More Airplane Writing

because i can.

I am blessed with a middle seat on an emergency row for my return flight to Austin. Therefore I’m going to write tomorrow’s entry today because I have enough room and time. I don’t know if my morning flight to LA will bless me with space, and I don’t know if I’ll be awake enough to write.

My watch is losing time. This started in Journalcon this weekend. I couldn’t believe I was only fifteen minutes into a session that felt like an hour long. Turns out my watch had stopped and restarted. Every three hours it would have lost another hour. This is the worst time for this to happen. I’m either at scheduled conferences or trying to catch flights or make appointments to meet people or see vacant apartments. Now I have to pull out some other electronic device every hour or so to see what time it is.

Once I posted yesterday’s entry all of the other stories came to me that I wanted to tell. That always happens on trips. After I tell the initial stories, I remember the good ones that are more fun. Like how when I went to Jimmy’s apartment Saturday night he offered me a beer and apologized for not having a coaster. I said, “Wait, I have one in my bag.” He thought I was being a smart ass until I pulled out the tiled coaster that Shelley had given to me. I knew that meeting Shelley was going to be cool, but I was unprepared for how much fun she really is.

I’m glad I now have another friend in LA. Shelley will be good for making me relax. She has a bit of a silly-soothing quality that I really like. She’s also crazy tall, which I hadn’t expected. She was also the only person that gave me a first right of refusal on pictures taken of me, which after seeing yesterday what can happen when I don’t do that, gave me an all new appreciation for her.

My flight into Pittsburgh was flown by SexyPilot. He liked to come onto the intercom and crack mildly amusing jokes in his sexy Shadowe Stevens Academy voice and tell us just how fast we were flying and then make fun of the Steelers. Every time he spoke the women in the cabin would titter and sigh. Everyone’s a comic, I swear. I’d like to see him try his act on open mic. I’ve noticed many more pilots using the intercom as their own public access comedy show lately, and frankly I’d like him concentrating on the plane once we were in the air. Sure, he can joke and mock all he wants before we take off, but then I want him to be all business. After we land he can bust out with an, “It’s a good thing you guys can’t see me on the other side of this door because we really almost didn’t make it that time. I was crying like a bitch.” But when I’m in the air I’d like you to be just as professional as I am. See how I’m sitting in my seat being a quiet girl listening to music and working on my computer? I’m not busting jokes or trying to make new friends. I’m working. You sit there and work, too.

I have never rented a car before. I did that this weekend. I thought it would make me feel very adult. Mostly I just didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to drive me around or have me be a responsibility to anyone. What I learned was that car rentals are expensive, and I don’t understand what kind of coverage I do and don’t need. All I knew was I’d never driven a Mercury Mystique (It was just as cheap as its stripper name, I assure you) before, and I sure as hell had never driven even NEAR snow, much less in it. So I paid whatever insurance it was that no matter what happened to the car when I returned it, I wasn’t responsible. I wasn’t going to drive around a city I didn’t know and end up with my car stolen, or have a drunken angry Journalconner key “PAMIE SUX” into the side door and have to pay for it. So, it’s expensive. That’s what I learned. I will not be renting a car tomorrow, even though there’s one reserved for me in LA. My new goal is to find an apartment and be back in Austin by Thursday or Friday at the latest. My return flight is booked for next Wednesday, but I don’t want to stay in LA for a week and some change. I’m going to be there all the time in less than a month and there’s so many things to do in Austin still.

I think it might just be possible. stee has been incredibly helpful in telling me what’s good and what’s bad in LA. Basically I find a property, send him the address and he lets me know when it’s a rip-off. With his LA knowledge, my Internet research and cellphone calls over the past week, my checkbook and his desire to get me back to Austin before he has to be there at the end of the week so he knows someone in the city, I have a feeling we might very well find a sensible one bedroom that me, Eric, Cal and Taylor would love to sleep in. Here’s hoping. Please don’t laugh at my unreal expectations. I know I’ll still be updating from stee’s empty apartment next weekend, but for now a girl can dream.

