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Dear Royal Caribbean,

The travel industry has been hit hard. I don’t have to tell you that, as cruise companies such as yourself have experienced catastrophic losses.

So I would think you would be upping your customer service game.

I’d be wrong. Clearly.

You still suck.

After the first time we traveled with you, I vowed it would be the last.

But sometimes you have to go along with the group, and my group decided to give you another go.

We were supposed to go in June, but PANDEMIC. So we got a credit toward a future cruise.

On Tuesday, the group bat signal went up that it was TIME TO BOOK said cruise.

It is fairly easy to book a cruise (i.e., spend money) on your site.

You know what is not easy to do? ANYTHING ELSE.

  • Link reservations with the others in the group? No. I have to call.
  • See my credit? Nope. Call.
  • Use my credit? Hell no. Call.

Sigh.

So I called, and got the very snippy Miguel. Here’s how part of the conversation went down:

Me: I’d like to use the credit from my cancelled cruise.
Miguel: I see that you spoke to a representative March 9 and were promised a credit.
Me: Yes.
Miguel: You want to use that credit toward the cruise you just booked.
Me: Yes.
Miguel: That credit has not been processed yet.
Me: Not processed? It’s been two months.
Miguel: Yes. I see that you called March 9. May I put you on a brief hold?
(Brief hold commences. Miguel returns.)
Miguel: You will receive an email next week with a confirmation code for the credit. You will then need to call back to ask to have the credit applied.
Me: So let me get this straight: I had to call to cancel to get a credit. Then call to get the credit processed. Then I have to CALL once I receive an EMAIL that my credit is ready so that I can have my credit applied.
Miguel: Yes.
Me: You know that’s insane, right?
Miguel (at his snippy summit): This is our process.

The next step is to link reservations so that we can all sit together at dinner. Miguel is aghast that I would want something else from him. He informs me that both Sophia and Petra have to put in their reservation notes that they want to link with me, and I have to do the same.

MY GOD.

I text both Sophia and Petra about this situation. We are the ones in our families who HANDLE THINGS. So we are handling things like the Tracy Flicks we are. All three of us are on the phone independently with you, Royal Caribbean. It is NO WONDER the wait time to speak to a representative is so long.

Sophia goes FULL KAREN and asks to speak to a manager. I’m so glad she did.

Sophia’s method was so effective that I actually got a confirmation from her, Sophia, via text. Not from you, RC.

Ignore my dark humor. It’s how I cope.

Unbelievable.

So. We will see you in December, COVID willing. But I know I’ll be on the phone with you sooner.

And you know how much I love talking on the phone (sarcasm alert).

Hoping you see my point,
Beth

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Dear ‘Rona:

One of the things you have forced us all to do is to spend more time with the people in our house — for better or worse. I like to look on the bright side, so I’m trying to focus on the things I’ve enjoyed.

1. Playing board games with the family. Even the arguments have been fun.

We played Payday. The miser (aka Gideon) climbed to the top of the paper-money ladder.

Dominic played Monopoly for the first time and landed on Park Place his first trip around the board. Then he rolled snake eyes. Before long I was out on a corner with a cardboard sign (virtually, of course).

2. Playing video games with the family.

Mortal Kombat 10 doesn’t have Sindel? I’m out.

3. Playing games with friends via Houseparty.

This is (supposedly) a jaguar. Look: I know. Take it up with Royce. He drew it.

4. Harassing Dominic regularly.

“Lord, MAN! Please sit up straight. You are KILLING me.”

“Stop guzzling the orange juice. And shut the refrigerator door!”

5. Watching trashy reality shows with Gideon. (He’s my regular TV buddy.)

I like Jersey Shore Family Vacation this time of yee-ah!

6. Recreating trashy reality shows in the privacy of our own home.

Eddie set up “Love is Blind” in the garage as a fun treat for me.

7. Taking a road trip with Gideon, as he also is going crazy.

We went to Athens to visit the tree that owns itself. That’s right.

Look how happy we are to be outside!

