I always get a bit nervous when I see my oncologist.Even when I already know that Fred the Fibroid, who has taken up residence deep in my pelvic region, is not a threat and that I am in seeming good health, they still end up taking my blood pressure twice.First for the jaw dropping 158 over 92 and then for the 126 over 78 smile and silent sigh of relief that the nurses all think I don’t know about.They always try to reassure me that everything is going to be ok.
I know that’s a crock.There are no guarantees.Things can change on a dime with cancer survivors and I know this.Still, I try my best to be upbeat and not complain too much because the medical issues I have; lymphedema, scar tissue tightening, fatigue, inability to lose weight, bruising…none of these things can be fixed by my well-meaning oncologist.They are part and parcel to the medication and fall out from what my body has been through.They are my battle scars, like war vets who jump at the sound of a car backfiring, my body backfires all the time.
My oncologist, the kindest doctor I’ve ever known, once again tells me that I am courageous.Funny, I don’t feel that way, I feel….insignificant, humble, and at least when I have to have these checkups, very, very alone.Waiting in that examination room, swathed in little more than a cotton dressing gown and hope, I’ve never felt so alone save for the first moments after they took my daughter in for emergency surgery when I truly didn’t know if she was going to make it out of the operating room alive.
The exam room feeling is obviously, a couple of hundred thousand skyscraper floor drop from the terror of nearly losing my child.But until the doctor tells me my blood panels, a CBC and chem. panel, are good, I mentally hold my breath. My whole world stands still until I get the green light and hear what we cancer survivor’s feel are the best five words in the world: See you in six months.
When I hear those words, and I do hear them, except not ‘good’ but I get to hear ‘excellent’ and ‘consistent’ and ‘first rate’.At any rate, what I really hear is ‘ok’ and then the clouds part, my world opens up again and I mentally start making lists and plans.I think about what dazzling dinner menu I will whip up for Bob, if I should simply replace my heater or go with central air once and for all.I put back on my to-do list a much needed trip to the craft store where I need to get about ten frames for Claudia The Baby’s photo essay wall of lions.
In other words, I start to live again.
But never do I feel particularly courageous.I peek my head into the belly of the beast, the chemo room, and I find myself disappointed that there is no one there to speak with.I have somehow anointed myself Head Survivor of Breast Cancer and Ambassador of Recovery and thus think I’m supposed to intrude on all cancer patients doing chemo so as to encourage them in their recovery and answer any questions they might have.
Always with the hair, when will it start growing back?
Five weeks after you finish chemo, I say.Five weeks.
Though the chemo room is empty, I must make another appointment so I head for the reception desk where I encounter another survivor.We are both there to make our next appointments only hers is for next week, more chemo, and mine is six long months out, with no chemo in sight.I stand, all pony tailed and healthy, cancer free and dressed for success.She sits in a wheelchair, bowed by age and the insidious cancer I can literally feel eating away at her.A hand knitted hat covers her bald head and she is swathed in blankets.Her husband fusses with her oxygen tube; a lovely old couple, their twilight years decimated by the Grim Reaper come all decked out in cancer.I look down and I realize she is admiring my purse of all things.
“Hi!” I say, far too brightly, too forced. I fear for a split second, I’ve been too forward; she’s clearly in pain and doesn’t need my Pollyanna attitude.
And then it happens.She smiles, a brilliant, beckoning smile full of warmth and kindness and light and the Grim Reaper retreats if only for a moment and I realize that while I may not be terribly brave myself, I sure know courage when I see it.
I am back on the road after an all too brief respite home.It’s my last business trip for a couple of months (I hope) and one of my favorite.First, because it’s the last for a few months and second, I get very close to my absolute favorite fabulous city in the entire world, New York City.
I never get into Manhattan on this trip even though it’s embarrassingly close to the New Jersey suburb that I effort the press check in.A press check is the last look prior to printing a piece of collateral.In this case, my beloved annual report, a project I sweat bullets over every year and actually dream about until it goes to the printers.
