don't fool yourself
into thinking things are simple
nobody's lying and still the stories don't line up
why do you try to hold on to
what you'll never get a hold on
you wouldn't try to put the ocean in a paper cup
   -ani difranco

4 Aug 98: I have had just a little too much travel drama in the past few days. Will it ever cease? It all started last Friday, when I took the 7am flight from LA to San Francisco on Continental. Everything seemed OK, heck the problem with someone else being assigned to my seat just meant that I'd been upgraded to first class (ahhh, the privileges of being a OnePass Elite member), but then I got on the ground and the fun began. I trekked on down to baggage claim to get my bags. Like what else would I be getting there? Scabies?) Normally, my bags are among the first out (once, it was the first one out. I was so stoked and loved those envious looks all the other saps shot at me as I grabbed my luggage and headed off to get a cab before the legendary Logan Airport long line formed. Those of you who've flown into Boston know exactly what a bitch of an airport I'm talking about. I must admit, I do like the fact that it's located pretty much in the city, and not way the hell out of town like every other airport I go to. I mean in SF you are way the heck out there! Sorry East Boston, but I think it's nice to be able to see the city you're flying into from the airport. OK, I'm going to get off this tangent now.) when I fly Continental, because I have priority baggage tags as a frequent flyer with them. (This is an awesome benefit. I my usually have too much to carry on, and even if I didn't, I don't want to be one of those assholes taking up half the plane with luggage. Besides, my backpack is heavy enough and I don't fancy lugging around my stuff.) This time, my bags didn't appear right away. I was a bit concerned, but not too much, since I saw "priority" bags coming out in the middle of all the regular stuff and figured someone wasn't doing his/her job. Then the conveyor belt stopped and I still had no bags. Grrrr. I went to the baggage resolution desk to see what happened. I'm in a mild state of panic, because I packed (OK, so it was kind of stupid of me.) all of the paperwork I had completed for work that week, which my company needed to bill tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods. Ooops! Turns out that the yahoo who checked me in (who had already put me on the first class standby list without my knowlege, which wasn't a bad thing, but it's kind of annoying to be the asshole sitting in the wrong seat, and have to climb over everyone while they hold up the plane. Sometimes, I guess I am my mother's daughter.) also checked my bags under someone else's name. Unfortunately, that person was going to Newark, which, for those of you aren't complete geography idiots, is way the heck on the other side of the United States from San Francisco. Obviously, it was going to be a while before I saw my bags again, since they remembered the Columbian coffee and had no need to turn back to LA. OK. Fine. No big whoop. I gave them my friend's address and phone number and they said the bags should be on a flight that would arrive in San Francisco around 9pm and that they would deliver them to me.

By this point, I'm feeling really bad, because my friend Steph is waiting for me at her apartment so she can let me in before she heads off for work. I thought I'd be there around 9, but the flight was slightly delayed and then I had all these baggage problems, so it's going to be after 10 before I get there. I scurry outside to get a shuttle bus, not calling because I figure, I haven't called by now, so what's a few more minutes going to do. Well, a few more minutes was more like a half an hour, since I had to wait for the shuttle bus and then it dropped someone else off first, but once I arrived, I discovered it was a good thing my luggage was misdirected because STEPH WASN'T HOME! (Steph, my use of caps should not be taken to mean that I was upset, because I wasn't; I'm just too lazy to write something that would convey the moment in a lower-case format.) Of course, I have lost her work phone number, but I know she's working at some environmental place for the summer (Earth something?) so I should be able to find it. Unless she's at the apartment and is just dead, which would just plain suck, no matter how you look at it. However, the first order of business is to get some food, so my trusty bear Pierre and I walk through the streets of San Francisco in search of a tasty vegan breakfast. We find it at Ananda-Fuara. Scrambled tofu, mmmmmm. After breakfast, I call Steph at work, and am relieved to find out she is alive. We make plans to meet for dinner, before I hop on the BART to catch the A's-Indians game that night.

When I get back from the game, a dreary affair that saw the Indians lose 12-2 and an outfielder, Mark Whiten, make his professional pitching debut, I discover that my luggage is not there. Since Steph and Gretchen went out for part of the evening, I thought maybe Continental tried to deliver the bags, but no one was home. I called their 800 number and got the scoop. Apparently, my bags were never put on the plane in Newark. Grrr. Now I'm looking at another day in the same clothes, with no bathing suit to wear whitewater rafting the next day. I end up buying some really hideous pinky-magenta and lavendar aqua-socks at Target and a pair of swim shorts at the rafting place, since they tell me it'll be too hot for a wetsuit. I buy more stuff at Target on the way home, in case my stuff is still in Newark. Upon my return, I discover that my baggage is not only in the same timezone as me, but it's in the same city. Woohoo! I arranged to have it delivered the next morning, since we are going to see THE Wes Carroll perform with the House Jacks that night. The next morning, I get my luggage, less than twelve hours before I'm going to leave for Boston.

