A Looney Bin of Andrews

My boyfriend is batshit crazy.

In the winter times Andrew likes to travel because he is not fond of the cold and dark. But, also, because until recently he needed to plan escape-from-the-stifling-love-and-energy-from-all-of-her-joyousness-that-is-my-extrovert-Hadas time. He may still need a bit of that, but no longer is it several weeks and I am allowed to go vacationing with him now (especially since he realized that vacations are more fun with my joyousness and energy).

As Andrew and I were planning our vacation we couldn’t find anything that struck our fancy. We initially wanted to go to Thailand or Vietnam, but airfares were a bit high. We started looking into Central America because, monkeys. But, we had just been there and there was limited excitement for it from either of us.

Then, suddenly…

Remember this?

I was a pre-teen when this commercial came out and it has stuck with me all these years. Now watching it, and the people in the background, I realize that pre-teen me was not the demographic they were aiming for and that pre-40 me may still be a bit young. At the time however, I was ready to be on board. Everyone looked fit and fun and sparkly. Also there was singing. And energy. And joy. As I grew up the desire to cruise has waned, my love of Kathy Lee diminished (though I do hair-envy the 80’s over-layered, over-featherd bob she is sporting).

I had no idea how to book the right cruise, or what different cruises offered or even what cruise lines were available. I started Google searching and immediately felt overwhelmed. But, hey, if I am going to go on my 80’s dream vacation, I figured, I can book it in an 80’s fashion. Turns out my friend Andy is a travel agent.

I discretely found out that Andy gets most of his work from helping large groups coordinate their travel. “Umm, Andy, I hope I am not being rude, but, how do you still have a job as a travel agent in 2014?”

Andy was fantastic. He selected a few cruises for the date range we gave him and booked us on Norwegian Dawn for a West Caribbean (New Orleans, Cozumel, Belize, Honduras, Costa Maya, New Orleans) cruise. We were flying to New Orleans on Friday.

Thursday before travel was a busy day for me. Knowing how busy it would be I got most of my packing done before the day began. It started off with an informational interview with a man named Andrew who holds the job I want to have in about 10 years.

Aside: It seems like everyone I know is named Andrew. Either that, or I only know one person and he plays many roles in my life – like a doll. Or, I suppose it could be that this entire blog is fabricated and I am not clever enough to come up with another name.

The Oregon Employment Department has some wonderful resources available and one such resource is grant money available for education. I am applying for a grant to take a CISSP certification class. During the informational interview, Andrew (not the boyfriend one) invited me to happy hour with a bunch of IT Security nerds that evening. Later, I went to an informal chat about a potential job – like an interview, but unofficial. On my way to happy hour I called Andrew (the boyfriend one), and found out that a tree hit our power lines during a crazy windstorm, which caused a small fire and a large (at least in our house) power outage.

By the time I got home Andrew (hereon in this will be the boyfriend one) was moving around but also seemed mildly catatonic.

He was in full-on bat-shit crazy mode.

There he was, wandering around the house with a headlamp on his head trying to pack in the dark. When Andrew gets crazy he shuts down – which you’d think would be impossible to notice on an introvert. He basically starts obsessing about the thing that is wrong and nothing else in the world can be right because that thing is wrong.


Problem statement: we don’t have electricity

Andrew’s internal dialogue: the cats will die, I will forget to pack something because I couldn’t see it, the electricity will come on and the house will burn down because we weren’t here, our house sitter will come in to take care of the cats and not understand the lights don’t work and not know how to use a flashlight or stairs in the dark and will fall down our stairs…

This keeps going and going while he doubles up on contingency planning like “tell house sitter in email, text and on handwritten instructions that the lights are out”.

Meanwhile, I get home and start cooing at him (and maybe teasing a little). I pat myself on the back for making him buy a gas stove and make us some chili. I bring up Andrew’s packing list from our shared documents on my phone because Andrew’s phone is not cooperating (cough cough T-Mobile cough) and help him finish packing. Once he’s done packing I talk him into changing to the bag with roller wheels on it, which is a good thing because it gives him something to do while winding down from being worked up.

