Gimp travel

Holy crap this entry is late. While I was trying to get this done our entire family got sick, one by one, and then got better. Marika’s ex boyfriend and Taliah’s father got fall down drunk and broke into our house at 3:30am and literally broke off part of our door moulding. Then ran away with it and hid it in a bush because he was under the impression that would prevent him from getting in trouble. My pain levels were awful so I’ve been exhausted, and as a result this took me like TWO WEEKS to write. Anyway, so consider this written ages ago.

Poor Z is so, so jetlagged.
It’s cute, but also a tiny bit distressing. But also adorable. It’s hard to not find everything babies do at this age really cute, but I feel sort of bad for fawning over her complete and total exhaustion. She can’t even stand up straight.
I seem to be doing relatively okay in terms of tiredness, which is strange considering my history with travel and horrific jet lag. We came back home last Sunday evening and I managed to get through the time differences without much issue over the four days I was gone, but the last three or four days home were absolutely brutal for the baby. She spent most of her afternoons and evenings in my arms, alternating between snoozing and nursing. For the last three days in a row she’s been out cold by 9pm after three or four hours of this in-and-out half asleep thing. She’s generally a night owl so that’s pretty unusual for her. Poor thing. Still though: cute.

So anyway, I made the trip to Syracuse there and back already. I realize the last entry may have been a bit confusing in terms to the timeline: I tried to be clearer by putting the disclaimer on the top about how that was written some time ago, but a lot of people seemed really confused by it.
I left here the Thursday before last and returned on the following Sunday evening. The flights themselves were uneventful, but the travel times were brutal.

I woke up at 7am on Thursday morning having barely slept at all the night before, and Curtis drove me and Z out to the airport and dropped us off by eight. I checked in and we said our goodbyes quickly so Curtis could head back home in time to take Xan to school (Tempest walks on her own) and still manage to get into work at nine. His shift didn’t actually start until 10, but he usually comes in early to set up and get organized for the day.
My flight didn’t leave until something like 10:20am, but you’re supposed to be at the airport, checked in and through security two hours ahead of your flight when you’re booked for international travel. There is no reason whatsoever for this bullshit here: our airport is small and not that busy. There’s only like five or ten gates. I could understand the need for this in giant-ass airports, like Sea-Tac, but not here. That shit is ridiculous for here.

When I arrived I alerted the flight/desk/counter-type people that I was a disabled passenger and needed assistance, and once again in spite of their constant assurance that I would be taken care of, and once again the information was not put on my file or my tickets and as a result the trip there was awful. When I could find a random wheelchair, I took it. They were usually stowed in small groups under an escalator or by a bathroom or something (don’t worry, I didn’t take any chairs that were reserved for someone else. They were up for grabs: I made sure). I didn’t so much need them to sit in, just to push. Most of the time I do okay if I put my stuff in a chair and lean on it for balance and weight distribution; I don’t necessarily need to sit down.
I use a wheelchair over a luggage cart for several reasons: first and foremost because I may need the chair if my body gives out or my pain level increases to a point where I cannot walk easily (which is likely as the day wears on). Secondly because you aren’t allowed to travel through security with a baggage cart, and they don’t let you have them back on the other side. As a bonus, they often give you a hard time going through with wheelchairs or canes and may even take them away from you and force you to get yourself through the checkpoint without assistance (this includes hoisting bags, taking off shoes, and walking unassisted through the detector or to other areas if you’re “randomly selected” for additional scanning).
If I request the use of a chair, it’s easier (in theory, anyway) to continue to get disability assistance throughout my travel. I didn’t find this to be the case, but that’s the theory anyway…

When I got to the American side of security in Toronto (after going through customs), I was told I couldn’t go through with the chair. They took it from me before I even had time to respond, so I pulled my collapsable cane out of my purse and they took that away from me too. I was left standing at the front of a steadily growing line with several grumpy-looking TSA agents staring at me expectantly
“You can walk, right?” said one.
“Short distances, yes. But only with a cane or other support. I can’t walk very well at all right now because I’ve been traveling all day, that’s why I was using the chair.”
“It’s only about nine steps,” he argued, “Come on.”
Seriously, dude? I just told you I have a mobility problem and this is beyond my physical ability right now. He looked incredulous and gestured to the chair, then briefly mocked how I approached (leaning on it heavily) as though this was some sort of proof that I was taking advantage of him and wasn’t actually disabled at all.
Sensing this was not going to be resolved, I just went for it. I hurt a lot, and leaned heavily on the detector itself as I stumbled through. I was ignored on the other side and nothing was returned to me, and no one asked if I needed further assistance. I had no idea where they put my cane and couldn’t find the chair until another passenger managed to locate it and give it back to me.

