Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Breathe in Opportunity; Breathe in Growth: Fulbright Orientation-Day 1

Why I can't sleep. Too excited to start this!

Got up at 5:45 am, even though I tried to sleep in until 7:00. Couldn't sleep, for both excitement of travel and thinking how I am missing my first day with my students. I needed to sleep because I was up too late listening to the Cardinals victory over the Pirates. Rolled out of bed a little after 6:00 and unrolled my yoga mat in the living room. Did a 15-minute personal morning routine I created to match a few of my favorite songs. I was feeling a little anxious, so I chose a routine to connect and slow down my breathing--this to match my "yoga relaxation" playlist, which includes an old personal favorite, Redemption Song by Bob Marley, but covered by 3 Doors Down. I always open the doors, curtains, and windows during my morning routine because I love the soft feel and sights of morning. I knew it was going to be a good day.

Showered, cleaned out the dishwasher and kitchen sink (nice to come home to a clean house) and packed up my computer bag. I buy gadgets so I don't have to take my bulky old laptop, but it's been a work horse for me the last five years, and I can hardly stand to leave her behind. Techno-wise, I've packed my Asus laptop, my iPad 2, a travel keyboard, a Sony HX300 digital camera, a Canon digital camera, and my iPhone, which I learned yesterday how to unlock and to be able to use in England. Yay! I'll hopefully get on that process tonight when I get to the hotel.

I decided a carry-on was all I would take to DC and save as much baggage money as possible for the flight to Manchester. Although it's only three days, they are work and play days combined, so I had a hard time planning my outfits. I went with one set of yoga clothes, gym shoes, flip flops, blue Cole Haan wedge pumps, my go-to Calvin Klein black dress (this thing goes everywhere with me!), a blue/black checkered dress, a J.Crew grey cotton/linen skirt, white linen pants from J.Jill, a pink (my power color) dress shirt, two scarves, and a J. Crew cardigan. I still think I over-packed. I bought a dirt cheap weekender duffel bag from the Coach outlet that folds up into a small pouch...with all my clothes and shoes, it didn't even fit in the overhead compartment above seat 10D! There's nothing more embarrassing to me than trying to cram in a bag that doesn't fit, and then I realized it would fit at my feet, so I put up my computer bag instead.

I am landing at Hartsfield in Atlanta shortly...will resume this note on the next flight. 11:13 am...actually 12:13 pm.

Arrived at my gate, T-2, at 12:55, this after navigating through D terminal and riding the shuttle four stops, a bathroom break, and a stop at The Coffee Bean, where a purchase of a cafe au lait and a bottle of water cost $8. I was really hungry, but couldn't find a good place to get a quick to-go salad.

I tested out a travel outfit today: a green pair of Eileen Fisher linen palazzo pants, a Black Nike drifit tank (I love these!) and Sanuk wedge flip flops (like walking on a yoga mat!) I also carried my cardigan because I often get chilly on airplanes. I should mention I'm wearing a fabulous Wacoal t-back cotton bra. I am sorry about that info, but it's so comfortable!!! The verdict is still out about whether this becomes the outfit I will land in England in. I love the comfort, flexibility, and deep pockets the palazzo pants offer.

The flight to DC is 1 hour and 15 minutes. We are ahead of schedule. The flight isn't too packed, but of course my row is. Seat 22a next to the window. So far, bumpy, but we just crossed through clouds and have risen above them. The couple next to me brought on a tuna fish sandwich and French fries. I've vomited on plane rides twice before...and both times my seat mate pulled out smelly food. I will update later on the vomiting, but I will say my stomach is churning. There's just something about the lack of fresh air that encourages my wheeziness.

Note to self: I need a watch.

When I land I have decided to take the DC Metro to the Capital Hilton Hotel. I generally take cabs on work trips, but I have decided to save the cab fair since I'm landing in plenty of time before dinner reception tonight. Plus, the metro is easy to navigate and I need to start thinking about public transportation since it will be my only mode the next four months.

