Flight Delays, Ugly Cries, and Why You Shouldn’t Talk Religion in Airports

Many people loathe the entire flying/airport experience – the long lines, insanely expensive food, angry TSA agents, oddly intimate pat-downs, crying babies, lost luggage…the list could take up this entire blog. And another. And another. 

I, on the other hand, don’t mind it all that much. I’ve always seen it as the first stop on my vacation – one I’m usually too giddy about to pay attention to anything else. So a few weeks ago when I schlepped my stupidly full suitcase through the DIA airport to go to Virginia (to see some ridiculously awesome people), I was all smiles and sunshine. 

Then I got call #1 – a polite recording from Southwest Airlines saying that my flight had been delayed one hour. No big deal, free Wi-fi and I’m all good.

Two hours later, when we finally boarded the plane, I still was unfazed. Then, shit hit the fan. My connecting flight, one that was supposed to leave from Chicago to Washington D.C. on the same airplane, would be “snubbed” (their word of choice) all together. Damn right I’d been “snubbed.”

Normally, I’m a big complainer. You know, the first person to get their food spit in because they’re so intent on having things done the “right way.” That’s me. Well, that’s the me I’m trying to not be anymore. So I kept that smile plastered to my face and told myself I would be getting on the next available connecting flight – the one that got in at 11:45 pm instead of 2:00 am (my original arrival time was 7:30 pm, mind you).

So when I’m told in Chicago I’m on the flight that “probably” (the words of customer service) gets in at 11:45 I thought all my positive thoughts had paid of.  Thirty minutes later I realize this information was wrong on all counts. The flight was already delayed until 12:00pm.

Patience, I told myself, was a virtue. Then came a series of flight time changes. How many? NO LESS THAN TEN. 

After realizing that my flight would now be getting into D.C. at 6:00 am (that’s right, 11 hours after my expected arrival) would mean I’d have to rent a car, I burst into tears. This wasn’t just a sweet little sniffle, this was the kind of cry that has you snorting and wiping away snot. The embarrassing kind of cry.

Since I had been sitting with a few fellow travelers for some time, I thought I might get a little pat on the back. Nope. Not even one. This, along with the fact that anyone else I might call was sleeping peacefully back in Denver, made me cry even harder.

Pathetic? Perhaps. 

This was precisely the moment that my oblivious fellow travelers decided to talk religion. Not the nice kind of religion talk where everyone shares their views politely (wait, do those even exist?). No, this resulted in one  woman sharing her ideas on why one particular religion was a cult, why hers was the “right” way to believe, and why she made it a habit of throwing religious texts that contradicted her own in the garbage.

This coming from a woman who couldn’t offer me one word of support during my loud display of distress. I had to sit on my hands to keep from pummeling her.

Needless to say, I made it. Tired, hungry, probably smelly, but I did arrive at my destination. I also was able to rent a car and drive in a city I didn’t know – a fact that I am (childishly perhaps) proud of.

In hindsight, this trip from hell made me realize one thing: the worst situations, always, at some point or another, come to an end. There is always a solution – maybe not one you’d counted on – but a solution all the same. And of course the things that seem absolutely tragic today may only be a blip on your radar tomorrow. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

And I guess patience – and avoiding religion talks in crowds of irritated people – are good things to remember to.

Meth Heads, Military Wives, Fist Fights, and Being a Foodie: What Living in 29Palms Has Taught Me

In 7.5 days I’ll be packing up my meager belongings and making the trek back home – a place I never fully appreciated until I spent 5+ months in 29Palms (a town that most Californians don’t even know exists). I can say with 100% certainty that I won’t miss the surroundings (not even a teeny eensy weensy bit), but I will miss the people and certain aspects of a lifestyle I never thought I could become accustomed to. And on that note I thought I would sum up my experience with the 10 things I learned while I was here:

1. If a town is known for it’s meth heads, expect your neighbors to be the same.

Let me just begin by pointing out that a previous blog I wrote clearly stated my desire to not be stuck living among drug dealers and gang bangers (as I have been in the past). The universe must have somehow turned a deaf ear to this request because my neighbors? Yeah, they seem to be feeding the town’s meth habit right from the comfort of their own home. Let’s just say they are an interesting bunch without the street smarts of any successful drug dealer (thus their arrest yesterday). And they take showers with a hose and sponge in their driveway. Enough said.

