Endless Summer

Happy Labor Day!

What a long, hot (& not wet) summer it’s been. The “not wet” part meant for even more pronounced heat in NOLA, where we look forward to those late afternoon tropical thunderstorms to cool us off a couple degrees. What happened to them? I haven’t been able to sleep upstairs in my house more than a handful of times because the a/c window unit up there is no battle for 10 or so hours of intense sunshine. This means that I have to actually sleep on the pullout sofa in the living room, the only room that’s bearable in my house. I’ve traveled a fair amount this summer, but not enough that my back, normally blissfully pain-free, doesn’t have a dull ache on the regular thanks to the lousy mattress. Fall. I need you bad.

Summer 2015 Travels:
Since June, I’ve been to Memphis, Montreal, Ottawa, Baltimore, Toronto, Charleston, San Francisco/Napa Valley, NYC, Nashville and back to Montreal & Memphis again. I’m pretty annoyed with myself that I haven’t kept up this blog, but now I have loads to catch up on and write about. Maybe I was enjoying myself too much. Maybe the layovers weren’t long enough. Maybe I’ve just been too beat by the heat. Or the lack of blogging might be symptom of some other kind of malaise. There’s been stresses that I’m too defeated right now to even write about it, so I’ll leave this here and get to the topic at hand.

It's chilly in California, hence the sweatshirt!
It’s chilly in California, hence the sweatshirt!

Unlike last summer when I had regular trips to Texas on my itinerary, I’m now traveling to parts of North America that involve a weather change, which I really quite like. This means that I don’t have to space bag my entire sweater drawer! I don’t get bored with my dirty South uniform of jeans and black tank tops because I can actually throw on something else and not want to die. Dresses with tights are not out of the question. I will admit that by the end of August I was traveling with such frequency that I didn’t even unpack my clean clothes. I just added a couple layers for Montreal where it’s a good 20+ degrees cooler in the evenings. The great thing about having a 99% pure black wardrobe is that people may or may not think you’re constantly wearing the same thing. I’m trying to stop spending so much money on clothes, so forgive me for looking kind of boring.

Real truth time. I didn’t go the entire summer without buying clothes. Toronto has a boutique carved out of the fashion show of my dreams. They even give customers espresso drinks, if you so desire, while you shop. I landed at this magical place when strolling down Queen West one warm July afternoon looking for a jacket because I was going to be at a boat party that evening and didn’t pack accordingly. The clothes in the window didn’t bore or disgust me, so I walked in and came across some really interesting pieces at a fair price. I strolled past the espresso counter and stopped in my tracks because the back of the store contains the pièces de résistance: offerings of independent, emerging designers. Jackets with asymmetrical zippers. Swoopy bunched skirts. Chic baggy dresses that are too much for my petite hourglass physique, but would look stunning on a tall, willowy type. And corsets. Gorgeous, waist cinching, cleavage-spilling corsets. I already have too many of these and although I used to think you can never have too many corsets, I forced myself to look at the more “practical” items. I found a black silky jacket that’s adjustable so that you can unzip it to make it shorter and even sleeveless, a really cool scarf and a bunchy skirt and vowed that I wouldn’t spend another cent on clothing for at least the rest of the season.

View from a boat
View from a boat

I love many things about Toronto, now that I’ve been there twice recently. The people are nice. The food is divine (they have actual ethnic neighborhoods. I’ve gorged on Chinese food on each visit). The locally-owned shops are really fucking cool and not terribly expensive. Bars are not pretentious. Some areas remind me of the East Village/LES in the 90s (sigh). Hell, I just really really love Toronto. And I can buy stuff that isn’t going to cost me a month’s salary. Some people liken it to Chicago. I’ve only been to Chicago twice and appreciated it, but Toronto really reminds me more of NYC and its gritty/glitzy melting pot vibe.