It takes nerves of steel to sign off on a document like this.Once you do, they push the button and the presses roll.There is no, “Stop the presses” in the real world.One time I was doing my press check and the entire (giant) building of people went quiet.Somebody was about to sign off on a million, yes, million, count run of some document or other.It was a moment of respect and quiet awe.Entire careers are risked with far less than a million count run.
My runs (i.e., quantities) are not nearly that expansive.They run in the thousands, not millions but I take my job with deadly seriousness nonetheless, working each year with a print master named Vinnie who, yes, comes from the Bronx.We swap pics of kids, talk about his family and he tells me great stories as his masterful eye tweaks color a nearly indiscernible shade here and there.I was never so grateful to see someone after I was given the go-ahead to travel again.Vinnie was my first official business trip after chemo and radiation.It was like going home but better.My hair was impossibly short but Vinnie treated me like family come home again, entirely normal.
I think I love Vinnie sometimes, seeing him makes me feel so safe and that life goes on, like the giant print presses that whirl on around us.
I only spend a day with Vinnie then some nice person from the printing firm drops me off at the airport and I fly to my boyfriend’s house for a few days.I am not in Manhattan but I am reluctant to leave the east coast nonetheless. Its part of my routine and I crave it, particularly after beating cancer.
This year I at least remembered to bring lollypops for Vinnie’sbeloved little girl and to wear something very east cost chic.Golden lace dress, surprisingly business appropriate when paired with a black faux leather jacket and high heeled pumps.I feel compelled to let my east coast sisters know that we Callie girls can doll it up with the best of them.
And who knows, now that I’m nearly three years into my recovery, maybe someday I’ll be the one with the million count run and the hush that falls over the enormous print facility when I sign off.
I choose to live by myself.Mostly, I mean.I have a dog and am human slave to a cat so mostly means I live without the benefit or stress of additional humans in my home. I choose instead a long-term relationship that keeps me bouncing from coast to coast. And now that my daughter and her family are officially home owners, I have my house to myself, mostly.This is a first for me and long overdue.I came from a noisy, loud, obnoxiously intrusive family so I cannot remember a time that I did not long to live alone.I was the only kid ever who longed to be sent away to a boarding school − for the peace and quiet. Imagine a kid thinking that boarding school was preferable to living at home − in my case I knew from the age of seven that it would have been trading up in a whole lot of ways.
So fast forward four-plus decades and after the crowding of love and support I got when fighting cancer, I finally got my heart’s desire, I am mostly living solo.
And I love it.
My BFF is an only child and she wisely predicted that I would embark upon a love affair with living by myself.She was right.In living alone, I have already discovered so much including:
1.When I put something down, it now remains where I left it.Imagine that.This is new to me.Very, very new.I used to think I was going bonkers and that my short term memory was totally trashed from the meds I take to keep the cancer from returning.In reality, it turns out that everyone I ever lived with conspired against me and tried to make me think I was crazy by secretly moving things around.I have graciously decided to forgive them all.I mean, now that I know The Truth.
2.My footprint on this earth is small and getting ever smaller by the day.It really needs to be.I need to make up for all those transcontinental flights I take for business trips. I generate one very modest bag of trash a week, another for recycling.Unless I do yard work, that’s it. I need recycle cans, bottles and plastic only very occasionally because it’s just me after all, I just don’t use up that much…stuff.
3.The refrigerator finally is stocked exactly the way I always wanted.For example, I got rid of that hideous yellow mustard that everyone seems to put on their hot dogs; only the best French imported brand for me.I hardly ever buy meat because I don’t eat it and the boyfriend, a.k.a., the World’s Most Devoted Carnivore, only visits upon occasion.My food bill is embarrassingly low and this when I buy the very best of the best, gourmet and organic all the way.
