Category Archives: Travel

To sir, with love

Return of the summer music series – stuck in the car with Leesha

Summer has returned, and with it comes those long road trips accompanied by “are we there yet?” and “do we have to listen to this song?”  Or in my case, scream-singing lyrics (with lots of solos), discussing the meaning of songs, and random song factoids.

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Today’s song – “To Sir, with Love,” by Lulu is in honor of the school year being officially over…unless you’re a grad student torturing yourself with summer classes (why did I think that was a good idea?).

I’ve had a lot of professors and teachers over the course of my life, but (as with many of us) – there’s one teacher who really made a difference.  The one who believed in you and pushed you to do more than you thought possible.  For me – it was a high school teacher and his name is such an excellent novel character name – Captain Jim (he was in the military before becoming a teacher).  The subject?  Dreaded math.  The back story: other teachers told me and three other girls that we were hopeless in math and therefore should take an “easy” statistic class our junior year to fulfill our credit obligations.  He was an excellent teacher and saw something in us that the other teachers missed.  We excelled in AP Statistics and our senior year, took AP Statistics II, Pre-calculus, and Calculus (yep,  that’s not a typo, it was in the same year).  As for me…well, the girl who was told she couldn’t be taught math, now does math for a living.

Thanks Captain Jim (and all the teachers like you), you really did make a difference.  To sir, with love.

Those school girl days of telling tales
And biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know
They will still live on and on

But how do you thank someone
Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high
To Sir, with love

The time has come for closing books
And long last looks must end
And as I leave I know
That I am leaving my best friend

A friend who taught me right from wrong
And weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, what
can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon
I would try to make a star
But I, would rather you let me give my heart
To Sir, with love

In case you didn’t know, “To sir, with love,” is from a movie with the same title about a teacher making a difference in an inner city school…and shamefully, I haven’t seen it yet. But Amazon is shipping it to me…so the problem will soon be fixed.  🙂

Two tickets to paradise

For the first time in over two years, I’m going on a real vacation.  I’m excited, but I’m also really nervous…


Excited because, well, who isn’t excited to have a vacation from the every day grind of work (and school, for me) and responsibility?

Nervous because…I’m not traveling alone.  It’s the first time in over two years that I’m traveling with a guy…since well, a messy divorce and trust issues.

Yeah.

So I came up with tip of how to travel when you’re in a new relationship:

  1. Don’t be afraid to poo.  So, for whatever reason in new relationships, there’s this thing where people are afraid to poo in the other person’s place.  Don’t worry, everyone poops and your boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/crush/wolverine knows that you poop, even if you don’t do it at their place.
  2. Pack as you normally would. Don’t try to pack light, if you don’t normally. And don’t pack super heavy if you’re a carryon only type traveler. Just do you. 
  3. Tell them what you want or don’t want to see. Be honest. There’s nothing wrong with being agreeable, but don’t be a doormat to make someone else happy, make sure you see/do what you want too. 
  4. Bring your own stuff. This includes credit cards, cash, phone chargers, etc.  It’s always better to have backups in case someone forgets or loses something. Also, if you’re slightly morbid like me…you never want to be completely dependent on someone should stuff go wrong.
  5. Have fun and oh, sign up for frequent flier and rewards points for places you go, because it’s never too early to start saving/amassing points for your next journey. 

First Series – Part 2

Firsts Series 

In honor of the coming one year anniversary of this blog, I’m detailing some of my firsts. 🙂

First Epic Heartbreak

Sigh.  Yes, it was bound to happen at some point, especially with how easily I fell for people back in the day.   But I digress, let’s set the stage, shall we?

It was fall semester of my sophomore year in college, and I was studying abroad in Vienna, Austria.  There were so many firsts that year (including first international flight and first European adventure), but one of the biggest was my first epic heartbreak.

I remember the first time I saw him – he seemed to stand out among the large group of American students at the Vienna train station.  He was tall, confident (chicks really do dig confidence, just like the South Park movie says :p ), and seemed to be cool while I was sweating like a pig after lugging suitcases into the train station.  And of course, he didn’t notice me at all.

But that didn’t last long. 😉 Of course, it helped that there weren’t a lot of students in the program, that we had a class together, and oh lucky me, that he ended up living next door.

