she looks up and says “So this is for a Single Driver, correct?”
Me: *Face Palm*
After countless wedding invites and facebook posts about marriage, I feel like I'm being punked. I'm warily eyeing my desk like "those pens weren't lying in a pair yesterday!...who is doing this?!" And perhaps I'm noticing all these things all of a sudden because my light is supposed to be on and I've been too oblivious to notice before. I assume if my soul mate is out there somewhere, knowing me, I'll either trip into him or spill coffee on him so I'll find out then. In the meantime though, I'm sure I'll have more adventures in DC Dating like here and I'd like to get back to having my reticular activating system only notice things like Steve Madden shoes or V8 engines, thank you very much. :)