4.I relish silence when I come home.After I greet and care for the frantic dog and the sulking, plotting cat, I am generally left to my own thoughts and devices.I never had that when married. I was not allowed so much as five minutes to myself.After I wisely divorced, I still had a child, a high maintenance child at that.She’s gotten better as the years have gone by but this is honestly the first time in my life that I have the luxury of being alone with my thoughts.After an entire day of communicating over and over with so many people, it’s a relief to have a little bit of silence, time for myself.Silence is truly golden and I’ve found I am far more rested, creative and focused after an evening of peace and quiet and the keeping my own company.
5.I get a lot more done than I used to.Despite being gone nearly all of last month, I still have been able to get my house in order.I have a few home improvement projects that require some expertise I don’t have, but mostly, I’ve been able to get things in order in my sparse spare time.I have the luxury of using my time and space very efficiently now.
6.I am absurdly organized.Goes back to the notion that when I put something somewhere, it stays where I initially put it now.My daughter claims the spirit of my departed mother has decided to stop messing with my head.Yeah, OK, let’s go with that.
7.I actually get to cook way more than I used to.My daughter can attest to this as one of the little fun things I do now is bake and cook for her family and hand her a container of food every Sunday when she picks up Claudia The Baby and heads home. Mommy loves you darling, try the baked doughnuts, they are surprisingly nutritious.Of course I won’t tell your husband they were made with fruit and whole wheat flour….
8.I don’t have to compromise on the television/bathroom/bedtime or pretty much anything else at home.I watch what I want, take a bath when I want and go to bed when I want.I don’t have to tippy toe around anyone’s schedule or needs.Large families mean you never get to do what you want, when you want; you always have to take a backseat to everyone else’s timeline.No longer, everything happens on my schedule.
9.I don’t have to clean/dust/tidy on anyone’s timeline but my own.The house is actually much cleaner now because cleaning has become a scheduled task and is hardly ever about the latest spill/mess/untidiness of another.
10.I can decorate any which way I want and do.I have no one to please but myself.
11.I have no one around to judge my not-so-secret obsession with old time Looney Tune cartoons or classic British soap operas (long live Corrie).And if I want to eat in bed, no worries, the dog is seriously adept at crumb clean up.
12.I can crank up the heat as high as I want or keep it as cool as I like.
13.I can sleep in as late as I want or need to on Sundays.Until Claudia The Baby shows up, I mean.
14.I have a lot less stuff.And I keep finding ways to get rid of even more.I like having less stuff.A lot.Not only is my entire household easier to keep in order but having less material possessions free up the mind.Less stuff equals less stress; this is a known mathematical fact of the universe.
15.I can sing in the bathtub and float all the rubber duckies I please.I can be as silly or as serious as my mood dictates.Again, nobody is around to judge me.
16.I don’t have to explain why I just wasted a full 20 minutes to make some concoction of freshly squeezed juice for myself. The squeeze part takes 2 minutes, the clean-up 18.It’s my time to squeeze after all.
17.If I want to play Angry Birds till all the egg-stealing pigs in the world are all wiped out or mop up the virtual floor with some stranger over Words With Friends, I’ll have at it.It’s not a waste of time, it’s my time.
18.Conversely, if the checkbook isn’t balanced or there is a huge pile of clean clothes that need ironing and putting away, well, the buck stops with yours truly.It always did of course, but now I fully realize that anything that needs doing is all on me.No leaving clean clothes in the dryer or pretending in my head that well-meaning gremlins will magically appear one night and put everything away for me.Hasn’t happened yet.
19.Nobody is around to nag or goad me into doing what I should be doing; i.e., hitting the treadmill on nights I’m not teaching yoga or Pilates, walking the dog, unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up the dog’s mess in the backyard.It is fortunate that I am fairly self motivated about most things though I’ve yet to move the treadmill out of the garage and into my office-in-the-making.
I just figured out that the term ‘March Madness’ has something to do with sports, basketball to be precise.
And I thought it was just about my life.
First calendar quarter of each year is generally my busiest time, professionally speaking.I have at least three trade shows, press activities for each show, a separate press tour and an annual report to accomplish, all in the span of less than three months and all while I must travel.I was gone for more than three weeks in February and I don’t want to have to do that again unless I really must.It’s too long to be gone and as a cancer survivor, my energy and health are something I monitor much more closely than BC, Before Cancer.