8. Riding our bikes to the store.

My thighs were BURNING. That’s why we are walking the bikes. Y’all: I miss my Biddy Boot Camp at the Y.

9. Having time to color hair if asked.

Gideon wanted red hair.

So he got red hair.

10. Being ecstatic when someone else shaves his.

Doesn’t he look great?

11. Obeying social distancing rules with friend-who-is-nearly-family Kalen.

We are both rule followers.

12. Taking up new hobbies.

Hand knitting with chunky blanket yarn!

Two different blankets, two different stitches. When I take on a hobby, I TAKE ON A HOBBY!

See! I’m trying to stay positive in these trying times you caused.

But I can’t remain optimistic forever.

So please go away.

Thanks!
Beth

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Dear COVID-19,

Pack your knives and go.

One day you’re in; the next day you’re out.

You’ve been chopped.

But yet you’re still here. And where am I?

Trapped on the couch watching way too much Reality TV. Clearly.

I even managed to get through some of my “Ridiculousness” backlog.

I still have a ways to go.

It’s only been a week of intense social distancing, but it has taken a toll on this extrovert who loves nothing better than to be out of the house.

I remember my mother and father always being aggravated with me:

Mom: Why can’t you sit still?
Me: I just can’t.

Dad: You are going out AGAIN?
Me: YES!

My boss told me I could work from home.

I said I had two teenage boys at home. No WAY I want to be there.

So I’ve been splitting my time.

Answer emails. Walk to work. Answer more emails. Advise students via Zoom. Talk to whoever might be around at a safe distance. Walk home. Answer more emails. Read industry reports.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

On Friday, I spoke to two people. It was a big day.

I’ve been doing plenty of cooking and cleaning. Talking to people ON THE PHONE (!). And drinking. So much for the good done via Dry January.

I just read a horrifying article that indicates this could go on for 10-12 WEEKS.

If that is what it takes to keep more people from getting you, COVID-19, then I understand, and will try not to complain.

But I really wish you would take the hint and LEAVE.

The tribe has spoken.

Impatient and unhappily housebound,
Beth

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Dear Self-isolating Friends and Family,

What a time to be alive! It is unprecedented weirdness. I don’t know about you, but some aspects of life are totally normal (my boys fighting) and some are totally bizarre (no toilet paper or cleaning products in stores).

I received the email below. Ordinarily, that would send me into a tailspin. You know how I love my Biddy Boot Camp.

But you also know that I am an optimistic person. So here I am looking on the bright side:

1. Atlanta traffic has been reduced to early-1990s levels.

This is lunchtime on I-85 where it joins I-75. It’s usually a jam.

2. No line at The Varsity (no eating inside either, for better or worse).

3. No one is sneezing, coughing or sniffling in public. (I’m thrilled. I hate this. Pandemic and non-pandemic advice: If you are sick, STAY HOME.)

4. Family time (again, for better or worse). I’m not ready to kill the children. Yet.

5. Home cooking. Last night, I made Pommes Anna from a recipe by Chef Anne Burrell. (I watched “Worst Cooks in America” during my isolation this weekend.) It’s basically scalloped potatoes with a twist.

Yum!

6. The potential to watch shows on my (long) list of suggestions. Although I find myself rewatching “Schitt’s Creek” in preparation for Season 6.

7. No cancellation fees on the annual cruise we had to reschedule before Coronavirus came calling.

8. Faculty at my university are forced to try online learning. I’ve been singing this delivery method’s praises for years, but some of my colleagues have been reluctant. It’s not perfect, but it works. And it compels people to learn new things and be creative to improve the experience for themselves and for students.

9. The chance to do things that have been put off for way too long. We moved to a different place in the same neighborhood the weekend before everything started changing substantially. With the forced down time, we have unpacked everything, put up shelves, cleaned the place, etc. I also rewired our speaker system — something I needed to do since we moved back to Atlanta.

10. The constant reminder to WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS. I’m continually appalled by the number of people who do not wash their hands after going to the restroom. Gross!

Join me in optimism: Tell me about your silver lining.