Then I was “randomly selected” for additional screenings.

I was treated completely different in the security at the previous airport, where a much more considerate agent came out upon realizing I had a chair with me and asked if I was able to walk through the metal detector on my own or if I needed to use the chair for support. At that point I was still able to walk short distances without too much pain and I assured her I could probably get through okay. She advised me that she’d have to run my cane through the X-ray, but immediately replaced it with a wooden one that she kept hanging next to her for occasions like these. She also moved the chair I was using right in front of the metal detector so I only needed to take the 4-5 steps through and then immediately sit back down again. She helped me get my bags on and off the ramp for the x-ray scanner, and even took off my shoes for me (and helped me put them back on) when I said I couldn’t bend well. After I was through she put all my bags back in the chair, made space for me to sit, wheeled me out of the way of other passengers and asked if I needed any additional assistance – even offering to call someone to push me to my next gate in case I was drained after going through the check.
After that awesome experience, I was under the impression that the rest of the security check-points wouldn’t be so bad. I mean, obviously they had some sort of policies in place to assure that passengers with disabilities could get through with minimal aggravation.
Clearly, this was not the case. I just got lucky that one time.

Up until the evening, my pain levels actually seemed to be doing okay. Physical exhaustion and limitations, yes… but agony? Not really. The anxiety from traveling kept my adrenaline levels up high enough for me not to notice the tension building in my spine and hips… and as a result, I didn’t end up taking the opportunity to sit in the wheelchairs that were scattered about and accept the assistance offered to me. This turned out to be a huge, huge mistake. Sometime about half-way through my travel I took out my breakthrough meds to take another dose and realized I only had ten pills. Ten pills to last me four days of physical extremes. Keep in mind, it takes 2-3 pills to get me to a point of “relatively okay” when the pain is bad, and the relief they provide only lasts for about 4 hours. Maybe 5 if I’m lucky and manage to get the chance to lay down for several hours and help them along.
So. Shit.
I realized I’d have to ration my pills if I expected to make it through the weekend, so I was very careful about where and when I took them. But it meant I’d never have quite enough to get relief, and the pain would build up over time.

Z was surprisingly good on the way there. I slept on and off along with her, and the hour or two she was awake on the flight was spent playing and giggling. The only times she fussed were out of minor frustration: yearning for a toy or wanting a cup that was thrown away, and it would last barely a minute or two.
I honestly do not know what I would do without breastfeeding. It is the saving grace of traveling with a baby – or toddler, for that matter – we’d be so fucking screwed if I couldn’t whip my breast out every time she hit a sour note. It was the only thing that made our travel bearable. The whole time I was on the flight with her latched on I was quietly thanking the fates that we got through all that [ horrible trouble with her mouth ] in the early days. Holy Jesus I am so glad we managed to work through that shit and she’s been nursing well ever since. I’m even more glad we never had to seriously consider traveling to get treatment for her tongue tie during that time… because holy bearded Jesus that would have been horrific on so many levels.

Anyway.

I had three flights on the way there: one 45 minute, one 4.5 hour, and one 25 minute. Each had layovers of about 1.5 to two hours in-between, and I was supposed to go through customs just before my last flight, in the “Pearson” airport in Toronto.
I had an extra long layover in Toronto, and it was getting on past 10 o’clock so everything was closed down and there weren’t many people around. In spite of the long wait ahead of me, I made my way over to my next departure gate so I could sit and read a book and maybe let Zephyra have some time to stretch her legs. When I arrived there I found it to be not only completely abandoned, but pretty secure for toddler roaming due to the glass walls surrounding it on three sides. I took Zephyra out of the carrier and put her on the floor with a bunch of her toys, and within moments she was squealing in delight; absolutely ecstatic to finally have a chance to run about. I was just as thrilled to get her off my body and sit quietly for a few minutes. Fortunately, Z isn’t much of a wanderer and tends to stay pretty close to me – not at all like Tempest as a toddler, thank god for that. I was exhausted by that point and really did not have the energy to chase her hyperactive butt around a large, open airport lobby… so this spot worked out pretty well.

Some time later another young woman came by and sat down with her computer. Z spent the next 15 minutes flirting heavily with her, before stealing her venti-sized Starbucks cup. I went to return it to her but the woman assured me there was nothing but a few bits of ice inside, and if I was okay with her playing with it, she could have it. She kept that cup like it was her best friend and didn’t let go until we arrived in Syracuse.
About 20 minutes before my flight should have boarded, an announced came out over the speaker that the plane would be extremely delayed. They asked that all passengers report to this nearby kiosk for some reason. I put everything (and baby) back in the wheelchair and took it down to the kiosk so I could stand in line behind a few other angry passengers. This appeared to be the only flight I’d take that day that wasn’t overbooked: there were only like 10 people there, maybe even less.
The desk person told us that in apology for the delay we were all being given a little voucher that we could use at any of the restaurants or booths to eat a free meal. That would have been great except that the vouchers were only worth $10, I only got one (instead of two, which I should have received because I was TWO PEOPLE) and everything was closed except this little bagel place around the corner that had absolutely nothing left in stock because it was just about to close too.

