On Thursday December 22nd I left work early (by half an hour) because I was starting to feel sick. I believe I mentioned the fact that I thought I might be getting sick in an earlier post. Amy came over. We ate dinner and went to bed very early because we’d be getting up at 5am.
I woke up sick. Sick. Aaron picked us up and took us to the airport. Our two flights that day were not unpleasant in general (they left on time, etc.) but for me they were horrid. I was sicker than I’ve been in a long time. When the plane descended into Columbus I felt the most horrible pain in my ears – like someone driving nails into them. Upon landing we met my mother, father, and aunt at baggage claim (mother insisted on meeting there even though there was more than one and …we didn’t bring any luggage to pick up).
From there we went to Cap City. We had to wait about an hour to get a table even though we called ahead. The table they did eventually give us was small and cramped and next to the door (cold and drafty) and coat hanger. While we were waiting we were by the bar – next to smokers. At this point I was already feeling like I was dying, I didn’t need smoke blown in my face to enhance the effect. The meal would have been good had I been able to taste anything.
The ride home was not fun. Mom drives a Cougar and dad- doesn’t drive. Thus Amy and I were stuck in the cramped back seat for the bumpy drive home. I had to go to the bathroom every five seconds. I know I normally have to go the bathroom a lot, but this was ridiculous.
I woke up the next morning still feeling horrible. I spent most of the day moping around. In the afternoon Amy and I went to Marietta and picked up some gifts for my parents. By the time we got to Front Street most of the shops were closed but I was still able to get my mom a nice lapel pin from Baker and Baker. Other than the two attendants (which were the homeliest jewelry store clerks I’ve seen in a long time) the one other customer was Melissa Mercer’s sister Stacy. She didn’t recognize me and I didn’t say hello- but I’d proved my boast to Amy that in such a small town I’d run into someone I knew even on a deserted day like Christmas Eve.
Christmas day I was still sick. It got so bad that during the gift-giving procedure I had to excuse myself and lay down because the room was spinning. The gifts I received were for the most part thoughtful. However, an expensive set of five titanium wrenches was a head scratcher. It cost about the same as an item on my list that I’d actually use (the microphone) and could be brought back on the plane. Now my parents will have to pay a lot of money to ship me something that (although being very pretty indeed) I will likely use less than once a year. Such is Christmas at the Long house though – a strange mix of things that you wanted, things you needed, and things other people think you should want (but you don’t). Amy got the gift of Fondue. Which could even be thought of as a gift for me since now I probably won’t have to take her to La Fondue on Ventura which charges $150 for a “dinner for two” and Amy points out with glee whenever we drive by (usually on the way to Amazon – which I got a gift certificate for from mom!).
Since we were leaving the next day I knew it would be the last chance I had to see my friends, so I called Brian and Jeremy. They came over and after an extended sociopolitical argument with my father (which boiled down to “why are we at war with no reason to be?” Vs. “Clinton lied under oath!”) we played pool downstairs. At this time I gave them both the 5 disc set of Pusher/EM material I’d been working so hard on for awhile. Brian forgot his.
In the morning Amy and I went to the Grand Central Mall so she could get a dose of Redneck commercialism. I must say it was very weird even for me. Everyone was white and looked like they were relatives of the same fat poorly groomed/dressed family. Every woman over 35 had a bowl cut hairdo with blonde highlights. Every man had a stubbled and depressed look. Sears auto center must have made a lot of money because every person (even the kids) was carrying a spare tire around his or her waist. Amy and I sat in the food court at one point so she could just watch in amazement.
After a large lunch we were off to the airport. By now I was starting to recover from the illness –albeit slowly. This made the first plane ride somewhat enjoyable as we reviewed the photos I’d taken of the trip on my PDA (both devices use the same SD card). We were tired when got to Dallas. The Columbus flight had been delayed – but the pilot had made up the time in the air. Unfortunately whoever was piloting the next plane on our journey wasn’t as thoughtful. We were greeted with an hour delay. We went to the food court to eat. Hebrew National – “I’ve never eaten there,” we both thought.. After some deliberation we decided to get a sausage dog and chili-cheese fries. “We’re out of sausage” was the first reply. “We’re out of fries” was the second reply. “We’re going to Mcdonalds” was ours.