Speaking of home, I got to go in mid August. I was in town for a millisecond, it seems. I got to spend time with my brother and sister-in-law, who graciously put me up at their home in Commack and I got to see my family, including my folks and cousin, Vinny (yeah, I have several of those) who is like a brother to me, and yet more extended family. I didn’t get to see friends this visit, but I have plans to return in about 6 weeks. I got to swim in my parents’ pool and take a ride on my brother’s friend’s boat to Fire Island.

On the way to Fire Island

Oddly enough, I grew up going to LI beaches but never once went to Fire Island before. It’s uh, really expensive and not at all fancy. Just overpriced food and gift shops. I had a stupid expensive meal and tried Rocket Fuel for the first time. The boat ride was really fantastic, though.

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I even spent a day and night in the city with Danny. Yep, my ultra Southern boyfriend has grown to really dig him some NYC. He even has a few places he wants to go back to like Library Bar, Decibel and although we didn’t have time to get there, my good friends’ bar, Lucky 13 in Downtown Brooklyn. We spent most of the day eating and drinking our way through the city, starting in Williamsburg where we parked, brunched and checked out one of my old hangouts.

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Grand St. Pier… oh, the late night memories!

We ended up crammed in at the packed sushi bar at Decibel in the late night hours where I finished my eating odyssey with edamame gyoza and soba noodle salad.

I can’t even really keep straight these days where I’ve been. Like I have to think real hard (if I don’t consult Trip It, which has been more annoying than it has been useful lately) to remember that I flew from Toronto to Charleston in early July. I really liked Charleston. It reminds me of a much cleaner New Orleans. I was only there for a day and a half, so I’ll save any real impressions for another post. I did visit and pay my respects to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where a sociopathic racist mass murdered a group of innocent people.

Paying My Respects

This has been a violent summer that will go down in infamy no doubt (now that I think about it, it’s been a pretty messed up year). A good amount of the bad shit going down has been racially-motivated. I won’t hesitate to post about any injustices I feel strongly about on social media and if it offends “friends,” well that’s fine (why civil rights should even be an “argument” is absurd). And “friends” lost due to differences of opinion on this matter were never friends to begin with (“but we were Facebook friends!” Cry me a river). My days of keeping quiet about my feelings ended as soon as I hit adulthood and now is not the time to be quiet. Right after the mass shooting, the Sandra Bland tragedy captured a spot in the media, but another article shed light on what seems to be a truly terrifying situation between those in authority and people of color. I have a lot more to write about this, but for now, suffice to say, I can’t recall summer 2015 without wondering if we’ve come so far from the 1960s when it comes to racial injustice. It’s been really weighing on my mind. This summer has been pretty tragic, that’s all.

And this is getting long, so TBC and all that good stuff.

Patience = Tried

*written on a long layover in Newark being that my flight out of Toronto was mysteriously delayed for 2.5 hours so I missed my connection to Charleston.

Here I sit at in the airport, thoroughly unsatisfied after a dinner of Corn Nuts, in the middle of my 10th hour stuck in one of two airports today. I’m at the point where I’m all but shrugging with resignation, for surely this is my lot in life. Here I am, spending what should be Friday happy hour among people wearing pajamas and Uggs as they plan to summer this weekend in Branson, or wherever their little hearts desire. Does that sound bitchy? I don’t mean to sound bitchy. I’m trying to be zen.

I’m the point where I’m prone to existentialism. Why am I here for so many hours? Why am I prey to endless delays? Why do I possess intimate knowledge of which Hudson News has the macadamia white chocolate Cliff bars?

I woke up early this morning in Toronto. It was gloriously sunny and clear out. Not a single possible weather delay in sight. I left 2.5 hours early for the airport so I could do Customs right (after the last time, not realizing this was a thing at Pearson) and then I got the text. And then I got more texts. Delayed half hour. Then another hour. Then another half hour. And like that, I knew I wouldn’t be getting to Charleston any time soon. Like that, I knew I was in for the kind of long travel day that should have me arriving in Asia.

