Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gullible's Travels: Pt 3

I was only away for a day and a half. However, by the end of my trip, I was quite ready to return home. I find it funny that I rarely identify as a Seattleite in most travel situations, but in some instances I am keenly aware of the ways in which I cling to Pacific Northwest culture. I will use Los Angeles as an example. I hate driving. Being strapped behind the wheel in this particular city really makes me appreciate the luxury of being a pedestrian in Seattle. In SLC, I was thankful for fashion and a culture of fitness. When I begin to think fondly of the place I am only marginally enamored by, I know it’s time to leave.
When preparing for the trip home, I decided to plan for the inconveniences that I did not plan for on the first leg of my journey. My flight was scheduled at 7:45am. My plan was to wake up at 5:00am, leave by 6:00am, and arrive to the airport no later than 6:45am. This would allow plenty of time for any heartache that the John Wayne International Airport might want to throw my way. I woke up at 5:00am, as planned and was ready to leave by 5:30am—ahead of schedule. There was not a single car on the freeway. I arrived to the airport at 6:00am. I checked in and breezed through security. By 6:25am, I had breakfast and coffee in hand. Everything was going my way. I looked up at the flight monitor and saw that my flight was delayed by one hour—SONOFABITCH!!! This sort of thing perfectly fits with my track record of always arriving to things early or late, never on time. I ate, pouted a bit, and napped until it was time to board my tardy plane.
The flight was empty, which enabled me to have an entire row to myself. After take off, I kicked up my legs and slept until it was time to sit up and begin our descent. At that point, I slept sitting up and woke up as we hit the tarmack. It was a beautiful, dream-filled sleep.
I stepped off the plane, acquired coffee with ease and got lunch. I often wonder why airline food must be completely void of quality? I sat down at what seemed like a real restaurant and ordered a club sandwich. This club sandwich was comprised of Jenny-O lunch meat and Hormel pre-cooked bacon, yellowing shredded lettuce, a single tomato seed and a pound of mayonnaise all stuffed between two stale pieces of Wonderbread that they were calling “sour” dough. I paid $10.00 for this delicacy. Again, my appetite was discouraged by an overwhelming number of big-boned people crowding around me and engaging in worrisome food ritual. I only ate half of my sandwich.
The Vikings/Cowboys game was on the TV monitors at my gate. There was a woman intently watching when a jumbo ginger man sidled up to her asking why she would to pretend to be interested in something that was clearly a “man’s” thing? I was passing the time by texting with an old friend when this went down. I joked that I was going to ask that man to make an honest woman of me and set my roots in Salt Lake. That I would have a wardrobe full of floor-length, floral dresses and have my uterus ripped to shreds by a plethora of freakish gingers, clawing their way out of my previously pristine body. I’d be “living the dream.”
As we boarded the plane, we walked down a long corridor and came dangerously close to twin propeller planes. I nearly fainted. To be truthful, I was not terribly pleased to see that we would be flying on a very small jet, but I am relieved it is a jet all the same. We settled into our seats, fastened our seat belts, made sure our tray tables were up and that our seats were locked in the upright position. Then, a god-like voice came of the PA. “I am really sorry folks, we just found out about a last minute plane swap. So, we’ll need you to de-board and change gates. Again, I am sorry about the inconvenience.”

Gullible's Travels: Pt 2

I woke up to the plane screeching to a halt on the runway of the Salt Lake City airport. I was looking at a two-hour lay over and the only thing on my mind was the timely acquisition of coffee. Much to my chagrin, I have become one of those pre-coffee, fire-breathing, people-hating monsters and post-coffee peach. For some reason (you know the reason) being in SLC put me on heightened alert. This made finding that first cup of the day all the more urgent as I felt monster me bubbling up to the surface. I walked around for what seemed like an eternity. In this time, I found countless fountain soda machines, three bars, and candy shop, Cinnabon, and a fast food mega-plex before stumbling a lonely Starbucks. As I took inventory of my surroundings, I noticed a majority of the people around me were obese. It was a sea of large and in charge people in sweat pants. My general feeling is that caffeine is a victimless crime. Certainly, not a deadly sin. Gluttony, however, is. So, wouldn’t one figure that in a religious city shouldn’t the need to over stuff oneself with non-nutritive foods be harder to sate than my need to caffeinate? Another general observation, if someone were to set off on a journey around the United States in search of the city that is Mecca to attractive people, I would strongly urge this person to skip over SLC. It’s all pock marks, halitosis, and front butt syndrome here.
My cup of coffee helped me relax and come to terms with the fact that my first meal of the day would be burger king. No sooner than I had convinced myself to be at peace with my reality, did a quite enormous man sit down next to me with enough food to feed a vastly small village and commence cramming. … Coffee was going to have to be good enough for me.
The flight into Orange County was uneventful. I will say that I have never been on a plane with so many people reading the Bible. I was not sure whether I found this observation to be comforting or terrifying. The landing was more bouncy than I would typically prefer. It felt as if we would bounce right off the jet way. We did not and I am relieved for small miracles.
Upon my arrival, I was faced with a choice between diving head long into my social circles, as a diversion, and only see my family in passing; and taking the time to face the music. One was an emotionally stunted path, the other an emotionally present. I decided that for what it was worth, I made the trip and that I shouldn’t be anything other than ok with my actions from there out. Incidentally, I opted for a happy medium.