I take nothing for granted these days.
So I call and call and call until I get my test results, I’m proactive and sure, I often worry, albeit silently.I post the ‘positive’ results on my social media network when I get them and I try and remain positive myself but I still worry. It’s been just two years since I finished my treatments, my hair started growing back two years ago this March so this is a special birthday for me.
I grew out a ponytail by my second ‘cancer free’ birthday so I’m very, very lucky and I know it.I walk around looking entirely normal these days despite how I might feel internally.
I did my blood work today, doubling up for several doctors turned out not to be the best idea.My normally low blood pressure made it hard to get enough blood and with a needle the size of knitting needles, I was not going to let the technician stick me a second time.Enough was enough.
I didn’t count on my blood pressure plummeting all on its own; I was not feeling stressed or upset.
I was actually playing Angry Birds − and winning − when I started to black out.This was not part of the plan.Luckily, I was sitting down at the time and the feeling passed and the boyfriend is in town and as a fire captain he’s a certified medic so I would not be in better hands if this wonky feeling comes back. So there.
So while I contemplate my bargain basement blood pressure and the spreading bruise on my one good arm (the one I’m allowed to give blood with), I realize that even with all the tests and the doctor appointments and insanity of the medical attention I must now pay to my health, I realize I’m still lucky.I don’t have cancer anymore and I don’t have to do chemo and I have a pony tail.A really cool pony at that.
March is looking pretty darn good, all things considered.
I am in the process of some serious spring cleaning.I find that post-cancer I have this on-going need to simplify and streamline nearly every aspect of my life because when I went through cancer treatments, life got pretty darn complicated.Just getting up in the morning and getting through a work day was complicated enough and it should go without saying that I didn’t get much if any housework done. This means I am waging an on-going battle with my beloved daughter to remove her things from my home and formally place them in her home.Sounds simple but it’s not, this war is fraught with heavy baggage, both literally and figuratively, on both sides.The only reason I am winning said battle is because my son-in-law came to my house without her recently and, upon finding the ever-so-thoughtful ‘list’ I’d left on my kitchen counter, proceeded to follow directions.This means he actually took everything I put on the list.I know, right?Amazing.He is so getting ten boxes of junky breakfast cereal for this.
My daughter is not good at taking direction, at least not from me.She’s fine with it in every other aspect of her life however.This is why when my son-in-law asked which set of ski boots and skis were mine versus his wife’s, I nearly did a back flip. It was just too good to be true.
“He’s taking the skis!!!!” I excitedly texted my BFF the news.She is following this skirmish of wills with a bemused and humorous attitude.She was thrilled however, that my son-in-law also picked up the furniture she was giving them so she could get rid of the storage unit she and her husband had rented since her beloved mother’s death last fall.From the standpoint of getting rid of things, she knows my pain as she is also in full spring cleaning mode.
“I don’t want to hear it,” she said when I called to report that everything was indeed gone from “The List”.“Your home is totally organized and beyondclean for God’s sake, you don’t even have any junk.”
True enough, at least compared to all the packrats in my life.My BFF is actually a founding member.For myself, I am certainly guilty of having way too many books.Don’t judge me, I can quit anytime I want.
Books aside, I believe so deeply in living ‘green’ that I never want to just throw away something that is perfectly serviceable and useable, I want someone else to get some use out of it.That is why I am gifting my backyard tool shed to my wonderful hairdresser, the lovely lady who cut my hair so many times before and during chemotherapy.We have been through it, Gina and I.Why I thought I ever needed a tool shed in my postage stamp sized backyard is beyond me but I never did and still don’t.Gina needs one however and being a W.O.A., Woman of Action, the very day I texted her about taking it, she called to arrange to come and pick it up.No languishing or dallying for that girl.I am now not so secretly plotting to talk her into taking a lovely old roll top desk as well.Her adventuresome three-year-old son could totally use it as an indoor jungle gym. I’ve seen that kid in action so I know little Brashear can repel down the side of a six story building like a fire fighter saving a litter of Saint Bernard puppies.
