Dallas Weekend: Friday, 13 August 2004

5:06 AM

It’s not even dawn here, but I can’t sleep. The mattress is fine, but the pillows are too small surface-area-wise, and while they’re thick enough, they’re about as firm as a layer of poly-fill batting wrapped around a brick. I woke up hot, made Fuzzy lower the A/C, and still couldn’t sleep, and the Actifed I took at 1:00 AM, before we finally went to bed, neither helped my sniffles nor made me drowsy, so here I sit dehydrated, achy, cramp-y (because we can’t have a trip without Aunt Flo coming along), and too wired to sleep. However, the hotel book says there’s a café in the lobby that serves Starbucks stuff, and it opens in half an hour. Things are looking up.

We left yesterday with plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush. I wore thongs (as in flip-flops) as shoes, and packed my Tevas, because thongs are easiest to deal with at security. I was wired then, too, and babbly, which, I’m sure drove Jeremy and Fuzzy nuts, because both were in reading mode. Even though the act of sitting in a plane to get somewhere is a barbaric way to travel (efficient, but still barbaric), plane flights still make me giddy with delight. Travel is FUN. Experiencing new places is FUN. But anyway, back to the thongs. Despite having been up since 6:30 AM PDT when we got to the airport around one, I was still in giddy seven-year-old mode, so having to pad through security barefoot struck me as amusing. Cuz, you know, rubber flip-flops are a threat but Fuzzy’s Colorado hiking sneakers (which he did not have to remove) are not. Perhaps the reality is that the guy staffing the sensor has a fetish for women’s naked feet.

But anyway, we didn’t have to rush, and enjoyed mocking the guy who arrived at 1:00 for a 1:30 flight and was lectured on heightened security (which, you know, has only been the case for THREE YEARS now, so I can see why it might be shocking), and arriving at the airport with enough time. Way to lecture, American Airlines. We got water and chocolate, and I picked up a Nora Roberts paperback, breaking my self-imposed book-buying moratorium out of necessity – I’d finished my last Darkover novel in the bathroom an hour earlier. And we sat at our gate, until, just before our boarding call should have been announced, they said there was an equipment failure, and they GAVE OUR PLANE to the earlier Dallas Flight, and made us wait for a new one, bumping our 3:21 wheels-up to 4:30. Now, we could have joined the rush of people demanding to be moved to the flight that was leaving as soon as they could manage it, but we didn’t have a connection, so saw no reason to. Our only plans for the night were “pick up car, eat dinner, sleep” and an hour wasn’t going to affect that in the least.

Of course, at 3:50, they bumped us back to 4:50 take-off, but by then it was too late to care. And it worked in our favor, because so many people had opted to be re-routed in order to make connections, that our flight, which was originally full, wound up being only about 2/3 full, which meant we had a whole row to ourselves. More room is NEVER a bad thing.

We finally got on the plane around 4:45, and then they changed the flight path twice to avoid flying directly through storms. The result of this was that as we cruised through the deepening twilight over New Mexico, and later Amarillo, TX, on approach to DFW, we skirted around three or four different lightning storms, and I put my book away, turned off the work light, and enjoyed the light show.

If you’re not squeamish about flying, being on a plane during a lighting storm is really amazing. It’s nothing like the fingers of light, or gentle flashes of light, that you see from the ground. Last night, we flew OVER a fluffy cloud formation that had lightning inside. Imagine a cloudy snow-globe lit from the inside with pinkish yellow light surges that formed highlights and lowlights in the clouds, and that’s what it looked like. As if the most delicately tinted cotton candy was being lit from within. I thought of Jeremy, and a recent conversation we had about summer storms in the Midwest, as I stared out the window. At one point, I considered dragging out the camera, but even in night-shot mode, the angle necessary would have required the window of the plane to be open. Oh, well.

We finally landed at 10 PM local time, and while I can’t complain about the brief trek to baggage claim, I have to do some obligatory whining about the wait for baggage to start coming out of the chute. I guess the gorilla was asleep. (Seriously, I know that the real reason for the delay is that our late arrival meant that we’d missed every connecting flight OUT of DFW. As DFW was our final destination, this didn’t affect us, but, anyone going on to anywhere except Tulsa, last night, had to have their baggage re-routed to a flight the next morning, and then the Tulsa baggage had to be loaded onto that plane, first. But at 10PM, when you haven’t had anything to eat all day but a machiatto, two glasses of juice, half a liter of water and a chocolate bar, whining is allowed.)

While waiting for our single bag to appear on the carousel (it was one of the first two, at least) we discovered that our hotel is actually in the Dallas airport. As in ATTACHED to the very terminal in which we were standing. We could have walked to it, but I’d arranged for a car rental, so we spent another 40 minutes walking to the shuttle, riding it to the rental car center, doing paperwork, picking a car (we’re driving around in a gold Impala this weekend. It’s so QUIET), and then, because in my food-deprived state I mis-interpreted the directions that Qiana the Alamo agent had kindly provided, getting lost and un-lost getting to the hotel, and seeing quite a lot of the backstage of DFW in the process. Finally, we got to our room on the 25th floor (for those interpretations of 25th floor that are equivalent to “five floors above ground level, but numbered creatively”) of the Hyatt Regency, ordered room service and extra towels (because I use one towel just for my HAIR), and tumbled into bed.

And now, here I sit, hot, even though the room is NOT hot (I know this because the surface of this desk is cool to the touch, it’s just hormone-induced internal combustion), distressed because Jeremy said Zorro was barking nonstop, which means he’s really upset (he’s NEVER, EVER done that before. Usually when we leave him with someone he wanders around looking hopeful and pathetic, but silent.) and I heard him on the phone, and it made me feel horrible for leaving him, and bad for Jeremy and Leon having to deal with it, and anxious because I want to start looking at houses NOW, and at the moment nine AM seems like EONS away.

The alarm goes off in an hour, and breakfast will be delivered 30 minutes after that. I’m trying to decide if I should crawl back into bed and rest a bit, or if it’s late enough to shower without annoying the neighbors (yeah, I worry about that, in hotels) so that at least I’ll feel cleaner. I can handle being tired, crabby, and hungry, but I hate not feeling clean.

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