Sunday, March 28, 2010

If Lady Gaga Was on my Plane...

In honor of Gagaloo's birthday...

I often wonder (as I'm sure everyone does) what I would say to Lady Gaga if she sat next to me on a plane. After much thought, I have decided on 10 particular questions I would ask her, and estimated what I think her answer would be:

ES: What items do you never leave behind when you travel?
LG: I always travel with the Haus. I always have one suitcase full of glitter that holds my disco stick. And I keep my lovers in a cage in coach. 

ES: If you could only choose one of the following to wear for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Masks. Hair pieces. Sunglasses.
LG: Choosing one would be like muder. But masks. I cannot live without them.

ES: Can I borrow your disco ball bra from Just Dance?
LG: No my love, but I will give you my disco ball mask from Poker Face...

ES: What is your favorite feature on yourself?
LG: My eyes, so I can see my little monsters.

ES: If you could only choose one gay husband, would you choose Perezzy or Elton John?
LG: After I got dirty with Elton at the Grammys, I had to break up with Perezzy, although he ate a chunk of my heart.

ES: I have never forgiven myself for missing your performance at Lollapalooza. How have you evolved since then?
LG: More chains, makeup, and teeth. Less disco. I've become addicted to my fans and the stage, I die without them. More provacative, but never brunette. And because you are a fabulous monster, I will tell you to be sure to attend Lolla this year...

ES: One of my favorite lines from your new album is "raise a glass to mend all the broken hearts of all my f***ed up friends." Did you write that for me?
LG: Yes.

ES: What was your relationship like with Alexander MacQueen?
LG: I don't know how I can survive without him. His art was scary, provocative, like me. He understood me and I would have worn anything he ever created.

ES: Why do you hate pants?
LG: Because I'm slutty.

ES: And if you had to choose between leather and lace?
LG: Nice girls don't kiss and tell.

I would probably close the conversation by inviting her to Costa Rica with my friends Karissa and Will, where we are going teach the monkeys that visit our jungle bungalow Lady Gaga dance moves. Specifically her new dance move from the Telephone music video, the "sandwich dance." We have been practicing.

Now I need to memorize her Monster Ball summer schedule and start looking for her at every airport...

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Heart of a Road Warrior

I am an American Airlines girl at heart. I've got the AAdvantage kind of attitude. And I love when AA runs their "Road Warrior" contest every year. I have actually considered entering, but with only 3.5 years under my belt, and the majority of my locations being "un exotic", I leave it up to the professionals.

You can read bios on each of this year's winners here:

Caryn Carson, one of the women featured, really worded it best when asked for her own definition of road warrior: A Road Warrior is someone for whom there does not exist a separation between “home life” and “road life.” It’s all your life — wherever you go, there you are.

I feel like that statement should be followed with an "Hallelujah" or "Amen Sista!" There will always be a physical separation between a life in one city versus another. Different restaurants, different people, but the same thoughts, feelings, interests. Unfortunately there will always be a disconnect between my non road warrior friends and my travel / work buddies. Because the friends that have been on the road with you really know you better than anyone. It makes me sad when I tell my friends stories about my travel life. The light bulb doesn't turn on, there's no empathy, because my travel life isn't real, isn't relevant for them. They haven't physically seen it, can't imagine it. 

But for me, it's my life. Which reminds of a quote: Turns out it's not where you are but who you're with that really matters.

Very true.

On a side note, I once went on a terrible first date with someone I met online. After several conversations, compliments, and laughs, we finally met in person and sat down to share pizza. He looks at me then, quizzically, and asks, "So tell me, why do you think someone would want to date you? I mean, you're never here. You travel every week. What kind of guy would want that?"

The right kind, the kind who understands. A road warrior.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Travel Family: Quincy

It's so true that when you're on the road, you encounter people that become regular milestones in your week. They have the pleasure of seeing you at your regular passing through points. It's the same TSA guys at the Chicago airport, in the same security line. There are the same baristas at the same Starbucks. The same bartender at XNA. The same hotel staff, the same security guards at the office, same waiters and waitresses at the same restaurants...

It's only fair to feature the people that help make each day for me, wonderful.

This time, I'd like to feature Quincy, a new addition to my travel family. Quincy is the night attendant at my home away from home, the aLoft.

Quincy is great. He is funny. He teases me when he notices I didn't wake up and head to the gym at my regular 5:30 am time. He asks how I'm feeling. He tells me about school and what he wants to do with his life. I love the five to ten minutes we catch up everyday.

