Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Midnight Madness

I depart for Celebration tomorrow morning, and that means tonight is Midnight Madness. Now that I fly on Southwest, I must obsessive/compulsively wait until the stoke of 12:01 a.m. so that I can print out a coveted A boarding pass.

I can't even imagine how it used to be in the old days, when travelers on Southwest had to get to the airport hours ahead of time or risk getting relegated to C status, which usually meant getting strapped to the wings or being stowed down below in the luggage compartment. Now, the internet-savvy don't have to waste all that precious time. Sure, you have to stay up late, but that's not a problem for night owls like my husband and I. In theory, you can still get an A pass in the morning. In practice, I wouldn't risk it. I've heard that they hand out about 30 As, and even when we check in while the toll of the last bell of midnight is still audible, we've still been as late as 7th to check in. Supposedly they keep some A passes to hand out to airport customers; if they keep half (15), that means that the online As were almost half gone within minutes.

Is one seat really all that much better than another? In theory, I suppose not. In practice, I only bring carry-on luggage, so I like to be one of the first off the plane. The seats may be just as comfortable in the back, but the additional time to deplane can be significant. When you have to wait for baggage, it doesn't matter. But as soon as I land, I'm ready to grab my bag and rush home to Duloc Manor.

My exile in Chicago hasn't really been so bad this time around. I was busy attending training and meetings for my next work projects. I've been at my regular job during the day, and my nights have been filled with travel clients, so the hours and days have zipped by at lightning speed.

Still, I'm ready to return to Celebration. I've been keeping homesickness at bay by logging into the Front Porch intranet and www.34747forum.com to keep abreast of the latest controversies. They generally don't change too much; the quality of our schools and the soon-to-be-absence of downtown parking are still holding strong, and the flap over dogs at downtown restaurants (and now the post office) is making a minor comeback. Ah, Celebration, land of oppressive problems and controversies!

Each time I am in Chicago, I stuff a supply of paperbacks and music CDs into my bag to transport home with me. When the Kitty Karavan headed south, space in Canyonero was limited, so I had to leave a lot of the smaller, less critical items behind. Now, slowly but surely, they are making their way to Florida. Eventually, we will bring a truckload, but for now it's a trickle at a time.

It's funny how displaced I feel in the condo that was my home for so long. My 40 year old mind can't make the leap from the Florida Comcast channel line-up to the one in Illinois, so I fumble desperately with the remote, trying to find Fox, Animal Planet, or Adult Swim. I used to have a regular television schedule with shows that I put on as background noise, but in Celebration the line-up of court shows and Simpsons/King of the Hill reruns is much different. Also, I have quickly adjusted to the East Coast hour-later mentality; I'm not ready for Fox News at 9 p.m. because it should rightfully come on at 10. It will be so nice to return to home-sweet-home, where I know the channel numbers and what comes on when.

I also catch myself looking out of the corner of my eye for the absent cats or listening for the bird's frantic squawking serenade to the sunrise each morning. I nearly put things like food or power cords out of feline reach before I realize that it doesn't matter here. Back in Celebration, I must take great care because of the destructo-kitties. On my last flight, I tried in vain to watch a DVD on my portable player before switching it to my laptop. Lo and behold, the player didn't work because nasty little felines had chewed the base of the battery connector, leaving lots of fang holes in the insulation. That's why I have learned to never, ever leave the power cord for my laptop on the floor when I'm not in the room.

There's so such worry in Chicago, but also no big, furry, purry bodies keeping my feet warm at night and keeping me company during the day. I miss the menagerie terribly; I can hardly wait to get home and see the critters again.

It was also be nice to leave temperatures in the 40s; earlier in the week, it was sunny and in the 70s, but rain and a last blast of winter made a comeback today. 40...brrrrr! Way too cold for a Floridian, even a Johnny-come-lately one. Thank goodness I'll be back to my native climate in another 14 hours or so. And by the time I return in May, spring in Chicago should be firmly entrenched.

My email address is celebration@mailblocks.com

My Celebration website is www.celebrationinfo.com

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