Well, it started out as a nice family weekend to Atlanta.
It has culminated in - I just can't describe it in one word.
As I type this, I've got a headache. I'm hoping and praying I don't get the bug that my husband got from my son. It caused Dan to vomit in the car while we were driving through Slidell on the way back home. He was so distressed at having done so that I shelved my comment that Slidell couldn't possibly be that bad, giving him a chance to clean himself up.
Oh please Lord, don't let me puke.
We tried to leave for my sister-in-law's engagement party on Friday morning. Dan needed to get the flag off his last-held Louisiana driver's license, so I resigned myself to waiting for him to call and give us the go-ahead once he was done. He left our house at 8 AM and finally got the flag removed in time for lunch. It wasn't the DMV's fault, it was our insurance company's. They apparently didn't know how to use a fax machine, and by the time they faxed the information to the DMV, it was the wrong information.
So we got on the road, got a little lost getting to our hotel in Atlanta, picked up some medicine for our sniffly son who peed in his carseat twice (okay, so the potty-training deal with him is only mostly done), and collapsed into our nice suite after having to wash all my son's wet clothes and carseat cover in the hotel bathtub, hang 'em up to dry, and wait for the air to work its magic.
"The best part about today," Dan said, "is that it ends in 45 minutes."
And then we had ourselves a lovely day. The next day was perfect weather-wise, we got to have breakfast with my cousin who was raised and still lives in Atlanta, and we reminisced a bit about my aunt's hijinks, which occasionally border on the scatterbrained. I love my aunt immensely, but there have been one too many occasions involving mishaps and funnies with her vehicles and her pets. For a long time, my aunt and uncle were a tad infamous in their neighborhood due to their chocolate Lab being spied up on the roof of their house on a regular basis, barking at anything moving in the trees or out on the street. My aunt has backed out of her garage without bothering to see if the door was open (it wasn't). She has pulled into her garage and heard the horrible din of the bicycles tethered to the roof of the car she was driving coming into contact with the side of the garage and then the asphalt driveway. My personal favorite mess combined animals and cars: a Lab puppy my aunt acquired a number of years ago was accidentally locked into the garage, and it chewed the mud flaps off the Land Rover in the garage out of sheer puppy nervousness. Oops.
We then headed off to the Georgia Aquarium to meet up with my sister-in-law and her fiance. I chose to stick The Life Aquatic soundtrack into our CD player on the way to the place - you know, trip to the aquarium and all deserves some Seu Jorge singing some David Bowie in Portuguese. We nearly finished the entire album by the time we got to the place, and I then realized how much Atlanta had become like Houston, where I grew up. The Life Aquatic was also an oddly appropriate choice to back our trip down Peachtree Street.
The new aquarium is quite spiffy. We checked out some major fish exhibits, took in my son's favorites, the penguins, for a while, and then the little guy decided the interactive exhibit was the place to be because of the big lighthouse that was featured at its entrance. So hey, I missed the sharks and the jellyfish, but I did get to slide down a big slide in the shape of a whale. Okay, so the only way to go down the slide was through the whale's elevated butt, but it was still fun. Frank Gehry has designed buildings that involve fish butts, too. So what?
Later that night, we schlepped our way to my sister-in-law's in-laws-to-be (Just pause and think about that one for a bit. Take your time.). The little guy was a big hit, as was my assistance with the wine and mojito bar (hey, somebody's got to work the corkscrew), the small photo album the fiance's mom put together of the bride and groom to be from birth on up to the present day, and the food and company. It also highlighted what a hybrid I am in terms of where I come from.
