Game plan: What to Wear

Packing is such an ordeal now that I am trying to match my clothes and look presentable on a regular basis. I am sure at some point it will get easier, but as of right now, I still have to try on clothes, put together outfits, and see what I can combine with what. Guh….more work than necessary, and I am slow because I get easily side tracked (like now….I am blogging instead of packing).

I am heading to Europe tomorrow and I’ll be visiting Cologne, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; Dublin, Ireland; and Gothenborg, Sweden. Luckily I’ve previously taught in all of these cities at all of these camps so I have general idea of what to expect. It’s going to be a good bit colder than it’s been the past few weeks and there are beaucoup performances I have to prepare for which translates to “beaucoup de luggage.” I decided I wanted to write out what I was bringing in hopes that it would detour me from over packing (I’ll keep you posted on that). So here’s what I think I am bringing, what days I think I will wear it, performance info, and weather:

Monday
jeans + blue silk shirt (+ long sleeve shirt) + belt
knee socks + boots

Tuesday
high waisted jeans + BCBG shirt (+ long sleeve shirt)
Tuxedo jacket
heels

Wednesday
gray dress + 2 pairs tights
knee socks + boots

Thursday
leggings + white sweater + tank top
(OR blue shirt with jewels + long sleeve shirt)
knee socks + boots
night: gray skirt + white top
tights + scarf
black shoes

Friday
jeans + blue/white striped shirt + tank top
Tuxedo jacket
night: red twirly dress (+ long sleeve shirt)
VS tights + white shoes

Saturday
brown skirt + red/purple/long sleeve white shirt
scarf + belt
black shoes
night: dress (white check & black) + scarf + tights

Sunday
blue dress + black shirts
footless tights + black shoes
night: purple dress + tights

additional items:
work out pants + 4 shirts + running shoes
pjs + shirt + flip flops

COSTUMES
Stratosphere: dress, knickers, hat, goggles, boots
Puttin’ on the Ritz: red lingerie
Group number: black & red dress / gold skirt

PERFORMING:
Barcelona:    weather: 45-61 degrees
Stratosphere
Fan Dance
Hawaiian

Dublin:        weather: 39-53 degrees
Intro #
Stratosphere
Fan Dance/PotR
Hawaiian
Finale

Gothenborg:       weather: 36-50 degrees
Stratosphere
Fan Dance

EEEEEk!! lots of stuff.

More to come!

Does anyone else do this or is it just me? Hahha, it might be.

Check-in Early

You might think it’s silly to check in early if you are going to check your bags (since you’ll still need to go to the kiosk), but it’s not stupid. It’s smart.

For one reason or the other, I decided that I didn’t need to check-in for my flight to Korea the night before. Because of that, I was assigned a sucky seat for a 13.5 hour flight from Los Angeles to Korea. Luckily for me, I have status so I ended up getting a window seat, but because the flight was full, I was on the verge of being shafted, and I would have had no one to blame but myself.

So! Aspiring International Lindy Instructors: if an organizer has booked your flight for you, make sure to tell them to choose either a window or aisle seat for you ahead of time so you don’t show up to the airport without a seat. If you forget to do that, or the organizer can’t manage, make sure you check in online the night before and do this yourself. Don’t forget your mileage number! Often times that can help out.

Thank you for tuning in to “Quick Life Lessons.” 🙂

QLL – noise on airplanes

Travel with a pair of earplugs if you’re going to be flying, especially during the holidays. Not only are parents stressed out, but so are their children (perhaps causation and correlation?). This in turn can possibly mean that the children will be screaming and crying on the airplane. Now, if you’re like me, you’ll have the luck of being right near that lovely and charming family…different issue 🙂

If you don’t have noise canceling headphones, at least have earplugs. They come in a variety of colors, are cheap, and they can block out a decent amount of noise. Once you start wearing them on a flight, you’ll never travel without them. Unless of course, you forget them. Grrrr.

10 Travel Tips – from Outblush

I read this out Outblush and I couldn’t have written this any better. I’ve added bits and pieces after each section. Read and enjoy!

