Just a chuckle for your day

So I haven’t touched this blog in ages but I seriously just wanted to share this with you all. On the CRJ 900 aircraft that I work on my jumpseat (the seat the flight attendants sit in with our extra straps) pulls out between the seats in the last row of the aircraft. That means sitting fairly close to passengers who are sitting in the aisle seats. It often gets down right cozy.
So today, on my way home, I was sitting next to an old man heading on his way to visit family in Texas, and he couldn’t resist sharing a few jokes with me. His wife said he has an encyclopedia of them in his head. You could tell he was a story teller and loved it. At one point he turned to his wife and said, “I made her laugh” very saticfied with himself. She responded, “Yes I heard, Dear.”
He took such delight in sharing with me I just had to share with you. Some of them are so fantastically terrible that you HAVE to laugh.

There was a camel with two perfect humps and he met a camel with one perfect hump. They went on caravan together and decided to get hitched. They had a baby an he had no hump. Do you know what they named him?

Humphrey

I met a man who had a terrible freak accident where he lost the entire left side of his body!
But don’t worry, he is alright now.

I met a man who got caught in a furniture upholstery machine.
Don’t worry, he has recovered.

So when animals die God mets them at the pearly gate and grants them one wish before they get into heaven.
One day a kitty dies and meets God at the pearly gates, and God tells the kitty he gets one wish, anything he wants.
“Well, you know I’ve always slept in other peoples bed, or on the floor or in boxes. I would really like my own bed.”
God grants his wish and gives him the most perfectly comfortable bed ever made.
The next day several mice met God at the pearly gates and he offers them a wish.
“People are always chasing us with brooms and shoes, and cats are always running after us, how about some roller skates to help us get away a little faster.”
God grants their wish and off they roll.
A few days go by and God is checking on the new animals. He stops in to see the kitty, who is stretched out taking a lovely cat nap. God asks the kitty if he likes his new bed.
The kitty replies, “Oh its great! I’ve never slept so well! Oh and thanks for all those meals on wheels you’ve been sending!”

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Hans Bakery- It is back

Now I have always had a sweet tooth. I am sure I always will. For most of my life, and much of my adult life, my favorite way to satisfy my sweet tooth was a trip to Hans Bakery. A bakery and unofficial historic institute in Anoka, this place was quintessential to everything that was a bakery. When I was a kid I remember making my way to the glass display case through the sea of legs, because at that time I was waist high and Hans was always packed. Behind this case was a plethora of every kind of doughnut, cookie and cake you could want. Pastries and doughnuts glistened with their crystalline glaze and oozed their berry fillings. Above the dispaly cases along the ceiling were example of decorated cakes you could buy, adding a festive and colorful touch, along with the wedding cakes in the window.

I ate extremely healthfully as a child. My mom was big on the food pyramid. We didn’t drink soda except for special occasions and we had fruits and veggies with every meal (I’m serious). Hans was such a treat.  We would probably go once a month or so and my mom would let us get what ever we wanted, and I mean whatever. We could pick two things, sometimes three. At Hans I often ate a glaze doughnut and cheese cake for breakfast. My sister didn’t like doughnuts (don’t worry she and I know she is pretty much a freak for this) so she got to eat cookies for breakfast. It was one of my all time favorite things growing up, Hans.

Not only do I deeply deeply believe that they had the best glaze doughnuts on the planet and no one can touch their custard, but there was also the atmosphere that was appealing. The place was a neighborhood establishment. If you grew up in the northern suburbs, you knew Hans. The place was full of regulars. There was always the circle of senior citizens, half of them men wearing their WW II veteran hats. They would push a few tables together and all sit around it, dunking their doughnuts in endless cups of black coffee. The bakery was across the street from a middle school, so there were always teenagers popping in and out before and after school hours.

This is a place full of such happy memories for me. My sister and I drinking chocolate milk (believe me nothing goes better with doughnuts) watching the rotating cakes in the glass display tower, and waiting anxiously for our number to be called to order. When I was really young I used to get their “Texas” sized doughnuts, which were glazed doughnuts literally about the size of a dinner plate. I would order one every once in a while (okay this my mom didn’t let this be a regular thing) and without fail a random old man would exclaim “You can’t eat all that!” After my mom and I assured him I could, I would go on to prove myself. To this day I think I sincerely surprised some people and they weren’t just indulging me.

