Tag Archives: Key West

You Can’t Pick Your Relatives

2 Moms in New Orleans

2 Moms, Sister, Hubman, and Me in New Orleans

First of all I want to apologize to all my beloved readers for not getting around to posting the pictures and tales from the road trip and wedding in Key West. I promise I’m working on it and will do so soon. I’m sort of working through the trip backwards.

Trying to sort out these pictures are part of reason I went sailing into the high seas of this physical and emotional upheaval, catharsis, entire life passing before my eyes, everything looks different now, semi-nervous breakdown, bah hum bug, hissy fit.

The truth is there are very few pictures on my phone. My body was there but didn’t take many pictures. That was a shock and also a sort of twilight zone feeling. Most of the pictures are on the Hubman’s phone. 2 revelations hit me hard. 1) I don’t take pictures when I’m not happy, and 2) Hubman is a much better photographer than I am….when he chooses to be. He’s not very cooperative when I try to get him to photograph something, but when he wants to he’s damn good at it.

Scrolling through all the pictures on his phone I also realized that we existed in 2 different dimensions on the entire trip and had an entirely different vacation. He went to the Hemingway House in Key West while I was sick in bed at the resort. He took pictures of all the shenanigans at the wedding reception, while I left early to go upstairs and hack up a lung. He took pictures of the resort in Alabama while I was upstairs choking to death. He went walking on Royal Street in New Orleans and ogled all the beautiful antiques and other gee gaws while I was in the hotel hacking up my remaining lung.

I blame it on string theory and alternate universes. If all these physicist brainiacs can figure out the very nature of the universe, why can’t they figure out how a man and woman can cohabitate without killing each other? Maybe that’s why they are all eccentric loners. That’s my theory.

All along the way Mother-in-Law cruised along, unflappable, like the Queen Mum, occasionally raising an eyebrow and saying “well you can’t pick your relatives.” She’s right in a way. But, you do sort of pick your relatives when you marry someone. Because we don’t just marry one person, we marry the entire damned family. And now instead of 1 set of bizarre and colorful personages there are 2, and we’re saddled to them for life unless we call it quits.

I hit a relationship nightmare wall in New Orleans with one of my relatives who has a major drinking problem. Was talking to my sister about it later and I had a rather disturbing revelation. At least with a drunken relative, no matter how bad it gets, you count on them eventually passing out and then you heave a sigh of relief and can go about your business.

However, with a wacko relative who doesn’t drink, they can drag the craziness on and on and on and on. Until you are tempted to slip them something in their coffee to knock them out cold for at least 3 days. Also, since they’re sober, they remember everything and can store up every little thing anyone said or did, take out of context, twist it around, and stab someone in the gut with it at a most inopportune moment.

People who do this have the most annoying tendency to act all high and mighty because they don’t drink. My response is; do the world a favor and have a drink, a pill, go to bed or just shut the hell up! Preferably before someone shuts you up, shoots you with a tranquilizer dart, or vows on the life of their first-born child to never be in your exalted presence again for the rest of their natural life. Or perhaps are forced to identify you in a line up because you finally snapped and tried to run over the bag boy at the local supermarket with your car.

Another thing I realized is that in my biological relatives and relatives that I chose through marriage there is one over-riding tendency that drives me bat shit crazy. And I let myself get sucked into over and over again. This particular hat trick is “hey, let’s do X activity, I really love to do it.”  Silly me, I always think that means that we are going to jointly participate, do it together and collective share in the joy and creativity of the activity.

Nope. Ding Ding Ding. Way wrong answer! What it really means is that the person suggesting or demanding that the activity occur is going to sit around on their ass and tell you what to do, how to do it, and refuse to budge on anything that is not exactly how they want it done. All while they are sitting around complaining about how hard they are working. They will also get all bent out of shape and put on a pout that rivals the tantrums of King Leer if you don’t do it with a gleam in your eye and pretend to enjoy every moment of your inadvertent indentured servitude.

So I guess I have some family issues. I find vague comfort in the fact that I am not alone. The holidays tend to bring out the good and the bad in all of us. Everything seems amplified and magnified during this time. All kinds of shoulds, and this is how it’s supposed to be, and we always did it this way, it doesn’t feel like the holidays if we don’t do such is such, tends to glob up into one huge ball of confusion that would bring a horse to its knees.

Perhaps I need to go on a solo trip to Fiji for the holidays next year? Or maybe even this year. It’s not too late.

The Bridge Too Far

Highway to hellThis story of the road trip to Key West seems to be unfolding in a nonlinear fashion. I learned a lot about myself this time around. Travel is always educational. Unfortunately it’s not always things you want to learn. But, I sort of wonder if perhaps some things are better not learned in the first place. Although I still have bronchitis so I may still be in an extremely whiny and frustrated mood.

