Mardi Gras!

20130221-171030.jpgThe E2 pulled to the curb as my depleted belly began regaining strength. Moments earlier I touched down in New Orleans to explore Mardi Gras for 24 hours. En route on a big bird a migraine surfaced disturbing my excited anticipation of the adventure. I felt nauseous like the finish of the Dad Vail. The watery sensation in my throat gave little time to make a plan, thank goodness I occupied an open row. I lurched forward grabbing the white bag in my seat pocket, no time for browsing Sky Mall. Previous vegetable intake exited screaming Big Easy, cutting my throat in reverse nourishing order. Then shyly and discretely I tip toed in my socks, bag in hand to the forward lavatory hoping others were focused on their monitors, not my bag o’ tricks. My face white as a Mardi Gras mask looked back at me in the mirror, dehydrated. I was happy friends had not been able to join. I contemplated flying home, unsure I had enough strength to pull an all-nighter. Returning to my seat I peered at the tele, its movements pushed my urgency to grab a second bag. I filled it like a rock star. If asked, I will represent in a commercial for those trusty lil’ baggies! Following this classy early morning performance, I slept like a lazy baby lizard in the bayou, stretched comfortably across my three open seats. I was “that girl” prior to setting a toe on Bourbon Street.

On the E2 bus I met a new friend in the industry with equivalent passion for traveling. We chatted and took in the local flavor. Not long after, four of us began exploring Nola dodging and slipping on mounds of colorful beads. Parade routes filled with semis honking their horns during business hours. Loud beats echoed off city buildings as beads and paraphernalia were chucked into thin air. Chilled beers sold curbside, storefront dance parties, no rules, fun costumes, a street party like none other. We had southern thirst quenchers and stood in line behind women in neon wigs for dinner at a local seafood joint. When traveling I like trying something local and new, today I had alligator.

People watching is prime during Mardi Gras. It’s not a place to bring your Mom, but it was on my list. Darkness fell like beads off balconies. So much to take in, so much giggling. Posing for a picture, I stood next to a beautiful mare and mounted policeman until she nibbled my golden beads and got reprimanded.

Hours later we had breakfast at a local space that served mean seafood and an unrehearsed show. Employees attempted to push a failed oversized refrigerator out the small front door. Photographs of Katrina hung on the walls making the local vibe even more precious.

Beads hang symbolizing a fun story and great memory of Mardi Gras, an adventure lasting longer than 24 hours…

An ATM’s Perspective

After a day as an airline professional when passengers have pushed my buttons assuming they are entitled to pots of gold beneath rainbows, made me ponder how it feels to be an ATM. Can you imagine how many push a poor lil’ ATM’s buttons 24 hours a day?! Drunken lads stagger up to their screen. Rednecks and grandmothers slowly make their selection. Soccer moms mutter at hooligans in spacious suv’s, and farmers with callused fingers come to grips with technology. On the flip side of the coin not dispensed at this machine, businesspeople are frustrated by the time consuming process with numerous entries. I often wish I could order warm cocoa debited from my account. The machines deliver bills withstanding weather and exhaust pipes, while anticipating their next debit snack.

From a drive up ATM’s point of view we must appear such silly creatures. Occasionally I drive too close for comfort. My side mirror brushes against the machine leaving inadequate space to exit when my window is frozen. When there is too much distance my attempt at looking cool typically accomplishes quite the opposite. My upper body extends beyond the window, work badge dangling in the air like a Joeys’ pole straps off a chairlift, reaching. Reaching further as obliques and ribs squeal in pain as the window frame juts deeply into my flesh. Is it worth the humiliation and global warming over running inside for a minute, as I allow the car behind making me flustered and sweaty? This occurred the same visit the machine ate my card, not releasing it like an excited golden chewing a tennis ball.

