Today I head off to Cleveland, Ohio, to ASLOK - the biggest ASL tournament in the world!
When people ask me where I'm going I've tried to explain it as the equivalent of the World Championships of ASL, but that causes a number of problems. Firstly it makes me sound like some kind of national hero - one of only 3 players representing the UK - the second thing I have to do is explain just what ASL is.
My football friends have a vision of me checking in my replica uniform, whilst work colleagues shuffle a little uncomfortably, sometimes staring at their feet before wishing me luck. My parents are over proud - chuffed that I've done so well in something that I'm somehow getting sponsored to do the thing I love. In truth, I'm off to spend a week in an airport hotel playing a cool board game with a bunch of people who every bit as cool as me. Yes, that is kind of an insult to them...
So, what's ahead? A 14 hour flight (cunningly disguised as a non stop flight that if I believed the check in documents will be getting me as far as Newark and no further), then 6 days of gaming, some headaches (lack of sleep/fresh air related) and by all accounts, some good food and times to follow.
I left at 7am, with the family waving me off a little too keenly. To be fair, Alice was a little tearful, but I suppose 7 year old girls can be a bit selfish! :) I heard she cheered up a bit when I gone, I hope the immanent arrival of Grandma and Grandad will cheer her up.
Nearly didn't quite make it, despite my dad's heroic taxi driving service (he got my mum and me to two different airports in two different directions before 9am) only for me to be told I needed to sort out my visa exemption documentation ("Please allow 72 hours for processing" - whoops). I had to do this excercise in form filling online, in-line on my iPhone, which is not easy. A task that was made considerably harder because my w key won't work (I know, it's a touch screen) and nor will the number 2 (he shares the w space on the phone). Now, usually a lack of w's is ok because auto correct will get you out of trouble. Entering my passport number, helpfully with three 2's in it is more difficult. Oh then there's paying via debit card. My middle initial is W and my credit card number has plenty more 2's in there. I owe a debt of gratitude to the good weather. I copied the 2 from our scorching 27 degrees weather from the bbc's weather service. One good thing about global warming!
As I heard yesterday. Greece can have their weather back when they start paying the bills...