1. Buy wisely: Be a savvy consumer when it comes to flying the not-so-friendly skies. Tuesdays are the cheapest day to buy – the airlines and discount sites publish new deals on Monday and re-publish ever lower prices on Tuesday in an effort to beat out competitors. You might also want to try saving a search in sites like Kayak.com or Farecast and just wait for the lowest price to come to you.

*I use Kayak religiously. I like how I can control my search parameters (multiple airports, airlines, alliances, price, and layover time) and how easy it is to send the flights I like to organizers or friends.

2. Try to get a on a flight that leaves in the morning or afternoon: We know those last flight of the day tickets are appealing because you can leave right after exams or squeeze in one more full day of work, but with winter weather and over-booked flights conspiring against you there’s a good chance of delays and cancellations.

*Try not to go through Chicago in the winter. It’s an amateur mistake. If you absolutely must, try to find some lindy hopping friends that you can crash with.

3.Travel light: Avoid checking your bag if you can. Leave you bumble and bumble behind and ship your gifts. Not only does it save time, but if your flight is canceled and they have to redirect your luggage it’s a good bet you’ll spend your first day home arguing with a surly baggage attendant.

* Due to our tour/performance schedule, the members of The Killer Dillers travel with an excessive amount of luggage (excessive for a weekend, but not for 3 months). Unfortunately we cannot carry-on our luggage, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! I strongly believed that if you are checking your luggage, you’re bringing too much stuff. I still stand by that statement, but I now understand why it can happen. Let’s see you travel with top hats, roller skate, canes, feather fans, banana skirt, and aviator outfits and still have space for your regular clothes for the weekend!

4. Check-in and print out your boarding pass before you leave: Again, anything you can do to avoid lines or waiting is good. Everything takes more time during this time of year: security lines are longer, weekend traffic is even worse than average, there are about three times as many people to run between if you’re dashing to make your flight.

*On top of that, see if you can travel with someone who has status. At least you’ll have a shot at being bumped to the front of the (shorter) line.

5. Don’t follow the crowd: If your flight is canceled make sure you listen to the announcement carefully – there’s often a precious tidbit of information that most panicked travelers ignore – like an alternate flight you might be able make or a request that you rebook at the airline’s main check-in desk instead of the kiosk within the terminal.

*I totally lucked out by following this advice. I was traveling to Italy and flew into Bologna instead of Genova. Luckily (or unfortunately for many) there was a historically large storm that came through Germany and our flight was canceled. Over the loud speaker we were told where to go to rebook our flights. I was one of the first in line because I followed the directions. Needless to say, not everyone got where when wanted to go when they wanted to get there.

6. Smile and play nice: Having a flight canceled after waiting through hours of delays is heart wrenching and infuriating. You are not alone in your fury, but you can stand out and get home sooner by staying calm and charming your way onto a new flight. Airport employees get yelled at, abused, and threatened about a hundred times a day. Don’t underestimate the power of their special airline industry computers; they can work wonders if you ask nicely.

*Be nice. Remember, you don’t want to be yelled at when you’re at work either. You can’t more flies with honey than you do vinegar. Most likely there is someone who can help you, so why not be nice to them?

7. Just in case undies: Even the most cunning and organized traveler can’t win every time. Freezing rain in Chicago could mean flight delays all over the country. If you had to check your bag make sure you have a fresh pair of clothes and the essential toiletries. Being able to put on clean knickers and brush your teeth after spending the night using your laptop as a pillow will make you want to punch everyone in an airline uniform a lot less.

*If you’re going to teach at a dance event, bring a pair of dance shoes with you! Don’t chance it (like so many of us have done), because that one time you don’t, you’ll be stuck dancing in your snow boots like a tool. Learn from other people’s mistakes!!

8. Pack a snack: Not only is airport food expensive, but a lot of restaurants and shops close around 9 p.m. You do not want to be stuck in travel purgatory hungry, and by that we mean a dangerous state in which you are both hungry and angry at the same time. A bag of trail mix and a few granola bars are always good to have on hand.

*I travel with oatmeal at the very least. It’s relatively easy to find hot water (for free) from any of the coffee shops and because it comes in a cup, you already have something to make your oatmeal in. Rather genius if I do say so myself. Nuts are also good.