2. Fist fighting doesn’t mean that a friendship is over.

While my boyfriend spent the last 4 years entrenched in the military way of life surrounded by guys, I was at home spending most of my time with my girlfriends. So when a night of drinking turned sour because two of his buddies started fist fighting over an eye gouging game that went a little too far, I thought that a rift would be formed right smack dab in the middle of our “group.” When I asked one of the guys if they would still be friends (with his eye bloodshot and quickly turning a shade of black), he answered, “Yeah, why wouldn’t we be? We’re best friends. It’s just like two boys in a sand box fighting over the same Tonka truck. No big deal.”

I’m still trying to decide if girls could ever adopt this thought process.

3. Living for the weekends is no way to live.

When people have asked me over the past few months how I like living out here, my answer is always the same: the weekends are a blast. But the rest of the week? I’d rather rip out my toenails one by one then spend another hour simply wasting time here. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. The point, however, is that we get to leave on the weekends and venture out into civilization – exactly what makes living here bearable. Which also makes me realize that jumping between fleeting moments of bliss is simply no way to exist. Period.

4. Distance is all relative.

Just a quick snapshot: from the spot that I am currently sitting, Starbuck’s is a good 20 miles away, any quality restaurant is 60+ miles away, and a decent movie theater playing recent movies is around 65 miles away. Seriously. So now when I hear people complain about driving I’ll have a hard time resisting the urge to tell them to shove it. Which also brings me to my next point.

5. Heat is also all relative.

Now that the temperature is slowly dropping, I am beginning to realize how drastically our idea of “normal” can shift if need be. And of course, after sweating through 110+ degree temperatures with a swamp cooler that refused to work, 98 degrees seems like heaven. I don’t think I’ll ever say that Colorado summers are too hot again. Ever.

6. Good friends don’t count dollars and cents.

Before living the military lifestyle, I had never encountered a group that was so willing to give without keeping track of what they were owed in return. They care deeply about each other, but they care about each other’s families as well. That is what I’ll miss.

7. When all else fails, food can make any day exciting.

There is something about experiencing never ending boredom that makes meal time really fricken exciting. So those days when slaving away over my computer or watching an embarrassing amount of reality TV simply weren’t cutting it, having a really good meal could fill that void. Yes, I realize that’s what massively obese people say, but I’m being honest here. At least it’s not a drug addiction – although my neighbors could have helped me out with that.

8. Claiming your husbands accomplishments is not cool.

After spending a fair amount of time living in close proximity to a military base and a total of four years immersed in the politics of it all, I have met several types of military spouses. There is one in particular that I can’t stand – the one that will say matter of factly (and of course there are plenty of variations on this), “Yeah, we are supposed to be picking up rank soon,” or “I really can’t stand our chain of command right now.” Strange, but I don’t think that the military remembers employing you.

Yes, it’s a partnership. But I don’t think your marriage vows stated anything about losing your own identity and taking on that of your husband’s. Maybe that’s just me.

9. Not everyone thinks like me.

Perhaps this one sounds like something I should have learned around the age of 8, but let’s be honest- most of us operate on a daily basis spouting off our opinions like everyone feels exactly the same way. After being surrounded by people who grew up far differently than I did, I realize that not everyone agrees (or should agree) with me. And I’m pretty sure I’m ok with that.

10. Money should be spent (yes, I know this one’s a shocker).

From the time my dad walked me down to the bank and helped me open up my first savings account, I’ve been a money hoarder. There was a time when spending as little as $10 would create an ulcer in my stomach the size of Texas. After moving, however, I realized that we would have to spend money if we wanted to go anywhere or see anything worthwhile. So, out of necessity, I agreed.

I know that we wouldn’t have been able to have one tiny fraction of the amazing experiences we did if we didn’t spend some of our hard-earned dough. And that’s big for an anxiety-prone- money-hoarder like me.

Goodbye 29Palms. I’d like to say I’ll miss you, but then I’d be lying. And a quote from a few good guys I know, “It’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun.”

