Monday, January 28, 2008, 6:14 PM
On December 15, 2007, the boy my sister gave up for adoption nineteen years ago called her out of the blue. She said the call went something like this:
"Uh, scree, hi. This is skritsch-swish-flish-ing-warble."
(That's me trying to write what it sounds like when you get a bad phone connection.)
"What? Who's this?" Rhonda asked crankily because she doesn't like talking on the phone.
Immediately, she thinks the caller is somehow related to my ex husband and that he's trying to get ahold of me. "Let me call you back," she said (still cranky).
So she did and this time, the connection was clear.
"This is Jonathan. And...I think you gave a boy up for adoption nineteen years ago...and I think I'm him."
"Shut up!" she screamed.
You have to understand my sister--she yells when she gets excited. If you hear her, you know it's not an angry yell, but her Dorothy waking up in Oz yell. It didn't scare Johnathan off, either, because three days later he drove from Indiana to Michigan to meet his birth mom. He met his half-brother, Harley the dog (who kept trying to french kiss him), and felt comfortable enough with them all that he stayed for a couple of nights.
She said she didn't cry (by then she'd cried out all her happy tears), and neither did he. But we learned later from Jonathan's fiance that he'd been up all night the day he discovered Rhonda's letter and the photos. I imagine it was some damn heady stuff to work through for him.
He decided to spend Christmas Day with our family, something that took me and Oogie by surprise because normally, one spends Christmas Day with his family. But Johnathan assured us that his parents were okay with it. I think they were not okay with it, but didn't want to let him know. His parents never hid the fact that he and his sister were both adopted. From the photos he brought of them all, they looked like good people and I think Rhonda realizes that Jonathan has a good life, that he is well loved and adjusted.
I did a double-take when I first saw him. He is the spitting image of his birth dad and Rhonda's first born son, Matt. Jonathan even talks like his birth dad--they both speak slowly and kind of draw out their vowels. It's uncanny. I asked him if he did a double-take when he met his dad or Matt, but he said he didn't so I guess he doesn't look in the mirror much.
He has Rhonda's love for being busy, and being with lots of people. He has her blue eyes. And anyone can tell he's in love with the idea of meeting his mom--and with his mom. He and Rhonda already seem so close. And I'm so happy for my sister. This really was the very best Christmas present she could have received.
It was a durn good holiday for family.
Cause life has its OWN pace
Just when you think you're ready...you're not. Like with this shot, which was a total mistake but makes me laugh anyway.
Those entries I keep meaning to write are invading my dreams, right along with incorrect accounting codes from work, guilt about how I should make an appointment with the dentist, and call the landlord to fix my toilet so I don't have to keep reaching into the tank to make it go flush.
I almost wrote one of the entries tonight, but then I got busy getting the need-to-get-stuff-done done, got overheated from coughing too much (hey, it happens when you're doing too much stuff), and now it's past my bedtime. Besides, I'm still recovering from my wild week getaway with Keanu. I'd share details, but he's sworn me to secrecy. You'll just have to use your imagination.
I have escaped DEATH
I know I have a family reunion story to tell and, because Jodi tagged me for seven weird and/or random facts about myself (that's going to be rough, heh, heh), but I'm here now to say that I was just so doggone sick over the past five days, it's a freaking miracle I have enough brain cells left to send the right pulses to my fingers and type this. (Hah! Anybody want to diagram that sentence?)
Ian, I saw your request for a critique. I'm not ignoring you--I was just trying to get past the stage of wanting to die. Mkay?
Off to catch up with the rest of the WWW.
But not at once.
Slowly. Because Superwoman I am not.
So far away
Yeah. A few months ago, I was not allowed to enter the building where I work because they were filming a car commercial. I forget if it was Nissan, Lexus or BMW. All I know is that I felt a spark of white-hot anger that I was being stopped from entering a building I routinely entered by a bunch of-of-of guys in jeans and sunglasses. God, if it's anything I dislike, it's someone wearing sunglasses and looking impossibly impassive. Makes my hackles rise. Makes me want to play like I'm Greek and spit on their feet. Only I don't, because I'm not made that way--too damn chicken.
Anyway, I saw the car commerical on TV one night and shouted at the TV: "Hey! Those are the idiot people who made me walk halfway around the building and made me late for work. Ucker-fays."
Stupid, so stupid. But I can't quell that zing inside that makes me go badda-bing, I stood there, I glared at those people, I was inconvenienced, I work there.
You know the movie Judge Dredd with Sly Stallone? Parts of it were filmed where I work now. Only I didn't discover that until about six months or so ago, compliments of TNT. We know drama.
