48 Hours

That’s how long I’ll be gone on a business trip for the She Streams Conference tomorrow. This is slightly shorter than my foray down south in May for Mom 2.0, also the last time I went away on a work trip.

Forty-eight hours is nothing for me but apparently a lifetime for my eldest son who cried a bowl of tears at bedtime tonight. It was if I said I was going hyperspeed on the Millenium Falcon to a galaxy far, far away.

Close, I’ll be in New York.

I sort of thought as he got older it’d be easier to work more. Turns out that’s about as big of a myth as the Star Wars story itself.

Yes, the logistics of working are a bit easier. He’s away in school all day, so I have that time to fill.  He doesn’t care what I do when he’s busy building and learning and running around the field at school.

But he does care when I’m not the one who’s going to be with him when he wakes in the morning. Or when he gets home for school. Because to me, those times are the ones that make me as crazy as when they freeze Han Solo in the vat of carbonite. However this is sacred time to him, I know. It is security to have mommy there to wake him up, put him to bed and keep the “normal” routine going.

And while it’s not bad to shake the routine up every so often, it doesn’t help with the dreaded “mommy guilt” that I constantly try to stray from in my quest to have a part-time, flexible, [insert work-life balance adjective here] job. He’ll be fine, I’ll be fine, we’ll all be FINE. But it just might take 48 hours to ensure it.

Two tickets to Pittsburgh

 Nothing like a last minute business trip to lift me out of my moodiness.  (You really nickel.jpgthought I’d use as my blog post title that silly little joke from childhood?) Ok, I’m being dramatic – things are getting better here - but I think I’d rather have my pores cleaned out than get on a plane in the morning to make a presentation in front of some eager communications folks wanting to learn about how they can implement social media in their organization. (Since when does the fact that you have a blog make you an “expert” in social media?)

Plus I’m on the verge of a cold.  I’m trying to stay positive.  At least I regained my elite flyer status.  That should make me a little happier (I get extra legroom! I get to board first!) But really, I’d much rather use a sick day and lie in bed while I have the nanny around anyway.  Or watch my son get giddy about putting change into Mr. Dino’s belly.

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Anyone got two nipples for a dime?

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There’s no drought of bad schtick here

I haven’t had a bad hotel room story in awhile, so luckily I hopped a plane to Atlanta today and happened to check into one tonight.  Who knew? Boutique hotels in the South! So glad I found one.

Fortunately, the room has everything I need.

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Water bottles with sexy come-ons.  I’d pay at least $10.00 to meet the marketing dude who came up with that line.

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You don’t need to read the tag to understand my response: No, I don’t do hairy fuzzy creatures that look like my son’s Halloween costume.

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Who needs a black-out eye mask when you can wear 3-D glasses to bed?

And last,

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A shower right next to my bed.  Need I say more? (Edited- I thought of this line on the plane: “This takes wetting the bed to a whole new level.” Me so funny.)

Brushless in Orlando

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on an overnight business trip at a really annoying hotel.  Oh, you actually thought I was going somewhere fun this week?  The way I see it, the only reason I wouldn’t would ever go to Orlando is if I’m with someone who’s shorter than “you have to be THIS tall to go on THIS ride sign.” (Like my strategy, no rides?!)  Before this trip I really didn’t think there were any businesses here that weren’t related to Disney.

But as luck would have it, there are, and I’m in the town of Mickey for the night.

Without a hair brush.

So I weighed my options.

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Overpriced gift shop, but with sentimental value version.

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The I-got-caught-in-the-rain-walking-there Walgreens version.

I took the safe bet.  It was cheaper, and I felt kind of funny about Mickey looking at me while I take a shower.

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Update: Since I posted this, I checked-in online for my return flight tomorrow and good news! I’ve earned elite status again. So much for hating on random hotels and business trip. I’m back!

