March 13, 2008

Awards from the Road


Yes, congrats to Enchanted, which I saw in the theatre, and saw again on the flight to Seattle, and am seeing again right NOW on the train to Portland, and which I will see AGAIN three days hence on the flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta. I saw it iwith Maisy the first time, and I loved it, and I STILL love it, but I am beginning to experience perkiness-overload. Even hardcore fans will generally admit it is heavy on the dewy sincerity. And in the same way that even the BEST chocolates, taken in bulk, will make you long for the taste of spinach and poached chicken, I am getting hungry for some irony.

That said, the musical numbers still absolutely enthrall me – I just forgot I was typing this blog entry as my wayward eyes were charmed by the irrepressible Amy Adams and I found myself gazing slack-mouthed upon a big happy DANCINESS settling like Body Snatchers into the carcasses of Cynical Central Park New Yorkers and making them make googoo eyes at each other and dandle their feet over bridges and sway and warble. Delightful.


Power Mad Steward! CONGRATS!

THIS tour, so far, he was the only NOMINEE. I think it speaks well for Delta and Amtrak and United’s customer service that Power Mad Steward will sweep the category unopposed.

I was sitting at the gate waiting to ---what is the opposite of DEPlane? UNdeplane? PRE-plane? Plane myself? Become planed? Plane-mount? No, that sounds like it relates to the mile high club---let’s go with Become Planed. I was sitting at the gate, waiting to become planed on a flight being run by an un-named and utterly horrific airline (No, I won’t tell you what airline…but. Hrm. It’s Darkside Jedi Knight name would probably be “Borth Snestern” let’s just say….) and I had my PURSE and my laptop bag. So. That’s one bag and one personal item “like a laptop,” just like the rules say.

At the door to the plane, Power Mad Steward stopped me.

PMS: You can’t get on here with two bags.
Me: But this is my purse.
PMS: You can’t get on my plane with two bags.
Me: Okay---but this is my la---
PMS: If you can fit that one bag in the other I can let you on.
Me: My purse will not fit in with my la---
PMS: Then you have to gate check that bag *points to laptop*
Me: Okay.

I go back and get a green tag and take my laptop to the little pile of gate checked bags and get BACK in line and wait til it is once again my turn to board.

PMS: Wait. Is that a laptop you just checked?
Me; Yes that’s my laptop. I was trying to te-
PMS: *exasperated* Ma’am you cannot check a laptop, we will not be responsible for any damage incurred and we asked outside that you not check them.
Me: Yes, I --- okay.

I go back and retrieve my laptop bag and remove the check tags.
I get back in line.
I try to move through the door for the third time.

PMS: Ma’am. I TOLD you, you cannot get on my plane with two bags.
Me: But I…okay. So what do I do.

PMS: Take your laptop out of the laptop bag, put your purse inside the laptop bag, and then I can let you carry that bag and you can hold your laptop as a sepearte piece.
Me: ….Seriously?
PMS: Ma’am I do not make these rules, I only enforce them.

SO. I have to squat like a savage off to the side in the freezing cold aisle and take OUT my laptop, STUFF my purse in the laptop slot, and of COURSE it does not fit and the bag won’t CLOSE.

Me: Sir, if I put this in the overhead bin with the top hanging open, my wallet and checkbook and makeup and stuff will fall out and get all in the bin….this case fits on its SIDE and it won’t close with my purse in it.
PMS: That is not my problem. My problem is, I can;t let you on the plane with two bags.

SO! I went to my seat hauling this bag with the guts of my purse poking out the top, my naked laptop in my other hand, and got to my seat. THEN, I Pulled my purse out. Put the laptop in. Closed the bag. And tucked them both under my seat where they nestled perfectly AS THEY ALWAYS HAVE ALWAYS WILL WORLD WITHOUT END AMEN. And watched as the last 30 people got on the plane, SEVERAL OF WHOM were carrying two bags, and ONE lady had a purse, her laptop case and a simply ENORMOUS SHOPPING BAG with a HUGE PICNIC in it, and these people all boarded COMPLETELY unimpeded by PMS. AND YES I do see that is initials usually mean somethign else, and YES, I do think that's fitting.

I got off and ran for my connection, and I went to the front and said to a different NON-power mad nice steward “Can I take both my purse and laptop on the plane?” And he looked at me like I was INSANE and said, “Of course…”


Fran’s Chocolate. It’s a Seattle thing. And it makes me want to MOVE to Seattle in spite of the deep seated screaming horrors that the very IDEA of Earthquakes awaken in my bosom. I am blasé about hurricanes, sanguine about funnel storms and even a volcano belching out molten goo and ash causes me only a frisson of vague unease. But THE EARTH SHOULD NOT SHAKE ABOUT as if it were trying to fling one off.

