Where Have The Friendly Skies Gone?

Friendly Skies

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

Remember when flying the friendly skies meant:

  • You received a meal with the price of your ticket instead of a meal for purchase.
  • You checked your luggage for free unless it exceeded 50 pounds instead of the flat rate of $25.
  • You received complimentary headphones to watch the in-flight movie instead of supplying your own.
  • You received a full can of soda with a cup of ice instead of a plastic cup of soda.

Plus there were these added services like:

  • During descent the flight attendant would announce the gates for all the connecting flights of passengers so you didn’t have to look for it when you landed.
  • If there were delays and it was possible that you would miss your connecting flight, the attendant at you arrival gate would call the departure gate of your next flight and request they wait for you.

If you don’t remember, you missed out on a golden age in air travel.

But the friendly skies went the way of safer skies which can be traced back to a single moment in American history. 9/11 is my generation’s equivalent of “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” It changed the landscape of America literally and figuratively.

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint Model in the lobby of my hotel. Only sight seeing I got in.

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
Model in the lobby of my hotel. Only sight seeing I got in.

Usually the changes in practice don’t bother me but my recent trip to DC on business found me longing for the convenience of quality customer service while traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I value the safety of our nation. It’s just created a deficit in courtesy.

Still, I make it a rule not to be rude to flight attendants or ticket clerks. I employ manners … using my “please” and “thank you” words; letting my smile reach my eyes. They don’t have an easy job.

But the pursuit of safer skies over friendly has made airlines apathetic to the travelers’ plight. Essentially were held hostage to these skies; accepting our rations in our cold cramped spaces with grateful smiles.

My desire for the friendly skies to return started when I checked in for this trip. There was a request for volunteers to give up their seats. I opted not to and thought nothing of it.

However, my coworker who came to the airport later than me wasn’t given an option. She was booked on a later flight. Then was grounded at her layover spot and missed our first event session …

While sitting in the gate area, they announced that our plane was late but only by 10 minutes so “it won’t affect any connecting flights.” Really?

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint Before take off ...

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
Before take off …

We landed and I had less than 15 minutes to get to my next gate, which of course required me to run (and I’m out of shape, so picture me huffing, puffing, and wheezing; lugging a backpack and a purse).

Surprisingly, I got there in enough time … I held out my boarding pass and the attendant at the gate took it and scanned it without meeting my gaze or interrupting her conversation with another attendant. They had NO concern for me or my near miss. It added to my heaviness.

On the return trip … I handed my checked bag to the TSA agent for scanning. He didn’t make eye contact or ask me the standard safety questions … you know:

  • Firearms or other weapons?”
  • Lighters or flammable chemicals?
  • Film or batteries?”

Instead he was scrolling through his Facebook feed on his iPhone. He didn’t even speak to me.

So much for safer skies. In that moment “friendly” and “safe” were on a break. We all lost.

Bring back the friendly skies! Who’s with me? I am hopeful for my next trip …

Seriously, though, there has to be a way to marry the two; so we can fly the safe friendly skies. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your stories good, bad or indifferent about traveling the [insert adjective of choice] skies …

FUN FACT: The “Fly the Friendly Skies” ad campaign and tagline were used by United Airlines from 1965-1996. If you’re interested you can check out some of their old commercials on YouTube. Below are links to a couple that I enjoyed:

Friendly Skies – Nice Flight

Friendly Skies – Friendship Service

Friendly Skies – 1982 Commercial

Welcoming Winter


© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

The cold is coming. I can tell because the trees have started to shed their leaves at a rapid rate.

Some are already bald while others are receding gradually. A little lighter and thinner on top; but full and bushy around the edges.

Winter is my least favorite season.

My corner of the world will be devoid of color soon. Grey. Pale. Like a water color portrait of steel.

I enjoy Winter only for the first snow, especially if I’m home watching bright white hot innocence spill to the ground. I smile at it. In that moment, I welcome winter. It’s pure and undisturbed.

