family travel things.

So I've been researching the Illuminati (and also the Freemasons, in connection to the Illuminati, just because my grandfather and dad were Freemasons and have shrouded secrets around them, and I really love a good, shrouded secret). But then! Jason Isaacs got on Twitter and basically said: You guys! Dooooon't ruin episode #6 with your online research stuff! And so fine, dagnabit. FINE, JASON ISAACS. I will heed your advice and not ruin it and so I've stopped researching (but I MUST tell you, just in case: there are people out there who really believe members of the Illuminati are descended from humans mating with alien lizards...I suspect these people also subscribe to the Zombie Apocalypse Prophecy and write crazy, unfocused blog entries that never ever stay on topic) (that last descriptor was me--I'm sad I even have to point that out to you). 

At any rate, Jason isn't going to live tweet/walk us through this one. Again. (Because Jason is in Sri Lanka with his family, and I'm so so happy for him and for them that they are there--because it appears, to me, he's been nothing but a workaholic and away from precious pieces of his heart for the last several months. And I know all about long work hours and being away from family where you're needed most...I personally would have gone to Bali or Fiji with Miss M, but who cares what I think. Sri Lanka's cool, too.)

Anyway. You'll have to wait for your Illuminati/Freemasons educational blog entry to go along with DIG (on USA!) episode #6. Because it's Jason Isaacs' fault.

Instead, today, you'll be getting a blog entry on Family. And travel. And maybe also the TSA.

So I just got back from a trip to see my husband's sweet family in Indiana. We took M because her grandpa is getting up there in age, and well...you never know. Time is precious. Family is precious. If your family is very very dysfunctional, maybe they are not precious to you. So then maybe you have some really close friends who are...there you go: THERE'S your family. Biology does not alone make a family. (For example, I have adopted a Jewish "mom." She's very much like my Presbyterian real mom, because they both hate Obama and they both like to give me their opinions about him in a really loud way by sending me links to articles that I always have to fact check at snopes.com...and when I'm sick they have all kinds of remedies for me. Except my Presbyterian real mom wants me to buy Mucinex DM and suck on Cold-Eeze lozenges, and my Jewish "mom" wants me to stick my head over steaming water and eat chicken soup. Presbyterian and Jewish moms--both indispensable, just in different ways.) (Oh, and one of my moms doesn't pray to Jesus and the other mom is sad because I'm a lapsed Christian.) (But did you know that Christians and Jews BOTH share the prayer from Psalm 23:4, the "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." prayer? Connections!) 

What I most loved about hanging out with Grandpa R., was watching the interaction he, at 85 or so, has with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I cannot tell you how much my heart wanted to burst with sweet happiness at watching tiny little 2 year old great-granddaughter K put her little hat on Grandpa's head and say, "Dere YOUR hat." and then put Grandpa's hat on her head and say, "Dis MY hat." over and over again. O.M.G.! Internet! Heart. Melted.

Because clearly this is a regular game for them.

Miss M was in heaven, playing with her cousins--children she is not that familiar with, who she rarely sees, but by the end of our visit was in tears about leaving behind. Her Aunt S. loves her deeply, her cousin J teases her like a little sister, her Uncle W jokes with her gently. She played outside until her sandals-clad feet were absolutely filthy, and she ate way too much pie every night. THIS is family. 

...Oh, Internet! If you have aging parent(s) left in this world, please please PLEASE promise me you'll spend as much time as you possibly can with them. They need to feel surrounded by love; I could see this with my father-in-law, and I could see the effects the love had on him. 

Also: when your mom and dad are gone, they are gone. And it doesn't matter how old you are, how old they were, or the circumstances--they are your history and your memories and your foundations and--good or bad--you are YOU because they were they. In quiet moments when you can no longer just pick up the phone and call them, you will wonder: what if I had just...? or what if we had just...? I know this, because this is exactly what I do about my dad. THIS MATTERS.***(please see note at the end)*** There are no do-overs, and I will confess: I really wanted to go/do something else for Spring Break, but watching M and other grandchildren interact with their grandpa was so lovely, it made it all okay. 

And I wish I wasn't worried about privacy and safety so I could put some videos and pictures up of how happy and sweet it is to watch the very old and the very young interact. Simply, I think it's one of Life's bestest, nicest things, and I will treasure those moments in my heart forever and ever, no matter what else happens from here to the end.

(My other favorite memory: M observing that her grandpa doesn't move around as fast any more or get out as much; basically observing in her very 6 year old way that he's aged a lot. And that this is because he just likes to sit and watch TV all day and so he's just, I quote, "an Inside Man." I plan to be an "Outside Woman" as long as possible, but when I hit 90, I think I'll be okay being an "Inside Woman.")

If that wasn't enough, Midwesterners are just all around freaking NICE. Every time I go to the Midwest, I am struck by how friendly and open they are. You'd think, down here in the South, we are all about manners and gentility and politeness so we'd have the corner market on this. But Midwesterners are kind and thoughtful and just not afraid to make you their new best friend they are THAT open. Nice, nice people you have there, Midwestern America.

