Freak Out

Do you know how to freak a Mother out?

When your daughter what’s app’s you from South Africa and says she can’t use her credit card.

I immediately call the bank, who first gives me grief because the card is in my daughter’s name and my Husband’s and I’m not on there. Doesn’t matter that I’m on the other credit card with this same bank…

So I’m simultaneously arguing and trying to get my husband on a three way call with the bank, because I’m not sure if I should try his cell or his work landline, and praying the customer service guy doesn’t hang up on me before the call goes through…

Finally get my husband who authorizes me to act on his behalf…

To have customer service say that they didn’t deny any charge…

so I ask how could my daughter be trying to buy something and not have it go through…

to which customer service replies have her try again…

And I’m like, let me repeat…my daughter is in South Africa which is kinda sorta halfway around the world…

Then they look again and say that oh- maybe they did deny something…

At which I explode, and remind them that on a certain date a week ago I called and said that my daughter would be traveling in South Africa and customer service replied that I didn’t need to preauthorize travel expenditures…

And they asked my why my daughter was buying five tickets to a rugby game…

They said there was no history of this card ever being used to buy tickets to a rugby game so it was flagged…

So while I get that it looked like “unusual activity”, if you are visiting South Africa for the first time you might want to check out a sport that is very popular there…

Which is what I told them…

And they righted the error and my daughter had no trouble with her card after that…

So the question is, with all the fraud in the world, how do we keep things secure without screwing us up?

I was…

Every year we go to Cowgirl to celebrate my Daughter’s report card- have been doing it since Pre-k. This was my daughter’s favorite dessert when she was younger- the ice cream baked potato. It’s vanilla ice cream covered in cocoa powder, whipped cream (sour cream) pistachios (chives) and frosting square (butter) I am intoxicated with joy when we come here.
My daughter and I have been watching Sex and the City reruns this summer. This is the building that was used as Carrie Bradshaw’s house. I was interested in seeing something in person that I have been watching on TV all summer.

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 8/6/22

My phone worked fine internationally. I did not have any issues at all. However, when we touched down at JFK, and I was allowed to open my phone, I knew there was some sort of problem. I could log in to JFK wifi, but my Verizon services would not work. This cause me a moment of anxiety. When we got back to our apartment, I used my Husband’s phone to try to call Verizon customer service. Of course, Verizon customer service was closed…


Can you feel the mellow of my vacation seeping away?

I tried googling troubleshooting, which said it was a SIM card error, but I couldn’t get the SIM slot open on my phone

So I played with my phone a bit, knowing that I would have no phone with which to call customer service the next day as everyone would be at work, and I saw a thing that said RESET NETWORK. I figured what did I have to lose?

So, I reset the network.

I am grateful that this was exactly the fix that my phone needed. Within a minute my phone was back up and running.

My prompt for kinda/sorta the past few weeks has been HUMOR. This is how it was used in the books that I read:

  1. Betty Wertheimer was known to have a good sense of humor, and Sargent always looked for ways to amuse his sitters. Deborah Davis
  2. Just humor us, Mom, ” she’d said during their last conversation. When she replayed that line in her head, she sounded like a spoiled teenager. Jennifer Close
  3. We’ve been so busy, people haven’t had a sense of humor. Helen Ellis
  4. Yet the trip was a pleasure to him, for by now he was so entranced with China that he took even took the poor accommodation in good humor: “I never expected ti find my way strewed with luxuries,” he admitted drily. Sarah Rose
  5. Thinking about my grandmothers now, I understand that it was faith, bravery, curiosity, and humor, as well as their fashionable hats, that made them beautiful. Caroline Kennedy
  6. Firas would be on his phone, and Mustafa would snatch it from his hands and put it in one of the empty honey jars, but he would never really get angry with his son- there was a certain humor between them, even when they were in battle with each other. Christy Lefteri
  7. His emotional distress only humored us further. Daniel Black
  8. If I were a waitress, walking around offering people a refreshing palate- cleanser between heavy novel course, I’d hold out a tray of humorous essay collections and let them take their pick. Emily Pullen, highlighted in a book currated by Jane Mount
  9. In the winter, while everyone else was laying out copy, he summoned me to his desk and told me I had a “biting sense of humor”. Stephanie Foo
  10. Eventually she is through the checkout, once again marveling at the assistant’s unruffled good humour, and zigzagging her trolley through the car park. Elly Griffiths
  11. As a text (referring to Under Milk Wood), I find it unknowable, but I’m always drawn to its undulating rhythms and wicked humour. Katherine May
  12. It’s a strange feeling, thinking about who you were in past relationships: a mix of sadness and humour, of mortification and frustration. Natasha Lunn
  13. Even when we disagreed, it was always good-humoured. Marian Keyes

What I’m going to think about humor/humour

  1. Can the Brits and the Americans get on board and agree to a common spelling?
  2. How often do we humor people?
  3. How hard is it to go through life without a sense of humor?
  4. Is humor universal?
  5. Should humor be universal?

