Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Trip That Never Was

Oh lordy. I guess the only thing I can say to start this post off is, "At least I can laugh now, right?"

This family trip we were taking to Phoenix for a cousin's wedding was supposed to be a good one. You know, if we had gotten there and all...

I'll go back to about mid-August to start the whole story. I had already arranged to rent a house for my MIL, FIL, SIL her FI, K, and me. I found a screaming deal on vrbo ($450 for a 3 bed/2 ba house with a private pool in a gated community) and my MIL & FIL decided they wanted to pay for that portion. I footed the $200 deposit and then I set out to find us some cheap airfare. Now normally I know that I can find super cheap deals to PHX from Chicago. There were none to be had. I couldn't figure out why this was until I saw that it was actually Columbus Day weekend. Why in the heck everyone decided to travel this weekend is beyond me (ok, yeah three day weekend for some...but it's not like everyone gets that day off...anyway...)

So the hunt for affordable airfare was nowhere to be found. K and I made the decision that we wouldn't be going. We do have IVF to pay for and all...for a five day weekend, we would have paid nearly $800 for airfare, another $200 for a rental car plus a wedding gift, food, etc. So we told everyone that they shouldn't count on us to go but if we found a last minute deal we would. 

Fast forward to two weeks before the trip. MIL realizes that the Southwest ticket vouchers she and FIL won at a charity auction will actually expire before they can use them. They already purchased airfare for this trip so they asked us to use them instead. We thought about it and in the end, because they didn't want the tickets to just go to waste we agreed to pay them the amount they bid to win the tickets and we'd use them. Had we known that these tickets, so called "buddy passes" are the absolute bottom of the barrel of comp tickets, we would have saved our time, money, and sanity. 

Buddy passes are standby tickets. Standby isn't normally a bad thing...except when we're involved apparently. Leading up to the day of the flight, the person who donated the tickets was in contact with us, telling us to get to the airport early and take this flight to here and then this flight to phoenix. Got it. Will do. We drove down from WI to Chicago on a Wednesday night after a full day of work. I think we finally hit the pillows at about 1 am, having to leave the house by 4 am. Yuck. We get to the airport and the flight to Minneapolis she wanted us to to catch is wide open, however, the flight from MSP is full to Phoenix. So we ask the ticket agent in Chicago what is our next option. She tells us to take this flight to Philadelphia that will continue on to Phoenix. At first we were like, um...go east to go completely back cross country west...hmmm. She tells us, "The good thing is that you are then on the flight. You just stay on. No worries. You can even check your bags now." We had only planned on carrying on our bags. So we said sure let's do it and we checked two bags, leaving two with us. 

We get to the gate and have a slight weather delay due to storms on the east coast. No biggie. It was only a delay of about 45 minutes. During that time, our family's flights took off from O'Hare (we were flying out of Midway) and they were on their way to Arizona. When we finally took off, it was a gloriously empty flight. They unload the rest of the passengers and then a minute or two later they call us over the overhead and tell us to get our belongings and we would have to deboard the plane. Puzzled, we did what they asked and got up to the desk at the gate. Apparently you can get removed from flights with buddy passes even if you're already boarded and your bags are on board. 

In Philly, there was a wonderful shit storm going on. This trip happened during the government shutdown. TSA agents weren't sure (or maybe they weren't for sure) getting paid to work. So many at this airport just didn't report for work. That caused huge amounts of security line problems and people missing flights. On top of that, there was a tropical storm that blew up the coast and the remnants of Karen turned into a nor'easter, dumping huge amounts of rain and causing travel headaches for everyone. So all those people that missed flights or had flights cancelled all are priority ahead of us. When I asked about the chances of us getting out of Philly (to anywhere) that day or the next day, she laughed at me and told me none to slim. Alrighty then. After watching our bags depart without us (yep, they don't take your bags off for you to collect), we tried to come up with a plan to get us to Phoenix or back to Chicago. 

After getting in touch with my BFF who works for another airline, she told us she could get us on a flight back to Chicago if we could get to Baltimore. We briefly thought about taking Amtrak but those one way tickets would have run us $200!! Insane! I found a coupon code for a car rental for $100 and we rented ourselves a little Chevy Sonic and headed out. **Here is where I mention that normally we have GPS on our phones. Except Sprint had just dumped the carrier for GPS for my phone so my blackberry was useless. Trying to pull up mapquest only made it crash. K had just upgraded to an iPhone but neither of us could figure out how to use it until about 60% into our road trip, lol. Luckily the rental car office had a map and we knew just to head down 95. 

