Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. It seems every year in recent memory, I’ve been taken away from home on the day or the week of his birthday. I had to work on his birthday this year, so I wasn’t home, but at least I was in the same zipcode. As you’ll see below, I’ve been far and wide on this week in recent history.
First, I have to start with the obligatory look back at the blizzard of 1993 which happened 20 years ago. Damn, I feel old. I was in sixth grade at the time and my brother was in Kindergarten. I vaguely remember a conversation with my teacher at the time. It went something like this…
Mr. Chig: Michelle, can you close these blinds for the windows?
Me: Ok, no problem but, why?
Mr. Chig: If they are open, the attention is focused on what’s going on outside and not on me.
Me: Do you think we are going to get out school early?
Mr. Chig: I’d say there’s a good chance.
We did get out early that day. In my adolescent mind, the blizzard was already paying off! When my brother and I got home, we watched the news (on WYOU *ahem*) and learned about how bad our backs would be aching after shoveling. The outlook wasn’t good. Especially since my Dad had pneumonia at the time. My Dad was/is a heavy smoker, and got really sick and was not able to do anything strenuous. That left my Mom, my brother, and I to do all of shoveling in the sub-zero temperatures. Let’s just say , it wasn’t one of the more favorite times in my life. I managed to dig up these pictures:
(My Mom’s Dodge Dynasty and my Dad’s Dodge Ram buried in the snow)
(Russell in the snow pile, my mom digging behind him)
3 years ago – in 2010, I was working for Kraft Foods. I can’t really give the details of the project due to confidentiality agreements, but I was on a team of individuals for support of a project that involved cell phone technology. There was going to be a big training session in Green Bay, Wisconsin that I was asked to attend….a train the trainer type of scenario. I always liked the Green Bay Packers so I was excited to go for that fact alone (forget that we were going to GREEN BAY in the DEAD WINTER). We arrived in Green Bay on the Sunday of Rich’s birthday week and were to depart on Friday. Welp. Green Bay was having an unusually warm winter, which was causing thick fog to form. Our flight was cancelled out of Green Bay and after much shuffling, we managed to get a flight out of Milwaukee on Saturday (Rich’s birthday) in the evening. This required a 2 hour drive south and another overnight stay. I think the flight went from Milwaukee to Chicago and from Chicago back to AVP. The flight from Chicago to AVP was very choppy. I thought for sure we were going to die. I’ve never seen a flight I’ve been on rock back and forth so much. I think I got home after midnight that night and had to be in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day parade the next day. How I managed to function after all of that, I’ll never know. Here are some pictures from the trip:
(Me at Lambeau Field Gates)
(This was further back into the stadium at the gates – terrible hair, but the fog was causing 100% humidity, so whatevs)
(Brett Favre’s Steakhouse – we ate here one night….I had my first oyster. It had bacon and cheese, so I’m not sure it counts)
(The coolest jeep known to man)
(There were a bunch of these statues all over the city – of famous players)
(Click to expand image…Where’s Waldo? Somewhere between Green Bay and Milwaukee Wisconsin!)
