Presentinge The Most Woefulle and Arduous Tale of Travells to the Comicke Conventionne
I arrived at the airport with plenty of time, as befits a seasoned traveler such as I. However, In the security line, as soon as I reached the front, the employees insisted my line double back on itself with another line, with the end result that about forty people got in front of me. The motivation for this has not been explained. I described the incongruity to a fellow line-waiter as “Kafkaesque.” How little I knew of what pandemonium awaited me, dear reader!
The boarding went without a hiccough. I was seated in an aisle seat, across from the aforementioned fellow line-waiter, a publicity representative from Wizard. As the plane taxied away from the gate, I mused over which panels I would elect to attend Thursday morning. Minutes to take-off, however, the plane stilled. We all waited expectantly.
Many minutes later, we continued to wait expectantly. The pilot informed us of the dire weather situation, which blocked off the airport from all sides, but which would hopefully clear up soon. The pilot continues to string us along on this lie for two hours. I fiddled with my iPhone and finished reading Havemercy. Brilliant.
At 5, the sleeping woman across the aisle from me (hey, it’s the woman that works for Wizard I met in the security line!) wakes up with a start, wondering why we were on the ground, as she thought this was supposed to be a nonstop flight. The woman behind her informed her that we never left. Angst all around!
At a loss, they started airing the in-flight entertainment. I enjoyed a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother, enriched by my new appreciation of Neil Patrick Harris, but all the while bemoaning the fact that even if the plane left right then, I wouldn’t be able to stop by the convention center that night to pick up my badge and avoid the ridiculous Saturday lines.
The flight attendants then began airing the in-flight movie, 21. The plane taxied around uselessly on the runway in some demented tarmac ballet. I picked up the newest Artemis Fowl. About thirty minutes in, we suffered a second-long power failure, which resulted in 21 being restarted from the beginning. The passengers groaned and laughed, because otherwise we would have started screaming.
I struck up a conversation with Wizard woman, Maria, and the woman sitting behind her, Kristi. Good people.
About four hours in, a line began to form at the galley as the passengers sought out sustenance. They ran out of food within twenty minutes. It was not unlike Lord of the Flies.
The sixty planes on the tarmac continued their taxi dance, and somehow we ended up at the back of the takeoff line. Ultimately, this did not matter. We also used so much fuel that we wouldn’t have been able to make it all the way to San Diego anyway.
Five hours in, the pilot received word of a possible route out! Win! However, it would steer us majorly off-course and take more than the five hours the trip was supposed to take, and San Diego’s airport has a curfew due to its proximity to residential areas. It took the pilot a further thirty minutes to recognize that the longer route plus the time it took to refuel would result in us missing said curfew. Apparently a 777 full of angry passengers frantic to get to Comic Con wasn’t worth the fee for breaking the rules.
Time to deplane! Everyone pulled our their cell phones to try to reschedule their flights. To my dismay, I saw that I only had 10% battery life remaining. Awesome. Also, in my haste, I left my carry-on in the overhead bin and had to go back to get it, swimming upstream in the crowd like a stupidly forgetful salmon.
I stood in the long ticket line with Maria and Kristi, internally flailing at the news that the earliest flight the next day was at 3pm, which would put us in NY around 8. I felt my Comic Con slipping through my fingers, and I wanted to cry. Fifteen minutes later, as I am still paralyzed waiting in line, the 3pm flight sells out. AUGH.
Whatwhat? Kristi manages to snag a ticket agent over the phone and tells him a sob story about a nephew’s christening the next day. This is made up, but the ticket agent coughs up a flight on a different airline that would get her into San Diego around noon. She snags it. HOPE! She remains with Maria and me to offer moral support and the prospect of a shared hotel room.
Another fifteen minutes later or so, Maria and I reach the front of the ticket line. Kristi’s flight has sold out. NO! But something in my distressed countenance warms the ticket agent’s frozen heart and she finds a single ticket opening on a flight that gets me in Thursday at 4pm. I want to kiss her. I tell her I’ll take it, but then she pauses, investigating a different trail. She finds another seat on a flight leaving from Newark that gets me into San Diego Thursday at 1pm! I nearly leap over the kiosk and hug her. Maria immediately asks if a second seat is available, and there IS! Maria hazards to ask if there is a third seat, as Kristi doesn’t mind getting in an hour later if it means traveling with friends (which we are at this point), and huzzah, YES! WE’RE GOING TO SAN DIEGO, BABY!
Flush with victory, we grab our bags and decide to head to the Newark Airport to try to find a hotel room nearby. HahahahahaahahaNO. Assorted cab drivers, legal and otherwise, tempt us with fares of anywhere from forty to sixty-five dollars EACH to get us to Newark. Um, what?
We locate a Super Shuttle, which offers to take us there for forty, which Maria haggles down to thirty-five. Maria is awesome like that. There are four other passengers with destinations in Manhattan, including a woman we would learn is the mother of Joey Lawrence, actor on Blossom and regular feature of Dancing with the Stars.
I use my dying iPhone to find phone numbers for Newark hotels, and Kristi calls three or four before the clerks finally convince her that no, just about every hotel in the entire New York metroplex is booked solid.
I propose a new solution: Maria and Kristi come sleep at my apartment, and we put the cash we save from the hotel room towards a car service to whisk us off to Newark in the early AM. Good plan, me! This solution is pretty much the best plan ever. Oh my god, we are so tired. We inform Super Shuttle driver of the new plan, and as the driver no longer has to factor in exorbitant New Jersey tolls, Maria renegotiates our fare to $25 each.
