Buddy Bidding: Flight Attendant Friends

There are a couple of misconceptions I encounter a lot when people ask me about working as a Flight Attendant. People seem to think that we have a "regular route" and that we work with the same crew members all the time. 
(Are we still saying fake news?)

We do NOT have a "regular route". 

Some Flight Attendants have particular layovers that they prefer for any number of reasons. Maybe they have family they want to visit in Omaha. Maybe they live in Detroit but commute to Philly so they want to be able to go home on their overnights. Maybe they need a special type of buteer/handcream/face cream/medication that can only be purchased in Europe. 

If they have the seniority to get the layovers they bid for, they might fly to a particular destination more than others. Alternatively, if they have no seniority and Crew Scheduling falls in love with sending them to Las Vegas for every single major holiday....they might also end up at the same destination again and again. 
(Las Vegas was my second home in 2016. Thanks Scheduling.)

We don't fly with the same crew all the time.
(Kind of.)

Very rarely do I walk onto a plane and find I'm working with people I already know. After four years of flying, hundreds of flights, and literally MILLIONS of miles, it's pretty rare that I encounter co-workers I already know when we all sign in for a trip. It happens more now than it did two or three years ago, but it's still not common. 
Now, that said, on months when I'm not on call and instead have a set schedule (LINEHOLDER LIIIIIFE), I have the option of "buddy bidding" with up to three friends. That means we ask the scheduling gods to only assign us trips that we can work together. 
Even the worst trips can be fun when you're working with a friend you know and enjoy. 
In my case, it means having a friend I can count on to drink wine and eat loaded tater tots with at airport hotel bars in Kansas City..... among other things. 

I buddy bid with my friend Kim pretty regularly- we're bidding together for December because the odds are extremely high that, given our seniority, we're going to be working on Christmas and New Year's. If we can't be with our families in Vermont and Kentucky, at least we can be somewhere together and we can make the best of it. 
(Please scheduling gods, not the short LGA.)

Kim and I have had some awesome adventures together over the last couple of years, some planned, and some by accident- like last year when we got assigned to the same London trip, or earlier this week when Scheduling sent us to Zurich together! 

In the last couple of years, Kim and I have hung out together in a whole bunch of states and quite a few countries (including two that neither of us had every been to before! Cuba and Switzerland.) and we've had so much fun. 
Kim is an awesome person to work with, but she's even more of an inspiration in the real life she lives on the ground- hectic doesn't even BEGIN to describe it (SHE HAS SIX KIDS) but she pulls it all off with grace and an amazing amount of love. I hope that someday I can be even partly as amazing as she is. 

They say that when you marry someone your joys are doubled and your worries are halved, and I've found that's absolutely true when I fly with my pal Kim. 
Buddy Bidding is kind of like being married for a month at a time- and in the same way that I'm very lucky to have found an excellent fiance, I'm also extremely lucky to have found a fabulous Buddy Bidding friend. 

With Kim on the simulator in New Hire training when we were just bitty baby Flight Attendants. 
In Phoenix when the other members of our crew were also junior and very tolerant of my shenanigans. 

We've had a whole bunch of Island one day trips together. One highlight was a whirlwind trip to Cuba!
I forced Kim to take the "Caroline Bright Tour" of London and she got to see all of my favorite childhood spots!

We discovered Slap's BBQ in Kansas City together, and now we have to go there every single time we have a long enough layover in the Show Me State. 
We can't help that we're adorable and charming. It's a gift.

Earlier this week in Zurich, Switzerland. Absolutely our most insane trip together to date, but just another adventure in the chronicles of Kim&Caroline: Buddy Bidders.

Matrimony Monday: Feminism and Marriage

Recently, I was hanging out with one of my favorite people and she asked me how I felt about the intersection of Feminism and Marriage. 
That got me thinking seriously about the topic in a way I haven't in a while. I made my peace with marriage as an institution (mostly) years ago, even in spite of getting divorced, and I hadn't spent much time considering this issue since. 

There's SO much here and no way that I can cover it all in a single blog post, particularly because I am not a social scientist or an actual historian. 

First of all, let's define Feminism, mmmkay?

  1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.

In theory, we have gender equality in the United States. In practice, not so much. 
In marriage, it's even more complicated. 

1. Marriage has long been used as a tool to promote the subjugation of women. 

There was a time, not so very long ago, when a woman ceased to exist as a legal entity the moment she got married. 

