Now that I’m back home, I can broadcast to the entire planet the fact that I left town (lol). I hopped across the Gulf of Mexico (oh look! We’re flying over…water…which actually looks kind of eerie from high above) and went to southeastern Florida, right on the Atlantic coast thereof.
I was away from home for a total of 4 days, during which my partner taunted me with photos and audio of the cute kittens and their purring and the fact that they “nurse” on my partner’s neck as though it were the underside of an actual mama kitty. Funny! But not fair to send such cute pics when your loved one is 1100 miles away (lol).
The purpose of the trip wasn’t originally for pleasure, but it was certainly pleasurable (mmmm….fond memories of sitting in calm burger joints on the intracoastal waterways, post-dinner-rush, demurely gulping chocolate milkshakes with freaking chocolate sprinkles in them…oh, and there were the friendly fellow hotel patrons who recreationally enjoyed The Plant That Shall Not Be Named on the private patio of their room directly below me while I was outside vaping on mine. But I didn’t inhale! OK, maybe I did–a little.) 😉
No, my trip was actually all-business, sort of. It was a conference in my professional field (and also current field of study), an annual 3-day conference that has the tendency to rock my world, depending on its theme/topic or subject matter. And this one delivered as well.
I had been looking forward to certain aspects of the trip: learning some cutting-edge information, visiting a new place, and taking some great pictures (yes, I’ll share). But just when you’re thinking “must be rough; how can someone not be 100% flappy-happy excited about going to Florida??”, bear in mind: this is June. The sun might as well be a bully in the sky, and the air is saturated with water. And it’s an intrusive disruption to my carefully-crafted Aspie-esque daily and weekly routines (yes, plural). It required a lot of planning ahead, which levied a 110% tax on my already-anemic executive function skills. And don’t forget the thousand-plus people who would be attending this conference with me.
I’m like a benevolent mosquito–get in, extract what I can from the conference presentations and the travel experience itself, and then get out, unscathed, without being swatted at or cognitively done in.
But I still had fun (!), primarily because I saw to it that I did so. I also made it a point to learn new things, so I did that, too. I did scribble paper-reams of notes (now if I can only read them…). I did withstand the environmental saturation of human bodies and their social norms. I did it. I made it. I even lived to tell the tale (!). 😉
Some of the information is pretty industry-specific, so I won’t bore you with it. But I unearthed other, unrelated info-nuggets and acquired other skills, too…
…Like the concept of “stealth vaping”, or the act of vaping in places you’re not technically allowed to, in ways that no one will notice–unless, on the off chance they know what they’re looking at. (And believe me, it’s not like I posed any health risk to anyone at all; in fact, living in a city and simply walking outside without holding your breath, and/or using a scented air freshener or scented laundry detergents, actually do/does much more damage to one’s health than being stuck in a tiny room with a nonstop chain-vaper. There’s actually no such thing as an actual health-risk from second-hand vapor steam–yes, steam—as long as the vaping is being done correctly, with a decent coil and decent vape juice and all that. Anyone who tells you otherwise has probably been a victim of either an overzealous policymaker, The Placebo Effect, or sheer fear/paranoia of the unknown. Which is understandable. But not accurate or realistic.)
But because policymakers have attempted to beat vapers to the punch, without even a funny punchline, desperate times call for desperate measures and all that.
I had to change planes (eeek! A connection) in Houston, which is, unfortunately, not a vape-friendly airport. I had a longish layover…
You know where this is going.
Oh Google! Yooo-hooo! Little help…?
Google helps indeed. Willfully, generously, 24 hours a day. Anywhere, anytime.
“vaping + airport”
I found the funniest stuff in the results. Thoroughly entertaining Reddit discussion threads that had me laughing so hard I’m sure some people near me found the “If You See Something, Say Something” government mantra echoing through their heads and nagging at their intuitive instincts. I’ll share all that in a separate post, since you came here to read about my time in Florida, not my stealth vaping techniques. But I will deliver, I swear. 😉
In short, it didn’t take me long to text a good friend…
“How epic a win is it if I’m stealth vaping (very carefully) at my (very empty) gate in Houston Intercontinental while reading Sherlock Holmes?”
The response was comical: “haha well done” and I could feel them grinning through my phone screen.
