It is the middle of the first week of January already. As promised (or threatened), I took the better part of these past two weeks over the Holidays to disappear, unplug, and generally unwind. I've gotten online a few times but I've tried to limit myself to an hour or less a day and I'm happy to say I've been able mostly successful. Truth be told, it hasn't been all that hard.
I get on FaceBook for a little while each day just to check what's going on. I suppose I'm like many in that I'm extremely guarded in what we'll say or share there. I find it to be a wonderful tool, as I've reconnected with a number of long unseen but not forgotten dear friends and family there - some from as far back as High School. I've even made some new friends there, and l've had a chance to even meet some in person which is actually the best part of the whole thing.
But I find the word "Friend" to generally be a misnomer with regards to FB as it implies an exaggerated sense of intimacy for most of the people you connect with there. I realize that I'm complaining about self-inflicted wounds at this point but that doesn't change the fact that the more the drain on my time and energy the less I'm likely to be active there. At this point I get as many or more friend requests and notes from men urging me to show more photos or people who seem to consider it as their own personal dating site. Whatever. I won't let the dead grass spoil the lawn and I'll continue to manage my FB involvement as I truly appreciate most of the people who have taken their time to connect with me there.
I also find that online "Friends" are no replacement for the real deal. I see lots of posts by people who share what time they get up, what they're wearing, what's on TV, and generally used FB as an outlet to share their day-to-day lives. They say "Good Morning" to their Facebook "family" when they get up and "Good Night" when they go to bed. I do enjoy sharing photos there because I get so see and do some pretty fun things but generally speaking I figure that if I post more than twice a week then I'm being too chatty.
Lastly, know this: "Friends" who include me among a group of others in some group email that becomes part of an ongoing discussion won't last long. That's one of my several pet peeves about it.
Anyway, on to other topics.
I didn't manage to get Christmas Cards out this year. I'm sorry about that, but the combination of the job, the mid-month craziness, and the travel made it such that the Season came and went before I had a chance to get to it. Sigh. Now it's too late.
I did get a Christmas Card from the White House which was pretty cool.
It was signed by the President, the First Lady, the kids, and the dog.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a wonderful visit with my mom and my son just before and on Christmas. I spent a day with him (and the pups!) in Austin which was great. I still find it difficult to believe that I've got a 25-year old son. That's nuts.
And I spent a week in the South, where it's actually warm at this time of year, that included some time in Myrtle Beach that was just wonderful. All things considered, I had a very pleasant past couple of weeks.
I'm not much of a celebrator on New Year's Eve. The highlight of the day is typically watching the sunset. In recent years I've attached photos from the top of Squaw Peak and other places where I end up to watch the last day of the year end. This year I took a picture of the sunset on the beach. As I say, it was a highlight and a wonderful way to end the year.
The only real difficulty these last couple of weeks has been the air travel. I fly a LOT but these last couple of weeks have been consistently horrible - I hope it's not a trend. I'll share a couple of my Christmas travel experiences because I want to be able to read it years down the road and remember just how crazy it all was. No matter what I say, the words just won't capture the crazy ups and downs of these past couple of weeks.
Thankfully, I was rescued from spending the night at Dulles by some dear friends who live nearby and took pity on me when my 120 mile flight got cancelled. I was re-re-rebooked on the morning flight which thankfully went well. By the time I got home I was exhausted and need a good couple of days of down-time to recover (that's not gonna happen). By the time I finally got to be last night - spending it in my own bed was a Godsend.
Rewind to last week….
I was scheduled to fly back to the East Coast on Christmas Day. A couple of days ahead of time I received a welcome email indicating that I had been upgraded to First Class, followed a couple of hours later by the unwelcome news that my flights through Atlanta had been cancelled. They were already anticipating the nasty storm that was scheduled to blow through the area and that eventually snarled travel through the entire country over Christmas. They re-scheduled me onto a flight that left early on the day after Christmas but on Christmas Eve that was cancelled too so I was re-re-booked on a flight leaving on Monday.
Don't get me wrong - I would have loved some extra time with my mom. But the longer that this lasted the less likely I was to get anywhere given the size and direction of the storm that was forming. Once air-traffic gets majorly impacted it becomes systemic - planes that are scheduled to be somewhere aren't there so flights everywhere are cancelled, full, or just plain mess up for days. The thing that made it worse is that I really had no interest in going to Atlanta anyway. It was just a connection city and I would have gone over it, under it, or around it if I could. So on Christmas morning I started working the phones trying to beat the storm and in a minor feat of magic I was put onto a flight that connected through Miami rather than Atlanta, scheduled to leave Dallas shortly after noon on Xmas. Thus started one of the most interesting, frustrating, challenging, almost comical travel days of my life.
The day included fully boarding a plane before being told that it had ingested a bird while landing and was broken so we'd all have to get off. After an hour they found us a new plane so the entire plane full of people trekked to another terminal and eventually started to board before being told that that plane was broken, too. I sensed what was happening and knew that if I stayed the course I'd miss my connection and get stuck somewhere that would make things exponentially worse. I was near the front of the line and was re-re-re-booked on a flight that had been delayed and was scheduled to connect through Charlotte so I ran across the airport back to the original terminal to make it.
The good news is that we got into Charlotte. The bad news is that it was snowing there. Not small, cute, gentle flakes either. These were big, blizardy, wind-blown flakes that had already piled a couple or three inches by the time we landed. Inside the terminal they were starting to cancel flights, and it was with no small sense of anxiety that I watched the minutes pass until it was time for us to board. And, at nearly 9pm, after almost 12 hours at airports, we did board.
Did we leave? No. We sat. And sat. And sat. We were waiting for the de-icing pads to become available, so it was almost two hours of frustration at the gate. People on the plane started to get restless and angry and by midnight I thought somebody was going to attach the flight attendants. They got smart and avoided going down the aisle because the natives were getting very restless. So, at midnight we did leave the gate. Thank God.
We finally landed at 1:30am in the pouring rain. That's ok. I realize that many people ended up actually getting stranded so I'm not too upset...
Now that I'm back home my down time will be short-lived. I've got lots of catching up to do at work. I had meetings that lasted until almost 11pm yesterday. I leave late on Friday to go back to pack up my furniture and move it which seems almost overwhelming at this point. But somehow it'll work itself out and it will all be fine. It always does.