Now the bakery had been owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hans (I’m sure she was called something different but thats how I knew them) for most of my young life. When they retired it passed to different family members. The last owner was a nephew I believe. Now here is where I will probably get a bit ranty and mad. But somehow the guy managed to end a really great thing. The exact reasons are a bit fuzzy, but from my memories the changes weren’t very good to start with. He remodeled the entire place in all white and took away any personality it may have had. Made the prices bigger and doughnuts smaller. Now rumors I heard were financial, health board etc. But what makes me so mad is how much screwing up would it take to ruin Hans?? This place was always packed on a weekend. This place was historic! How to take a place with a loyal following that couldn’t be more well established and end it? Of course I don’t know the details, but I can see it nothing less than a great shame. Long story short the bakery shut down. I know that I am not the only one who had a heart, if not a little broken, at least a cracked to lose what was not only a great bakery but a neighborhood staple, and one that simply could not be replaced. I am not the only one sad to have lost a place of such warm childhood memories. I have also spent way to many bakery visits trying to find a place that had glazed doughnut that even came close to comparing to Hans, and there was no way to replace their beehives, as they were unique to this bakery.

That was roughly five years ago. Now just when it seems I will never have my doughnut itch scratched, I hear something truly wonderful. Hans is opening again! How? A past Hans fan, like you or me, decided Hans Bakery simply couldn’t become little more than warm memories of the past. A local woman, Ms. Olsen from Blaine, won a grant on a television show, and is bringing this bakery back to life. She isn’t a baker, she isn’t a restauranteer, but in my opinion, she must be truly good, and clearly willing to work hard to bring back a good thing. She knew what this place was and knows what it can be. I am so grateful that Hans Bakery has been given a new lease on life, and that I will be able to share it again. This Saturday the 22nd I will not be the only one to head to Hans Bakery for it’s grand opening. I know I am not the only one who is more than excited to return, not only to my memories, but to a bakery that was simply too good to just let go.

Sentimentality and old shoes

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I am an extremely sentimental person. I used to keep silly little toys, mcdonalds happy meal prizes, polly pocket dolls, even ribbons I especially liked wearing in younger years. Its only probably been a year or two since I actually got rid of all of those knick knacks. Seeing these things would make me so intensely nostalgic for when I was a kid and my biggest worries were….play. A psycologist would probably have interesting things to say about my intense desire to remember these times. I have learned to be a bit more realistic, getting rid of these items doesn’t mean getting rid of memories but I still struggle with letting go.

Thus, these old shoes.

I’ve had these shoes for six years. They are filthy, worn out and don’t look like anything I should wear in polite company, so perhaps there okay for most of my friends and family.  I’ve decided they really need replacing and to be tossed out. Why is that so hard for me?

I bought them on ebay, because I couldn’t afford 80 dollar shoes. I got them for 20 bucks and fell in love with their neutral coloring, which meant I could wear them with black or brown. They were the most comfortable thing I have ever worn and that remains pretty true to this day, eight years later.

They have literally been around the world with me. I bought them for my first trip out of the country when I went to England to study abroad. This was an experience that changed my life in astronomical ways. The travel bug bit me on that trip and my desire for travel has been the leading force in many of my life decisions  ever since. These shoes have been with me every time I’ve left the country and just about every trip I’ve taken within the US. The biggest break they probably got on any of my trips was my broken foot in Thailand. These shoes didn’t provide useful to “swing” into when I had become adept at my crutches. The culteral practice of always taking off your shoes when entering a building, even if  you only have one and the other foot is covered in a cast, proved tedious if I had to sit down every time I wanted to take my shoe off. Thus I bought a pair of fake brand crocks that I could literally swing my foot into on my crutches.

You know I still own those crocks too…

But anyway back to my beaten and broken shoes. They have traveled to and through over 20 countries with me. They have been my companion on my most exciting excursions. They were part of my favorite times of my life. They carried my through the best stories I have to tell about myself. There is also the fact that they are most incredibly comfortably broken into, how do you let something like that go? The years it took to mold that shoe to my foot has well….led to what looks like a moldy shoe itself.

Can you believe I’m going on like this over something like old shoes?

Thats my sentimentality, my love for that bittersweet extreme nostalgia. You can blame my mom. She is the one I got it from. Or we can acknowledge I’m a little crazy. For more than being so very attached to these shoes.