Here's an example:

So going TO Indiana, we went through security at Hartsfield-Jackson. It's been awhile since I've flown, so man. This was an experience. M and I qualified for pre-checkin, meaning: we did not have to take our shoes off or go through that x-ray thing that sees you naked. But they were aaaalll business, those ATL TSA guys. When we went through, the serious and very "don't give me no SHIT" lady asked M all kinds of questions: her name, how old, who her parents were, why she was flying...now, what if I'd been raising sort of a smart alecky kid? Huh, TSA? Bet we'd have been sniffed by the bomb dogs. (Which would have traumatized my child, who is terrified of all dogs, even tiny ones on leashes.)

Also, I set the alarms off and had to have my hands wiped with a mysterious wet napkin. Later, I found out they were looking for explosive powder residue. (Damn it, Maybelline!)

But coming home FROM Indiana, even though we did not go through pre-checkin and had to take our shoes off and take electronics out and etc and so forth, nobody asked any questions, and I went through the metal detector with NO problems. Even though I'd used the exact same Maybelline powder as on Saturday morning when we'd left for Hartsfield-Jackson. And everybody was business, BUT FRIENDLY BUSINESS. It was like eating at an Army prisoner-of-war mess hall one day and then eating at the finest Italian restaurant in town then next. 

My guess is that Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson just has a bunch of asswipe fliers that go through TSA all the time; Indiana has maybe 75% less than that. 

Anyway, note for you if/when traveling throught Atlanta, GA: Atlanta don't play. Leave your travel explosives at HOME.

Other things I'd like to note about the experience of air travel:

*Airport humans. Studies in character. Seriously, I mean it. They are RIVETING to me. I wonder: why are you so mad-looking? or: are you a celebrity?! you look like a celebrity!! or: when was the last time you had a bath?! or: seriously?! Scotch on the rocks?? AT 9 AM?!

*I'm not judging the Scotch on the rocks at 9 AM person...I'm a nervous flier, and so it did cross my mind to have a few beers before boarding. Then, during the sort of turbulent flight home, I really regretted not ponying up to the bar and having a rum+coke with the Scotch on the rocks guy. Or at least several beers with the morosely quiet Mafia-looking couple.

*Two men in front of me drank Sky Vodka for the entire 1.5 hour flight back to Atlanta. The flight attendants had to stop serving snacks right after they waited on those guys because of air turbulence; didn't matter--those guys had already bought plenty of little vodka bottles to keep them stocked up the whole flight. I, however, had to wait 30 minutes to get a Diet Coke because those two insisted on being airplane barflies.

Yet nobody drank going to the Midwest from Atlanta. My suspicion: Atlanta's CIA/TSA has something to do with it. I'm sure the vodka guys were TSA plants.

*Don't eff with a flight attendant. I'm not kidding. Don't. Do. It. If a flight attendant says: "We need you to change seats, sir," then you get your pretentious butt up out of that seat and MOVE IT. (Although the girl in row 18 will be sitting in delight, jotting down character notes about you for a future story or three.)

*MARTA. It's really the best part of traveling through Atlanta. Another great source for studies in character. I wondered: when did your boobs GET like that?! does it bother you?? and: do you keep bothering those people across from you with corny jokes because you're just trying to make new friends...or you're hoping they'll give you some money so you'll shut up and go away? and: when was the last time you had a bath?! and: Seriously?! A tomato JUST dropped out of your Burger King sandwich...and YOU'RE NOT PICKING IT UP. Where you raised by wolves?? and: you are really getting into that music in your ears--you are practically dancing to it, like no one is watching. How'd you get so carefree and wise??

In Indiana, I worked out, religiously, at the hotel's fitness center every morning. Then, I'd sit in the lobby with a hard-boiled egg and coffee, in silence--peaceful, blessed silence--and read the Internet or a newspaper or a book. It was Heaven. HEAVEN. 

But mostly, I loved watching my father-in-law's face shine with joy when he was surrounded by his little ones. And TSA ain't got nothing on THAT.

***If your  mom or dad is abusive, then obviously this is null and void. Please stay away from very abusive people who hurt you in childhood and you struggle with it to this day. I am writing to people whose moms/dads aren't perfect and maybe drive them nuts every time they're in their presence, but they've done their best and there is genuine love there. 

It is true, there are some humans who should not be allowed within 3 feet of a child, yet these humans bear children anyway and haphazardly and horrendously raise them to adulthood, creating people who either spend their whole lives repairing the damage or end up in gangs and/or ISIS. I am not talking to you if you got one of those moms or dads, and I hope (a) you're in intensive therapy for it and (b) you have a surrogate Jewish mom or dad who's making you matzo ball soup as you read this. Or it doesn't have to be a Jewish surrogate--I hear the B'hai Faith has some awesome moms/dads you can adopt too. And an atheist surrogate parent will be hedonist with you and there will be NO consequences or guilt trips about when was the last time you were in a house of God, etc. 

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