Yeah. More than they know.
It's calm in Los Angeles now. We had a flood warning last night because it was raining cats, dogs and ant eaters, and L.A. isn't properly prepared for rain. Water was two inches high at the intersections, and my ankles got drenched on the walk home. But it made me smile nonetheless because a little rain and cool weather (mid-fifties, which ain't nuthin' to the mid-west) doesn't phase a Hoosier Girl who once cowered in a bathtub during a tornado watch.
I welcome inclement weather because there's all too little of it in Los Angeles. Who'da thunk I'd get sick of sunny day after sunny day?
The real threat of L.A. is traffic. Hot-headed people with full bladders, empty tummies, and headaches, trapped in steel cages on ribbons of cement. I don't envy 'em, and I don't want to be anywhere near them, either.
The other threat of L.A. is a person's shell. How you look. How you dress. What kind of shoes you wear. This was driven home to me when I went back to Indiana last week. Back there, I felt pretty and young, at the top of my game. It was cold as hell, there were no leaves on the trees, and the clouds hid the sun, but I didn't feel invisible.
But for now I live in L.A., and I can't help but feel a sense of kinship when I recognize a piece of the landscape in a movie. It makes me nod and smile, and reminds me of how far I've come, something I forget too often.
Helladay Travel, part the 2nd
I have had so much bad luck lately, I'm afraid to leave my apartment. I also wonder about the idea of recounting all of this bad luck because I sure as hell don't want to relive it, but then I remember misery makes for good reading and I'll probably enjoy laughing about this some day.
(Plus, I plan to give United hell and I need to have everything straight in my head.)
My bad luck began Saturday, December 15, 2007, the day my sister called to tell me the son she gave up for adoption had called her out of the blue. And I'll share how that went (very good) later because this post is about my bad luck and misery. Yee-haw!
So. I realized a few days before December 15 that my driver's license had expired and that I'd need a current photo ID to get through airport security for my holiday flights. I made an appointment with the West Hollywood DMV (have to make an appointment here in L.A. because there are so many fricken people). A couple of days before my DMV appointment, one of my co-workers said: "You know it takes four to six weeks before you get your photo ID, right?"
Uh, no. In Indiana, you leave the BMV with your photo ID. It takes all of an hour, maybe less.
I decided to keep the appointment anyway. I tore all through my apartment on the Friday night before my DMV appt. looking for my birth certficate. Couldn't find it. I had my social security card, two credit cards and my 2006 taxes, but not my birth certificate. And I figured they'd take one look at my Americana face and think nope, she's OBVIOUSLY not an illegal from Mexico trying to get into the country.
They didn't let me past the counter. I have to produce a birth certificate, or no nifty photo ID for me.
I went back home. On the way, I lost my two credit cards. They sllllllipped out of my purse's credit card slits, probably because the purse is old and my luck has run out. I learned that my credit cards were gone when I went to deposit a check. I remember vividly standing there at the Wells Fargo ATM, my brain gone blank, my body numb. I turned in a daze and went back home. It never occurred to me that I was standing in front of the damn bank, that I could have gone inside and reported the cards missing right then. Nope. Didn't.
There was a message for me on my cell phone when I got back home. My cell was in my purse, but traffic is so loud outside that I never heard it. Someone had turned in one of my credit cards. I hoped it was the one I had purchased my airline ticket with.
It was. A tiny piece of luck! I would be able to fly home after all.
December 21, 12:20 pm
My United flight is scheduled to leave at 2:00. Due to past holiday airflight hell, I made damn sure I was at the airport no later than 11:30. Lines at LAX are crazy and horrible, and check-in goes almost smoothly. Since my ID has expired, Security marks me for pat-down. Yaay! Touch me, baby.
United finally begins boarding passengers. I'm in the nose bleed section of the plane, so I'm next to board after First Class. At 2:20 or so, United stops boarding passengers. There is an electrical problem (with the compressor I later found out) and they want to make sure they can correct it before take-off. Meanwhile, I'm squirming in my seat because I have about two hours between connecting flights and know I'll need every friggen minute.
United can't correct the problem. They have to wait for another part that won't arrive until 4:00. Everyone who boarded the plane gets off. Don't forget to take your baggage, they say. My mouth is dry, my eyes ache from not blinking, and my brain has gone dead again (a survival mechanism, I guess). I buy a small fry and a filet-o-fish from McDonalds. The fries are good, but the fish is about half the size of a playing card and they forgot my cheese. I suck down a bottle of Airborne so I don't catch a cold from some germy airport person.