So what to do?

My best answer has come down to this. Buying the exact same shoes over again. Buying the same brand, the same color, I even bought the new ones on ebay as well. Then continue my life with them while making many new memories.

The Worst Thing

Okay, not the worse thing in the world, but the worst thing about my job. The worst thing about my job is not the constant delays (those effect us too) the extreme lack of sleep or irregular schedule. The worse thing about my job is the constant leaving. Now I love to travel, I seriously love to travel. But leaving for work and leaving for an adventure on purpose are very different things. On occasion, work becomes an adventure, and I am grateful for that benefit. I like not knowing what will happen the next day on the job. Perhaps I should be more specific. The worst thing about my job for me, is constantly leaving Ben.

I wake up early because my flight is at 6 am and I pry myself from sleep and my husband’s clinging arms. Every time my alarm goes off to tell me it is time to leave, my bed, and Ben cuddling with me has never felt better. I stumble to the bathroom and put my hair up in bobby pins, because I always shower before bed when I have to wake up early. It is sticking out and whirling in directions that make it clear my curl has a mind all its own. I pin it into submission, wash my face and brush my teeth. I struggle into panty hose (they may be the bane of my existence) and my uniform that I set out the night before so I didn’t forget to put on my skirt or something. I’m about ready to go at this point, since I do my make up in the car waiting for the bus. At this point I should usually be leaving.

Now I’ll tell you something Ben almost certainly doesn’t know, owing to the fact that he is the hardest sleeper I’ve ever encountered.

I see him there, sleeping peacefully, curled on his side, and I lay down along his back and hug him to myself. He doesn’t stir.  I pretend for about three minutes that I don’t need to leave him for four days and that we can just lay that way until we want to get up in the morning. Then I have to leave him, and some of the time I truly want to cry.

I have walking out of that apartment and leaving him sleeping behind me. I clunk my luggage down the stairs and haul it to my car.

Now I’ve been doing this leaving for about 3 years, and I don’t think its gotten any easier. Yes, we are newly weds, but the relationship isn’t exactly new and I felt like this before and after we got married. I realize this all sounds very dramatic, but it feels that way. Maybe it is because its dark and things always seem worse in the dark, maybe we spend to much time together, maybe I’m just a big baby, maybe I would care less if we had been together eighteen years instead of eight. But what ever the reason, it is still how I feel.

When Ben and I first started dating we lived in different cities about 2 hours apart. We spent a lot of time on the phone. I would say to him that I liked to hear that he missed me. Once he responded, “The worst thing about being missed is that you have to be gone.”

Some things never change, and some times that is the best

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I’ve visiting my grandparents right now and I was wondering if I could fit in a blog for this challenge. But I was flooded with the feelings that returning here always gives me and I thought “ah hell I’ll share them.”

I am a sentimental being. There are no two ways around it. Coming here always brings that up in me. My grandparents still live in the house that my dad and his three brothers grew up in. While it isn’t completely unchanged, many things are exactly the same as they were when I was a kid.

When I walk in I smell that smell that means I’m at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. That never ever changes. Every time I come here I give my self a little time just to wander the upstairs a little bit. It is just two bedrooms and a bathroom but that’s where my siblings and I am my parents always slept and I just like to see and touch those things that have been there for the last 28 years and longer. My grandma’s sewing machine which probably hasn’t moved in at least 30 years, the plastic gold crucifix on the wall in the kids bedroom, the hand quilted throw pillows on the bed, all of these little mundane things just bring up memories so much. It makes me remember how I felt when I was young. I love that.

My parents  moved from Missouri to Minnesota shortly before I was born to. I grew up having everyone else be far away and we only got to see them a few times a year. My sister and I have often said how we feel lucky that we grew up this way because we always appreciated our family and our Grandparents. I remember when I was a kid hearing other kids bemoan that fact that they had to go to their grandparents. I never understood that. For us it was a treat, and something we looked forward to. People certainly usually come to appreciate their Grandparents, especially as they and we get older. Though no doubt in my mind that I soak it up even more now.

My grandparents themselves don’t change much either. Though they are smaller and older each time I see them, they still make me laugh. They endlessly crack me up. They still bicker over silly things and get mad at their computers. They still laugh at me and want kisses. Something don’t change, and really sometimes that’s the best.

