Okay, so in desperation I posted that message last week to my Facebook page, and I really meant it: I need a vacation!!!! I got several wonderful responses, which I will tell you about, but first I need to explain what preceded that plaintive cry for help.
See, a few weeks ago my daughter came up with a huge list of FREE cruises! Yes, I did say free, and I meant FREE!!! Oh, they were everywhere! Egypt (believe it or not, you apparently can cruise Egypt), Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa. I wanted to go on them all (except for the Africa one with the Somali pirates; I could let that one slip by easily enough)! Unfortunately, many leave from ports like Rome (and I don’t mean Rome, Georgia, which I'm sure doesn't even have a port, being extremely landlocked!) or Lisbon. On top of that, the cruise started in one city and finished in another, meaning multi-city airfare. Now we’re talking $2500 - $3500 for tickets from both me and my daughter. No, I don’t think so.
But while I was concentrating on an 8-day cruise that left out of NYC and returned to San Juan, PR, my daughter fixed her eyes on a cruise that departed and arrived back in the same city, Ft. Lauderdale. Well, I said, that would be a lot cheaper than a multi-city plane ticket, wouldn’t it! So she booked it on the off chance we’d be able to go. And that's when the desire started!
After I perused the various flights, one for her from Phoenix and one for me from Greensboro or Charlotte, I got around to looking at my calendar. Whoa! Guess I should have done that first, huh? It was chock full of patients scheduled, not just for itty-bitty, 20-minute mid-term visits, no, but overflowing with end of study visits, the ones that require labs and physician exams and drug reconciliation and diary comparisons and…well, you get the picture. But even then I thought there might still be hope. See, when you get sucked into an all-encompassing desire … well, just look at what happened to Adam and Eve. Yeah. And all they were offered was a lousy piece of fruit!
Okay, so I was grasping at straws, but, hey, I was desperate!! So I sucked up my courage and sent a text message over the weekend to my boss, planting the possible kernel of an idea in my boss’ head.
Granted, my boss was at the beach at the time trying to unwind from a very hectic and stressful week. But timing has never been my long suit. Why improve now? I just couldn’t wait for her to say, Oh, sure, Sandi, we can manage without you. We have nothing better to do than take care of all your end-of-study responsibilities and patient visits along with all our own work. Like, duh! Only someone who has never been involved in coordinating a clinical trial would even dream that was a possibility! So what was I thinking? Well, I wasn’t, obviously!
As expected, I soon received a text message back saying, We really can’t do anything till Monday (or something to that effect.) Why? I thought. The patient load will still be the same Monday as it is right now: Impossible! But I still kept hoping throughout the weekend it would work out. Then I looked at the cruise itinerary. Oh my goodness, what was I thinking? Not only did it come at the busiest time possible for me at work, it was a 15-day cruise!!!! I eally must learn to do things in a more progressive, organized fashion. Two weeks away from work? Not likely! And on Monday my thoughts were confirmed.
I’d already come to the realization over the weekend that this was never going to fly, but when I got the bad news that it just wasn’t possible (you know, when reality rears its ugly little head and sticks its tongue out at you, and then wiggles that nasty little tongue, saying bleh-bleh-bleh-bleh, smiling all the while), well, I got depressed! Soon, however, my brother and sister-in-law came to my rescue – well, almost. See, they’d found a cabin in the mountains in Luray, VA. Nothing but peace and quiet and cool, crisp, clean air. Just what the doctor ordered, or I’m sure he would have had I asked. They were coming down to visit my mom over the Thanksgiving weekend and wondered if, instead, we might not meet halfway and have a soothing, peaceful weekend without phones and internet and all that other stuff, just to play board games and socialize. And if my brother cooked, so much the better! But, said my sister-in-law to my mom, don’t tell Sandi until you’ve decided whether you want to go. Unfortunately, the instructions should have been, Don’t tell Sandi if you DON’T want to go, although I’m not sure it would have made any difference, because, as it turned out, Mom did not want to go, and she told me all about it, and then we looked at their e-mail with the cabin nestled far away from neighbors and noise. Here I was with a picture of a glorious cabin in the woods haunting my every waking moment. True, not two-weeks in the Caribbean, but I always said I was a cheap date. Wow, a weekend in Luray, VA! How cool is that, I thought, determined to change mom’s mind.
My mother is nothing if not stubborn. There is nothing save a stick of dynamite that could possibly move her once she’s made a decision, and I’m not so sure the dynamite would even be able to come out on the winning end. The trip to Luray was off.
So … “I need a vacation!” I sailed over the internet for all the world to hear. And yet others tried to rescue ne! “We’re going to Hawai’i; you can stay with us for free,” said one family very kindly inviting me to join their family trip. “Why don’t you come to Seattle? You can stay with us,” said that same family. “Come to Olympia; I miss you,” chimed in my “other” daughter. “Why don’t you come to Arizona; Cirque du Soleil is playing in November,” said my firstborn. So I poured over my generous offers and spent untold hours on Expedia, Kayak, Cheapflights, and half a dozen more to find what I could afford and where I could go and when.