I went up and bought the last remaining yogurt and fruit cup for baby and ordered a double gin and tonic off the bar side. The counterwoman gave me a look up and down as I sat there with my baby on my hip ordering alcohol and then told me I was not allowed to sit at their tables with a baby, because they served alcohol on one side (even they they were technically a bagel place) and I also wasn’t allowed to leave the area with the cup of alcohol.
I just stood there staring at her, saying nothing, until she finally threw her hands up in defeat, handed me my drink and walked away. That’s right, you BETTER walk away. It is 10 o’clock at night, I have no pain medication, I’m traveling with my baby and a wheelchair in a nearly abandoned airport, I haven’t eaten in 8 hours due to flights that either didn’t serve any food (not even for purchase: they were all out by the time they got to my row) and short layovers that didn’t allow me any time to purchase anything, all the money changing places are closed and there’s no food that isn’t available in a vending machine. The only thing I can get is alcohol and a single yogurt cup that I’m giving up to my starving toddler. I am absolutely going to fucking sit at this table, and I have NO. MORE. FUCKS. To give you this evening.

By the time I arrived in Syracuse I was in complete and utter agony. I barely even remember the events at that point: I was seeing stars, and wanted nothing more than to lay down and either drug, or drink, myself into oblivion – knowing perfectly well that I could do neither for at least four more days. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re in that kind of pain.
Emily (the bride, and a very old friend from way back in my Star Trek chat room days) picked me up at the airport just over 90 minutes after my flight was supposed to have arrived. I’m not actually sure what the delay was about, I think it was just generic “bad weather”. Syracuse is North enough in New York to have missed the hurricane damage, but it got plenty of rain and fog: apparently a lot of flights into Syracuse were delayed for a day or two due to the visibility problems.

Once Emily found me in the empty (and rather creepy) lobby we set out for the rental car desk to pick up a carseat for Z. Em’s mother had flown in from Alaska (?) some time earlier and had rented a car that was supposed to come with a carseat. Except it didn’t. So we were picking it up at midnight from the airport rental car desk so we could temporarily install it in Emily’s car.
Fortunately they were still open. Unfortunately, the counter guy was an idiot and didn’t know a single thing about current car seat laws, or anything about carseats in general. I had an awkward conversation with him about laws, safety and the size and shape of babies and after a failed attempt or two he finally brought up a convertible car seat that was actually legal. He mentioned that they even had infant seats with three point harnesses. THREE POINT. Jesus those haven’t been legal in forever! You’d think this would be part of the job or something. They’re a car rental agency. I didn’t think this would be this difficult considering these are laws they should be intimately acquainted with. I get that lots of people don’t know the ins and outs, but when you’re in this job it’s sort of required.
Anyway, it all worked out. It was annoying to have to spend half an hour on it while we stood out in the freezing cold though. It’s colder in Syracuse than it is here in Canada.

Even though it was getting close to one in the morning, baby and I hadn’t eaten anything real in hours and were absolutely starving. There was no room service in the hotel, and nothing open at that hour that I could either sit down for a meal in, or call for delivery, so Emily suggested we stop at a 24-hour grocery store to pick something up. The store was absolutely gigantic. I’m pretty sure it was called “Wegman’s”, or something similar at least, and It was fucking huge. It looked like a super-Wal*Mart crossed with a Safeway. A giant Safeway. It was also the only thing still open past midnight. And they sold alcohol! I’m always impressed by this. We can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores here in Canada, we have to go to liquor stores instead. And they all stop selling alcohol after eleven. I have to admit, after all that travel, I was very tempted.
I picked up a pasta salad, a real salad, and some various snacks for baby to eat and then Emily took me back to my hotel to check in. While it was getting past 1:30am there, it was only ten-something my time so I wasn’t exactly ready for sleep. Exhausted physically, sure… but not reallysleepy.

Once we got in I dropped everything on the floor, cranked up the heat and stripped naked. I put my pasta in the microwave and considered running a hot shower, and then the room filled with the horrible smell of melted plastic. Turns out the bowl wasn’t as microwave-safe as the package implied. This did not exactly make for a delicious dinner, and I ended up throwing it out. That was disappointing considering how starving I was by that point. I ate one of the baby’s packages of apples and peanut butter dip and then logged onto Facebook chat to complain to Curtis until I was sleepy enough to finally pass out. Baby fell asleep just before I did, passed out in a big pile of fluffy hotel pillows. Seriously, I do not know what they put in hotel pillows BUT IT’S AWESOME.

