gone crazy. back later.
Anna, who is now almost 13 years old, visibly winced last time I used the term "cray cray." She probably has a point.
For the last several years, the advent of spring has meant two things in my little world: wildflowers, of which I get to be the Voice of the Official Report, unless I'm out of the office. In that case, it's Joe. Joe is not flowery by nature. Joe reads the script like a broken man. "It looks to be a wonderful year for wildflowers," he reads, miserably. "Vibrant displays carpet the slopes of the Central Texas Hill Country."
You can totally hear how badly he wants a riding lawnmower.
And of course the other harbinger of spring is my descent into madness as I put the finishing details on our annual travel conference. In a former life as a corporate meeting planner, I worked with mostly stationary targets: hotels and conference centers, caterers and audiovisual contractors, and attendees who tended to sit quietly in the same spot for 8 hours a day. But "tourism boot camp," as one of my regular attendees calls our conference, is a little different: 12-hour days on three buses, sweeping through a region with choreographed precision; discharging 100 participants for a sampler-platter taste of museums, restaurants, parks, restaurants, educational exhibits, and historic sites; splitting up and rotating to fit in the smaller-capacity attractions; meeting up at the next appointed time without missing a beat - usually staying 25 minutes, tops, at each stop.
Since everything is planned to the minute, the slightest delay or mishap can cause the whole carefully crafted schedule to come crashing down, which is why I get a little hostile if anyone requests a bathroom break.
However, since it's apparently still winter, I slipped away for a long weekend to visit my aunt Barbara, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and see a concert given by my sister Jessie from Brooklyn and her little violinist friend, and catch up with my cousin Gwen, who is very awesome. When she was 16 and I was 12, Gwen was the coolest human being on the face of the earth on account of having permed hair and driving an MG Midget. But it turns out she's still cool without those things. If you get a chance, ask her for some pointers on pool.
Plus I got the opportunity to explore Charleston by rental bicycle, which is a good idea if you're going to subsist on shrimp and grits and drink as much wine as my aunt and cousin do. (My aunt is widowed now, but was married to an Italian, and drinks accordingly.) It's bike-friendlier than I anticipated, though there aren't many dedicated bike lanes. There are a lot of cyclists, few helmets, and plenty of bike traffic on both sidewalks and streets.
And there's a separate pathway, with clear delineation for bikes and pedestrians, that runs across the high Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge over the Cooper River, which is a shipping lane. It's almost the only climb Charleston offers as the land between the Cooper and the Ashley is completely flat. On the other side, Mount Pleasant offers a park, pier, and gift shop, where you can't buy your daughter a model ship even though she'd totally love it because it would get crushed in your backpack on the way home.
I think this year I'll put my attendees on 100 bikes and see how that works out. It'll be cray cray.