Tuesday, June 26, 2012

At the Airport

I'm sitting in a massage chair in the Milwaukee airport. Isn't that an odd sentence? It's about 5:30 pm and I've been here almost two hours. (I'm not getting a massage. I just wanted to sit here. And no one has yelled at me. If they did, I'd say "it's a free country" and then I'd point to the giant American flag hanging in the window to my right. So I have a plan, is what I'm saying.) My flight doesn't leave until 9:30 pm so I'm kind of on an adventure, like that time my Mom gave me a quarter to walk downtown and buy a newspaper by myself when I was 9. (That story sounds so made up; as if I were a kid in the 50's or something. But it's not made up. I felt like such a grown up that day. However somewhere along the line a fake memory of buying a Coke for 25 cents made it's way into the story as well. I swear that Coke was real, but I don't know how it could be. Except... it was Minerva, Ohio. If anywhere in 1996 could have still gotten away with selling glass Coke bottles for a quarter, it's Minerva.) 

The reason I'm here is that Aaron's lovely, spunky Grandma Irma passed away last week and we celebrated her at a funeral this morning in Gurnee. Now I'm hopping back over to Phoenix one day ahead of Aar so that I can make it to work tomorrow.

I've read before that the things that bother you most about other people are the qualities in yourself that you most hate. Or maybe the qualities you just fear you have? I don't remember. That's kind of an important distinction though...

Either way.

I don't want to be this person:

Her: "Oh my gosh, I just drank poison. Help me. I am dying."


Her: (dead).

That's the type of person that bothers me the most. Am I her?

The Midwest smells so sweet in the summer. Today we drove by the house in Oak Creek, WI where Aar lived until he was 2. We drove by around 2:00 PM. On a Wednesday in summer. Three little girls were playing with a plastic castle in the driveway, and my heart broke and melted and buried itself beneath the pavement. I want that back - sunny, fleeting Wednesdays. With plastic toys in the driveway and grilled cheese.

The summer between our junior and senior year of college, Aar and I painted the apartment above the funeral home in Warren, Ohio. His dad worked there and we were broke so he handed us some white paint, said we had a week and that he would pay us at the end of it. Sometimes I think about that week, and about how curious things like that are. Where for a succession of 5 or 6 days or so, life was absolutely consumed by that little apartment and paint and old sheets on the floor. Then we left and haven't really been back hardly at all. The song "You Just Forgot" by Mindy Smith was in my head the whole week, and I sang it loud and clear every moment. Now when I hear it, I smell paint.

What's the story on getting Quizno's at the airport? Are we talking $5 for a bottle of water or am I good since I haven't gone through Security yet? Gotta go, Mustachio over here is making eyes at me. That's my cue.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Begrudged Serendipity

Two ways to ruin my week are to put a hitch in my plans or throw me a curveball. By that I mean, A. cause something to in my life to change, or B. take control away from me. I do not do these things well. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine discovered she didn't have any "grace?" I would love for people to think I have grace too but, much like I think Elaine is, I am one of those people that gives purposely audible sighs of frustration in the check-out line at the grocery store when the cashier is taking too long. Once you're that person, you can't not be that person. I'm sorry, everyone.

That being said, I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't share the story of our layover flight in Canada on our way to Ireland, otherwise known as the Great Maria Breakdown of 2012. If you've brought along your sympathy-for-Aaron cap, do put it on now.

We had successfully endured a layover at Newark Airport, which is like the knock-off brand of Cool Whip of airports. It's so sad there, like one of those houses that got to be on some home makeover show but then you go back a couple of years later and there's newspapers stacked on the chaise lounge and cats ate all the potpurri. So we boarded our plane for Belfast with all of the obligatory squeals of excitment that I DIDN'T CARE WHOSE BABY THEY WOKE UP, LADY; WHO BRINGS A BABY ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT ANYWAY AND I BET THOSE OVERALLS WILL BE COVERED IN PUKE BY THE TIME WE LAND, AND IF IT'S NOT THE BABY'S PUKE MAYBE IT WILL BE MINE and can you believe the anger I already had, just upon boarding? This is called foreshadowing and if you're taking notes, this is the time to write "Exhibit A: Crazy" in your margins.

