October 22nd, 2010

Willow

The Jones has landed

Well, I am well and truly ensconced in my hotel room in Washington DC. It was a schlepp and a half to get here and I realised this morning this was the better trip as going home I will be leaving from Columbus (Columbus-Iforgetbutsomewheretochangeplanes-DC-LAX-Brisbane-Perth). Oi vey!

Anyway. I was quite stressed about this trip. It's been a while since I travelled alone. Though I did come to DC by myself when I was 18 to visit my uncle (though my parents sent me unoccupanied minor as it was the first time I'd ever travelled). I forgot though that I am a 34 year old independent woman and actually I much prefer travelling with myself now than ever before - I ask questions when I don't know where to go or what to do and I'm much less shy. Makes everything so much easier and most people are willing to help you *if you ask*.

So. I had the red eye to Sydney. maelkann picked me up and we went out for a lovely italian dinner before he took me to the airport. I told him it was the international but no, it was the domestic terminal we needed so that was the first little hiccup. But then he popped me on the plane and I had to sit next to two rude young people who didn't get out of their seats to let me past nor help me out with putting my bag in the overhead locker (I'm short and if I'm still carrying other things cause I can't reach my sit to put them on, then I have no hands left). I didn't mind that I stepped on his foot cause there was not enough space for me to climb over him and his girlfriend to get to my seat and he didn't move at all. But the flight wasn't too bad and I tried to sleep for most of it.

Got to Sydney at crap-oclock in the morning and then had to change airports via a coach - this was actually really easy, they have a stand, this bus picks you up and it costs $5.50. Doesnt take very long and there was lots of room for your stuff and to sit. Then I had to wait two hours or so for the check in to open so I could check in - they didn't check me through at Perth for some reason. I sat and listened to the Aussiecon 4 episode of Boxcutters and that got me through really happily. Then some standing in the queue which they opened well before they opened the desks and then I was checked through - bags through to DC which turned out to be great, a day later.

Then I had what I thought was 2 or so hours to kill in Sydney. I had breakfast, answered emails and read for a bit. Then I did shopping and sucked it up and braved a public toilet. Then I went through security and went and sat at the gate. And then we got delayed an hour. And then I think we were told 2 hours but it didn't work out that way. I'd bought noisereduction headphones which I tried out whilst waiting and they were good. Not as awesome as I'd hoped but good.

Finally got onto the plane and I will say that I do recommend Virgin Australia - the planes are new, the seats are roomy and there is a lot of space. It still hurts to sit for 12 hours but I've definitely flown far worse. Also the meals were not bad - I mostly skip plane food so this was pretty good. I was sitting, yet again, next to a foul couple. Did she think I couldn't hear her everytime she complained that the person who booked for her booked her in seats she didn't like cause there was a third in the row? It made me feel very much like I was putting her out and I spend several hours wondering how I would go to the bathroom but eventually I was like, I paid for my ticket just like she did, and I sucked it up and asked them to let me out. She was actually really nice about it which made it worse - like she thought I was unaware how much she hated sitting next to me. Ah well. I watched three movies and half a season of Glee and slept as best I could. And hated the whole sitting upright for 12 hours thing. And somehow, eventually, it was over and we were in LAX.

I kinda stressed out a bit filling in the Customs dec form - I will admit to having a little fear flying into the States now after knowing a few people who had problems. I declared my TPP books that I was carrying on me and stated I was here for business (which flipped me out - a separate post later on that). And then of course, the whole thing was completely fine. The Americans are used to processing a lot of people through their airports and they do it efficiently and with a lot of assistance offered. It's actually really easy and quite pleasant. We went through Immigration and there was not too bad a queue. They fingerprint you etc which is a bit "too futuristic" for me. And then I collected my bags and went through Customs. The guy asked me about the Commercial product I'd declared and I told him about the SF convention and apologised for being a nerd and he laughed and waved me through. The next person directed me to bag drop off - and I had to walk like 3 minutes with my heavy bags before someone at the end of the corridor kindly took them for me to process and directed me out the doors towards Terminal 3. And that was like a 2 minute walk to change terminals. I found the check in desk and a really lovely woman checked me through to DC, changed my seat, laughed at the Ohio for WFC thing and then recommended a restaurant there and sent me on my way.

A bit of waiting near the gate, a small drama on discovering I left a bag in the toilets there - made me have to go and ask people in the line about it, and then someone came out and showed me where it was etc and then I was on the next plane. I lucked out here and there was a free middle seat. I slept most of this flight, watched a bit of free to air TV too. And then a long cab ride to Hilton in Rockville.

I had been longing for the hot shower and bed for what felt like days and it was so what I had dreamed it would be.

I have this mindfuck thing about reality where you can be so stuck in a moment that feels so real and like it will never end. And then it does. And what was so real or painful or unending is gone and just a memory of that. And then it's like it never happened. And that like you just gotta keep moving through time when you're stuck in a bad moment. Ah, probably not explaining it right. Been trying to for like 20 years now and I never do. But it's weird now to be so ensconced and happy and have all my immediate needs met (shower, sleep, food, coffee, toilet) when for 36 hours I was in a lot of discomfort.

I didn't sleep awesomely well but I feel rested. I was up at 5am with a headache - from not drinking water on that last leg, no doubt. I gave in at 6am and headed down to breakfast when they opened at 6.30am. There's free wifi in the lobby. And in 45 mins I'm off on a Tour of the Library of Congress which I have been looking forward to and to meet a few people I know online in real life.

And so ... it has begun. And I am trying to enjoy it as soon it will be done :( My head is in holiday space though and that's good cause this is all the rest of my annual leave for the year!