Dec 19, 2015

The Road to Atlanta

It's been a busy week. Monday, I joined Saori's office Christmas party. Every year, her office takes over a trendy Italian restaurant and buys dinner and drinks for everyone. Actually, due to the proximity to Italy, all of the Italian restaurants are money laundering fronts for the Mafia staffed by Italians, which means typically the food is amazing and the service is terrible. Anyway, the food here was great, and actually so was the service. Unfortunately or fortunately, Saori was so exhuasted from the last two weeks of 70 hours that we went home right after dessert, so I was absolutely fine the next day.

Which was good because my next two days at the office were actually Revit training. The office paid for us to have a classroom to ourselves and customized lessons over the topics we wanted to learn. Everything in German, naturally, so I struggled more with the language than with the software, but I was able to get mostly everything since we were all on computers. Lunches were something to be desired, just the small cafe attached to the indoor soccer mini-pitch nearby.

Thursday, Saori took the day off work, and I went into the office to take care of the last few things. Anyway, it was my day to clean the coffee machine. After work, I said goodbye to the owner and the owners wife, and they both wished me a relaxed christmas. My boss told me that if I didn't come back after Christmas, he was going to fly over and drag me back by my ear. It is nice to feel welcomed.

Apo drove me back and I invited him to stay for some tea and snacks, so he and me and Saori got to hang out one last time before we took off. After he left, it was already late, so we packed everything, cleaned a bit, and took care of some last minute things. I finished packing around 1, and went to bed for a nap. I thought Saori was going to join me, but she didn't want to leave the house as chaotic as it was, so she put everything away and swept the floors, putting things to rights while I slept. She didn't sleep at all.

We actually packed kind of light. We both had just one suitcase, 50 pounds each, 40 pounds of which was the combined weight of German christmas baked goods.

To be honest, I didn't sleep all that well. I really hate flying now, and espcially flying to the US. It's a mixture of paranoia and concern over the near-unlimited and capricious power of the border control (fun fact: before you are waved through customs, you have absolutely none of your American rights. For example, you can be held indefinately without charge), and the general misery that is American local airlines and airports.

I callled the taxi at 4am, and we were off to the airport. The roads were empty and so was the airport, so we punked down and enjoyed buttered pretzels for about two hours before we boarded.

Tiny airplane for an hour or so to Paris, then we hopped on a massive 777-300 from Paris to Atlanta. Flight wasn't bad. Watched Pixar's InsideOut and slept a lot. We sat right at the back and had great access to hot water, the toilets, soda, and snacks. Clearing customs and immigration in Atlanta was not nearly as bad as I thought. Moved through really quick and our luggage popped out immediately.

Ayumi's husband, Tim, surprised us by picking us up at the airport and taking us to thier house in Decatur. I've been through Atlanta many times but this is the first time I've taken the "Ground Transportion" direction and not "to connecting flights."

First impressions of Atlanta: the sprawl of Phoenix combined with the architecture and greenness of St. Louis. Lots of midcentury housing, and a long strip of downtown on the skyline. We met Ayumi and the two kids at their house and visited for awhile. I saw them in New Orleans nearly four years ago, and it's been seven years for Saori.

They cooked us a really delicious chicken dinner and I crashed around 9pm, feeling good that I made it that long with the jet lag.

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