"By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing."
(Blackstone's Commentaries)

Married women didn't have the right to own property in their own names, to keep wages they earned, or the right to have custody of their children in the event of a divorce- for any reason. 

"Oh, 1848? That was 170 years ago! Forever! And they changed that stuff anyway."
In my family, that was only four generations ago. 
Oh, and many of the marital laws Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were opposed to didn't get changed until well into the 20th century
(I believe that Iron Jawed Angels should be mandatory viewing.)

I haven't even gotten started on marriage laws in other countries or really historical examples of gender subjugation via marriage. 
Yes, today in the United States things are legally different, but there's no avoiding the legacy of gender inequality that marriage has. That legacy sends shockwaves through history that we still feel today and created expectations that we have to contend with constantly. 

2. Marriage today is both more complicated and more simple than ever. 

Thanks to marriage equality a lot of the gendered baggage of marriage has been getting unpacked. Taking the gender requirements out of the question of marriage has made roles are more flexible than they've ever been, which has led to some people pushing back harder in favor of "traditional" marriage. Duh. I don't have to give y'all examples here. 

3. Lots of conversations about this topic are happening today:

etc. etc. etc. 

So here's my take: 

There's no way of distancing ourselves from the history of marriage. We have to live with, and be aware of, that baggage. 
("Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.")

But generally today, the equality in an individual marriage comes down to the individuals in it.
Like with so many other things in life, you have to decide what you can live with. 

Personally, I know that I absolutely could not EVER marry someone who didn't understand that women and men are still not treated equally and fairly. 
It's just too much work to spend my time and energy convincing the person I love that a basic reality of my existence is just that- a reality. 

I've found that many men don't necessarily spend much time thinking about these issues (because they haven't been forced to by just living life) but that when the topics are discussed and considered they can learn.

You have to be on the same page about basic things when it comes to literally living with someone- not just in theory but in practice. 
Things as basic as household chores and household organization.

Many people I've known believe (in theory) that they should divide household chores equally, but in practice say things like "But I don't know how to do XYZ task." or "Oh, I forgot." or "I'm just better at this than he is, if I don't do it it won't get done." 
Those are copouts when it comes to sharing the burdens of a household equally. They just are. 

We also have to think seriously about WHY some realities exist. 
When people have kids, it can make financial sense for one of us to stay home with them rather than paying for daycare- if that's the case it makes sense to have the parter who makes less money stay home... and in heterosexual couples that's very often the woman. 
Why do women often make less money than men? Well, that's a whole other feminist can of worms that I am SO not going to dive into right now, but I would enthusiastically encourage you to look into.

At the end of the day, an individual marriage can be feminist, but we are far far far from a time when marriage itself is a fundamentally feminist institution.
We just have to keep helping each other up until we get there- in every avenue of life.

Matrimony Monday: Deciding to Get Married

First of all, let me be clear that I am decidedly not a marriage expert.
I'm not a sociologist, a counselor, a psychologist, a self help book author, or anything else.
I'm just a twentysomething who's been married, divorced, and is now engaged again- who spends a LOT of time immersed in the wedding industry and thinking about the nature of marriage. All of this is based on my own experiences and obsessive Hermione Granger style research.

When I was 22, I thought that I had found someone who would make a good teammate for life. 
Six years later, I can safely say that I still don't think I was wrong- I think he would have, if he'd wanted to be my (or anyone's) life teammate. 
But he didn't. 
More devastatingly, he didn't realize that (or tell me) until after we'd been married for a year. 
And so, we got divorced. 
I didn't want to get divorced- I wanted to stay married... but I eventually figured out that you can't force someone to be on your team. 
I know that seems pretty obvious, but everyone makes mistakes at 24. I'm just lucky that my mistake was something dumb but principled. I made the best decision I could with the information I had available to me at the time. As Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
There are far worse mistakes I could have made.

Contrary to what our rom-com worshiping society tells us, marriage isn't for everyone. 
It's not that there isn't a lid for every pot, because it's not that hard to find a lid that will fit.
The trick is finding a lid that won't explode off of your pot when the water starts boiling.
I firmly believe that some pots are genuinely better off without lids.
Not every person is better off married or partnered.

For some people, life is better off if they're married as long as it's to the right person.
(This seems to be the overarching idea about marriage today.)
For other people, life is complete only when they're married, period.
(Look at most of the first half of the 20th Century in Western Culture for this concept.
Romantic marriage was necessary and for everyone!
This is still the pervasive idea in a lot of cultures and communities.)