Off we went in the rain. I know I have been to Pennsylvania before but I was so young I don't remember it. I took in the sites that I could (lol) and just acted as the navigator. Our spirits were still up and we were having a ton of laughs over this whole ordeal. The annoying and frustrating part at that point was all of the ILs constantly calling/texting us asking us where we were, what are you doing, are you on a flight, what time will we get to AZ, why are you going to Baltimore, etc. 

When we approached the Delaware border I got a little slaphappy because this Midwestern bred chick never really had any plans of going to Delaware. It's like the scene in Wayne's World, "Hi. We're in...Delaware." No offense to any Delawarians but it's just not a state that is on the top of my list to visit other than maybe Rehoboth Beach some day. 

Well, we stop at the visitor center and get some coffee and a "Delaware" souvenir for me and keep heading south. We approached Wilmington and saw a sign for a Dunkin Donuts. Sounded great to us because I needed more coffee (oh my) and some sort of snack. We took the exit and headed down the street. Except we never did encounter a DD. Maybe if you took five turns and went in a circle you would find one but if you just stayed on that road you wouldn't get to anything other than what I'm guessing is the nasty, ghetto side of town. Here we are, lost in a colonial town with front steps basically on top of the narrow cobblestone street, pit bulls chained to the stoops, derelicts walking the streets with brown paper bags tipped up to their mouths permanently, in the soaking rain. Awesomesauce I tell ya. 

This street does not take you to Dunkin Donuts. Asshats

 Somehow at this point we manage to get into the actual downtown portion of the city and figure out how to turn the GPS on. K punches in Baltimore's airport name and we're back on the road. If you have never driven 95 south towards Washington/Baltimore, you have to know one thing. Traffic sucks. Traffic in the pouring monsoon on 95 is unbearable. There were so many accidents along the way. One of which caused a 5 mile backup that took us an hour to get through. For five miles. Let's not forget I'm a Chicago girl. I know traffic - but this was just stupid traffic, lol. 

I can't even get away from cheeseheads on the east coast!

We finally got through that huge backup and are nearing our destination...or so we think. Remember how we didn't quite know how to use the iPhone GPS? Yeah this was a big problem at this point. See, K thought he chose BWI but in reality he selected a remote parking lot for people to use for BWI, on the completely wrong side of the city! One major flip-out later we had the correct location punched in again and were back on the road. At this point, we're not so happy go lucky. It's 5 pm, we have one chance to catch this 8 pm flight out and we still have to battle rush hour traffic in the rain, return the car, and get to the gate. Eating dinner is just a hope at this point. 

At 6:30 we are getting through security and actually have time to get some food. I grabbed some Potbelly (mmmm, how I miss Potbelly up in WI) and we managed to get the last two seats on the flight into O'Hare. We had to fly one of those small regional hopper planes and our fat asses were a little cramped. But we were happy because we were at least going to be "stranded" in Chicago and not on the East Coast. My mom picked us up from the airport with my Grandma (woo hoo, I got to see them and didn't plan on it, lol) and took us back to my ILs house. 

This is us arriving back at O'Hare, running on fumes and low spirits.

The next morning we were dumb enough to try to attempt this all over again. We couldn't for the life of us get up at 3 am and head out though. Instead we got to Midway at about 8 am. We walked miles that day. I ate another Potbelly meal. We went from gate to gate to gate just trying to get any flight out. We knew not to try going east again since they still were battling weather. Nothing to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc. We almost managed to get on a flight to Seattle that had a wide open connection to Phoenix. Until a pilot and his family decided they wanted to show up at the gate and got some preferential treatment. Then, on the last flight of the night - one direct flight to Phoenix, there was hope for us. There were 15 seats that were technically booked but there were about 13 people on a flight that was delayed getting into Midway and so they were holding this flight up for them. They waited for over 30 minutes but didn't release the seats. All 13 found their way to the gate. Boo. But there were still 2 seats available and we were the only ones at the gate trying to make this flight. Until some flight attendant showed up and asked if there were any seats available. The gate attendant had taken pity on us (maybe because we had already been at his gate 5 times that day and he knew everything that we had been through the last 24 hours) and he explained that there were two seats plus the jumpseat available and that he was trying to get us in those seats. She didn't care. She took one of the regular seats. That left us with one seat guaranteed. Someone could go ahead of the other. 

At that point we were simply defeated. I thanked him with tears in my eye but said that at this point, we just didn't want to split up. We hadn't had our luggage in two days, we were going to miss the wedding that we were trying so hard to make, we'd already been stranded on the wrong side of the country, we'd planed, trained and automobiled it. We were done. As we were waiting for K's uncle to come pick us up I called the Phoenix airport and arranged for our luggage to be shipped back to Midway the next day.