The 14th Dalai Lama suggested when I heard him speak, we should try to see things from numerous angles and all perspectives. Perhaps we can try even if our destiny is an airline professional on a challenging day or a machine dispensing Benjamin’s, while people push our buttons…

I’m Single, Not Sick…

This goes out to single friends following dreams, feeding adventurous souls until it is out of our system. “Once you meet Mr. Right, you will want kids,” put your hands up if you have heard that a zillion times. This biological clock is not ticking, I’m not sure it has a battery. I look at kids longer than comfortable to test if the internal cuckoo will chime. Usually facial expressions form as I inquisitively peer at the tiny gremlins surrounded by paraphernalia. I start hyperventilating, sweating, envisioning the quintessential country vehicle, the car seats, Gap sweaters and fuzzy blankies. Dogs slobber on car windows as if trying to escape the madness toward freedom entering the park full of ergonomic strollers that swivel. Infants learn to text, as moms surround in yoga pants. No intention to offend those readers choosing this lifestyle, it is just as far from my DNA as diapers are to a slalom course.

It would be nice if a hottie could keep me snuggly when sick, or to hug during storms. However, I don’t want kids and although I respect marriage, am leery of it. I have tried various slippers. Cinderella dear, you had it easy.

When friends have me meet a “perfect guy” usually the encounter leaves me preferring to stick a fork in my eye. It’s funny who others feel right for you. My gram wanted me to date a local professional whom she didn’t know was homosexual. My brother thinks I’m a lesbian, my mom thinks I’ll never marry, my dad has said “at least he’s not a hammerhead.” My aunt has a sailor in mind who’s probably out at sea, my sister says I don’t need a man. Each social gathering someone is trying to pick the perfect male specimen for me to spend the rest of my life with, like it’s a lottery ticket at a truck stop. Friends, can we have fun and not focus on status? Life is not Facebook! Do I look like an alien? The 8th wonder?! Perhaps I live selfishly, I play a lot but feel at peace following my internal voice. This guide has kept me sane trumping societies concept of what is best for me. I don’t want to discredit the value of a committed marriage, quite the opposite I highly respect it. Unsure if I could accomplish it because the only part I envision of my wedding is the horse and carriage…probably not the most important aspect.

When you see a “single” girl mingling in the community, please don’t look at her like she’s a zoo animal. Perhaps she is doing some valuable self discovery before meeting Prince Charming. If you are a gentlemen who isn’t afraid to dance or belly laugh, who likes to travel or ski and can share heart to heart conversation until wee hours, perhaps I will be present on a second date. Until then this Bean is flyin’ solo prior to sharing it with a co-pilot.

Roma!

The Pope!!Giddy we scurried down the jetway with seat assignments to Fiumicino, on our way to celebrate New Year’s Eve abroad.

Prior to the familiar airbus zig zag napping shape, the flight attendant walked past selling ear buds for inflight entertainment. My coworker inquired if free for airline employees, causing the attendant to respond defensively. My friend cleared the air in the galley returning with ear buds, nips of holiday cheer and an Italian attendant telling us some good news. He said we could share the crew shuttle and use his hotel room, which he would not need. Assuming he was kidding, I put in my personal ear buds and eased into a dreamy place. One of my favorite spaces to be, is anticipating waking in the magic of visiting a new country.

It felt like minutes later we were grinning ear to ear, mimosas in hand as Italian sunlight fell upon us through the windows of the shuttle. We arrived at the chic hotel, and in our fog of elation were given a free room key. It took a few Italian moments to figure out how to turn the lights on. The room key had to be inserted into a slot in the wall, I thought perhaps cash may fall out and we would be on TV. The room, brightly painted came with a flat screen, fluffy down comforters, a towel warming rack and a bidet that took all curiosity.

We hit the cobblestone, beginning our exploration meandered down streets surrounded by historic buildings, and large trees, surreal like a Hollywood set. We gazed at enclosed seating arrangements that would house special New Year’s Eve dinners with beautiful table settings and chilled bottles of vino. Our soles followed white lights hanging above narrow corridors. We ordered snacks from a high countertop cafe with foreign currency and attempted Italian. Walking for hours we viewed the coliseum from various angles, getting lost repeatedly. However without a plan perhaps we were never really lost.