9. Baby wipes, Purell, Airborne: The travel trifecta of illness protection. There’s a reason why the expression “this place smells as fresh as LaGuardia” doesn’t exist. Airports are veritable petri dishes during the holidays so do your best to fortify yourself against the onslaught of germ stranger-danger.

*I’ll add mouth wash and or toothpaste. It never hurts to have fresh breath!

10. Be safe, Be smart: Scoundrels of all varieties lurk in airports – a $120 ticket is a small price to pay for a half dozen iPods, wallets galore, and perhaps a MacBook or two. Use your good sense, keep your stuff zipped up, and be prepared to pitch the mother of all hissy fits if someone gets all up in your business.

*I am fortunately enough that I have not had my stuff stolen, so I presume this is good advice. In general, be smart about what you’re doing and where you are going, and try try try to not look like a tourist. You make for such easy pickings!

Last bit of information that is invaluable as an international instructor (and probably traveler). Have an address and phone number of who is coming for you. I repeat: have an address and phone number of the person or hotel you are staying with. England in particular will put you through the ringer if you don’t have this. Going through customs is a serious deal, even if you are used to breezing through them. You only need to be caught once to get flagged, so always have that information on hand.

Canberra

So yesterday I got to sleep in until noon, then I did some email, and got ready for Lia to come over. Lia is one of the Sugar Blue Burlesque girls and she is a professional costumer, and I got her to make a skirt for me. It’s lovely. I’ll see if I can get a picture of it and post it. She came over to drop off the skirt and took all my measurements in case I needed anything else made. Kev and I then headed for the airport in the rented Yaris he and Sharon got. Cute car….rather zippy.

We get to the airport, checking in, and then have to wait in a long line to drop our bags off. We walked through security and no one asked me to take my liquids out and no one checked my boarding pass. I asked about this, and the security lady said that “[the Australians] still have faith in their people.” I was amused by that. The US doesn’t have faith in people flying AND the system we have isn’t all that efficient. Kev got some food, I got some water and a magazine (I know, I know….I think this is the first magazine in 2 years that I’ve bought at an airport) and then we headed to our gate. We were at gate 6 but they had an area designated to gate 4-8. Two flights boarded at once and then we waited outside in the heat until we could be escorted to our plane. All 150 of us.

The flight was packed; every seat was taken. I read my magazine until I dinner came, and was rather impressed. They were handing out wine at a furious pace and I think everyone other than me had one, and quite a few people had their second and third bottle. I didn’t eat my cheese and crackers so I gave them to the guy sitting next to me and he was very grateful.

Once we landed, we walked across the tarmac and immediately met our host Russel. He’s a tall man with a great beard and a really nice guy. We grabbed our luggage (yup, we both checked) and went back to his town home and there we met his wife Miranda who is just lovely. She had made us a plate of food – pears and apple slices, grapes, cheese, mini sandwiches, and marshmallows. Not only that, but she had 2 meat pies in the oven for us. We gossiped a little bit and geeked out on lindy history. Very fun.

What a killer set up this is. Kev and I both have our own rooms upstairs and there is a very large hardwood floor area that is perfect for dancing. It’d be even better if there was no furniture here, but they actually live here, so the couches and dinner table are rather appropriate. 😀

We all headed up to bed and I didn’t fall asleep until about 6am. I was in bed starting at 1am, but I couldn’t fall asleep. It didn’t help that there was a 2 hour time change AND that I napped on the plane….. oh well.

I got up this morning at around 2pm. I woke up a few times before but was too tired to move. I got up, had some water and then went for a walk. It was a lovely day out and my walk was just what I needed to get my body to wake up as well. After I got home, I stretched, showered, and made myself some eggs. Kev watched some “Captain Horatio Hornblower” which is a tv series set in the 1700’s and there is sailing involved. Very Kevin. 😀 After I finished eating, I went through the epic movie dance collection Russel and Miranda have. This is by far the best dance collection. Ever. Any movie that has dancing of any sort in it is here, as well as every dance instructional video on lindy hop since the beginning of lindy hop instructional tapes! I have found lots of things to watch!!