Wishing to be proactive (fancy that. Me, planning right), I called United to see when the next flight to Charleston out of Newark might be, as I was surely missing my 2pm connection, so can ya book me on it, ha, please? I was told the 4:17 flight was alllll booked, and was thankful enough to be put on the 8:57 pm, visions of standby success dancing in my head.

I landed in Newark and waited on the customer service line in front of a lady who was crying so hard she was choking. Someone was having a worse day than me. I was told to go to the gate for standby on the 4:17.

With great hope in my heart, I waltzed past the whiskey bar in Terminal C, boarded the lousy transit bus to the lousy terminal A that doesn’t have a whiskey bar or any alcohol for that matter, and tried to charm the lady at the gate. She wasn’t having it. And because I was tempting the gods by forgoing whiskey or wine or anything alcoholic, in United’s infinite wisdom, they delayed the 4:17 flight for 45 minutes, just enough time to allow those late lucky fools who would have otherwise missed their connecting flight to make it just in time, thereby standby was stood up. Why doesn’t it ever work out that way for me? Why? WHY?! I all but shook my fist dramatically at the sky. I immediately bought a large bag of corn nuts and tried to allow the intake of excessive salt to heal my internal wounds.

But it didn’t really work. And now I sit here, wishing I could brave the lousy bus back to terminal C so I can partake in just one single adult beverage to get my Friday started right.

Charleston, here I come! I come hungry (no time for a real breakfast and I threw out the only vegan sandwich I was able to find in disgust when I realize the arugula was wilted) and in need of adult beverages.

My Sanctuary

*written at home on my backyard deck in lovely New Orleans, Louisiana on a sweltering summer morning

My backyard office
My backyard office

Never before have I so fully come to realize the importance of loving home, my house, my sanctuary. I used to think owning a house would feel suffocating, that I’d be beholden to a structure that would keep me in one place, the cancer to my wanderlust. Never mind the fact that I did live in one place for over 7 years that I loved, but that was in Brooklyn and the hope of owning a home there would have been a pipe dream for someone of my financial status at that time. Until buying my house in NOLA 2 years ago, I’d been a perpetual renter. I had also moved 6 times in three years, two of those moves were halfway across the country.

It’s my two-year anniversary of my taking on a regional management position with Yelp, meaning 2 years of frequent traveling. That’s great for me, I’ve loved just about every minute of it (minus the missed connecting flights and long layovers in airports without any decent vegan snacks). And this realization about home being so important has come late, but as much self-insight I believe myself to possess, it’s often the no-brainers that elude me.

Last weekend, I was purchasing another piece of reclaimed wood furniture to add to my collection (I’m obsessed!), and started thinking about how much joy this material object was giving me and it all hit me. I never thought I’d say this, but I really love being a homemaker, in addition to concentrating on my career. By homemaker, I don’t mean mom or wife, as I am neither of these. I fully admit to not being the most conventional of women, yet I find myself drooling over home porn and vegan recipes that might take me a couple hours to make that take less than an hour to make. I’m also not a crafty gal by any means – I wish. It would save me lots of money. Instead of splurging on a bag or pair of shoes, I’m plunking my card down for velvet black-out drapes. I never thought I’d be this way.

Much of it relates to the fact that I’m away so often. Ultimately, when I get off a plane, I need to feel like being home is a cherished thing. It can be intoxicating to stay in a posh hotel, where everything is sparkling clean, the beds are plush and the gym is right at my disposal. It’s taken a while for me to actually feel like home is a sanctuary without looking around and wishing that I could change this or that (truthfully, that feeling may diminish a bit, but it never goes away, does it?) See, when I first acquired my house, it had a lot of work to be completed on it and like most people, I didn’t have the funds or time to get it all completed at once.