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Day tripper

woman_plane.jpgI’m heading to New Jersey again tomorrow to see a client. While it’s a bummer to have to travel for work, going to the East Coast for me is easy. I can schedule my trip so I’m there and back in one day. I’m not saying it’s fun to get up at 4:30 a.m. (it reminds me of the hellish newborn days), but there are benefits to a business day trip for me:

  • I don’t have to worry about staying in a grungy hotel.
  • My coworkers feel bad for me so I can usually get away with leaving early from work the day before.
  • My husband feels bad for me so he will usually get up with the baby the next morning. Unless he has an early morning meeting and then I’m stuck with baby duty. I said *usually*.
  • I can drink Starbucks (and expense it) until the caffeine gods go crazy.
  • A 6:30 a.m. flight is early enough for me to justify sleeping on the plane on the way out. Read: my brain doesn’t function before 8 a.m. 9 a.m. Central time. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with me sleeping on the way home either.
  • I can wear flat-heeled shoes. No one expects me to shuffle around the airport and in and out of cars for 12 hours in high heels. Another reason I love flats.
  • I pretty much guarantee that I won’t go more than 24 hours without seeing my kid. But then again, I have to fly into O’Hare, where no flight is guaranteed.

So if given a choice, my vote is for a business day trip. You?

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When the husband’s away, I get to play

partygirl.jpgMy hubby’s away four nights this week for work, and while it would be easy for me to fall into a heap of self-pity, I am committed to not feeling sorry for myself.  Instead, I’m viewing my husband’s travel schedule as the perfect opportunity for some “me” time.  Many a blog post has been written about moms who go away for work and get some peace.  But what about those left behind?

While the drawbacks of spousal travel are many (no one to share child care duties, no one to talk to after the baby’s asleep, a big, empty bed), I think there are benefits to playing the role of sole caretaker, if only for a week.

  • For instance, I am not accountable for picking him up on my way home from work in downtown Chicago.  This means I can squeeze in a Target run “family errand” after work.
  • I can watch whatever I want to watch on TV.  On tap for the DVR this week: DTWS, two nights of American Idol and the eight episodes I have recorded of Scrubs but have yet to watch. I *heart* Zach Braff.
  • I will be able to sleep in peace. Which means no crashing on the pull-out futon to avoid my husband’s lawnmower-esque snoring of last week.
  • Abusive blogging rules are deemed moot.  Yes! I can blog ’til the sun comes up.
  • I can eat whatever I want for dinner with no scowls or “oh THAT’s gross.”
  • Better yet, I can wear whatever I want to after I take off my work clothes. Ratty old t-shirts and leggings, come hither. 
  • I get to do things “my way” which include cleaning up when I want to, feeding my son what I want to, dressing him how I want to and it’s my party so I can cry if I want to.
  • And, the best part, is that I actually receive phone calls that contain the words “I love and miss you” on a not-so-infrequent basis. 

Doesn’t this all sound fun?

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Next time I go to Boston, maybe I will consider taking my son…

Check it out – a baby-friendly Logan International Aiport in Boston.  To think, they actually have a separate nursery room in the terminal for baby-changing and breast feeding. The novelty! 

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It’s far better than Chicago’s O’Hare, where I had to walk halfway across the airport for a clean changing table one time. But no complaints, I am having a child-free weekend, after all.

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The art of repetition

They say that skills you use at home being a mother translate well into the workplace.  I’m in even more agreement with this fact in light of my business trip this week.  A business trip which actually required me to speak on camera in front of a live audience.  I should add it was an audience viewing my presentation over the web, but nonetheless I was sitting in front of lights, a camera and some dude who was giving me hand signals and cues while I spoke (and not the “hey can I buy you a drink?” kind.)  To make matters worse, there were people who actually dialed into this “videocast” to watch me live.  Sounds like great entertainment.

Anyway, we all know now how much I hate cameras, so I was totally sweating this trip. I mean literally sweating.  It was 75 degrees when I left Chicago yesterday and I made the mistake of getting my favorite Starbucks extra-hot chai latte drink for the cab ride.  I was a drowned rat before I even made it to my destination.