Last night, a few of my coworkers and I were celebrating an early birthday drink in the lounge when he arrived at work. He gave me a quick birthday hug, and I headed upstairs for the night. When I came downstairs this morning, I saw this at the desk:

At first I thought, "Wow, there's another Emily having a birthday today?" And then realized it was for me. Quincy then appeared from behind the office door with my favorite orange, blueberry cupcake, with a candle lit on top, singing, "Happy Birthday."

Was I embarassed? Yes. But it's so wonderful the thoughtful acts of kindness people provide while you are on the road that make you feel special, that make every single day worthwhile.

Thank you Quincy, for being full of energy, friendly, and wonderful, in every way.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When the Cat's Away, the Monkey will Play!

I have to start this specific blog post with a confession. I am twenty six years old, and I still travel with a stuffed animal.

Waiting for the chuckling to subside.

He is very important to me as I've had him since I was tiny, and he has a way of always making me feel at home. He's adorable, flexible (can contort to all kinds of positions in my luggage), and a little dirty. He is a monkey. Sometimes I wonder what exactly the maids who clean my hotel rooms think. Do they wonder if he has one of those nanny spy cameras inside him? Do they wonder if I travel with a child? Do they wonder what kind of adult business woman is weird enough to carry a monkey? Do they wonder why the woman who always brings the monkey is so endlessly messy?

Sometimes, I return home, and am unpleasantly surprised to see my monkey is not located in the bed where I left him. Sometimes I find him in a yogi position, perched on top of the pillows. Sometimes I find him resting on top of a pile of clothes, guarding them. Sometimes I find him hiding under the blankets (which makes me wonder if the maids thought he was scary or creepy and therefore covered him away (something I do with my grandma's china dolls).

Here are some of the more creative locations where I've found him:

Pretending that he is King Kong, climbing the skyscraper of pillows:

And I thought he was afraid of heights!

Playing with my laptop bag:

Cheating on me! (in truth, this was not in a hotel room but at home, with my best friend so it was okay)

Laying seductively across the bed after stitching a sweet message into my pillow:

As my monkey takes on new adventures, I will continue to post pictures. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Best of What's Around!

It goes without saying that anytime you travel, you should be prepared for the unexpected. Fortunately, I have not had *too many* unexpected moments. Except for when I needed to use the restroom at the Kyoto train station in Japan, and you had to pay for toilet paper, and I didn't have any money (luckily I always carry kleenex).

Recently, I remember seeing that there were mudslides in Maccu Picchu (somewhere I've always dreamed to go), and saw tourists being air lifted out of the resorts and mountains. That is quite obviously one of the most unexpected occurances I can imagine. Thank goodness the people of Chile didn't forget about their visitors.

But there was a time when I went to an island in Brazil called Ihla Grande, with my dear friend, Cesar. The island is small and we were staying in a bed and breakfast inn in the small village of Angra Dos Reis. We had been there a few days, knew the village roads, and hiked around quite a bit along jungle paths. (Here is a view of the island from one of the mountain tops, and you can see the small village in the bottom left:)

We returned on one of our bigger hiking days, starving, and decided to take quick showers before venturing for food. I was blow drying my hair when it suddenly shut off, along with the overhead light. The fan in the small room stopped humming. We couldn't turn on the television. And once we looked outside from our balcony, we realized the power in the whole village had gone out.

Cesar and I sat in the dark for awhile, using his cell phone to find clothes and shoes. We decided we could at least venture out and see if any of the cafes, restaurants, or groceries were open. Apparantly this was a usual occurrence, because all the shops (including the butcher that still had raw meat hanging from the ceiling, flies and bugs swarming) had little votives and candles that they lit, creating a romantic air about the island. However, I am a bit terrified of the dark, and we were on a jungle island (where some mysterious monster lived, I know, because we heard it roaring while hiking), walking in puddles along bumpy dirt roads, led by Cesar's cell phone. I don't think I've ever gripped someone's arm so tightly.

Oh, I forgot one very important point. Cesar and I had purchased a lot of beer and were keeping it in a small fridge in our room. Once the power went out, we did the humanitarian thing and finished off the beers (so they wouldn't go bad and be wasted). So I am a bit drunk, falling in puddles, screaming at every movement in the bush, laughing as people laughed at me.

Finally, the darkness opened and we saw light ahead. The pizzeria near the beach had a separate generator, and they were open and serving hot pizzas! So we found our plastic yellow seats and waited as the place became packed with other patrons looking for a nicely lit place to enjoy supper. I could relax. Not only did I learn that the dark jungle island was not so scary, but I learned the importance of being able to say, "Help! I'm locked in the bathroom!" in any language (as this happened to me twice at the pizzaria).