I even remember when we made the leap from friends to dating… It was oh so swoon-worthy. 😉 We were studying with a group of friends – the two of us were sitting together, reading on my bed – when he reached out and barely brushed my leg with his fingertip. My heart stopped.  Two minutes later, his thumb gently slid across the side of my leg again.  I peaked at him from the corner of my eye, but he didn’t look up from reading.  Then his thumb started tracing circles on my thigh…and I reread the same word in my text-book about six times.  A slight smile tugged at his lips and I had to remind myself to breathe.  When our friends finally left the room, I may have tackled him. 😉

And of course, I remember the breakup. That bullshit line that everyone hears at one point, about how they need to work on themselves or how they need to find themselves (when, let’s face it, they really mean that they need to find themselves with someone else).   It wasn’t long before it was clear that he was with someone else and of course, I was heartbroken.

Looking back, it wasn’t all bad and I’ve certainly been through worse since. But that heartbreak helped me return to writing – I discovered a cafe close to our school that I went to everyday, where I filled a journal up with nonsense (and some sense).  I traveled, read, saw a lot of opera (hmmm, not sure all the operatic drama really helped, but at least it counts as “cultured”), made friends, and learned how to deal with a broken heart.

Most importantly, that heartbreak led me to my favorite of my Vienna stories – the first one that got away and the tale of the most romantic, non-romantic experience of my life (obviously not with the same guy)….but that is a story for next time. 😉

How about you? When was your first heartbreak?

Conversations in Transit

This week, I was a bad blogger.  😦  But this was because of a last-minute business trip and a crazy week (I know – excuses, excuses).  I often travel for business and I’ve found that sometimes, I have pretty good conversations with strangers that sit next to me on planes.  So, I decided to catalogue one of them.  Perhaps I’ll write more of them…though I must warn you, some of it has been fictionalized to protect the innocent and of course, to amuse me.  So let’s just call this creatively fictionalized non-fiction. 😉

To Dallas I Go

I sit in the middle seat of a cramped back row on an airplane bound for Dallas. My body is sandwiched between a prim southern belle and a man who looks in desperate need of a shower.

He fidgets in his seat and my eyes spot the signs of a person that does not like to travel. What makes it so easy? Like senses like. I don’t like to travel, but by some great joke of the universe, I’ve landed a good job that requires me to travel. Unlike the man beside me, I’ve travelled enough to lose the fidgeting, though clearly not enough to land me glorious upgradable status. My boss is in the front of the plane right now and oh, how I dream of the day when my ass will grace a wide seat of first class. The promised land, where I can sip anything from a champagne flute and carelessly laugh as the unwashed masses (my seat-mate smells) of economy class wait for their beverage service. But, I digress.

The fidgeting beside me stops and a string of curses erupt from my seat-mate’s mustache framed mouth. I glance at him, just as he reaches to the ground beneath the seat in front of him.

“Damn drink,” he mutters. “Sorry ma’am.” As he reaches further to clean his spilled drink, he leans down and toward me, his head only inches from my lap. The book in my hands has no chance of being read now as several sly comments spin in my mind. I usually don’t try to make conversation with a man whose head is in my lap, but hey, rules are made to be broken.

“Do you need help?” I ask, not able to withhold the laugh that bubbles from my mouth. I can see the Southern belle from the corner of my eye as she shakes her head in disdain.

“No, I almost got it.” He pops up mere seconds later, face red and drink firmly in hand.

“Great,” I say and watch as he returns to fidgeting. “Are you nervous?”

“Yeah. I, uh, don’t like to fly much.”

“Not many people do.”

“Well, this is my third flight. Just coming back from overseas.”

I nod my head, “Is Dallas home for you?”

“Yep. Texas born and bred.”

I can’t suppress a grin. I’ve only heard that in cheesy movies and TV shows. “Well, you’re nearly there.” By then the flight crew has begun making their announcements.

I turn to my routine for takeoff. I close my eyes and breathe, feeling the rush of the plane’s wheels against the runway and the nose of the plan tipping up. I try to pinpoint the moment the rear wheels leave the ground and join the others in the air. The engine roars in my ear, I am after all in the status-lacking seats, and I try not to think of the phantom mechanical noises beneath my feet. I open my eyes when I feel the plane level off, just shortly before the ding that signals your ability to get up and use the bathroom.

Then, I pull out my book. To the people who don’t travel very often: this is the universal sign of “I don’t want to talk.” Please, don’t take this as a personal affront. It’s not you, I’m sure you’re lovely. It’s me – the book I’m reading may be very good, or I like to occupy my brain while not disturbing others, or I want some down time during my trip. It could be any or all of the above. I’m told by more seasoned business travelers that this is a truth universally acknowledged in first class. But, it’s a crapshoot in coach. My seat-mates have paperback novels, so for almost an hour I’m in the clear. Then the fidgeting begins again.