Face Lift
Sylvia Plath

You bring me good news from the clinic,
Whipping off your silk scarf, exhibiting the tight white
Mummy-cloths, smiling: I'm all right.
When I was nine, a lime-green anesthetist
Fed me banana-gas through a frog mask.  The nauseous vault
Boomed with bad dreams and the Jovian voices of surgeons.
Then mother swam up, holding a tin basin.
O I was sick.

They've changed all that.  Traveling
Nude as Cleopatra in my well-boiled hospital shift,
Fizzy with sedatives and unusually humorous,
I roll to an anteroom where a kind man
Fists my fingers for me.  He makes me feel something precious
Is leaking from the finger-vents.  At the count of two,
Darkness wipes me out like chalk on a blackboard. . .
I don't know a thing.

For five days I lie in secret,
Tapped like a cask, the years draining into my pillow.
Even my best friend thinks I'm in the country.
Skin doesn't have roots, it peels away easy as paper.
When I grin, the stitches tauten.  I grow backward.  I'm twenty,
Broody and in long skirts on my first husband's sofa, my fingers
Buried in the lambswool of the dead poodle;
I hadn't a cat yet.

Now she's done for, the dewlapped lady
I watched settle, line by line, in my mirror—
Old sock-face, sagged on a darning egg.
They've trapped her in some laboratory jar.
Let her die there, or wither incessantly for the next fifty years,
Nodding and rocking and fingering her thin hair.
Mother to myself, I wake swaddled in gauze,
Pink and smooth as a baby.

Barcelona Recap

Here’s all my thoughts on my recent vacation to Barcelona. They are in no particular order