I wasn’t the one experiencing all the action, though; while I was out of town, my mom texted me that one of my parents’ cows (seriously–cows…) stepped on my 65-year-old father’s foot, causing him to go down. He fell on top of some rocks and broke his hip. My mother found him a(n unspecified) while later and a neighbor called an ambulance, who whisked him away to the hospital.
Capable hands took over from there, and my dad was in surgery the next morning for a partial hip replacement. He came out of it OK, but when he asked for–and was given–pain medication, he stopped breathing and ended up spending the rest of the day and that evening in the ICU.
Being reassured that I didn’t have to catch an earlier flight home, I got in at the planned time late Saturday night, and made plans to go see him Sunday morning.
That would be the same day that began my second week-long stint as Group Leader in the discussion forum for one of my classes in my online program. So I was responsible for taking the topic our professor had assigned our group, coming up with subtopics and deadlines for the assignment, and then posting them in said forum.
Oh, and it’s going to be a busy week at work, too. And my partner’s midterm break from school is over now, so I must resume my usual schedule of driving him to school. In case life wasn’t busy/interesting enough, right? 😉
It all hits at once, doesn’t it? When it rains, it pours lol.
When we arrived to see Dad, Mom was there, too. It was a lighthearted visit, peppered with sprinkles of humor. Dad was stabilized, but they’d given him different meds and he was totally out of it. This makes for bonus humor material. He started wanting to tell my mom how their “cats read an article the other day”.
I don’t know how my mom kept a deadpan straight face when she repeated it back to him (because he was quite spacey and kept losing his train of thought, and she was trying to “help” him remember what he was saying, knowing full well that she was also providing more humor for my partner and me, who weren’t quite so talented at stifling our giggles)…
Mom, prompting him to keep going: “the cats read an article…”
You had to be there. It was awesome.
But before I forget, I want to back up and tell you about the coolest thing I learned: the best use of the “lose your cookies” baggie provided for every seat on a plane that I’ve ever found (besides its primary use, obvs)…
You know those annoying-as-hell little video screens stuck to the back of the seats of select aircraft, whose sole purpose is to autoplay/hurl annoying ads and other promos at the face and eyeballs of the hapless victim sitting in the seat behind? Well, I’m one of those easily-distracted, old-school cupcakes who likes to actually…read…a book…on an airplane. I do not watch videos, I do not surf on a tablet, I do not purchase onboard wifi, and I do not make idle conversation with the person next to me (unless they’re exceptionally compatible).
I cannot stand those little TVs. I despise them with all the passion in the world. I don’t want ads, promos, or “announcements” force-fed to me. They’re an unwanted intrusion, an inundation, so funk dat.
You might be able to see where this is going…
(Second) Best Use For The Airplane “Lost Cookies” Bag Ever ~ A How-To:
Cover the little TV!
Simply slip the folded bottom of the bag into the little space between the little TV monitor and its frame within the airplane seat!
Secure in place (so that it doesn’t slip out of place or drop down) with the little oversized “Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles” card. It’ll hold the bag up and keep it in its place quite nicely from the bottom. (And you thought those cards were pointless…tsk tsk.) 😉
Voila! Airplane TV-Free Bliss… 😀
I always think of the better blog material while I’m on a plane. Maybe it’s the adrenaline, the excitement. Maybe it’s the oxygen-shortage altitude. Hell, maybe it’s the benzene.
And now, yes, I will share pictures from Florida (I am one to keep my promises!), either from my hotel patio, or perhaps one of the patios on the conference floors onto which I would step for a quick vape…
Re: that last picture, in the lower-right corner–the one with The Clouds from my plane window: Mother Nature scores (lol).
OK, so I had fun. 😉
Even if I had to leave the house.
Even if I had to disrupt my routine.
Even if I had to work ahead like a madman on my school assignments to beat the deadlines that would mercilessly come up during the time spent away.
Travel is indeed an adventure, and if you’re paying attention, you can always learn something–and even take some cool pictures! Don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine. And good lord, don’t actually get caught vaping where you’re not supposed to! 😉
And now we’re launching into the last school week of the quarter, I’m gearing up for a busy week at the office, and I’m keeping loving tabs on my father through my mother from afar. I’ll catch up on everybody’s blogs in time, I really will! 🙂
And after my first week home, the kitties finally remember who I am (lol)…