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).

I’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place

*written on a Southwest flight from NOLA to Dallas on at noon on Wed 5/6/15

I’ve always been bewildered by people who travel a lot for work but have this utterly loathsome need to be grouchy about it. Their seemingly forced complaints would especially amuse me. “Can you believe they asked me last minute to go to Dubai next week? Now I’ll have to miss being a bridesmaid in my cousin’s Disney wedding!” So outrageously unfair. Exotic world travel or participating in the Cinderella wedding? No brainer. But then, there’s me: never a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Here’s the funny thing: I have that kind of job. Well. Except for the “exotic world” part of travel (see my byline). As I write, I’m on my way to Birmingham, Alabama, y’all! Note: I am not being ironic. I’m pretty fucking thrilled if you must know, but I’ll get to exactly why in a moment. I may not get trips to Dubai or Paris (hey, I can do that on actual vacation time, thanks to accumulating those blessed credit card miles and this perk alone should make you mistrust anyone who tells you that traveling for work is such a bummer) but I do get all the benefits of traveling a lot for work: exploring places where I don’t live (cities in the Southern US and Eastern Canada), staying in hotel rooms, eating out in the city’s hottest restaurants (because, Yelp) and getting to find all those awesome things that make a city, any city, something pretty great.

Don’t get me wrong. I do complain during the course of my travels. Hell, I may be an Olympic gold medalist in the sport of complaining. But never the faux outrage of simply having to travel.

I have quite the manifesto going through my head at times, mainly directed towards the people who surround me on planes and in airports. Unsuspecting sorts, those who seldom travel and are typically on their way to vacation so they assume everyone else is too. They just don’t get airport etiquette. And on my better days, of course I can understand and accept this. On other days, not so much. After, say, three straight weeks in and out of airports, I’m often full of stone, cold rage. My patience is wearing thin as yet another person carelessly drags their luggage over my feet on their quest to make it over to Chick Fil A. And if I have to endure one more thoughtless fool who doesn’t understand one needs to remove that huge shoulder bag as they walk down the narrow aisle of a plane or else be knocking heads (I’m an aisle girl) or someone else who, in their haste to get ahead of everyone else, drops a too large “carry-on” onto my arm. But I get over it. I love traveling. I have a dream job. Life is good.

There are times I savor being home. I like, no, I love where I live (and if you don’t love where I live, we probably have nothing in common). There’s always something pretty amazing going on whether that be Mardi Gras (which I missed in 2014 due to work travel), a festival (though I’m not really the festival-going kind), a friend’s ultra cool art opening, my writing group’s monthly meeting or even a simple wine night at a friend’s house. And then I sometimes just yearn for moments spent on the couch binge-watching a series with my guy and my cats. Rest assured, I so do not complain about missing out on this stuff, though!

So. I have something I’m going to come clean about: I can barely contain my joy being on this plane right now because I am finally able to get out of my house.

My house isn’t a hellhole or anything, it just needs a lot of work and I know I’m not the only person who dreads having contractors invade my space. I’m currently having my bathroom remodeled (read: turned into something other than a glorified outhouse). This project started about three weeks ago, not accidentally coinciding with work trips to Fort Lauderdale & NYC. Danny, my boyfriend, is working alongside the contractors and purposely wanted to get the bulk of the dirty work completed in the 10 days I was away (really, it was extremely dirty work and I’m a tad fragile when it comes to grossness). I felt guilty as he sent me photos of the completely gutted room (down to a gaping hole in the rotted wood floor) while I enjoyed views of a South Florida beach or the Manhattan skyline. But then I returned and endured 10 days of horrors (I’m weak).

But now? Now I’m barely containing my joy as I start my descent into Dallas for my 2.5 hour layover to Birmingham, where I’ll be able to check into a comfy hotel with heavenly beds. And even if the bathroom still isn’t completed when I return to New Orleans, I will have missed almost three full days of having to ask the strange men in my house if they wouldn’t mind leaving the bathroom so I can pee. And again, I thank the gods: I have a job that I love that affords me regular travel and the ability to avoid stuff.

I’ve found that layovers are often what make me batty (or at least prone to poor eating habits). These days, out of ten cities in my region, only one of them allows for a direct flight (Nashville, sweet Nashville), one is a 90 minute drive (Baton Rouge) and one is my home city. Most of the cities in my territory require bizarre layovers (flying to Dallas to get to Birmingham?!) sometimes two of them. Many of them involve killing at the very least one and often more than two hours in an airport and let’s be real; not all airports are created equal. There’s work, there’s always work, but what to do during a much-needed break in order to de-stress and get inspired? Until airports have gyms or even regular yoga classes, I am left to my own devices. Speaking of, I can read one of the many books waiting for me on my Nook but then there’s this writing habit I’ve been neglecting and what if I took any idle time to share my musings, my rants, my unique experiences with people who seem to kind of like reading the other stuff I have out there on the interwebz?

Hence, this blog. Sometimes I’ll write from an airport. Sometimes I’ll write from the plane. Sometimes I’ll write from my hotel room late at night when I’m feeling kinda lonely and my best friend is the mini bar (or, worst enemy. See: mini can of Pringles). Sometimes I’ll give myself a time constraint (who knows what I’m capable of in an hour, right? Right!) and sometimes I’ll just allow myself to get it all out on the page (don’t worry. I edit like a motherfucker).

And you’ll always know where I’m coming from or heading towards. Well, sort of. Here’s to having my head in the clouds!