  • Dining is really late in Barcelona- most restaurants do not open for the evening meal until 8:30 (20:30) Our first night there, as we’d been up for 24 hours, we ate at 7pm. I don’t like eating dinner after 8pm. Period. I don’t care if it’s not very Spanish. My Husband felt very uncultured eating this early in Barcelona (I was tired and wanted to sleep on the very lovely banquette we were seated at. The tablecloth would have made a fine blanket) The second night we ate at 8:30. The third night we ate at 9. On Saturday after the opera, we ate at 10. After our 10pm dining experience, and subsequent problem sleeping because he didn’t digest properly, my Husband admitted that he likes dining earlier. Sometimes you have to learn by yourself.
  • They say that NYC is the city that never sleeps, but I tip my hat to Barcelona. Barcelona deserves that title. We got out of a restaurant at midnight and were unable to find a cab because they were all full with people just starting their nights. Our hotel room overlooked a plaza and musicians and people were out there all night. When we were going to the airport at 430am, we saw A LOT of people on their way home from their night out.
  • We met a woman on our Costa Brava/Gerona/Pals tour who was only in Barcelona for two days. On her first day she did a hop on/hop off tour, and on her second day she did our tour. There is nothing wrong with this. However, if you have one day in Barcelona, hop off the bus and do La Sagrada Familia- to come to Barcelona and not see this is almost criminal.
  • I was 90% happy with the way I planned the trip. My one regret was booking Park Guell for a Saturday, because it I left myself with the Monday open and museums are closed on Mondays. In retrospect, I would have liked to have been able to see Joan Miro museum.
  • My husband and I really liked Casa Battlo, which oddly is the least talked about of the “big” Gaudi sights. I felt like I could have lived in this space- both beautiful and practical. If you have limited time in Barcelona, I think you should pick one Gaudi site apart from LSF, because there’s so much to see in this city and you get a good knowledge of Gaudi from two things.
  • If you do LSF, get the tour with a real guide. Having a person take you around around and talk to you about it is much better than an audio guide. In fact, if it is possible, get a real person guide at everything. I learned so much more with my people guides than I did with my audio things.
  • I told you the Hitler/Holy Grail thing the other day, but the other interesting thing I learned was about St. Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia. There’s a legend about a dragon and Jordi, but the result of this is that on April 21, Diada de Sant Jordi, you give a rose to your beloved (not romantically- our guide gives roses to his wife, his mother in law and his daughter) and women give books to the men. (apparently it’s also the day that Cervantes and Shakespeare died). I thought this was a pretty cool tradition and I think we should adapt it here
  • If you come to Barcelona, be prepared to hear a lot about Catalan independence. Look for the flags. People are very passionate about this subject.
  • We did two day tours outside of the city. Our guides on both of these tours were not from Spain/Catalan. Our guide to Montserrat was Polish, and our guide to Gerona was Irish. I thought this was interesting.
  • The only time we wore masks was in taxis, on one of our tours, and on our plane from Barcelona to London. There is no talk of COVID aside from that.
  • Heathrow is a giant shopping mall. A very high end shopping mall.
  • Alcohol is really cheap in Barcelona. A glass of Cava (sparkling wine) might cost me 15$ in NYC. I was paying 4.50 euro (which is presently a 1:1 exchange rate) in Barcelona. So. Much. Cheaper.
  • There are SO MANY fast food outlets. SO MANY. I don’t know if they are for the tourists or the locals.
  • The food we ate was fresh, locally sourced and good. We did not have a bad meal here. We tried to eat Catalan/Spanish food as often as we could. Butifarra, the traditional Catalan sausage is delicious. My Husband had it as a sandwich and we had it served with beans- so good. The only think we didn’t love was octopus. We also did not eat the traditional anchovy dishes.
  • I was surprised by how few people smoked- I always think of Europe as filled with smokers, but I rarely saw anyone smoke.
  • We met some lovely people from all over, including a wonderful couple from Belgium and a woman from Brazil on one of our tours. We also met a some very obnoxious people, and before you say anything, most of them were not American. To be clear, there are disrespectful people of all nationalities. One non american guy, stood for about five minutes taking pictures on a bridge, not giving us the option to walk past. When I walked past he said “hey you’re in my picture” and I said not surprising as you just took about a hundred… Note: let people pass if you are taking a long time trying to get the perfect shot of your partner, especially if you are on a footbridge not wide enough to walk around you. Also, of you are on a group tour, remember the group part: don’t be late to meet back up. Be respectful of the others in your group. Respect your fellow humans.
  • In Gerona, there’s a statue of a lion up on a pole (I posted the pic without the story) You are supposed to climb up the pole and kiss the butt of the lion to ensure that you will come back to Gerona. There used to be a ladder- but that is a COVID casualty
  • Our hotel was in the Gothic Quarter across the plaza from the Barcelona Cathedral. This was a perfect location as it was walking distance to a lot of things. I recommend this neighborhood if you ever visit.
  • Speaking of our hotel- just perfection. Beautiful, fully appointed, helpful staff. Wonderful.
  • My stupidity at the hotel- it took me four days to figure out how to get the perfect water temp in the shower.
  • Another stupid thing: when we finally found a cab after our dinner, when we got in and I had to tell our address, I said Catedral Barcelona, and the driver had no idea. So I was trying to tell him the address, which was Catedral 7, and I kept saying SEVEN, then I realized that I was saying it in English, so I’m in the backseat going Uno, dos, tres, because I couldn’t remember what SEVEN was in Spanish. To be fair, as soon as I said Catedral, he should have known because there’s only like three buildings on Carrer Catedral.
  • We were warned from everyone we knew, and the hotel staff, about pickpockets. After having been there as obvious tourists for a week, we never felt in fear of being pickpocketed. In fact, we felt very safe the entire time.

I think that’s it!!! I will answer any questions about anything we saw/did if you have any! Thanks for taking this trip with me.

The Flight Home

I wasn’t going to write a post about the trip home…but…you know…

When we booked our flight back in May, we had a connection in Heathrow. It was an hour and ten minutes, and both planes were in Terminal 5. Then, two weeks ago, they changed our departing plane to Terminal 3…

You know we didn’t make the connection. (To be fair, I knew as soon as we got the notice of the terminal change that we wouldn’t make the connection- my husband had thought about checking our bags and I said Nope- let’s just do carry on- another side note…people were amazed that we packed for a week in Europe with just a carryon)

So we aren’t allowed to even go to security to get our flight because Heathrow has a policy about the time you can enter a line to get to a plane, which basically means that when we got on the customer service cue…there were eight not so happy people ahead of us…

Two hours on the first customer service line…

Here’s what I don’t understand- these people working this particular section are supposed to rebook the people who miss their flights…yet they don’t just tap, tap, tap away at a computer…they need some sort of permission, which means that they are on hold. A lot. The family next to us was parents and four kids between I’d say eight and fifteen, trying to get back to I think New Mexico…the agent saw the flight, but by the time the agent got permission, five of the six tickets were gone…

We were originally put on standby. My husband was worried we wouldn’t get on the flight. The agent told us not to worry- he figured at least two people would miss the connection…so there I was rooting for someone to be in the same lousy position I was in. As another lost traveler said to me though- “Well…someone got your seat on your flight, so it all works our in the end”. We were very lucky to be on a flight which left a few hours later. Hours we needed because security at Heathrow is intense.