(2 days later, at the W-Barre St. Patrick’s parade – this time for Leadership Wilkes-Barre)
(Here’s an extended group photo – only 2 project groups participated, the BILAA Little League Rehab project and Helping Paws)
(With Tux and my BILAA Group members)
That brings us to 2011. Another year, another parade. On Rich’s birthday….AGAIN. This time I was in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day for Kraft Foods. We managed to score several “big” vehicles for the parade…including the Weenie Mobile. There was always a bunch of character costumes we had. Stuff I’ve never even heard of. A Polly-O parrot? A cheesy dinosaur? I don’t remember any of these characters. And of course everyone knows the Kool-Aid man. It was my idea to have the Kool-Aid man jump out of a sheet of paper and yell “OH YEAH!” right in front of the WYLN camera. It worked out well. Gabby and I were on a float that was tagging behind all of the characters. We were throwing Kraft snack packs into the crowd. Behind us were the Weenie Mobile and a mac truck. Here’s a picture:
(Gabby and I and a weenie mobile makes three)
2012 rolls around and I have another job in another industry at another company. Travelocity, to be exact. The week of Rich’s birthday last year, I was to be in training in Texas at the Sabre Headquarters. Sabre is the holding company of Travelocity. The trip was a hot mess from the moment it was planned until the time we landed back on the ground in Avoca. I’ve been in Texas before. Navigating the roads around DFW is not a treat. I’ve driven in a few different states, and Texas by far is the most confusing. I had a GPS with me and it could not keep up with all of the on and off ramps to the freeways. I traveled with a co-worker that I barely knew on the flight down and back. When we arrived to the airport, we were to rent a vehicle to pick up 2 other co-workers at the airport. We talked through email, but I had no idea what these people looked like. Imagine how fun it is to pick up someone up at an airport that you are not familiar with and have never met! GOOD TIMES. (Can you detect the sarcasm here?)
I was able to find Donna somewhat easily (I only had to circle the airport 25 times to find the right gate). She was from Long Island and had a thick New York accent. She was very blunt with the way she said things. I liked that about her. Kelly was traveling from Nashville and had a southern drawl. Her flight got delayed and spent all of Monday morning stranded in the Houston airport. We couldn’t get a hold of her and didn’t know this until circling the airport about 80 times and making numerous calls and texts to her. We were running late and hadn’t eaten, so we quickly stopped to get a bite on the way to the office. We arrived 5 minutes late tops. Our trainer was pissed. As a matter of fact, she was pissed every time we were more than 1 second late for anything – even coming back from lunch in a building we’ve never been in before. It was very irritating. One morning I got unintentionally lost….I think we arrived 10-15 minutes late and the woman looked like she was going to rip out my throat and tap dance on it. Yeah hi, I don’t live here. I’m not familiar with roads, jackass.
I quickly realized that the training wasn’t geared toward my job function. It was geared toward the sales managers – I was an analyst. I spent most of the day on Social Media when the trainer wasn’t looking. I don’t understand why I needed to stay for the full 5 days, when really maybe 1.5 days only pertained to me. It boggles the mind. After Kelly, Donna, Chris and I got better acquainted (days 2-5) we kind of stuck together like glue and went out each night or stayed at the hotel and drank for the rest of the trip. It was the only way to get through the mind numbing training and maze of roads that I always got lost on.
(This was from our karaoke night)
(This is Kelly posing near the wall of Popes at a family style restaurant we went to one night. She was going through a messy divorce at the time and this trip was a breath of fresh air for her)
(Here’s a group shot before we headed for our last day of training…we were relieved it was over)
(This was the first and probably the last time I will drive a Volvo and/or anything with Texas plates)
Going on at the same time last year — The H&B Expo
I was trolling Ryan Leckey’s Twitter feed while in training and seen this picture. It made me realize where I needed to be. And it wasn’t counting how many bundled or unbundled hotel packages were sold in Orlando the previous week.
The truth is, I was keeping a big secret from everyone. Shortly after I started at Travelocity, I applied for another job. Few people knew about it – the important ones. I had an interview for a job at WNEP right before I headed to Texas. I didn’t know where it was going to go or even if I was in the running or not. I had nothing to lose by applying and interviewing, so I just went for it. After visiting WNEP on 2 other occasions and meeting various department heads, I was hired to be the IT engineer there. For once in my life, everything seemed to fall into place. For the two years prior to that, I’ve been throwing jobs at the wall to see if they would stick like spaghetti, and so far this one has. I’ll be at the station for an entire year on April 23rd this year. I haven’t spent a full year at a job since I left Kraft in 2011. Can you believe it? Be still my wild heart or whatever.
This year for Rich’s birthday, I was home….I made dinner and had a birthday cake with the kids. On Friday there will be party for the family.
And I am finally in the right place.