Friday, September 28, 2007

Just sit right back
and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip...

FINALLY! BACK HOME! 12 weeks later. Like a salmon swimming upstream, this trip was long and arduous but it is over at last.

On Monday, I was restless all day. My flight didn't leave until 8 p.m. Luckily, repacking my bags so they weren't over the 25 kg. limit took a good amount of time. I wasn't so successful as one of them was 27 kg. but both the Lufthansa rep and I conveniently ignored that fact.

After initially telling me that she couldn't find my reservation, I nearly leapt over the desk and grabbed her by her sassy little yellow Lufthansa kerchief but cooler heads prevailed and I simply asked her to check with her supervisor. I'm sure others around me noticed the half laughing, half crying excited demeanor of a crazy person who's about to lose it.

One hour prior to flying I took the altitude sickness medicine that doubles as a eyeball pressure reducer. Using the breathing techniques I downloaded from an iTunes meditation Podcast and committed to memory during my face down horizontal prison, I managed to remain calm during takeoff and ascension to 35,000 feet. I tried not to think about what could go wrong.

I endured the 7 1/2 hour flight in economy next to Chatty Cathy and her husband heading to Munich for Oktoberfest and behind the ubiquitous slam-the-seat-all-the-way-back-and-crush-your-knees-for-the-entire-ride passenger. I had over an hour to make my connection when we landed in Munich, but we suddenly stopped in the middle of the runway. "Um, won't there be another plane come in behind us?" I thought. After a few minutes, the pilot came on and informed us that:

"One of our hydrolic systems has just failed so we will have to wait until someone comes to tow us to the terminal."

Let's ignore the fact that the layover clock was running and just go back to the first part of that - our hydraulic system has failed????? I'm not so familiar with airplane mechanical technology, but that sounds a bit serious. Right, just be glad it didn't happen while we were in the air and count this as another bullet dodged.

The rest of the trip went like this:

Flavorless airport food - 10 Euros
Airport Parking Fee - 6 YTL from the friend who picked me up
Heavy traffic impeding our trip all the way home (of course) - 10 grey hairs

Arriving back and seeing the kids again - priceless

Monday, September 17, 2007

Grrrr. The frustration of living out of suitcases for so long is getting out of control! Can't find the red folder I had a bunch of papers stored in. Where is it? Did I leave it at one of the many homes we've stayed in this summer? Did I bury it in the suitcase that has stuff I am carting back to Turkey? The one I'm not opening before I get back as I may never get it closed again? Or did I send it with the other pile of books and papers I shipped through Matt's interoffice pouch in anticipation of returning last week? Now that I've been delayed AGAIN, the pouch will surely arrive before I do.

Since my eye is healed and I'm just waiting for this stinkin' gas bubble to get smaller, I am trying to get some freelance writing work done, work on some new story pitches, follow up on e-mails etc. BUT, in my infinite wisdom, I have Outlook Express set up on my home computer to download the e-mails from my Yahoo! server for my business e-mail address. A few weeks ago, when I asked Matt to retrieve an e-mail address for me, it downloaded a summer's worth of correspondence. So now, as I try to follow up on my laptop, they're gone. *&%$^#%. And I can't change the settings without being at home. And Matt had to go to Paris for an important meeting. The kids are staying with friends and they have a key, but I'm not sure that I trust the 5 or the 8-year-old to hack into my Outlook Express account to retrieve the information I need. Stalled. Again. I see a pattern. And I don't like it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I listened to an interview with Haleh Esfandiari today on NPR. She's the Iranian American academic who was held in solitary confinement for 4 months on suspicions of aiding attempts to overthrow the government. She sounds like an unbelievably strong, amazing woman. Esfandiari said in the interview that she couldn't think about her husband and daughter as it was too painful. Instead, she wrote a book in her head about her grandmother, who has passed away. She said it was easier to think about people who had already died.

Every time I miss my family and start to feel down, I try to remember that it could always be worse.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Do you read your horoscope? With no newspaper delivered directly to my door every day in Istanbul, I rarely do. I look at the NY Times and the Post online, but I have to admit I don’t read my horoscope. I don’t really know that I believe in horoscopes, but I appreciate their entertainment value.

While staying at a friends over the summer, I once again enjoyed the luxury that is a daily paper showing up at your door with no more effort on your part than writing a check or providing a valid credit card account. I spent Labor Day there, and with no agenda or schedule other than the 10 a.m. Labor Day parade up the street, I enjoyed a cup of coffee with the paper. “What’s a horoscope?” my godson Sam asked, reading over my shoulder. I explained the concept and then we found his. Turns out he and I are the same. This is what it had to say for the day:

"Today features the kind of electric and fleeting moment in which you suddenly know everything there is to be known. Then, it’s back to your usual state of lavish innocence."

“Whoa, we better carry around a notebook for any sudden inspirations!” I said, after quickly glancing at a few others to make sure it wasn't some sort of delayed April Fools’ prank.

Suddenly knowing everything there is to be known? What pressure! Since I’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern lately, recovering from eye surgery, I’ve had a lot of time to think about a lot of things. I’ve wondered if the gods of karma and fate had sent me this experience to teach me a lesson or two. Maybe it was payment for something I did in a previous life. Or maybe I was just a recipient of an unusually long run of bad luck. Either way, I usually try to make the best of any situation so I was looking for some new perspective or flashes of inspiration..

So far, I have no great revelations to share other than yet another reminder that you should:
...appreciate good health whenever you have it
...not take your eyesight for granted
...rely on others when necessary
...thank them sincerely and often generous with hugs
...have a tissue handy when your kids tell you they miss you a billion jillion gazillion times over the phone
...remember that family and friends are the most important things in life
...and that sometimes it’s good to just slow down a bit.

Bombshells? No.

Suddenly knowing everything there is to be known? Hmmm, maybe the horoscope wasn’t so crazy after all.