Monday, November 09, 2009

Back in the saddle in a sense

When I was hired on 7.5 years ago I was told all about the glories of travel.

When I started my team bought me a laptop and an international plugs kit. And I started dreaming about the places I would go with my international plugs kit.

My laptop is a boat anchor somewhere and my international plugs kit is still shrink wrapped.

The team I joined at the time talked real big... but then when it came down to it, the more senior staff got the international trips and got to specify who went along. (And it was never me.) And I got stuck with trips like to DC (a few times) and New Jersey and Bloomington, Indiana and Seattle and Lincoln, Nebraska.

All actually were quite cool with the exception of Lincoln. I was a lone buff awash in a sea of red. I was verbally attacked at lunch as a representative to DOE about my not funding them (I was a junior scientist at the time and completely perplexed). And my host's idea of a good evening was to take me out for Scottish dancing. And I was 3 months pregnant with Leif and still nauseated.

But aside from that trip, all my work trips have been very interesting and good for me. I discovered that I really like Washington DC. I discovered that New Jersey was truly beautiful and that you should always plan to BYOB to dinner as some counties do not serve alcohol in restaurants. Bloomington was a fun little college town and Seattle... I always love going to Seattle. My visit back to Reno was also good in that it grounded me and brought Reno back down to it's proper 4500 foot resting spot instead of remaining high in what once was to me.

I have been lucky that during those periods of time when I don't want to travel, I have easily gotten out of it. Like for the first year and a half to two years after having each child. Skadi is now 2.5 and this stint of no travel is up.

There is something appealing to me about occasional travel. I couldn't do it on a very regular basis. But I like the anonymity of travel. I like escaping to the big cities and eating good food and maybe taking in a show. I even actually enjoy going out to dinner by myself. One time in DC I went to the opera - my only opera - and saw Placido Domingo as lead in Idomeneo. I like the quiet escape of a nice hotel. Of watching whatever I want on TV. Of picking a restaurant without compromise. A quiet serenity.

I don't like leaving my family. I really don't like flying. And I don't like worrying about who will be there if something goes wrong at home.

So, it's good that I don't travel regularly. But every once in awhile? It's a treat.

I am headed back to DC this Sunday. For me it is kind of a neat trip and a first in that I am not representing other people's projects. I am representing my projects.

In taking a tally I have learned that the vast majority of my coworkers under this program will also be going. Not only to the same review, but on the same flight there and in the same hotel and at least one of them is on my same flight back. There will likely be about 10 or 12 of us. And this bums me just a tad because it means I don't get my little bit of anonymity on this trip. And that I may have to compromise on dinner sites. (I was always glad I never had to travel with one coworker on my first project here - his favorite place to eat - every.single.night - was rumored to be Applebees.)

Three nights. I did the good lead scientist thing and contacted another one of my clients to let her know I was going to be visiting the area and she jumped on meeting up. So all in all, I am most excited about day three of my visit where she is taking me to tour around her headquarters and meet her people. Leif hopes I may get to go on a sub. I explained (again) the whole confined space entry thing, but did promise to bring him something back from the Air and Space museum.

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