The main thing I learned this time is that at the tender age of 57 I still stand back and let myself get talked into things that I know are going to be a BAAAAAD idea. And then volunteer to do part of the driving to get to the bad idea.

I’ve driven to Key West from New Orleans 2 times before and both times swore on my future grave that I was NEVER going to do it again. It’s a long boring stressful trip through a whole lot of nothing. Key West is fabulous, but driving there sucks on multiple levels.

So what do I do? I agree to another road trip to Key West from 500 miles further away and somehow tell myself that I have not in fact lost my freaking mind. I should have put my foot down and said “there is no way in hell that I am doing this, and may God have mercy on your soul. Don’t bother sending postcards because I’ve already been there, done that.” Or maybe something along the lines of “hey, I’m going to fly, meet ya there, have fun. Call me from the road if you live.”

I love my Mother-in-law but she is what she is. She still bosses her son around and hasn’t figured out that I don’t take well to getting bossed around. I put an end to my mother bossing me around by leaving home when I was 15 years old. I’m left feeling like I spent 2 weeks with a pillow slammed down over my face. Maybe that’s why my body decided to manifest bronchitis so I could have an excuse to say NO, I don’t want to cram another plate of food down my face or look at one more tree, statue or anything else without resorting to violence. I need a break!!

Part of the problem is that the Hubman has developed this sort of Siamese triplet mentality. A weird triangle relationship has manifested where he seems to think that he, his mother and I are an inseparable unit. It’s not doing our relationship much good. This was becoming an issue before we left on the trip.  If I didn’t go along with the program with his mother, then he won’t go either. It’s as if WE not HE is responsible for entertaining his mother at all times. I have my own mother to contend with, thank you very much. And that is not always an easy task.

As a result, this behavior continued and worsened on the trip and if I didn’t go along with the program then he would stay in the room and crank up the AC to zizz and in general take over everything and every square inch of the room. He wouldn’t do anything with his mother unless I came along, so the only solitude I managed to find was in a random hotel bathrooms or walking around the corner to alleys. The exception being the night I collapsed in the hotel.

My first mistake was forgetting the first rule of travel is that it’s supposed to be enjoyable for ALL members of the party. As defined by ALL members of the group. This doesn’t mean that everyone likes every single activity. Of course compromises should be made. But reluctantly embarking on a 3,000 mile road trip because one of the persons involved doesn’t want to be “inconvenienced” by an uncomfortable airplane seat is a recipe for resentments and disaster. Said person did absolutely none of the driving of course.

Another mistake was my standing by while the Hubman planned out the route and how long it “should” take us to get from point A to point B. Never in his life has he been on a road trip as an adult. He was a passenger in the back seat as a small child and went on road trips with his family. But that doesn’t even come close to counting as experience as an adult traveler. I kept trying to tell him that you need to factor in time to stop, walk around, eat, use the restroom, and just in general not be in the car for a while. Did he listen?  – NO. Did I put my foot down and insist? – NO.

Crazy things happen when traveling. Not everyone wakes up hung over in a hotel room in Bangkok with a tattoo on their face, but things do happen. Time to recuperate, process, be alone, and rev up for more adventures needs to be in there somewhere, or a trip can quickly transform into a death march.

So it seems we have some issues to resolve. Ya think?

A Trip Though the ER Fun House

Grand Hotel - Mobile, AL

Grand Hotel – Mobile, AL

After attending the fabulous and flawlessly executed destination wedding of a beloved niece, we left Key West last Monday and hit the road for a 2 day road trip to the Grand Hotel near Mobile, Alabama. A lovely old property that served as a hospital during the civil war and various other purposes before being turned into a resort.

The buildings got wiped out by several hurricanes over the decades, but the owners keep rebuilding it because the spot itself is so beautiful. It’s at the end of a peninsula over looking Mobile bay.

The area has a nice brand new hospital too. I got a tour of the emergency room last Monday night.  I had developed a cough on the Saturday before and was drifting up and down the wellness scale feeling weak and dizzy. The night we arrived at the resort we had cocktails out on the patio of the hotel bar and watched the sunset.

Afterwards, Hubman took his mother for a walk around the property and reminisce. Mr. Husband and I honeymooned here as did his mother and father when they married 57 years ago.

I felt ok, relatively speaking, other than the annoying cough, so I went to our room planning to freshen up and change out of road weary clothes for dinner. My body had other plans. I started coughing violently and began tearing up luggage looking for cough syrup. I was coughing so hard that I was choking and started seeing spots in front of my eyes. Unfortunately the backpack that contained my medicine got left in the car.

I called down to the front deck and the twit who answered the phone said I needed to know the valet ticket number for the car. By this time I was coughing so hard that I was beginning to go into major panic mode. I hung up the phone and started staggering around the room trying to find my mobile phone to call Mr. Husband.