About an hour and a half into our United Airlines flight, a comically calm pilot came on the sound system, interrupting my viewing of "Man on a Ledge" to which I give two stars but I was happy that Elizabeth Banks' hair was normal, and said "Hi everyone! The de-icing mechanism on our engine is broken! We are going to make an emergency landing! Thanks everyone!"

So we landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is Canada, you guys. Then an early-90's sitcom began to play out in front of our very eyes, as a three-hour wait to get a hotel room was followed by a hand-written "free hotel voucher" from the airport lady whose computer was "broke", but who was rather keen to enjoy a visit from a big-bellied security guard with a bright yellow vest and quite a loud snore.

After we waited for our "voucher" and then waited for the shuttle to take us to the hotel and then laid down in bed at 4:30 am, steam was coming out of my ears and not the good kind. It was at this point that Aaron said "Maria, set your alarm. In the morning we are going to go see the Titanic cemetery."

You see, as our flight emergency landed all up in this joint, I sarcastically remarked to my husband, "oh hey. Halifax is where everyone is buried. The wreck's only a few hundred miles away. YAY I'M SO GLAD WE'RE HERE."

That's when Aaron's brain started cookin' and by the time we woke up the next morning, he had a map in one hand, money for the bus in the other and a goofy grin that only a crazy person could have after spending the night with Maria Whose Plans Were Just Interrupted.

I whined. I pouted. I gave sarcastic glares. When the United Airlines guy said "we'll board in about an hour" the next day, I said "Is that like, a real hour or like, your fantasy-world definition of an hour? Because it was "an hour" about 3 hours ago, and since "an hour" implies 1 hour and 3 hours is not 1 hour but 3, I feel I can't rely on your current notion of '1 hour.'" And he said "Have you heard of an "engineer's hour"? And I said no, but if you're about to tell me it's going to be longer than a real person's hour, you probably shouldn't, and now I'm thinking about the term "baker's dozen" for some reason but the only thing people have here in Canada is freaking Tim Horton's and I really don't feel like a day-old cream-filled donut, and now I'm not only angry about the 3 hours but also about the lack of good food.

You guys,  before we finally took off for Ireland  about 40 hours later they made us wait an extra 3 hours so they could give us sandwiches on the plane. Cold ham sandwiches from Tim Horton's. All I could think was, "this is what I bet it looks like behind the scenes at the Pentagon." Total counter-intuitiveness, impatient people, a lack of willingness to take responsibility, and too high of a priority placed on sandwiches.

But here's the moral of the story: we went to the Titanic cemetery. And I was emotional, and it was beautiful, and though I couldn't give in at the time, I can't believe how serendipitous it was that our emergency landing sitcom happened in Halifax, where I probably would have never had occasion to go otherwise.

Now, excuse me, but I am about to go all Toyota up on an unsuspecting United Airlines customer service rep. But with GRACE.

More Ireland stories coming soon...

Do you have a travel nightmare story? Do share.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ireland Part .0001 and Guest Blogging

Oh my gosh, you guys. Oh. My. Gosh.

Our trip to Ireland... I really can't talk about it, because I will cry. I mean that. It was the most incredible trip of my entire life!!!

I'm going to be absolutely bombarding you with stories and pictures and details over the next couple of weeks, but for now I just wanted to share this video. This is a band called Ladlane at Temple Bar in Dublin, playing some traditional Irish music. Every moment of the trip, including this one, found me yelling THIS IS MY FAVORITE MOMENT into the ear of a giggling Aaron, only to be surpassed by the next one.

This is a song that's played in the steerage scene in Titanic, FYI. THE STEERAGE SCENE IN TITANIC and I couldn't record the whole song because my dancin' legs were gettin' antsy.


Also - while I was gone, the lovely Ashley Mays featured me on her blog. She asked me to write a letter to my high-school self... it was theraputic and such a great idea. Stop on over and take a look!