Then it becomes the guest who’s overstayed his welcome. Glaring at me. Moving in and settling down without concern.

I wrote these words back at the end of October as the weather started changing. It was part practice for scene description and part emotional response to the pending weather.

I was granted a reprieve because we didn’t get the first significant snow until the day after Christmas.

While others were dreaming of a white Christmas, I was wishing for it to dawn dingy green and brown with bare branches pointing in all directions.

Growing up, two inches of snow meant “Snow Day” which meant no school. It takes a lot more than two inches to garner a “Snow Day” here.

And even if schools shut down, places of business rarely do. Which is my way of saying, I still have to go to work even when the dudes are given an unexpected break.

I’ve worked for the same company for 12 years now and only twice in all those years have they closed their doors due to inclement weather.

I don’t ski or sled. I don’t like to make snow-angels or snowmen. Ice-skating? Forget it. I don’t like to be cold – I wear long sleeves in the summertime.

Winter weather is best for curling up on the sofa with a good book and a hot beverage of choice.

Christmas was just the beginning of five or six months of living under a cold ashy blanket. Okay? So some will say, “Winter Wonderland”. But it gets really old very quickly.

My dudes love the opportunities to be outside throwing snowballs and rolling around in the winter white. Okay, my youngest dude loves it. My oldest, not so much, he’s like his Momma in this regard.

Usually, the snowy opportunities come at school or the sitter’s.

They won’t have any childhood memories where I am a part of the snowy play. So, I will have to suck it up this year for the sake of my dudes.

But I’m still not excited about welcoming winter.

How do you respond to onset of winter? What suggestions do you have for winter fun?

How They Became Dudes


Backyardigans. (Photo credit: Vintage Studio. Artes Plásticas e E.V.A.)

When my oldest was born, I gave him nicknames like: Little Face, Sweet Pea, and Pumpkin. Only I said Pumpkin like the “m” was an “n”.

He would look up at me with those big happy eyes, cooing and gurgling. Intense even then. I was a woman in love with this gift: motherhood.

My husband said, “He’s such a dude.”

I didn’t care much for that.

When my youngest came along, he was also called Pumpkin with the “m” pronounced as an “n” and Sweet Pea. His other nickname was Chunkers because he looked over-nourished. Plump and healthy.

He would look up at me with a wide smile and bright eyes. He was my giggler. Rolling with laughter. And, I was a woman in love with this gift: slightly more experienced motherhood.

My husband said, “He’s such a Dude.”

I still didn’t care for it.

As they got a little older people would refer to them as Buddy. You know?

Hey Buddy how’s it going?”
Hey there Buddy?”
What you got there Buddy?”

Buddy for me sounded like a dog’s name. I didn’t like it. Just one of my ~isms. But when I found myself referring to them as Buddy, that was the end of it. I started calling them Dude along with my husband because in my mind Dude was better than Buddy.

And so began their Dude-dom.

It became such a common term in our house that it wasn’t long before the oldest was addressing the youngest in this way:

It’s okay Dude.”
What do you want Dude?
Dude? What are you doing?”

It was an early word for the youngest.

Then came the Backyardigans episode: Surf’s Up, in which the characters pretend to be surfers in search of a secret beach. The Dude Talk abounded. The girl surfer was a Dudette. It was a favorite episode for a long time.

Surf’s Up solidified Dude as our family term of endearment.

Boys. They are boys. Active. Strong. Strong-willed. Confident. They already have very definitive ideas about a man’s role in life.

My oldest recently asked my husband, while smoothing down the front of his shirt, “Does this make me look manly?”

Ahhh testosterone in the morning. Already a man’s man. Already a Dude.

Now this one word means so much more for us … Tone can change what it means. While roaming the Hanson Household you’re likely to hear, “Dude …” just a few times.

So for those of you who’ve commented that you love the fact that I call them Dudes, I have to say, I can’t take credit for it. But, the title suits them.

What’s your “dude” or special pet name? How’d it come to be? I’d love to hear the stories behind the names given in love.