Finally, after talking him through worst case scenarios and having him do 15 minutes of meditation I tuck him into bed and start reading. I have to give a shout out to meditation here. Time was, when Andrew would have a freakout he’d double down on it by also having three days of insomnia. Calm.com helped him relax enough to actually sleep. Having said that, we tried the Calm “anxiety relief” meditation and got about 1.5 minutes into it before bursting into giggles when the app-voice, after getting our breathing and body relaxed, said, “practice smiling”.

The next morning Andrew wakes up and I get up from the couch where I stayed up all night reading (hey, at least my addiction feeds my intellect instead of depleting it). We do our morning chores and eat breakfast and are ready to hit the road about an hour before we need to leave the house. This allows Andrew to do some compulsive walk throughs of the house and for both of us to have kitty snuggle time before leaving the girls to non-electricitied inevitable doom for a week.

Our flight to San Diego was uneventful. I slept most of the way because I’d had no sleep the night before.

The San Diego airport is THE WORST. We were imprisoned in the Southwest terminal and our flight to New Orleans was delayed 3 hours on top of our already scheduled 2 hour layover. The terminal is shaped like the end of a Q-Tip. The center of the terminal has two restaurants and within the terminal is the ubiquitous Hudson News. Around the edges of the terminal are the gates for Southwest. At the entrance to the terminal is security. If we were to leave the terminal to try and find more appealing food options we’d have to go through security to get back in – hence the imprisonment.

I think of all the airports I have flown through this one was the worst. Although, I can only complain so much because I did find us seats together with electrical outlets for charging.

Andrew spent the five hours of layover reviewing cruise excursion capabilities, while I zoned out to The Nerdist. At about hour 4 he looks at me and says, “I think I feel better now.”

Take away lesson: When faced with obsessive-compulsive introverted (OCI) freakout, give OCI something more mundane to obsess about to help calm frayed nerves.

In New Orleans we grabbed a cab to our AirBnB and I prayed, mostly silently, the entire trip. I know cab drivers are universally insane, but this guy was drifting in and out of lanes, playing chicken with cars when lanes were merging and taking illegal left turns. It was like we had our very own roller-coaster pre-cruise excursion.

Our BnB is lovely. It’s an old house (as so many houses in NO are) in the Garden District converted into a duplex. The house is longer than it is wide and from the front door you can see all the way to the back. The front room is the living room, then you walk through to the dining room which has a door to the next room which is the bedroom, that has a door to the hall leading to the kitchen and the hall has the bathroom in it. Yes, for those of you playing at home, you have to walk through the bedroom to access the kitchen. the setup is a little odd. But, we weren’t having company – or really going to be using the kitchen much.

We went out and grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant called The Rum House – Caribbean Taqueria. The tacos were really fantastic. I had a lamb vindaloo and a scallops, Andrew had a brisket and a jerk chicken. We shared a Rum House Salad which featured radicchio (that always sounds like a Harry Potter curse to me) and goat cheese. Then we went home and called it a night.

We slept 9.5 hours.

We tooled around the French Quarter and looked at the Mississippi. I wanted to experience some fine New Orleans dining but half the restaurants I was interested in were not serving lunch. Eventually we figured out that NOLA, Emeril’s casual restaurant, was two block away and open. I ordered the shrimp and grits and Andrew had the pan seared salmon. We each had a butter lettuce wedge. In truth, I was thoroughly disappointed. The wedge was so overdressed that it was like soup. I had two bites of it and when the waitstaff removed my plate they didn’t even ask if there was a problem. The shrimp and grits had great flavor but was super greasy. I suppose I could call it fine dining because if you ask me how it was I’d say, “It was fine. Just, fine.”

Then we went back to the house and slept for 2.5 hours.

It’s fair to say our travel travails were exhausting.

Dinner was at a dog and sausage place called Dat Dog. I had the Hot Brat and Andrew had Alligator. Each was great. Dat Dog is across the street from ComedySportz New Orleans where Andrew and I played a show. It was really fun and Yvonne, the owner, is super high energy and a fabulous host. If you are in New Orleans go see a show.

Today we are getting on a boat headed for the W. Caribbean, and so I leave you with this:


for Andrew (the boyfriend)’s version of these events, see www.AndrewBerkowitz.com/blog


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