For me personally, the point of dating has always been about finding someone who would be on my team permanently.
I've never been one for "casual" dating or hookup culture.
For me, if something is worth doing, it's worth doing seriously.

I relate to this scene a little too intensely.

Of course, when I actually WAS looking to date casually (I seriously just wanted to try new restaurants and talk to interesting people, which I did.) I found myself another husband.

So how did we decide to get married?
It just rapidly became stunningly obvious that we needed to.

We're both pro-marriage people who want to build a family in the same ways.
We share the same values, principles, and almost all of the same priorities.
(He's more into spending money on cars than I am. *eyeroll* Can't win 'em all.)
He gets all of my references: Monty Python, most musical theatre jokes, weird stuff in Latin...

Most of all, I finally understood that line from Wuthering Heights-
"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."

It wasn't so much a decision to get married as it was an obvious necessity given who we are as people.
Honestly it felt like a "well, DUH" moment when I realized that this weird-like-me Philly guy was the one I didn't know I'd been waiting for.
(Ugh, I know, gross again, sorry.)
Unlike many other choices in my life, I didn't draw up a list of pros and cons, I didn't give a weighted point value to practical items that weigh in favor of my long term goals, and I didn't even consider how things would look in pictures first.
(Ok, well, I might have for a second, but you would too if you had the potential for cop/flight attendant engagement photos.)

So here's my point: if you have to weigh the pros and cons about marrying someone, you need to be honest with yourself about why you want to get married.

Is it simply because it's the next "logical" step?
Is it because they check boxes on a list?
Is it because you want the fun and spectacle of a wedding?
Is it because you're at a point in your life where you feel like you "should" be hitting certain goals and you haven't yet?
Is it in spite of fundamental differences that make your life consistently challenging that you're trying to ignore?

If you thought about any of these and then added the phrase "yeah, but..." then I think the situation bears discussion with someone who knows you really well and/or is a professional at helping people work through hard life things. 
If you're a traveler with a weird schedule like me, allow me to recommend BetterHelp or TalkSpace.

There's definitely no "right" timeline for deciding to marry someone.
Some people know after two weeks.
Some people know they're ready after two years of (metaphorically) kicking the tires and working through stuff.
Some people know they DON'T EVER want to get married, and that's ok too!
(As long as they're honest with their potential partners about it.)

That's pretty much what I've got so far.
Check back with me in another few years to see if anything has changed...because goodness knows my thoughts on this topic were VERY different when I was in my early twenties vs. now in my well seasoned late twenties when I am finally so wise.

Matrimony Monday: Wait, I'm Engaged?

The last nine months have been quite the whirlwind. 

At the end of October/ beginning of November, the long term relationship I'd been in ended suddenly and not through my choice- I was blindsided and thoroughly devastated. 
Thanks to some amazingly kind friends in New Jersey and supportive friends and family across the country, I got through the worst of it. I didn't make any big Facebook announcements or put out a press release, because I figured the people who needed to know, knew.

Spoiler alert: Martin and I are now friends. We hang out (sometimes with my fiancé), and share snaps and videos of the dogs, depending on which one of us they're with. He sends me local sour beer tip offs when he's at a brewery and I let him know when I feel like throwing axes at a wall, since that's his side gig.
I get that it seems weird to a lot of people, but a friend summed it up nicely this way: "You're an awesome person and Martin's an awesome person. It makes sense."

But anyway... in the last five years I've gotten pretty good at reassembling my life after it implodes, and by the middle of December I felt ready to gingerly dip my toes back in the dating pool as the last phase of moving on.

After a few dates/interactions (some incredibly boring, some surprisingly interesting, none life changing or truly awful) one morning I swiped right on a cop with an Ivy League degree in Linguistics, whose political leanings lined up with mine, and who advertised himself as having "one dog and two cats, one of whom has zero respect for personal space".
By that evening, we were spending three hours in a car together to get pizza, by the end of that week it was clear this was the start of something big, and by the end of the 2017 my life had done a complete 180. Again. 
Look, within an hour of matching he was sharing interesting facts about the history of the Marsh Arabs with me and we were discussing Calvinism twenty minutes into our first date- how could I do anything but fall in love with him? 

"Well sure, Caroline," I can hear you thinking, "It's fine to fall head over heels, but why on EARTH did you have to agree to MARRY a guy you barely know?"