Love and air kisses from at least six feet away,
Beth

 

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Dear Viktor Wynd,

You and I clearly are kindred spirits. My friend Nick mentioned your Museum of Curiosities as a place to check out the next time I was in London. In fact, he specifically said this:

It looks like how I imagine the inside of your head looks.

Well, he’s not wrong.

My head is filled with flotsam and jetsam, much like your museum.

In fact, your website celebrates the lack of categorization as part of the mission.

This museum will merely display everything that has glittered & caught the eye of it’s founder.

I just want to take a moment to recognize your genius. Where else can a jar of Amy Winehouse’s poop live alongside some terrible taxidermy?

As I was able to visit recently, here are some visual aids for readers who think I’m kidding:

This is pretty bad, even as bad taxidermy goes.

And part of Amy outside her music lives on.

BFs 4EVA!

It must be weird to be a celebrity whose detritus is museum worthy.

There is plenty going on in this case. Almost too much for intake.

Id like to copy edit the museum mission statement, but I won’t. Here it is with all its charm intact:

The Museum has no overreaching aim beyond the theft of it’s visitors time and the hope that it will provide amusement by return & hopes to fill the vacuum between what the establishment elite believes is worthy of worship & what exists in the world.

Good news: It did ABSOLUTELY provide amusement. This is exactly the sort of place that provides a perfect afternoon for me.

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Dear Simon, Rob and Nick, aka Jesse’s Divide,

It was exactly a year ago that you played Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta as part of the U.S. leg of your Space Wolf tour — a leg I planned with no prior tour-planning experience.

(Good GOD. WHAT were we thinking? A leap of faith all around.)

One year ago, I badgered all my friends to come hear you play.

One year ago, these friends seemed surprised I had good taste.

One year ago, these friends bought you all tequila shots.

Photographic evidence

And one year ago, Rob drank so much tequila, he still had the liquor sweats 24 hours later.

More evidence

Now the four of us are talking about U.S. Tour 2: Electric Boogaloo for October, and I couldn’t be more excited.

This tour will be fortified with more Jesus, more vegan food, more gigs, more fans and likely more tequila.

Crucially, this tour also will feature less driving, less crappy equipment and (I hope) less barfing on the side of the road.

I am forever grateful to Clair for inviting me to go with her to see you that February night in 2018.

Love you guys! You’re simply the best.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Touriversary!
Your No. 1 American Fan

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Dear Lottery God:

I still haven’t gotten a response to my May 2019 plea. I didn’t really expect one, but I DID hope.

Here’s the thing: What I really want are not material things.

Instead, I want experiences.

Like a blogger friend of mine (edyjournal), I’m not so concerned with status symbols. In fact, sometimes they come with more baggage than they are worth.

For example, I drove a BMW convertible for a while. I bought it used for $4K under the Blue Book value because the seller had already ordered a brand-new one for his kid as a replacement (!).

It was in great shape, and I take care of cars. That’s how my current car (a 2008 VW Eos) has managed to last and still look good.

Anyway, I got so sick of comments like this:

A BMW? Insert name of employer at the time must be paying you well!

[Eye roll]

It was a fantastic car, but I didn’t seek another BMW after it was totaled when I was broadsided at an intersection.

I feel myself growing apart from another friend whose job working with the 1 percent has her chasing the same Richie Rich tokens of success to keep up.

That’s not interesting to me.

You know what IS interesting to me?

Scream-laughing with my youngest on a roller coaster.

Watching people slam dance.

Day drinking in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios Orlando.

Edit: Having brunch and getting my hooves shaved down with a long-time friend.

When I travel nowadays, I tend not to come home with tokens. (I Marie Kondo-ed my life since moving to Atlanta.) I come home with consumables: snacks for the kids, chicken hoops for me (when I can find them), random condiments, etc.

I don’t add to my physical footprint (not even in weight as I’m still maintaining).

So I’m asking again, Lottery God: Please smile upon me. These experiences aren’t free.

Best wishes and warmest regards,
Beth

 

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