Thursday, January 31, 2013

Playing Pinball

My friends, this has been the most disorganized trip stateside I've undertaken to date.

I am now Stateside, enjoying the company of my conspirators. In fact, they've made this computer available to me for whatever I might need online access for.

I can hardly grasp the idea of being here. Just 2 weeks ago I was enduring the cold Wuhan weather and poor air quality. Now, here I am in sunny Texas, divested of all my layers of clothing but for what I need to present myself decently, and I'm typing to you from my actual blog page rather than on a word document.

That much has gone right.

Actually, everything has gone as well as can be expected in spite of the lack of planning on my part. Like my lessons I prefer to have my travel well planned out, my visiting schedule arranged and my accommodations secured well in advance. No such luck on this trip.

The phone my daughter usually makes available to me made it to California the day I left... After I left. That was bothersome, more for the fact that we wondered where the phone was than my not being able to call or text anyone. Now that I'm in Texas with a full round of visiting to do, I realize how much that 10-day period of not having a phone impacted my planning ability.

Really it shouldn't have mattered whether I had a phone or not. I could have emailed everyone and set up a schedule that way. Except for Darrell's wireless network crashing on the second day I was there and not being restored till after I left. There went the Internet access. Nevertheless, I could have used Samantha's phone to call who I needed to call, except that I forgot to pack my address book that had everyone’s phone number in it. With no phone numbers, how could I make the calls I needed to make? It wouldn’t have mattered:  4 days into my visit, Sam suffered a phone service interruption. Well then, you might wonder: what about Darrell's phone? He only has his work phone, suitable for the occasional phone call but not for the extensive calling I needed to do.

And then there was my sister, the Lovely from Colorado. She agreed to meet me halfway between wherever I was and her 'where'. That turned out to be Albuquerque. IF I were going to Greyhound from Cali to Texas, as originally planned.

I didn't reckon on airfare being as low as it is during off season. In fact, Greyhound would have been pricier if not in cost then in time. So, I decided to fly everywhere instead of bus it. Why it didn't occur to me to fly into Denver instead of Albuquerque I'll never know. Now I won’t be able to meet with my sister, because she won’t be able to come to Albuquerque. She remembered no one will be available to keep her son while she is gone. You’d think she would bring the boy with her but Wyatt has a bowling tournament this weekend that he cannot get out of. Besides, they already paid the $125 entry fee.

I will be in Albuquerque by myself, where I will enjoy a day and a half of downtime. I suspect I'll need it, after all of this confusion. Now all I'll have to wonder about it where I will stay while in Albuquerque and how I'll get there. With no sister driving in, I've lost the shot at undiscriminating wheels. I'll have to find an airport shuttle to... I don't know. I don't have a hotel room yet. Hope I can get one when I get there. One that will accept cash. I don't have a credit card.  

Originally I intended to buy a prepaid credit/debit card to make all my travel reservations with, until I learned that those cards fee you to death. With Baby Bun having recently made his world debut appearance and his parents hurting for money, I reasoned it would be more equitable to pay Darrell and Sam a small fee to use their credit card rather than give a faceless and unloved entity any extra money. We put the allotted amount of money in Sam's account and I booked plane ticket after plane ticket.

That part worked very well. I just wish I had enrolled in AARP before arranging my string of plane tickets instead of after. I probably could have gotten a nice discount on my airfare.

See what I mean about disorganized?

Actually, disorganized doesn't begin to fit the way I feel. My current sentiment is that of a pinball, wildly careening from stop to stop, bumper to bumper, every so often getting electronically thumped or dumped down into pit and then being ejected to once again careen around the table and flippered up before actually hitting the exit.

And they say that Virgos are supposed to be meticulously organized. I beg to differ.

Of course I could and probably should have arranged all of my travel before even leaving China. But for a lack of credit card, a reliable connection to my daughter (who does have a credit card) and literally teaching or otherwise engaged until the day before I left Wuhan, I was not in a position to coordinate anything. In fact, I was literally still packing when the car arrived to take me to the airport. Gary was fussing about how I was packing and trying to apply my eyeshadow for me, Sam was cooking my breakfast (I hadn't eaten anything all day and it was already after noon) and I was randomly throwing things into my suitcase and backpack.

First time using the backpack Gary gifted me. Had I traveled with my faithful shoulder bag... would things have gone better? Who knows. In my shoulder bag I knew exactly where things should go and how to pack them. The backpack travels well but I'm not exactly used to it. And somewhere I have a camera charger that I just can't seem to locate.

Things that went right or came off well:

Traveling off-season. Leaving China during Spring Festival - peak travel time, was a stroke of genius. Whereas it is most difficult to secure tickets to anywhere during this time, it is easy and inexpensive to fly around America. It being off-season here, plane fares are going for pennies on the dollar and hotel rooms are discounting their accommodations

Arranging travel. Once I discovered flying would be cheaper than riding Greyhound I logged on to US Airways, which not only offered the most decent price and flexible schedule but allowed for multistop trip planning. Thanks to them have a comprehensive flight itinerary.

Securing a phone. Along with the prepaid credit card I had indulged thought on a prepaid cellphone. That would absolve my daughter from having to make a phone available to me and it possibly getting lost or delayed in the mail. My dear sister Donna ponied up the cash for a brand new prepaid phone and enough minutes to chat with whomever my heart desires while stateside. It has the added advantage of being reusable, so next year all I need to do is bring the phone and buy a new installment of minutes.   

Now, on my last uncompromised day Dallas I'm wondering who I forgot to contact or what I forgot to do while I'm here. I've retreated into the safety of writing blog entries. Dear readers, you are my respite. Thanks!

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