Such as just now. My Grandma bought a pina colada mix for us. We just finished them and just said “Hu ha hu ha, I’m feeling goooood.”

 

 

 

Lamenting the Loss of the Saab 340

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In the airline industry it is important to take change the same way you take a breath, its going to happen, don’t even try to stop it because you’re only hurting yourself. This was a lesson slow in coming but certainly something that I have learned to deal with by now.

One of the bigger changes I’ve adjusted to was when the mainline airline decided they didn’t want any Saab 340s in their fleet. I fly two small regional jets, a 76 seater CRJ 900 and a fifty seater CRJ 200. I used to fly the old but true 34 seater prop plane, Saab 340. Now for someone based in Minneapolis/St Paul the smaller the plane, the smaller the airport an town one will be flying to. On the jets I fly the east coast and big cities much. On the Saab I was in and out of the Twin Cities and flying places like International Falls, Devils Lake, and Hibbing.

Most flight attendants I know prefer the larger jet we fly. The hours are better and the locations are bigger. But for me, it was all about the Saab. Everyone, including my 5’3” self, had to duck when stepping into the aircraft. They had one small cart and a handful of drawers that comprised the galley, which was actually the entry way to the flight deck. The seating was three across, one seat on one side, and two on the other. The overhead bins weren’t big enough for the smallest basic roller bag. It was a prop plane and sounded like it. In the summer season it was tossed around plenty and gave me lots of experience with turbulence.

I loved it. People didn’t have very high expectations when they were flying out of an airport with one or two gates They were polite and happy to be there. It was loud and passengers were afraid of the plane, and so would do what I tell them to. It was great. After two weeks or so full of flights in and out of big cities with people making international connections, and being shocked at the size of the plane when flying out of New York or Detroit, it was such a breath of fresh air to hop on the Saab. Passengers would simply put their bags under the seat when I asked them to, not ask me why. I would get done with my service in 15 minutes on a full flight. I could chat with passengers about their fishing trips as we flew up to International Falls.

I had several people have their first flight ever on the Saab. The most memorable was an elderly man in a small town in northern Minnesota. He climbed up the metal stairs, which by the way, I folded up and slid behind my jump seat (no joke). As he stepped onto the aircraft he asked where he should sit and I explain his boarding pass. He told me just to tell him what to do because he had never done this before.

Part of me felt bad for him because it was summer, and a more turbulent time of year to fly. We were on a small plane that had the tendency to get tossed around a bit, mostly because we didn’t fly high enough to need to be pressurized. He was wearing a trucker hat from the 80’s, a flannel shirt and had a big grey beard. He had a small duffle bag that was stuffed full enough to be straining at the seams, as his only luggage. He apologized profusely when I asked him (nicely!) to put the bag under the seat, repeating that he really didn’t know what he was doing. I assured him it was just fine and there was nothing to worry about on our way to the Twin Cities.

It was bumpy on the way back to the cities, and he did clutch the armrests with white knuckled vigor. I assured him that this was completely normal and there was nothing to worry about. He kept saying “oh, sure sure,” in an obvious effort to comfort himself. But he was was smiling on his way out.

There was more of a sense of comradery on the Saab as well, between the two pilots and the flight attendant.  Its similar on the CRJ 200 when there is only the three of us. But on the Saab, there were a smaller number of pilots who flew the plane and a smaller number of flight attendants who preferred to fly it. It was easier to get to know each other when we were more likely to fly together often. If the crew went out to get drinks or a dinner we would be at a small neighborhood bar or restaurant.

I loved the Saab but most of the passengers didn’t. It was small and loud, and for the many other reasons I have already talked about, it wasn’t the most comfortable plane. The mainline decided it wasn’t up to snuff and after my first year of flying, the Saab was no more. I assumed they went back to Sweden where they were made. I occasionally see on on the east coast where US Airways still flies them.

I miss the relaxed atmosphere of the Saab. Even when things went wrong, I never felt like the passengers wanted to slit my throat for it. I miss the people and I miss knowing all the destinations that I would be staying in. But like I said before, things change often in my industry. The loss of the Saab was just a drop in the bucket.

