Tag Archives: travel

On the Road Again

It’s that time of year again.

Uncle June is traveling, my friends.

In case you’re new here, my OCD and general outlook on living prohibit me from enjoying traveling for work. However, it’s a necessary evil that happens every year towards the end of January when I go down to Houston.

It starts with a 6am flight Thursday (3am alarm) and ends Monday night. We put on a party Friday night for 900 people in the industry, 300 people Saturday night and I work the trade show the whole weekend. There are many 14-16 hour days.

Because I’m me, the majority of those 14-16 hours each day are spent stressing about finding vegan food (the one place nearby is closed on the weekends) and avoiding the flu epidemic.

Side note: I’m going to see if I can make the “professional chest bump” a thing instead of a handshake.

Many people say, “It sounds likes fun!” or “At least you’re not stuck at home!” These people are crazy. It’s a work trip, not a vacation, and I prefer to be stuck at home. 


Last year he found himself in a little sombrero. Ole!


Thank you for asking:

1. Travel is not comfortable, and I don’t just mean for vegans with OCD. Something about shoving long legs into an airplane seat, sleeping in a bed with lumpy pillows and trying to avoid touching anything that probably served as the origination for the Ebola virus just doesn’t make it’s way into travel brochures.

2. Travel is also painstakingly long and stressful. You’re on someone else’s schedule and waste days just getting from one place to another, and that’s not counting the time spent when you get where you’re trying to go.

3. When you’re on the road, you can’t get other stuff done—especially with the crappy hotel Internet you have to pay $15/day for. When you get home, you have to rush to do laundry, restock the fridge and get caught up on everything else work-wise that had to be delayed because you were traveling for work.


And then I found Uncle June in Dorothy’s cleavage.

But all of that aside, I’m grateful to have a job and know I’ll be home soon enough.* I won’t be chained to my computer every second though, so you’ll have to survive without my constant tweets and updates.

Stay strong!

I’m always in observation mode, which means I’ll milk at least one or two posts out of this mid- and post-trip (depending on crappy hotel Internet, of course.) If nothing good happens I’ll just use this space to tell you nothing good happened, feed my feelings and then distract you with pictures of the happiest animal in the world or a post I wrote that includes an open letter to my sock.


It’s really a win either way.  

*This statement sponsored by that voice in my head reminding me I need to keep my job and pay my mortgage. Carry on.

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Driving Aunt Mable

I’ve conducted research in a few different states and have come to the conclusion that riding in a taxi should be considered an extreme sport.

Taxi cab sign

Most cab drivers not only drive defensively, but get defensive when anyone goes only a minimum of 10 mph over the speed limit or fails to fly through yellow lights and stop signs.

But looking past the germ factor and high risk of whiplash and death, I actually kind of enjoy taking a cab when I travel. Not to generalize, but most big city drivers are foreign and have a really interesting story about coming to America from a war-torn town to escape and find a better life.

I’m nosy and I ask.

That’s what made my last cab ride to the airport in Dallas a bit interesting, as instead of the skinny guy from India who offered me sunflower seeds and chanting music earlier in the week, I had Aunt Mable.

When the valet at the hotel opened up the door to the minivan taxi, I was presented with an extremely large black woman dressed as if she were going to the prom, squeezed in behind her seatbelt like a pillow wrapped in twine.

She swiveled her head back to look at me, large rainbow-colored hoop earrings swinging side to side, and pointed with a florescent colored nail. “You ready to ride with Aunt Mable, sweetheart?”

I’m not going to lie. I was a little excited, as this one seemed like she was fun.

I was putting on my seatbelt when Aunt Mable turned down the gospel music to say, “Sweet baby Jesus! Tell me you buckled up back there. Safety first, sweetheart, safety first. Mm-hmm.”

This is what we call “foreshadowing.”

As I settled in and we pulled away, it became clear that according to Aunt Mable, the Dallas highways at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning magically transform into the Autobahn. While I couldn’t see it from the back, I imagined a pudgy lead foot stuffed into a sequined pump like a sausage putting the pedal to the metal.

We quickly zoomed to 60, 70 and then 80 mph through the darkness, making small talk as the Whataburgers and John Deere dealerships flew by in a blur. I found out she was from Dallas and “praise sweet baby Jesus,” had six kids. She found out I was in town for the balloon convention and told me she saw it on the news, asking if they made those fancy dresses in a size to fit Aunt Mable.

I’m still not sure she was kidding.

After breaking the sound barrier, we arrived at the airport. Since my airline had three terminals and I was unsure which one I was at, she decided we would stop and ask the skycap because, “You choose to ride with Aunt Mable, you get the whole package, sweetheart. No ma’am, you not gonna wander around that airport like a lost puppy.”