The following day I was able to get a better look at Syracruse as we traveled from house to house; it wasn’t nearly as scary, or big as I thought it was going to be considering it was New York. The extremely small amount that I know about New York is limited to the New York part of it that’s all big and frightening. Syracuse is pretty tiny and slow; it seemed to be little more than a collection of small, old villages.
We did a lot of back and forth on the first day, little of which I remember because I was completely exhausted and trying not to take any medication so I could save it for getting through the wedding. I did get to finally meet the man that stole Em’s heart, and was totally taken with how in love they were. Em hasn’t exactly had the best of luck in the relationship department over the years, and I think she sort of gave up. As is always the case: only once you’ve stopped trying, does what you want most finally come.

My friends Carolyn and Jim, whose wedding I shot some years earlier (and readers occasionally refer to as, “The red dress wedding. With robots”) came in from Ontario earlier that day and offered to take me and baby out to dinner. I went to school with Carolyn so we’ve known each other a while.
We took a cab into a town-like area and went into a restaurant Carolyn had scoped out earlier that day for their vegan cuisine options. Unfortunately, it was absolutely packed and the wait was over half an hour, so we ended up wandering down the road to the nearest alternative. We came across some sort of greek place with a menu that was visible through the window, and it appeared to have some vegan friendly options for her that weren’t crap so we went inside. It was a total dump. The bathroom had floor to ceiling graffiti with various horrible phrases written everywhere, there was dirt encrusted in every corner, and when we ordered wine they served it to us in disposable plastic glasses and tiny little plastic bottles. However, the food was surprisingly good.
I told Curtis about this place later and he was horrified I risked eating there. I think, had I been with him, he would have steered us away from it at first glance of the nasty ass bathroom.
Half-way through dinner it was clear baby needed a diaper change, but there was no changing table and I wasn’t about to lay her down on the floor in that horrible, janky bathroom… so I waited until we were back at Carolyn and Jim’s hotel room. Poor baby had a miserable tummy since the initial flight there: she’d had some sort of radioactive variety of diarrhea since we left, and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. As much as that sucked, the hotel room I changed her in was kind of amazing. I’ve never seen a hotel room that grand. Caro and Jim: you sure know how to party.

Anyway.
We took a cab back to our hotel and stayed in bed watching Robot Chicken until Z finally finally succumbed to exhaustion sometime around 1:30am (New York time). I spent a few extra hours chatting with Curtis, even though I really shouldn’t have in light of the wedding the next day… but I couldn’t help myself. Every time I’m away from him and we have only chat programs to connect us, I’m reminded of [ our history, and how we fell in love ]. Chatting with him online causes this weird mix of anxiety and excitement; no matter if we’re talking about what we missed on television or the amazing sex we’ll have upon my return, it’s always the same. I don’t know that it will ever change. I kind of hope it doesn’t. It makes every trip away from home carry a piece of our past.

The next day was wedding day. It was crazy busy, and stressful; I can remember how crazy it was to be the bride on that day, and I did not envy her. There is a certain fantastic quality about not being the bride that makes the anticipation kind of awesome.
I packed a bag for Zephyra and got a ride up to the location (the zoo! Because it’s all happening at the zoo!) with the bride’s mum and sister in early afternoon. I was doing Em’s makeup, while her sister was doing her hair. We took a bit too long and made her late for her own wedding, but it didn’t really matter that much. I’ve never shot a wedding where a bride was on time: it’s nice and healthy to make them all wait at least a little bit …
The wedding was wonderful, and adorable, and amazing. I somehow managed not to cry, or lactate: both equally amazing feats considering I was wearing a satin dress that picks up water stains easily and then displays them like flashing neon signs. A family friend of Em’s was watching Zephyra during the ceremony so that I would be able to maintain my position as maid of honour, and of course she cried immediately upon seeing me standing at the front, which meant the friend had to disappear into the back with her as soon as the vows began… and missed the entire thing. I felt so bad. No amount of apologizing would make up for that. I wanted to avoid her for the rest of the night.
As soon as we walked back up the aisle I ran out to grab Z and nurse her, and the friend ran out to congratulate Em. I sat in a back room of the zoo, next to a very ornery cockatiel and information about ferrets until Zephyra was happy enough to put on my back. It was at that point that I realized my dress was already unzipped… which meant it had been unzipped through the entire walk down the aisle, and the ceremony, and the photos. Awesome. I mentioned this to Em later, who told me, “Don’t worry, no one was looking at you.” I knew that already and felt rather embarrassed that she had to say so, but still, thank god. I didn’t want to mar my loved one’s wedding with my horribly inappropriate state of undress.