“What kind of book is that?” The unshaven man asks.

I turn the book around to glance at the cover. There’s just a little title on the cover, not two people on the brink of orgasm as most romance novels love to portray.

“Mystery novel.” Blatant lie, but to tell a strange man on a plane that you read smut is akin to poking a bear. A bear that you’re then stuck next to for what will feel like an eternity.

He nods his head. “Western,” he shows me the cover of his book – a sunset on landscape populated by cacti and hazy mountains in the distance.

“Cool,” my fingers reopen my book to the page is was reading, the juicy part is unfolding. The dangerously sexy hero hooks his finger under the chin of the innocent damsel and is bringing his lips to hers when –

“Why are you going to Dallas?” He asks.

“Business trip.” Just the words spring up anxiety about the day ahead.

“All by yourself?”

I explain to him that my boss is also aboard, but several rows up in first class.

“How old are you?”

Some women are offended by this question, but I’m not one of them. At least, not yet. I tell him my age and his face brightens, “I have two daughters about your age. I’ve got pictures in here somewhere.” He pulls out an older cellphone, “but I forget how this damn thing works.”

He hands it to me. I had a phone like this a little while ago and after a bit of memory jogging, I access his pictures.

“There they are,” he points to a picture of two young women smiling back at us. Their faces are pressed close together, as they tried to fit into the phone’s small viewfinder, Their smiles are deep and reach their matching brown eyes.

“They’re beautiful,” I smile and hand the phone back to him. He leans over me to show the Southern belle.

“Charming,” she says and bares a grin that consists of perfectly rounded teeth. “I just had a baby girl.”

Regardless of a fairly recent birthing experience, her stomach shows no bulge over the pink fitted shirt she wears. I eye my own pre-children muffin top, which has begun to sprout slightly over my dress pants.

Damn gluttonous body.

I lament for a minute before grabbing a little snack that I’ve stashed in my bag. Another drawback to business trips are the unreliable meals. During other trips, I’ve worked 14 hour days in remote hotel rooms in remote locations, without a rental car, and went to bed without dinner. As a result of these prior experiences, I am now part squirrel – constantly collecting snacks in case my workload deems me to be too busy to eat.

I pull a chocolate chip cookie out of my bag. The Southern belle looks away, but not before a gleam of ravenous hunger twinkles in her eye. The chocolate chips of the first bite melt on my tongue and my body sighs with happiness. Life is too short to forbid yourself treats, small muffin top or not.

“My husband wants to try for a boy,” she says as she leans over me to chat with the Texan. I decide that he looks like a Jake, with his scruff of a beard, mustache, and blue jeans. She looks like an Elizabeth, all pretty and put together.

“What do you think is harder to raise, boys or girls?” Elizabeth asks Jake.

There is a tentative pause, then Jake answers, “girls are much harder to raise.”

I barely suppress an eye roll. How many times have I heard that from other parents?  The usual response when querying them as to why girls are more difficult to raise stems from sex. Countless mothers have leered at me, “with a son you only have to worry about one boy. But with a girl, you have to worry about all the boys.” Sigh. Bitches.

As a woman, I’m not going to pretend that sex isn’t a worry for parents of teenage girls. I’m also not going to deny a sense of relief after graduating college without an accident. Regardless of all this, I asked Jake why. Call me a glutton for punishment, or also chocolate chip cookies, since I shoved one in my mouth as Jake answered.

“Well,” he said, “girls are harder to raise right. I grew up with so many women that depended on their man. But when my wife and me had two little girls, I didn’t want them to have to depend on their husbands. This way they won’t get stuck with someone like me.” He let out a little snort of laughter and winked at me.

“So, I taught my girls how to fix things around the house, how to balance a checkbook and change a tire. I made them go to college to major in something useful.” His voice trailed off and smiled to himself. “They’re both nurses.”

My smile back to him is genuine. “Well, I think you raised them right.”

He laughed. “I usually don’t tell people this, but they even make more money than their husbands.”

This deepens my smile, “even better.”

Later, when we’ve landed and the line of people to disembark chokes the plane’s aisles, I turn to him to say goodbye. He grabs my hand in his and gives me a firm handshake. His hands are not like the soft, artisan hands of the men that occupy my office, they are wide and well calloused.

His crinkled blue eyes pull my gaze from his hands, as he meets me in an honest fatherly gaze. “Good luck on your business trip.”

“Thanks,” I smile when I remember the pride in his eyes as he talked about his girls, and I remind myself to call my parents when I get off the plane. “Welcome home.”