Random thoughts, ideas and pictures of a multi-tasking, yarn-addicted Lady Lawyer

Yes... I really DO have 5 kids

Monday, August 24, 2009

And if I thought it was hot in Texas...?

My Lost Month post mentions, several times, how grossly hot it was during the long weekend Chip and I spent in San Antonio for Mark Jr's BMT graduation. It has been over 100 degrees in PA many times, but the solution for me has always been a combination of air conditioning and swimming pools. My electric bills have REALLY increased over the past 1-3 years too; I don't mind being in my 40s but I DO mind that my internal thermostat has stopped working. I am hot ALL the time. As in, I rarely wear a coat in the snow. As in, hats? What do you mean heat escapes from your head? That's AWESOME... can it happen to me? I want Jr. to get stationed in Alaska -- I'll go THERE in August rather than...

Biloxi, Mississippi. In mid-August. Really????????? If, and it is a BIG if, my body temperature re-regulates itself after the last week or so, I will be stunned. You know how people say "it isn't the heat, it's the humidity"? Those people are NOT lying to you -- believe them!!! The one consolation is that it was almost as hot in PA while we were gone; less humid (which DOES make a difference), but it was apparently pretty gross here too. That being said, we had a wonderful trip and nice long visits with Mark Jr. -- a tremendous improvement over the nightmarish, time-limited trip that was San Antonio. What was so incredible was being able to sit outside while the kids played in the hotel pool, Mark smoked (and I didn't -- SIX MONTHS!) and just talk with my son without feeling as if his MTI was going to pop out from behind a tree (oh wait... there WAS no shade in San Antonio) and prevent me from seeing him. Despite the choking humidity and heat index well over 100 degrees every day, we had a wonderful trip. There are some (now, looking back) funny parts:

(1) The trip down... we were scheduled originally to drive down to Mississippi, taking several days to do so. At some point, my wonderful husband decided that he didn't want to do that. I guess in hindsight (and wearing really thick glasses), it was the right decision. So we flew. With an 8 year old and a 3 year old. With NO direct flights to Biloxi (because who REALLY wants to go to Biloxi??) from Philadelphia. Our flight left the terminal in Philly on schedule with a transfer scheduled in Charleston, NC to a smaller plane to take us to Biloxi. There was almost exactly an hour between flights -- it was NOT enough time. It wouldn't have BEEN enough time even if our plane had taken off from Philly on time. I said the plane left the terminal on time -- we then waited well over an hour on the runway at Philly. Oh yeah... this vacation is starting off REAL well... we're going to miss a connecting flight to Biloxi where no one wants to really be. We get to Charleston, NC in good time (pilot had a lead foot)... and if US Airways had let those of us with connecting flights off of the plane AND we had run really fast with the 2 kids AND we had a clue where in Charlotte/Douglas Airport the new gate was... We all know those things did not happen. We missed our connection and since no one really wants to go to Biloxi, there wasn't another flight until the next morning.

US Airways instead offered to fly us to Mobile, Alabama. We had no rental car in Mobile, Alabama; the rental car was in Biloxi, Mississippi. Oh goody! A three hour layover in a strange airport (with no smoking area for my husband) and we're not going to have any way of getting from Alabama to Mississippi (about an hour drive because people drive FAST down South) because Orbitz is refusing to help us make new arrangements for our travel and Avis in Mobile isn't going to honor our Avis in Biloxi reservations. Meanwhile, we're in Charlotte, NC... we couldn't have driven down to Mississippi instead of flying with 2 small kids with a connecting flight to a city that no one wants to go to?????????? I could have knit in the car!

Without going into excruciating details, if you are EVER considering booking a trip with Orbitz, you need to NOT do so. I have never encountered worse customer service (and am still experiencing it almost 2 weeks later by the way).

After eventually deciding that this was now an ADVENTURE (it was no longer a fun family vacation and we were only a few hours into the trip), we took the flight to Mobile, Alabama. We rented a car one-way to Biloxi (and that was an all-day drama on Thursday which was solved by the AMAZING customer service provided by Avis at Biloxi/Gulfport "International" Airport). We drove to the base and picked Jr. up to spend less than an hour with him before he had to be back (the plan had been to spend several hours with him on Wednesday but missed connections screwed THAT plan to the wall). So now we are in Biloxi, Mississippi -- more on that in a minute.