I have a sibling who went through a prolonged if not astonishing phase of telling anyone who would listen (precious few admittedly) that my house was, ‘filthy’ and ‘cluttered’.Imagine my nieces and nephews’ collective shock when they would show up upon occasion and find my home was, in their own words, immaculate. They were always confused about the generally tidy state of my home especially when I would tell them that by my standards the place could use a good cleaning.It goes without saying that another sibling won’t so much as even cross the threshold of the first sibling’s home; we think shrinks call it projecting or something.I once tried to get the Clean House crew to tackle the guilty sibling’s house. I filled out the forms on line and everything.They declined.You can see where I am going with this. Yes, there is always Hoarders, one of the scarier shows on television actually.
Meanwhile, I continue to keep to my own backyard so to speak and worry about the state of my own home.I am the only person I know who gives her tiled entryway and kitchen floor a good clean by boiling it.Well, by pouring boiling hot water on it to be more precise.Hint to ambitious homemakers: don’t try this one at home folks; at least not with kids or pets around and not a good idea unless you have the thick, enduring Italian tiles I have as flooring and only if you are very coordinated.The trick is to pour a small amount of boiling hot water on 2 by 2 foot square and mop it up after a minute or so before moving on to the next section.This is what I do to keep my floor pristine clean and that’s not easy given that Claudia The Baby’s strategy for letting me know that she’s done with eating is to throw whatever is left in front of her onto the floor.The dog knows this.
I learned when I went through chemo just how important really clean can be.Those clean habits stuck with me and this is probably why I still clean the floor this way, at least a couple of times a year and most especially during Spring Cleaning. I keep the rest of the house clean as well and as I have told my BFF, this is a huge difference between a home that is cluttered and one that is not clean.Clean implies no dust or dirt, shining, dusted and wiped with disinfectant; cluttered is simply having too much stuff.I aim for clean AND not cluttered because clutter also does double duty by attracting dirt and dust. And then you end up having a lot of stuff to clean.
I cleared out and reorganized my entire kitchen pantry including laying new shelving paper.This is likely not earth shattering news but I emailed my BFF the accomplishment anyway because I often do things like that to her. Poke, poke.I was frankly shocked to discover that I will not need to buy any pantry essentials for oh, say, the next three or so years.That and canned goods expire a lot sooner than I thought.Even so, my pantry is now the envy of any random Food Network celebrity chef.Tidy, tidy, tidy.I suspect that having felt so out of control when fighting cancer makes me want to control what I can now and since I can somewhat control my environment, I am aiming for really organized and super clean. The office is next. This should prove a bit easier since Claudia The Baby does not throw food on the floor in that room though she’s been known to hurl her bottle across the room when I try and put her down for a nap in there.She has an impressive throwing arm for a 19 month old.I should let the Phillies know this very soon.
Then there is the freezer in the garage which, now that my daughter has moved out with her family, may actually prove useful. Once I figure out what is actually in there of course. Right now it just looks like Antarctica during a really bad snow storm. Lots of ice and frosty chill but you really can’t see anything important.
And I can’t wait until I divide up all the holiday decorations and deliver the lion’s share to my daughter.This should afford me even more room in the garage.She knows I’m plotting this.I know this because she keeps asking me not to bring her anything.How cute is that.
Now if only I can find a way to persuade her take some of the books I need to unload.
The thing I know for sure is that in my inner circle, we all have dog issues.My boyfriend has two frankly canine criminals, my dog is a total bed hog and my BFF has two frisky Welsh Springer Spaniels who, after exhibiting the world’s strongest prey instinct, have all but refused to hunt down an errant mouse in the house.
I tried not to laugh when my BFF called fuming.“I know it was 2 a.m. but really? The dogs just looked at me like I was crazy!”