(the previous owner named it this due to the sun painted in the peaks of the upstairs dormer windows)
House of the Rising Sun (the previous owner named it this due to the sun painted in the peaks of the upstairs dormer windows)

Industrial, cheap carpet had to be removed, and one, sometimes two layers of cheap linoleum tiles had to be lifted. Wood paneling (horrors!) had to be removed to reveal actual wood walls. Plank floor boards had to be sanded back to their former glory (and in the case of upstairs, entirely replaced thanks to someone in their infinite wisdom glueing crappy tile down on top of them). Walls had to be knocked out to make upstairs one giant bedroom. Generations of previous homeowners had taken a lot of the charm out of this 110+ year old Creole cottage and it was an intimidating task to (almost) restore it. It’s been two full years of work. Danny, my boyfriend, did most of the fixing and it’s pretty damn amazing. As I’m not so handy, I did some of the painting, including those gold ceilings but being that I’d be away up to three or four times a month, I’d have to fit in the work, not to mention the constant cleaning (uncovered 100-year old floors procure tons of dirt).

But, the bathroom. Oh, the hellhole that was my bathroom until just recently. It made me prone to fits of despair, not exaggerating. I think a lot of us gals understand and value a good bathroom. I, however, may be obsessed with bathrooms. This began when I was a child and I’d have to investigate the loo in any public place. It was this burning need, I tell you. My favorite bathrooms were the most garish, those dripping in gold fixtures and faucets and perhaps even a chandelier. I adored ante chambers outfitted with mirrors and velvet cushioned couches. The Dolly Parton of powder rooms.

You can imagine my dilemma when confronted with a bathroom this disgusting, yet not having the appropriate funds just yet to change anything. To give you an idea of what horrors were lurking, when Danny was gutting it, he realized that the wood was so rotted that the tub was close to falling through the floor to the ground outside. I couldn’t even bear to look at the 3-inch space between the tub and the sink. It was just narrow enough to be impossible to clean thoroughly and there were years of accumulated filth & mold that we’d pour bleach over to no avail. It also had spaces that allowed our famous Louisiana giant palmetto bugs entry and I don’t think I need to tell anyone how these things make me want to commit suicide. Just seeing a dead one in the morning (thank god for boric acid) was enough to make me want to move immediately. But I owned the damn thing.

I’m glad I hung in there, though and in due time, I was able to have the bathroom of my dreams (if those dreams allowed for a teeny tiny bathroom that could just about fit a 5-ft claw foot tub, toilet and pedestal sink). It only took 20 or so months to get here. Anyone who is on a budget and owns a home that requires a plethora of repairs can understand, right?

Just a partial view, but you get the idea…

I’m on my way to having a killer home porn addiction, friends. I first started with Pinterest 2 years ago after acquiring my house. Facebook got my cookies and I’d get constant reminders about Joss & Main, Dot & BO, Joybird, etc. offering up the accoutrements that I am obsessed with (and if you are curious about these obsessions, check out my home decor board!) I’ve barely gotten started on Houzz. I can probably lose hours on these sites and I have to force myself to stay away because I’m on a self-enforced strict budget. And I like to shop local, so there’s that little bit of restraint I do possess.

When I started this blog a couple months ago, my intention was to only write from airports, planes, trains and other places of transit. I think I write differently when I’m home. Instead of fevered, practically frenetic musings, I find myself writing from a place of calm. It must be that I’m sort of happy in this place…

If Only Airports Were Awesome…

*written at Houston Hobby Airport on what seems to be an endless layover 

It happened again. My 3:15pm flight out of Memphis was delayed due to the airline deeming it important to check tires (I’m totally OK with that) and 75 minutes after my flight was scheduled to depart, I was called up to the gate because it was clear I’d never make my connection, so I was put on the last flight out of Houston at 10:10pm. Yet again. Stranded at the airport…

But this isn’t the biggest problem in the world and it doesn’t make me full of rage. I mean, rage is just so tacky. In an admirable attempt to achieve pure zen-like consciousness (admire me, dammit!), I’ve resigned myself to the fact that any flight between New Orleans and another city that in actuality would only be a 1 hour flight or less but is so much more than that because there are no direct flights, is going to involve an entire day of traveling. I should be arriving to some awesome place where English is not the first language and exotic fruits await me. Instead, I’m arriving in another small city in the Deep South. Wait, wait– zen. Right.