I am technically Southern, having been born in Tennessee, but I was raised Jewish in Houston, Texas - a whole 'nother religious orientation in a whole 'nother country. My dad is a New Yorker, and after my sophomore year of high school, we ended up in central Pennsylvania. My sister-in-law gets the differences between her parents and her future in-laws - among them coercion by indirection. Southerners can be expert at easing people into what the proper thing to do is, something that is fast becoming a lost art in this day and age, because that tactic can get utterly lost on those not versed in the intricacies of being polite. The problem with the politeness thing is that it can cause you to second-guess so much of what you do. I get a tad guilty because whenever I am around any relatives of mine who are from the South, I end up sliding right into their accent and rolling it around in my mouth. Then I get a tad mortified that they might think I'm making fun, when I'm not. It's just my Pavlovian response to the accent - having been raised by my grandparents in my early early years, I absorbed my grandmother's south Georgia accent and my granddaddy's Knoxvillian tones, and they do kick around in me from time to time.
At any rate, the Southerners can always tell that I've been outa the South a bit too long somewhere in my past. The friends I have from other parts of the country, however, see me as a Southerner because I still say "y'all". Sigh.
The next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn to catch an early flight out of Atlanta to get to teaching my religious school class back home, only to find Delta had canceled my flight and the one after it to New Orleans. Sticking me on a 10 AM flight wasn't going to cut it. I was pretty mad. Stupid airlines. It had nothing to do with the weather - the flights were deemed underbooked and cancel-able by Delta's decree. I got my refund and fumed that Delta had failed to honor the 21st century Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not cancel a flight out from under a teacher who is bent on teaching the Ten Commandments to children. The damn airline was impeding post-Katrina recovery, as far as I was concerned (and I still think so - hell, Microsoft canceled some meetings that were supposed to be held here because the airlines weren't scheduling enough flights).
Anyhoo, I had a nice brunch with the fiance's family, and then we traipsed off to New Orleans in the car. It was on the way back, somewhere a little before the Mississippi Gulf coast, when my husband started to get his sickness symptoms, a sure sign he'd caught the bug our son had. He tried to cough up some phlegm, but ended up tossing it up instead. We got back home late and fell into bed, exhausted and, in my husband's case, sick.
Monday morn, I dropped my son off at school, came back home, called the school where I will be teaching art two afternoons a week, and got a nasty shock. My teaching stint was beginning that very day, not on Tuesday, as I'd originally thought. I pulled myself together, got a lesson plan on, came into school, and got the second and third graders jazzed about puppetry and marionettes. The kindergarten and first graders were a wet blanket, however. I knew coming in that they'd be a tough bunch because of some kids with behavioral problems in the class, but their homeroom teacher, who was in attendance, wasn't helping much with the project at hand.
"They're not going to finish this papier-mache by the end of class!" No they won't. That's fine.
"You should have prepared some of this stuff well beforehand." Okay, you've got a point there. Tell me this when the kids are NOT in the classroom.
"Are you sure there's enough glue in the water? It'll just get all wet again when they put some more newspaper on." Uh-huh. It's why we're not finishing the puppets until another day.
I'm very afraid this woman is going to tank my first attempts at teaching art to this age group. Hell, I'm afraid I'm going to tank my first attempts, and it doesn't help to have a personification of all the worrywart voices in my head standing right there in the classroom. Just got to suck it all up and see what works and what doesn't, I guess. I just hope the parents and administrators won't get hysterical because the kids aren't producing one thing to take home every day. Maybe I'm in the wrong place to begin with. Maybe I need to go for Montessori methods and head for a Montessori school instead. Oh boy, my headache was going away, and now I can feel it returning just thinking about this...
There is also a strong possibility that our street will be ripped up so that our neighbors' water pressure can return to normal. They are currently hooked into our water through a hose they have run from our front yard spigot through to their yard, and they are sharing our water expenses until the problem gets fixed. Sewerage and Water Board workers came to see what the deal was, dug a hole in their yard to get to the water line, and used the time-honored method of laying a shovel blade on the pipe and listening through the handle to see if the problem was in our neighbors' yard or out under the street. The worker determined that it was the city's problem, and when our neighbor asked if he was sure, he got served a tad by the worker's companion. "He's been doin' this twenty-five years! He knows what he's doin'!" Okay, okay. Fine.
I just hope it doesn't turn into this. Then we'll be out of luck, and out of nearby street parking, for at least a month.
Time to plan another trip...