Gullible's Travels: Pt 1

What a nightmare. …
There are many varieties of bad dream. The one I encounter most is one where I find myself in what I imagine to be in the most terrible situation. I stop and tell myself that there is no way any of what is happening can be real. It is only a dream. It can’t hurt me. This is much like when a movie hero encounters a monster of her own invention and announces: “You can’t hurt me. I am your righteous creator and protagonist of this plot!”
The exposition of this dramatic nightmare was a last-minute trip, conceived of and planned under duress. The catalyst: the impending death of my grandfather. I did not want to process what seeing my grandfather in the hospital meant, let alone what it would be like to see the sad, fatigued, and stressed faces of my family. Over the years, Samuel Baca GarcĂ­a has had a string of heart attacks, each one leaving him with diminished function of his heart.. The most recent attack has left him with a feeble 15%. I imagine that if abuela were still alive, she would quip that Sammy has lived his entire life without using much of his heart. Why should it matter how little is left now? There are of course extenuating circumstances. There is kidney failure needing dialysis and an infection interrupting dialysis. Essentially, what sounds like a lot of bad news to me. It was a bit much for me to handle. So, I did what any well-adjusted and rational person would do—I put off packing until 6 hours before my flight: midnight.
Packing actually went off without a hitch. I travel often enough that almost all of my liquids are TSA approved. I am also shameless about using other people’s shower supplies. I have gotten over my urge to dress by mood and only bring the bare essentials. I had everything assembled for my pilgrimage and was off to my brief, but necessary slumber.
Like most nightmares, the bad began with sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that I had not turned on my alarm clock. Without investigating the situations, I flipped over the switch. I woke up an hour later mortified, because I realized I had actually switched the alarm clock OFF! Ultimately, I woke myself up at 3:30am and discovered that I had turned the alarm volume completely off while I was asleep. How I manage these things, I will never know. …
Quickly, I took care of the matters of hygiene and set my sights on online check-in—the greatest invention ever created by man. After 15 minutes of clunking around a website without an iota of success, I was utterly exasperated and felt like a dunce, outwitted by the Internet. There was no time to fret. I had a bus to catch!
I ran. I don’t know why, and this will quickly become the one thing I did right that day, but I ran all the way to the metro tunnel and arrived with a handful of minutes to spare. No sooner than I entered that tunnel did I begin receiving suspicious looks from metro security. “This can’t be good.” It took me all of a minute to realize that the tunnel was closed and my bus was operating on the surface streets. SHIT! I fled my subterranean trap and emerged onto the street panicked. By some strange miracle, I knew exactly where to go. However, I had to be quite firm with the street urchins in my frantic hustle to catch that bus!
I caught it without a moment to spare. The bus ride to the airport was mostly uneventful, save the fact that people on downtown originating buses at 4:30am are operating in a non-cohesive mental state. Thank goodness there were enough of the less mentally cohesive on the bus keep themselves entertained, much like a plexi-room filled with plastic balls and toddlers.
Once I disembarked from the bus, I raced to the self-check kiosk. The clock was ticking; the race was on; [insert relevant quip about being in a frenzied hurry here]. I was momentarily thwarted by a set of rogue automatic doors. They persistently opened and closed becoming the airport equivalent of a mutinous miniature golf hazard and I the ill-fated golf ball. I had not time for the game and had to keep moving.
Next obstacle: check-in. The electronic kiosk was being, pardon my French, a little bitch. Attempt one: fail. Attempt two: same. Attempt three: SHANNON SMASH! After speaking with a Delta representative, we figured out that somehow I got booked on two return flights. Hence, all of my thwarted attempts at checking in. F.U. Priceline! Boarding pass in hand, I headed toward security.
My apprehensions toward security lines at the airport are similar to my apprehensions about getting behind the wheel at two in the morning. It’s not me I’m worried about, but everyone else around me. I travel light. I always have my travel documents out and at the ready. As well, my liquids are always in the proper receptacle and ready for whatever the XRAY machine might throw at them. What threw me for a loop was the presence of two check in lines: the one for the casual, some might say unprepared, traveler; the other for people like me—the expert traveler. This promised to be the smoothest part of my day. As it happens, the express traveler line is a veritable grocery express lane with no one monitoring the item limits and, therefore, no one adhering to them. If I were the line monitor on this particular day, you might here me say: Yes, a small carry on bag IS traveling light, congratulations. You, lady in front of the expert traveler, exceeding carry-on limits does not count as traveling light. And you, gender non-specified person burdened with numerous miniature people, express lines are more express when they are not clogged up by your progeny. I would make an example of these two people and send all non-compliant persons to the proper line. I ended up that the casual travelers made it through the line much faster, because everyone fancies themselves an expert. VANITY, old friend, you got me this time. …
At this point in my tale of woe, I need you to invoke an inner Home Alone-esque montage chalk full of running, confusion, aftershave and screaming. Finally, I arrive at the gate. I am the last person to board the plane and as I roll in the gate agent informed me that they were about to shut the doors and that I was “lucky.” Incidentally, lucky is not the word I would use to describe my morning, but to this person I just seem like a tardy schlemiel. So, fair enough. I muster a blank look, offer up no explanation and quickly board the plane where people are still standing in the aisle, cramming their personal effects into overhead bins. I am confident that I slowed no one down. I took my seat without incident and fell into a deep slumber. I had an exhausting morning.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

