Confessions of a Reformed Marching Band Geek

Crazy Vacation Post: Good Grief. What the….

OK. So after the airline debacle was cleared up Mr Grumpy and I were finally able to get a little sleep. I got up early (because I realized I didn’t pack a belt and I was worried I’d forget) and decided to check a few other things, including our new flight for the day. Awesome. I don’t have a confirmation number to check in and print our boarding passes. Call number 1 for the day to the emergency center (or three if you include last night).

The morning agent took a little while, but she found it and stayed on the line while I checked it out. Perfect. There they were. Thanks!

I grabbed them off the printer with a feeling of accomplishment so early in the morning. Then I looked at them again. My ticket was in my nickname NOT my formal, on my driver’s license and every other form of ID I have name. Call number 2 to the emergency center.

Back to on hold with lousy music. Sigh. She comes back and asks if I have anything with my nickname on it. I offer my business cards, but she tells me that’s not enough. Seriously? Back on hold. She comes back and tells me that she has note posted with my information at the airline and they’ll issue me a new ticket when we get there. Hooray! This vacation might be OK after all. Maybe.

We reserved a cab the night before (and made sure our rental car will still be there when we get in 4-5 hours late and that we can get into the condo when ever we might actually make it there). I told Mr Grumpy that the cab would be there 15-30 minutes early so we should request a time later than we want. He, of course, told me I was crazy and to book it nice and early. Yep. He got there almost 40 minutes early and called to ask why we weren’t ready. Nice.

Fifteen minutes before we planned on leaving we zipped out to the taxi to a grumbly driver. He may have just been talking to us, but his accent was REALLY thick and I was really struggling to make out what he had to say. He asked us for our airline about 3 times on the way. I figured he was just not paying attention. We pulled up to the departure area of the airport and he asked again. Then he asked if we knew which terminal that would be. Um…no. He asked us to read the signs as we drove by and let him know when we got close. As we missed the sign he tried to convince us that we were at the wrong airport (not a chance dude. I quadruple checked. We are NOT going to have more trouble traveling today). We looped again as he tried to turn the situation into a teachable moment for US about the GIANT SIGN on the way into the airport telling us where to go. Yeah. We really don’t have great travel mojo.

We finally found our ticket counter. No new ticket for me. If I wanted one with the correct name I’d have to give up my seat and hope that I can get another. No dice. I’d take my chances with TSA. Luckily, my driver’s license picture is close enough to my current hair color. They let me in. I’m thinking in my next license photo I should just go for the crazed look. It’s what officials would see if they looked at it anyway. Or maybe I should stick with calm and awesome looking. Then they would know that I don’t always look like that…I think.

After a minor breakfast mishap (they brought Mr Grumpy the wrong breakfast. A new one was procured, but they delivered it to the wrong table), we found our gate. It seems that they were having the same kind of week because they posted two departure times.

You can't really see it, but the screen on the right says that our flight leaves at 10:45. On the left, 11:00.

You can’t really see it, but the screen on the right says that our flight leaves at 10:45. On the left, 11:00.

The photo is not amazing (OK it’s horrible), but if you blow it up and squint you’ll see that they posted that we’d be leaving at 10:45 or 11:00. I would have taken a better picture, but with the way our trip was going I was sure security would see me as some kind of threat. Either way, we left late. Luckily the family in front of us brought their Elf on the Shelf (which I REALLY wanted to take a picture of but Mr Grumpy was worried about the family thinking we were stalking them or doing something sneaky. With our mojo for the day I decided to show restraint) so we had someone to blame for any future travel mischief!

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Crazy Vacation Post: What Do You Mean Our Flight Left Yesterday?

As you may have figured out, I like to find a bargain. This includes travel. We joined a vacation club so we had  a reason to get away and could do so at a discount (once we paid off our membership fee). This company also has a travel agent for us to use at no additional cost. Bonus!