Emily was the cutest thing at Journalcon. I walked up to a crowd of people standing outside the opening announcements at the beginning of the weekend. I was right on time, which is rare, and I guess that equated to early for Journalcon time. Outside the conference room was a group of eight people or so. I immediately recognized Columbine and knew I had found the Journalcon people. I took a deep breath and heard my mother’s voice. “Be nice. Be friendly. Just go up and say hello.”.

“Hi everybody!”

It was like the Dallas Women Welcoming Committee had taken over my mouth for a moment. Eight travel-weary people sorta nodded my way. After introductions, I was pretty sure I was going to get along with Emily. After I snagged her for a forbidden cigarette in a secret side room the bartender had told me about, I then realized she was from Pittsburgh and her boyfriend lives near Eric’s dad. We were going to be just fine. When Amy ran from the room thinking we were about to get busted for smoking, I felt like Journalcon was the High School Reunion I haven’t been to yet. That was a good first couple of hours, getting to know everyone. I realized that I didn’t know everyone, and was quite happy to finally meet Renee, Beth, and Columbine.

I was getting along very well with John Scalzi before I realized that I wasn’t supposed to like him. I had never really noticed he had a reputation for being an asshole, and it wasn’t until I heard someone tell him for the fifteenth time that they were surprised he was such a nice guy that I just had to say to him, “I didn’t know you were supposed to be such an asshole.” He explained that the two of us get along on a higher, quieter plane than others do or something like that. I didn’t hear the whole thing because Emily was challenging him to a two on one Karaoke competition again. Scalzi is now my long-distance advice guy, and I’m glad he offered to do that. I was needing someone who knew the answers.

I was having a beer outside the hotel with Shelley until Jimmy pulled up his car and said that Eric would kill him if I got arrested for drinking on Grant Street. It was nice having him meet some of the Journalcon folk, as he was one of the first to say, “That’s pretty gay.”

I met some of Jimmy’s friends Saturday night. I swear to you every time I come to this town I meet a new friend who talks to me like we went to high school together. Whether it’s a girl pulling down her pants in the restroom to show me her ass tattoo ten minutes after we’ve met, or getting into an hour-long discussion on Big Business, High Fidelity or the future of the Internet. I’m never disappointed, and I always hate to leave. And the old friends there (can I call them old friends now? They feel like old friends. I’ve known them for three years, but I’ve only spent a couple of weekends together) always give the best hugs and make my stomach hurt from laughter.

If I already knew the journaller before Journalcon, that pretty much meant I didn’t get to spend any time with that person. In fact, the amount of time I spent with a journaller seemed to be inversely proportional to how close we were as friends. Rob, Dana and Greg, three people I know in real life, I hardly saw at all. I hardly got to chat with Beth about anything but our panel. It wasn’t until after the conference in a small room I sabotaged for more rule-breaking, that I got to have a conversation with some of the journallers that I wanted to see in the first place.

I met Patrick and told him that he was nothing like what I thought he’d look like. This is true. He tries to make you think he’s unattractive, shy and blobby. Don’t listen to him. He’s a cutey, charming and very nice.

stee called while I was at the bar after day one of the panels. He shouted “HEY, JOURNALCON” but no one could hear him over the noise in the room. They all said hello back, but I think Shelley thought she was talking to some guy named Steven from Austin who just happened to call or was a friend of Jimmy’s.

I land in about an hour and I get a few hours at home before I’m back on another flight. It seems like the days are going by so fast. I feel like I just got to Pittsburgh and now I’m writing little stories about my time there.

Pittsburgh: you have a problem with your pop music. Your obsession with Destiny’s Child, Pink, Barenaked Ladies and Ricky Martin is unhealthy and worse than mine. I heard “Jumpin, Jumpin” six times in two days. I heard “Say My Name” five times. “There You Go” was on two stations at the same time. Might want to invest in an alternative station. Something like that. Before Bon Jovi’s tour gets there. Cuz that’s sad, yo. And The Bus hocks more products than I would think one football player was legally allowed to do. Don’t y’all get sick of his smiling face?