I spent the rest of the evening chasing Z around, eating delicious food, and watching her dance her little butt off on the floor to “Gangnam Style”. I stayed stoic until watching Em and her family on the dance floor… and then, I don’t know why, but I burst into tears. I intended to get all cleaned up and normal-looking by the time Em got back to me… but after she was done she made a beeline in my direction and I wasn’t able to hide my tears. I was so happy to see her and her family so happy. After so much shit, it’s so wonderful to see her this content. This is so amazing for her, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The next hour or two was spent in and out of tears. It was hard to keep it back once I’d started.
By ten thirty I was running low on energy, and secured a ride back to the hotel. Baby fell asleep almost immediately… but I stayed awake another hour or two chatting with Curtis. Because chat. And horny. In spite of pain, there is always horny when we’re apart. That’s how that shit works.
At the very least I managed to finish packing up before I fell asleep, which was a miracle in and of itself, and that meant that I’d be all ready to go by the next morning and be able to sneak an extra hour or two of sleep.

I caught the first flight home at just past noon, New York time. That means 8am my time, and awake and ready to leave by 5-6am… with another 12 hours of travel ahead of us.

The first flight wasn’t so bad: from New York to Detroit, and only about 40 minutes. I promised myself this travel would be different: this time I’d learned my lesson. I decided I would take full advantage of the chair service and not spend a single minute walking when I didn’t need to. I did not want to end up coming home in the same condition I arrived in. This time I wouldn’t take a single step without reminding someone that I was disabled passenger and required the use of a chair. This time I would take the offers and allow the attendants to wheel me from gate to gate so I could save my energy for the flights. At the very least, I hoped this might make the pain levels a bit more tolerable by the time I got the end of my day.
When I arrived in Detroit, I found the attendants very helpful. A man was dispatched to pick me up directly off the plane, sat me and Z and in a chair and ran at the speed of light with it for the next 20 minutes through three bullet trains, at least six moving walkways, and several elevators until we were at our next gate. At this point he asked me if I would be okay on my own, or required further assistance.
“I’ll be alright. Now that I’m here, I can walk while leaning on the chair. Thank you, though.”
He nodded, and then gave me some sort of wheelchair driver business card – which I found a little strange – and left.

After all that travel just to get to my next gate I was a tad overwhelmed: this airport was fucking massive. I waddled my way over to a map, and saw that I was in section “C” at gate “5”, and there was some sort of children’s toy store at around gate “28” or so (still in the C section). Well, that’s not so bad! I had 90 minutes until my fight: that’s plenty of time. I very slowly took off in that direction, taking as many moving walkways as possible to make the journey easier.
It took over 20 minutes to get from gate 5 to gate 28. TWENTY FUCKING MINUTES. And that’s just in section “C”. I originally came from section “N”. I took THREE bullet trains to get to that area. THREEEEE.
I seriously cannot even begin to fathom how large this airport is. It’s bigger than my home city, three times over. I SWEAR TO GOD.
I only spent about 10 minutes in the store, buying some toys for the kids that I couldn’t manage to grab at the zoo’s gift shop while I was in Syracuse, before I realized I had only 20 minutes until it was time to board and went tearing back to my gate at my astounding top speed of 4mph. In spite of this, I was the very last person to board.
This next flight was the longest one yet: five hours. There was a family seated in the row in front of me with two little boys: one “lap infant” around 13 or 14 months and one older child maybe 2.5 or 3 at the absolute most. Less than 40 minutes into the flight I heard the mother say to the youngest, “I’m sorry baby you’re all out of milk, there’s none left” and him immediately start screeching. He didn’t stop until we arrived… four and a half hours later. I felt so bad for her, and at the same time so incredibly thankful yet again for our ability to breastfeed. Zephyra made an angry peep around 20 minutes in and all I had to do was whip out my breast and she was immediately silent.
Breastfeeding. Saves. All.

This flight was packed, yet again. All the long flights seemed to be over-booked. I was put in aisle seats, which turned out to be a good thing due to the easier bathroom access. This time I was seated next to a newlywed couple who had left a seven month old baby with relatives during their short vacation… so they were infatuated with Z’s flirty charm.