So after the skycap directed us to my terminal and I paid, she handed me my receipt and a butterscotch candy from a bag she kept in between the seats—along with a fire extinguisher, an air freshener and what looked to be a Harlequin romance novel.

“You’re on your own with the bags,” Aunt Mable informed me. “That ain’t part of the package sweetheart, as the good lord done blessed me with good taste but a bad hip!”

So I grabbed my bags from the back and watched her cab speed off into the rising sun like a superhero bumblebee before preparing to strip down for my walk through security.

Safety first, sweetheart, safety first.

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Uncle June Does Dallas

Thursday night Uncle June is grabbing his bags and heading out for another work trip to Texas, but instead of Houston, it’s “June Does Dallas.”


I’m going, too.

You know I hate travel, but this time I’m going by myself, I’ll be home Sunday afternoon and it’s a convention that will require comparatively minimal effort in comparison to the other trips.

I went to this convention two years ago, and although I’ve tried to block out the traumatic memory, I feel the need to tell you exactly how not wonderful it went in hope talking about it will eliminate the chance of it happening again.

It started out okay in that my plane landed safely (always a good thing) and I arrived at my hotel room to find a nice gift basket welcoming me to the event.

However, I soon found out that the promised Internet connection didn’t work and they had no plans on finding out why that was. At all. I had to walk through the rain to a coffee shop and buy tea so I could use their connection for a couple hours each day/night to get work done.

But that was the least of my worries that trip.

The first day I was there I lost my favorite zip-up hooded sweatshirt walking back from said coffee shop. Not only was it my favorite sweatshirt, but it was my only coat for the trip.

The mall that my hotel was connected to—one that included a food court with veggie options—closed at 3pm during the week and didn’t even open on the weekends (this is still the case, but I’m including it anyway.)

At a costume party the second night I only lasted until 8pm, not because it was nearing my bed time—although it kind of was—but because I became extremely queasy.

I ran back to my room and began dry heaving into the hotel toilet.

So there I was—dressed like a hippie and dry heaving into a foreign crapper, wondering if it was food poisoning or the flu—when I started to lose my vision as a migraine set in.

Five minutes later I was half in my pajamas but with my hippie hair piece still in, still dry heaving with a migraine and my OCD raging, wondering how things could get worse.

After a sleepless night of nausea and several pleas with the devil to take my soul in exchange for relief, I soon found out how things could get worse.

I went to e-register and get my boarding pass for Sunday’s flight and found out I had made my reservations for MAY 18 and not APRIL 18. I could detail the long story and frantic conversation with the airline, but it boils down to me being a distracted idiot and that my travel troubles aren’t limited to simply being directionally challenged.

At any rate, that trip was a disaster but not because of the convention itself, so I’m hoping this time will be exponentially more pleasant. At the very least, I hope to not find myself dry heaving into any toilet anywhere and have access to the Internet if I do so I can blog about it.

And since I know you’re wondering, I have triple and quadruple checked my itinerary.

I will be coming home Sunday.

Of this week.

With the gnome…and hopefully a better story. 

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This Is Your Captain Speaking

I’m finally back home from Houston, which means I need to write at least one more post about the experience, namely my trust issues as they relate to flying. 


Here’s the thing about flying.

It’s the ultimate loss of control. Whereas someone driving you around in a car is theoretically more dangerous than someone flying you around in a plane — especially if it’s a cab driver, as good lord they’re freakishly fearless — at least I can bail out of the car or choose the radio station.

This is not an option in an airplane.

So you basically board the big metal bird and trust that the dude in the captain’s hat had his Starbucks and not a fight with his wife and/or girlfriend before coming to work and navigating a gazillion ton airplane 30,000 feet into the sky.

The captain does often try to connect with you on some level, although I think they overdo it a bit and supply the passengers with completely unnecessary information. The general overview of the flight, weather conditions, etc. are all great facts to have, but they were probably already mentioned by the flight attendants before they plowed through the aisles with their metal carts full of juice and water.

But why do we always need to know exactly how high we’re flying multiple times throughout the flight?

“Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. We’re currently at an altitude of 17,000 feet and should reach our cruising altitude in about 14 minutes and 33 seconds.”

I’m not sure what to do with this information, and let’s be honest. No one is sitting in their tiny little seat with their tray tables in the upright position logging the altitude of the flight like a fan keeps the box score at a ballgame. All most people care about it making sure the plane is flying high enough not to hit the trees and buildings below.

If they’re going to interrupt my attempt at a nap or try and distract me from the fact that three birds just flew through the engine, they should present passengers with more interesting facts about the person who could potentially turn the plane into a flaming inferno of death.

“Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. Did you know that after graduating from flight school, I celebrated by streaking through the streets of Barcelona in nothing but a red banana hammock?”

“I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve gone 465 days on the job without an accident or ‘incident.’”

