Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The best laid plans get shot to hell.

Sometimes I am just ASKING for karma to bite me in the ass. Whenever I write about something optimistic, something I am looking forward to, or something I am happy about, life always manages to toss me around and remind me that I am just a fart on the wind of existence. (I am actually quite superstitious about what I write about. I usually will write ad infinitum about things that suck, as an exorcism of badness. Writing about (or talking about) something solves it. Good things, however, are kept close to my chest as I am afraid that I will disperse the goodness or magic by talking about it too much. Whenever I break these self-discovered karmic rules, I get in trouble. So, if I seem negative on this blog, it's because karmically, writing about the bad stuff is really a way to cure it, and too much glowing over good kills the good. Hey, I didn't make these rules, they assigned themselves to me.)

So, go back and read my last post. you know, the one about how GREAT I am at traveling? Yeah, that one. How I THOUGHT I HAD IT ALL TOGETHER?

Oh GOD what a nightmare.

Let's preface all this by stating that I managed to sunburn the HELL out of myself on Sunday. My whole front is lobster red, one step down from blistering, all just from one hour in Hot Texas Sunlight. OK, so as you read the following, keep in your mind that my stomach and fronts of my thighs were red and sore as hell from the burn, and it added a whole new hellish dimension to everything that happened.

My flight to Newark was supposed to leave at 1145. They told me, when I dropped off my luggage, it was delayed an hour. I ran into Bret, an old friend, who I had been thinking I would miss out on seeing this trip, when I was returning my rental car, so took the hour to have breakfast tacos with him. Hey, so far so good. Extra hour to chat.

Then the flight was delayed another hour. Then another hour. And another, etc., all in 15 minute increments, until they were saying not until 4:30. (The Continental people were laughing because apparently, flying into Newark is a very dicey business, and the average lateness on the flight from Austin to Newark is 117 minutes. 2 HOURS average late getting into Newark from Austin on every flight. Holy shit! They actually are surprised when the day is smooth and flights are on time!) That would make me miss my connecting flight to Oslo, and there is only one a day, so would have to spend night in Newark. And they would not pay for it because it's 'weather related'. Uh, no thanks?

Well, as I am fairly familiar with Continental's flight schedule to Oslo, I told them there was a flight to Amsterdam from Houston that night at 7pm, could I catch that? They said yes, but the problem was getting me from Amsterdam to Oslo. NO seats available. AT all. So I could then spend a night in Amsterdam (which, hey, that's better than Newark, anyhow.) So they looked around some more, and they managed to switch me over to a flight to Houston at 3:20, thence to Paris at 6:30, and then to Oslo. Caveat: goes through Charles De Gaulle airport, which is the worst pit of despair EVER (airports I avoid: CDG, Chicago, and now, Newark. ). Fuck, well, ok, I'll take it.

Only thing was, flight to Houston left in 20 minutes and it took at least 10 to get me all switched over. So I RAN to get Houston flight....only to find I was in a middle seat between a VERY FAT woman and a teenage girl eating a very stinky burger and fries. And the plane? Not so much airconditioned as steam heated. NICE. Luckily, the fat lady was very nice and smelled way better than stinky burger girl, so we just hoisted up the arm rest and she became a nice pillow for me and we chatted. (She was on her way to Seattle. I totally want to go to Seattle some day.) I fanned us with the inflight safety card. The little hairs on her chin mole wafted in the breeze. She was cool.

The flight from Houston to Paris was actually pretty good, I once again scored a bulkhead seat with tons of legroom. I was in the first row behind bidness class, so at least now I know what goes on up there. Dudes, they get GLASS plates and stuff. One day when I am all grown up, I am sitting there.....

(Let's all keep in mind the sunburn, here, ok? I couldn't button my jeans because it hurt so bad. I went top the bathroom every couple of hours just to rub water or lotion or whatever i could on my belly.)

Anyhow, I managed to doze on the flight, read some Harry Potter, watched that movie with Will Farrell, Blades of Glory?, which I had wanted to see. (Goofy. Goofy as hell, but John Heder is one to watch.) Flight went surprisingly fast, mostly because I dreaded what was at the end......

