Friday, September 13, 2019

New Orleans, convention and weekend away

I attended a conference in New Orleans this week. It was a good time for sure.

This is the second time I've gone to this convention, last year was in Austin, TX. I love spending time with people in my field, people I give tech support for. I feel loved. And I get to meet some cool people from a lot of other fields in media.

I am happy and thankful that my manager sent me on this trip, and I got to go away for a few days. We have a booth at the convention, and I am pretty much a big fan of staying at the booth and repping for the company rather than going to sessions. We have people stop by all the time, just to say they love us. It's a good feeling. And it makes me want to keep working here.

Doug arrived last night to hang out with me here for the weekend.

He loves New Orleans, I can kind of take it or leave it at the end of the day, but I have a specific soft spot in my heart for the "city that care forgot" as it has been called since long before Hurricane Katrina.

We were here a couple of years ago, for a long weekend. One of my bit take aways if you don't have time to go read that blog entry from 2017, is this:

Stumbling upon a very real Mississippi river funeral with a brass band playing hymns like "I'll Fly Away" is very moving. Finding out the funeral was for a 14 year old boy who was a member of that band is even more moving. Especially when it was a suicide. You may find yourself standing on the sidewalk crying your heart out for someone you never knew, and a family you want to console but you know it isn't really the right thing to do, and you should just move along after the band shuffles across to Jackson Square.  
Knowing that these people are sharing an intensely personal moment in a very public venue that makes them look like they are simply entertainers like any other jazz group playing hymns in New Orleans is mind blowing. I thank them for being there at that time. And will not forget the roses flowing down towards the giant container ships and riverboats rolling out of the city.
Thursday night, we went to a bar that we "discovered" for ourselves that last visit two years, and I had told some colleagues about it. They were there when we arrived, and cheered when Doug and I walked in. The place was packed and we were shocked. We felt like celebrities or something. It was a great time with some fun people.

This morning, we checked out of our hotel, I ent to the conference and Doug walked all over New Orleans (he probably put 6 miles in before we connected again).

We went over to our new housing, Doug had scoped out a VRBO near Frenchman in the Marigny neighborhood, not knowing anything about the area, I didn't know what to expect.

The owner/host called me this morning to let me know the code for the lock box, and let us know we didn't have to check out in a hurry or anything. She's out of town, and basically Monday is ours for free.

Which is good, because we have a super late flight, and did not want to drag our suitcases all over the city with us!

I think I am in love with this spot. It is a tiny two-story cottage, with a gorgeous little courtyard. Doug filled the fountain, and ran it for a while this evening before we went out to dinner.

We had dinner at this cool hot dog shop called Dat Dog, it's where we sat and watched a 20 piece band play in the street last visit. We took a long walk (Jesus, if I were Doug I would have been like "no" but this was his idea to walk more). We sat on a park bench on the river and watched the full Harvest Moon rise over the Mississippi, talked about whether or not we'd take the ferry across to Algiers again, would we get a streetcar pass and go somewhere like back out to the Garden District. I had friends tell me about Willie Mae's and other restaurants I need to go to that are too far to walk but too good to miss. I'd like to go over to some of the breweries, like Brieux Carre near here, or Parleaux in Bywater.

I'm sure we'll see some great things.

Like this:

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Solo Labor Day Weekend, 2019

It is Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, I'm home alone. The last time I was home alone for the weekend, I unfortunately lost my Father in Law due to a stroke, so hey. Here's hoping for a better weekend, am I right?

Geoff has been desperately longing to go back to Massachusetts for a visit, so he picked this weekend so he didn't have to eat more than one vacation day. It was kind of weird to deal with. He just assumed he could take one of our cars, which we said a hard no to.

It isn't that I don't trust him, there are a lot of other reasons and that is not one. Primarily, I worry about either of our cars making the trip, and him handling it appropriately if something should go wrong. And him being alone.

Being under 25, he wouldn't be able to secure a hotel if he had to spend the night somewhere. I had that experience once driving back from Pittsburgh to my parents back in like 1987, and it was really scary. I still get a bit triggered if I'm ever near the Delaware Water Gap, so I really don't want him to be out there solo.

I also feel that without a navigator on the first trip north, the area around Elizabeth NJ going towards the GWB is kind of a nightmare for a first experience, especially one that can take up to 9 or more hours. I could have had him plot out a course that avoided NYC, but didn't want to add an hour or more to his experience.

Soon, someday, yes. He'll get to do it. Hell, I was like 19 when I was driving around the country in shitbox cars, so, I know he can do it. I just feel with these cars as my cars, I'll feel responsible if one busted down. So you can say I am momming all over it, but, I'm momming all over it for reasons.