I got up to change her once during the flight and after fighting my way to the back of the plane, I peeked into the lavatory to find it devoid of any baby-friendly changing areas. Normally the large planes that are designed for longer flights have this sort of fold-down shelf that fits over the toilet. It’s not much, considering the airplane bathrooms barely have enough room for you to put your feet in front of you while you take a shit, but it’s at least something. This flight had nothing. Just a hole, a toilet seat, and about 10 inches of floor space. I looked around for the nearest attendant and and called out:
“Excuse me?”
A young woman perked up and approached me. “Yes?”
“Is there a changing table in here?”
“No,” she answered, “We had it removed.”
“You had it… removed?” I repeated, incredulous.
She nodded, smiled widely in that “airplane greeter” way, and then left.

Seriously.

In a five hour flight, on a giant-ass plane capable of flying over a hundred people, very likely to have small babies on just about every single trip, they had the changing table removed?!

I had no idea what I was supposed to do. They were very clear that you’re not permitted to change your baby on the seats (as if you had the space to anyway) because it’s unsanitary and gross. I had no space to change her on the floor of the bathroom (as if I wanted to anyway, given how gross and covered in piss and shit it was). There was no changing table, and literally no other place anywhere on the entire fucking plane I was permitted to change her diaper during the five hours this flight was going to take. I sat there outside the lavatory door in silence for a good twenty or thirty seconds, completely stumped.
Directly in front of me was the kitchen area of the plane. It wasn’t large, but had enough open space for several people to walk around in while they moved the food carts back and forth. The floor was covered in spilled food and drink, and there was a large puddle of milk and another of alcohol… but still I briefly considered laying Zephyra down on that floor and undressing her out of protest. Maybe I would have if I’d been braver. Instead, I eventually slinked back into the lavatory and tried to somehow lay her down on top of the toilet seat during one of the worst bouts of turbulence of the entire flight. Because of course it would hit at that point.
While I was washing my hands she reached inside my carry-on bag and started pulling stuff out. I didn’t really pay much attention since the bathroom was so tiny it’s clear she couldn’t exactly misplace it, and it was keeping her happy while I cleaned up so it didn’t matter that much. But once I was finished, I realized that everything she’d pulled out to play with had completely disappeared. Seriously, this bathroom was literally two feet by two feet. You’d be hard-pressed to misplace a toothpick in that shit. And yet she managed to lose a baby toothbrush and a full sized hairbrush. And not just any hairbrush, but the expensive super nice boar-bristle brush my mother had got me for Yule last year.
I spent a good ten minutes looking in every nook and cranny of that fucking lavatory – and there really weren’t that many places to look – and I never did find either of those things. How the fuck did she manage to lose that shit?!
I wandered back to my seat feeling even more angry and stressed than I had been going in… and we still had another three hours left. We buckled back in just as the stewardess approached to offer me something off their menu. During our travel to Syracuse the longer flight had been completely sold out of all food and drink (except bottled water and a few bags of pretzels and Twizzlers), but this time the flight attendants still had a few edible options left. I ordered the fruit and cheese plate, since Z is such massive cheese fiend, and a second stewardess delivered it to us a few minutes later. Zephyra went absolutely bonkers once she saw it, and I could barely get the top off fast enough. She grabbed at the assortment of cheeses with both hands and double-fisted it into her mouth, yumming and “ommming” all the while. I ignored the cheese and went for the fruit instead, not wishing to disturb her cheese majesty in all her glory.

A few moments later she got a bit of soft cheese under a fingernail while she was gobbling up all the different slices, and stopped abruptly to complain about it.
“Eugh,” she said. This was a new word for her on this trip: I’d never heard her say anything even remotely like that before. She looked at me expectantly. “Yuck!”
“Is it yucky?” I asked. She held out her hands and wiggled her food-covered fingers. I inspected them for flaws and asked, “Do you want me to clean your hands off?”
“Yuck,” she spat. She still had a slice of edam cheese tucked in one hand, so I held out mine for her to put it down in before I cleaned her off. She had almost dropped it before suddenly realizing what she was about to do, then tightened her grip and ripped her hand away.
“No!” she yelled. She clutched the wedge of cheese tightly and held it high above her head. “NOOOOooooOOOoooOOoooo!!”. She stretched out the vowels to emphasize her extreme disapproval: there was no way I was getting my dirty hands on her goddamn cheese.
I threw my hands up. “I’m not going to take your cheese!”
“NooooOOOooooOOOOooo!” she moaned, stretching her arm out even further behind her head and away from me.
A young woman in the aisle across from us had witnessed this exchange and started giggling. Z, having heard her laughter, turned around to glare at her and realized that in her haste to hide her remaining cheese from me she’d accidentally stretched it out toward this stranger. She abruptly ripped it back and held it to her chest, glaring at this new intruder.
“NOOOOOOOOO!” she moaned. Her head whipped back toward me. More glares. “NOOOOO!” she said again. She held it even tighter. I tried to stop myself from laughing, but it was too much. Several others had seen the exchange by this point, and were giggling too. The more joined in, the more protective Z became of her cheese.
“I swear I won’t take it. No one is after your cheese, I promise,” I assured her. She flashed me an evil eye as she nibbled on her wedge. None of us were to be trusted.

