Chomping at the Bit


I woke up at my Southern California home thinking it had to be at least close to time to wake up and start getting ready to go to LAX.  I had taken out my sleep-in contact lenses a day early for cleaning so I wouldn’t have to deal with them on the plane.  I couldn’t see the alarm.  Then I remembered the inexpensive Timex Indiglo vacation watch I had on.  I pushed the button.  2:00 AM.  Oh no.


I turned over and shut my eyes tight.  I fell back to sleep.  Then woke up again.  “Oh good!  Now it has to be close to time”.  3:00 AM.  I gave up and went to the computer to check my email.  No luck.  The server at our company was crashed.  At least I don’t have to wake up the IT guy.  When it comes to crashed computers at work, I’m “IT”. Why is it that the email system at work does fine except when I’m no vacation?


I called the X10, which is a device attached to a phone line connected to the server.  Three beeps.  Enter the secret code.  Two beeps.  Enter the code to cut the power to the machine.  Two beeps.  Wait.  Enter the code to turn the machine back on.  Two beeps.  Hang up, and hope for the best.  If it doesn’t work, I might be taking a 60-mile round trip drive to the office so the rest of the company doesn’t have to go two weeks without email.


I held my breath and double-clicked the Eudora icon.  Ahhh… contact.  Three spams.  It’s 3:20AM.


I started to realize that perhaps this was a good thing.  Last year when we flew to Paris I couldn’t fall asleep on the plane.  We landed at what felt like 11:00PM Los Angeles time, but it was 8:00AM Paris time.  Taking the time change into account, I estimated that we stayed awake around 30 solid hours trying to get adjusted to local time.


So, getting up at 3:00AM might have the effect of making me sleepy enough on the plane to get some sleep on the 11-hour flight.  Or not.


I printed out my X10 directions in case the server crashed again while I was away.  I carried the printout into the den and located what Erin likes to call my “man purse”.  It’s a blue fabric bag that has the name of a trade show on the front.  It just happens to have a shoulder strap.  Inside this bag I have arranged a series of manila envelopes in alphabetical order that say: Airline, ATM Receipts, Directions, Hotel, Schedule, Tours, Train, and Travel Doc Copies.  In the front pocket is stuffed a fat hard cover copy of Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”, a little light reading for the plane.  I decided that I’d put the X10 directions in with the schedule.  Then, I pictured myself at an internet café in Rome in a few days.  The server doesn’t work again, and I confidently whip out my GSM world phone, and reset the system from 6,000 miles away.  At least I hope it goes that way.  That’s one heck of a drive if it doesn’t.


I had been chomping at the bit for six months.  Jane started talking about how great it would be to go back to Europe again this year, for a shorter time, which would be much cheaper.  At first, I really couldn’t see how it would work out.  But, the next morning on the drive to work, Erin seemed more excited than Jane about going, and I found myself enrolled.  Then it was all-out.  Plan, plan, plan.


The night before, we were paying all of our bills.  Of course, all the big ones just happened to arrive in the days before we would leave.  This included the largest water and power bill of the year covering our air conditioning bill for the hottest period.  I did a balancing act that would make an Enron executive nervous.  Borrowing from various accounts, shifting money around, and banking on paychecks to hit the bank on specific days.  All of it was actually covered by a transfer from our vacation account that would handle our ATM cash needs on the trip.  But, for a time there it did feel like rocket science.


With everything done that could possibly be done.  I sat down and started writing this.  As I write this sentence it is 3:59AM.  I hope I’m able to sleep on that plane.


Next:  We arrive in Paris!


But First:  A photo from last year….


 Me and Jane at Disneyland Paris a year ago.  We thought this would be a good way to stay awake and get adjusted to local time.  Do we look like we’ve been up approximately thirty hours?