“If I had to choose my favorite meal, it would be lasagna with homemade garlic bread. I eat it before every flight, you know, just in case.”

I would even settle for interesting random facts, kind of a “tweet-like” account of what’s really going on up in the air.

“If you choose to use the lavatory in the next 15 minutes, you will be emptying your bladder at exactly the same altitude as Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain.”

“My co-pilot wants me to tell you that he just finished a crossword puzzle in ink, if anyone’s looking for a hero.”

“Woo-hoo! Conditions are great and this kick-ass tail wind means we’re going to arrive early. This thing is like a manic hummingbird on speed today!”

I’m still not sure what I do would do with that information either, but I can guarantee I could have written a much more entertaining blog post than this.

At any rate, it is nice that they thank us for choosing their airline and acknowledge the fact that we had other options, even if we really didn’t seeing as there was probably only one flight in and out of our destination for the next month.

Still, I suppose they try, and with that I will say:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your blogger speaking. I would like to thank you for choosing ‘Abby Has Issues’ today, as I know you had other options. Please be sure to check back again for all your future neurotic needs.”

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A Houston Hello

Hello from Houston!

Hey y'all!

I’m still here until Monday, but I thought I should check in and let you know that I’m alive. To be honest, I was hoping to have some witty recap, but other than being called a heathen traveler by some church group on the street and witnessing what we assumed to be a drug bust on our walk, things have been kind of lame.

After working 15-hour days, I’m too exhausted to get back on my computer. This whole trip has been weird and boring, and unless something amazing happens tomorrow, it will continue to be lame.

He did enjoy the "mini tumbler" booth at the show. Perfect for his "mini" drinking habit!

I have a few fun ideas and observations for future blog posts, but nothing I feel like actually writing while I’m here. I’m liking this disconnected thing…and tired.

But with that said, I thought I would just share a few pictures of what both Uncle June and I have been up to. Since I’m not at home on Live Writer, I can’t do little picture captions or anything, so you just give you a few of the images.

There was our big party Friday night that involved 800 people at the House of Blues, one kick-ass band back for the fourth year, an open bar, dancing, a tired editor who still can’t hear due the music and a photo booth that will most likely be a valuable source of blackmail in the coming months.

Not the best shot from the balcony, but you get the idea.

Day 1 of the show involved many of the usual suspects, which means shoes.

Just one pair of hundreds.

They zip up the back. Abby likes.

All kinds of balloon decor, including a balloon dress fashion show.

Now that's a cupcake, eh?

This dress is made completely out of uninflated balloons.

There were costumes…

Birds with anger issues.

Colorful clowns.

Now how did Uncle June get in there? Evidently there's no place like clevage...

And people pretending to wear costumes.

Yes, she's painted with glow paint and not really wearing a costume, so to speak.

They're not covered with enough paint, and no, Uncle June is not hiding anywhere on that woman.

He's pretending to be a statue, but if someone were to hypothetically poke him with a feather, he would blink and twitch.

And there was the actual Batmobile from the movie.

No food, drink or editors carrying a gnome were allowed in the actual vehicle.

So those were basically the first three days in Houston. It’s just been a lot of work, which interests no one–most of all me–so I’ll spare you any more pictures at this point.

But I have been reminded that:

  • No one needs a lit magnifying vanity mirror in their hotel bathroom, especially at 6am after four hours of sleep.
  • I will never be able to figure out the air conditioning or heat in my hotel room, and that yelling at the thermostat and poking the buttons extra hard doesn’t help.
  • It’s important not to mistake the free bottles of lotion for the shampoo/conditioner or vice versa, but also important to remember to stuff them in your bag so they get replenished every day.
  • Even if it’s not fun and it’s not something I’ll ever, ever volunteer to do, I can travel and do my job well without the earth spinning off it’s axis…so far.

We'll be back home before I know it.

And then you’ll all be stuck with me again.

So make me feel included. Have I missed anything while I’ve been gone?

The Layover

I’m just going to come out and say it: I hate traveling so, so much. The only way I would like it is if my layover involved Anthony Bourdain.


Especially the Amsterdam episode.

However, I have to do it for work three or four times a year, and because I kind of need to stay employed, I kind of have to travel those three or four times a year.

I bring this up because it’s time to make our yearly trek to Houston, which for me starts with a 6am flight Thursday (3am alarm) and ends Monday night. We put on a party Friday night for 800 people in the industry, 300 people Saturday night and I work the trade show the whole weekend, meaning there are many 14-16 hour days.

That’s not (really) the issue.

The issue is that not only do I pack my luggage for these trips, but I also pack enough emotional baggage to weigh down a 747. I joke about things, but traveling is not something that’s emotionally or physically healthy for me.