After lunch Z was beginning to get tired, and so was I. I took advantage of their free movie selection and put on the new Batman (the one with “Bane”) and offered Z my breast. I had a pair of Apple earbuds from Curtis’ new iPhone, which turned out to be pretty useless since my seat’s earphone jack was broken and would only pick up the background noise/music and none of the dialogue. Oh well, I wasn’t that interested in it anyway… once Z started to drift, I pushed my seat back and slept through the rest of the movie. While I frequently drifted in and out over the course of the ride, I didn’t fully “wake up” until we were about to land and the movie was just ending. I came around just in time to see some sort of nomadic-prison-Batman jumping out of what appears to be a giant well. I know nothing about what’s going on in the movie at this point so I’m just making it up as I tune in for the climax.
The stopover in Seattle was only about an hour long so I didn’t have as much time to explore as I had during previous layovers. I was still intent on ensuring my pain medication rations were worthwhile, so I once again took advantage of the wheelchair service and requested assistance straight out of the gate. I was last off the plane – as usual – but at least the stewardesses helped me with my bags and loaded them onto a waiting chair right along with me. A young employee was waiting to take me to my next gate, and the run only took a few minutes this time (not at all like Detroit airport… thank god). When I got there he parked me next to a set of seats and then looked at me expectedly. I looked back at him, wondering if I was supposed to be saying or doing something. After a very awkward silence he asked, “Do you need the chair?”
“Yes, I do,” I said. Why else would I have asked for it if I did not need the chair?
“Well, you have about an hour until your flight boards…” he let the statement hang.
“Yes but I’d like to move around in the meantime. I can walk so long as I lean on it, usually. If I need more help, I’ll call”.
He looked around nervously, then quickly helped me unload my bags before taking the chair and running off with it. I wasn’t sure what exactly he was doing, so I just let him go. It didn’t occur to me for a few minutes that was he was actually leaving. And not coming back.

I approached the desk person a moment later and asked where the wheelchairs were located.
“Why do you need one?” she asked.
I was rather taken aback by this question; not only did she literally just watch me approach in one, but why the fuck is it any of your business why I need a wheelchair?!
I said nothing in response, so she rephrased: “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know, the bathroom to change my baby? Then maybe I might get a drink,” I snapped.
She rolled her eyes. “The wheelchairs here are rented to us by a contracting group. We don’t own them, so you have to call for them and some person there needs to help you with them.”
“But I don’t necessarily need to sit in the chairs right now, usually I’m okay just leaning my weight on them with my bags in the seat. In all the other airports I’ve been in, I was able to just grab a chair and use it when I needed to.”
“Well we don’t have any wheelchairs here. Someone has to take you.”
“I’d like to go to the bathroom by myself.”
She picked up the phone and just sort of held it in her hand. “Well what else are you going to do?”
I was starting to get pissy now. “I don’t know, I have about an hour to kill, I might just wander around!”
She made a call to a supervisor and had a few terse words before hanging up and leaving the desk. A moment later a guy came by with a chair and pushed it up next to me.
“Did you want this?”
“Yes,” I said. I wasn’t going to give him the chance to make this difficult on me, so I started loading things in before he had even started speaking.
“I guess you can have it, that’s okay,” he responded begrudgingly. He acted like it was a really big deal that I was allowed some basic freedom and independence as a person with disabilities. I thanked him, though I didn’t really mean it, and then stalked off at a pace that was completely inappropriate for a defiant exit.

It took about five minutes to work up enough strength to get a good flow going and manage to start walking around without too much trouble. It was right at that point that another woman with a wheelchair came up next to me.
“Hey, HEY!” she called out. I stopped in the middle of the walkway. She narrowed her eyes at me. “Is that my chair?”
“What?”
She turned her head to one side. “What’s the number?”
I didn’t see any number anywhere, so I just sort of stared blankly in response.
“That’s my chair, you see. I need it.”
“Oh no, no damn way! I just got through with this stupid conniption fit about this chair and they said I could have it!”
She put one hand on her hip. “Who said?”
“Some supervisor or something. Look, I’m not giving up this chair: I need it.”
She pulled a face and gestured to the wheelchair she was pushing. “It’s exactly the same as this one! What’s your problem!?””
“Well if it’s exactly the same why don’t you take that one and leave me alone!”
She rolled her eyes again and stalked off. What the fuck? All this for a goddamn wheelchair?

