Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back in the 'ol USofA

And dang it's cold!

I arrived in Chicago on Monday around noon after leaving Hong Kong on Monday around noon. A fourteen hour time difference and a fourteen hour flight makes for a strange little time warp. I flew from Haikou to Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon and stayed over night at the airport hotel. I took advantage of being near good food again to eat a great big juicy cheeseburger, medium rare, with a delicious manhattan on the side.

The flight from Hong Kong to Chicago was great. I have a new favorite airline in Cathay Pacific. Unlimited drinks, snacks, good meals, good movies, enough leg room, comfy seats, free wine in economy class (which I didn't take advantage of for some silly reason) and great service.

They even checked my luggage all the way through from Haikou to Chicago so I didn't have to hassle with it during my night's stay in Hong Kong. That was the best part since I had two huge bags that are impossible to lug around without a trolly.

When I arrived in Chicago I got right through Customs in less than ten minutes and picked up luggage with only a few minutes of wait time. Talk about smooth all around. A+ gold star extra credit travel experience!


I took a shuttle from the airport to a nearby hotel where my mom and brother were waiting for me. And when I got off the shuttle I was so excited to see them that I ran right off to hug them and left my backpack on the shuttle. I didn't realize it was missing until the end of that day when I was three hours away in my hometown and taking my bags to my hotel room. Oopsie. I then remembered a missed call I received on the drive back from Chicago and thought oh crap, that was probably the hotel telling me about my bag. Why didn't I check my voice mail when I saw it? Who knows. So I listened to the message and yes, it was the shuttle driver telling me about my bag. So I called him back and they said they'd hold the bag for me.

On Tuesday my mom and I went car shopping. She took the day off work so we could spend some time together, how sweet. I was thiiiiiiiis close to buying a car from a dealer in a nearby town but it needed repairs and they wouldn't budge anymore on the price so it didn't work out, but my mom let me borrow her car the rest of the week to do more car hunting. Thanks, mom!

On Wednesday my sister-in-law and I drove up to Chicago to get my bag. It was great catching up with her on the road trip. We stopped in Bloomington on the way back and ate at Steak-n-Shake...Frisco Melt and chocolate malt milkshake. Heaven. I'm well on my way to gaining a good 20 pounds. And it will be the most delicious 20 pounds I've ever gained.

Speaking of my sis-in-law, she did something pretty awesome. I no longer have any cold weather clothing since I left Denver with wimpy clothing only. So when I arrived in Chicago to below freezing weather and snow and no heavy jacket or gloves, it was quite the shocker. But she had picked up a couple of my winter coats and a flannel shirt at my place in Denver after I left and they didn't fit her, so she gave them back to me. What a wonderful surprise. Thanks, sis!

I stayed in a hotel the first two nights and then moved over to my dad's house since he is down in Texas for the Winter. Seems like half my family moves down there for the Winter these past several years. I think they are in semi-retirement mode. I just had to flip on the heat and ask my brother to light up the water heater, and bam, I'm no longer homeless. I know I should be able to light a water heater, but when I read the instructions and it said in big letters to make sure there is no gas in the thingie before you light it, well, that was enough for me to back away from the heater and call my brother.

I'm looking at a few apartments this week and will probably make a decision this weekend. So I'll be extra extra no longer homeless by next week. One of the apartments is owned by my old high school boyfriend. And now he may be my landlord. Oh, life.

I was informed that the public library has free wifi, so I came over this morning to do some car hunting online and wow, it's extremely fast. Way to go, Canton. I'm back here again this evening to do some job hunting and catch up on emails. It's funny, I haven't been in this library for over 20 years and when I walked in and smelled the same 'ol library smell, it was like wham, flashback mode. I remember coming to the library in 4th grade to play Oregon Trail on the new Apple IIe computers. I also remember using the encyclopedias and microfiche readers (wha?!) to research school papers. I'm officially old.

This morning I stopped by a restaurant and sat at the counter to have some freshly brewed coffee (oh, how I've missed thee) and I ended up making chit-chat with some old locals. Again, I swear I'm a 70 year old man in a 35 year old woman's body. It's funny how everyone really does know everyone here. It's a town of around 14,000 people and nothing's a secret. It's interesting to be back after 17+ years and see things from a different perspective. It's also interesting to notice how friendly and chatty people are. People take time to make conversation. Small town life. Guess I spent too many years in big cities. Now these things surprise me…in a good way.

This afternoon my sister-in-law and I met my brother and his coworkers for lunch and had yummy tacos. I sure did miss Mexican food. And turns out my brother works with our cousin, so I got to see him as well. I'll be slowly getting back in touch with my sprawling family over the next few weeks or so.

After lunch I drove a car I was thinking of buying out to my mom's mechanic so he could give it a once over. He did this for me with another car on Tuesday, which turned out to be a huge help because he found some issues the dealership didn't mention. After he finished, he called a local used car lot to inquire if they had anything in my range, and they did, so we went over to test drive one of them. We took it back to his shop and he checked that one out as well. It's a great car for the price. The mechanic is going to call the car lot owner guy tomorrow to talk more details and try to get the price down even more, so keeping fingers crossed. Thanks, mechanic man!

I forgot how dry and static-y winter is here. All the humidity I stored up over the past year living on a tropical island left me within a day of arriving in the midwest. My hands look like the hands of a 70 year old man. Hmm.

Well that's enough brain dump for now. Library is closing soon!

Love always,
The Mooching Vagabond

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