That said, Fran’s Dark Chocolate Caramel Filled Easter Chickie is the food of the gods.

Posted by joshilyn at March 13, 2008 6:54 AM

oh man. I met the PMS's pal in NYC. Though he was kind enough to throw me a used garbage bag in which I could place my purse and laptop bag- thus qualifying as ONE single bag, though it was three times the size of norm. what is it with theses people?
Glad you could see the humor in it. Made me want a double martini-- stat.

Posted by: lindasands at March 13, 2008 8:44 AM

And I know that you and the quilt were both looking FABULOUS in Portland, because my very own turquoise-haired daughter e-mailed a photo (of you, her friend and herself) from last night's signing. I was astonished and gratified to see that, in spite of cross-country travel, you looked magnificent, just like your publicity photo! (This is a high compliment, as opposed to telling someone that they look like their passport photo, which would generally NOT be a good and desirable thing.) So hooray, and thank you for writing books so good that my daughter and I can both adore them!

Posted by: Sacto Reader at March 13, 2008 8:46 AM

I had that happen once, but it was a steward INSISTING that my daughter's car seat could not come onto the plane NOR could her diaper bag as we were over the bag limit by one. EVEN THOUGH SHE HAD HER OWN TICKET FOR HER OWN SEAT THUS NECESSITATING THE CAR SEAT FOR TAKE-OFF AND LANDING AND ALLOWING HER TWO BAGS TO CARRY ON. I had to put everything down to dig out her ticket. It was not fun. The line behind me was not amused.

She was 15 months at the time, and I wanted her strapped in while we were, oh, 25,000 FEET ABOVE THE EARTH'S SURFACE. That was nearly 8 years ago, and I still remember the frantic new-mother indignity of it all.

Thankfully a portly traveling salesman took pity on me, got the car seat, strapped it in, held my THREE bags while I got my daughter situated, then sat next to us to ensure that we were harassed no further. Turned out he had four daughters of his own. Bless him, wherever he may be.

Posted by: Roxanne at March 13, 2008 9:13 AM

just letting you know that TGWSS is one of three titles highlighted in People’s “Audio Books We Love” feature (Mar 17):

“Read by the author, this novel about estranged sisters reunited by a mysterious death is a treat.”


Posted by: christina at March 13, 2008 9:20 AM

I'm imagining it was some dreadful Northwest PMSer that caused you grief.

I apologize for our lot.

You were so lovely last night; we had a great time. Thanks for coming our way.

Posted by: Lisa Milton at March 13, 2008 9:30 AM

next time you fly borth snestern, print this out and take it with you to show any PMS':

"Northwest allows you to carry one piece of luggage on board the aircraft plus a purse or briefcase or laptop computer or small backpack"

I'd highlight that line and have it ready next time.

Posted by: Bob at March 13, 2008 9:43 AM

I have always owned the fact that PMS means Permanent Male Stupidity. I also own that there are many women who belong in this catagory and men who do not.

I am sad, I missed Portland and Powell's last night, So sad. :(

Posted by: Cele at March 13, 2008 11:11 AM

That is insane,seriously...that steward was just retarded. I'm sure you're no n00b when it comes to travel on planes even I know that you should have been fine. Just because people come onboard with stuff like that all the time. For whatever reason they had it out for you and I hope they get hit by a bunch of turnips. Hope the rest of your travel goes more smoothly. OH! and I just finished the book and it is awesome!!! I loved it.

Posted by: Liatris at March 13, 2008 12:15 PM

"I was sitting at the gate waiting to - what is the opposite of DEPlane? UNdeplane? PRE-plane? Plane myself? Become planed? Plane-mount?"

I think the word you're looking for is "board" - you were waiting to board.

I was waiting to board my plane the other day and I was really excited that for once I had a "A" ticket, meaning I could board in the FIRST LINE. And then I got completely caught up in a conversation with half a dozen people who I thought were all waiting for my same plane, but it turns out were not, and I only noticed that my plane was boarding when the very last dregs of people were finally disappearing down the chute and I ended up being the LAST PERSON to board.

PMS was just being a complete turd. I've spent an insane amount of time investigating carry-on rules and regs these last few weeks and I could have quoted him the rules verbatim. Of course this didn't stop me from buying an adorable, on-sale carry-on rolling case the other day that's just a half inch too large to carry on. Sigh.