I can well understand her point.Her dogs will not blink they are so on point when a cat is nearby and they actually refuse to come in the house when anything with wings is within sniffing distance.They are adept hunters but only it seems, for the prey of their choice.
I would have offered up my sturdy Staffordshire terrier Sophia Eleanora but as she was power napping during the phone call, I thought it best not to disturb her slumber.Besides, she has not exactly been living up to the typical terrier reputation for fierceness.Sophia is more of a lover than a fighter. Plus, she hates early morning calls.
Sophie was a gift from my boyfriend, a way to celebrate a year clean from cancer.Also, I think he had grown weary of me mourning Mocha. And everyone knows that pets are great therapy.
This is all in sharp contrast to my beloved Mocha, a Boykin spaniel who lived to be 19.I had her for more than 10 years, not nearly enough time.She was what the dog world calls a ‘ratter’ and every rodent in the neighborhood knew her by reputation.Once, years ago, a family of fearless mice moved into a modest wood pile in my backyard.Must have been the escalating cost of rodent real estate or something.Mocha brought me a mouse, very much dead, every day for a fortnight.I was moderately traumatized by this but I never had another mouse.After she passed away, I did have a giant roof rat inhabit my walls but the exterminator took care of that.I didn’t have the heart to issue an all-alert bulletin for rodents after I lost Mocha. I was so heartbroken that I vended the eradication out to a professional pest killer, a hired hit man for rodents as it were.
This strategy was also my suggestion to my BFF’s current infestation problem.“If there is one mouse, you can bet there is a baker’s dozen,” I warned.
“I should consider renting a miniature doxie, they love to ferret out rodents,” she mused.
Sure, I thought, right after you pick up those two poufy pups of yours from the groomers.
And this from someone who just treated her dog to a mani/pedi.
Sophie totally deserved the treat because when we were at the vet for her wellness check up, a young girl of about 11 came in with her parents and a little scruffy mutt in tow.She was crying, the dog was sick and when Sophie tried to jump on her, she reassured me that she wasn’t afraid, she loved dogs.I pulled Sophie back nonetheless, she’s a strong dog and the girl was in crisis but when I did, Sophie did something amazing.She walked over the child and gently placed her head in the little girl’s lap.
“Oh your dog is a therapy dog!” her mother exclaimed.
After the shock of cancer, you learn, the hard way, that life isn't fair by any means and that even when you are a good person and doing Everything Right, crap still happens. The list below is the things that frequently happen when you travel and what to do about them:
1.Somebody always gets hurt/sick/in trouble when you travel.Start Dealing.
2.The cat has become adept at staging a totally fake hunger strike (she’s actually raiding the stash of gourmet imported tuna in the pantry while your well-meaning, cat-sitting BFF isn’t looking). Start Dancing.
3.You clean your house to absolute perfection only to come home to a newly anointed legion of dust bunnies.Start Over.
4.Your neighbors mysteriously complain to the cops that your dog was barking non-stop even though your dog was at your daughter’s house, more than 60 miles away. Despite airline tickets and passport stamps and even the helpful (really nice) neighbor who says your dog was never there, the cops don’t believe you and ticket you anyway. Start Plotting.
5.Your dishwasher/fridge/washing machine/heater all break down while you were gone though nobody was using any of those appliances.Start Calling.
6.Inane drama commences at work and everyone wants to have a ‘serious talk’ in your office upon your return.Start Ignoring.
7.Car battery needs a charge or a new battery.Jump Start...Jumping.
8.One hundred twenty-seven hang-ups occurred on your domestic phone all from the same unknown 888 number.Start blocking.
9.What is that #$#!!#!$$%#$# smell coming from your fridge?Start Cleaning.
10.Why has the cat developed a sudden and virulent hatred for you?Start therapy.
11.Your BFF/partner/sibling got divorced/dumped/DUI/court ordered rehab.You were not there and your family and all your friends say you totally suck.Start Apologizing.
