This is a story that I am going to want to remember for a long time. This is the story of going to my very first convention, ever; I haven’t even gone as a tourist, much less a vendor.
It starts way back, like in October, when I decided this is something that I really wanted to do. In the horror world, Texas Frightmare Weekend is a really big deal, and my publisher, Winlock Press was going to have a table. I went to my night job, put in my vacation request, finally got it approved a month later, and it was all go. I booked my flight on Virgin America.
Fast forward to the last week of April.
My bags were packed, I was ready to go. An entire suitcase, filled with nothing but books and business cards. Kinda surprised that my poor little suitcase was as sturdy as it was, given how heavy it got.
Then came Friday.
A little bit of backstory. I’m a night shift person. I work 7:00 pm to 7:30 am. I’ve been on that schedule since 2007. For me, it’s like am and pm flipped on their axis and four in the morning is four in the afternoon. It’s a cool little schedule, when you have to run out at two in the morning to hit the 24 hour grocery store you don’t have to dodge little old ladies and their shopping carts. I love it.
Except on this day.
I hadn’t flown anywhere since the kiddo was three, and that was a little 45 minute flight up to the Bay Area. I’d never been to Texas. I’d be doing my first show. These were the things I was thinking about instead of sleeping. Have you ever gone to bed at noon? It just doesn’t work. No sleep. Didn’t matter though, cause I was going to be in Texas by 2 pm anyway, I could catch a quick nap in the hotel.
There’s a saying that effectively says God laughs when man makes plans. This is the story of going to Dallas.
It’s 4:30am and a now tired J. is headed out of the door to LAX!! At this hour it should take about an hour and a half to get there.
And there it is, LAX. Some of you might remember the scene in book one where the reporter is on camera, telling the world about breaking news out of LAX, a place that was on complete shut down. I mention the large LAX sign. This is it.
Back story again. You probably all know that I blew a disc in my spine. Three back surgeries later, I have a really cool looking extreme body mod. It looks like this.
The TSA (insert long run of R2D2 sounds here to filter out the much desired use of profanity) does not like this. They put me in the rapey rape machine, find the metal, which happens to be at waistband level, you know, where one would tuck a gun into their pants. This scared them. I got a thorough pat down by the rapey rape machine operators. I’m wondering if I should have taken the morning after pill. I do half wonder if they were somewhat disappointed that I was as clean as I told them I was.
Grope session done, I go and find my gate. Good old 34. A dodge and a weave later, I make it. And I find this.
My flight, scheduled to go out at 8:25 AM, will not be going anywhere for at least two hours. W…T…F….
I left my house at 4:30 in the morning, didn’t put on makeup because I needed to get out the door, got accosted by TSA, and now I get to sit. And wait. But hey, at least I’m there. I start staring out at the planes that are leaving and start playing with my phone. Put on my makeup, played with my phone a while longer, and I realize that I’m getting a little low on its battery and right near me is a charging station, which is a bloody brilliant idea.
LOL. I’m stuck in a really bad commercial. 20 years ago, it was all about everyone squeezing into the smoking room. Now it’s sucking up as much electricity as we can before we fly off. BTW my nicotine levels don’t appreciate the fact that now we have to go way outside to smoke. If you go for a smoke, you have to go back in the rapey rape machine run by rapey rape machine operators, who don’t buy you a drink first.
Thank the maker for e-smokes and the ability to be discreet when needed. Oh and bathrooms where I can hide in. If the TSA and NSA are monitoring the web, I’ll just leave it at that. Fill in the blanks.
The two hours went by pretty dang slow. There’s only so long that one can be entertained by watching planes. I thought I had well exceeded that limit. Then a black plane taxied by with the name Trump in HUGE letters.
There was only one thing I could think of when I saw this.
But at least it was greatly entertaining while I waited.
Finally we get on the plane. Finally we are about to be on our way.
And the people rejoiced. We taxi out, the pilot comes on and says welcome and whatnot. He apologized for the delay, but our plane had maintenance issues that had to be resolved.
Maintenance issues. No one wants to hear that. No one. I pull out the what to do in the event of an emergency card. I needed to be reminded about being as calm as a Hindu cow.
And we were off. Yay! The plane didn’t break on take off! When you take off from LAX you go over the water. You get to go over Catalina (Carina to those who like Fear The Walking Dead). Started having Lost reruns play in my brain, wondered if I remembered the numbers properly, (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42) but then we banked back over land.
The plane has this cool thing where you can track your flight with Google Earth. Was cool when I was able to see we were in Arizona, then New Mexico. I looked out the window when we were flying over Roswell, and this is what I saw.
Yup. That’s what I thought too, a patchwork quilt of funky crop circles. Hubby said they were irrigation patterns, but I think maybe that’s what the men in black told him after they used the flashy thing.