....CDG airport. Pit of doom. Despair, agony on me. I kept texting Rich with one refrain: FUCKING HATE CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT. They sent me from one terminal to the next, first on a bus, then just walking around, everyone peering at my strange American ticket, no one telling me what GATE to go to, just pointing and grunting, motioning me to follow that hallway or go up these stairs or whatever. I can totally see how someone can get lost in there and live there for years. At one point I was in this totally deserted one mile long corridor, no one else in sight, me just climbing one endless sidewalk after another, all white walls and 60's retro-aero style, thinking, "Is this a cosmic joke? Am I going to get killed? Is this how they fuck with Americans now? Hello, I am a LIBERAL American, I don't deserve to die!" I mean, NO ONE around. Felt like Logan's Run or something......and I was next.

I still had no idea what gate to go to. Just told to go to Satellite 7. Great, I'm going into space? The signs to Satellite 7 would disappear at random times and I would have to backtrack until I saw a tiny sign with a tiny arrow pointing me to the next tiny sign with tiny arrow. Strangely like a scavenger hunt. I should have gotten cookies as rewards for finding all the hard-to-find signs.

Got to Satellite 7, and find this very crowded little holding pen for about 8 gates with about 1000 cranky Norwegians and French all packed in like smelly sheep. I went to ask at the SAS (who I was now flying from Paris to Oslo) counter about my luggage and the woman did that very French shoulder shrug and little pouty face: "Pah, I do not theenk you will have your luggage. Eet ees a long way from Terminal 1 to zees terminal and zey will have to go through zecuritee....Conteental weel have to manage eet. you weel have to call zem." (shrug, pout) Thanks, lady, thanks alot. I grabbed a seat and held on to it for dear life, seats were at a premium there. For some reason the woman sitting across from me glared at me nonstop and the dude she was with stared at me, too, over his Hitlerian 'stache. Oh yeah, I was back in Europe alright. I finally made a face at her and she looked away for a millisecond before settling her laser glare back on me again.

I had no Euros and the line at the one tiny little coffee stand accounted for about 500 of the unfortunate victims in my area. I decided to dehydrate instead of wait in line and lose my precious chair.

Finally got onto the flight to Oslo. The woman assigned the middle seat next to me asked me if I would mind switching my aisle seat for her middle seat as she had a computer and had work to do. I managed to stifle my maniacal cackle at her question, but did tell her no, that I had been awake for a VERY long time and sort of needed the aisle seat for the leg room (stuck out long Texas leg with boot at end.) She was nice about it. The flight was packed. Bathrooms smelled like pissy poo. Guy sitting in front of her kept pounding on his seat back and she had to catch her computer to keep it from getting broken. She worked for a lingerie company, doing a presentation on bras. Considered telling her I am a former Victoria's Secret gal, but honestly was getting too tired to form words.

Finally made it to Oslo. My luggage did not. I knew it wouldn't . I was so tired by the time I had to put in the claim that the first thing I told the guy when my number came up was "Look, sorry if I cry but I have been awake forever and have no reserves of sanity left". He was VERY nice. I did not cry. Bless him.

I got home at 7pm, 10 hours after my original arrival time of 9am. I had been awake for 32 hours. I fell asleep so hard I slept for 8 hours without moving. I woke up and my eyes were crusted over and I have some sort of wierd eye infection going on, I think it might be allergies and extreme dryness from the flight. My eyes are bright red and small and very tired looking. I'm about to take a nap. Rich saw my sunburn when I got home and cringed. Boy, I felt sexy as hell, lemme tell ya. OW.

They found my luggage, it went via Newark, and will arrive between 12 and 4pm. That's actually a positive in all this, I did not have to lug my suitcases with me last night. They are doing work on the train tracks, and I doubt I had the strength to get my suitcases (one weighing 56 and the other weighing 63 lbs) off the train at Oslo S and then onto the bus for replacement service. I had a hard enough time just carrying my backpack.

I'm even too tired right now (and my eyes hurt) to read Harry Potter.

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