We ordered gelato and refreshments for our exploratory traveling pallets. The sun was setting as our legs began to ache. Deciphering the local map we made our way toward the Vatican. The nativity scene was breathtaking, eyes fell upon majestic horses as the sound of hooves echoed off buildings, like a movie score. As if hungry pigeons, we followed the crowd through a metal detector and received a flyer which read: BENEDETTO XVI on it. Onlookers wailed and shot pictures like paparazzi. Our focus transferred from our weary legs to the Pope himself, as he appeared from behind a curtain. Jaws dropped, my camera elevated toward heaven capturing him, between the arms of another man…well that sounds strange, please see above picture for clarification…The processional stunned me to think of where we were actually standing. Mass began, soon our legs were done, frozen in fatigue as we read each others minds and exited the building.

We searched for an authentic Italian dinner to celebrate, unfortunately our pasta plates were not that exciting, giving my friend sleepy head syndrome at the dinner table. It made me giggle.

Bellies half filled, we headed toward the Spanish steps and firework display. It was like nothing I have ever seen. A plaza filled with cops sipping champagne, locals throwing bottles at buildings, as fire was lit in the streets. Besides sleeping in the woods outside the Luxembourg airport (ooh future blog topic) I have never been nervous while traveling. This controlled riot made me uneasy. Fireworks exploded into a new year, couples in fancy dress stood arm in arm on the steps, with anticipation of a better year. My heart filled with hope for future travel adventures and a peaceful heart…

Ski-Cation

Raindrops dodged my wipers in slalom shapes, her peak jutted through pea soup fog. Rainy weather did not deter instructors for a clinic week to polish skills, while discussing the seasons buzz words and gear.

Simply booting up in the locker room brings excitement as I look at gear, inhale hot wax and feel hidden energy. Some instructors wore unisuits from the 80’s with lift tickets still attached, as we discussed old school techniques and how they apply to contemporary skiing. On demo day, I clicked into a pair of Blizzard Black Pearls and some hottie Kastle MX83’s.

Withstanding all types of weather slope-side listening intently to every aspect of the sport, occasionally my focus strayed. A smile lit my face in reflection of how in depth we discuss details down to our little toes role throughout a turn. Eyes gazed upon stunning rural scenery as my mind dreamt of Hotronic boot heaters. I hoped feeling would soon return to my toes, so I know where the lil’ guys are during my carves. Varied weather reminded me I should market a kiosk renting goggle lenses at the top of the lift, like summer sunglass stands, at rest stops on the Jersey Turnpike.

Our class fizzled one afternoon. Psyched to have a private session I questioned the clinician what her favorite base layer was, her response; “polyurethane” caused two women of different paths, but mutual love an extreme case of the giggles. We raced to get in last chair, in flat light. I loved her energy, the clinician who may be twice my age.

A trail map made a home in my boot cuff to alter my canting because a friend had stripped my turn key. The clementine in my pocket became orange juice after racing a boy too closely on the heels of his rockered fatties, rooster tails blinding me, as powder spun into my face.

I skied moguls with a celebrity and practiced pole plant timing. We skied edges of trails maintaining consistent speed through varied terrain, as we noticed different fall lines. We practiced single ski drills, while keeping consistency through the bumps. A dark mole against the white snow scurried beneath the lift, as snow guns were repositioned and high school rippers flew around corners. Video analysis was taken of our skiing and critiqued in detail.

A gentleman of fragile build and an ageless twinkle in his eye showed up daily for sessions. During dinner at the country club he was honored as a four time cancer survivor. This gentleman, 74 showed up each morning with a sparkle emitting from his soul, and a desire to learn. What an inspiration.

My heart fills catching up with ski friends over warm chili, cold beers, après events at local venues and an abundance of ski stories causing contagious belly laughs. I cherish ski moments like the older man recapping, in local accent, his experience of being so chilled the only thing that de thawed his buttocks in the shower was to pour liquor down his cheeks.

