Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I Love First Graders

Most Thursdays, I spend some time in Supergirl's class. Usually, it is reading or writing assistance and then back in the afternoon for the weekly cooking project. Today, things got a bit jumbled up, as there was a rather unplanned assembly first thing, and then we had a special guest speaker on the continent of the month (Africa). But because Bubbles was having a speech therapy session, and because he does so much better when the mama is not there, the 1st grade teacher and I continued to pretend that I was still a Very Important Helper, and I stayed until it was safe to return home.

Instead of helping children spell 'can haz playdate?' or read 'Zig Bug can run!', I got to sit back and cuddle some kids, while listening to Annie's daddy (Mark) tell us all about his trip to Cameroon. Mrs. H did her usual prepping for the presentation. "Children, please remember to use your very respectful listening ears, and if you have something to say, please do not interrupt Annie's daddy. If you have a question that only Annie's daddy can answer, then it would be okay to raise your hand. But only if it is a question!"
Mark very gamely began talking about Cameroon, engaging the children with stories of 'bushkill' and answering questions like, "Did you see a lot of animals?" with answers like, "Yes! We did, but most of them were dead."
Then Kelly raised her hand.
"Yes? Do you have a question, Kelly?"
"Umm, yeah. Did you know that some Zebras have a white belly?"
Mrs. H: "Kelly, that is good information, but it is not a question."
Emi's hand shot up.
"Yes, Emi? A question?"
"You know, when you ate that porcupine, you could have used it's pointy things for a straw in your juice!"
"Umm, wow. I hadn't thought of that. But one thing I did notice in Africa was that people are very resouceful and find a way to use almost everything. Anyway, Annie's mommy and I did like some of the wood carvings we saw, and now I will pass these masks around the room for you to touch and look at."
Gabby's hand shot up.
"Yes, Gabby? Do you have a question?"
"Yes, I do. I was wondering, umm, did you give that mask to Annie first because she is your daughter and you like her best?"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Yes, I did THAT

Gwendomama has broken her back. Nobody is quite sure how it happened, but most of the evidence points to one, single straw.
She is currently waiting to hear from the data recovery gurus who are, right now, lovingly caressing and cajoling her laptop back to life.
When they call to drop the bomb deliver the sweet-smelling news, Gwendomama will perhaps then pull her head out from the drywall in which it has been wedged for two days.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Because if I included the words, it would embarrass us all...

Yeah, I was pretty sure you'd figure it out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snowing in Coastal California

It's snowing dude.

I hate this kind of slushy wet faux-snow.
This is not why I moved from PA to CA.

Nevertheless, we are staying busy.

We made brownies.
We made models.
We danced.

Remember any of those?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good Intentions, Road to Hell, blahblahblah

I had so much to write about this weekend! So much to blog! So much to tell!
So very much that I meant to do!
And I did do so much!! I forgot to take before and after pictures of my project Auxiliary Bedroom, but, let's just say that I cleared out approximately 75% of the toys in that room. Why would I take on such a project? One that would require hours of sorting, bags and boxes, labels and the strength to purge?
One that would require a mama, almost single-handedly, to turn this:

Into this:

And this...