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A Month of Something

Month of Something Calendar

©2013 the Jotter’s Joint – My Month of Something

During our January accountability call, my writing partner, Talli (enJOYin’ Life), and I bemoaned the fact that we’d failed to meet our December writing goals.

We talked about the obstacles we faced: balancing time with family and friends, being out of our routines due to vacation and holidays, and just wanting to do nothing for a little while.

It was one of our toughest conversations in the eight months or so that we’ve been holding one another accountable. Tough, for me, because the do-nothing aspect of time off was so appealing. I needed it.

At the same time, the conversation gave way to epiphany. I realized what part 3 of my book should be. Or, at least, one component it should include. This gave me momentum in planning, which I’m almost convinced would be better than just seeing where the story takes me. Note the word “almost” in that sentence. My writing process is still discovery.

The best part of the call was setting new goals to accomplish in January. And, hearing my writing partner state: “This is going to be a month of something …” Unlike our December – The Month of Nothing.

She is right too. It will be a Month of Something.

For starters, I will celebrate my 41st birthday the 14th. Happy birthday to me! I am grateful for each year.

Second, it’s the month I will break through the barrier of writing I’ve been hiding behind.

How will I break through?

By writing those wonderful words: The End. Not because I’ve finished the novel. I’m not quite there yet.

Since the story idea came to me I’ve had the same image for the ending. No matter what twists and turns the story has taken, the end hasn’t changed. Regardless of the characters I add or kill off the last scene is vivid in my mind.

So, two days after Talli’s profound words, I wrote that scene. I attempted to capture the image of my main character closing a chapter of her young life; having evolved and matured.

I framed words to take me from my once-upon-a-time beginning to my and-they-lived-happily-ever-after end. Which of course isn’t really the end of Baby Girl’s tale; it’s just where I’ve quit telling it.

The scene is just under 400 words but fitting for the last moment. Now we’ll see if the ending starts to evolve just as the rest of the book has done.

Either way, I’ve accomplished something: new words on the page, vision for the next phase of the book, and The End.

This is a month of something.

However, I don’t want word count goals because lately they cause me writerly paralysis. Instead I will measure my “somethings” in time set aside writing. For a change, my “somethings” yardstick will account for me writing rather than talking about writing.

What will be your something this January?

Audio Books

Audiobooks Rock

Audiobooks Rock (Photo credit: Lester Public Library)

I am slow to embrace new technology (and in this case old technology). Don’t get me wrong. I’ll do it but usually with a shove.

Like when iPods were the cool new product? I waited until the second or third generation before getting one.

Or, when eReaders started gobbling up market share? I waited till Kindle was in its third generation before getting one.

And, when smart-phones became ALL the rage? I waited for the iPhone to be in its fourth generation before getting one.

With tablets? I’m still vacillating even though we have two in our household.

Okay … if I’m telling the truth … my husband pushed me into the realm of these great devices. As a matter of fact, each time he suggested one I balked. So he purchased each one as gifts which I placed on shelves and told him he shouldn’t have spent the money.

HAHAHA. I know … Ingrate!

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite (Photo credit: Zero2Cool_DE)

Now, I don’t know what I would do without these wonderful toys. I’m addicted to my iPhone and would be lost without my Kindle Paperwhite (my second Kindle); especially when I travel. (Don’t tell my husband how much I love these. He’ll never let me live it down.)

How long have audio books been around? You know? Books on tape or CD.

Now you can download them to just about any electronic device and have the luxury of someone else reading to you.

Honestly, it’s an idea that never appealed to me before.

Even when I lived in Southern California and had long commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I didn’t have the urge to buy a book in this format.

I used to value the quiet on my drive to work. It’s the only place I can control the volume around me. No noise was perfect. Until I realized there’s a lot of stuff I need to read or know about writing.

My current commute is less than 20 minutes which is the perfect amount of time to listen to a podcast (sometimes it takes the round trip).