When 9:30 (Mountain) finally rolled around we were ready to get on the plane. The plane arrived and we were informed it would be at least another 45 minutes till we could board. Once we finally boarded the plane the trip turned from two hours and 53 minutes to three and a half hours. Touching us down in Burbank in excess of 11:30pm. Aaron had informed us in Dallas that he couldn’t fit picking us up into his schedule, so we were on our own. When we walked out of the terminal – haggard from our long day of traveling (keep in mind because of my illness we’d been going to bed around 9pm PST the last few days) we were horrified to find no taxis. A man from an airport shuttle service approached us and said he’d take us home for $15. We knew it was our only chance so we got in the van. The man went back to the corner to look for more victi- er- customers. After five minutes we saw a taxi pull up across the street. Amy leaped out of the van and ran to the taxi while I swiftly and deftly opened the hatch to retrieve our luggage without our driver seeing (from the corner of the street). We made it to the cab only to discover an angry Armenian 50 year old finishing his cigarette and not helping us with our bags. Ten minutes later and with $9 on the meter we were at my apartment. While I fumbled for the cash (Amy had to supplement with money of her own) the meter ran up another twenty cents. We handed ten dollars to the cabbie and looked at him waiting for our change. He looked back. We looked at him. He looked at the meter (up to $9.60 now). We got out and got our bags – miffed that he didn’t give us change but too tired to get too upset about it. It was past midnight at this point and I had to get up at 6:30 on Tuesday to go to work.
Though my sickness destroyed most of the trip for me there were several other complications involving my brother that would have made it a tension filled trip regardless. My brother moved back into my parents’ house in May and now appears to be living the life of a teenager with free food and housing – but no responsibilities. He delivers pizzas part time but sees no reason to contribute that to the family or to even wash dishes, clothes, etc. My mother and father appear to be split on what to do about this but are both agreed that there is a problem since this situation was supposed to be a temporary solution to get him back on his feet after he totaled his car. He has since totaled his second car (third if you count my mother’s in 1999) on the 18th and does not appear to have any plan to move out. He does plan on buying a new car though – the exact same Mercury Cougar model (yes, also the same as my mother) that he just totaled. This is immensely frustrating for my father and apparently he had nobody to talk to about it until I arrived. This led to a lengthy conversation on Christmas before dinner that got more and more uncomfortable as time went on. My brother and his girlfriend left the house immediately after Christmas dinner (they had spent the time before dinner listening to my Pusher cds and no doubt making fun and had no intention of helping clean up afterwards) and he neither bothered to say goodbye at that time or come back before 2pm the next day when I left for the airport. He had required that we reschedule our Christmas dinner around he and his girlfriend’s schedule. After all – I guess they had come farther to be there, not the paltry 2,500 miles and 12 hours that Amy and I did. While he WAS around (which was not long) he managed to brag about how he got a perfect score on the high school proficiency test and how it proved what a genius he is (even though he flunked out of college and I graduated With Honors) and also that I should have auditioned my “junked up car” on Pimp My Ride (even though he has totaled two cars in the last 7 months – and I wasn’t at fault for any of my “junk”). Oh- and he couldn’t manage to find any gifts for my parents when he finally went Christmas shopping for them at 10pm on Christmas Eve. Where does this downward spiral end? I don’t know – but I’m glad I won’t be around (Ohio) to find out. I’m throwing up my hands (like my father before me) at this point. In the past few years I’d tried at times to give my brother advice and the benefit of the doubt – but if I’m going to travel 2,500 miles only to be insulted and ignored repeatedly – forget it.
I feel as though I didn’t even go to Ohio. I was practically unconscious most of the time, so I feel cheated out of a trip. On the other hand, because of the aforementioned complications, I’m not sure I would want to actually be there the way things are going now anyway. I tried to convince my parents to come to California for Christmas in 2006. We’ll see if that happens.
In other news – Amy started working for the Marriott in Anaheim (next to Disneyland) on Wednesday and appears to like it so far. The CDA should be more fun this year since that is the hotel we stay in for the conference.