Monday, January 14, 2002

The Care Package

The Care Package

Our New Year resolution upon returning home to Budapest was to arise earlier then we had been in the past. My personal resolve was to be up by 9:00, not so late when you consider I am on the Internet until 2:00 or 3:00 am. After having coffee and a small breakfast, the plan is to be in the shower by 10:00. The shower is a magical place for me. It must have something to do with the electrons of the water. I am inspired in the shower and emerge have sloughed off a layer of the old not only physically, but thinking with more creativity than before.

The next logical step of this plan was to go directly from the shower to the computer to write for four hours. Well, yes, sometimes I will take the time to get dressed first, but typing in a bathrobe is comfy too. At 2:00 pm, I am free to run errands, read, go for coffee with Ron, go to the thermals or whatever is on that days agenda. By 6:00 pm, it is Internet time once again. Not only am I reading and responding to e-mails, I am doing research. For years now, I have collected with a fanaticism that bordered on an obsession, travel sites on the World Wide Web. Those who were around me on a regular basis knew that I was always current on all of the schemes of increasing a frequent flyer account, discounted travel, or anything remotely related to traveling more for less money. Hence, this is what wooed me toward the Doctorate in International and Multicultural Education. I have an insatiable hunger for learning more about different cultures and peoples within them.

Since September 11th, my fervor for frequent flyer miles has dimmed like a low wattage bulb, but the light has not gone out entirely. With continual CNN and BBC on the television, my breadth of exposure from different perspectives has broadened considerably, not to mention my expanded awareness of the countries in current events.

The sum total of all of this is my decision to work on a book of web sites for travel. I have taken the hundreds that I have stored on disk and am researching new ones. For each site, I am writing a review of the site in addition to the strong and weak points of each. As I work my way through the Internet, there are dozens more that have mysteriously materialized and need further investigation. Because I believe this information is time limited with the volatile travel market, it would be in my best interest to self-publish this book, rather than wait weeks, months, or years to go the traditional route with a publisher. That in itself has been a venture into investigating what used to be called “Vanity Presses”. I keep really busy most of the time.

Sometimes when I place my fingers on the keyboard to compose this saga, I have this feeling that I am talking to myself or almost to myself. This goes out to about two hundred people who made the mistake of saying, “Please write and let us know what your up to.” Many have probably found the delete key their best friend when they see my name appear in their inbox. “No, not him again. Hit the delete quick. I wanted to hear from him, but not in encyclopedic proportions.” As such, the feedback is low, very low, which is why I get the feeling that I am talking to myself. Generally, the same ten faithful literary followers send a note responding to some current trauma or victory that I wrote about to led me to believe that someone is indeed reading what appears on my screen. For all those of you still reading, please raise your hand. Higher now, I cannot see you. I am counting; do not put your hand down yet.

The above aside, there are then circumstances when some give you feedback in ways other than electronically. It comes as a surprise. No, that is not true. When it happens it is staggering, embarrassing, and truly humbling.

We were patiently waiting for our rental agent, Szylvia, who lives in our building to return home from work. We knew we were due to get two packages from friend who had e-mailed saying so. We were fearful that they would finally be delivered during the time that we were gone on our ‘mini-vacation’, so we went to our rental office and had them create a letter for our door stating Szylvia would accept our mail while we were gone.

When we finally caught up with Szylvia, she apologetically handed us one card and said there was nothing else for us. We were panic stricken that the packages were lost, stolen, or that the mail carrier was feasting on our goodies. Two hours later, Szylvia returned to our door with a pick-up notice for me. She said she just happened to see it in the garbage by the mailboxes. Grateful to have this in hand, we were then concerned that another one had already been trashed. Meanwhile our two friends kept questioning via e-mail the status of the goods and we only had sad news to report.

The next morning, I had my passport, rental agreement and notice of delivery, all of which I would need to claim the package from the post office and was set to go out the door, when the door buzzer rang downstairs. It was the mailman and he had a package for us. I rushed to his waiting arms like a relative that turned up years later after being reported missing in a war. I signed the form, but he was not appreciative of the kiss I planted on him in gratitude. That may be the last package we ever see if they continue in my name.

Ripping through the cardboard box, seeing our friend Marsha’s name as the return address, we were kids again and Santa Claus had arrived finally. He was even late for the Orthodox Christmas, but he finally found us, thanks to Marsha. With an extra bounce in my step after finding all of the delectables, I raced to the post office to collect Santa’s other reward assured that it was the other parcel we were expecting from our friends Sheila and Fred in Wyoming.

When I collected the goods and am bee lining it back to the metro, I glance down at what I am carrying and notice the return address is not Wyoming, but Tennessee. This box was from my friend Tracey. I did not have a clue about this CARE package and was thrilled yet totally embarrassed at the cost of mailing that she and Marsha had to pay to send us such wonderful treats. It was within record time that I was home and we were again ripping open our presents. To think that I had just taken our Christmas stockings down that morning, thinking that Christmas was over, yet it had just begun. Since this was not the other mail, we were expecting we spent some energy worrying about Sheila and Fred’s post, but the rest of the time we were thoroughly enjoying the bounties we had received.

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