The ski environment is one of my favorite places to be, I never want those days to end. Some of the happiest moments in my life have been on skis, it makes my soul shine…

12.19.09

The cancelation notice on my cell should have given the inclination it was going to be a travel day to remember. I was relaxing in Florida spending time with my brother. Flying standby as an airline professional makes for fun stories, even years later. My coworker informed me flights were getting hosed due to a nor’easter coming in. I thought she was joking, Florida was beautiful. In my typical blissful state of travel most often I ignore reality, weather and the news. Here is my story from 12.19.09, a day I will never forget…

My name was called to receive a seat assignment. I boarded my first segment northbound as daylight hours were ticking away, but the fun began at the Philadelphia International airport. A fellow coworker was enroute to the Caribbean with a connection in PHL. I landed in PHL, a text from her informed me her flight diverted to Allentown minutes after our aircraft touched down. The gate agent had trouble driving the jet-bridge up to the aircraft due to ice on the Tarmac, thus sitting for awhile in the metal germ tube. Visibility was declining, snow squalls increased. After deplanement, I checked the terminal monitors to find the boards filled with more red marks than placed on my biochemistry exams. Lines of stranded passengers a week prior to Christmas lined up at special services. I waited what seemed like hours until my name was called with a seat assignment to board an aircraft heading north bound. I couldn’t believe my luck, I was 55 minutes of burn time away from home! Our taxi time on the Tarmac took a little too long heading toward the designated de-icing area. The canned tone of the captains voice across the overhead told me everything. God’s gift informed us the runways were shutting down due to lack of visibility. I knew it felt too good to be true, at times I get my hopes up too much, when even the sound of the engines can tell a frequent flyer something is not right. Like the time I attempted to fly to Dublin with my other brother, following de-icing we taxied to the end of the runway slowly, engines quiet as we were informed the crew timed out. I was so bummed my brother bought me a Guinness from a local store to soak up my tears, oops where was I?!

The passenger next to me enroute to Montreal asked what will happen to her checked bags. Finding a single bag in an international airport during irregular operations is like a needle in a haystack, so I syrup coated the details. After we deplaned, I met her friends and suggested we all share a rental car, they declined saying they wanted to find their bags. I wished them well.

I waited at the gate for a break in visibility, but soon the flight canceled. I looked for other airport options in the northeast, made numerous calls to rental car companies while checking availability. In situations like this every cell in my body goes into survival mode, putting me into overdrive at being proactive. I live for the challenge of travel and find joy in the process, while some pull out their hair. I could survive better during a chaotic day in an airport than if sent out in the wild to catch my dinner. If you expect the worst and come out better, along with a fun story you are doing great, and less likely to feel frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

I chatted with a captain who routinely flies out of my city, he didn’t think things were going to improve, so I reserved a one way set of wheels with Hertz. The necessary lacking accessory on this rental was snow tires…I was soon scraping the windshield with my debit card. Tires spun exiting the parking lot as if trying to inform this was going to be a long trek.

Too soon my hands were clutching the 10 and 2 positions, first time this alert since drivers Ed. As a result of the sketchy road conditions I became white knuckled and nervous to the core, vehicle ill equipped for this weather. Rigs flew past dumping heaps of snow and sleet onto my windshield. It became routine to stop under overpasses to scrape the windshield, I’m not sure the snow gods even knew what type of precipitation was falling. It froze on the windshield as soon as it hit. I became deliriously tired from driving stressed out. At my highest attainable speed of 25 MPH I wasn’t sure I would get home in time for my 10 am shift. I literally did the math, it wasn’t looking good.

I love to see numerous friends when traveling. The excitement hit me I could surprise my dear CT friends during their holiday party that evening, they would never expect me to be at the door, only perhaps Peapod or UPS. Stiffly I ran to their door, rung the doorbell and yelled with excitement “I need a hug, a toilet and some caffeine!!” It was late, their party had just about died down, but as always welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts. They are the type to have driven me home if I asked. The adrenaline of seeing them kept me awake as far as the next state-line, then another wall of fatigue hit.

After an all night trek through hazardous driving conditions eventually I entered my state, returned the rental an hour prior to my shift. Ran home, changed and returned to the airport knowing it would be a doosey of a shift after an all nighter.

I was rebooking a line of passengers when someone called my name, I looked up to see the same party I had spoken with in Philly. They were in line to file a baggage claim, they had stood on a long line the night before and never reunited with their bags. We all laughed how we should have stayed together the previous evening. I was giddy tired, my mind couldn’t fathom the risk I took, my reward, a four hour line of passengers. The next time I saw that pilot whom I spoke with at the gate in PHL he looked me square in the eyes and said “never risk your life again for this airline.” He was so adamant the reality of the previous nights trek sunk in. What happened to my coworker you may ask? She stayed in a safe and warm hotel room…funny how our choices give different outcomes in life.