What could it be? Well, I am sick of living in a tiny house in which every damn surface is some sort of uber-magnet for stuff.
Sick. Of. It.
Sick of my daughter being such a collector that she has become a consumer at the ripe old age of six. Sure, we are also to blame; we have allowed her to receive the years worth of gifts from loving friends and relatives, allowed her to hold on to too many dress-up clothes and 'special' dolls, allowed her to accompany me on too many necessary shopping trips (ohshitanderrmm...can they tell the difference?) ...not done enough to encourage her to let go of her stuff and make donations with her money.
Sick. Of. It.
Also? Bubbles is not an easy boy to put to sleep at night; though we have tried everything I know since he was about 18 months old.
HELLO????? Past self???? This is your future calling. I know you were all stressed about this baby's health and all, but hey? You are an idiot for not making that baby cry it out and teaching him the greatest gift of all for him and for the entire family: putting himself to sleep. Because now? Here in Future Self's present? IT SUCKS to have a two year old who cannot go to sleep or stay asleep.
Sick. Of. It.
So he is getting moved into Supergirl's room...a tiny lean-to-ish room off of our large bedroom, which doubles as the playroom. We live in cabin. Built by hippies on dope. get a child such as mine to even consider screaming himself to sleep as he threatens to vomit, needs to remove all distractions, such
So the little Supergirl room will now become a little sleeping room.
And, while Bubbles battles this out with sleep and with us (lalalala-I can't hear you), Supergirl will do what she has always done...sneak into sleep in our bed until he is through it (should take a few months, considering the boy's tenacity) and then...possibly...they may be able to - dare I say it???? - SLEEP in the very same room? The sleeping room.
I shall paint the low ceiling dark blue and stencil golden stars over it. tune in.

All this organizing inevitably led me to compulsive baking, which of course brought me immediately to beer and cheese bread, yet again.
And I was feeling all cooky-cocky and thought I would photo-blog the whole process.
Like this lovely beginning shot I took,
of the copious amount of cheese-food slices and butter and beer:

Which really is quite a lovely shot, all innocent and uncooked.
And then I took another lovely shot of the beer being poured over the sugar and salt additions to the cheese-food slices. Mmmmm.

And then it got all foamy and delicious smelling. Seriously, at this point in the recipe, I think I could eat this stuff alone, as soup.
But I didn't.

And at this point also, I went into the garage laundry room to you know, switch some laundry...and there were some toys I still had to sort, and the boxes in progress, and the...STUFF...and I forgot the bubbly yumminess that I had turned down to simmer and came back to a good portion of the goo stuck to our glass stove top. And dh was there, making the discovery as soon as I was, but he was more angry about it, and I had to be the one to remain calm and let him the stove cool down before it could actually be dealt with. Because, as with cleaning a starchy food burned on to a pan, one must treat burned processed cheese goo stuck on to their stove top much the same way.
Cold water and a plastic scrubby. Yes, COLD water. Hot water just cooks it on more. But because some people in this house are rather impatient, fits must be had about the frothy rubbery burned-ness of the burner, and some other people get so flustered that they forget to take pictures of the damn mess and then more pictures to document the incredible ease with which the horrible mess was removed.
Such is the theme of the non sequitur and unrequited blog postings.

We ate the bread, it was good.

SO....Have I told you how much I love the Mexican Coke?

I love it a lot. WHY? Because I crave that shit every now and then; maybe once or maybe twice a week, and dh gives me no end of grief because of the poisonous high fructose corn syrup I willingly ingest in these moments of weakness. BUT! The Mexican Coke? It has the real thing. It has the real cane sugar. Not the HFCS. And I thought it would taste pretty much the same...but I was wrong. It totally kicks US Coke's ass. If you're into that sort of thing.

And speaking of kicking ass, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS STUFF?????

It fell out of the sky and it is quite cold. I don't like it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I love my mother too much to have stayed any longer...

Holyhell, holyhell, holysweetbejesus.

In spite of an unexpected full twenty four hours more spent in the city of brotherly love, which was preceded by at least five hours in a suburban Emergency Room with my semi-conscious two year old......and in spite of at least one airport security threat (me) and another near tackle by TSA, we finally made it back to our proper coast.

::b r e a t h e::

Only to be welcomed by the surliest dh of them all; one who had spent the past five days without internet access, due to some very strange 'hijacking' of our account by a certain subsidiary of AssholeTotalitarianTroublemakers. This five days was on top of the four days (wah) he had endured without power (remember those CA storms?), and only 48 hours after he had been restored to the 21st century. And of course, having only gone through the suckiness trifecta AND THEN A FUCKING ALL CAPS CONCUSSION WITH OUR SON, was apparently not enough of an emotional sacrifice to the universe and it was determined that I must be punished upon my return home.