The pilot comes on over the intercom and tells us that there is a bit of rain in Dallas so when we get there it’ll be a bumpy re-entry. Hmm. Ok, no biggie. As we got closer, I saw these really pretty clouds that gave me the impression that my definition of a bit of rain is vastly different than his. Check these out.
A little bit later, pilot comes back on the intercom, and says that the airport isn’t accepting any traffic, in or out, at this time, so we fly in circles over Texas and Oklahoma. There was this one section near the state line that every time we passed over it, the Dish TV that Virgin is so proud of cut out.
After a while of this, the pilot comes on, again, to say we are landing. Only problem was this– It was in an airport hours away from Dallas, in a little farming town of Abilene.
You might tell yourself this is not my Dallas airport. You may ask how did I get here?
Well, dears I have an answer.
Yup. We landed because we needed fuel. We made big circles so long we were out of gas. So, we are sitting in this tube that no one is allowed out of because of security. What, did the TSA figure that a leg stretch would suddenly produce a bomb? Being able to get some nicotine would lead to a terrorist plot on a landing no one expected, including this tiny tiny not sure how it got classified as an airport, (good God I’ve seen parking lots bigger) place?
The pilot comes on, apologizes again, and says “This doesn’t happen very often.”
Nope. It waits until I’m on a plane for the first time in over a decade.
Turns out all planes headed to Dallas needed to be grounded. Dallas was having near tornado formations all around it. On the day I come to Texas. Me, who is scared of the idea of a big cone thing sucking me up. Yeah, perhaps I shouldn’t have watched the anniversary showing of Twister last month. People not from California seem to be greatly amused that people from California seem to be totally okay with the idea of a sudden shake down, but freak out over storms that everybody gets warnings about. I still don’t see their point. I’d rather be rattled around and have it over before the freak out happens than sitting in the basement freaking out because it might be there soon. But, I digress.
In a way the lack of fuel was a good thing– it meant we were second in line to take off– if we took off, that is.
At that moment, we had no idea how long we were going to be there. We were all trapped in the tube. Finally they gave us an option. Get off the plane and take your chances elsewhere, or stay in the plane and wait it out. If you get off the plane tho, you’re out and not coming back. It was starting to sound like a horrible reality show game.
One thing was certain tho in my head:
Well, that and that we were…
Keep in mind this is now about 13 hours from when I started this whole traveling thing. After waking up on Thursday. It had been at least 18 hours since I ate anything. I didn’t bring any debit cards or anything. We could order a meal on the plane, but if you were lacking the plastic, you were sadly out of luck.
I watched the butterflies that were floating on by, envious of their flight status.
Everyone on the plane was crestfallen, we all had places to go, people to see and we were here. In Abilene. With cows. I was supposed to have been in Dallas two hours ago to help David Lund, author of the Winchester series, with set up on our booth.
Fortunately, Mikhail Lerma was there to lend a hand. I looked at this picture from the plane that I was trapped on with a pout. I wanted to play, too!
And then, it was as though the universe aligned and the pilot was a mouthpiece for the heavens– we were cleared for takeoff and Dallas was open!
Did I dare hope that this trip was coming to an end? Could it really be? The plane began to shudder, we got into position, we took off! We were on our way, coasting over the vast space that was Texas– which, by the way was a lot greener than I expected. I figured that it would be desert; like Southern California, but this was not the case.
We got closer to Dallas. The sky filled again with dark clouds, and I couldn’t help but to feel suspicious of what I was seeing, but the altitude kept going down. The plane shook and buckled in the turbulence; the cabin grew dark as we passed into a storm cloud.
And before I knew it, the plane was hopping, screeching, and rolling on the ground.
I made it. I was finally getting out of that plane, out of an airport and going straight for the exit so I could get some damned nicotine in me!! Huzzah!! Thank the Maker!! It was after 7:00, but it was over.
Fortunately, a knight in shining armor, well shining steel in a very big truck that I adored, by the name of MC Allen came to rescue me. My original plan was that I was going to give the Dallas public transportation a try to get to the hotel, but sensing my quickly fading sense of adventure and humor, MC Allen picked me up, helped me find the people with the vendor wristbands, and brought me to the group of Winlock Press and Permuted Press people. I said hi, got lots of hugs, then I went and grabbed a fruit bowl to fix the blood sugar dilemma. Hung out with people, then after I was well into my 33rd hour of being awake, crashed into a sleep that I don’t even remember happening. I blinked and when I opened them again five hours had passed.
So, the lesson I learned here was never fly into the city you need to be in on the day you need to be there. Just, no. That, and more people read my Facebook posts than I thought. LOL