2:05 eastern time: 37,000 feet. Winds from the northeast
37,000 feet, but just a few inches above a down comforter.
15-20 mph. The captain has informed us this will mean a bumpy descent. The clouds look like a comforter an intergalactic giant could peel back and nestle down on earth to nap.

I plan to get on the metro at DC National, catch the blue line toward (forgot, but once I see it I'm sure I'll remember) and ride eight stops to MacPherson square. Once there, exit out toward Vermont Street, take a left toward K, and a right on 16th...or is that right then left? Too bad I left my notes on the kitchen counter. I will find it soon enough.

All the Delta employees have been so kind.

Let's just say I've checked to make sure I have a barf bag.

2:32...all electronic devices need to be stowed.

Now the blue line stop waiting. The metro was so easy to use and find from my gate. I remembered to run back into the house to get my metro smarttrip card from the last time I was in DC. I had $3 on it still, and I loaded $5 more. I was happy to remember the card since the initial cost is $5. I've used the same Smarttrip card for three trips to D.C. now.

7 minutes wait for the blue line. My view.

I came up out of the metro and crossed the street. Passed a Cosi and a Pret a Manger. I was so hungry, I wanted to stop in, and I've been craving Pret a Manger since Cindy's trip to London in June. I just love their sandwiches and baguettes. I realized pretty quickly that I was walking in the wrong direction. About face for a half block, and then right onto 16th street for the side entrance of the Capital Hilton Hotel.

My Capital Hilton room in panoramic view.

I checked in, super quick, and made it to my room. Fulbright has also paid for us to have the Internet, so that was a pleasant surprise I had already planned to pay for it when I arrived. I unpacked my bag and went to the 2nd floor to check in at registration. I met two of the people I have been e-mailing with since last December. It's nice to put faces to everyone's e-mail addresses. I got my bag of goodies, dropped them off in the room, and went for a stroll around the hotel and a few blocks down 16th street. I didn't take my camera because I was just wanting some fresh air and movement. Came back to the room and did a 30 minute yoga routine to open my hips and lower back. Traveling seems to tighten everything up. Here's the routine from yoga journal. At about minute 17 or so it got a little challenging for this novice yoga student (the spot in low lunge, twist, and grab your opposite foot--my hamstrings ALWAYS cramp when I do that. Maybe someday they will release.)

The Fulbright Goodie bag, which includes insurance AND a Visa card. :)
After yoga I had just enough time to change, freshen up, and head downstairs for dinner. I used to be able to walk into a room full of strangers and start conversations with anyone, but as I age, this is getting more difficult. I think that desire has left me, but I still have enough in me to meet and greet, and I first met a 2nd grade teacher from Alaska. She was a genetics scientist until eight years ago when she and her husband moved near Denali National Park and became teachers. She's going to Finland to study the research practices of teachers. I am HIGHLY interested in her work. Once I opened up to her, I realized that I was in a room full of amazing and interesting people. I began to mingle, and mingle, and mingle. I met science teachers, math teachers, language teachers. I am definitely in my element to talk shop, and I LOVE teacher shop talk.

I also had the chance to meet Steve, who is also heading to Sheffield Hallam. I think we are going to get along just great...neither of us have found a place to live or even have a hotel reserved for the first night. I suspect we will become fast friends.

17 US Teachers and 15 International Teachers at dinner.
The reception tonight was hors d'oeuvres of cheeses, fruit, crackers/breads, vegetables, and a variety of dipping sauces (hot mustard, spinach cream, etc.) A wonderful leafy and dark green lettuce salad started the meal, followed by baked chicken over spiral noodles and fresh tomatoes. I ordered vegetarian, and got a huge pile of fresh steamed broccoli over the noodles. It was just what I needed. A glass of red wine (a blend) to accompany and a cup of coffee to go with chocolate covered strawberries and a fruit pastry to end the course. More conversation, pictures, and now off to bed. I am exhausted tonight. Just after 11:00 p.m. here in D.C. Breakfast at 7:30 a.m.

I wonder how my students in Republic are doing. 

Also, I landed safely without vomiting. :) 
Yippeee! Made it.