My gram’s winks and smiles crossed my mind during the drive, especially during moments I hunched over in order to see the road through the unfrozen sliver of windshield. I knew that evening, 12.19.09 all her prayers for me over the years were being cashed in…

Oh, Deer!

Warm air blew across my feet, classic rock cut through the quietness of the back country road, the only things on my consciousness. My snow tires rounded the foggy corner that brisk fall eve, headlights fell upon a beautiful golden buck. His head lifted sporting a beautiful rack of antlers, halting him as I rounded the bend. I slowed to a stop to take in natures uncaged moment. His dainty hooves carried him across the pavement, like stilettos at a Bar Mitzvah. The only light for miles emitted from my vehicle severed the foggy evening air. Without a warning my moment in nature was about to be disrupted, the buck turned his nose, faced my car and charged at me like the bulls of Pamplona. My body frozen trying to decipher if I was in a rem stage or dreaming from exhaustion prior to a holiday road trip. Can’t a gal just take in some nature? Did my ride really look like a natural predator?! He came close when my body reacted, pulling the wheels to the right, startling him and deterring his gait to the side. In the corner of my eye I saw his golden lady, her color a replica of fancy syrup glistening in afternoon sunlight. My advice to you this holiday season, keep an eye out for attack reindeer!

Fall Into Winter

Changing leaves embellish mountain ranges, cooler air dances across my skin. Both alert me autumn is approaching, prior to being mentally prepared. I cherish final seasonal rows as leaves surf puddles created by my oars. Feelings emerge as if the trees and I mutually mourn summers finality. Canadian goslings have grown and explore more independently, while fewer turtles sun themselves on the usual log. Fall is special here. I live in an area that attracts tourists known as “leaf peepers.” A mountain range of shimmering leaves in early evening sun, can seem as magical as Christmas morning as a kid. Fallen leaves create natures colorful blanket resting on the ground, rustling underfoot. Pumpkin spice coffee, Macintosh scented candles and ski sales fill my senses and calendar. Snow tires get dusted off as the dreaded seasonal closet dive occurs. I hold winter gear in hand, visualizing and feeling winters excitement grow. The first day cool air tingles my nose reminds me winters wrath and beauty is just around the bend.

Each beautiful season brings its own energy, peace and hope.

Winter creates magical moments on skis, après belly laughs reliving the days blunders, as fireplaces crackle and cocoa warms hands. Sledding and skating often result in tail bone injuries, followed by chili dinners and movie nights. Snow falls in numerous densities. Sparkly snow enhances evening night walks, catching their flakes rejuvenate my soul.

Spring is also known as mud season. Weeks pass until you can legibly read vehicle models beneath layers of dirt. Motorist attempt to keep their ride in tact through pot holes. Only city trips remind me of car washes and shiny lights. Sap lines connect Maple trees, like a vein delivering liquid gold. Logs keep flames ignited as golden syrup boils in sugar houses. Baby buds on plants say hi, reminding you life blossoms, following the dark.

Summer is filled to the brim of treasured daylight hours, sandy swim suits, sunscreen, and hikes awarding picturesque views. Spring peeper melodies parade into earlobes, as lightning bugs alternate a visual morse code.

All of these treasures remind me of natures uniqueness. I am lucky I can breathe, touch and experience what all four seasons have to offer. I hope with enough knowledge, my footprint on nature is only as big as a size 7.

Quarantined In Bermuda…

The Atlantic looked beautiful from my bubble shaped window, releasing my mind and body into island mode. Remaining in this dreamy state the landing gear extended, alerting me of my sweet reality as I touched down in Bermuda.

Lines of passengers eagerly awaiting their holiday stood in a maze of stanchions. Couples with sun hats and Nantucket colors anticipated island paradise. Bright advertisements caught my eye, transforming me into flip flop heaven. No ice shovels, no winter boots.

