After leaving home early-early Monday morning, a sleepy jet brought me back from Los Angeles this morning. I’d gone for a disability law conference, and it was worth every penny.
The trip itself, however, was much more a mixed bag.
To get to Los Angeles from Anchorage, an air traveler usually skims the west coast. Following tradition, or Occam’s razor, my first plane, which had thankfully been on time, deposited me in a strangely sunny Seattle. After boarding my second – the final – plane less than an hour later, the flight attendant announced that some object on the airplane’s right wing was perhaps a micron out of spec, and so a team had been dispatched to measure it. If the measurer had made a mistake, she told us in a too-cheerful voice, we would be on our way in “an hour or so.” If, however, the thing actually required fixing, she explained solemnly, we would be stuck in Seattle for a time. Which would mean I’d likely miss my conference since I didn’t have a spare day to sacrifice to the gods of Alaska Air.
This is the first time I’d ever left my young son – he’s 8 – overnight. I had, therefore, asked the state travel office to minimize my time away: I’d leave Monday morning and return Tuesday after the conference – well, I’d arrive early-early-EARLY Wednesday morning (and just deal with the subsequently Volkswagon-sized feet). I requested that they put me in LaLa Land during the middle of Monday so I could avoid Angelonean (aka “abysmal, soul-sucking”) rush hour traffic. I’d planned to stay with my sister, you see, who lives in Monrovia, near Pasadena, a good 40 miles north and east of LAX.
After doing whatever tests needed done, aka about 100 pages of a Terry Pratchett novel later, the measurer apparently decided that the plane could make the trek south, and sent us on our way.
Upon arrival – upon our LATE arrival – I collected my bag and made my way to the shuttle port. The bus to the car rental company was strangely empty, but I remained optimistic that I’d miss the worst of the traffic. That optimism faded, however, just like the force behind my smile when, and after I’d packed the car with my bags and adjusted the mirrors, an attendant knocked on the window to tell me that the car’s license plates were expired and that I needed to go here and see them.
And, after that was sorted, it was 5:00. Straight up.
The trip to Pasadena (home to glorious 99-cent stores and the best Thai food on the west coast) took about 1.5 hours. Too late to meet my sister at the time we’d agreed at President Thai. “I’ll wait. It’s okay,” she assured me after I’d finally been able to plug my dead cell phone into the car’s outlet. “I have papers to grade.”
After a quick trip to the 99-cent store (I spent $27!) and dinner, we stopped by a clothing store we both love and shopped the clearance racks. Among other things, including a new outfit for my sister who’d stayed with my son, I got myself the most beautiful green-stoned ring I’d ever seen.
The next morning, I left my LA-sister’s house at just before 7:00 a.m. to make the conference in Century City, 30 miles and, per google, 40 minutes away. I wanted to be there in time for the continental breakfast. I made a quick stop at the closest coffee chain for a latte, reasoning that my bladder could hold the hill for the hour to hour and half, max, if the roads were bad, it would take to get to my conference.
Oh, yeah – 40 minutes. Ha, ha, ha. And ha, ha, ha, ha, ha to boot.
I am so naïve.
Two hours, 45 minutes, and a nearly exploded bladder later, I pulled into the hotel parking lot. The conference had started at 8:30. It was now 9:45, and all the chairs were full, and I had to be marched thru the room and seated in the front row. The speaker, bless him, made a joke about how since everyone was watching me anyway, I should just continue to the very front and introduce myself. Pulling a smile from someplace, I said, “sure,” and sat down, and let the breath I’d been holding out.
The first break came at 10:45. After relieving a still complaining bladder, I tiptoed thru the throngs (the conference was full) to the middle of the sink shelf. I’d worn my new green ring, but didn’t want to get it wet, so I took it off to wash my hands. The paper towels were located at the two edges of the sink platforms, so I squeezed through and pulled some towels from the dispenser. When my hands were dried, I pushed back thru to the sink I’d washed at. And discovered my ring was missing.
Seriously. Someone had had the gall to steal a too big, adjustable green ring that I got on clearance at a clothing store. Of course I asked, and of course no one saw anything.
The rest of the day went better. The conference had sponsored a lunch, and during it I made some new friends. The drive back to return my car took less time than I expected. Getting through TSA at LAX took less than ten minutes. Both of my flights left on time, and my car was parked exactly where I’d left it in the paid parking lot. My sister and my son were asleep when I pried open the door, and my kitties were overjoyed that I’d brought them a strange-smelling suitcase. Bed felt better than heavenly.
Los Angeles. A mixed bag, but one I think I’ll leave lie for a while.