There's a guy sitting two seats down from me who has burped at least 5 times, the guy on the other side of me is sneezing and coughing, but the airport is bedlam and there is no where else to sit. Finally, United puts a digital scrolling message up on the board beside our gate to let us know the part won't be arriving until 5:00 and that the mechanic estimates he'll have news by 8:00, and to not kill the messenger. They end the message with a smiley face.
I would've photographed it for posterity, but I was digusted, disappointed, wanted to barf, etc. I should've just gone in to work, dammit.
The line leading to United's Customer Service Center is 150-people deep. I'm person 148. I can't find the right line to call for United's Customer Service, so I have to go through the automated service line for check-in. It's so noisy that the electronic voice keeps mistaking my name, my verification number, my flight number. There are people in front of me who are calling too. It's madness and I haven't even made the first flight out. What am I doing here? I swore I would never go through this again.
I give up with United's automated line and call Oogie. I can barely hear myself think and I want to go home. Back to my apartment. But she tells me not to cancel.
I try the automated line again. It's my only chance because the Customer Service line hasn't budged at all. And as soon as I realize this, I try to find a quiet place so the stupid automated voice can understand me. (FYI: there is no quiet place in an airport terminal except for the restroom.) At this point, I'm being optimistic in thinking that United is going to be able to get me out of LAX and in to Chicago. Or I'm being desperate. Actually, both.
Finally, I get through to a live United agent. Except for when she coughs, I can barely hear her. There are no more flights leaving Chicago tonight for Fort Wayne. Anywhere. Not United, American, Continental or Delta. BUT. She can re-route me through Delta tomorrow morning at 9:00, going to Cincinnati, OH, and from there to Fort Wayne. If I can make it to Chicago tonight. I take it.
I call Oogie and ask her to get me the name and phone number of a hotel near the Chicago airport.
United announces they've fixed the electrical problem. They'll be able to fly after all. Everybody is cheering. I want to hurl and shout obscenities.
9:20, maybe 9:30
United takes off. I'm tired but friggen wired, so I watch a movie and try not to laugh at my seat passenger who keeps doing a birdy head nod because she can't keep her eyes open. It's the highlight of my day.
December 22, 3:15 am
I'm waiting at the taxi area in ORD. Just awaiting. Ready for bed.
Taxis that drive by already have people in them. None are empty and stopping for passengers. Actually, there aren't many people around. It would be bliss if I weren't exhausted. Finally, it dawns on me that I have to call for a taxi.
I climb into my taxi. I give him the name and address of my hotel. He isn't familiar with it. A few minutes later, I realize it's because he's drunk when he asks in a slurred voice: "You like vodka?"
Fate decides to smile on me when I see the name of my hotel in the distance. I tell the driver where to go, aloud and silently.
The hotel can't check me in because my reservation was made for the 21st and they're doing a computer backup. I'll have to wait a few minutes.
I reach my room, eat my bag of airline pretzels and watch a holiday show on CNN. I'm still too wired to sleep, but I force myself to close my eyes because I have to get up in three hours.
The lines for United are horrible and crazy, but the line for Delta is wee. Yaay! I get right up to the counter, Delta tells me my seat is confirmed, but that United failed to issue the boarding ticket. Delta can't do anything because it's United's responsibility. The Delta agent calls United's Customer Service at my frantic begging. The person we get says the ticket has been re-issued, but it doesn't come up the way it should on Delta's computer. I need a physical ticket to board and that means I have to enter United territory.
I wouldn't mind at all if I was struck dead at this point.
I don't know how I've escaped death by other United passengers waiting to check-in, but I force myself to the counter to demand that United follows through with what they said they've done already. I'm referred to two other United Reps when I finally reach the Supervisor. He says he can't help me, I need to talk to the check-in agents. At the breaking point, I tell him the check-in agents have referred me to him, that they physically POINTED to him, and that he HAS TO HELP ME.
He is less than thrilled and wouldn't care if I was struck dead at this point, either.
The supervisor has disappeared with my ID and old boarding pass. I'm still at the counter waiting for him to give me physical proof that United has done what they said they did. My flight leaves in 20 minutes. I don't think I'm going to make it, but there is nothing else I can do but wait for him to come back with my proof because I'll need it if I miss my flight.
When he finally comes back, I ask him if he realizes I've probably missed my flight. He says the Delta flight has been delayed and I can still make it. Maybe he's telling the truth, maybe he's not, but I don't care. The Delta check-in areas are quiet and I have more faith in them right now.
The United supervisor was right. The flight was delayed.