I found the phone, but the battery was dead because I had been using it to play games in the car all day so I couldn’t call him, silly me. Now I felt like I was drowning or choking to death. I called the front desk again and got a different person on the line and managed to gasp that I couldn’t breathe and needed help and medicine that was in my car. This person seemed to grasp that the situation might just be serious.

I learned something about myself. When I can’t breathe I start thrashing around knocking over furniture and throwing things around trying to find something to help. Our hotel room quickly took on the look of a space in which a wild party was still in progress. One part of my brain was standing off to the side musing, “wonder if this how Elvis or some Hollywood starlet died. Wearing nothing but a fancy spa robe, flailing around the room, like a drunk prom queen?” Glamorous, but terrifying none the less.

Grand Hotel - Mobile, AL

Glamour Shot – Leaving the ER

Fortunately, Mr. Husband arrived on the scene within minutes. He was not aware that anything was going on. By this time I was laying in the floor with my head in a waste basket because I felt nauseated. He claims I was “unresponsive.”  I claim that dragging someone around the floor of a hotel room by their arm does not force them to respond, it just pisses them off even in their lack of oxygen state of mind. He was trying to get me to stand up. All I knew was that was not going to happen. I think I mumbled something about an ambulance.

Next thing I knew a woman introduced to me as a “loss prevention specialist” was patting me on the back saying that help was on the way and everything was going to just fine. I vaguely wondered if that was a job subspecialty now in the hotel industry. Make sure the guests don’t croak…on the property.

Things happened pretty fast after that, but it’s all a jumbled blur. The paramedics came and hooked me up to all kinds of gizmos and put an oxygen tube thing in my nose and away we went. I remember lot of people talking really loud like I was deaf and referring to me as Mrs. Blah Blah. That alone is scary. When people address me by my formal name I’m either in a lot of trouble or really sick.

It felt like I was watching a faulty TV and the sound kept coming and going. Heard a word here and there saying, embolism, heart attack, stroke. Part of me was thinking “Uh, that doesn’t sound good.” Another part of me was thinking “hey, will y’all just shut the hell up, turn the light off, a bring me a blanket, I’m freezing to death here in the backless nightgown.” And further more if you stick one more needle in me there will be bloodshed! Hey, that’s my blood. Put it back! Get this thing out of my nose. I’m tired of this, I want to go home!

They eventually shoved a tube in my mouth with steam coming out of it. That worked great and I perked right up because I could breathe. But never the less, the determined, dedicated staff decided to wheel me all over the place. They poked dye in my veins and then shot me through a tube several times. X-rayed me, thumped and poked and took more blood.

It was like being wheeled though the worlds scariest fun house. By they time they finished with me I firmly believed that the pit and pendulum followed by being shot out of a cannon were next on the agenda.

I was finally released with a diagnosis of severe acute bronchitis and a prescription for antibiotics and an asthma inhaler. Yay, lucky me, I lived!  The whole experience put the fear of God in me to be sure. I am left with a loss of that feeling of invincibility that I’ve always harbored when traveling and life in general.

We left Mobile after a day of rest and drove a leisurely 200 miles to New Orleans. It’s a rather interesting test of philosophical fortitude to find oneself in a 5 star hotel in the exact center of party capital of the continental United States and be unable to drink or smoke or even get out of bed. At least I was out of town. Oh well.

Hubman’s 50th Birthday On the Road

Hubman's  7 Sin Birthday cake

Hubman’s 7 Sins Chocolate Birthday cake

Yesterday was Mr. Husband’s big 50th birthday. What did he do on his birthday? He drove his wife and mother 538 miles for Jackson, Mississippi to Clear lake, Florida on this second day of our road trip. What a great guy. I think we’ll keep him. And maybe he’ll keep us. We have got along OK  much better than I thought we would.

I managed to find a halfway decent restaurant using the Urban  Spoon app on my Iphone. It was Italian Greek place that turned out to be excellent. For his birthday cake Hubman chose a huge piece cake call “7 Layers of Chocolate Sin.” I tried a bite of it and it was indeed sinfully delicious.

It was a long haul and it rained all day, but it wasn’t that bad trip.We’re hope to get to Miami earlier in the after noon to tomorrow to get settled into a hotel and visit the prospective bride and groom on there last few days of single hood. Then we’ll all be heading to down to Key West for the Wedding Saturday.  I’m looking forward to some beach time and relaxation, and drink lots of with little umbrellas in there 🙂

So tomorrow we will be on the road early as possible and skeedadled Miami. The soon to be newly weds life in a swanky high-rise right in downtown Miami on Brickell Ave. That’s a pretty prestigious address from what I recall when I lived in Miami many years ago.

I’m hoping that we get a chance to drive by the house in Miami that I lived in until  I was 15 years old. I wonder if the old banyan tree that I played in as a kid is still standing. That would be hoot if it still looks the same.

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