Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Look at my gorgeous boy!

Scout

Yeah, my cats live a hard life. Right now, both are sacked out as I try to wind down to get to bed at a decent hour. Looks like some Amaretto on the rocks is in my future. Nothing like a good nightcap to put a period on the sentence of the day. Even if I do have to crush my ice by banging it against the Victorian marble fireplace mantel in a ziploc baggie.

My nephew was here all last week, and we did Artscape, which is in walking distance from my apartment as well as my mom and Jack's house. About three years in a row, I've not been impressed with the artists at Artscape for the most part. That is, the one's that show work in the booths. Better is the live entertainment.

Alec has a wild head of hair that tangles easily, so on his last night here I gave him a hair mask while he was in the bathtub. Yes, a hair mask. It's a deep conditioning and expensive hair product that I bought from the salon. To his credit, he was patient with me combing it through his wet hair and then keeping his head out of the water for almost ten minutes. Needless to say, when Alec got off the plane the next day, my sister couldn't believe how good his hair looked. We hadn't even told her about the mask. Yep, leave it to me to turn my nine year old nephew into a metrosexual.

Here he is, pre-hair mask, playing on a sculpture with another little boy. So cute.

Alec and new friend

It's been hard coming down off Los Angeles. I had a social life for a week, and now I'm back to none. I saw many friends and it was like I'd never left. I didn't feel a need to catch up for lost time and neither did they, because we all felt like we'd just seen each other yesterday. We just kind of picked up where we left off. The first day there was a little odd wandering around, as I had to acclimate to the level that LA operates on. Once there, and my blended mocha and a manicure and pedicure later, I was back in swing.

I'm working harder than ever to get back. I've set up a base of operations in my friends' house so that I have a local address and number. I can also call their machine to get messages as they have a multi-line answering machine. Hopefully, I'll get there sooner rather than later, but preferably after this unbelievable heat wave passes.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Part Two, of The Long Journey Home.

I last left you having just gotten on the flight to New York City. It was part of the Song Airlines fleet, which merged with Delta. This meant each seat had its own video screen, which I didn't use because I was so tired. I got on the last row, middle seat, but I was airborne heading east. Luckily, I was wedged in between two very good looking young men who were also fit, so they didn't smash me between the two of them.

Before I'd boarded, I'd told the other stranded standby passengers about the flight in case they wanted to hop to New York and try to get to their destinations from there. One of them took me up on it and I saw him boarding after I got on. I think he filled up the last seat, as there were none left as far as I could see, and being in the back, I could see the entire plane.

As we took off, I began to doze off. We were going forward in time, and soon the outside began to dim as we met the descending darkness halfway on it's journey across the country. It was a four or five hour flight to New York, and by the time we landed and deplaned, it was around 11:00 PM. JFK was a ghost town, at least our terminal was except for the bustling activity around baggage claim for our flight. Knowing my bag was either in Baltimore or Cincinnati, I concentrated on finding where to catch the bus into Manhattan. I stepped outside and was met with stifling humidity. I asked an airport employee where to get the bus, and he directed me to a bus stop. Families, singles, couples walked to the parking garage or met cabs. They were at their final destinations, a place where they had somewhere to lay their heads. I was still in the middle, not having planned to be here, but here I was.

By the time we picked up all the passengers in the terminals and got into Manhattan, it was closing in on midnight. I walked several large Avenue blocks to Penn station. While waiting for a light to change, I looked up at the Empire State Building glowing against the night sky and laughed at the randomness of life. In fact, relished in it. I'd navigated one major city and was now navigating another one, standing under a famous landmark. I both cities, I knew my way around very well. When I reached Penn Station, I found that the next train going to Baltimore was at 3:00AM. I bought my ticket, then rested a bit.

That's when I saw the crying girl in her little black cocktail dress. When I first saw her, she was with a nicely dressed man. Both were extremely whitebread and looked in their early twenties. Obviously they had spent a night on the town together that had ended up in a heated conversation. I don't know why, but he ended up leaving her at the station. She sat crouched, horrified at being stuck in New York City with no way home for the next few hours. She obviously wasn't from the city and I wanted to tell her that it would be fine. Instead, I took her picture.

Crying Girl

After that, I hauled back out into the humid night to find something to eat. Luckily, being New York, I had my choice. However, I was so tired and walking around in the humidity had stemmed my hunger. I ended up at a 24 hour Starbucks in Times Square. When I walked in, I said to the employees, "God bless you and your ancestors for being open. I'll have a venti iced mocha please."

Mocha in hand, I walked to another 24 hour Starbucks just off Times Square where they had seating. It was there that I met the Moroccan who invited me to sit at his table. I'd asked him the time, and after he told me he took his "in." I had nothing to lose, so I moved over. He was a French speaking Moroccan who spoke English, of course, and during our conversation his friend called. After an animated conversation in French, he put me on the phone with the friend. I spoke to him, a lively accented voice on the line who was also Moroccan. He probably thought the man I was sitting across from was going to score big time, and I let him. I knew I was a trophy voice on the phone and played along. I made the guy look like a stud to his friend and he laughed at my game. There are worse things to be a party to.

