Before I talk about stepping over a used condom in downtown Los Angeles, can I spend just a moment oozing gratitude for Heather and Jonna? They are fabulous bloggers--as I (and the Internet) know--but they are equally fabulous guest bloggers. When I called Natalie during my trip (so she could Google the closest In-N-Out Burger to me) she said, "Your guest bloggers are so funny." And Natalie knows funny. When Natalie gets drunk, she sometimes talks in nothing but Spanish. Natalie doesn't actually speak Spanish. That's funny! Don't you want to get her drunk now? Anyway, thank you Heather and Jonna for taking care of my site, for causing me to double over in hysterics on Monday, mere hours after I had to rip off the screen on our master bath window because I was locked out of my house at 2:30 am. (Husband hid the key so well, his wife couldn't find it!) To sum up, you are quality writers, quality women, and my admiration for you both is kind of ridiculous, I have to say.
So, anyway! I'm back! Exhausted and bloated from all the awful food I ate since I was eating on a company credit card but back all the same! I returned late last night and then sat in the D/FW airport for an extra two-and-a-half hours waiting on luggage that was there--not lost luggage, luggage that I could probably have seen if I had been allowed back in the terminal to look out the window--but luggage that couldn't be sent up to me because something was broken, some belt thingamajig that the bags are sent up on. Now, can we think about this situation for just a quick minute? Can we think about how long it took from the onset of the problem (thingamajig breaks) to the solution (thingamajig all better), and that during that (long) time I could have walked out to the tarmac and picked up my bag myself. I COULD HAVE TAKEN ANOTHER FLIGHT. Who was managing this problem? Who was standing around, surveying this broken belt and mulling over potential fixes---send the passengers to another baggage claim (hell, another terminal, even), carry the bags to the exhausted, irritable passengers ourselves, OFFER THEM COCKTAILS WHILE THEY WAIT---and settling on waiting until a thingamajig fixer can be stirred from his/her sleep, summoned out to the airport and coerced into spending hours fixing the belt. I work in management, and I think I would have a stern talking to if that was the solution I settled on with not even a mention of meal vouchers. I think I'd be sent back to management training and then TALKED ABOUT BEHIND MY BACK for my obvious asshatedness. Now, I don't usually resort to so many capped words but I was tired and whiny and grouchy and when I thought about it---sitting in a hard plastic chair reading vampire fiction---it just irritated me to no end that the airline industry is the only industry I can think of that can make you sit around, uncomfortable and exhausted and angry, for close to three hours and not have to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE for their shitty service.
All right, then. Aren't you just thrilled to have me back? Are you slowly backing away from your computer? Hiding all the sharp objects? Let me apologize. This trade show is one of my favorite times of year but it's also a lot of work with very little naps. Let's move on and talk about that condom, shall we?
So, Los Angeles? Kind of a shit hole, no? Now, granted, I didn't see all of Los Angeles this trip but it sure didn't look like an episode of The Hills, I can tell you that much. The last time I tuned in to see Lauren walking to class or eating brunch I don't remember seeing a used condom on the sidewalk beside her. Or a rat scurrying in the background. But, funny enough, that's the Los Angeles I was introduced to. Not to mention the stroll I took down a street that was apparently a gang hangout; that was interesting. Oh and that In-N-Out Burger Natalie looked up for me? In nice-sounding Huntington Park? NOT NICE. I love that burger joint more than most--we had our rehearsal dinner there after all--but fearing for your life isn't what you imagine ordering a side of to go along with your chocolate shake and greasy burger. We did take a fairly expensive cab ride to Hollywood/Beverly Hills for the sole purpose of eating a Crumbs cupcake, and that was nice. We then strolled down Rodeo Drive in a sugar coma and in hot search of a restroom--"Do you think they'll let me use the bathroom in Michael Kors? What about Chanel? Fendi? Versace? What if I tell them that this lovely cotton dress I'm wearing is Old Navy? Think that'll persuade them?"
The show was a success and I scored a few nice books and a fun tote bag I have absolutely no space or use for, and other than bringing two left flip-flops (I have two of the same pair) making it obviously impossible for me to change out of my uncomfortable shoes before heading to the airport, therefore securing some bleed-y and puffy blisters on my heels AND toes (and other than the condom, rat and various times I feared for my life) it was a nice little break from reality.
We opted to walk to the convention center one afternoon--the day of the condom spotting, actually--and the weather was just perfect, not too hot, not too chilly. I took off my jacket and enjoyed the California sun and it dawned on me that this was weather that could sure make you overlook a lot--that scowling man with the mask on, reaching into his jacket pocket pulling out what you can only hope is a cell phone, for example. You won't hear me say a little sun doesn't go a long way. But then I caught a glimpse of the gas prices--regular gas for $4.56--and I thought, "Seriously, why does anyone live here?"
I'm sure you've wondered that a time or nine hundred about Texas, haven't you? But as it goes with trips--even trips to the greatest of places--and traveling and lugging suitcases and airport food and cramped hotel rooms and even expense accounts: the coming home really is the sweetest part, wherever home may be.
*Frank Lloyd Wright