I end up trying to negotiate some sort of sanity between my raging OCD, health issues and actual numerous professional duties while trying to find any vegetarian food in a hog-happy city with limited time and resources. When I get home, it takes at least a couple weeks to physically recover, which is one of the unspoken “fun” things associated with being underweight and OCD.

“Sign me up!” – said no one ever.

Anyway, I’m not telling you this to complain—you all have your own crap to deal with and I’ll make the most of my time while I’m gone—but rather to let you know this is one reason my blog has been a bit off lately. My head’s been kind of all over the place.

I’m also telling you this to prepare you for five days of me not being chained to my computer every second, since I’m sure at least two of you would have noticed. I don’t have the Internet on my phone—I’m old school—so computer time will be when I can get it.

But  don’t think you can forget about me and move on to some other bright and shiny blog that’s younger and more attractive with bigger boobs.

I’ll still be checking in, and of course there is my inevitable return when I vaguely recap my adventure as to protect the innocent—and my job—and give you my unique perspective on traveling with issues.

And Uncle June.

This is an old picture of him on a plane last year. I don’t know why, but I can’t put a border on this image. C’est la vie. 

Plus, if I accidentally booked my flight home for a month later than I need, get food poisoning or dragged onto the stage to dance in front of 800 people, accosted by a topless woman painted to look like a peacock or given the opportunity to get my picture taken with a former Playboy playmate/Girl Next Door, that will make for some good blog content.

And for the record, all  of those things have happened, so there’s definite potential.

Stay tuned!

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Where was the last place you traveled? Do you have any weird stories or travel mishaps you can share with the class?

Day Tripping

This week I had to go to a work conference in a hotel/casino about three hours from my house.

While this wouldn’t be an issue for most people, in case you didn’t get the memo, I am not most people. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I was directionally challenged. My mom is convinced I should seek professional help in this area (because yes, mom, THIS is the area I should seek professional help for.)


He never even offered to drive. Not once.

So in my mind, the odds of me getting into the car by myself and successfully navigating my way across the state without ending up in Canada or a ditch are about as likely as me flapping my wings and soaring into the hotel convention center like an angel from above.

However, duty called, so I had no choice.  Don’t worry though. I survived, and because I feel the need to overshare my accomplishment/prove to you that you are normal in comparison, I will let you into a bit of my day.

It actually started the night before when I had to rent a car and spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to turn the windshield wipers off and plug the GPS unit in. Once that was established, I immediately found out the brakes were extremely touchy and managed to squirt breath spray directly into my eye.

Minty mace.

Anyway, the next morning I loaded up the car, set the GPS—my first time ever using a GPS unit— and we hit the road. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts while on the trip:

  • While I appreciated the GPS lady’s attention to detail, I did not need directions on how to get out of my driveway. However, five minutes after having this thought, I was already lost and she was “recalculating” the route. We were two miles from my house.
  • Once the GPS lady—let’s call her Gail—assured me that we were “recalculated” and on the right highway, I settled in, meaning I obsessively checked the GPS every five seconds to make sure I was to stay on that highway for 75 miles.
  • About 10 minutes in, I remembered that any time I’m on a road trip, I see every sign for every restaurant off every exit and immediately want to eat every second I’m in the car. While I brought food of my own, it never matters. To me, road trips = constantly wanting to eat.
  • With Gail’s permission, I stopped at a rest stop to pee/eat my breakfast and saw a sign on the instant coffee machine that said, “NEVER drink this water. NEVER.” I did not drink the water.
  • Once back on the road, the rest of the drive was uneventful, save for the fact that I forgot people in Detroit drive like maniacal freaks and that 90 mph is the new 70.


I snuck away at lunch to let Uncle June see the casino. What I presumed to be a homeless man gave me an odd look. Not sure what that means.

  • While at the conference, the woman next to me was drinking OJ out of an espresso cup with her pinky in the air. I resisted the urge to ask her if she had any Grey Poupon.
  • I was told I had outstanding ideas and was given the “gold star” for the day. There was no actual gold star, which I found disappointing and a bit misleading. However, some time later when they brought the idea back up and drew attention to me again, I was stuffing my face with snacks and unable to answer, so there was that.
  • Needless to say, rock star status achieved.
  • The drive home was rather uneventful as well, as Gail, Uncle June and I had some great conversations about the meaning of life, sang along to Kid Rock/Eminem in the spirit of Detroit and composed a brilliantly funny blog post about our adventures.

Unfortunately, all was forgotten by the time I sat down at my computer, so you get this. If someone could invent a GPS for keeping my thoughts in order, I would totally award them a gold star for the day.

As it is, I’m just glad someone invented GPS in general, or else I might still be circling the parking ramp of the hotel/casino, half blinded by peppermint breath spray and singing “Bawitdaba”  at the top of my lungs in an effort to drown out Gail’s “recalculating” taunts.

OK. That might have happened anyway, but at least I made it home.

Gold star, indeed.