Murderers, Gang Bangers, Drug Dealers…and Foot Fungus

Tying up loose ends in Denver and opening up shop in California has turned into a daunting task. A few days ago I had somewhat officially picked THE place for me and my honey only to start back at square one yesterday. My choice, of course, had been based off of three craigslist pictures that showed that the kitchen had REAL TILE and the appliances actually looked sleek and CLEAN. Yup, I thought- that’s the place. Low standards? Well, last time I lived in good ol’ 29 Palms we lacked a dishwasher, a fully functioning stove, and had a crack under our door large enough to fit several different species of desert bug.

So after recruiting a friend to go look at the place (because yes, I’m still that rational let’s make REALLY sure kind of person), I was told it was small. Really small. Like you need a blow up mattress in the bedroom small. At that point I was willing to maybe forgo a few furniture items and get cozy with the idea of REALLY getting cozy with my honey- until I heard the last little bits of information. The owner lives on the property in her trailer. Ummm…ok. Oh and one of the neighbors had a sister living with him that ended up MURDERING HER BOYFRIEND- on the property. Joy. Even my low standards can’t jive with that drama.

Back to the drawing board. I’m not entirely sure where to go from here considering how slim the pickin’s are in that neck of the woods. I’ve convinced myself that we can make any shit hole feel like home considering this time we will be providing our own furniture and personality (note to self: never rent a furnished place in 29 Palms again. EVER. ). But I’d still like to be able to take off my shoes in my own home and not be afraid of getting some unrecognizable foot fungus. And of course I would love to not have to share a wall with anyone. Ever again actually.

My past experience with wall sharing actually ended when 5-10 members of the SWAT team arrested my next door neighbor in a massive city-wide gang bust. Did I mention he was a drug dealer? After nearly 6 months of living in an apartment in which the walls lacked ANY sort of insulation, 6 calls to the police, and 1 call to child protective services (I was determined damn it), I was ready to kick some ass myself. When I saw the scuffle unfold with my morning coffee, I laughed just a little. Yup, I thought, my intuition was spot on.

Well, unfortunately for me, the landlord wasn’t really convinced that gang banging and coke dealing was such a bad thing after all, so the rest of the obnoxiously LOUD clan was permitted to move back in. In one last-ditch attempt to get some measure of silence back I got ahold of the police report to hand in to the home owner’s association. There in writing was documentation of every call I had made- and next to it? A warning note in capital letters: PROCEED WITH CAUTION. RESIDENTS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE ARMED AND DANGEROUS. Holy shit. And these neighbors knew all along that it was little ole‘ me calling the cops on them. My rational mind told me it was time to cut my losses and get the hell out of there.

So as I keep on truckin‘ with this home search I’m trying to keep the faith. And of course steer clear of murderers, gang members, drug dealers, and of course foot fungus. Maybe I should speak to a realtor to see if they have any places that fit this very strict criteria.

One More Plea:

If you haven’t yet…PLEASE vote for my trip on http://www.trazzler.com  It’s getting down to the last week and I have PROMISED my honey that I would take him on this San Francisco trip when he gets back from Afghanistan next month.  I am VERY close to winning in the LGBT category.  All you have to do is go to the website, sign up (VERY IMPORTANT), find the San Francisco Writing Contest icon on the right hand side of the page, and click on the LGBT category.  Look for my entry: “Dining With Drag Queens in Denver, Colorado,” open it and click the “save” button underneath the picture.  That’s it!  If you have already voted- THANK YOU!

Please Get Out of My Room…Thanks.

Cohabitation, in my “this is my space, please kindly remove yourself from it” mindset, has never been an idea that I snuggled up to. Not only does my sanity depend on the fact that I can remove myself from all other living, breathing, and talking beings, but my experience with roommates has been severely limited to family members who (I’m hoping) would never pour bleach on my clothes or steal my pricier belongings (I suppose I’m channeling the Bad Girls Club here…). I’m stubborn, picky, and am prone to noise induced panic attacks. Crazy? Just a bit.