The pizza was delicious, and we ate a lot of it (even ordered a second), but the experience was even better. The walk back was quite an adventure, as we took the beach route and I was quite hammered after consuming a couple more beers. Cesar's cell phone had, by the time we reached home, died, so we used the flash of my camera to light the bathroom, to wash mud and sand off our feet and brush our teeth (which made for very strange photos).

Sometimes the unexpected really makes the trip. This was, by far, one of my best memories of our trip in Brazil. Ironically, about six months later, this island experienced mudslides as well and the village in which we stayed experienced quite a bit of damage, but everyone survived. I wonder if the pizzaria was open then as well?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Be Wary of Good Looking Flight Attendants

There are a few things I always do on flights. Like, I always nap with my blue pillow. Or, I always hold my coat in my lap. I take photos with my iPhone (usually of pretty sunsets, or cities from the sky, or crazy people on my flight). And I like to people watch, both the attendants and the other passengers.

There was one occassion where I was on my usual small regional plane either going to Arkansas or flying back home. The flight attendant looked similar to one of my ex boyfriends, very good looking. I watched him for awhile, but he was a bit boring, so I decided to fall asleep.

The first time he woke me up, he asked if I wanted something to drink. He stared at me in a very uncomfortable way, with a sly smile. But I told him no thanks and dismissed it. The second time he woke me up, he was coming back through after delivering drinks. He came a bit close to my face upon asking me if I had changed my mind. I was irritated, and told him no.

I fell back asleep, but started to stir as I felt someone holding onto my shoulder. Then, the hand traveled (a little south and to the west if you know what I mean), and rested on the inside of my elbow. So I woke up, confused, disgusted, to see the flight attendant staring at me as his hand now rested near my elbow.

Flight attendant: "I was going to recline your seat so you would be more comfortable."

Me: "Um, what? Uh, no, no thanks."

Flight attendant: "Are you sure? You look uncomfortable." (with creepy smile)

Me: "No, I'm definitely sure. Thanks."

Looking back, I wish I would have thought of something bitchy and startling to say. But I was in my airplane coma and in a state of light shock, so I've forgiven myself.

About a year later, I was on another flight, another small regional plane, and lo and behold who would I see waiting inside the cabin for the passengers to board? Him! Had my handy iPhone ready (as always), and decided to take a picture of the jerk.

Ladies, you have been warned...

PS This is in no way a reflection of the airline. This is an exception to the 200+ occassions I've flown with them, as I've never encountered anyone else so creepy working for them!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spotted: Zebra Man

Spotted at ORD 8:40 AM, man in zebra tuxedo jacket w/ tuxedo pants w/ zebra stripe, running through airport. Did not see where he was headed but considered chasing him. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pink is the New Black

When I graduated college and decided to become a consultant, I had an immediate need for luggage (although it would be almost a year before I could really use it). My dad, a sophisticated business traveller himself, decided he would purchase the luggage for me as a gift, and my mom agreed to help me pick it out. I was a bit naive, thinking I could be the "Elle Woods" of consulting. I imagined my office space to be something like this:

So I picked fuschia luggage, a three piece set (duffel bag, rolling bag, and small carry on). I stored it in my closet until my first traveling project, to Jacksonville, Florida. I was so excited to bring the luggage out, pack up my business clothes, and head out into the travelling world! But I quickly learned the downfalls of having such attention getting luggage (although it was very easy to spot on the baggage carousel).

First, the senior executives (men and women) on my projects would tease me about the bright pink luggage. Then I would notice other men business travellers teasing each other, as in, "Oh Joe, that must be your suitcase over there har har har." It also made me very easy to spot, which I learned is quite unwanted given the amount of creepsters who travel each week. "Oh, there's that blonde girl with the pink luggage. I'll go say hi." No thanks. Soon my father also joined in the teasing...

Within a year, the luggage was retired. It was not, in fact, due to the teasing or unwanted attention, but because it was a cheap brand and the luggage easily tore and the straps ripped. I still have the small carry on, but it's hiding under prom dresses and high school uniforms at my parent's house. Now when I purchase luggage, I look for "spinners" (wheels that move in any direction), comfortable straps, shape, durability, and weight. I have become one of them! Although I did find a great carry on recently in purple that is light, durable, comfortable, easy to move... Thank you Samsonite.

But there are times I miss the early days of the pink luggage.

Two years have passed since I departed with my first set of luggage. But a few months ago, I was at the airport, and what did I see?

My pink rolling bag, strolling through the airport with a grown, professional man. And I couldn't help but have a moment of nastalgia and laugh. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and ask him how he liked it, was it his wife's? His daughter's? But sometimes I think it's better to leave fellow travelers alone. You just never know.

I had a quick chuckle, and sent the photo to my dad...