Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back Home and Homesick

Well, I'm back in Chicago, a little heavier, a whole lot homesick and still severely pissed at American Airlines.

Did the flight delay I had getting to Knoxville piss me off? No, that was understandable. My bags arriving the day after I did? Well, that wasn't convenient, but at least I got my bags in time to wrap everyone's presents on Christmas Eve. Canceling my return flight to Chicago? Well, they aren't in control of the weather (that I know of).

So, what pissed me off? It was one, lone American Airlines "Joan Crawford on PMS" uber-bitch from their customer service line. When I called to reschedule my canceled flight, she immediately tried to force me onto a flight for the next day that didn't work with my schedule, yelled at me on the phone to "make a decision now, because there are 250 people waiting and if you don't take the flight I'm giving you, you'll probably be stuck in Knoxville a few more days," and then, when I asked to speak to her supervisor, she told me, "No," and then plunged my call back into the pool of 250 stranded travelers.

"American Airlines: Getting There Isn't Half the Fun, It's All the Aggravation."


But who can stay upset when you get to spend time with a cute little girl like Carter here.

I'm not sure what you would call her - - she's my stepmother's sister's granddaughter... what's that called? anyone? anyone? - - but she and I had a great time on Christmas Eve. She followed me around all evening, sat on my lap during dinner and she loved when I took her picture (the flash made her giggle). But how could I not take a picture of someone as cute as Carter?

And I got to spend time with my father and my brother, which is always wonderful.

One look at my Dad and you can see where I got my hairline. Why I didn't end up looking more like the linebacker that he is boggles the mind.

Insert "Stephen, you're not a linebacker, you're a wide receiver" joke here.


And then there was the trip to Dollywood to see my friend Aaron in Dollywood's Babes in Toyland. Aaron's partner John went with my mother, my brother and I. John is now an expert on all things Dollywood. The ultimate tour guide for the park.

Dear Lord, when did I become a lesbian?
Why am I prominently displaying my camera case like that?
What kind of self respecting fag am I?

Look at my brother in the picture below. Jeff would have rather been sucking the bile out of Dick Cheney's liver with a straw than visiting Dollywood on this day - - I love mom holding up the rabbit ears behind The Dolly Grinch's head - - but he went because I wanted to go so badly.

Besides, I'm sure it's fun to laugh at me spazzing out on "Dolly Energy" the second I enter the park.

I'm not quite a the level of those For the Love of Dolly folks, yet, but I'm close. I'm frighteningly close.

But this picture is my favorite. Such a beautiful picture of my Mom. The light hitting the camera. My mother looking off into the mountains. So peaceful.

Even though we were smack dab in the middle of an amusement park, you can see the Smokey Mountains all around and just being there re-energizes me. Calms me. Makes me happy.

Add that to the joy I get spending time with my family and you'll understand why, now that I'm back in Chicago, I'm homesick. Happy that I was there, but sad that I had to leave.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Happy New Year!

P.S. The evening of Christmas Eve, I spent time with some my best friends from high school. I didn't have my camera with me, but I hope that Kristie will send over some of the pictures she took. Seeing those friends again was my favorite part of the holiday. Send me those pics, cuz!


Mike Maloney said...

So is Dollywood as much fun as I remember it to be? (Granted I haven't been there since I was about 10 so the amount of 'fun' I actually remember having could be inaccurate)

Palm Springs Savant said...

I am so glad you're back in the blogosphere Stephen, we all missed you young man! Your mama looks great, so please that you spent so much time together.

Now re: American Airlines, didn't you know that they DO have a weather control machine? You were too quick to give them a pass for the bad weather. Now I think the Joan Crawford reference was a shame...Joanie was really a peach. I'm sure that AA rep was far more wretched. Besides, those wire hanger incidents were misunderstood, it was her way of giving Christina more iron in her diet...thru osmosis.

Welcome back!!!

Jackie said...

That's easy. Carter is your step-second cousin. What a cutie!

You're not spose to wear your camera case that way? Huh?

Your mom is a doll.

Polt said...

WOnderful pics of a wonderful trip!! Glad you had such a good time.


Mark in DE said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas and visit with your family. And your brother is SUPER HOT!!!

Mark :-)

Steven said...

Sounds like your trip was a blast (except for AA, of course). Welcome back to snowy Chicago! Glad you're back.

Stephen Rader said...

mike - It was fun. The new rides are really wonderful! The Haunted Mine was a blast. You should take another trip. :)

rick - Usually, I enjoy Joanie, but when she's giving me the "Don't fuck with me, fellas!" over the phone when I'm stranded in TN, she ain't my favorite! Thanks for the welcome back. Hope you had a wonderful holiday. Happy New Year!

jackie - Thanks! Mama is definitely a doll! Happy New Year to you!!

polt - Thanks! Hope you had a wonderful holiday, too.

mark - He lives in Atlanta. And he's single. I'll set you up if you want. :)

Stephen Rader said...

steven - Glad to be back in snowy Chicago. Happy New Year!

Kristie said...

OK I am a slacker, I'm emailing the picture right now. I've been working every day since I got back weekend and all plus I have to work tomorrow, so no new years eve fun for me.

It was great seeing you. I'll be back in Chicago on the 18th I think, see you then.

Stephen Rader said...

kristie - I love the pictures! Thanks for sending them over. Can't wait to see you on the 18th!

Lance Noe said...

American Airlines: Apply named!

There slogan should be:

Fucking up your travel plans like we're fucking up the middle east!

Lance Noe said...

P.s. Anybody get you that damned Carol Channing doll?

Project Christopher said...

I just caught up on your blog (at work so it's hard to laugh out loud and make it sound official!)
As your fellow southerner, I had to comment on the "who is she" regarding Carter. First, she IS a doll! and what a cute name for a girl too! Find out if she's named for Jimmy or Dixie... She could be on the road to her own sticom that sets her up for a weekly rant on whatever is important at the time a la Julia Sugarbaker.
I can't quite put a family tree trace on your "stepmom's sister's granddaughter" but it's far better than "baby daddy" and hardly trailer-esque given the redefining of the 'nuclear' family these days. Welcome back to Chicago. You may miss home, but we missed you!

Stephen Rader said...

Lance - I love that slogan even better!!!

Chris - I sincerely hope that Carter was named for Dixie. Jimmy would be good too, but how great would it be for me to be related to the new Julia Sugarbaker!!!