While my post-high school living situation did include a brief stint with my honey in the deserts of California, I feel like in knowing our time together was limited (he was in the midst of shipping off to Iraq), I was able to not let (all) of my anxieties get the best of me. But this time, as I prepare for his homecoming and a 2nd move, cohabitation has taken on a kind of permanence that makes me giddy with excitement and sick to my stomach all at the same time. Our communication over the past 6+ months has been limited to skype chats, 3am text sessions, and facebook messaging…so how on earth can that be translated into bed sharing, chore sharing, and overall life sharing with the simple flip of a switch?

Although I’d like to site his lack of cleanliness and attachment to video games as the main reason for my concern, in truth I am dreading those issues that will point to me being the one that needs to shift, change, and cave just a little bit to let him in. Deep down I know that as long as I stay attached to my way of doing things and closed off to sharing anything in my space, the more I can convince myself that I am right and everyone else is WRONG.

Despite these little butterfly jitters, I have begun thrift and craft store shopping so that we can have a champagne inspired pad on a PBR budget. I’m convinced (since signing on to write for Calfinder) that this is absolutely possible. My first project that I have attempted to tackle: fixing up picture frames and removing the pictures circa 1999. Next up?….Not entirely sure.

Got any suggestions? Wine bottle candle holders, film strip curtains, I’m up for anything. Give me your best tips and I will be sure to post pictures of the finished product.

Crowds Give Me Hives

Crowds, unless I am pleasantly inebriated, give me hives. While I generally like to find the good sunshine-y side of most everyone I come across, being in massive groups of people causes me to spew nasty “I hate the world energy.” It’s quite hypocritical, I know, because I can be a big fat pain in the ass slipping in between people who arrived earlier than me, or chatting on my phone loudly at inopportune moments. (I am also the kind of person that threatens to ram pedestrians with my car if I’m driving or saunters slowly in front of inpatient drivers while I’m walking. But that’s a whole other can of worms.)

Somehow forgetting this little issue of mine, I agreed to brave the 200,000+ crowd of bead wearing, green adorned, celebrants at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Denver. Of course it was only appropriate that I found a spot smack dab in front of a pair of raspy voiced older ladies who had something to say about anything and anyone that happened to pass by within a one mile radius of us. The highlight? A younger girl walks through the crowd to cross the street and the louder of the bunch obnoxiously says, “Oh honey, you really shouldn’t wear a sweater that tight.” Really? It took all I had to not wish that one of the bulls (yes bulls- not sure how that isn’t flagged as a safety hazard) passing by us in the parade would pummel her.

As I stood there seething about how irritatingly annoying complainers can be (again, yes, I’m quite hypocritical), I realized how crowds are breeding grounds for releasing anger in a passive aggressive manner. Case in point: the half head turn or obnoxious seat reclining normally practiced in movie theaters when a fellow patron is talking, chewing, or kicking our seat in a manner we don’t approve of. When we would really like to just tell someone to “shut the hell up or stop touching my seat god damn it” we attempt to annoy them in return or use body language to announce our disgust.

Let’s be honest- the vast majority of us resort to being mean before we will take the high road and simply ask politely for said offender to quiet down, move over, or stop doing any behavior that is affecting our own sense of enjoyment. It is, after all, far easier to go into a crowd of nameless people and expel negative energy then to endure the consequences of channeling it towards the people and situations that are actually causing it. Still, it’s just not nice.

As much as I don’t really enjoy elbow room only occasions or the people who come out to enjoy them, I couldn’t stand the self-entitled nastiness coming out of these two ladies mouths. In reality, their hatred towards everything even remotely pleasant going on around us made them look far more haggard and ugly then they really were. It was as if those string of comments were merely a testament to an entire lifetime of self-loathing and mediocre life experiences. And it made me say a little prayer that at that age I would learn to shrug off the little things and keep everything in a perspective that only living a full and happy life can give you.

Another (non-related) Plea:

While I am generally not the best at asking for help or assistance of any kind, I’m desperate.  Really desperate.  If you have yet to do so, please please please vote for my trips on Trazzler.com.  All you have to do is sign up, and find user kayla 33. (After signing up you can retype the address to read http://www.trazzler.com/users/kayla33) Click save under each one that I have written (Dining with Drag Queens under the LGBT San Francisco contest is the most important) and that’s it.  At this point EVERY SINGLE VOTE COUNTS!

And yes, I will be forever grateful.  THANK YOU!