The flight back to Boston is packed, so there is some yahoo in the middle seat. Fortunately, he doesn't resemble Nebraska. We are supposed to be served a snack on this flight, and I am very curious to see what my vegan snack will be, since last time I had one on Continental, it was very interesting. It was two Garden Vegan patties, one sitting on top of a pasta salad and the other on top of a bean salad. It also came with plantain chips and bean dip. Although it look like someone just looked around the kitchen and decided to put whatever he/she could find in the meal, it tasted pretty good. I was pleased. This time, unfortunately, was not so good. Now, before you go chiding me about having high expectations about airline food, let me assure you that I don't expect that I will be served one of the top three meals of my life, but it should be vegan and it should look like some thought went into it. I can't say for certain, but the may have lost my special meal request (I didn't reconfirm it) and the flight attendant did her best to make me a meal, given what she had to work with. There wasn't a "me specific" tag on the tray, and usually they know who has ordered a special meal. Regardless, this meal was just plain awful! I swear to you, this is what I was served, and I really hope the flight attendent just cobbled this together: a dinner roll (questionably vegan, but I ate it); an ice-berg lettuce only "salad" with Italian dressing (why even bother serving this? Iceberg lettuce is a loser vegetable that not only has not nutrional value, it has no taste. The world should be rid of this stuff. I didn't waste my time with it, although the dressing made a good dipping sauce for the roll.); grapes; and my personal favorite a piece of pita with a small container of liquified black beans. (I don't know what the hell that was supposed to be, and I was going to be damned if I ate it.) The clincher, though, was a card they included with the meal, which read

Continental Airlines
The University of Houston
Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel
Restaurant Management

Have collaborated on Continental's

Professor and Dietician
Dr. Nancy Graves, R.D.
has used her expertise to design
new menus in all special meal categories.
This meal represents a portion of
your calorie needs and is balanced
according to the nutritional
guidelines of the food pyramid
promoted by the USDA.


Now, if this truly was a specially designed meal, it doesn't reflect very well on Dr. Graves or the The University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Well, my grains were covered, but you think anyone with any common sense, let alone a degree in nutrition would know that an iceberg lettuce salad should not count as part of the reccommended 3-5 servings of vegetables a day. I am going to fire off a letter to Continental and let them know this new meal is not acceptable, even for airline food.

No problems with the luggage this time. In fact, one of my bags was the first to come out, but of course I had two. I snagged a cab and headed home to drop off my stuff and shower before making a guest appearance in the office. Being 8am, traffice was nice and snarled at the Callahan tunnel, but I made it to Somerville in decent time. Was the fun over? Of course not. A city crew was busy making a hole on my street, so I had to be dropped off, with all my heavy bags, a block from home. After that, all I had to do was go to work on three hours of sleep, then come back home and get packed and what not for my next trip. Such a glamorous life.

Later that evening...Old habits die hard, so when faced with two bags that need to be unpacked, a head of hair that needs to be cut, a stack of bills waiting to be paid, three checks that need to be deposited, an outfit that needs to be ironed, a bag that needs to be packed and a body that's in need of sleep, although I know I'm not going to get near enough, I pull my old MIT trick of taking a nap and then planning on getting up and doing all my work before heading back to bed. Those of you who know me from our 4E days should be careful not to injure yourself laughing. Originally, I planned on taking an hour and a half nap, but when the alarm went off, I decided that sleeping until 3 was a better idea. If I got up then, I'd have more than two hours before I had to leave the apartment. Naturally, I did not get up until I hit snooze three times, so I lost a half an hour. Should have been no big whoop, but when I used Yahoo! Yellow Pages to find the phone number of the hotel I was staying in, I discovered I'd made reservations at the wrong hotel! Instead of being smack dab in the middle of Chicago, I was south of it. I wondered why the rate was so cheap and had free parking, but god forbid I actually put two and two together! I called the other hotel, and their reservations department was closed, but the cleark said it looked like they had rooms available. OK, something went right. I fired off an email to a co-worker who would be joining me on the trip and asked him to make reservations at this place and cancel the ones at the other, since I'd be travelling when they opened.