However, time came to go and even though I'd said many times that I was in a relationship, the Moroccan wanted to accompany me to Penn Station. He tried every angle, and I finally said it was best that we just say goodbye here. Luckily, he knew this but figured he would try, and I didn't fault him for it. He was a man, I was a woman. As for his friend, he can tell him anything he wants.

I was way early back in the station, but figured it best to wait the last hour there. The crying girl paced back and forth in the passenger waiting area. She was no longer crying, but still flush faced. A few minutes later, a call went over the P.A. system for someone. She walked away and I never saw her come back. I don't know if someone arrived in the city to pick her up, or it was just a coincidence. It made me glad that cities aren't scary to me. Not even when I was her age. There are always options and ways to look like you are supposed to be where you are. Penn Station, though not a luxury hotel room, is not a dangerous place if you stay within the confines and sealed off areas for passengers waiting for trains. You have to show a ticket, or be a crying girl in a black dress, to get in. Plus, there were cops galore there and national guardsmen with M-16 rifles. Speaking of hotels, there are plenty where the lobby offers shelter. She wouldn't be asked to leave, especially in the big hotels. But, I think she was afraid of the walk or to take a cab to "The Hilton" or "The Essex" or "The Marriott" or other well known hotels. Who knows.

The man at the desk took me and two other girls to the train for pre-boarding. It was a nice gesture on his part and gave us first pick of seats. I sat down, and took this picture.

48_hours

That's after traveling almost 48 hours straight.

Three and a half hours later, waking up periodically to look out the window and see a blue heron flying up from a river with a fish in its grasp, to open my eyes to a man's knee inches from my face, to be annoyed by the snoring fat woman behind me, and sit up to see the flooded areas from days of torrential rain, I was in Baltimore, just in time for rush hour. I'd come in a metal tube from the depths of the night to greet fresh faced rested business people congregating on the platform in the light of morning. It was almost as if I'd taken a portal from one world to another. I walked the few blocks home, seeing most of my neighborhood hadn't woken up yet. The streets were bathed with remnants of pink light from sunrise, and I looked at my feet, willing them to get to my door faster. When I entered, my apartment was cool and clean, the cats well fed and groggy. I stripped, climbed into bed after washing my hands up to my elbows, and slept.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I said I was going to link to the article I did on the Pirates premiere, didn't I? Well, here it is. Sorry about the delay, it's been up but I've been behind on my posting if that isn't painfully evident. It's called "A Swashbuckling Good Time," under the Keira Knightley article on the homepage.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Okay, I'm rested now. Sorry for the hiatus. After my return, I had to write the article about the premiere so that had me busy, tired, and on deadline. However, it was great fun. I just read that Pirates scored a biggest opening day and weekend ever, which makes me all the more proud to have been some sort of part of it. I'll link to the article when it's up.

Now, for those of you who wrote saying you were envious, well, this second part, the part that previous post doesn't cover will make it all better. Really. It will. You see, I had a little um, adventure getting back to Baltimore. It seemed as if some force was trying to keep me in Los Angeles. That force was the standby gods. Because my sister is a flight attendant, I flew standby on a buddy pass. I didn't know that being so close to the July 4th holiday made it just about fucking impossible to get on a plane. Going out to Los Angeles was no problem. Coming back however, therein lies the rub. My plan was to take the red eye to Cincinnati, then catch the connecting flight to Baltimore. That flight left at midnight on Tuesday which seemed a good bet that there would be some standby seats available. Right?

Wrong. Apparently, everyone decided to fly to Cincinnati at midnight on a Tuesday. As person after person filled the gate area, my hopes sank. I watched the screen for my name to go from blue (no seat confirmed) to green (seat assigned) but it never happened. I wasn't going anywhere. I'd already turned in the car, checked my bag, which the agent told me was on its way to Cincinnati without me. About six other standby passengers and myself were left, and the agent told us that the next flight was at 6AM the next day. They said that we should be at the airport at 4AM. Since it was already past midnight, we all knew what that meant.

I wandered away, with laptop and everything that I had from the premiere in my purse. Pictures, electronic press kit, press credentials, recorded interviews. I did pack my complimentary pirate adorned Mickey Mouse ears, seen on the girls behind me in the picture, in my suitcase. I'd just have to risk those not making it. The important thing was that the things I needed were with me so that was of some comfort. I just had to find a place to rest for the next four hours.

The problem with trying to find a place to sleep in the airport, are that fluorescent lights bathe the entire place in white light. I searched for a place that could serve as some sort of shield, and found a bank of pay phones with a counter. I'd found my bunker. I crawled underneath, grumbling the whole time to myself about it, "I bet Johnny DEPP isn't sleeping under a bank of pay phones." Yeah, no shit Sherlock, I'm no Johnny Depp, but it was the irrational thought that came to mind as I blew up my neck pillow. I laid on the carpeted floor, trying not to think of the hoards of germs and microscopic creatures that were my bunker mates, and put on my shades to further aid in shielding my eyes from the white light of Satan. I comforted myself with the thought that during his lifetime, Johnny Depp had probably on more than one occasion slept under a bank of pay phones, and probably much, much worse.

