Monthly Archives: April 2010

Ash Cloud Debrief

I know I’m writing after the drama, when people aren’t craving the information anymore. But I can’t help it. I sat in Paris for a week and was simply unable to get myself organized and motivated to sit down and do anything productive. The sad part is, nor did I have the “free vacation” people imagine it was. Instead I spent my days listlessly, staying near the hotel in case the company called for us to work a flight out, trying to dig up food that wouldn’t break the bank (Note: baguettes do not retain their charm after eating them for a week straight), trying to attain prescriptions and arrange other unexpected details. So here we are, perhaps a day late but here nonetheless.

I’ve gotten a lot of rolled eyes and sarcastic sympathy from people, like the FedEx guy who was among those I had to call now that I’m home, trying to salvage packages (desperately wanted iPads! Sorry, hubby!) that have been shipped back to China in my mysterious absence (etc). It sounds great to be in Paris all that time, but…this was just weird.

I’m not whining – definitely not! I could have been many many worse places. And I at least had a nice hotel room, unlike the scores of people who were sleeping in the airports or emptying their bank accounts on a bed. But it was an odd sort of broke, jetlagged, unsettled, limbo.  At first there was no expense provision and we didn’t know how long we’d be there, living off our 1 set of clothes and $6 coffees.

After a couple of days the company offered $30 expenses (can you hear me cackle at the amount?), though I will say by my last day that went up to $100 (and since then the company has been really supportive). If only that had happened sooner, it would have changed everything. But oh well. Only point being that as it was, we spent a week twiddling our thumbs, not wanting to blow all our money, scared to go very far because what if they called us back all the sudden?

I was so close to hubby in England…and just couldn’t get there. I also have a lovely friend in Lyon – I am always longing to see her but a layover is too short for a $400 train trip. She just had a baby – what serendipity, huh? But I was afraid to go and have the company call me for a short notice flight. By the 4th day I said, “To hell with it, I could have been there for days!” But then the front desk rep informed me that the TGV trains were on strike. Can you believe it? Even if I could get a train out there, I had no guarantee of getting a train back when the company came a calling. I did, however, see some local friends and have one living on the very same street as our hotel who offered up his washing machine. I didn’t realize until then how relatively less isolated I was than the rest of the crew, who didn’t speak French, have a local cell phone or friends and had kids at home waiting anxiously. All in all I was pretty lucky.

Our last stranded crew members are making it home today. Shockingly, our flight had about 20 open seats, as we hear most of them did. It’s a shame with so many people stuck, but apparently there are so many people with 4, 5 or 6 multiple reservations that the airline has no way of knowing a pax won’t show up until the last minute and then it’s too late to call someone else – people who have been told to avoid the airports until they have a confirmed seat. And the airlines are not going to overbook these flights and risk turning anyone away after all that. So if you’re stuck, my advice is call call call and keep calling.

So here I am at home. These two nights I’ve been waking up a lot, stumbling towards the bathroom and ending up in the closet because I wake up thinking I’m in my Paris hotel room. Whoops.  And tonight I am headed back out, can you believe it? Going to salvage my 1st anniversary. Who would have thought I’d be excited to step back on a plane, but it’ll all be worth it for a nice romantic dinner…even if it’s just baguettes and $6 coffees.

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Ash Cloud Refugee

Many of you will know that I was an “ash cloud refugee”. I’ve been home about 90 minutes. After a week stuck in Europe, I was lucky enough to be assigned to work one of the first flights out. I meant to post all week, but I just couldn’t get myself organized (among the waiting and calling and trying to get more medication and cleaning my own hotel room and CNN Intl watching and loaning out my computer to colleagues in need, etc etc). But that’s coming in a day or two.

Meanwhile, for those who read but don’t know me elsewhere, I thought I’d cheerfully link to another article, currently featured on the awesome City Girl’s World. (A sort of e-zine version of Sex & the City.) Anyhow – in celebration of wedding season – click here for my latest, In Defense of Bridezilla.

Hope you’re all having ash cloudless days!

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A Different Kind of Back Pain

Hi there. Remember me? Perhaps not, as travel privileges + husband out of the country + working part-time (temporarily) = bopping around visiting family and, well, not doing much online stuff (or laundry, or writing, or bill paying, etc…).

After all this time, I finally got in to see the orthopedist – right about the time my back pain was getting better. Who would have thought, it’s only been 2 1/2 months, right? Anyhow, my oncologist wanted me to see him anyway, just to be sure all avenues were checked out, so I did.

This appointment now felt like a new kind of pain, because you see, it costs me $50-70 (after insurance) every time I walk in the door of the hospital. Now, my care is excellent so normally I’m ok with that (I don’t love it, after paying so little in Belgium, but ok). But just now I was reluctant to follow through with two more costly appointments (don’t forget the oncology follow-up) when I’d waited so long to get in that my problem was mostly gone! You see, the bills from my other testing had started to roll in. After a $300+ MRI and I-don’t-even-remember-how-much bone scan, x-ray and oncology appointments…well, there was also just a major dropping of dough on eye stuff, but now I just sound like I’m whining. Point being, my PayFlex account is already burnt for the year (!) so I was hoping to avoid another $100+ for nothing.

But I followed oncology wishes and went. The guy was nice but literally spent 5 minutes with me. Not his fault – he said there was nothing to be done! My tests were indeed clean, it was getting better. Voila. “Come back if it happens again.” (I resisted saying, “and hope this time it outlasts the 6 week waiting period?” but I refrained.) He did say something interesting though as he left. That was:

“Thank you, Ms. D, for starting me off to a good day.”

“I did?”

“Definitely. When Dr. Warren refers a patient to me…well…I don’t usually have good news. And that makes for a very bad day. So I’m delighted to have seen you. Goodbye now.”

So that was a bit of things in perspective, and I see why Warren insisted we be very, very thorough. I cannot fault the man for not taking me seriously. Thanks, Dr. W!

Now I’m off to my big sister’s wedding! An anticipated Spring affair in the mountains of New Mexico. I can’t wait!

Enjoy your Spring!

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