I love New Orleans almost as much as I love my cats. The city is in my soul like no other, with the possible exception of my home, NYC. But. It can be such a bitch to get in and out of, and I’m trying to do this sometimes twice a week. It can be a bit much, but what’s a girl to do? I can blame the airlines instead. At their best, they all pretty much suck. I suppose I need to get on it after posting this and give Southwest yet another piece of my mind so I can at least get a travel voucher out of this inconvenience. My second, mind you, in less than 6 weeks.

I can create a brief airport wish list. Here’s mine so far: a single healthy eating option for vegan travelers. A gym. A cat cafe. A library. A movie theater. More outlets. Chic lounge areas for the masses.

This evening I’m stuck in Houston Hobby for practically four hours where not a single thing I’ve listed above is a viable option. I’m hungry as hell, having devoured my last protein bar while in Memphis that was supposed to be a late afternoon snack before a reasonable 8:30pm dinner. Now, my flight departs at 10:10 and I arrive home at 11. So much for all attempts at being zen. I fear anyone who has to personally deal with me after I land and I apologize in advance.

Wouldn’t be cool if I could run on a treadmill, punch a bag and then, after a great shower that’s also located in a comfy locker room at the airport, go pet cats? After that, I could get vegan pho with extra tofu and be all in a good mood to board my plane. Oh but no. Airports have to just suck, don’t they?

I will concede that some are not as bad as others. I just seem to never get to the good ones because I can’t think of a single time when I’ve wanted to actually go back to one the way I do, say, particular hotels, restaurants or haunted lounges in the cities that I visit. It’s hard to get that excited about yet another Hudson News that sells pistachios and an array of magazines available for purchase, designed to make us ladies feel bad about ourselves because we’re too fat/old/ugly or have jobs that are seriously uncool. I’m trying to love airports these days as I see them more often I do my backyard, but it’s really fucking hard. Silver lining? I’m not at my doctor’s office, but at least there the magazines are free to browse.

Here I sit, with a soy latte for dinner (protein), making notes to self so that I don’t do stupid things on my next voyage to Canada in 4 days, like think an hour is enough time to allow to get through Customs… or forget to add an international data plan to my phone or call my credit card company even though it’s a “travel card” and they’re fully aware that I travel as much as I do. It’s so fun getting your card rejected on your cab ride to the hotel from the airport at Midnight.

Inconveniently Vegan

*written at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto and finished at Charlotte Douglas International Airport during a long layover

One of the questions I keep hearing is, so you do all this traveling and you’re vegan… how do you eat? I’m not exactly wasting away, people. Sure, it’s not easy in the South (it was worse twenty years ago). It’s extremely easy in places like San Francisco. But. It’s never easy in the airport, a bastion for bad food (and taste, but that’s another subject altogether). While I can assure you that generally, yes, I do eat, quite well in fact, on my travel days I have to do a lot of snacking. With so many layovers, many of them involving barely enough time to get from gate to gate, I’m not going to have time for a sit-down in a restaurant that may or may not have an acceptable overpriced salad.

I try my best to bring my own healthy snacks, but there are only so many Pro Bars one can eat without feeling sugar-sick. I love nuts, but I can’t control myself, eat too many and then feel kind of ill they get old, too. I’m totally prone to giving in to crap like Corn Nuts and my dastardly Kryptonite, the mini red can of Pringles. This stuff is available at every turn in all airports! How do I resist? I am weak! Some places started having “healthy” stuff available to grab & go, like Sabra hummus and Pretzel Crisps packs (these can make anyone feel like they are actually a fourth grader). I despise Sabra hummus and Pretzel Crisps, anyway. It’s yet more junk food and not that tasty at that. Might as give in the lure of the red can.