Enter, the fucker with the floor polisher. The floor polisher that is, that was used to clean the carpet with some attachment that sounded like a band saw. I rifled through my purse and put in the free ear plugs that had come with my neck pillow. Helped a little, but the constant whirring was just too much. I rolled out, neck pillow still on, and collected my things. I located a darker spot behind a ticketing counter at another gate and crawled in on all fours. Now, I was shielded from both light and noise. I rearranged my things and prepared to stretch out in the two foot wide space between myself and the wall of glass that faced the runways.

First things first though. I lifted up my shirt to straighten my bra that had gone off track with all the lying on the floor, rolling and crawling. Shirt halfway up from my efforts, bra exposed, I looked up and met eyes with two pilots who were sitting in the cockpit of a parked 757 that I'd failed to notice, TEN FEET in front of me. Oh yeah. We sat for a couple seconds, like specimens in a zoo, separated by glass, and stared at each other. They were in their crisp white shirts and pilot garb, while I still had my neck pillow and sunglasses on and had my shirt up. I decided the best thing to do was just pull my shirt down and lay down.

Captain Dave, God I hope that wasn't you.

Soon, the cold set in. Yes, it was freezing in LAX due to lack of people traffic and an over eager air conditioner. Remembering my laptop, I took it out, plugged it in to a nearby outlet and hugged it to my chest for warmth. Enter, for an encore performance, the fucker with the whirling dervish carpet cleaner. I unplugged my laptop, which wasn't that good of a warming device anyway, packed up, and left camp again. It was past 2 AM, and a sympathetic airport employee saw me and said, "You need to get some rest."

"I'm trying," I said, "but I'm freezing."

She pointed me to a warmer place to sit, by her offices. She was a cleaning supervisor I think, and was probably the boss of Mr. Whirling Dervish a.k.a., The Fucker. I took her advice and found a chair with another one facing it. It was warmer, but not by much. I leaned back, put my feet up, and she appeared with an airplane pillow and two blankets. What a sweetheart! I thanked her over and over again and couldn't believe my luck to happen upon this nice woman. She told me she stole it from the pilot's lounge. I didn't tell her that I'd flashed my hooters to two of them an hour ago. I thought to myself that providing warmth was the least they could do as a return favor. Two boobs for two blankets, and a bonus pillow for good measure.

I actually managed to get sleep for about an hour or so, until it was time to line up to list on the 6 AM flight. The agent told us a lot of people missed that flight because it took so long to get through security and the line. However, that morning not enough missed it for me to get on. Nor the other six standby passengers who had also stayed the night in the airport. We looked at the schedule, and for the next several hours tried to get on flights to Atlanta or Cincinnati, both Delta hubs. It got so bad that we started saying to each other, "See you at the next gate," meaning we knew we weren't going to get on the flight. Six flights later, edging toward 11 AM one of the other stand by passengers told me about a flight going to New York that had 30 seats open. It was too late to list on it, but I passed on it anyway, convinced that the flight loads would lighten up at some point. If I chose to go to New York, I'd be too late to catch flight to Baltimore. However, I filed that away for another option.

At a little past 1:00 PM, and having not gotten on several more flights, I called my sister and vented. And oh, did I vent. Enough so that two artsy looking guys sitting next to me could hear me cursing a blue streak. I was quiet, not yelling, but audible to people close by. I told my sister I wasn't mad at her, just the situation, then asked how a corporation could get away with overbooking flights by this much. Regular passengers were being asked to give up their seats. Credit to my sister, she let me vent. I paced back and forth, cell phone to ear, then sat back down and cursed some more. A teenage girl walked up to the two guys who had been privy to my tirade and asked them for an autograph. I didn't recognize them. When they got on the flight to Cincinnati, I asked a tough looking young couple beside me who they were. They told me. I have a song of theirs on my iPod but am terrible recognizing musicians. All I can say, that if the band Nickelback comes out with a song about airport rage, I'll know where they got their inspiration.

After venting, I saw another New York flight boarding. This time, I decided to take it. I went over to the counter and asked the agent if there were seats. There were. I said I wanted to list on it, and she told me that she couldn't change my ticket at the counter, that I'd have to go through ticketing. That meant, I'd miss the flight since there wasn't time. I pulled out at least six boarding passes and said, "They've been doing it for me at the counter all day."

Turns out, she wasn't sure how to do it but figured it out. I have sympathy for gate agents. It's a thankless job and they take a lot of shit. So, though I wasn't going to take no for an answer, I wasn't a jerk about it. And, I got on the flight. A half an hour later, I was heading to New York City. Last row, middle seat, but I didn't care.

Part Two of the long journey home to come later.