my room

Every once in awhile, I stop and take a look at my surroundings and the image of that moment is a perfect summation of my life at that point—regardless of whether or not I know what that summation might imply. I first thought to notice these passing moments after seeing Demetri Martin perform at the Moore Theatre. He recalled a time when he was frantically tearing through his apartment and suddenly let’s out, “where the fuck is my tambourine?!” The above photo illustrates my version of one of these priceless moments.
- a red eye mask and peach, satin robe hung on rogue nails left in place by a previous tenant. (the nails, not the eye mask and robe)
- Catholic art and paraphernalia on the facing wall.
- current reading material and my alarm clock on my unmade bed.
- cotton candy pink wig hanging on the lamp on my nightstand.
I am unsure as to what exactly this signifies about my current situation. I just know that it does and that those assumptions are best left up to a higher power—you! All I am fit to offer is a cursory explanation of the aforementioned items.
- eye mask: I am often prone to bouts of insomnia. What I notice most during these periods is that my eyes simply refuse to remain shut and I am often caught spending quality sleep hours staring at the ceiling. Having a shroud over my eyes removes this urge and, ultimately, helps me fall asleep in a timelier manner. (a side note, it also helps keep me from waking up when I am lodging at a hostel and people—assumption, tourists—are keeping any number of competing hours to see the city in each of their respective ways.)
- robe: I had many an instance while living in a dormitory in Denmark when the inspector would pound on the door as he was entering my unit—without any previous warning that he might be coming. The nights in this dormitory where often very wild and my state of dress at night was not always appropriate for public consumption. Having a robe nearby means I can quickly be covered regardless of my previous clothing state. This is important when you know someone spontaneous is also the holder of your keys.
- evidence of the Catholic within: no matter how far I have come from my Catholic upbringing, there is enough of it that still remains—the guilt. If not for that, that fact still remains that Mary is awesome, even if she is a virgin.
- the book: I read before the “see-no-evil” eye masks cloaks my eyes from the world around me. I helps turn my brain off and keeps me from being up all night scribbling in my journal. I mean literally just scratching random, non-cohesive hatch marks into my journal. It’s a terrible habit.
- alarm clock: I am an public radio news junky. The middle of my bed, left unmade because I do not believe in the practice of perfectly setting sheets to be mussed the very same day, happened to be the place that I received the best reception. It also functioned as a reminder that absolutely under no circumstances could I lie back down. Tired Shannon often tries to sabotage responsible, punctual Shannon. Tired Shannon must be stopped at all costs!!!
- wig on nightstand: I wish I had an elaborate story about sexy role play and spicing up “our” love life. That my partner gets all worked up when I tart up like Lady GaGa and show him my p-p-p-p-poker face. Or, perhaps, that I am having an affair so secret that I am hiding my identity from both the world and my lover alike. Not that I am currently striking out in the virtual and actual dating realms and am currently in drought season. Not that I bought it for a New Year’s Eve party, which I left before midnight to go home alone. Regardless, this year is new. I have plenty of time to the stuff previously mentioned. I had to work super early anyway. …
As previously stated, I am not sure what exactly this all implies about me, but it is something isn’t it?