So I find myself entering this new world of listening to messages instead of reading them for myself; which brings me to my first foray into an audio book.


audible.com (Photo credit: insidetwit)

Many of the podcasts I listen to are sponsored by audible.com. I mentioned to my husband that I might want to try it out … and not surprising, he already had an account.

I downloaded my first book: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. I’m almost finished listening to the story which is a wonderfully well done back-story that plays on the myth of Father Time.

I’m still adjusting to the voice talent who has a British accent, I enjoy, until he mimics a teenage girl speaking with an American accent.

Also, I’m still not convinced that this is should be considered “reading”. It feels more like cheating. Still, I got a good story out of it. I was entertained for 4+ hours.

What do you think about audio books: Yay or Nay? If yay, please let me know of any titles that are worth the listen.

In case you’re wondering … here’s my current podcast list. Feel free to tell me your favorites so I can check them out.

  • Grammar Girl
  • I Should Be Writing
  • Literary Disco
  • Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day
  • The Moth
  • Writing Excuses
  • Your Move 

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Dreaming is Hard Work

dreams and wishes. 62/365

As the New Year rolled around, my mind immediately went to goal-setting and resolution-making, which is to be expected. But, the other night I realized it should have gone toward dream-chasing.

If you didn’t know before today, I’m here to tell you, being a dreamer is hard work. Don’t be fooled by those who make it look effortless.

For me, there aren’t enough gaps in a day, between what’s “required” and “expected” to contain what’s “desired”. It overflows and quite honestly my goals should lead me to my dreams. That’s the hard work part.

I never dreamed of success. I worked for it.” ~Este Lauder

Ask anyone who’s reached their dream and I’m sure they’ll tell you they had to fight for it. The movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, comes to mind. Dreamers often equate work with the realization of their dream.

Recently I noticed I have calluses on my hands. I’m not sure what has caused these rough patches to appear on my palms.

Usually calluses are associated with repetitive motion and hard physical labor. I think of cowboys or ranchers or farmers … not a person who sits at a desk all day and taps away on a keyboard.

Maybe my mind manifested the calluses in response to work I need to do; for the dream I am chasing.

But as a writer who aspires to novelist or finished first draft of my novel, I don’t think I should develop hardened patches on my hands even if they are the instruments for putting down words.

Wouldn’t I instead toughen the mind muscle; the imagination maker? And how would I know that I’ve toughened it up? Maybe this is it:

If you’re not lying awake at night worrying about your novel, the reader isn’t either. I always know that when I get a good night’s sleep, the next day I’m not going to get any work done. Writing a novel is like working on foreign policy. There are problems to be solved. It’s not all inspirational.” ~James M. Cain

For most of the holiday season, my characters have been silent. My main character, Baby Girl, didn’t say a word. She let me sleep in. None of my characters distracted me from professional pursuits or leisurely lounging.

To the point where I considered, for a millisecond, abandoning them to the unfinished projects pile. I didn’t though. I waited. 

Where was the hard work part in the past two weeks?

Please know that I was still going about the hard work of a writer.

I read … I buried myself in someone else’s story until mine called me back. I read three books and my writing partner’s manuscript. I listened to podcasts on writing and dreamt of incorporating the advice. I read blog posts and articles. I searched for writing rescues and conferences for 2013.

My dream of writing was still at the forefront.

Then came the familiar ring. “Vacation is over,” Baby Girl called out. “Back to work.”

I hit my normal routine and my characters met me there. I couldn’t fall asleep last night. I couldn’t quiet my brain. As I grabbed the notebook from my bedside table and wrote:  plot notes, character ticks, missed opportunity lists, and dialogue, by iPhone light.

My poor husband. He’s so patient with me.

I am excited again. Anxious, once more, as I rediscover their story. I am having “roar” moments instead of whimpers and whines. Frustrated and worried about how to make it all come together.

Dreaming is hard work. If you’re a fellow dreamer you know what I mean.

What’s your dream? And, what hard work comes with it? Do you have the calluses to prove the hard work?

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