(2) Mark flushed his cell phone down the airplane's toilet on the way home. Need I say more?

(3) There was a very gay man, painted all in silver, who accosted Mark and Mark Jr. (the guy ignored me, Ryan and Jenny) at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. He had balloons for breasts and he posed for a picture while extending his tongue down to one of the balloons. There is a picture on facebook -- this is a family blog!!!!!!

Those are the three things that were either funny at the time or are, in hindsight, quite amusing to me. Who would want to go to Biloxi? Let me recommend it to ALL of you (not in August -- it was gross) as a potential winter vacation spot! Biloxi was hit harder than New Orleans by Hurricaine Katrina in 2005; New Orleans got flooded, but that's because it's below sea level. In the 4 years since Katrina, it is obvious that the people of Mississippi's Gulf Coast have not only pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, but have gone overboard on their recovery efforts. Other than the heat, I was extremely impressed by Biloxi and by the American Spirit of the Mississippi residents. If you ask them about what Katrina did (and most of them do NOT bring it up in conversation), they will point out things that they still haven't fixed and there are signs of what the big storm did to the region. However, they do not make their existence about "We are VICTIMS of Katrina." We visited Jefferson Davis's house, Beauvoir, which was demolished by Katrina -- and were able to tour the completely re-modeled main house and the Confederate cemetery behind it. The guide almost made Katrina into a positive because the ripping down of the walls that happened allowed those who maintain Beauvoir to see what color the walls REALLY were supposed to be.

New Orleans has not recovered... I wonder how much if that lack of recovery is someone else's fault and how much is the lack of sheer willpower to come back better than ever. In New Orleans, it was difficult to find any store that didn't have a display of Katrina-related merchandise. It was almost as if those in Mississippi were saying "OK you big bitch of a storm... we'll re-build" while the people of New Orleans were saying "Feel sorry for us because we got hit by a hurricane." It's very difficult to describe the differences in attitudes between the two states, but it is very obvious when one visits both. I could, and probably will at some point, wax political about the differences; not in the mood today. I keep meaning to write a blog post about my political philosophy in general -- because neither party represents me in the slightest anymore -- but that will need to be a post in and of itself.

No clients got arrested for a custody dispute while I was gone (almost, but not quite). There were no REAL emergencies that arose while I took my first ever, non-maternity consecutive 2 week vacation. To catch up on the post from early July, my client who had his conviction overturned is out of prison (that took another several days after the blog post) and is working. I have been constantly reminded, including once during my vacation and again today, that if a person chooses to do the right thing, they will be smacked down each and every time for it. The nice thing is that, because I emotionally eliminated the people who didn't support me from my life four months ago, the people who remain DO support me. I had a horrible afternoon today at work -- really uncalled for nastiness during a court hearing for which I was subpoenaed mid-morning on my first day back in the office after 2 weeks! A friend was absolutely there for me after the crappy experience. Actually a couple of friends were there, but one in particular reminded me that it is in my nature to do the right thing whether I want to or not... hearing from my friend that he is "proud of me" because I did the right thing in a complex legal situation was exactly what I needed to hear. He talked me down off the "I do not want to practice law anymore" fence again! There ARE nice lawyers out there; just too few and far between.

So school re-starts for Ryan next week for sure and, God willing for Mark too (there's a contract dispute that is worrying me non-stop). Jenny starts preschool on September 11th and I have warned the principal that she is nowhere NEAR as co-operative as Ryan was, Jenny definitely has a mind of her own; that is a very polite way of describing my daughter's "sassy" personality. Jr. is still in training in Biloxi. Who knows... if he stays down there long enough, maybe I'll fly down in the WINTER to visit him. Alaska... really. According to Sarah Palin, you can see Russia from there... that's close enough to Afghanistan for my tastes as a parent! I'm rooting for Alaska. Chip is still looking for a full-time teaching job; the market is ghastly and it stinks that a young adult who has followed the"rules" and graduated with honors despite having a very small extended family to emotionally support him can't find a job. I feel badly for Chip that his persistence and hard work hasn't yet paid off. Fingers crossed BIG time for him to find a permanent teaching job.

Besides... he gets a full-time job and I get a craft room. Thanks for reading my mental rambles.. pictures will be added later.

P.S. I added pictures above. Interestingly enough, the devastation picture was from Mississippi and the family picture was from New Orleans. I thought it was important to show what the Gulf Coast still looks like.