I booked our flight three months ago. We got an AMAZING deal. We had to fly out of Midway (even though we live closer to O’Hare) and leave at 6:00 in the morning. Small sacrifices for decent saving. When I booked our flight I asked to leave on Thursday even though our condo renal didn’t start until Saturday. We figured on getting there two days early, stay in a hotel, and get into “vacation mode” before getting on to the main event. They booked the flight and mailed us our invoice which I promptly stuck on the fridge with the rest of our vacation paperwork. I didn’t even look at it until Mr Grumpy went to book our hotel rooms.

He asked me the dates for our vacation. I told him. He asked again. I told him. He asked again. I yelled at him to just get the invoice off the fridge and stop pestering me. About ten minutes later he brought me the invoice. She booked us for SATURDAY not THURSDAY like I asked. No biggie. It CLEARLY says that we can’t do anything about it because of the type of ticket we purchased so we just adjusted our plans. It was a nice thought to extend our vacation. We were disappointed, but not devastated.

Flash forward to last week. We spent Friday after work packing and doing final prep for the week. Psycho-mutt was at the vet (much to her dismay), mail was stopped, house was on vacation watch, neighbors were notified (honest. If I don’t let them all know where we are they’ll call to “check” on us), boarding passes were printed…well, I tried.

I logged on to the website just before we were heading to bed to print our passes to make our morning go more smoothly. I put in our name and the date. Nothing. Minor panic. I put in what I thought was our reservation number. Nothing. Little more panic. I finally got the reservation number right. Hooray! Wait. What?

There, on the screen, was our reservation for the dates I ORIGINALLY told the travel agent I wanted. Which meant our flight left on THURSDAY. Not really helping us for SATURDAY. Enter full panic mode.

I called the airline. Since there was a storm on Thursday there was not much they could do for us other than 1. send us out on Monday (unacceptable) or 2. we could be at Midway at 4:30 Saturday morning, pay an additional $500 (did I mention that I’m cheep?), and hope to get on a standby flight. Yeah. That wasn’t really working for me.

I called the after hours “emergency” number with the travel agent. The first person I talked to looked at our itinerary and told us that we were good for Saturday. Well, at least it confirmed that I wasn’t completely nuts. She put me on hold for what felt like forever (no special thanks to awful hold music) only to tell me that the person who can fix it was not answering their phone. She assured me they’d call me back that night (this was at 9:40 pm). 11:20 I call back and have to explain my flight plight again. She can’t find the person to fix it either. Great.

While I’m whining to this poor person telling her how I’m going to have to be up in three hours (if I can even get to sleep in the first place) to hope to get on the plane (and have to loiter at Midway, which is not really my idea of a good time) to get to my unintentioned vacation with my in-laws tired and grumpier than normal, I get a beep that someone is trying to call. It’s the guy no one can find! Hooray! He found two tickets for us one-way. Out of O’Hare. With no additional cost to us. Hooray! Today’s round of traveling panic is over, more or less, for now!


Crazy Vacation Post: What? No free wi-fi?!

Sigh. Why does vacation need to be such a giant pain in the tushie? I was all set to post a bunch of travel/family crazy for you all week while I was gone, but the resort we were staying at CHARGED for wifi. I love you all (all six readers), but I’m a little too cheep to pay for internet access all week. I thought I’d find a hot spot (there HAS to be a Starbucks in town, right? Not really. Unless you count the one in the grocery store. Which I don’t.), but no such luck. I figured you deserved better than what I could type on my phone. You are totally welcome!

Here’s a little vacation background before I launch into a series of posts which WOULD have been shared in real time if the stupid resort wasn’t so stingy.

Mr Grumpy and I always take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. Both of our offices are closed so it’s not like we make a huge choice about this. Every year we drive home to Ohio to struggle to balance our time between our families (who thought that it was better to have both families in the same area? Oh  yeah, that was me. I think I’ve changed my mind) and not lose our minds. We don’t usually succeed. This year we decided to use that time to take advantage of our vacation club and get out of Dodge for the week. Time together. Time to chill. Time without family. Brilliant, right? Well, wait before you answer that one.

