Tuesday, December 18, 2007

From one trip to another...

I finally left my job. My last day was December 7th with the City of Houston. To my amazement, they threw me a going-away-lunch... and everyone actually came! Granted, we went to Ninfa's, about one step up from Taco Cabana... but it was better than nothing. Over my over-friend chimichanga, I received high praise from my bosses... which came as a complete shock to me! I honestly didn't think I accomplished one damn thing of significance while I was there, but listening to them you would have thought I saved the mayor from a burning building. Honestly... I was a little touched by the whole thing. My last day was spent shredding everything in my desk and finding a way to ditch at lunch.

As a gift, they gave me a pen, a keychain, and a business card holder with the official City of Houston seal. Thank you for your tax dollars...

That evening, I packed everything up from my sister's house (feeling like a Clampett) and moved in with my parents. My mom recently redid the kitchen, so I'm sharing a room with a glass dinette set and some bar stools. I only had a few days to get settled and relaxed, then mom and I flew out to Portland, Oregon to visit my sister, Kim. They flight was fine, but long. The ticket said it was a direct flight to Portland, but we couldn't figure out why it was taking seven-and-a-half hours... turns out all Southwest flights on the west coast stop in Oakland... oops.

Still, we had a blast at my sister's. I got to spend a ton of time with her absolutely adorable little girls, and got smeared with butter by a... well... buttery one-year-old. Wanna play a magic trick on your friends, spend a few minutes with your nieces, then surprise them with their grandma under the Christmas tree... and poof... you'll never see them again...

Kim lives in a little ag town called Albany in central Oregon... mostly sod farms, wineries, and mills. We took an hour's drive west through the misty hills and hit the Pacific. Damn that was beautiful!! We walked along the beach and saw a myriad of lighthouses perched hundreds of feet above the rocks. We strolled through little towns that looked so much like Cabot Cove I kept asking where was Jessica Fletcher and the sheriff...

Ended up at the Yaquima National Park, walking along the lava rock beach... the rocks polished like glass from the water. As the waves crash, it sounds like pouring marbles into a bag... the little black spheres tumbling up onto the larger rocks and washing back into the water. We saw harbor seals playing in the surf. To say it was beautiful just doesn't do it justice.

The next day, we took off to the east, heading into the Cascades. I was supposed to go skiing, but a lack of snow put a hamper on that. Instead, we hung around a very nice house in the middle of the woods and just dicked around. We ended up sledding with the kids, sipping on hot chocolates, and playing cards and Yahtzee. All the while getting toasty with a roaring fire and beer chilling outside in the snow flurries.

We had a layover in Oakland on our return trip. After bumming a smoke from mom, we stood outside and slowly saw a group form up on the curbside pickup. It consisted of a bunch of very good looking people wearing Santa hats (fine), one in an elf costume (ok..), one elf (goofy but seasonal..), and one wearing a banana suit. I accused my mother of dipping her cigarettes in angel dust...

Good trip... really good trip.

While I was away, my new employer sent me books to study. The Expert Expatriate and Understanding Arabs. I have two weeks before I leave, and I feel woefully underprepared. I've studied my Arabic, but not nearly enough. I have the manuals to prepare for the classes that I will teach, but none of the textbooks to go back and cram. And all the while, I'm on a whirlwind marathon of traveling. I have one day at my parent's house, and tomorrow I'm off to Baton Rouge to visit another sister. The next day, I have a two-day drive to the Atlantic coast of North Carolina to visit yet another sister!

I'm the one leaving... why the hell couldn't they come a visit me??

So far, I'm three books, two lab manuals, four sets of fingerprints, one college subject, two-thousand miles, a Christmas, and an upset stomach short of being ready to move to the middle east...

Sounds about par for me...

ben

1 comment:

Sandi said...

How can you be complaining about having so many sisters? Other people would be glad to have as many older sisters as you do.

We are very proud of you in NC and a little jealous.

Love Ballew Waters!!!