05/06/2013

Traveling Mom Travel Parenting

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I’m sitting in a cafe in Manchester, UK. It’s familiar, this cafe. The music, the people, the coffee. I think this is the key to traveling… everything at one point becomes familiar, even if only because we’re sitting on the same globe under the same sky.

My family rings me daily, the video turning morning in to silly faces and kisses from across the pond. I marvel at the technology compared to my first trip to the UK in 2001 when I punched in a 400 digit number to reach a calling card and the country code and finally the home phone in hopes to reach my husband. Now I wake the children up on video phone, ala Jeston’s like, rousing sleeping heads just before my dinner time.

fam

I’ve been asked “how do you do it? How can you travel and leave your children?” It is only because of this technology and the patience of Mr. Flinger that I have this opportunity. As often as I miss and yearn for them, I also try to encourage them to ask the questions “what is it like there?” It’s a small and simple task to encourage the children’s curiosity. I show them the weather, the money, the photos. I introduce them to my friends and their young daughter, who greets them with a very adorably Northern English, “hallo!” My young son blushes at the little girl in glasses smiling at him over the screen. “They have children in England, Mommy?” “Yes, Buddy, they do. See?”

This curiosity grows like a seedling. As we listen to Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I,” I hear a small voice in the back seat of the car, “Let’s go to France and Germany, Mommy!”

06/02/2013

How to not be a tourist: AKA: ten things I learned in London today Travel

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Wandering around London, alone, amidst crowds of families, strangers, losers, businessmen and lepers, I learnt a bit about how to fit in. The irony of that last sentence is that I’ve never quite learnt how to fit in at home. But here, lost in the crowds bumping shoulders with thousands of strangers, I find a way to quietly assimilate to the expectations of local society. Let me ‘splain.

1. Don’t carry around a paper map. Instead, hunt and peck on the map on your phone. You’ll look just like the local texting his or her mate to meet up for drinks later. Only tourists use a paper map.

2. Purchase your souvenirs at the end of the day, not at the start. Nothing shouts tourist like carrying around a bag full of “I LOVE LONDON bracelets” and “My mom went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” (P.S. Family and friends, you’ll be receiving these shortly.)

3. If you find yourself unsure which way to go next, stop and ponder a menu outside a restaurant. This gives the illusion you’re considering a place to eat whilst giving you the opportunity to check the location of the sun and triangulate your next move.

4. Dress like you were going to your local coffee shop. I know you think you’re going to be walking a bunch and want to wear your white sneakers, but leave the stark white shoes at the hotel. You’re not actually walking a marathon. Be comfortable but sensible. Take breaks as needed. See #3.

06/01/2013

Shoot, dribble, or pass Travel

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Many many years ago, in a small, reasonably priced apartment in Bellingham, my before-husband told me a story from his childhood about decision making. He played basketball at the church league up the street from his house during his Elementary and Jr. High years. Being a somewhat shy kid, he never had the confidence on the court that could allow him to succeed among other sweaty 10 year olds. The pressure of the ball being tossed at him was sometimes too much and he’d freeze, or just take off running like Forest Gump, forgetting all main facets of the game; namely that you have to bounce the ball whilst running and throw it at a high hoop thingy. I don’t know the details of the rules, really. I wasn’t there.

His dad used to coach the team and would watch incredulously as his eldest son choked every time the ball was passed to him. “Look, son,” he said with a coach tone and fatherly wisdom, “don’t think too much. You just gotta shoot, dribble, or pass.”

This story was relayed to me a month before I moved back to Texas in 1998 which alternated the course of my life forever. The decision had been a laborious one and on that night I repeated, “You gotta shoot, dribble or pass” to myself a hundred times until I stopped thinking and decided to move.

Green Park

Fifteen years later, while strolling along the Queen’s walk in London this afternoon, I’m listening to Bossypants by Tina Fey (henceforth known as my new BFF “TF” because we’re tight like that) and she relays a similar lesson from her past.

09/07/2012

Live in the Pause Travel

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Hello! Salutations! How are you, anyhow?

It’s been a while and I’ve missed you all.

I’m in England this week. It’s funny, in a “I guess you had to be there” sort of way, but I spoke up to the Taxi Driver this morning in a British accent without realizing it. In fact, I accidentally spelled REALISING it just now until spell check let me know I’m a bloody american.

Acclimation is my middle name.

08/06/2011

So I’m going to England in a few days… Travel

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This is pretty much how I start every conversation to any person anywhere right now. If you’re my grocer, you know I’m going to England in a few days. If you’re my pharmacist, my hair dresser, the lady who answers the phone for my hair dresser, my doctor, my kids’ doctor, my neighbor, my other neighbor, my neighbor’s dog: They all know I’m going to England in a few days.

I’ve nearly run up and down the streets naked screaming it.

“Nearly” being “thought about it once.”

I’m wild like that.

As I’ve travelled more in recent years, I am much more relaxed about plane travel. Mostly. I still grab a random stranger’s arm if the plane hits turbulence and still pray to physics that we don’t come crashing down because Daniel Bernoulli was really smoking weed when he came up with this principal and we’re all suckers for a good theory.  At one point, during a horrifically bouncy ride from NY to Seattle, the young airplane mechanic in the seat next to me went in to great detail how safe flying is. He rattled off statistics and spouted off sayings such as “turbulence is just a bumpy road to an airplane,” and “the air is actually pushing the plane up, not down” and “hey, you don’t have to be in the crash position, lady.” I still think of him when the plane starts to race down the runway and I’m looking out the window thinking, “FASTER. WE ARE NOT GOING FAST ENOUGH. THERE IS NO WAY THIS THING WIL….” and I squeeze my eyes shut as the engine screams and we tilt up up until that pocket of time where your stomach dips in to your legs. (Seriously, every.time.) I’m usually the only person that looks up with glee like an unexpected surprise, “WE DIDN’T DIE!” while other people pretend to be really interested in the Sky Mall catalog.