12.You call your girl/boyfriend six days in a row while traveling and get no answer.On the 7th day he/she answers and acts as if nothing is wrong. Start Worrying.
I complained a lot recently about traveling so much so I thought it time to focus on the positive, always a good thing for a cancer survivor.The top 25 wonderful things about traveling for me officially are:
1. Italian coffee, rich, smooth, slightly bitter.
2.French soaps, rich, smooth, slightly bitter, I like olive oil soap from France the best.
3.A glass of light wine at lunch, something I would never so much as think of doing back home, it just feels so naughty and right all at once.
4.Silk scarves from Asia, the more the better. I like brilliantly colored dragonfly patterns, piles and piles of them.Like that shirt scene from The Great Gatsby.
5.Impossibly soft German pillows and an aggressive hotel heating system. Best when seriously jet-lagged in the dead of winter in Germany.
6.Italian accents, both male and female, always enchanting.
7.The Louvre; there is something amazing there for everyone.
8.Baguettes, it is impossible to have a bad one in Paris.
9.European cheeses and yogurts, it is impossible to find a bad one in Europe.
10.Softly falling snow you don’t have to walk in because all your meetings are inside the hotel.
11.Finding the right UK TV channel throughout Europe so I can catch up on Coronation Street. You don’t know.Don’t judge me.
12.The slightly off smell of Hong Kong; all gas and salt air and slightly fetid street food; there is nothing else like it in the world.
13.The infinity pool just outside the cocktail lounge of the Intercontinental Hotel in Hong Kong, just follow the line Rolls Royces.
14.The never-ending drama of European football.
15.David Beckham selling underwear all over the world in giant posters.He does nothing for me personally but the marketing hype is a hoot.
16.Chinese tea – good for nausea and jet lag.
17.The impeccability of Italian women with their oversized sweaters and black leggings and minimal make-up = perfection with ease.
18.Americans eat whereas the French ‘dine’. You can either do this or you cannot but there is a huge difference.Hint, the French are happier.
19.Bargaining mercilessly at Chinese and Hong Kong night markets. The best part is walking away, pretending to be offended and having the stall owner race after you.
20.Taxis that take me straight to the airport because my luggage is too huge to navigate the metro.
21.Free luggage trolleys, there is no cost throughout most of Europe (Milan is the exception).
22.Nobody sitting in the seat on your flight behind you….next to you…in front of you.
23.Free upgrades to business class and I do not even care about the warmed nuts, it’s all about having a place to stretch out and sleep.
24.The first morning you wake up entirely jet lag free.
If it can go wrong, it will. I get ready to leave town and all heck breaks loose.
This is just my life.
I get ready to leave on a trip and invariably, things like my home heating system start to act up.An entire home…heating system.Yes, the whole system, the big sucker that heats your entire house.This is a huge thing to fix, not nearly as expensive as I thought because I did check that much out but too time consuming to fix before I left.I had no time so I turned the heat way, way down.Sorry kitty.Kitty likes the warmth of my house so she is not going to be happy.I will pay for this later, just you wait.
Car needs servicing. I know that the car dashboard says I have another 9K miles to go but no, the car needs servicing now.I can hear it.
The washing machine is in dire straits.It has been like this for more than a year now as I totally refused to replace it when the repairman told me the model I had had a bum computer board.This means that I’ve spent the last year hitting the start/restart button ten or more times every time I do a load.I don’t care, I am not replacing that sucker until it gives up the ghost.
As luck would have it, the cat does not do laundry.
Every single person who works for me instantly becomes high maintenance and needs hours and hours of minute micromanaging type guidance and support.This does not happen when I am in the office.Of course.
Every single person I work with back home suddenly and genuinely requires hours and hours of my expertise and time.Now.Somebody even wants a highly specialized professional graphic drawn, from scratch.Deadline?Yesterday.This cannot be done while I am on the road.Nobody seems to understand why I cannot just ‘whip this up’ but me. And this when they cannot begin to explain what the image should look like or provide an example.