I’m flying into Burbank tomorrow, which is nice because LAX is practically in Nevada. The last time I flew into that airport I felt like one of the Beatles. I had to walk down some stairs off the plane and through some ropes to the tiny airport. It wasn’t a bunch of screaming teen girls waiting for me at the end of the rope, but I was welcomed just as happily.

Now I kind of miss SexyPilot because right now he’d come on and give me some little witticism about how fast this plane can travel versus how fast we’re actually going and then we’d all have a little chuckle and he’d remind us that we’ve still got about an hour to go before we hit Austin. Instead I’m just on my fourth CD (Journalcon kids brought Mix CD’s. That’s the coolest and has already gotten me through a flight.).

I didn’t bring any toys to give away. So, in addition to the forum kids clamoring for t-shirts, I felt like a jag accepting stuff from people and not being able to give even a tiny wooden hand. In retrospect I could have mustered up something. I even forgot my business cards. But I wasn’t checking any luggage. I barely had room for my book.

I never get on any planes with famous people. This drives me crazy. Everyone else gets a celebrity spotting on their planes. I always check First Class feverishly, but it never works out for me. Eric flew with Al Franken once.

Someone on the plane just sprayed an incredible amount of perfume. Why would you do that when you’re trapped inside a plane. I very deliberately puffed my inhaler, but the rose-colored oxygen continues to plague me. Evil row 13. Evil.

This is very random, but so is my attention span on an airplane. I am coughing, wheezing, leaning, checking URLs in the Journalcon book, trying not to elbow the person to my left or right, eating pretzels, drinking Slice, listening to music and trying to avoid a perfume headache all while typing little stories here.

I must not get sick. I must stay healthy through the different climates this month. i can do it if I sleep enough. After the dinner party last night I was pretty much beat. I went to sleep and was out immediately. I slept for over ten hours. I haven’t done that in a long time. I guess I was tired.

I had to do the Walk of Shame to my own panel. I didn’t want to tell anyone once the panel started so I can confess it here. I was nasty and disgusting and ten minutes before any of you saw me I was still wearing the same clothes from last night, trying to shake off the booze haze from just five hours earlier. I changed in level 4 of the garage, in the backseat of my rental car. I was nasty and grumpy and worried that Beth might see me either before I changed or before I got some coffee in my system. I was glad I correctly predicted that this was an early crowd who was probably sitting in the lobby and would catch me if I tried to freshen up in the bathroom. I did all necessary clean-up in the car. I had showered and stuff, but it never feels like a real shower if you’re putting the same clothes back on. The same socks.

It was my own fault for forgetting to take my change of clothes out of my car Saturday night before I left the hotel. I should have known that anywhere we went would have been further away from the hotel than we felt like traveling. I already had to stay at a different place on Saturday night just to make sure I didn’t miss my panel Sunday morning.

And boy was I up for that thing, even though I was still kinda buzzed. I had no idea why you people were so chipper in the morning. It’s because it’s so damn cold. I was so cold that I couldn’t think of doing anything but getting in some hot water and then drinking hot beverages while wearing hot clothes. It was so cold that my body would involuntarily make small moaning noises when the warm water wasn’t hitting my body. I worried about waking up the others in the apartment (who considered the current state of the place to be “heated”) by all of my fretting and whining.

I was UP, yo. It wasn’t until I put on all of my (nasty) clothes that I started falling back asleep. Sweet Jimmy drove me back to the hotel and didn’t even laugh at me. I know I must have looked like hell running into that garage trying not to be seen.

I think I’m almost in Austin now. And I think I’ve also run out of stories. At least for tonight. Maybe I’ll think of a few more over the next couple of days.

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