Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

So this post has to do with my recent adventure to Spain! It was a great trip and I think every young (as in 21 or older) person should go to a different country at least once. I think a few of my posts for the next few weeks will involve this trip, as I got SO MUCH out of it, good and bad. I like to get the bad out of the way, so this one was a bad experience that I think a lot of people can learn from and it has to do with booking flights, getting on flights and missing flights. 

My best friend and I booked this trip on Expedia in November of 2010. They had a great deal for airfare and hotel and we could not be more excited! We saved up spending money and counted down the days to my first and her second European adventure. I registered with the consulate there (which I recommend HIGHLY especially with growing global unrest). They get your contact information and inform you of anything that US citizens should be worried about and will even tell you if you need to get out of the country. I also registered with Smart Traveler who does the same type of thing. 

On the day of our flight, we get to the DFW airport almost 3 hours before our first flight. Our itinerary was to fly from DFW to Chicago O’Haire, then to Madrid and finally to Barcelona, our ultimate destination. We try to check our bags in with American Airlines and ran into a problem. Expedia had booked us with only a 30 minute layover in Chicago for an international flight. Now, in November, we had 2 hours and Expedia had changed our flights 3 times between then and the day of the trip. The gate agent said American could not rebook us and Expedia said that they could not rebook us. This is the first in many headaches by booking through a third party. 

I then spoke with a GREAT AA agent, Patty Peppertree, who booked us on a direct flight to Madrid. She tried everything to get us to Barcelona that day, but we decided to take a train (300$) from Madrid to Barcelona.  A small headache and one that I am planning to take up with Expedia. 
Even though we thought our troubles were behind us, the return flights were worse. Expedia had again changed our flight, but had put our itinerary in a format that was very difficult to read (I mean, I am reasonably intelligent and read the time change wrong). We still got to the airport early enough to check in (2 hours for a domestic Spanish flight) and missed check in by 3 minutes. The kiosks were not working and the agents were not helpful. We then had to rebook a direct flight from Barcelona to JFK, take a shuttle to Newark, spend the night at the Newark Airport and fly to DFW the next day. And oh did I mention, this change cost us $900.
Now I don’t mean to displace all the blame. I could have checked more carefully, I could have bought wireless in our hotel to check us in, (there is no 3G data there and it was expensive to obtain), etc. But what I learned out of this entire ordeal is to BOOK DIRECTLY WITH THE AIRLINE. Then you don’t run into falling in between the cracks where neither entity wants to help you. 

For this trip, we ended up going to 5 different airports and never once flew on one of the original booked flights. I did all that I knew how to do at the time; confirm, arrive early, have all of your documents in order, etc., but it still was not enough. If you ever travel internationally (which I will again) just don’t look for the cheapest way, and don’t use anyone other than the airlines themselves. More positive things to come in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Emerging from the Ugly

Now I’m not too sure if everyone is aware of the phrase that so and so is “being ugly.” I was not aware of what this meant (because, seriously, someone is just ugly, it isn’t a state of being) until after I moved to Georgia. I am originally from Maryland, so I had to learn a whole lot of southern phrases upon my relocation to the great south! So back to my point, when someone is “being ugly” that means that they are doing unkind, vengeful, or deceptive things, which makes them ugly in the eyes of their peers. I actually rather like the phrase because it indicates that people are in a state of ugliness rather than are dispositionally “ugly” or mean. 

The reason I bring this concept up to y’all (haha, had to do it) today is that I have been witnessing and being on the receiving end of quite a bit of ugliness. Honestly, it puts me in a bad mood, making me be rather ugly to an unsuspecting bunch of people. I won’t go into too much detail about the ugliness that I have been a part of; however, I will say that being vengeful in a situation really does get you nowhere. Most of the time, that type of reaction makes you appear “ugly” to others who may or may not be privy to the situation at all, and honestly comes back on YOU, even the situation SHOULD dictate differently. 

Now, what do you do when you are on the receiving end of ugly? That is a tough one! My initial reaction (because I’m a fierce red-head) is to confront it. That method has been probably as successful for me as it has been a failure. It really depends on who the “ugly” person is. I REALLY attempt to examine the intention, rather than the action. However, sometimes the action unveils a very “ugly” intention, which really is probably one of the most unfortunate situations to be in, especially when you believed that this person’s intentions were positive. There isn’t a really good answer to this situation other than that the knowledge is valuable. 

Now, I have been talking about ugliness for three paragraphs and wanted to end on a positive. Even when you are in a situation of ugly, it is really up to YOU to do things to alleviate the situation as well as being resistant to turning ugly as a result. I definitely had an ugly day or two within the past couple of weeks and I do little things to help become “not ugly.” Things like, getting up an hour earlier to cook myself breakfast and do my hair. Or having a nice glass of wine and watching Enchanted. If you put yourself in a better state of mind, other people will feel that and the ugly will shrink away. 

One last thought. It is ALWAYS helpful to do something nice for someone else (especially if they have been in a weird situation) because it definitely holds an impact (shout out to my awesome boss who brought me to work from the tire place after discovering a flat tire on an “ugly” day). It definitely started my day off right! SO HERE’S TO NOT BEING UGLY! J

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dealing With the Bad

I lost my little sis in my sorority, Lila on December 14, 2010. She was only 24 years old and had a hemorrhagic stroke (or so I was told, I didn’t want to ask many questions) on December 9th and never recovered. How crazy is that? A beautiful, sweet, smart girl who was in law school and working toward a better future just isn’t here anymore?

It’s been a tough week for me so far. I had a GREAT day yesterday, but I had this constant feeling of anger and sadness. I got a call from my sister that one of her friends passed away over the weekend in a car wreck, at 20 years old. It just doesn’t seem fair right? I thought maybe my state of emotions emerged from trying to help her cope, while re-living a lot of my past and current feelings regarding Lila’s sudden death. Then, I looked at my dad’s Facebook profile (I know, weird, but whatever) and it all fell into place. Yesterday, February 28th, 2011 would have been my grandmother on my dad’s side’s 77th birthday. She was a huge part of my life, and everyone said we were just alike in a lot of ways. I LOVED to talk for hours on the phone with her. For her birthday, I always would call and my dad would always set up some sort of surprise. One time, while we were living in Georgia and she was living in Maryland, my dad called to sing to her Happy Birthday (which she loved). She was intently listening while my dad (who had flown in from Atlanta that morning) walked through her front door. He said that she screamed and was so happy to have him visit.
I often wonder what life would be like if she or Lila were still here, but that just puts me in a constant state of sadness. I like to think Lila and she are still with me, but it just isn’t enough. I don’t have any sage advice to go with this blog at all. I just think that people often don’t share certain things and “go down the rabbit hole” so to speak of bad thoughts. My goal is to say, these things happened, and honestly, there isn’t a silver lining (outside of believing they are in a better place), and I hope that others can relate and not harbor bad thoughts for a long period of time. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I think sharing these feelings and recognizing that others have gone through a similar situation is comforting in a way. Constant thoughts about a situation that you cannot change are futile, reach out to those who are still here, and change your own situation. That is how I deal with bad situations in general. You have to decide to change the sad thoughts into happy ones, which by no means is an easy task (trust me I can’t do it very well all the time). You also have to decide how you are going to change your overall outlook. It is definitely a growing experience and I will get back to you on how I handle it. But for now, I wish everyone happy thoughts and a great rest of the week!!