Journal (22Dec11)by Tourguide on Thu 22 Dec 2011, 09 PM CEST, Views: 662
So touchdown in Dulles, Virginia. It’s been a 9 hour flight, but my day is far from over. You may recall from last week that my wallet wacked away (with the rest of the contents in my car) last week. So outside my passport, I’m not bringing anything else with me. Should be an interesting week. Try renting to rent a car or reserve a hotel room without a drivers license or any credit cards will prove interesting. Still, ever the terminal optimist, I was confident all problems could be overcome, …and they were. I still had my passport and a pocket full of cash (albeit purple and blue, not green), but everything else will work out, …eventually.
With a temporary VA drivers license printed out from an airport kiosk and a stack of freshly purchased visa gift cards in my pocket, I eventually found myself in route to my temporary lodging in Woodbridge to try and catch some shut eye before my training was to beginning at Ft Belvoir . Of course, shut eye would last only a few hours, as jet lag officially had me awake at 4am. Of course that was 10am on my internal clock. It would be at least three days before that corrected itself.
Still, when given the option I would *always* prefer to travel west, and have that kind of jet lag. When flying from Germany to the US I only have to worry about being awake earlier than I want, and forcing myself to stay away after 6pm (which is midnight in Germany). Going east is the real nightmare. Trying to wake up and go to work when your body think its 2am is *profoundly* difficult. And, unfortunately, I was to be in the US eight days, plenty of time to fully adjust to EST time, and then have to go back to Germany, readjust, and drag myself out of bed to go to work for the first week.
Jet lag is often more than fatigue, it is a feeling of being out of sorts. Something is not right, and your body reacts in different ways. You are strangely irritable, and feel like you are in a fog, even when you are waking up. Of course what is different is that the sun is up when you think it’s the middle of the night. Imagine if I told you that starting next week your new work hours were 10pm to 6am. Yah, that’s tough to deal with. Throw on top of that everyone else is running around from 10pm to 6am like nothing was wrong, its just you. Yes, that’s kinda disorienting. They say it takes one day per hour of time difference to acclimate to a new time zone.
But such is the price to be paid for being an international jetsetter. At least I passed into the Executive Premiere class level of United Airlines frequent flier miles on the way over. Internationally this means little, but if I were traveling around stateside I could look forward to fairly consistent bumps up to business class. Plus as an Executive Premiere I would have the right to bump up one other passenger as well. I, and my guests, also get access to those fancy red carpet lounges with the free drinks. Crazy eh? Well, with 4 or 5 trips to the US and back to Europe over the past 12 months you really start to enter some elite mileage status pretty quickly.
Plus, it is always good to be home. However, I knew I would have my work cut out for me trying to make the rounds to friends and family, while fighting jet lag, DC traffic and still meeting all the obligations of the work training that brought me to Ft Belvoir in the first place. Last time Rachel and I came through, we just had a big party and told everyone to come find us. This time, however, I opted for the more personal approach. I figured I had 6 nights at my disposal, so I would try and plan some 1 on 1 dinner dates.
Except for a misfire on the first day (I had a jet lag wall at 6pm and had to cancel), this approach worked out great. It’s nice to see friends and family individually, plus they appreciate you making the effort. Works out all around. Well, except for the poor guy who find himself driving to and hither across Northern Virginia trying make dinner deadlines. Didn’t help that my hotel was in all the way down in Woodbridge. For those of you who don’t know where Woodbridge is, just imagine Italy. Yah, well Woodbridge would be the boot, all the way at the bottom, and off to the side.
I also tried to make the best of waking up so early the first few days in town. Catching up with email and even given a pre-dawn workout a go. I know, crazy eh? Funny story about that. I was heading to my hotel room the first night I stuck my head through the blinds of the “fitness studio” to see what the hotel gym looked like. Not bad, pretty spacious. A few treadmills and some weights around the walls.
Well, as I approached said “fitness studio” a day or so later at 5:30 am I peaked between the blinds one more time before opening the door and found it was packed. It must have been a class since everyone had on matching outfits. What was this?
Well, opening the door I realized this gym was not sizeable, spacious or well stocked as I first though. It had a single treadmill and single set of weights in a tiny space surrounds on all 4 sides by mirrors. And there was not clothes-coordinated class, there was a single guy on that treadmill. Ugh, damn visual trickery. Fortunately, the older man gave up on the treadmill shortly after I arrived (or was suddenly convinced me and infinite number of twins were closing in on him). So I was able to get in a good run. And yes, seeing myself running from all 4 sides was a trippy out of body experience.
My last night in town I actually drove to Richmond to meet up with my good friends Jeremy and Jen, and also see my family. They were driving up from Durham, so we figured Richmond was a happy medium. Seeing Jeremy, Jen, Shrop, Donna and Laurie was a blast. We went out to a wing joint, drank beers and caught up. Plus Donna introduced to me to the Red Solo Cup song, which we played in heavy rotation as festivities returned back to Jeremy’s place. And, somehow, drinking led us to the mall where we ended up in line to sit on Santa’s lap. Hilarious, well it seemed like a good ideas at the time.
But good times like all things are fleeting, and soon I was back on a plane returning me to Germany. Rest assured I’ll be back stateside soon enough. The Army has me speaking at the 2012 MHS Conference in Washington DC the last week of January. Now, if you’ll excuse me, It’s well after 2am and I have no business being up. Of course, it’s 8pm on the East Coast. Yep, jet lag ..its what’s for dinner.