After that I felt like I practically needed to visit every goddamn shop in the airport just out of spite.
I texted Curtis and let him know I was going to get back relatively soon, and to please meet me with my pain medication. I’d already run out, and though taking the wheelchairs had helped, it wasn’t perfect. The exhaustion and the pain took over and I don’t even remember much the last flight other than the horrific turbulence. It was so frightening that when we landed the pilot made an announcement about how he should be charging extra for the roller coaster ride.

Curtis met me as I came out and immediately took the bags from me. He gave me a hug and kiss and then some horrible news: he had forgotten my medication at home.
When we finally got back I went digging through the cupboards and couldn’t find it. Turns out he didn’t just forget it at home, he forgot to pick up my new prescription entirely and I had none left in the entire house. I was fucking furious with him. He had four goddamn days to pick it up, and I’d mentioned it every time I talked with him the whole time I was gone. I ended up having to get back in the car and drive to my mother’s apartment and borrow some of hers so I could make it through the night. I seriously have not been that pissed at him in six months or more.
He got up early the next morning to get my refill at the pharmacy the next morning, and upon telling the pharmacist what happened she quietly replied that he was lucky to be alive.

Along with the meds he brought home a bottle of gin so I could make myself some G&Ts that evening. That made it a little better. Sort of. Dick.

Happenings of the day:
Two days ago Marika put a half-naked Taliah on the couch to chill out while she got up and did some dishes, and as usual Zephyra climbed up immediately so she could love upon her cousin. Taliah was startled by the moving about and started to cry, which upset Zephyra.
“Oh no,” she said. She stroked Taliah’s head softly. “Oh no!”
Being naked herself, it seemed like the logical next step was to offer the baby her breast. She lay on her side next to Taliah and scooted down the couch until she was at the right height, then used a hand to cup her completely non-existent breast and push it toward Taliah’s mouth. It did not go as well as she’d expected. After a moment or two of that she sat up and held her chin thoughtfully. Taliah continued to cry. Then, out of nowhere, Z reaches down and starts playing with Taliah’s lips so she can bibble them around while she cries hysterically, all the while providing her own sound effects with a loud, “BIBBLEBIBBLEBIBBLE”.
If at first nursing doesn’t succeed; try bibbling her lips.

Links of the Day:
Emmett’s Story: the dangers of swallowing a button battery – You know those tiny little watch batteries, or vibrator batteries that also go in things like little remotes, flameless candles and a lot of children’s toys? (singing cards, books that make noise, etc). If your baby or toddler swallows one, it can burn through their vocal cords and esophagus in as little as two hours. This video tells the story of one little boy who swallowed a button battery and barely survived. I had no idea these were so dangerous, so I’m passing this on for others.
Truth or Fail: Breasts – The YouTube game where you guess which fact is true and which is false. This topic? Boobs.
Shane Koyczan – Canadian master at slam poetry performs a piece about love and sexuality, and the feeling of being embroiled in that sort of desperate, young love after spending a lifetime believing yourself unworthy for it. In this piece he absolutely perfectly captures that feeling that permeates you and makes you simultaneously desperate, and grateful for, every tiny touch from this person you never even thought would be there.

Comments

comments

4 Comments

  • Annie says:

    the bit about Z and the cheese is absolutely priceless….. =)

  • Colleen says:

    Alcohol laws vary by state. Here in Virginia you can buy beer and wine at any store until midnight, but liquor is only available at state-run ABC stores. In Alaska and Pennsylvania, all alcohol is sold at special stores. I think Ohio sold everything everywhere (I seem to remember being shocked by liquor in Walmart). And Utah only sells beer with a lower alcohol content than everywhere else in the country. My sister is always so amazed to see wine in the grocery store.

    We don’t have Wegman’s here–they stop about two hours north of us–but the one my mother-in-law used to go to had an entire lower level devoted entirely to wine. It was the single biggest room of wine I’d ever seen, it was amazing.

    Also? Z and Taliah…awwwwww. I think my uterus just melted, lol.

  • Elena says:

    breastfeeding + flying with an infant = WIN.

    While 3pt seats haven’t been sold up here in… forever, they were sold in the US up until quite recently – so the one he showed you likely wasn’t expired and was legal there. Just wouldn’t be up here. Not that it matters. Just sayin’.

  • Rachel says:

    I moved from Michigan to North Carolina a little over a year ago and it still amazes me that I can’t buy alcohol at the grocery store (save for beer and wine). We have liquor stores, they don’t open until 11am, close at 10pm and are completely closed on holidays and Sundays. Also, you cannot buy any alcohol ANYWHERE before 11 am. In Michigan, you could walk in to the nearest grocery, at 3 am, drunk and buy anything you wanted. It’s crazy.

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