To the tune of: welcome home I missed you so much that all I wanna do is argue with you - and then, as I looked past the grunge that was my sink, I realized, ohmygodthetreeisstillfuckingup? Just for starters. Which will for now, become the endofthat.

Because, believe it or not, I would rather talk about the head injury.

I had insisted that Bubbles and I stay in the basement/den at my mom's house, as said toddler had maintained a good track record at my brother's house of keeping someone up every night, and this had been in an eight bedroom house. I hoped that, with one floor between us, the rest of the family might sleep peacefully as we filled my mom's small house for the funeral for which we were all in town.

Bubbles is very good a navigating steps, as he had mastered our own very strange steps at an early age, so after spotting him up and down the basement steps a few times, I was confident that he knew to stay away from the edge - as there is nothing between the steps and the railing, but a sheer drop-off to the basement room. He even got knocked down the stairs by her very happy dog once, but all was well and the only result was that he was even more cautious on the stairs.

The funeral for my aunt was on Saturday. It was very little scripture, and very much memories and stories, both hilarious and heartbreaking. I had a chance to visit with our many cousins, aunts and uncles during the luncheon afterward. (why on earth did I just call that a 'luncheon' rather than a 'lunch'?) Everyone was just so visibly exhausted by death and grieving. My cousin Kim's children were a clear reminder of both tragedies and their own vitality. Of how very much they need, of how much our family needs them and the lifetime of loving that our family needs to give to them.

Late that evening, I had a chance to visit with a favorite cousin who was not at the funeral. Everyone else had gone home or to bed, but 'we' had not quite adjusted to EST in our nine days, so we happily played and caught up with my cousin and her very charming seven year old daughter. Close to midnight, we came up with the brilliant and foolproof plan of heading to the basement with a glass of wine, to hypnotize the children to sleep on the sofabed with a video, and get in one more hour of uninterrupted catching up.

Which really would have been brilliant and foolproof except for the unforseeable detail of a little mishap on the stairs. My young cousin graciously tried to help Bubbles down the stairs, who is so very two, and who, in turn, pulled his hand away and flung himself through the railing and off the steps. Onto the basement floor, where he landed on his face.

On. His. Face.

And then I picked him up. He was limp, there was a lot of blood on his face. His cry was slow to come and pitiful compared to what I know he is capable of producing. He crawled out of my arms and whimpered, trying to just fall asleep, but realizing that his face and head hurt too much to do that and began whimpering a bit louder, which made me very glad at that moment.

My cousin was asking me if she should call 911, call an ambulance, get my mom or my 21 yr old pre-med nephew or my brother, who were asleep upstairs. I wasn't so sure they were asleep anymore, because my second reaction, the one right after I saw him fall in very slow motion only one arm's length away from me and screamed, "ohNONONONONO!!!!", was to scream, "motherfuckerNOFUCKINGWAY!" when I saw my baby's eyes looking so very distant and glazed and so obviously wrong. He started throwing up in my hands, and I yelled back to my cousin to GO AND GET THEM. GET MY MOM. GET A CAR.

I don't like to wait. Even for ambulances. Or especially for ambulances. I did that once; it didn't go well. My mom drove as my nephew coached her through the red lights (with no opposing traffic; it was after midnight in the suburbs). She was hoping to get pulled over I think, to have a siren escort to the hospital. In between the hyperventilating that I don't remember but my mother now swears to, I instructed PMN (pre-med nephew) to call the ER and tell them we had a toddler with a head injury coming in. This was key, as they did see us immediately when we walked through the non-ambulance ER door.

(of the hospital in which my cousin Kim had died just 3 months ago, but that's another head trip.)

My mother, having just been slightly overwhelmed by the funeral that very afternoon, was visibly shaking. I suppose it is quite traumatic to drive to a hospital with your daughter in the back seat shouting to your grandson to "WAKE UP!" and reporting that he is "STILL THROWING UP OHMYGOD!"