Fellow yoga and Pilates instructors cannot seem to grasp why I cannot sub for them right while out of the country.The notion of being more than seven thousand miles away seems beyond some people’s comprehension.I keep trying to explain.This often gives new meaning to the word, vapid.
Beloved daughter got really sick and had to have life-saving surgery.This all already know.This would never happen when I am in town or on a weekend or when I am rested or otherwise totally available.Sometimes I think God hates me.
Claudia The Baby goes into full-up Terrible Two Mode months early.Just because she can.I am not there to moderate with her exasperated mother.Daughter = pissed.Claudia The Baby = more so.Nana (me) = resigned.
This is just my life.
Also, I don’t remember the last time I picked up my dry cleaning, I think it was before I left for Europe but now I’m not so sure.I have no idea if they are going to auction off my clothes, like a little virtual EBay party or something.I miss my clothes.
Thing is, anything that can go wrong when I have to travel, just does.I have yet to have even one single business trip wherein my daughter did not have a Major Crisis, work didn’t have sudden, huge impossible deadlines and everything I own didn’t fall apart or require replacing.The only person in my life who remains resolutely low maintenance when I travel is the boyfriend.
I must remember to thank Bob for this at some point.
Right after I do something about the funny dinging sound coming from the dishwasher….
I have travel fever big time.Going on business trips does that to me.I got on a plane with one of my executives and started flipping through the airline’s magazine and as always, I ended up on the map page.
I love maps.I love the way they make you so open to possibilities.I try on new locations, new lives and lifestyles the way some women try on nail polish.I looked at this map and decided on the following:
1.Sardinia, I have to go there.And I want a villa there for summering.Requires getting rich first though. Note to self, get rich please.
2.Capri.Another Italian gem.Like the pants.
3.Malta, near Italy, it sounds vaguely exotic and oh-so-Middle Eastern.
4.Casablanca. Love the notion of Morocco.The food, the spices, the exotic-ness of it all.Here’s to you kid.
5.Egypt.I need to check out the Great Pyramids, everyone should.
6.Tripoli.Once they get their act together and things settle down, it would be like giving the middle finger to the now deceased Kaddafi and his horrible, abusive family.
7.Vesuvius.From a respectful distance, of course.
8.Syria.An old, old country with much to offer despite the fact that things are terribly messy right now.Best to go when things calm down of course, it's a hot mess there right now.
9.Antarctica.I know, just to say that I did it.I only want to go for approximately five minutes but it would be cool to say I’d visited the worlds’ biggest desert and the 7th continent.And the cold would give me something major to complain about.
10.Australia.Great Barrier Reef and all that.Plus, Australian guys are so darn nice and flirty.I don’t get that, at my age I mean, but it’s still really nice.I read The Thorn Birds.
11.New Orleans.I read Interview With a Vampire years ago and I’ve been trying to get to The Big Easy ever since.Still on my wish list.
12.Tibet.The Dali Lama cannot be wrong.
13.India.Probably will end up there on business anyway.
14.South Africa.I want to see the cheetahs at a favored animal rescue park.
15.Vatican.I need to talk to the Pope about a couple of things.Having faced Death because of cancer, I have a few questions.
16.Bali.Or Fuji or some such very far away tropical island.I want to disappear into a sandy, warm and salty vapor of contentment.
17.Lanai, Hawaii.Same sort of island escapist mentality, I’ve been to most all the other Hawaiian islands already.
18.Iceland.I know, I know, not the chicest place on earth and I bet the shopping is not the best but hey, it has the distinction of being the single most volcanically active spot on the planet.Sits on top of a giant magma chamber, refer to my blog on Wilber the volcano.
19.Yosemite.I’ve never been and I should go before it blows up and causes nuclear winter again. Happens every five to ten thousand years apparently.I am sure I am already late to the game.
20.An Ashram, likely located in India but not the same as going to India.I need three months of enlightenment to effort this one.
I have not told my family about any of this. While I figure out how to best drop this particular bomb, please keep all this to yourself.