Thursday, June 17, 2010

Too Young to be Platinum

A few weeks ago, I arrived at XNA to fly home with my usual airline, at the usual check in time, with the same luggage, ID, and demeanor. I didn't recognize the woman who was behind the counter, and she informed me that she was the regional manager visiting the airport for the day. Since the airport is so small, it is sometimes tricky to get help, so she was happy to check me in. I handed her my ID, she looked me up, and gave me a worried look.

"Oh honey, you are much too young to be platinum."

I looked at her, and said, "26?" And she gave me a slight smile.

So, this made me start to think. Am I really too young to be a road warrior? I look at my friends who are at home, with their boyfriends or husbands, their beds, their routine, on a daily basis. They have fresh groceries and pets, happy hours and tv nights. I imagine I'll have that one day. But truthfully, if it wasn't for the long commutes by plane, the grueling hours at work, and the road warrior life, I wouldn't have found my passion for travel. Japan, Brazil, Australia, would still all be dreams. Being a "road warrior" funds my passion and the adventures I'm lucky to have.

The woman said to me, "Do you ever get tired of the travel?" And I thought for a moment. I thought about the miles and the hotel points, the wonderful people I've met who have truly become a part of me, the experiences I've had that all my friends are jealous of, and I smiled.

"No. I'm just waiting for the day the travel life gets sick of me!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Inspiration

I recently took my sister to San Francisco for her birthday. Because her chest is almost completely consumed with Hodgkin's lymphoma tumors, she needs to rest a lot during the day, and when forced to be active, usually begins to cough, sweat, and wear out very quickly. Therefore, we spent a lot of time together in our wonderful W hotel room. She has been telling me how depressed, and helpless, she feels that she is at a point where she isn't even well enough to enjoy her life.

After I encouraged her not to give up, I left to purchase something for her, and upon my return, found her fixated on the television. And we met Ami Ankileweitz.

Ami was being featured in National Geographic's Extraordinary Humans, and the specific episode was covering individuals who suffer from extreme muscle deterioration. Ami has Spinal Muscle Atrophy, a condition that has caused his muscles to wither away. Looking at him is heartbreaking, as he is nothing but skin and bones and wide, curious eyes. We watched with bated breath as the doctor's discussed his condition, and his will to live past the 6 years that were estimated to him, as he was now 41 years old. He weighs only 39 pounds and isn't capable of any movement below his neck.

Lo and behold - he attributes his will and years of life to his passion and desire to travel.

The discussion quickly turns to whether or not he should be allowed to travel to Thailand, a dream of his since he was 18. His tremendous passion to live and experience new countries has provided hope for him to continue on, and his family struggles with concern that he will stop breathing while abroad as the muscles in his chest have almost entirely deteriorated.

I almost stopped breathing myself, captivated by his story. Here was a man who looked sick, couldn't move, could barely communicate, yet did not lose touch with his dream to travel the world. The episode ended before the conclusion on whether or not he went to Thailand, but I don't think I will ever forget him. I hope with all my heart he made it, and I imagine I will be thinking of him one day when I walk Thailand's streets myself.

For information on the National Geographic episode:

For more information on Ami:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Packing Fails

Every year, without fail, I forget to pack something green to wear on St. Patrick's Day. Last year I borrowed a green sweater from one of my coworkers, but this year, I ended up in pink and black with little blue and black bruises (from all the pinching that occurred).
Which made me reminisce about all the other packing fails I've experienced (or heard of), such as:

1. Underwear. I usually don't mind so much if I forget it because I love shopping for it. Bonus enjoyment if it occurs during the Victoria Secret Semi Annual sale. Extra, high roller bonus if you're in a city without a car that only has a La Perla in walking distance!

2. Heels (client was not happy to see me in a skirt and Uggs all day). I was in the middle of Virginia where there was only one department store (and it was closed for rennovations), so I had to borrow a pair from a coworker, one size too big, and stuffed kleenex in the toe so they fit!

3. Makeup. Who looked like a puff fish all week?

4. Airplane pillow. When I forget my airplane pillow, I am a wreck, because it means I will not be comfortable sleeping on my flight. And I cannot stay awake. So forgetting my airplane pillow = most miserable 1.75 hours of my life.

5. iPod. I can fly without it, but not workout. Therefore, if I forget it, I can pretty much chalk up the week to eating way too many calories and drinking way too much, because that's what I'll do with the hour I was supposed to spend at the gym! Or, I'll go the gym, and walk around aimlessly. Either way, it's bad for my waistline.

Who am I kidding? I am miserable at working out during the week... But I am good at eating and drinking...

6. Tights. Which would be terrible in the winter, especially when you packed only 4 blouses for 4 days, 1 blouse only goes with 1 skirt, and now you will freeze to death because it's 30 degrees in the office! My friend Brie told me that if she packs a pair with a hole, and she has to "perform some mcguiver surgery in the hotel room."

7. Socks. Holla at the barefoot girl in tennis shoes, with blisters, leaving the gym.

8. Umbrella. I have countless stories of forgetting it, and looking like a drenched rat at a meeting because I had to walk 20 minutes in the pouring rain from my parking space. But on the upside, I have curly hair so it's not so terrible if it gets wet. However, wet hose, shoes, and pant hems are miserable in air conditioned buildings. 

But let me tell you... I have not forgotten underwear, an umbrella, or tights in a long time. I guess even the best of us can learn right?

My Travel Family: Ryan

I have been stopping by Ryan's stomping ground (aka the bar O'Laughlin's at XNA) for about three years.

But it was probably earlier this year when I was traveling to and from Arkansas alone that we became close. I found refuge sitting at his bar stool, listening to his dirty jokes, funny stories, and women troubles. I learned to see through his tall tales (like about how a shark apparantly bit him in the leg), appreciate his recent eBay purchases (including a Rocky Horror Picture Show costume), and admire the sensible passion he has for fixing up old cars (except for the time I saw him sitting in a car, in the pouring rain, that did not have a roof).

He is far from your usual man. In fact, the first discussion we ever had was about a pie he had just made, and how much he enjoyed baking pies.

Ryan is someone who makes you feel immediately comfortable, happy, and at home. He pours a pretty good vodka soda, and more importantly, he is such a joy and so much fun. I just wish he would bring his weiner (aka dog) into the bar more often! He was specifically a good friend during the difficult days of my sister's battle with cancer, when there were no friends around to talk to about her condition. Without fail, he'd always ask about her, with the most caring and understanding expression. And he's happy to walk back and through security to make sure I get a delivery pizza when I'm starving!

Ryan, you touched my heart. Thanks for all the care you've shown me.

PS You make one sexy Elvis...