We told our families about our plans early so they had plenty of time to adjust to the thought of us not being there for the holidays. Mine was generally OK (grandma is still working on eternal guilt for ruining the holidays, but I shipped her some nice new nightgowns and a pretty postcard so I redeemed myself. A little. Maybe.). Mr Grumpy’s…well, they had a different plan. Turns out his sister-in-law’s mom lives in the same area so they altered their travel plans to be there the same week as us. And bring his mom. Kind of defeating the purpose of us getting out of town. Great.

Needless to say, this was the beginning of vacation adventures (or misadventures…depending on your outlook). Be prepared for virtual vacation slide shows (and other tales of crazy)!

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Coffee, coffee, coffee!

I don’t consider myself a coffee addict. I like coffee. When I am stressed (like I am now), I tend to drink more. I can go months without it and go back to drinking it every day with out hesitation. There’s something about its yummy coffeness that seems to make it all better.

This kind of started on our honeymoon. We spent two weeks in Scotland and Ireland where they had coffee ready every day (if it’s ready, why not drink it? If I have to make it I have to really debate if I want it or not. I’m kind of lazy that way). Of course I had coffee and Mr Grumpy had tea. I’d offer him a sip to see how good it was, but he’d refuse.

According to Mr Grumpy I’ve been trying to get him hooked on coffee for years. Honestly I didn’t think about it before-but NOW I’m going to work on it!

Thank goodness for Coffee-mate® flavored creamers. It’s TOTALLY bringing him into the fold. Today it was gingerbread that hooked him. Tomorrow-peppermint mocha!

(Insert evil laugh here)

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The Love and Hate of Race Photos

So over the past month I’ve run three races where they took pictures. I didn’t even look at the ones from the Run4Pie (mostly because I couldn’t find them on their site). The ones from the Turkey Trot and Santa Hustle made me shake my head in wonder.
Here’s the thing. Race pictures are either amazingly awesome or horrendously awful. For example, the pictures from the Turkey Trot make me look like I am the turkey. I look puffy and miserable. The Santa Hustle pictures make me look slim and athletic. They were only a week apart. I’d love to think I lost that much weight over that week, but it was really only about two pounds. I’d post them for you, but I’m too cheep to pay $40 for permission to share them with you. Sorry!
Here’s the psychology of runners like me. I joke that I have a runner’s mind and a couch potato’s thighs. I don’t have a running body (check out the Jump Around Turkeys post). My weight fluctuates like politician’s views of anything that can impact their chances for re-election. It’s hit or miss what I’m going to look like at any given race. I KNOW this, but while I’m running (on a good running day) I don’t FEEL like this.
On a great running day I feel like a super model. I am thin. I am amazing. I can conquer the world. I actually LOOK FORWARD to my race photos because I want to see what amazing looks like. Sadly, this is not what they capture. I usually look frumpy and like medics should be at least following me if not chasing me down with a stretcher. Sigh.
Honestly, you’d think that race photographers would keep this in mind while they are taking and sharing our pictures. A little photoshop to take out that little roll around the race bib-I’d probably pay for that. Some kind of digital trickery to make me look like I feel-I’d find a little extra money for that. Take a picture from an angle that doesn’t emphasize my weight and age-I’ll totally pay for that!

I have paid for some race pictures. I did from my first race (just for proof that I did it and survived. It’s on the fridge), from the first half marathon where I finished and didn’t think about ibuprofen, ice packs, and chopping my feet off at the ankles (I bought the entire package. The pictures were that good), and from another half where they did a great job of capturing the reason WHY I run (but I was too cheep for the digital prints. Someday I’ll get around to scanning and sharing them. Someday.) I’m not difficult (OK, maybe I’m asking for too much) I just want decent race photos. I’ll even share a good one to prove that I am not a complete race picture snob, but I WON’T be investing in Christmas ornaments with it on them. Just for the record. No matter how thin and awesome I look!