Letters

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This is going to be about my Grandmother. My Grandma is easily one of the funniest people I have ever met. She is extremely talkative and seriously says just about anything. Her stories are the best. When we were kids and did anything goofy she would call us “cucarachas” She enjoys swearing, and by that I mean “shit” and “damn” because she is by all means a lady, but also loves to be shocked when anyone else ever swears. She also enjoys sticking her tongue out at my Grandpa when he disagrees with her. Overall, she is absolutely delightful. She might be on the higher end of the eighties but her personality is a vibrant and sparkling as ever. I’m so serious about that. 

She also writes letters. When I was a kid she and I would write all the time, and I would write her in college as well. She writes letters just the way she talks, effortlessly and undoubtedly, amusingly. She asks questions like she expects you to answer them right away. Even when she buys greeting cards for holidays or birthdays she will double underline words or cross out “like” and put in “love” or an additive saying “really! I mean that!”  When we were kids she would fill the letters with stickers. She cuts out comics from the news paper that she thinks people will like and stick them in with the letters. We used to get quite a few “Marmeduke” comics when we had a gigantic dog when I was young, the name “Markeduke” always crossed out and “Jake” written in, with her elegant scrawl. 

Recently, on facebook, one of my co-workers posted an address that you can send Christmas card to for soldiers over seas. I thought it was a nice gesture and told myself I would definitely do that for this holiday season, just a little something to show we care and appreciate those who sacrifice for us. This brought to mind my grandma and her letter writing, and that she did a whole lot more than a small gesture during World War II.

During World War II everyone was putting forth effort for the war. They were growing “victory gardens” and eating from them, buying war bonds and eating on rations. My grandmother did what she did best. She wrote letters. That was her war effort. But I’m not talking back and forth with four or five friends. She wrote regular correspondance to 89 different men would were fighting. Some of them were boys she had grown up with and knew. But many of them she didn’t know and had never met. I asked her, a long time ago, how she started writing them. She said many of them had started writing her first, getting her address from another soldier who knew her personally or just through letters. My favorite story about this was a soldier who started writing her because he saw her address written on a box. Simple as that. 

Apparently, her mother helped her organize her letters, with keeping track of the different addresses she needed to write to. They even had her portrait taken and sent out pictures to the soldiers she would write to. I just imagine the men overseas, far from home and comfort, reading my grandma’s letters. I don’t doubt they were as funny and as full of personality as her letters are today. She would write to them as if they were sitting side by side, asking them questions ask if they would answer right then and had known her for ages. I imagine them picturing this pretty young woman back home, going about her life and letting them in on it, perhaps giving them a small taste of home, of normal, of love. They were sacrificing themselves, and I would like to think it helped them, maybe just a little, when a young woman was willing to be so personal with them, sharing her life with them. 

I think about this and wonder if there is anything similar to be done for the soldier who sacrifice for us. It seems sad to me that letters, the kind with paper and ink, have just about gone the way of the dinosaurs. Which, when thinking of the history of letter writing, and my grandmothers small contribution to it, seems rather sad. They way people have been communicating from a distance for hundreds of years has been changed in less than fifty. Not to knock email, it is convenient, easy and essential to the way we live our lives today. But I don’t think clicking open an email can have the same thrill as tearing an envelope and seeing someones written words. I think of those soldiers who I’m sure came to recognize my grandmothers handwriting, and gaining some comfort that she was still on the other side other ocean and still cared that they weren’t.

 

Introducing two new Features

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I’ve decided two things pertaining to this blog, one that will be pertinent for this month, and another that I hope to make a permanent fixture of this blog. First off I have decided to participate in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), similar to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you’re interested there are still two more days to sign up http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/nablopomo-november-2013/. I just found out about this maybe an hour ago, thus I am starting it on the 3rd:) This means I will be posting a blog entry every day this month. This should be ….interesting. I mean interesting in the Minnesota way, meaning it could be bad, but I just can’t say that out loud. But I’ll do my best! The only way to get better at writing is to write, so here I go.

The second decision I have made is to have a themed blog post each month, and that theme would be coincidence. I am totally stealing this idea from This American Life, where they had an entire episode devoted to coincidences. It was a seriously great show, probably because coincidences generally make really great stories. So, once a month, I will be posting a story about a coincidence, be they mine or just vaguely connected to me, starting now.

I’m going to say this story is more serendipitous than just coincidence. Serendipity; a happy discovery made by accident, and a word almost everyone knows due to a cheesy but decent John Cusack rom-com. That is probably a more accurate description of this situation.