I’m happy to report there are some exceptions. Off the top of my head, T5 at JFK has a few healthy outposts with insanely expensive– but I expect nothing less– healthier snacks. The other night in Charlotte, I discovered Smart Fries and perhaps the holy grail of healthy salty snacks: LesserEvil. Their kale and roasted garlic bean snacks are just incredible. So incredible, I was immediately plotting my return to this stand on my layover back home. Hey, it’s the little things (and Louis Armstrong International Airport could stand to learn a thing or two in this regard). But snacks don’t always satisfy. Take right now, I’m stranded for a few hours and won’t be able to eat something that didn’t come out of a wrapper until I land in NOLA after 8pm. Why am I in these situations often enough that I can write about it, yet not plan better?

In my wildest fantasies, I land at a reasonable hour in any given city and find a decent hot meal conveniently located near my hotel. So, this is like, never. Typically I’m landing in cities that do sleep and their restaurants close by 9 or 10pm. So, room service. I know most people love them some room service, but if I can avoid this, I do. I can’t turn off my parents’ voices in my head: It’s a ripoff! And over the years, I’ve come to realize my parents were right. The food is never good enough to warrant the outrageous prices and ridiculous fees, and it’s not vegan-friendly, even in places like the Westin where they pride themselves on having a menu featuring an array of superfoods (ie the beef tips come with a side of quinoa). Even when I’m not personally paying for it, I rarely order room service unless I’m desperate. The other night I didn’t have time for dinner until 11:30pm. There wasn’t much in the way of anything open near my hotel in Toronto, so I ordered what turned out to be a 30 dollar (with all of the mysterious fees) grilled vegetable sandwich with the tiniest side salad and lousy dressing. It was merely OK, people! Sure, it arrives with pomp and circumstance and the promise of something special, but I just wanted some damn good food. The silver dome only covered expensive mediocrity.

You may be overjoyed to know that I wrote part of this while ensconced in a mostly empty stodgy old hotel bar at the Omni King Edward with a glass of Chianti. Yes, I love these types of bars that don’t possess an ounce of hipness because I’m secretly a grumpy old man who wants everyone off my lawn. Gimmie my cane and my Chianti, bitches! These old fogey bars often offer up a complimentary small bowl of nuts and crackers and I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes this can count as my evening provisions – nuts and sesame sticks, along with flax seed crackers. That’s some good plant protein, people.

Good snackin' and much cheaper than overpriced room service!
Good snackin’ and much cheaper than overpriced room service!

Try not to die of envy. All of this and nary a loud mouthed fool to be found. It also included an interesting bit of culture shock: the bar was closed down by 10:30pm (Grandpas have to get to bed on time) and I also received a personal escort to my room because Canadian law (? might have been city?) prevents people from carrying open containers from the bar to their hotel room. Pushing aside all inappropriate urges of saying “would you like to come in for a night cap” out of my head (I didn’t actually want this, but I’ve always wanted to say it), I allowed the bartender to carry my glass of Chianti, which had to actually be covered with a piece of plastic wrap, as we traveled down one floor to my room.

And yes, I resisted the urge to take the leftover bowl of snacks, because I’m classy like that.

Short, Direct Flights + Drinkin’ While Airborne…

*written at home after a quick 70 min flight from Nashville to NOLA

The rare direct flight left me kind of yearning for a longer travel day yesterday… OK, that’s a big stinkin’ lie, but the reality is, such short flights don’t leave a lot of time for introspection and/or writing. And these short flights always seem to be chock full of turbulence, which means I’m usually too busy yearning for a cocktail that will never come because the flight attendants are advised to remain seated throughout the duration of the flight. I don’t begrudge them this, but I can’t deny that what with the delay in take off and all, a large small part of me was thinking, “hey, being that you know you’re hitting weather between cities, now would be a great time to start serving those drinks!”

I’m not that difficult, I swear. I’m not kidding when I say I’m nothing but sweet as pie to flight attendants, especially those on South West, because they really are my favorite flight attendants ever. Remember those short lived reality show, Airline? Well, it’s just like that! They make funny quips to each other on the PA, sing Happy Birthday and are prone to even saying stuff like, “Welcome to Sunny Honolulu” when touching down in a less than Honolulu-like city. They are so full of the funnies when I’m not consumed by mortal terror!