If you thought that our horrible weekend was over, you'd be wrong.

The next morning we waited for word that our bags made a flight. When we got word they would be waiting for us at noon, we headed back to Midway. They were there!! Halleluiah! Since we never are home without only eating at our favorite places with friends and family, we decided to try out the new Toby Keith's Rosemont location. I can't even tell you how bad that experience was. I wrote a scathing review online. What a joke and a rip off. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

We decided to just head back up to WI that night and get some rest because Kevin was already coming down with a cold. Sunday begins with us trying to do leaves cleanup and one last cutting of the yard. Until I was on the lawn mower and came across a dead snake. Yeah I'm not even fucking joking. Those of you who know me, know that I have a crippling phobia of snakes. I can't see them on the tv or in pictures. It's bad. There I was screaming at the top of my lungs like a lunatic in the backyard and poor K had to take care of it. I don't know what he did with it and I don't care. As long as the thing was off our grass it could rot in hell, lol. 

Of course I came down with his cold too. A nasty one at that.

The universe won that weekend. The end,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How is it November?

I mean really? How is that possible? 

Right now I am extremely busy at work with having to gear up to start covering a coworker's upcoming maternity leave. My days fly by and I'm working my way into some awesome territory hopefully. I finally am getting to use the creative part of my brain at work and I love that. All in all, I'm content where I'm at in this portion of my life. And that feels awesome.

The shorter sunlight of fall has completely screwed up my workout routine. Now, I know it's no excuse but...that's all I've got, lol. I have my third 5k of 2013 coming up in a week and a half. Yup, it's true! I can't believe I've gone from lazy team fatty to sort of working out team fatty so well. The next run isn't a color run (shocker I know, lol) but it's the Ugly Sweater Run in Chicago. It sounds like a blast. I'm doing it with my sister and best friend so I know I'll have a blast. 

In other running news...I'm committing to my first half marathon!! Again, YUP, it's true! I'm going to run the 2015 Disney Half Marathon. They hold marathon weekend in January so even though it's 2015, it's not that much over a year away. My plan is to run two 5ks and a 10k in 2014 and then BAM it's Half time. 

The cool part about this half? My dad and stepmom were up here this past weekend and I told them about my plan to run it and I told them they should come with us. They laughed and said, it's funny you should say that because we were just talking about how we all have to go back there someday as a family. See, the last time was when I lived/worked at Disney in Orlando. They all came to visit me for the 4th of July. It was a blast. So we got to looking at houses we could rent for all of us (um, 10 adults and 3 kids) and found them incredibly affordable. So for now, it's the early stages of planning but I hope everyone is able to make it. We shall see.

What else does that leave me to talk about? How about the big IF? 

I don't even really know how to eloquently describe where my mind is right now on this topic. I think I have come to the conclusion that I know that whatever happens, we have one more shot. I know we talked about doing IVF in early 2013. The more and more I think about it, I'm not sure I can handle that with the upcoming weddings of two of my sisters. And I'm ok with that. I don't like cycling in the summer because I enjoy having no qualms about just enjoying getting drunk at a concert. Or for the 4th. Or for my birthday...also my dirty thirty this year. So then that brings us to fall. I'm ok with cycling for fall. Except I will be training for the half now. So where does that leave IVF? I'm not sure. And I'm ok with that. 

I think this pushing away method of mine can be related to the reason I won't buy season 4 of the tv show Friends. (I promise this has a point.) It's long been a running joke in my families and with K that they will buy me the final season to complete my collection. Except I don't want it. I don't want anyone to buy it for me. Ever. Because if I never get it, it's never truly over. I know that that doesn't make sense to some people. It's fine - I get it. It's weird. 

So anyway, it's kinda like season 4. I am not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to ttc. But I'm ready to live my life simultaneously with not completely closing the door on having a family. Of course I want kids. But I don't ever want to go back to that all encompassing place where all I do is think about the longing, the sadness, the depression, etc. Some might say that we don't want it enough. That we didn't try hard enough. That's not for them to decide. We could devote every dollar towards IF. But we aren't going to. And that's ok. We could do multiple rounds of IVF if need be. But we aren't going to. And that's ok. We could eventually pursue adoption. But for now we aren't going to. And that's ok. I'm ok. We're ok. Others don't have to understand our mentality. It's our life. And we're living it.

So on that note, I think to lighten the mood, I'll leave this with two pictures of totally adorbs kitties. These kids of mine are hilarious and fabulous. I love them so much! Oh but before I go, I'll leave this, there is a post coming up about the vacation that never was for us a few weeks ago. Planes, trains, and automobiles style. I can laugh about it now but omg, epic disaster.