Encapsulating a week in type by memory is a daunting task, but I will take a stab at the highlights.
Flight down went ok – taxis were on time, so were planes for that matter. chellez and I were both bit tired, and both a bit sick. This became an issue once we hit altitude for her, when her ear stopped aching, but she was afflicted by what I lovingly refer to exploding sinuses of acid (more on this later). As I had feared, the eardrum which I permanently damaged as a younger bloke came back to bite me in the ass with rattlesnakeesqe efficiency, hitting me on the descent into Texas.
For those of you who have never had any inner ear trauma, let me offer you a nice Mr. Wizard play-along-at-home version.
•Get an icepick and a hacksaw (if you don't have access to a tabletop vice)
•Cut or snap the top 2 inches off the icepick (so the tip wont protrude into the meaty parts of your brains)
•Stab it straight down your ear canal. Right into the part that usually makes you dance on your tiptoes when you brush it with a Qtip. Twirl the handle 180 degrees for good measure.
•After extracting icepick, insert a small coffee straw into the recently made wound
•Have a friend or pet blow lightly into the coffee straw – this will de-normalize the pressure within your inner ear, creating a feeling akin to carrying a golf ball-sized sea-urchin of differential pressure within your skull
•Hope you do not do permanent damage
Needless to say, I did not meet my future in laws with my usual demure grace and poise.
However, that did not put a damper on my week. As time has gone on, I have gotten progressively sicker, but chellez got progressively better - except for her ear, which I worry about on the flight home.
Texas time was spent wonderfully. I revisited with chellez many a youthful haunt, which was a great sharing experience. We also both got some clothes n stuff, because it is super cheap down there. She selected some pretty snazzy outfits for meself. I feel bad sometimes that chellez had to give up so much of her old life to start one with me, while I get to keep most of my life intact. Nonetheless, it was a grand time – we even managed to leave some things to do next year.
I partook in some excellent Texan cooking – aside from one night of sub-par Italian, every meal was a pleasure. I enjoyed (in no particular order) Kolaches, Sonics slushes, some great rib eye and razzlesnake margaritas at Texas Roadhouse, and some good home-cooked meals a la chellez's mom. I also managed to broaden the palate of her stepdad (somewhat) while I was down there by making a leg of lamb, creamed spinach, and some beefy mashed red potatoes. chellez's stepdad was a little wary of lamb, as his only other experience in life with the species on his plate was mutton. I had to show him good meat did not need to be hidden with mint jelly.
Foodstuffs aside, it was wonderful just hanging out with chellez and her fam. I am planning on marrying the girl, if we can ever get a date squared away, and it is good to know I get along well with my future in-laws. I was even given an open invitation to return, with or without chellez! We went to the Texas A&M Rec Center, which was absolutely mind-blowing. There is this stereotype that Texans do everything three times bigger than everyone else, and this place was proof in the puddin (in a good way though). Take the largest gym you have ever seen, multiply it by three, and flesh it out with state of the art everything, and you have the place that visitors can use for 6$ a day! Unfriggin real. Had a great time hanging at the pool there.; Soaked some rays, and spent some quality time with chellez and her family, all the time trying not to over-ogle her in one of her two new kick ass bathing suits.
Anyway, bathing suits aside, it was a great week. I got chellez's mom's internet woes sorted out yesterday before going, and was kind of sad to go - and a little jealous that chellez got to stay. I am sure she will have a great couple days with her mom flying solo though.
My trip back was several times nearly a debacle before it became one wholly. I woke up yesterday morning with all my congestion moved to my sinuses, which I knew meant bad news for high-pressure altitude. When I was in Europe, I had a sinus cold going through the Swiss alps by bus. I don't think I have ever contemplated suicide as seriously ever before as that trip. This trip came close.
Due to a big band of thunderstorms in the midwest, all flights were being diverted far north or south of normal flight patterns. When I printed out my boarding pass, I checked up on things, and they were reporting scattered delays, but no hard data. I was a bit concerned, but not really stressed yet.
Then we got in the car and started driving, only to find ourselves, several times, off the beaten trail. Since there was still time, I was not stressed, until we were driving on a major Houston throughway, unsure if we were going the right direction, with bumper-to-bumper traffic going the other direction! However, due to chellez superior driving skilz, and her mom's luck of the draw, we ended up making the airport in time for me to make my plane. However, my plane, which was scheduled to leave at 7ish (I was ~ 2 hours early) was now scheduled to leave ~ 9ish!! Checking the boards, anything eastern seaboard was 2-3 hours behind! I immediately went to the gate listed for a 4:30 flight to NY, and managed to squeak on that flight before it filled up with other stranded and pissed off people.
At this point, I figure, I got decongestants and painkillers, and time to kill - everything will be smooth sailing. I pulled out a book, and started to read. Sitting about 10' away was a woman with a young child, and the young child was visibly (and more importantly audibly) upset about EVERYTHING. I tried not to focus on the set of lungs the little howler had as I burrowed into my book. I just assumed it was going to be one of those wailing children flights - nothing some handy headphones couldn't ward off.
When we finally did board the plane after multiple delays (I got off the ground by 7:30, the flight I was supposed to be on didn't leave until 10:!5!), I discovered that fate had started the hand job by letting me get on the earlier flight, only to blue ball me by sitting me next to the woman with the screaming child.
I have been around kids all my life - I love kids (a many people can attest). I have never, EVER come across a kid that could scream for three hours solid at the top of their lungs without getting hoarse, tired, or sated. The mom (Karen was her name) was a really nice lady, and I assume the kid was nice too, on good days, but yesterday was clearly not a good day.
At my full constitution, I would have gladly ignored the child, popped my MP3 player to "ghetto blaster" and played Gameboy or something. However, loud music is _really_ difficult when experiencing the above mentioned ear-urchins, combined with the "exploding sinuses of acid". This experience is akin to having a ziplock bag stuffed into your sinuses, and slowly pumped full of acid, until the pressure is about to make your forehead pop. If you apply any pressure to the sinuses, little droplets of acid ooze out the ziplock, and give you that lovely "brain freeze" feeling, combined with some lovely burning and eye watering. OTR, darvocet is big pink Tylenol, and does precisely nothing in the face of "exploding sinuses of acid".
Combine all the sensations above with 3 hours of wailing child and shushing mother, and you have, what I will happily say, was my worst plane ride ever. When I got home, I was surprised to find everything working in the cable department. I guess the puke who fucked with my cable msuta gotten someone else's too, and they had things fixed. The downtime still sucked though, seriously.
Travel removed, it was a great vacation. Me being under the weather didn't really hurt anything aside from me not being able to see chellez' grandma (for fear of infecting her). I wish I could have spent more time... maybe next year. Damn if I don't miss chellez soemthing bitter already - she'll be home soon at least though.
Top 5 things I wish I had my camera ready for:
-Halliburton Corporate entrance off Sam Houston Expressway
-Bronze statue of Bush senior doing a GQ pose at Bush Intercontinental Airport (someone else's pic)
-Chellez in her bathing suit (seriously, this thing is smokin)
-A good group pose while we were all out galavanting somewhere
-A victory shot of chellez mom and myself, after bringing down an otherwise undefeated duo at a board game her family has been playing for many years.
Enough outta me, I got stuff to do - anyone have plans for Fri eve yet (That do NOT involve Harry Potter?)