The first hopeful sign that he was not permanently damaged was when they right away tried to take his vitals and he threw a big hissy fit at the O2 sat monitor sticker on his finger and yelled, "NO! NONONONO!" (at this moment one mama could be glad that he does have that speech delay, as it could easily have been, 'nofuckingway' if he was parroting age-appropriately)

An ER doc examined him pretty quickly and diagnosed a definite concussion, then ordered a CT scan to determine the severity. He said that the face is actually the best possible part of the head to absorb the blow; much more preferable than the back of the skull. He also said that it was an 'old wive's tale' that we should not let him sleep, and to let him sleep while we waited for the CT scan, as some traumas had come in and needed to go to radiology first.

Everyone there was so nice, I suddenly felt way too tired, and just leaned back on the gurney with Bubbles and forgot to take pictures of his swollen face and bloody lip and the ER curtains. The preparation for the CT scan was slightly traumatic, as almost nobody finds it fun to straightjacket a toddler to a board with velcro and tape. The radiolologist was also the mother of a three yr old, so she was especially sensitive. She told him he was going on a train (I spent but a brief second contemplating the future scarring implications of that one, then dismissed and obscured by primal mama fear), and as soon as that tube started spinning, he stopped struggling, stopped crying, quietly said "Woo-woo," (translation: train) and then became hypnotized by the whole experience, nearly falling asleep. It was, after all, four o'clock am.

All of Bubbles' brain appears to be fine. Shockingly, he did not have a maxillary fracture or even knock out one tooth. We were discharged at 4:30 am, and dh was home in CA on the phone with NWA about changing my ticket (which, they eventually did do without additional fees!) to the next day, so we would have time to look for lingering symptoms and swelling before attempting to cross the country again. By later that afternoon, after we had all slept a few hours, his swelling had gone down so much you could scarcely tell he was in such a horrific state just twelve hours before.

We left one day late, but had a much more subdued and uneventful airline experience than the outbound trip. Motrin was a good friend to us.

I was trying to get a shot of his big old bruise, but he grabbed the camera and took a self-portrait of his big old bunny teeth instead.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Suckiness Trifecta*

(Thank you, MamaDaisy, for the superbly apropos title)

After at least five generous hours devoted to saving my teeth, Dentist Brother has managed to give me, among other things like a crown here and there, the most pain free root canal even known to any human. No, I can't give you his number here. But if you live in a remote northwestern corner of a state than begins with P, and you do need a pain-free root canal, email me.
Bubbles is having the most spectacular time with his cousins, as four of them are boys who have been willing to have him bounce off of their knees, or chase him incessantly. The weather here has been unseasonably warm (I am told that the oldtimers call it the 'January Thaw'), so we have been able to walk all over this small (home)town (of mine). My brand new loveliniece and her parents (my little brother and his wife, my 'other sister') live just three blocks from DB (where I am bunking), so the walking has been a refreshing change from my usual winter visits. (I hate cold and I hate being cold and no thank you, I do NOT want to go outside)
I am missing my Supergirl so much it hurts. I have never been away from her like this before. There was the six weeks hospitalization when I was pregnant with Elijah, but I saw her every evening, except for the one or two times that the winter storms were too intense for dh to drive them 'over the hill' to Los Gatos, 45 minutes away. This is so hard. We have talked each day, but still. Ouch.
Tomorrow evening we will head to Philadelphia, a six hour drive. WOOHOO! Go, us! Bubbles and I have snagged a ride with Little Bro, Other Sis, and Loveliniece. We are all hoping that the babies will sleep, leaving us to debaucherous jokes, gobs of gummy candies, and flashlight-assisted book reading for the majority of the trip. Shit, now I surely have cursed us all by mentioning it.

Anyway, hoping that my mom can take Bubbles for the three nights we will stay. I say this for a number of legitimate reasons:

  1. We are all dealing with The Funeral on Saturday, and this is sad and stressful.
  2. My mom has not seen Bubbles in one year. Last year he was learning how to walk. This year, he resembles the tasmanian devil.
  3. Little Bro reported that she has said, "She calls him a monster! Can you believe that?"
  4. It has been a very long time since she had a two year old.