But because it was delayed, I miss my next flight.
Who knows? I haven't turned my cell back on yet.
Delta knows there are several people who have missed their flights (Delta might cost more, Delta might not offer as many flights, but during the holiday season, they are WORTH IT). They have two agents waiting for us as we deboard the plane, to help us reschedule our flights. The Delta agent put me on Stand By for a flight leaving at 4:55, but if I don't make that one, I'm confirmed for the 8:00 flight.
I still wouldn't mind if the ground opened up and swallowed me whole, but a curious numbness has come over me at this point. I'm no longer frantic and angry. My life is out of my hands. I surrender.
I make the flight! I make the flight to Fort Wayne! There are six other people (eight in total) hoping to make this flight. I am the last to make it. I'm relieved from the inside out for myself and heartsick for the others.
My baggage might be in Chicago or Cincinnati. United can't tell at this point, but they allow me to file a baggage claim and will let me know as soon as they know anything.
December 25, 2:30
My baggage is delivered. Merry Christmas to me! So what if I'm getting a cold, I have my fuzzy slippers at last.
My flights home weren't much better.
I want to stop now because I'm sick of typing all of this, but I know if I don't continue, I probably won't. So.
December 29, 2:45
My United flight to Chicago is scheduled to leave at 4:00. Fort Wayne airport is a breeze--wonderful--after LAX and ORD. Except me and 15 other people have been doing the jiggy in the check-in line for over 20 minutes. Apparently United is trying to check in a couple of international flyers.
Me and several others miss the flight because United only had the one check-in agent and she spent 40 minutes helping the two international flyers.
Yep. United spent over 40 effing minutes with two people, got them on the flight, but inconvenienced and had to reschedule flights for at least 9 other people. Can you say Customer Service?
There are no other flights leaving tonight, but the United agent can schedule me for a flight tomorrow at the same time. I'll have to go to Chicago, then Denver before I reach LAX.
December 30, 2:35
I get checked-in. No problems. Except Security schedules me for another pat-down.
United is supposed to begin boarding passengers at 3:40. They don't. There's something wrong with the plane, I forget what. It doesn't really matter. All that matters is that I only had 45 minutes between my Chicago and Denver flights, and I'm going to miss my connecting flight. This is what? My forth missed flight?
We take off. I feel like I'm living in the fifth circle of hell. This would be hilarious if I felt like laughing.
I find United's Customer Service at the Cinci airport. There is NO ONE in line. I can't believe it. Am I dreaming? They can get me on a flight today at 6:30.
"But you won't be going to Denver, you'll be going to Los Angeles," the girl says like this is a disappointment. Hah-hah! I'm cracking up. I am dreaming.
"Great," I say and pinch myself.
The flight takes off as scheduled, only I know I'm no longer dreaming because the guy sitting beside me is so big that his flesh spills over into my seat. I have to hunch if I don't want to rub shoulders with him.
Three of his under-the-age-of-eight kids are sitting in the seats behind us. One is in the aisle across from us. The man's wife is in First Class, three seats away from where I am sitting, with another of their kids. He and his wife shout to each other throughout the flight. He also turns bodily around and shouts to the kids behind us. They have an annoying habit of kicking my seat. If they (and their father) weren't talking so loudly, I could close my eyes and pretend it was a massage.
I've obviously reached Dante's ninth circle of hell.
I realize I didn't reach the ninth circle until I and a billion other people are standing around the #3 baggage claim carousel. It's almost midnight in L.A. I'm exhausted and have a headache. People are so tight around the carousel that sweat is rolling down my back, but I don't dare give up my spot because it took me 20 minutes just to get to it.
The carousel jams three times before United has to re-route the baggage to another carousel.
I finally reach Baggage Claim. My luggage is in Denver. Somebody kill me.
My taxi driver wants cash. Too bad, so sad, his dad. I press my case of woe with a don't eff with me tone and he accepts my credit card (the one I didn't lose).
I'm home. There was a power outtage. All of my clocks are flashing 4:09. I'm glad I thought to power down my computer before I left.
My TV screen won't turn on anymore. I can hear sound, but I can't see diddly. When I try to sign on to my computer, the system freezes. And continues to freeze each time I reboot. I don't see any viruses, but my computer won't run any of my virus or anti-spam software. This isn't normal. Finally, my computer makes me do a hard boot. The system freezes 60 seconds from boot-up. Every friggen time.
My luggage is delivered. I've got no TV, no computer, but I do have my luggage.
My New Year's Resolution? I'm never flying United again. OR flying during the holidays.
No, for real this time.