Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beyond Memphis

This morning, I got the dreaded "Mom can you take me to school?, I missed the bus alarm." The truth is I am not up most mornings. Because I'm an entertainer, my nights are for working and my mornings are for sleeping. I usually start my day around 11:00 a.m.

On the morning of  February 1, 2011, I was up at this time doing the "idiot check" of my baggage. My flight to Memphis was at 9:50, which meant I needed to get to the airport within that suggested two hours before flight-time window. My husband, John, was my chariot and he dropped me off.

I felt good, a little hungry and definitely sleepy. I would catch some zzzs on the plane. We boarded on time, but were 20 minutes late leaving the runway due to de-icing. The weather was getting bad and I had to make my connection in Chicago. The thought of having to make changes in my commute unnerved me, so I said a prayer and within minutes we were off the ground. I exhaled and took a nap.

As we touched down at O'Hare, I braced myself for the cold of Chicago. It was normal for the "Windy City." Once inside, I checked the board, all systems go. My flight's departure status? On time. I breathed a sigh of relief, went to the bathroom, called home and finished a Sudoku puzzle while waiting to board.

All was well, we left on time and now getting to Memphis felt doable. Little did I know, but soon learned, that my flight would be the last to leave Chi-town for the next two days -- the weather was ugly.

After we touched down my mission was to find transportation to my hotel. I stood under the shuttle sign for 10 minutes watching everyone but me get a ride. I asked one attendant, "where is the shuttle to the Crowne Plaza?" the lady told me to go down to the next awning. I waited another 10 minutes, no shuttle. I called the hotel and was told there is no shuttle from the airport. I caught a taxi. It was 62 degrees and very windy. That taxi cost me 30 bucks, the driver was pleasant, but that was an unexpected expense. It was food money, so I was a bit testy when I checked in. I made a comment to the concierge about the hotel not having a shuttle and what it cost me, so Terry gave me a consolation package of two bottles of water and some chocolates.

I dashed to my room, freshened up, and headed to B.B.King's for a late lunch with Anton. We had missed the lunch rush, so there was no waiting to be seated. The emptiness of the room would be a stark contrast to how it was when we hit the stage in the semi-finals.

When I got back to my room this time I noticed something that made the hair on the back on my neck stand up. I hadn't unpacked, yet the closet had clothes hanging in it and there was food everywhere -- tuna ramen noodles, bread, milk in the fridge, peanut butter and jelly. Then I noticed a travel bag that was not mine. "Holy canoli," did someone else have a key to this room? Was this star treatment? WTF? I called the front desk. I was spooked, so they sent someone up to take out the left-over belongings, but I kept the food. I called John to tell him of this strange occurrence and he suggested I ask for another room. I did not.

I showered and instead of going to the mixer with Anton, I decided to turn in early, I was exhausted mentally and physically. The week prior to leaving I had the the worst flu I have had my entire life, my Aunt had died unexpectedly, and I lost seven pounds from being dehydrated by fever and not being able to keep food down.

Still uneasy in the room, I slept on top on the bed in my robe, I was sure the sheets hadn't been changed since the mystery man departed. I would deal with all of that on the morrow. I woke up at nine with a phone call from Gary, our T-shirt sponsor. He was concerned. He had been calling "the guys" and was not getting an answer. The band left Tuesday night in the van. All of the weather reports were bad. I was worried. By the time I got someone, anyone on the phone they were in the hotel lobby. I went down to meet them in my Mom's Mabley outfit, a funky head scarf, the robe I slept in and house shoes. Everyone was accounted for . . .  game on! We set a time to leave for registration and got on the shuttle together headed for Beale Street. be continued

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