You worry about earthquakes in Seattle? Hmmm. I suppose so. They do have'em. But I would certainly be more worried about being swept away by a volcano's pyroclastic flow or a tsunami than a mere earthquake. Feel better?

Posted by: Laume at March 13, 2008 3:11 PM

Oh how I miss Fran's chocolates. One of the many things I miss about Seattle (another being Seattle Mystery Bookshop).

Hoping to make it to LA to see you this weekend.

Posted by: Patti D at March 13, 2008 4:53 PM

When you're waiting to get on a plane, you're waiting to GET LOADED.

Wait. That came out wrong. I think.

Posted by: Lulu at March 13, 2008 9:14 PM

Oh that's AWFUL. There's alwways one, right? Thank goodness we didn't have trouble with any of the flights to/fro Kenya. That would've been sad.

My favorite steward/ess - 'scuze me, flight attendant - story is from my honeymoon. I married young, a sweet 19-year-old, and well, I'm only 4' 11" so I generally look a bit younger... but anywho, me and the hubs were coming back from Disney World wearing the little "Just Married!" Mickey and Minnie pins they give you, wearing our obnoxious Just Married Mickey and Minnie mouse ears, and generally looking all newlywed. We were to sit in the emergency exit row. I took my seat, and the flight attendant eyed me critically.

Her comment? (I am not making this up) "You must be at least sixteen years old to sit in the emergency exit aisle."

I looked around. "Uh... yah?"

"Are you at least sixteen?"

I pointed to my wedding veil mouse ears and laughed so hard I cried.

Posted by: Jess at March 13, 2008 9:51 PM

Oh my, Peach! What an AWFUL steward/attendant!

You know, we really don't shake all that much up here. Tammy's just kinda phobic. That being said, watch, I'll have jinxed it and we'll have a snorker tonight. Ah well.

We've posted more pictures of you in Seattle Mystery's Blog Author Photo Album, and if I can bring myself to remember, I'll have some nice shots of the detail work on the Bridal Quilt up there by tomorrow. I'm such a slacker.

We miss you already! Don't be gone too long, please!

Posted by: Fran at March 13, 2008 9:59 PM

Seeing you in Portland last night was amazing (says the girl with the turquoise/blue hair)-- thank you so much again for coming all the way out here! Hope the travel is going more smoothly and you don't run into any more evil power-crazy attendants!

Posted by: Jessie at March 14, 2008 1:55 AM

The one time I ever went further west than upstate NY, I was about 2 inches from the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I'm a tad leery of hitting the west coast ever again.

Posted by: Brigitte at March 14, 2008 4:26 AM

I've been lucky on the earthquake front so far. Only time I was in a truly noticeable one, I was demonstrating the art of "tacking up a shetland pony who wants to bite you" to a bunch of very young summer campers.

I yanked on the girth, the earthquake hit at just that second, and the pony flipped onto its back--little legs waving in the air like a Thelwell cartoon. I got no lip from a single one of those kids for the rest of the summer.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at March 14, 2008 11:50 AM

Wow--no more flying the friendly skies, huh?

We're looking forward to your Albany visit to the Book House! I met you at a dinner in Boston a couple of years ago when I worked at the Wellesley Booksmith (we talked about the Maisie Dobbs books and your daughter, if you remember?) Anyway--I loved your newest, and I am hoping my sister will be able to make it, because that would be so much fun!!

Good luck with the power-mad. At least the TSA didn't haul you off to the pokey....

Posted by: Susam Taylor at March 14, 2008 3:42 PM

If you are still in Seattle - or Bellevue, as Fran also has a shop there - you MUST have the sea salt caramels. MUST!!!!! And if you've already moved on... order some. (especially the ones with the smoked sea salt..... Mmmmmmmm)

Posted by: Laura at March 14, 2008 9:27 PM

Ditto on the sea-salt caramels (says the woman who thinks martinis would be greatly improved if their rims were crusted with salt, a la margaritas.)

And I adore Fran at SMB for providing me with a box of them, the last time I was there. I was VERY GOOD and did not lick the yummy salt off them FIRST, but ATE THEM WHOLE, and AS NATURE INTENDED.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at March 15, 2008 4:33 PM

Your post made me laugh. I mean, you're laughing about it now, right? I'm always ready for the oh-so-intimate private search and I always get it. I try to laugh about it but man, they're dead serious. I have a titanium rod in my leg. It always beeps. It's my lot in life.

Posted by: k8 at March 17, 2008 4:05 PM