When my chilly body is released into a warm climate during the winter it takes some de-thawing, one muscle group at a time. I inhale hesitant breaths of natural warm air, not produced by any heat source other than the sun herself. I shed layer by layer before strange looks and sweat get the best of me.

Flying is magical. As an airline professional I have an incredible opportunity to see the world, while witnessing different cultures and climates. It’s a treat, and a perk I can share with others. This was a holiday weekend, my sister was en-route intending to spend time together in Bermuda. The sun was shining, nothing could go wrong…..or could it?!

I walked up to the customs counter visualizing sleeping on a beach, waves rolling in as an island lad brought me a coconut. My sister and I didn’t have a hotel lined up, our only plan was to meet in Bermuda on the same day. Inflight I had only filled in a portion of the Bermudian entry form. Seriously who can concentrate on paperwork heading into vacation, while watching a movie as penne fills your belly? Lines were left blank regarding where I would be staying, causing the mans demeanor to alter matching his stiff uniform. He told me to follow him as he escorted me into a small room without windows. I asked him what was going to happen, he said: “I don’t know.” Adrenaline shot down to my toes. I wasn’t so much worried about customs as the wrath of my sister, since it was my idea. When my sisters flight landed I was told I could meet her. My face must have been paler than a northern white girl in winter, because she questioned me right away. We were brought into the same room when the agent told us it is mandatory to have reservations prior to entrance. Pretty sure I can still feel my sisters glare from that comment. The woman pulled out a glossy photo book of resorts in the area, as she called for availability. Let’s just say it was a holiday weekend, rates soared above high tide. My sister and I had some words on the way to our freshly booked hotel, communicating in a way only sisters can. Following my valuable lesson, we had a nice time together on a sunny island where I spent time on one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, in daylight….

If An ipad Could Do My Laundry…

By the time superstorm Sandy had flooded a portion of my favorite city Manhattan, my nerves were shot from watching the weather channel. It’s uncomfortable to be concerned for 98% of everyone you know, by a storm you can’t control.

Following hours watching the weather glued on my friends couch, it reiterated humans are not in charge, until perhaps an ipad can do my laundry. The complete process, from hamper to machine, detergent to dryer. On that day, I may consider we have some say and will buy whatever gadget it is. Until then I am convinced recent wacky weather patterns could be a higher power sending humanity a wake up memo, reminding us we are not in charge.

After reciting the serenity prayer, and knowing I had a few of my Gram’s prayers held in reserve, I had faith everyone I knew and didn’t know personally would be okay, or so I hoped. I found myself concerned people would lose their possessions, followed by thoughts of their safety. This reminded me of the clarity I feel throwing out crap that doesn’t define me, while attempting to treat myself and others better. More than answers, I have a billion questions, but the more complicated life feels, the more I strive for inner peace. I gravitate toward peaceful moments where my cell doesn’t chime reminding me of reality.

During Hurricane Sandy, I almost couldn’t stomach watching the tide roll in, along with the storm surge. Two days later my body exhausted from worry, remains on edge despite reminders I couldn’t change the outcome. The more the world feels less stable, the more I want to run, hide in a cave and eat coconuts. It would have to be a snow cave though, it would break my heart to give up skiing.

I feel so alive traveling, skiing and writing, I’m a sucker for modern luxuries they didn’t have back in the day. How simple it would feel if we could cut out the excess, go natural, and learn how to survive effecting the earth less.

I hope in time I can internalize the serenity prayer and improve my interactions with others and the earth. If my heart could make money, I could raise enough to help many. I can feel my heart literally ache or beat asking for attention when I stop and really take time to feel for others. Those doctors aren’t fibbing as to the location of the heart. I can feel my heart on the left side doing jumping jacks somedays, begging for awareness.

Financial hurdles seem to get in the way of feeling like I can really help others. Perhaps kinder words and attempts at becoming a better person can help more than the occasional volunteer evening at a local shelter.

My entire body is being pulled toward a more meaningful path. I’m not sure what that means, I just wish there weren’t so many mental fences to jump over to help others. Perhaps it’s in little ways I can begin in daily life, but in this massive world do little things really make a difference?

These thoughts were inspired as I think of my friends this evening that sit in dark chilly homes, whom I can’t be with to give blankets and hugs to…

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