I just got back from a ten-day trip to Illinois, land of my youth. It began with a battle between my plane and a herd of thunderclouds. Fortunately, my plane won. Along the way—despite time zone differences and the temptation of home-baked pies—I managed to learn a few things, things I probably should have known long ago.
1. Family is a good thing. I may have written a book (Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles) where the future paints a bleak picture for families, but in reality I treasure mine. They’re wonderful and I wouldn’t trade them for a warehouse full of clones.
2. Cicadas can drive you nuts. They may seem romantic, when you live a thousand miles away, but in reality they’re irritating as hell. You can hear them whirring and humming and buzzing in the trees, even when you’re inside the car with the windows rolled up and the music turned on.
3. Be prepared. At any point in time, a 45-minute flight can turn into a 3-hour flight. In the future, I vow to carry snacks, Dramamine, Xanax and the Book of Psalms with me on every plane. Yea, though I fly through the valley overshadowed by thunderstorms…
4. Hot, humid weather feels great. For about two days. Then it feels a little bit like hell. Then it feels a lot like hell. Then it makes hell seem like a vacation.
5. When stressed, brownies function almost exactly like Xanax. Take note, however, that this method of therapy requires a month of hard exercise to work off the added weight.
6. My house is never as nice as the house I’m visiting. I vow to accept that fact and move on. I will not lust after big back yards, garages, plush carpets, multiple bedrooms, basements, spacious kitchens or walk-in pantries. I. Will. Not. Lust.
7. When flying, real books trump iPads, iPods, laptops, Kindles, eReaders, Nooks and cell phones. All those cool techno gadgets have to be put away during take-off and landing, which can add up to almost an hour of flight time. I purchased a copy of Michael Connelly’s 9 Dragons for my 2 return flights.
8. I need to find a better kennel. Dogs should not smell like urine. Ever. My car should not smell like urine, either. Dogs should be given all their meds, on time. Left-over meds (including those that weren’t administered and were quite expensive) should be returned when dogs leave the kennel. Grrrr.
9. I don’t really like traveling. Wait. I already knew this one. Okay, let’s say that traveling isn’t all that bad, but coming home rocks. Big time.
10. My house is a mess. I left in a flurry of 1,001 last-minute details, so I didn’t have time for my traditional “clean the house before you leave” ritual. In retrospect, I truly understand the beauty of my obsessive traditions.