And that takes me up to now. Miranda and Russel are home and they are getting ready to cook dinner.

Most Expensive Mistake to date

So here is a fatty-fatty, expensive mistake of mine.

Months ago I bought my plane ticket into Europe and then back out. I am flying into London-Gatwick and then leaving from Gotenborg, Sweden. Well, after buying my ticket, I was asked by an organizer if I could change it so that I could fly into Madrid instead, since that was where my flight to the Canary Island is going out from. Hmm…..that would have been good info to have before I bought my ticket (there was some miscommunication….I will totally take some credit for this). Because it was going to cost $200 to change I opted to not change this and to get a one-way ticket within Europe instead. Ok, so not off to a terribly good start, but I am earning lots of miles (the only silver lining I can find).

So fast forward. Gotenborg recently got canceled, which means that my return ticket isn’t much good to me. No problem, I’ll change my ticket online. Oh no. Wait. I can’t do that. I have to call Orbitz (or Cheaptickets, or whatever) to do that for some unstated reason on their website. Cool. No problem. I’ll call on Skype. Oh, that’s right; I can’t get credit onto my account either through a bank transfer, pay pal transfer, and Wells Fargo won’t verify my credit card. Wow….. it’s not looking too good.

As of right now, I have a $940 (now) one-way ticket into the wrong city, which isn’t even first class, and I’ll need to buy a $650 return ticket separately so I can get home. Why must I do this, you ask? Oh, well, because I managed to buy a ticket where I cannot change the departure city. I could change the date, but the fare difference, plus the change fee would be about $1100. Hmm…. looks like buying that one-way isn’t looking too shabby!

Ok, just sharing the joys of traveling.

Italy – Day 2

Relatively, this has been the most relaxing 2 days I have had in weeks.

It was a long day getting to Genova, but relatively easy (this is Wednesday). The Hamburg Airport was easy to get to and easy to get through, but Charles de Gaule was quite the opposite. Kev and I landed at the D gate and then had to go to the G gate. We were planning on walking to that gate, but it wasn’t even on the airport map (click on link above)! We ended up taking the bus to the G gate, which was also in Terminal 2, but once we got there, we decided that it should have been labeled Terminal 3 because it was so far away!

There was a Paul (a bakery chain in France) there that I wanted to buy either a sandwich or a goodie from, but decided that getting through security, again, was more important. My experience in Europe at airport security is one I would describe as a crap-shoot; sometimes I don’t have to take anything out of my baggage but have to remove my coat, and other places I have to take my computer, liquids, coats, shoes, and anything that jingles out and/or off. My experience at the G gate was of the latter. Even after taking everything out, one of the security persons went through my bag and took out a lip gloss, my hand sanitizer, and my deodorant. Since when did deodorant make the list?! The security woman then proceeded to put these articles in a plastic bag and then sent me on my way. What was the point of putting these articles in another plastic bag? Hmm…..

For the next hour Kev played video games at the Play Station hub. I flipped through some fashion magazines before I gave up (I was bored) and then went to poke at Kev. Then the weirdest thing happened. Our gate was finally posted so we headed through some serious-looking double doors, and then it was only Kev and me walking down a super long hallway. Alone. It was so weird. I felt like we had broken through a “Safe Area” and were making a break for it. Bizarre! And then, all of a sudden we were in another wing, where there were 6 new gates. Where were these guys hiding? I totally should have taken a video of the experience, but I couldn’t stop experiencing the moment….so I didn’t get my camera out. Between the colored windows and us being the only two people in the vicinity, it was a surreal experience.

We got to Italy without any problems and Silvia was waiting for us when we arrived. We puttered around the parking lot for a bit until we figured out how to exit, and then headed home, where Silvia had turned the heat on high for me. She remembered that I was rather cold last time I was here, so she turned her downstairs into the tropics. Oooh, it was (and is) so warm down here!! We dropped our stuff off and then headed to dinner.