Do you know how long it takes to go from NC to Hawai’i? Well, perhaps if you paid about what my house is worth you might get a direct flight from somewhere in this state, but $1200 only bought me a 17 ½ hour flight with two layovers, and then another one just a few days later to come back home. As tempting and Hawai’i was, being high on my list of places I really would like to see sometime before I die, I’m getting too old to spend 35 hours traveling for a 4 or 5-day holiday. I mean, I might need those 35 hours sometime, and look what I would have had to show for them. Then when you figure the whole 15-day cruise with airfare for my daughter and myself was going to cost about the same amount, well, I’ve never claimed to be “frugal,” as my mom calls cheapness, but even my poor accounting skills can see that one is a bargain and the other, even with free lodging, was a long, long ways away. So back to being depression.
Finally, I made the decision! I had to cheer myself up. I’m going to Arizona, I decided. I can have a whole week and two days, whooee! I can sit at the pool and read! Whoopie!! We’ll go to see Alegria! Hooray!!! And best of all … I’ve got a non-stop flight!!!!!!!!!!!
I quickly perused the websites of Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Jet Blue, USAirways, Cheapo, and the list goes on. Okay, so it wasn’t so quick. I mean, there was a lot of comparing to do. I found the perfect flight on USAir … but, alas, I was totally out of money and two weeks away from payday. When, however, has that ever stopped me? Except when my cards are also maxed out, as they just happen to be at present. Ooops. Still, I’ll keep searching, and search I did, finding that if Orbitz packaged my car and flight together, I saved $200. Now, who could pass up that deal! So I called up my part-time job and said, I need $700 right away, and, like a shot, poof, it appeared in my checkbook the next day! Thank you part-time job!
Back on line I went to once again to find the perfect flight and car combo. I’d already found one at least six times and had been stopped each time by one thing or another, I mean, silly things, like no money, or no credit, or having to leave the computer before I could actually scheme a way to get it all together. But there it was, the perfect vacation package once again, and now I had the money to pay for it! And that’s when it all went … well, let’s not say it went wrong; let’s just say it went predictably ME!
I tickled the little keys on my keyboard, brought up all the info, and was ready to purchase when, with my finger poised ever so slightly over the Send button, almost shaking with anticipation, I decided to follow the instructions about checking over your itinerary once more to make sure it was correct! How silly, I thought. I’ve just spent a week working on this itinerary, but I always obey the instructions, at least when I read them, and I’d made the mistake of reading these. Or was it a mistake? I noticed that the non-refundable vacation package I was about to purchase was to Washington State, Seattle to be exact, while my daughter and the tickets I’d bought for the Cirque performance were several hundred miles away in Arizona! Whew, I thought, willing my hand to draw away from that Send before it took on a life of its own and clicked it anyway. See, that little hand had already spent way too much time searching and was prepared at this point to take me anywhere, just as long as the internet search would come to an end!
Back I went to Orbitz, correcting my information, and found the perfect flight, oh, except that it wasn’t non-stop. As a matter of fact, there were NO non-stop flights anymore. But, whatever! I was ready to go and what’s an extra hour or so changing planes in Dallas. Of course, I’ve never been to Dallas when they haven’t closed down the airport due to thunderstorms, but surely, given the odds, there had to be at least once when I could just breeze through there, and I was going to be positive and believe that this would be that time! I punched that Send button and saved that flight and car before I could change my mind! I’d done it! Depression disappeared and now I could settle my mind back on the important things in life, like the meeting I was going to that night.
Off to my meeting I went, feeling truly marvelous, when suddenly, halfway through, I had a thought tickling at the back of my mind. It wouldn’t let me concentrate, so I figured, okay, I’ll give it full reign so I can get back my concentration, and that’s when it came to me, hitting me in the head like the proverbial ton of bricks: I’d booked my flight to leave on Saturday; I had a one-day assembly to attend on Sunday! Oh, no, I thought! Surely I’m wrong! I yanked out my iPod and, sure enough, I was leaving on the 13th; the Assembly Day was on the 14th! Yikes! Now what?
As soon as I got home I got on the computer and found that, if I left on Monday instead of Saturday, not only would I be able to get to the assembly , but I could get a non-stop flight! Figures!!! Okay, what do you have to do to change flights with Orbitz? Don’t ask! And don’t try to do it, either!! I spent about an hour reading over all the instructions and, yes, I could change my flight, after I pay the airline $100 penalty, oh, and Orbitz has a $30 penalty, oh, and you can’t change airlines, and did we mention that the one you booked for the Saturday flight NEVER has non-stop? Yeah.
So I’m going to Arizona. But I took out trip insurance just in case. Even Pollyanna has her lucid moments! By the way, the Bible text for the next day? "Oppose the devil and he will flee from you." Hmm, maybe I should have read that earlier.