So, while I am very much looking forward to my share of Philly cheesesteaks, I am not looking forward to facing the reality of the deaths of both my aunt and cousin.

And I am also hoping that my mom can handle the little monster Bubbles and not drop us off too early at the counter of doom (aka, Northwest Airlines).

Oh yes, and my mom has no internet service. So I am hoping that there is a cafe with free wi-fi within walking distance I can handle that.

(*travel hell + root canal + funeral = suckiness trifecta)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Suppressed Memories of Cascade Failure Travel

Let us not, in this climate of flying hell, forget the TSA! Those ubiquitous overpaid and undertrained power mongers who 'guide' you through security.
If you are traveling alone with a small child, please choreograph the details of your security checkpoint well in advance!
I thought I had it down to a science. First, leaving Bubbles in the stroller, I removed the laptop and dvd player and sent the backpack through first. I put the electronics in a bin, removed both of our shoes, and then took off my jacket and put it through the scanner. Then, I took Bubbles out of the stroller, and while gripping him with one hand, I closed the stroller with my other hand and feet. Then I put the stroller through, put Bubbles in front of me, and wait to be waved through. Meanwhile, during all of this, there are impatient people huffing and shoving and sighing at the sheer amount of time it can take one person to do all of this. These angry people get sympathetic looks from the TSA people, who are apparently also annoyed with the sequence of events surrounding getting a toddler through security checkpoints as they sit and watch it all.
When we got back to the Minneapolis airport to catch our flight to Pittsburgh, I used my choreographed plan, but there was a small glitch.
As I was waiting to let Bubbles walk through the scanner ahead of me, a TSA woman demanded my boarding pass. I told her it was in my green jacket going through the scanner - I pointed to the jacket coming through on her end. She looked thoroughly put out. I pointed to Bubbles, said I didn't have a pocket, that I had too many things to hold on to.
She waved Bubbles through, then she waved me through. I reached for Bubbles' hand, and she grabbed my arm. "I need to see your boarding pass!" She demanded. I pointed to my jacket on the rollers - "It's in there!" I said. Right then, Bubbles took off like a two year old on speed (redundant, I know). I took off after him, leaving all of my belongings, and TSA woman yelled at a TSA guy to "STOP HER!" I was about to be tackled, and I yelled - "STOP HIM BEFORE YOU STOP ME - THAT'S MY BABY!" And the guy who had just about reached me, looked up and saw Bubbles running and laughing maniacally at all the commotion. He said "I didn't realize..." and let me grab Bubbles before he escorted me back to security. He apologized because he didn't realize I was chasing a baby - the TSA woman hadn't told him that part!
TSA woman gave me dirty looks when I returned, and I just muttered something about having had enough of incompetent assholes, and put myself and my stroller back together.

Scary, people. I think it will be a while before I try and cross the country alone with a child again.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More Travels in Airline Hell