I was in John F Kennedy airport, otherwise known as JFK, or to those of us who have to fly through this chaotic, hell hole, suck pool of an airport, J “effing” K. Now I could get to specifics about why we all hate flying there, but I think I’ll just stick to one of the elements of difficulty we have to deal when dealing with this airport

I work on small planes, the kind people aren’t often happy to get on. Unless a passenger is a frequent flyer, they usually expect a bigger airplane, especially out of a bustling airport like JFK.

Now these smaller planes are given the more difficult gates. We don’t often land, pull into a gate and get a jet bridge (the moving hallway between the plane and the actual building of the terminal) to deplane on to. No, no, no. That would be too convenient and make the passengers much too happy to have something as basic as that.

The way these gates works for a passenger is this. They give the gate agent their boarding pass at their numbered gate and head out of the terminal down a long hall. This hall then turns into what we fondly call “the hamster maze.” There are long stretches of enclosed ramps that zig zag down to ground level. When you get there after pacing back and forth for fifteen minutes in these zig zagging hallways to get about fifteen feet, you reach a “T” in the walk ways. There are yellow signs with arrows and letters and you just better hope you listened to the letter you were told as you passed the gate agent and headed to the planes. Basically, one gate at the terminal can lead to dozens of different aircraft. heading to different destinations all over the country. Gate 65 can head to letters A-M, each with an airplane flying to different destinations. If you end up at the right letter assigned to the plane that is heading where you want to end up, you get the pleasure of hiking up the airstairs. These are the set of stairs that are on the inside of the door that we flight attendants close and open upon departure and arrival. They are larger and steeper than average stairs, and accompanied by a wiggling handrail. Clearly the best option when people are trying to haul their heavy roller bags onto the plane.

At one time we had the policy that, when we were in this specific airport, because of its unique set up, we had to check passengers boarding passes as they came onto the aircraft. This was to make sure everyone was ending up on the plane heading where they actually wanted to be going. They decided to get rid of this policy, as it slowed down boarding.

As I said before the planes I work on are small. The aisles are about the size of my hips. If I gained weight I am convinced I would be forced to find a new job. It almost impossible for two people to squeeze passed each other in the aisle. One flight attendant works the forward cabin, greeting passengers as they come on board and the serving first class, and another flight attendant works the main cabin helping people with their luggage and usually stands in the back of the plan,e at the end of the aisle, until the plane is boarded and they can do their headcount to verify with the ramp workers.

I was working in the back one day, standing at the last row as we were boarding. As the passengers piled on and stowed their bag in every nook and cranny they could fine , a family of five came on the plane. They were an Asian family speaking a language that I definitely had no comprehension of, but they were clearly confused as they tried to locate their seats in the back of the plane. I took a look at their boarding passes and saw that they had seats in row 32, which would be twelve rows longer than they plane they were currently on. They had gotten on the wrong plane, as was inevitable in J effing K. They also didn’t understand a word I was saying.

I had five people on my plane whom I could not talk to, in the back, crammed into my small aisle. People were mulling around us trying to get to their seats, and some how I needed to communicate with them that they were on the wrong plane, and if they staid they would not end up in their chosen destination. I literally had flashes of just what could happen if I used body language or improvised sigh language to express “Get OFF this plane.” I imagined being them, being kicked off a plane and not knowing why! I was picturing their angry faces as I was forced to go with just pushing them down the aisle, hoping they would eventually understand this was for the best. This was shaping up to be a situation with no good answers.

As I began my attempt to communicate with this poor family, who were probably about to become very angry with me, I heard a man’s voice chip in,

“So, whats wrong?”

It was a tall Scandinavian looking man who would have fit in over in Northern Europe or back in my home state of Minnesota. He sounded like he was from the latter. He was a fair skinned, fair haired lumber jack looking kind of man. This man, once I explained the situation, was able to rapid fire speak what I later found out was Chinese, to this family. They understood him immediately and headed right off my plane.

My jaw may have hit the floor, but my difficult situation was quickly and smoothly rectified by this man who looked like someone whose diet was most likely made of of meat, potatoes, and maybe some lutefisk (I just found out that wordpress don’t know what lutefisk is and assumes it is a misspelled word). What do you think the statistical likelihood is that out of the hundreds of planes in that airport, out of the thousands of people flying through that day, that I would end up with a English/Chinese speaker when a Chinese family accidentally got onto my plane? Whatever it may be, it was my very good luck that it happened that way.