I don’t even really drink on domestic flights. Just those endless Transatlantic voyages. I mean, alcohol dehydrates you like nothing else. And it makes you have to keep peeing. But add a dose of weatherific conditions and I’m all but begging for the Chardonnay (I can’t do the cheap reds anymore and sparkling wine isn’t available on SWA flights). I have tons of free drink tickets (lucky you if you’re sitting near me b/c I tend to gift my coupons that are about to expire).

Stay tuned for next week when I’m on a very non direct flight to Toronto!

Maybe I spoke too soon… Or maybe some celestial being is bound to test my patience from time to time

*written at Orlando International Airport on a 3 hour layover to New Orleans

What a lousy travel day. Getting from one city to another that would be only an hour flight – if there were direct flights – is turning into travels worthy of a transatlantic flight to… I don’t know, Istanbul?!?!

I want to spare you the details, so here’s the Cliff Joi Notes:

12 noon CST: while in a meeting with a coworker, I get a text from Southwest that my flight to Tampa had been delayed. This meant that I’d miss my connection to New Orleans. Although this would have given me an extra hour to spend with my teammate, I decide to get to the airport by 2pm, an hour before my flight was originally scheduled to leave, to perhaps arrange an alternative flight that would magically transpire before my very eyes.

2pm CST: I check in at SWA and am immediately surrounded by people freaking out because they, too, were on the same doomed (perhaps that’s too strong a word) flight, and would be missing their connections to Nashville & Philly. The kind check-in lady found a flight leaving at 5:40pm, getting me to Orlando for an 8:55 pm EST flight to NOLA that would get me in at a reasonable 9:40pm, only a little over 2 hours past my original arrival time and in just enough time to get dinner at my favorite Bywater pizza joint. I kind of love Southwest even when there’s problems because they do things like give you a $100 travel voucher at the drop of a hat.

2:15pm CST: TSA at Bham is crazy easy.

4pm CST: I get notice that my flight to Orlando is delayed 10 minutes. Worried that this might make me miss my connection, I looked that up and found that no, that flight had been delayed to 10:45 pm EST. So, hello three hour layover!

4:05pm CST: I scarf down a bag of Corn Nuts. Plain. Not BBQ. Don’t judge. So far all I’ve eaten today is a hummus plate at 11am.

5:30pm CST: I board my plane and the woman in front of me loudly tells everyone that she’s a nervous flier and bring on the alcohol. I’m realize I’m lucky that I’ve overcome my fear of flying about 18 months ago (more on that, later).

8pm EST: I land in Orlando and find out that my flight to New Orleans now leaves at 11pm EST.

8:15pm EST: Realizing those Corn Nuts have zilch nutritional value (how I love my salty empty carbs), I try to find food. I’m happy to find Au Bon Pain, as they often have vegan soups, but the chairs were up and the entry blocked. Discouraged, I find a lousy bar & grill serving up frozen drinks and fried foods only to be told that the kitchen was closed. I order a glass of Chardonnay.

8:25pm EST: Last call

For the love of God, I’m still existing in a 7:25pm world and I’m made to feel like it’s the wee hours of the night. This is not good for my psyche. I expect to see people strolling by in their pajamas at any moment.

I’m scheduled to arrive home at around Midnight CST. My fridge is typically empty and NOLA isn’t exactly chock full of vegan-friendly options after closing time.

This is why I need to plan better. This is why I need not tempt the fates by gleefully posting about how I don’t complain about traveling.

But I hope you don’t think I’m complaining, friends. I’m just hungry and when I’m hungry, I get cranky. I also make friends! I just met a lovely older couple on their way back home to Ohio. We commiserated about the lack of food and drink options in this joke of an airport terminal at such an early hour. They bid me well as they left the bar to make their flight. I have faith in humanity. Just not in airlines (to be fair, Southwest does try their best).