We got to the airport at 7 am, after driving 90 minutes through 70 mph winds to get there. It was painfully obvious that no flight would be taking off, but once you have that ticket, you had better show up to the airport.
Our flight was to leave SFO at 8:30 am. Surprisingly, I heard the gate attendant receive a call from officials saying "SFO IS NOT CLOSED. PROCEED BOARDING AS NORMAL."
As I looked out to the tarmac and saw sheets of rain rolling over the pavement and docked planes shuddering in the wind, I was quite shocked that they were actually beginning to board the plane. Since I was traveling alone with a small child, I hopped into the pre-boarding line and took my seat, repeating pleading mantras in my head to please please keep the seat next to me empty. Approximately 20 minutes after everyone was boarded, the pilot announced that we would need to deplane, as the rocking and rolling plane was separating from the jetway, and since we were not taking off anytime soon, the plane was 'unsafe' for us to remain on board. So we then got off the plane, being told that we may take off in 2 hours, but not to leave the gate area. Oh yes, and if you were one of those passengers that gate-checked a stroller....umm...tough shit for you! Because we are not going to give you your strollers.
They changed the take-off time to 10:30, and we began what was to become a long day of milling and chasing a toddler around the airport.
There is a playground at SFO, but it was not in our gate area, and we were not allowed to leave the area, even though we could all clearly see the weather was preventing anyone from flying. Nobody wanted to get on a plane and fly in this insanity, so plenty of people asked if they could go home and come back the next day. The answer was: No, not without losing your ticket. So the flights continued to back up, and the people in the gate area continued to pile up. The frustration level was high. Those of us with children were finding one another - over there was a thomas train group, over here was the dinosaur and cars group, nearby was a wiggles dvd showing...we managed to keep our children in better spirits than most of the rude adults that shoved past us in their hurry to go nowhere.
Every 1/2 hour or so, the gate agent would announce that we may be leaving soon, although the winds were more than twice the safe knot speed for taking off, and we should not leave the gate area. Mixed messages to be sure.
11:00 came and went, with the same persistent announcements cackling over the speaker; the agent at this point looking somewhat embarrassed by even having to deliver this message again (think: Tony Snow). I knew I had missed my original connection to Pittsburgh, but was hoping that there was another flight I could catch; even if I was going to miss the dinner with in-laws and cousins, I was hoping to get to the east coast anyway, after sticking it out for so many hours already. I got all nice-nice with the gate agent, whose name was Colleen. She was sympathetic to my plight, apologizing about the stroller and the delays over and over. She assured me that she had already booked me on the last flight from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh, and I should arrive around 11 pm. The last flight to leave Minneapolos wasn't until 7:40, so I was pretty confident that if I left SFO by 2:00, I would make the connection.
We continued our rounds of the gate area. Bubbles, running here and there and everywhere, stopped to down a bottle, then leaned over into my lap and proceeded to barf the entire thing up. Onto my shoes, my pants, the floor. The only saving grace was that it was soy milk and it was barfed immediately, so it didn't stink. However, there I was in a busy, angry airport, jumping out of a puddle of milk barf. Luckily, Colleen's look of sympathetic horror made up for the other agents' looks of just plain horror and abhorrence. She called housekeeping immediately and I threw some paper towels on the mess and slunk away.
During this time, I approached Colleen and, as with about a dozen other people that I heard, asked her if I should perhaps stay in the Bay Area that night, since I did know people in the area, but once I got to Minneapolis, I would be stuck. And since they were being very vocal about not putting anyone up in hotels because of weather conditions, I was a bit concerned that I would be stuck or sleeping in an airport overnight. We were told to stay in the area, which got a bit frustrating as they postponed the departure each hour and would not cancel the flight.
Finally, at 1:00 pm, we were told to board the plane again. Although, this time it looked like half the people on the flight were new. I wearily boarded the plane again, by this time finally beginning to dry off. The empty seat next to me was no longer; after 5 hours of planes being grounded, there was not a flight taking off that was less than full. Luckily it was filled by an eleven year old boy, who had not yet perfected the 'toddler disdain' expression. I managed to change a diaper while he was on my lap, and prepared for take-off. The $10 toy plane I had caved on in the airport gift shop was paying off, as it makes really cool take-off noises and red lights. Our excitement was completely unfounded though, as we sat at the gate for yet another hour with no sign of moving. I did some quick math, added in the time change, and realized with horror that there was no possible way I would make my connection in Minneapolis.