Here is to Mother Daughter Trips

Ever since I started traveling, which wasn’t until I was twenty one, I simply haven’t stopped. Nineteen countries in the last seven years. I say this not only to brag (though bragging I am) but it is something I have found addicting and intoxicating and also something I have desperately wanted to share. Lucky for me my wonderful husband shares the same addiction and we have certainly roamed the globe together from the beginning. However, ever since my first foray into new and exciting countries,when I went to live in England for a study abroad program, I have thought how much my mother would love, love, love this.

My mothers parents, along with my neighbor growing up, Jean, are people who traveled the world when I was young and they would send post cards from across the world and our stockings were always stuffed with interesting little things from around the world that my grandparents would bring back. That ignited the spark in me to travel.

Now my mom and dad certainly make their way around the US and took us camping and fishing all over the place. However, I knew my mom would love to leave the comfort of the good old US of A for something much older and just the right amount of different.

A trip with my mom is something I’ve hoped for for years, but since I’ve been a flight attendant it has become much more accessible as she can get discounted tickets through my flight benefits.

So we decided to finally make it happen. This was something I had wanted for years and the actualization of this was almost as good as the first time I traveled myself. I remember riding on the bus from the airport to Oxford, where I was going to live, and watching out the window thinking, “This is England! Those are English trees!” and anything mundane seemed exciting. Sharing it was a very similar experience. I had imagined her reaction to the things I had planned on showing her, and she didn’t disappoint.

On our way we got incredibly lucky and got first class all the way there. We flew from Minneapolis to LaGuardia, I told the first class flight attendant that is was my mom’s first tie in first class and he treated her very well, refreshening her wine and we got lunch. We taxied to JFK where we flew direct to Heathrow, and let me tell you, international first class on delta jets is phenomenal. This is definitely part of the experience I was hoping my mom would have. You’re greeted with champagne on a silver platter.

I had to say “Okay, this is the part where you pretend you belong”

You’re meal comes with a shrimp avocado appetizer and you have multiple choices for your main course. Now let me make this very clear, food in first class internationally, is awesome. Seriously. As is the wine. We both slept decently after plenty of awesome wine, in our seats that reclined to flat beds.

Our first day in England we arrived at my friend Cris’s house in Oxford around 11am. Despite the jetlag we simply had to make use of the rest of the day. We took the bus into Oxford city center and I showed her the main Oxford sites. These were the are places I walked, grown and constantly feel nostalgia for. Getting to share Oxford with my mother was such a wonderful adventure and I am unbelievably glad that we were able to do it.

The jetlag quickly dispersed under the adrenaline of my mother having a brand new experience every ten minutes. I’m all about cataloging exactly what was done during a trip through pictures, and so she got a sick of me saying “stand in front of that! Let me take a picture!” Her reactions to the stain glass windows that were hundreds of years old and the wonderful architecture that Oxford is known for was exactly how I remembered feeling the first time I saw them.

That first afternoon we wandered the main streets where the older colleges are, toured the Sheldonian Theatre where the graduation ceremonies of Oxford are held, saw the Radcliff Camera, St Marys Church built in 1086, the Bodlien Library and had drinks with my dear friend Cris at an extremely standard neighborhood pub.

My mother proved to be an excellent travel partner. She was laid back and easy going. It also happens that our feet have a similar standard of soreness after several long days trekking everywhere. It was also a bit of an amusing role reversal. Keeping in mind I’m used to traveling with Ben, who is at ease with travel as I am, I found my self  telling my mom to take out her return ticket, stand to one side on the escalator, hold her hand on her purse and etc etc. But we all have to learn it somehow:)

Her standard for this trip were, one castle, one garden and one cathedral. Through out the cities we visited, Oxford, Woodstock, London and Calais, we definitely hit all of these at least one. Her castle was Blenheim Palace in Woodstock which we toured. This experience was accompanied by seriously fantastic grounds which are the home of more than one very typical English style gardens. The Cathedrals we visited were St Margrets Cathedral in London as well as St Pauls Cathedral, which is easily one of my favorite buildings in London. As for gardens we not only visited the Blenheim Palace grounds, but the Queen Ann Gardens outside Buckingham, the gardens outside town hall in Calais and the Oxford Botanical Gardens. I learned they are are the oldest in the country and my mom’s favorite part of our trip.