But I had to get my sweaty-self geared up to make a presentation.  Meaning I had to memorize my talking points so I wouldn’t look like a total moron on camera.  With mom-brain, this is no easy feat.  I can barely remember what I did last week, let alone try to sound articulate about a business issue.

Believe it or not, though, part of my new mommy routine actually helped me out during the taping. What could do that, you ask? Well, over the past 11 months, I’ve gotten really really really good at saying the same things over and over again to my son in the hopes that somehow, one day, he’ll say the word back to me.  I’ve become the master of talking aloud to no one in particular. A master of repetition.

My mastery in the art of repetition really started in earnest about 2 months ago when he started babbling away. Hearing the sound “da” was like music to my ears.  Maybe “daddy” could be next! “Ba” was even better. “Bottle? Can you say bottle to mama?” Over and over again I would stare into his face and repeat these words, sayings, sentences in foreign languages and phrases until I was out of breath and he was more interested in the plastic ball he was holding than my incessant babble.  And you thought babies were the ones who spoke nonsense.  Who are you kidding?

This constant repetition and praise have not translated into anything material yet, unless you consider “ga” to mean waffle, maraca shaker and train.  But, it taught me a valuable tool I can bring to the workplace.  Practing talking points for a presentation is a lot like trying to teach your kid how to speak.  You can recite the same thing out loud over and over again to no one in particular, and you don’t really need anyone to respond back.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Fast forward to me last night at dinner. By myself at the hotel restaurant, I brought my notes to look at while I recited my lines.  Over onion soup au gratin and a nice panzanella salad, I babbled my way through dinner.  I ignored the stares from the waitress and the table next to me as I extolled the virtues of an intranet site.  What did I care? I was teaching myself how to talk PowerPoint.

And how did the taping go?  Success! All is well in the world. I’m now back in Chicago and I hope I don’t have to go on camera for a long, long time.

Now, if only I can get my son to say “mama.”

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Pepsi in a Coke town, or why boring hotels are okay by me

Well, I’m sitting at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport (why are airport names so damn long!?) after the longest day of meetings, ever (no seriously I’ve been up since 5 am Eastern) waiting to go back home.  Anyway, my trip down south has been nice.  Flight was on time on the way there, I got an aisle seat, and a coworker booked me at a local Embassy Suites.  After my foray into boutique hotels in Los Angeles, I welcomed the safe hotel choice.  I mean, what could go wrong?

Nothing.  It was as bland and good as ever.  After the cab ride to the hotel (I could have bought a fab pair of shoes for what I paid for the fare), I was happy to be greeted by the ever-famous Embassy Suites inner-facing courtyard, complete with a water fountain extraordinairre.  Or something like that. 

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The smell of fresh chlorine gets me every time.

Better yet, the room came equipped with its very own version of Bath & Body Works.  My skin was as supple as could be after a hot shower.  (Truth be told, 2 bottles of body lotion would have sufficed, but I managed to sneak all 3 into my quart-sized plastic bag through airport security.)

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Calgon, ahem, Neutrogena, take me away!

In fact, the most scandalous thing about my hotel last night was the Pepsi vending machine on my floor.  And you thought Atlanta was a Coke town, ha! 

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The Pepsi mafia infiltrates Embassy Suites in Atlanta.

Long live “the Suites.”  I’ll take you any day over a schtick-filled pretty-boy haven.  Unless it can get me a dinner date with Leo. 

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Out of the Bloffice

I’m currently out of the bloffice doing really really important things.  I’ll get back to you if when I return.  In the meantime, if you need anything urgent, please don’t call me or write.  I probably won’t call or write you back, even if I have time to kill before my flight home.   And I’m not bothering putting my assistant’s name on my out of bloffice reply.  She probably doesn’t want to hear from you either.  Thanks, and have a terrific, awesome, splendidly-wonderful day!!

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