When I mess something up, at least everyone escapes with all their limbs intact.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


My son woke me up at 6:45 am yesterday morning. For a few, blissful moments, I had all the love I needed snuggled into my bed - husband, son, both dogs, and 1 of the 3 cats. Ethan placed his little chubby hand on my face a smiled, "Mommy" before he crawled off the bed in search of breakfast, his two canine shadows in tow.

We made it to playschool by 9 and parted ways with little fanfare. My office, a step across the parking lot from him, waited.

For the next 5 hours I printed, sorted, collated, downloaded, consulted, and packed, all the while keeping one eye on the ominous forecast of gusty thunderstorms with hail, possible snow - a treacherous mix for working outside.

By 2, I'm on the road to pick up a coworker, my partner in crime for the weekend's data collection activity, my new right-hand-girl who's got a serious knack for keeping me on point - she's phenominal. I trust her.

Traffic turns a 45-minute ride to Baltimore into an hour and a half one - no worries, timewise, though my car is running just past too-hot-for-my-liking and has developed this fantastic new tendency to drop gear when up-shifting. I guess her 120,000 miles is starting to show.

At 3:30 it's 84 degrees, and you can feel every single one of them sitting on I-83 in traffic-of-an-unknown-cause. The GPS says we'll reach our destination at 7 - plenty of time for a sit-down dinner, right?

Good conversation keeps the atmosphere moving if not the traffic for the next hour as our arrival time slowly creeps from 7 to 8. That little restaurant next to the gas station overlooking the Susquehanna River? A diamond in the rough. That storm I'd been eyeing all morning started to blow through as we finished dinner, causing the outdoor seating to cross the patio in the process. We ran to the car, just missing being pelted by hail.

Route 322 cuts through and around a mountain, making this leg of the trip a joy to drive and view. Thanks to the storm, fog rises from different parts of the mountain so high and thick you have to really wonder if they're not fallen clouds. The trees are so dense and populous you can't tell if roads run through them or not and burst with color so rich you'd think you were looking at them with new eyes - so many shades of green, they seem to be in high-definition.

Nightfall brings more rain but less visability. It's ok - the hotel is about 20 miles away. We arrive a little after 8 with just enough time to check the radar once more before our scheduled rendezvous with our local contact. It's survey time.

Fast-forward to today: I've been up since 9 am, when I rushed bleary-eyed and unfocused to the hotel lobby to scavenge whatever it was that I could from the free hot breakfast bar before they closed it.

I'd only slept 4 1/2 hours.

After less-than-overwhelming findings (cheese omelets should NOT require force when cutting), my coworker and I set to wrapping up last night's data collection - sweatpants, doo-rags, and E! Entertainment television complete our office-on-the run setting as we look over last night's work and prepare for tonight's festivities. We break to shower before lunch, where we hoof it around downtown for a short bit before returning to the hotel in an attempt to nap again. I have little success.

So now, at 6 pm, I've got less than 3 hours before it's time to run the circle once again. All afternoon I've thought about my family, how much I miss them, how it's just a few more hours before I fall before a symphony of baby hugs and puppy kisses, how I'll get to have a real sit-down dinner with my husband tomorrow night it's so close - not too much longer! I miss the warmth of lying back-to-back with Chris, dogs both at my feet and at my knees, a cat above my head and one by Chris' belly, of that moment right before Ethan wakes up where I hear him rustle and wait for his call - -  "Mommy?" I don't have that here, where it would be expected that I lounge and rest and take advantage of a respectible amount of quiet and time to myself. It's all wrong. Love doesn't feel this lonely, this separated from everything but voices on the phone cajoling, "say nite-nite to Mommy, say I love you Mommy."

But as I start to really wake up for the day, as I look around at my blue and orange bags and my blue and silver research team jacket, I smile. It's a smile of potential. Of excitement. Of gleeful anticipation.

I love my job. Even if it does mean being away from my family sometimes. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I am lucky and blessed, on many fronts.