I took her to the Randolph hotel, and old five star hotel with a fancy bar and a truly English tea room. My host mom Cris took me there as treat when I had lived with her and I knew it would be equally a treat for my mom. We had high tea with the scones, jam and clotted cream, salmon sandwiches and dessert tarts. I love it because its something not solely for tourists. Most of the other people in there were English people celebrating something.

Our day trip to Calais in France was a first for me. We ferried over the English Canal and wandered the city a bit, visiting a WW 2 museum which was housed in a bunker used during the war where Hitler actually hid for a time. We ate lunch there and I had the best mussels of my life. We had beach plans but the chilly fog made that a bit unrealistic, however the mist had cleared up by the time we were heading back. The view of the sunset and the white chalk Cliffs of Dover were a truly amazing site and made that whole worth it.

One our last night there I took her to the Turf Tavern, one of the oldest pubs in the country, as well as a very popular spot in Oxford. We ran into a couple of Americans who were celebrating a bachelor party with their English friend. They asked if we were touring and we told them we were just here together and I was showing her around where I used to live.  They express shock and delight at our little shared adventure.

“So its a mother-daughter trip, huh? Well, heres to that.”

He raised his glass to us, and we all drank. Yes, thats exactly what it was. It was a culmination of years of planning in my head. It was the most fantastic experience I could have had. It was truly wonderful to see my parent in a place of new experiences, and experiences she was so delighting in. I don’t thing this is something that happens all that often. It was an experience to bring us closer as mother and daughter, to share a passion she has heard so much about, and share places so close to my heart with someone whom I love so dearly. 

 

Memphis near midnight

Its late and I’m so ready fro bed. I’m sitting in my jump seat in the back of a loud buzzing plane. We touch down in Memphis and crawl along awkwardly on the taxiway, a great hulking beast who moves best in the sky. The pale orange lights of the ramp shine dimly through the windows, and making slightly lighter shapes that look like ghosts haunting the plane, moving across the walls and crawling across the carpet. The ache of my feet, the whir of the engines, even the questions the passengers ask me about their luggage and “is this my usual route?”, all so familiar.

This has been shown in stark relief to me as I’m flying with a brand new flight attendant who is doing her operational training. This is her first flight ever and she is observing and then being observed by her instructor who will have to sign off before she can fly on her own. She is eager and excited, and very worried about doing something wrong. I remember that. 

I’m almost jealous of her enthusiasm, even about how much she cares. How have I become so cynical about everything so quickly? I’ve been doing this for about two and a half years. I’m certainly no veteran who has been here for twenty. But I can’t help compare my negativity to her upbeat view on the job. Now, I don’t think this makes me a worse flight attendant. I’m good at the smile and have a nice day. I go out of my way to help passengers make their flights when we are delayed.The passengers are one aspect where I still care. A passenger would never know if I’m having a terrible day, as it should be. All that acting training had to come in handy at some point. I do my job and I do it well.

So realistically, my attitude effects only myself. 

I think this to myself as we are waiting for the van to the hotel for twenty minutes, then discover we may not have rooms at this hotel. My captain (thank God for assertive Captains) is on the phone with crew scheduling for at least 45 minutes trying to get it figured out, only to find out they had tried to send us to a hotel where we didn’t have reservations, so we drive to a different hotel, a half hour away from the airport, where I may get roughly 6 hours of sleep because this craziness has eaten into so much of our layover. And I remember why I’m cynical.

 

But I have to go back to, who does that help? While it isn’t with out cause I have to acknowledge that complaining and venting will only make me feel better to an acceptable extent. But I suppose there is a difference in knowing that things are often going to go wrong and I will suffer for it, and accepting it and moving on, and knowing it and holding onto these dark marks on the day, and make them only what I take away from my job. 

Tonight I met a man named Clarence who had a voice like James Earl Jones and the nicest manners I’ve ever encountered. I was complimented on my glasses, more than once, a random little girl on my plane said I was pretty. The other flight attendant told me she thought I would make an excellent oe instructor.

Nice things happened to me today as well. Why is it so hard to take that away from my experiences? I felt the need to get this out in place of about 25 minutes of sleep, but perhaps that is okay, maybe it will help me enjoy my next day of flying a little more.