Here’s the thing about airport security: they are doing this for the safety of all. Can you really complain about then doing their jobs thoroughly?

Of course you can, but should you?

I am a very careful packer. I look at the rules of what we are supposed to do and not supposed to do and I follow them.

The rule for liquids is nothing over 100ml in bottle or jar or tube (slightly more than 3 ounces), and this goes for anything listed in fluid ounces. The sum total of those bottles and jars must fit in a quart size clear plastic bag. I own a clear, quart sized cosmetics bag for this particular purpose (in fact, it’s smaller) I adhere to the rule. (I give my husband the toothpaste and sun block because he carries much less fluid ounces than I do- hello moisturizer, face soap and perfume)

First off- when I was putting my laptop, ipad and clear bag in the security bin, I asked the person if I should put my liquids in the available plastic bags that they had- she said “No- that bag is small enough”.

You know I got flagged. Did everything right, asked if I was OK, and still got flagged…

FYI- so many people get flagged. And not only do they take everything our of your bag…with permission of course (because really, when the security guard says do I have permission to open this bag, are you really in the position to say No?) The person ahead of me must have had forty assorted tubes and such. They made her throw our half of her stuff… Plus- if your bag gets flagged they put this little wand over it, checking for substances. I think I stood waiting for my flagged bag for at least ten minutes.

Now, my husband says he didn’t know this liquid thing was a rule. Of course he doesn’t because I pretty much pack for him and put his liquids in a clear case. My husband got flagged because he didn’t realize his inhaler is counted as liquid and had it in another part of his carryon…

Because we have traveled to a lot of places and never actually had the liquid rule put to the test…Never. And we leave from JFK and Newark most of the time, and we thought security was tough there. We’ve never been flagged in any other European country either.

And seriously- they have more security checkpoints than any other airport I’ve every seen.

But, as stated, can you really complain about securtiy?

Side note: all the security didn’t make me actually feel any safer…

Obviously we made it through security because I’m back at my desk blogging…

The vast majority of people we encountered on the customer service lines were being really good sports- we were maintaining a gallows humor sort of vibe. As our new friends got off the line holding up boarding passes, we would cheer for them… When our agent told us where to go to see if we got off standby, he remarked it was in front of the Prada store. I asked if Prada was cheaper in the airport…because if you don’t keep your sense of humor, you have nothing…For example, one woman kept trying to get ahead in the line: she said I have a problem and you don’t care- I told her to stop cutting in the front because none of us were in that line for fun- we ALL had issues…

As for the issues- I know that my husband and I were very, very lucky. We met people who were not able to be rebooked for DAYS.


So gratitude was in order.

We went to the Gordan Ramsey restaurant- didn’t realize that my first cup of tea in London would be in the airport though…

My only regret was that I didn’t pick up a tin of tea at Fortnum and Mason…

Tomorrow I will wrap up my thoughts on Barcelona and the trip in general.

Barcelona Day 6

  • We ate at Bar Canete- apparently a favorite of the futball team…we sat at the preferred table of De Jong, one of the players. Also thought there menu was interesting…and the food was spectacular. I think my husband is going to dream about the roasted pork dish…
  • My Husband’s highlight of the trip was seeing Camp Nou, home of the Barcelona FC. It is really an impressive stadium
  • That’s a little bit of an original Roman wall…can you imagine?
  • Finally bought espadrilles- pink of course…perfect souvenir of Barcelona!
  • Santa Maria Basilica- outstanding, as are all the churches we saw!!
  • We did not get to the Miro center, but we did check out his mural on La Rambla
  • Hotel Colon was a wonderful home for a few days
  • Our last meal in Barcelona was at Cal Pep- it’s sort of like a lunch counter with no menu- the waiter comes over and asks what you like and don’t like, and then he gives suggestions based on what they have that day, so you really have no idea what you are ordering- we sat in front of the cooks and watching them was poetry in motion- the way they choreograph and get the food out is worth the price of admission- plus…some of the best food we ate all week!! The picture is of the fried artichokes which were outstanding

Barcelona Day 5

  • Saw opera Carmen at the Palau de Musica- First off- gorgeous venue. Secondly- Even though I’m not in Seville, how can you not see Carmen when in Spain?
  • Cava Sangria- It’s a thing and it’s perfection
  • Took a day trip/tour to Pals/Costa brava/Gerona
  • Pals is a Medieval city- really felt I was in a fairy tale- so wonderful. The church is from 900…
  • Costa Brava is just gorgeous- the water!!!!!
  • Gerona is another fairy tale city. Also a Game of Thrones city…apparently, parts of Season 5 were filmed here, including some wedding. Might have to watch the show to see it. Just so much history! But also a sad reminder of how much here was destroyed here do to hate…