The Day From Hell

I just got back from a great vacation in Greece, which I will share later, and meant to get this post off before I left.  Hurricane Irma swept through our state four days before we left, and it reminded me of the last time we got on a plane.  We had some really rotten luck for the better part of the last year, and part of the reason we went on this trip to Greece is as a reward from what happened and our marriage actually surviving the very shitty months that followed.

We had multiple plumbing disasters.  On August 25, 2016 our sewer line broke under our house in multiple places.  It was the old Florida standard cast iron plumbing system.  It broke in three sections and we had plumbers tunnel 47 feet under the house to remove the old pipes and put new PVC plumbing in.  This is not a quick or easy job.  It involves several men digging a 3’x 3’ x 47’ tunnel BY HAND.  It took six weeks and during that time, we couldn’t flush a scrap of toilet paper down our drains. Oh, and our homeowner’s insurance refused to reimburse us which cost $25,000. So on to the point of this story…

On October 28, 2016 we were scheduled to fly up to Rochester at 2:00PM to see my husband’s family for a week.  He was on shift the night before, and didn’t get home until 8AM.  I was woken up at 2AM by the dog that was having major back issues (old beagle).  So, from 2AM on I was up with the dog, who was going to be boarded for a week, while he struggled with back spasms.  I called my vet right when they opened at 8:00, and I was told they were really busy and I should drop him off.  They would “try” to see him before 10:00AM.  What could I do?  I dropped the dog off.  I came home and started pulling our coats out of the guest closet, looked down for some odd reason, and I see the carpet on the floor of the closet is completely black and soaking wet.  Black mold.  Great!  At 9AM we call the plumber out again, who will try to get to us as soon as he can.  In the meantime, we start pulling everything out of the closet.  Everything on the floor is ruined – things that can’t easily be replaced like old photos or the beautiful Italian leather tote I purchased in Venice.  The plumber comes at about 10AM and thinks that the toilet on the other side of the closet wall isn’t seated properly and leaking.  He pulls the toilet out and it’s perfect.  So the leak is coming from another plumbing source.  We still haven’t heard from the vet and its now about 11:00AM.  We need to leave in 90 minutes to go to the airport.

(If this were a play, this would be an “aside”:  there’s a reason I am specific about the dates.  First plumbing issue started on August 25 and took six weeks to fix.  Second plumbing issue happened on or before October 28.  So, we had maybe a two week break between issues.  I’m not proud of this and am glad this is an anonymous blog but on the advice of our plumber, we poured a gallon of bleach on the floor of the closet, sealed it with 4mm plastic sheeting, and carried on with our plans to go out of town.  Turned out, this issue was a break in our incoming water line and it destroyed our house.  An extra few days didn’t matter – it was already destroyed by the point we found it.  Moving on…)

We finally heard from the vet at 1:00PM.  By this time it was too late to catch our flight, so once we figured out the poor dog’s treatment options we scheduled a second flight out at 7:00PM.  My elderly parents drove us to the airport in 5 o’clock traffic and dropped us off.  I should mention that they had spent most of the morning with us helping clean out the closet and waiting to hear about the dog.  We were so relieved to finally be at the airport so we sat down at the bar and ordered a round of drinks.  As we’re sitting there, we start hearing announcements on the loud speaker:  THE AIRPORT IS NOW CLOSED.  Wait, WHAT???  We look around and see people start moving to the gate counters so we asked the people at the table next to us what happened, and they said that a Fedex plane blew up right outside our gate.  I shit you not.  A FEDEX PLANE BLEW UP OUTSIDE OUR GATE.  They had to close the airport because, aside from a plane blowing up, the runway also melted.

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I want to take a minute to give American Airlines a positive plug:  I did not go to the gate counter.  I called the 1-800 number to see about rescheduling our flight, and they had already done it.  They rescheduled us for a 6AM flight the next morning.  We went to baggage claim to see about our bags, and within 30 minutes we had our bags. Yay AA!