I asked the flight attendant to come over, and when I asked him if he could help me (did he know if I would make any connection to Pittsburgh, did he know if there was another way to get there, could he let me out of the plane right now?).
Now here is the part where I tell you not to fly NWA if you are expecting a family-friendly environment. With the sole exception of Colleen, I was to find that nearly every other flight attendant basically hated children and the idea of children flying.
Because, instead of just answering me, the pinched-faced Smarmy Flight Attendant took this as an opportunity to make some sort of 'example' out of me. He puffed out his chest, and very loudly said to me (and the surrounding 6 rows), "Do I look like I have a computer on me? I don't know if you are going to Pittsburgh because I don't have my crystal ball with me either?"
At this point, all I could picture was sleeping on the floor of the airport with a 2 year old. I got a bit teary. I said, "Look, I could do without the attitude, I just want to know if you can help me!"
He replied, "I'm not giving you attitude, you need to just calm down and deal with this situation." Then the full-blown tears started.
A woman behind me said, "Yes, you are giving her attitude. She has been here since 7 am with her baby, who has been very well-behaved, and everyone here is stressed out, so you should just back off of her." I wanted to kiss her. I said, "Please let me off the plane. We haven't gone anywhere yet."
He (again, loudly) said that if he let me off the plane, everyone else would miss their connections. This, I thought was rich, since we were already 6 hours late, with still no sign of leaving, but somehow all these missed connections were going to be my fault. I sighed heavily and the dam broke; the tears raced down my face. A few moments later, he came back to my row with the head flight attendant, saying that if anyone could help me, it would be her. I choked out my story to her; I told her that Colleen had advised me to stay on this plane, that I would make it to Pittsburgh, but since boarding the plane and sitting at the gate for so long, now I would not make it. I begged to get off the plane, and just then, the plane started moving away from the gate. She shrugged her shoulders at me, apologized, and I realized that I was quite doomed. About one hour into the (very turbulent) flight, the head flight attendant came back to my row and asked me to please come to the galley so they could have a word with me. I had no idea what was about to go down. I was just hoping that Smarmy Guy wouldn't have anything to do with it. I schlepped Bubbles out of the row and up to the galley, where head flight attendant was waiting for me. She told me that they had called SFO and reached Colleen, who confirmed my story and then said she 'felt terrible' because she could have re-routed me through Detroit to catch a later connection to Pittsburgh, but she was distracted and didn't realize that I was still sticking it out. She had authorized a hotel room for me, but would I please not tell anyone, as there were hundreds of displaced passengers today, and their policy for weather was to not make any accomodations. She instructed me to go only to gate G-19 when I arrived in Minneapolis - they would handle it. I thanked her profusely, I actually hugged her, stopped sniffling, and went back to my seat.
We arrived in Minneapolis just 15 minutes after the last flight to Pittsburgh, and the pilot told everyone to go to the gate and find their connection or finally receive some overdue food vouchers. So by the time I got to the gate to ask for my hotel voucher, there was a very long and very slow line. Since waiting was the word of the day, I just went with it and got in line. What choice did I have? After an hour of waiting in line, I was the next one to be seen. But some guy came up to me and told me to go the next gate, where there was an available agent. I said ,"No, thank you. I was told to come only to this gate to receive my vouchers, and I have waited long enough - I can wait 5 more minutes." He insisted. So much that he actually pushed my shoulders in the direction he wanted me to go. I 'obliged'. But the person at that gate said she had no idea what I was talking about, and here was a $10 food voucher. I got upset. She told me to go see her supervisor. So I went over to the supervisor and started to tell her my story. She cut me off. "We are not paying for a hotel room for you. We don' t provide accomodations for inclement weather."
I tried to explain to her. "But there was another issue - I was supposed to be re-routed. Colleen talked to the crew. The head flight attendant took me OUT OF MY ROW to tell me this. Why would she have done that if it wasn't true? PLEASE JUST LOOK UP MY NAME!"
She put on her bitch face. "Are you going to stop talking? I am trying to tell you our policy. I don't know why she told you that. All I can do it report the person who told you that. She was wrong. Look, we are not giving you a room. GIVE IT UP."