Chicago Half Marathon 9.11.11

Chicago Half Marathon 9.11.11

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Dragon. Speak!

I originally heard about Dragon Naturally Speaking programs when I was in my doctoral program (did I mention I was a doctor? I am, but not the kind that can write prescriptions much to my father’s dismay and disappointment). A friend of mine had it to help with writing her dissertation. She said it really helped her as she could sit in a better position to work and not stress her wrists as much (believe me when I say you spend hours sitting and typing and submitting. Then waiting, crying, revising, retyping, and crying and resubmitting. Then repeat. Did I mention crying? There was a lot of crying. And throwing things. But I digress).

Anyway, I’ve thought about it off and on since I graduated (it really happens…eventually), but never really investigated it. I received a Cyber Monday deal in my in-box to get it for something crazy like 75% off so I thought I’d give it a try.

It finally came yesterday, but I was too busy with other stuff to do more than load it up. This morning I decided that my other work could wait while I tried it out. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Dragon Speak doesn’t know which their/there/they’re to use any more than the average person on facebook. I had to correct it every time.
2. My fingers are obviously smarter than my voice. When I switched back to typing I could suddenly find the words I wanted.
3. I apparently talk around things more than I thought. Dragon Speak was super kind to type every word I said. For example I was trying to recommend a medic alert bracelet to a friend for her elderly neighbor but couldn’t find the word I wanted. While I figured it out my typing looked something like this: “Have you looked into a medical alert bracelet? No that’s not what I want that’s the little bracelet that says you have seizures I want the I’ve fallen and I can’t get up one what is it called is it medic alert bracelet or necklace or is it something else oh crap it just typed all of this”. Yeah. Not. Really. Helping.
4. It seems I either mumble or unknowingly speak a foreign language. Every time I told it to add an exclamation point (!) it would type “excavation point”. Every. Single. Time.

Was it fun? Absolutely excavation point (dang it, now my fingers are doing it too)! Sound like we’ll have lots of adventures in writing ahead (if it ever figures out what I’m talking about)!

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Run, Run, Santa!

In what appears to be a tradition of holiday themed runs this year, I participated in the Santa Hustle 5K (or something like that) yesterday. Santa Hustle

If you look really closely, I’m way in the back. To the left. Near the Port-a-Potties. In a Santa suit. What? You can’t find me in the 8,450 Santas that participated? Ridiculous! Honestly, the only way I found the friend I was running with was by her super neon shoes. Without them I would have been walking home (she was my ride)!

It was FANTASTIC for people watching. There was a guy who ran with a cardboard sleigh and convinced eight of his friends to “pull” him as their reindeer! They were tethered together for the entire race. They were quick too. I didn’t even get a picture!

There were also several of these.


And even a few of these.


Mr Grumpy stayed home so I went with my chiropractor and her family. It’s always a good idea to run with someone who can “fix it” when you’re done doing something stupid! They had cookie and candy stations along the course as well as water. While I didn’t grab a cookie at mile one I did grab a cup of M&Ms at mile two. Of course I didn’t EAT them (see my previous post about sweets and running as to why. Yuck.), but I did run the final mile (or so) carrying a cup full of candy!

Santa Hustle or ZZ Top? You be the judge!

Santa Hustle or ZZ Top? You be the judge!

I totally forgot my jingle bells which I had planned on wearing to help get people in the holiday spirit, or get out of my way, which ever worked. Considering how sick I was all week, I’m taking it as a victory that I got there with clothes on!

Over all, other than it being a little short of an actual 5K (which my sickly lungs appreciated) it was a fun run. Oh, yeah, and being beaten be a 93 year old by almost 10 minutes. Other than that; good times!


Next stop? Disney! Stay tuned for crazy details on our first Disney running adventure (in one of Mr Grumpy’s least favorite places on Earth)!

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