We went to one of the places we went last year, and the three of us were the only people in the restaurant. However, within 5 minutes 12 more people arrived for dinner. Good timing on our behalf. After ordering food, Bruno, Silvia’s husband, arrived and we had a pesto feast! Kev and I shared gnocchi and a flat pasta cover in homemade pesto! OMG, delicious!!!! After we polished off our enormous plates, then plates of carpaccio with hunks of parmesan. Again, delightful! The boys shared their meat with us ladies. 😀 Then, as if we had space, we had dessert. Kev had ice cream with chocolate sauce and I had a caramel pudding.

We rolled home a bit later and Kev and I settled in for the night. I riffled through the movie selection upstairs and found some goodies to watch. After Kev jerry-rigged a DVD watching-station by putting his laptop on a box, on the bed, we finally got down to watching The Contract which had Morgan Freeman and John Cusack. It was rather predictable and not terribly complex, but still a fun movie to veg out to.

This morning I woke up at about 1am and Kev got up around 2pm and then had an outstanding lunch with Silvia and Bruno upstairs. I was planning on eating something light because I was still rather full from the night before, but the spread was too good to pass up. There was hand made olive-bread (my favorite) and foccacia something-or-rather bread, pasta, salad, carpaccio with parmesan, and Italian coffee. OMG, what a little piggy I felt like! The food was great, but the fact that Silvia bought all the fixings earlier and and then made us lunch was the best part about it. Silvia took amazing care of us last May when we were here, and has already out-done herself. What a wonderful hos she is!

After lunch we sauntered back downstairs into the heat and continued to veg out. Kev watched Dan in Real Life (an excellent movie, btw) while I updated my calendar, wrote some emails, and then went online shopping at www.modcloth.com. As per usual I didn’t buy anything, but I got to look around and tempt myself with fun looking boots and dresses.

Silvia came down right as I was showing Kev some of the clothes I was pretending to buy myself and she recognized the designers. Not only that, but she had a bunch of the clothing. What were the chances that an Italian woman would have some obscure American designer? I followed Silvia upstairs to her room and then saw her closet. It really can only be described as a bedroom for her clothing. The ceilings are at least 10 ft high, and there is an island in the middle of the room. I have seen closets like this in magazines, but never in person. Wow. So we looked through some of her clothing and I found 18 dresses to try one. The two of us brought them downstairs and I proceeded to try all of them on. About half hour later, Kev told me which one’s he like best, and now I think I am going to borrow them for this weekend. Along this clothing journey, Kev and I figured out what colors work with my skin tone, and which ones don’t, what skirt lengths are good, and what necklines work for me. I have to say, that was pretty fun for me; having Kev give me feedback was kinda like having a girlfriend there, yet could still tell me in the most platonic way that one dress was sexier than another. Nice.

About half hour after the fashion show, Silvia came back from work and took us out to dinner. We went to a restaurant which she regularly frequents and had the place to ourselves. I wanted soup and they had one with muscles, so I ordered that, and a plate of grilled vegetables. Kev and Silvia got handmade pizza, and Bruno and his buddies got pasta and lobster. My soup was actually muscles with broth and my plate of veggies was the size of my torso. I thought I was ordering small, but boy was I wrong. There was sooooooo much food at the table, but the boys were able to finish all their food. Bruno and his buddies had a plate of cheese after dinner, then coffees, and then Grappa. What Italian men!

Since getting home an hour ago, Kev and I have been listening to some of his new music and I’ve been writing on my computer. Bed is calling my name, but I need to make sure I set myself an alarm for tomorrow before I succumb to the bed-siren’s call. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow!!!!

Oh yeah, and it snowed tonight.

Traveling – contd.

So I had a nice time having tea at LHR, but I didn’t get home until about 7pm, and I woke up at about 6am this morning. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

Normally I don’t have this sort of reaction to traveling, but because I have been doing so much of it lately, every moment counts, and I understand that everyone has a budget to stick to, but FOCK, this is silly. I admit, it’s my fault for not looking through the details, so this is my punishment for being so uninvolved. But uh!! I vow, right now, that I will be much more proactive in my flights if other people are taking care of them for me.

The sad this about this (for me) is that now that I know all of this, I still have more traveling to do before I can apply my new lesson-learned. I will spend ALL next Wednesday trying to get to Italy, which really should take no more than 4 hours. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

I believe that people should pay for their stupidity. I am paying. Dearly.