It was a standoff.
I snatched my boarding pass out of her hand and ran off - everyone in the area was watching closely. There were many tears in that terminal.
I ran to the gate I had exited an hour earlier. I asked where the crew was, and how I could find the woman who now appeared to be previously lying to me.
This woman took my boarding pass from my quivering hand and entered my name into her computer. She said, "It looks fine. But I can't do anything for you. If you go to the ticket counter in the main terminal, they can issue you the vouchers."
More tears. I was at the end of my rope. I asked her if she was lying just to get me to go away. She assured me she was not, then directed me to the main terminal, about 1/2 mile away.
I made it to the ticket counter just as everyone was getting ready to leave. I ran up and, quite out of breath, handed the woman my boarding pass and began to explain, haltingly and probably not very understandably, what had happened. I begged her to please please please look up my name in the computer. Please help me.
She had already entered my name in the computer. She looked at my face, she looked at a very tired and screamy Bubbles, and she said, "Honey, you are going to be fine. It says right here that we have provided you with a room. I'm not sure why, because we don't do that for weather, but it's all taken care of. It's okay - I wouldn't want to spend the night in the airport with my baby either. Just calm down, it's okay."
I couldn't believe it. Finally. And all she did was enter my name in her computer to find all that out. She asked me if I needed some food or milk for the baby. Why yes, I certainly did. She told me that the hotel restaurant would be closed, so she was going to give me some food vouchers and a pass to get back through security so I could get food and milk before I went to the hotel. She closed her terminal and walked me back through security, helping me with the laptop and the baby stroller. Once I was back through security, I realized that I could go find that bitch supervisor and tell her off. But it was at least another 1/2 mile back to that gate. I thought about it for about 30 seconds, then determined it would be more than worth the walk if I actually found her.
So I pushed that stroller with the purpose of a nascar driver all the way back to her gate. She saw me coming and ducked for cover behind her desk. As I approached her, waving my hotel voucher at her she began barking at me, "I TRIED TO PAGE YOU! I DID! I tried to page you but you ran off in a huff (!). I tried! I did! I paged you!"
I went right up to her, showed her the voucher and said (loudly), "YOU WERE WRONG! You were so very wrong! You are a mean mean person! Why would you not even look up my name?"
She was stammering, "You said it was a flight attendant. They have no authority. I didn't know the rest of your story."
I said, "No, I said that the head flight attendant had called the gate supervisor - just like you - in San Francisco. You just didn't listen. Because you are a mean person. A mean and angry person."
She kept barking at me, "I TRIED! I tried to page you! YOU RAN OFF IN A HUFF!"
I just looked at her, shook my head slowly and silently, and gestured at Bubbles in the stroller, "WHY would you do that to me?" I finished.
As I walked away, at least 4 people who had witnessed both scenes (and who knows how many more in between) pumped their fists in the air and gave me a quiet cheer.
I went to get milk and food, then walked the 1/2 mile back out of the terminal to find the hotel shuttle. It was 10:50 pm by the time we were checked in. We had left our house at 5 am, and were still only halfway across the country.
Oh well. We had cable, an airline sized bottle of wine, fresh milk bottles, and a soft bed.
And a 10:30 flight to Pittsburgh. Which we did make. Even though it was also delayed by an hour. Once on the puddle-jumper (2 hour flight), Bubbles handled it miraculously well, considering the travel ordeal he had been through.
Literally five minutes before we landed, Bubbles fell asleep. This was not as welcomed as you might think, as I had to somehow then figure out how to open my stroller and put on my backpack, all with a large sleeping toddler in my arms. I was in the front row, so I asked the flight attendant if there would be a jetway or we would have to walk outside. She replied that she didn't know, but why? I answered because I wasn't sure just how I was going to manage the logistics of deplaning. She said, "Oh."
When the plane landed, I ended up letting everyone else off first, then leaving Bubbles on the seat while I went to the jetway and opened my stroller. Then I went back on the plane to get Bubbles and put him in the stroller. Then back on the plane again to get my backpack/diaper bag. All the while, the flight attendant stood at the front of the plane and watched this ballet with her hands down at her sides. I was incredulous, but had no energy left to even be pissed about it.
Now? We are finally in PA. I have a root canal scheduled for tomorrow, Bubbles is having a blast with his cousins, and we have a funeral to go to on Saturday. Next Sunday, we attempt to cross the country by air again. Wish us luck.
And take my advice. Fly Virgin. Or JetBlue. They don't hate kids.