After some deliberation, he took the Amtrak, which I am a big fan of taking up to NYC and I've done it a couple of times since we've been here. Up to Manhattan in no time. But the rest of the way to Boston is long.

But safe. And good. I was a bit confused by him going up Thursday and coming home Sunday, but... his vacation, his itinerary.

Baby's first vacation.

Thursday morning very early, I drove him to Union Station. I asked him if he just wanted to go in by himself and find the gate, but he asked that I come with.

I encouraged him to buy snacks and water for the trip since the food on the train is stupid expensive. We bought gifts for Thane, his pretty much oldest friend and Eagle mentor, who was hosting him for the weekend (he picked out t-shirts for him and his relatively new girlfriend).

He seemed anxious, but always is on his first experience of something. I showed him to the gate, got a real honest hug goodbye instead of a shoulder bump. Then I got a bagel and iced coffee at the shop near his track, and watched him stand in line from a distance, and then walked to work. Then, I walked to work.

He made it there safely, and texted me a few times with pictures of himself and Thane and the girlfriend. He went for a long walk Friday through the woods alone, and said "I can't believe you gave this up for a tech support job."

Yeah honey. Sometimes I don't believe it either.

That said, I did. We did. And I'm still unsure we made the right decision almost two years later. Doug, always the Devil's Advocate says "At least we don't get 100 inches of snow. At least it is summer here past Labor Day. You can wear flip flops until like October! At least..."

Yeah, there are benefits but. I do agree with Geoff.

I feel like we'll get him to his associates degree in Radiology. He'll get a job to get some experience on the books and build that resume, and then he'll move "home."

Can't say as I blame him. I know he's happy there, and while I'm glad he came here with us, and he's working so hard, I know he'll go back. And I am okay with that.

Maybe he can even drive his own car there, with his stuff in it.

He is on his way home on the train today. Can't wait to hear more of the stories of the things he saw and get his thoughts and feelings on the trip.

And I'm very glad he got to spend time with Thane. He loves Thane, and I know Thane has a life and a lot of other things to do. He has a full time job, has the girlfriend, has an apartment, but has always had time for Geoff. They had some bumpy and stupid things happen way back in Elementary School, but through time he's proven to be a good guide, and that Eagle Mentor Geoff needed.

So after two years apart, I'm truly hoping this was a positive experience and a great visit.

Baby's first, but not last, vacation.

Doug and I were both supposed to go to Pittsburgh together, and go help his mom with some things. Brodie has recently been having a lot of in-the-house accidents, and has been acting not her normal self, so without Geoff here to watch her, we decided we could take her with us and stay at a pet friendly hotel.

Then, she had some major accidents, and started to do these weird absence-like seizures where she just stood there, staring into space. Or she'd be laying on the floor, shaking and looking terrified. These are not normal Brodie things.

We took her to the vet and had her checked out. They did a lot of blood work and stuff but I didn't hear back by Friday. We decided I should stay home with her. So I did.

Doug has been texting me pictures of stuff he's helping sort through at his mom's. He sent me pictures of McDonalds collectable glasses, which were wrapped up and put away in 1981. According to the newspaper cocoons he defiled.


He told me these are coming home with him. And I hope he carefully re-wrapped them because maybe they are worth something? And if not, I really don't need them in my kitchen. I have enough stuff to deal with.

I am a little jealous that both boys got to go away, but I had a weekend in early August (I should write and tell the tale of that trip) so it's their turn to get away.

So what have I done with my Labor Day Weekend? I'm chipping away at a rather long to do list that I set out to do. Here are the highlights:

1. Laundry, all of it. Wash, dry, fold. All of it.
2. vacuum, sweep, mop all the rooms
3. Clean Geoff's bathroom
4. repot the plants
5. tackle the cardboard recycling in the back porch
6. all the bedsheets/wash/change/etc
7. clean the entire kitchen
8. Scrub down the basement stairs, and then sweep/mop basement main room
9. sew the buttons on the things now that I found all of the needles and threads
10. put the IKEA shelves we got in the right spots and get the TV up on it (I need Geoff for this so I'm glad he is coming home tonight).

Done?

Laundry, wash dry fold is almost done - last of the laundry is in the dryer
plants are repotted and all the spider babies into new homes/pots
sheets are washed, need to put on beds (Geoff's are not, I'm waiting for him to come home).
Geoff's sink and toilet and floor are clean - but I haven't hit the shower. I may show him now to do that...
Dining room swept, not yet mopped

Thankfully, I have all day tomorrow to do things left undone. And with the boy home, a few heavy lifting things will be wonderfully accomplished.

Hope your labor day weekend was fun and satisfying, and if you had to work - I hope it wasn't awful.