This little fact finding mission and ensuing drama did not help me get any one the million things I needed to do done. You think unpacking would have been fairly stress free. You know, just dump everything out on the bed and you're done. But NOOOOOOOOO! My hair gel exploded all over one of the compartments of my bag, including on my dress boots. Lovely. Kind of looked like I had kicked Greg Louganis in the head. (Hey, the man does put a lot of gel in his hair. I wouldn't kick him in the head, so don't go thinking this is some gay bashing thing, 'cause it's not.) I really did not need this shit, but at least it was pretty easy to clean up. I had planned on calling for a cab around 5:15, since I had to swing by the bank and deposit my checks before heading off to Logan, but by the time I unpacked, repacked, cut my hair, showered and ironed, it was after 5:30. (I know, I'm a little slow, but that's what happens when you don't sleep.) Amazingly, the taxi dispatcher answered the phone within a few rings (in the past I've had to wait several minutes before anyone picked up) and the cab came within five minutes, a bit of a bummer since I wasn't fully dressed yet, but I was decent enough to go out the door. I dropped by the ATM and got to Logan just in time to be one of the assholes pulled out of the back of the line so I didn't miss my plane. Although it was a bit full, no one sat in the middle seat, probably because it was in front of the exit row and the seat didn't recline. Guess you can't have everything.

We will be served a snack on this flight, and I am all excited because when I've flown United in the past, I've been treated to the deliciously vegan "Potato Donut." (It's a cake-type donut made with potato flour instead of wheat flour.) This time, not only am I not served the wonderful potato donut, I don't even get a vegan meal, even though my card says vegan vegetarian. Yes, the meal is vegetarian; no, it is not vegan. In addition to the carton of milk there is Kellogg's Granola cereal, which had nonfat milk powder as an ingredient. Grrr. At least I could eat the fruit and the cookie, and it wasn't a very long flight, so I could grap something shortly on the ground.

b>7:50am CDT The plane isn't the only one in a holding pattern. I have to go, and the captain turned on the seatbelt sign. When this happened about thirty seconds after I decided maybe I should use the nasty little restroom on board, I didn't think it was an big whoop, since we'd be on the ground relatively soon. Now, who knows when that's going to be. The weather is bad in Chicago. Grrr.

8:10am CDT I still have to pee. I'm sure you are thrilled. I mean that in a sarcastic way, so if you're getting turned on by my full bladder and thinking god-knows-what, please go away right now.

8:18am CDT Praise be Jesus! The captain has just turned off the seatbelt sign. I, along with a gaggle of men waddle back to the lav for a little relief. (Separately, mind you. I didn't join the mile-high club with any of these characters.) The guy before me peed on the rim of the bowl, which is not as bad as peeing on the seat, but almost, since you have to straddle the piddle where the seat ends. (For the record, I grabbed a wad of paper towels and wiped up the stuff. Aren't women always cleaning up after men?) Now, I've never been a guy, but given the difficulty men seem to have directing it in the bowl on the ground, I am not surprised there are some "mid-air collisions," but would it kill these men to clean up after themselves once in a blue moon? Maybe I should have yelled at him to get back there and clean up his mess. The flight isn't going so well. The weather is getting worse in Chicago, and we can't keep up out holding pattern for more than 15 minutes (control wants us circling for another half hour) because of fuel, so we may be heading to Detroit. It's always something. I don't mind getting in later, but if I knew this was going to happen, I would have slept in and taken a later flight. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually been served a breakfast with some calories in it for Pete's sake.

11:30am CDT We took off from Detriot about a half an hour ago. The captain just announced that we'd been put into another holding pattern in Chicago, so I decide to call the home office and let them know I'm still in the air, in case the guy at the hospital wonders where I am. I'm digging through my wallet and I cannot find my corporate card. SHIT! The last time I used it was Thursday night in LA, and I hope that's where it's at. Great. One more thing for me to do when I get on the ground, as if I don't have enough to do already. Grrr. I hope that no one has run up a big tab. Pain in my ass. And after all that, I couldn't make the call, because all the circuits are busy. Gee, might that have something to do with the fact that half of the flying public is circling O'Hare right now?!?! I am really glad there is good food in Chicago, because I'm going to need a good meal after all this. Just think how miserable I'd be if I was going to Temple, Texas again.

Working on a plane is good for me. Since I only have a limited amount of time before the battery conks out, I actaully get some writing done. It still takes a lot longer to write this crap than I think it should. The place is in its final descent, so I've got to put this baby away. Later.