I called my parents and bless their hearts they got back on the highway and came and picked us up.  They dropped us off at home, and went on their way.  We unlocked our door.  The power is out.  Again, I shit you not.  The power is out at our house.  I call FPL to notify them, and because there’s been a house fire a few blocks away they had to shut down our grid.  Power is not expected to be on until 10PM.  I can live with that.  10PM rolls by, still no power.  I check FPL again, and now they have no idea when power is expected to be back on.  At this point, all I know is I need to be up by 3:30AM to catch our 6:00 flight.  Oh, and my poor parents are going to drive us to the airport at 4:30AM.  So, I set the alarm on my phone and plug it into the charger just in case the power comes on overnight, take a Xanax, and go to bed.  That’s all I can do.

I wake up on my own at 3:00AM and the power is still off.  I also have a ton of texts from American Airlines about our flight getting rescheduled again, so I go out into the living room to call them and find out what’s going on.  Just as I’m hanging up with them, the power comes back on.  Yay!  Power!  I get up to make a cup of coffee, and our house alarm starts screeching.  At 3AM.  I forgot I set the alarm and I guess it stayed set while the power was off.  The power came back on and my moving around triggered it.  Poor Carlos…I’m laughing as I type this remembering him jumping out of bed in his fighting stance ready to protect the house.  Thankfully, he has a strong heart.

We finally get rescheduled to leave at 1PM the next day.  I guess the runway was still melted at 6AM, and then when it was finally ok to handle planes, we had to be rescheduled so we wouldn’t miss our connecting flight.  So, as you can understand when Irma came through South Florida four days before we were scheduled to go to Greece, we were more than a little nervous.  We will forevermore refer to October 28, 2016 as “That Day From Hell.”

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Post-Vacation Depression

I always thought that my post-vacation depression, after I escape from the US to go somewhere abroad, was something I just made up in my head.  Turns out, its a real thing!  I did a little research on Google and found a whole slew of articles on how to combat this phenomenon.  However, most of the articles don’t really address the feeling of “Yuck, I do NOT want to be back in the US.”  My husband and I are fortunate to have traveled to many places overseas for vacation, and each time I always come back disgusted with our country.  I’m not anti-American by any means, but I get frustrated with some of the crap that goes on here – politics, religion, business, ethics, etc. etc.  I think part of the problem with our return and my frustration is that while we are away, we aren’t exposed to the barrage of media and negativity that smacks us upside the head when we return stateside.  The language barrier of being abroad makes a vacation truly a vacation from everything – work, life, reality…

This time its particularly bad.  We just went over to Japan and had the most amazing experiences.  Japan is a Buddhist nation, therefore the amount of courtesy and respect for others and nature is bar none.  I read in one of my travel books that the Japanese people have a creed when dealing with others, which is basically “don’t annoy others as you don’t want to be annoyed”.  This creed is reflected in some of the simplest activities of their life, however the biggest area of effect is through the use of cell phones in public.  I don’t think I heard one cell phone ring when I was over there.  When we traveled on trains, there were signs in the train station and on the train cars that appeared to ban the use of cell phones in those areas.  (I say “appeared” because we couldn’t read the signs as they were written in Kanji, however a picture of a cell phone circled and crossed out in red with the word “MANNERS” made it obvious in whatever language you speak.)  Of course when the plane landed back here in the good ol’ U.S.A. and the captain said electronic devices were ok to use again, the sound of cell phones ringing, beeping and buzzing was nearly deafening.  Not really, but I was incredibly annoyed.

So, I’m giving myself a week to grieve my vacation that has come and gone, and think about making some changes in my life that help continue the feeling of peace I had when I was in Japan.  I think sometimes disassociation is key – you need to step away from and block out the things that give you stress.  In my case, it’s a little bit of everything – news, politics, needy people.  My plan is to focus on things that don’t stress me out to counteract the loads of stress that I put upon myself the last ten years.  I hope I get back to Japan again some day soon, but in the mean time I have 2000+ pictures I can use to bring back the feeling of vacation.