As frustrating and obnoxious as this answer is, when you know, you just know

To be blunt, I've been divorced once. I know what that special type of hell is like, and I'm not excited about the idea of repeating it, but I am SO sure about this man that I'm willing to be open to that possibility.
Yeah, it's scary.

When it became clear that this was going to be a SERIOUS thing so quickly, I turned to my friend Shannon over at Generation grannY  for advice because I knew she'd been through this whirlwind thing with her own husband. Pageant friends are the BEST, you guys, especially when they're brilliant. She's so great. Read her blog.

I could sit here and list a hundred reasons Joel is a phenomenal human being (AND the person I'm excited to be stuck with) but that still wouldn't explain all the ways in which this is sickeningly perfect.
The twinkley schmoop is strong over here, I tell ya.
It's gross.

A few anecdotes:

When he comes home from work he brings me flowers and the groceries he noticed we were almost out of.
This morning he started singing "Give My Regards To Broadway" as he headed out the door to work. (Oh, did I mention he can sing, play a couple of instruments passably, AND JUGGLE?)
No one can leave our house without being given something. Wine, a stack of paper plates, some cheese from Vermont- going to Joel's house is like going to the doctor's office as a kid: you know you're leaving with a prize.
Those are just a few tiny examples, but anyone who's been married knows that the little things truly are the big things. 
(And we're on the same page about the big things too, so that's good.)

So now we're planning a wedding and a couple of wedding celebrations, I have a shiny pink ring, and we're working together to map out our shared future.
For me, part of getting engaged was about being honest with the people in our lives about what we were planning. Sure, we could have waited longer for other people to get used to the idea that we were dating before announcing wedding plans, but that would have been lying by omission.

So that's the deal.
Now I have a new fun fact for every ice breaker game.
"I got engaged to a guy I met on the internet after knowing him for four months."
We have a pretty hilarious website.
We now have a house full of three dogs and two cats.
(We're like the animal Brady Bunch over here.)
We're tying the knot on June 1, 2019 and celebrating in Philly before we head up to Vermont for another party June 22. Invitees get to choose whichever event works best for their schedules - more on THAT decision making process later.
He's a gem.

I Am So Into It

The last six months have been aggressive. 

Family members had health crises. 
I visited Cuba for 45 minutes.
I held a line for the first time in three years of flying and got to buddy bid with one of my besties.
I judged Miss Delaware and coordinated the judging for Miss Vermont.
I turned 28.

In the midst of all of this, I've also been falling in love with a handful of products that I've been raving about to people on Facebook and in person. 

So here they are, all in one place:

I waited forever to try these flats before pulling the trigger in January and ordering them. Seriously one of the best decisions I've made all year. 
If you've been on the fence about trying them, the link above will give you $20 off (which you should use to buy extra insoles) and you can thank me later. 
Beyond being ridiculously comfortable, the biggest thing for me about these shoes is that they are MACHINE WASHABLE.
I'm not a super germ fearing person, but airplane floors are gross, guys. #itsneverwater
Being able to toss these in the wash and set them out to dry has been a game changer. The insoles are also machine washable, which is great if you're a sock hater like me. 
I now own them in black, light blue, and hot pink. 
Of course I ordered the pink the day it dropped, have you even met me?

2. Ritual Vitamins

Another product I waited forever to try, thinking that anything so hyped in my social media feeds couldn't possibly live up to its claims. Then what really sold me was my girl, Allie Curtis, saying she'd been using them.
Allie is basically a goddess so I gave them a shot.
Have they changed my world? Not yet- but I'm definitely into how pretty they are, how minty they are, that they don't bother my stomach, and since I'm 28 now my doctor thinks a multivitamin is a good idea sooooo.... I'm sticking with them.

3. I accidentally got all into essential oils.

That same doctor who was all "be an adult, vitamins!" also worked out a new plan to manage my seasonal allergies that aren't seasonal because I'm a flight attendant.
 I started diffusing a sinus clearing essential oil blend recently and I've had to grudgingly admit that in addition to smelling pretty, it's been easier to breathe.
It's bad enough that I enjoy patchouli scented things, but now I'm apparently an essential oils person and I'm learning to live with that.

4. Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel

Look, the ingredients in so many skin care and cosmetic products are absolutely horrifying. In the US, we haven't had a major regulatory overhaul on ingredient standards since the 1930's which means that there's essentially no accountability for the safety of what we put on our body's largest organ everyday.
(Your skin, people.)
Beautycounter is leading the charge to get safer beauty product standards written into law in the United States, which is a big reason that I signed up to be a consultant with the company.
The majority of personal care products are purchased and used by women, which makes the potentially harmful consequences of the questionable ingredients a women's health issue. 
They have an extensive list of ingredients that will never be in Beautycounter products because of the harm that they cause- they call it "The Never List"- and even when I purchase non-Beautycounter personal care products I try to cross reference the ingredients list with The Never List to make informed choices about what I'm putting on, and therefore in, my body.

The biggest reason I hopped on board the Beautycounter train is that the products actually WORK. They're safer, but most importantly to me, they're effective and they do what they say they will.

I was so excited when this peel dropped because now that I'm aging (HELLO AGAIN, LATE TWENTIES), I've been looking for something that would simultaneously get rid of dead skin AND moisturize but that didn't have scary ingredients in it.
My general policy is that if a skincare product isn't safe for a pregnant mom, I should try to avoid it as I would someday like to attempt to be a pregnant mom and it's not easy to get that bad stuff completely out of your system.
I follow the peel with this moisturizer and this eye cream.
Countermatch is a skincare line of miracles. 

I am an extremely pale person. There's just no way around it.
My skin color could best be described as "paper" or "blindingly white".

Actual footage of Selena from when we met. 
(JK, but this is what it actually would look like.)

When we lived in Indonesia, my mom basically dipped us in a tub of sunscreen every day and we still managed to burn.
Now that I'm an adult, I've been wearing products with SPF on my face every day for years and I've recently noticed there's a difference in the texture of the skin on my face (that I've paid attention to) and the skin on my neck (which I've ignored).

Accurate depiction of my reaction to my own stupidity.

I realized it was time to wear sunscreen on the skin that I expose consistently to the sun- my neck, chest, the back of my neck, my hands, and arms. 
So far so good this summer- I've been burn free- but only time will tell if this extra effort pays off in the long run. 
Unsurprisingly, I've turned to Beautycounter once again for a daily sunscreen that works, smells good, doesn't make me even whiter, and doesn't hurt the environment. 
Oh, it also comes in a convenient travel size. 

Dry February: 2018

Last year I attempted Dry February and failed delightfully
This year, I'm going to give it another shot. 
Heh. Shot.

I've spent essentially the entire month of January without my full voice, sometimes more sick, sometimes less, but after four weeks of this I am SO sick of being sick. 

I finally went in to see the doctor at our company health clinic earlier this week and during the check in process the nurse asked the normal questions before taking my vitals. I gave my standard answers.

"Do you drink coffee or tea?"
Yes, I'm a Flight Attendant. 
"Do you smoke?"
"Do you drink alcohol?"
Yes, I'm a Flight Attendant. 

I often joke about the...intense...relationship that Flight Attendants typically have with alcohol. 
In our industry it's just a known fact that flight crews drink, sometimes to excess. 
I've never really had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, probably because I consistently evaluate my habits when it comes to drinking. I try to be aware of what I'm doing because at the end of the day, alcohol is essentially poison.
Fun, socially acceptable poison, but still. Bad for ya.

At the conclusion of the appointment, the doctor had diagnosed me with "extreme extreme" congestion due to chronic allergies (WHAT?! I've never been a person with allergies in my life. WHO AM I?) and chronic dehydration due to my job ("All of you are dehydrated. All of you.").

While I was relieved to not have a sinus infection that would require antibiotics, I was mildly annoyed to be diagnosed with stuff that will require actual lifestyle changes to remedy.
You mean I have to, like... take care of myself?
And so, Dry February seemed like a thing worth trying again because alcohol is dehydrating and stuff.

I've decided that it's going to be easier this year than it was last year- my life looks very different in February 2018 than it did in February 2017.
98% of those differences are excellent.
2017 ended with some HUGE and painful changes, then suddenly (and possibly miraculously), things got really fantastic just in time for a new year to begin.

This year, I have a real reason to not drink (and no, I AM NOT PREGNANT. Seriously. The weirdest part of being in your late 20's is everyone thinking you're pregnant every time you turn down an alcoholic beverage or gain five pounds.) which is better than last year's vague motivation of "I just want to see if I can."
I'm hopeful that will make the next 28 days easier. Breaking a habit is hard, guys.
Not hard like things that are actually difficult, but not super fun either.

So here we go!