Ten minutes later, Joey Lawrence’s Mom decides she is furious at this price inequity. She’s getting off before us, but her fare is $35. She tries to renegotiate her deal, too, but as she has no grounds to do so, the driver is having none of it. She doesn’t seem to get that the three of us represent $75 worth of passenger going to one location, whereas she is only one woman, and her situation has not changed since she and the driver agreed on a price. She’s still paying way less than she would from any other driver anyway! They fight loudly over this stupid ten dollar discrepancy for a stupidly significant portion of the ride, culminating in the driver pulling over and telling her to get out. She stays put and ratchets down her obnoxious whining from eleven to four and a half or so. We side with the driver, because we want to get home at some point that night.
Home, finally! We bring our bags up to my apartment and plan to get take-out from an Italian restaurant two blocks away, but as it immediately starts pouring buckets the second we step outside, we instead order in pizza and open a bottle of wine and bask in the knowledge that we just might come out on top, despite the horrors before.
In my infinite grace, I accidentally knock over a glass of wine, which shatters on the hardwood floor. Despite our thorough search, we were still finding little micro-sized bits of glass an hour later. I vacuum.
I re-pack my bags, stuffing my entire Molly costume (big boots and all) into my carry-on, so that if they lose my bag (which feels inevitable at this point), I’ll still be able to dress up.
We head to sleep around 12:30, after ordering a car for 5 and setting three alarms for 4am. I volunteer to sleep on the futon, allowing Maria and Kristi the bed. I am like a saint or something.
I am awakened by an impossibly loud buzzer at 1:30. I immediately assume it is an alarm clock, until I see the clock on the TV. Finally, my sleep-addled brain recognizes that it is the door buzzer. I muzzily ask over the intercom who it is, and it is revealed to be roommate’s boyfriend. Roommate is wonderful and understanding and miraculously cool with the idea of me inviting near-strangers into our home, but I kind of want to stab roommate in the head for not answering the freaking buzzer herself. (In the morning, she apologizes, which is very cool of her. I love you, roommate!) I buzz him in and open the door a crack, and I am asleep again by the time he walks up the stairs to the room.
I am awakened again around 2 by someone’s impossibly loud cellphone going off on the dining room table, also sounding much like an alarm clock. This time, there will be no mercy. I stumble into roommate’s room and tell her and her boyfriend that one of their cellphones is going off, but it isn’t theirs. My urge to kill wanes slightly. Turns out, it’s Maria’s. Mrsfgl. Okay, no death tonight. Too sleepy anyway.
4 am! I wake up for real! We take showers and munch down toast and are ready for the car at 5. The car is punctual and clean and the driver is courteous and we arrive in Newark in like forty minutes, rather than the hour-plus I was expecting. It feels like even less time! Could things finally be looking up?
We check in and head down to security, where the line is unfathomably long. When we get to the front, the security guy and I exchange witty banter about my Battlestar Galactica t-shirt, then he informs me I’ve been selected for random search. Lovely. So have Maria and Kristi. Good grief! Fortunately, said search is quick and painless.
I am so jaded about our trip woes at this point that I take random strangers not coming up to me and shooting me with a tazer as a kindness. We nickname ourselves “The Murphies,” after Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. We subsequently refer to each other as “Murphy” and “Murph” for the rest of the trip.
We get to the gate, only to find that they have oversold the trip by THIRTEEN SEATS. How the heck does that happen? Fortunately, we have seat assignments already, so we win! I pity the poor folks that thought they were safe and arrived a little too late. Off to Minneapolis!
We land without incident, grab lunch, then head off to San Diego! Then OMG, WE’RE HERE! We get our bags easily, though Maria and I have to hold our suitcases in our laps for the short trip to her hotel, as Kristi’s friend’s tiny Ford Focus wasn’t built to tow such cargo. I dress in my Delirium costume in Maria’s hotel room, and I get to the con just before 3. I’ve missed the panels for Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Middleman, but I’M HERE AND I KISS THE GROUND AND YAY YAY YAY COMIC CON!
Things that made the hellacious ordeal worth it:
- Seeing my wonderful sister on her birthday weekend! LOVE YOU, MELISSY!
- Hanging with buddies Jimmy, Kevin, Amber, and Gail/Daoine. Amber and Gail are friends from the Jim-Butcher.com forum, and it was a treat to get to finally meet them in person. Gail and her crew had the most amazing costumes I’ve ever seen. My pictures are awful, so hopefully someone else will produce images that actually do them justice.
- Spending all day Saturday hanging with Jim Butcher and his friend Cam. RIDICULOUS FUN! We prowled the con floor at length, snagged a delicious lunch, and relaxed a bit in his hotel room before his signing and panel.
- Meeting Nathan Fillion! As soon as he saw my Maeve costume, he whipped out his camera and asked for a picture. I’M ON NATHAN FILLION’S CAMERA, YOU GUYS! Afterwards, Jim joked, “Wow, your geek points just skyrocketed. Nathan Fillion took your picture while Jim Butcher held your stuff.”
- Taking an elevator ride with Allison Mack of Smallville and sitting at the table next to Patton Oswalt’s at lunch. Cam’s wife refused to believe it was Patton, so we considered giving him a sign that said “Yes, Jess, I am Patton Oswalt” and taking a picture with Cam’s phone. Unfortunately, Patton finished his lunch before we could convince ourselves it was a good idea. Also caught glimpses of Kristin Chenoweth and Ellen Greene of Pushing Daisies and the Mythbusters boys, and got to hang briefly with Jim’s awesome editor, Anne Sowards, and Ernst, Les, Derek, and Neil of the Dabel Brothers.
- Went to panels featuring Shauna Trpcic (costume designer for Firefly, the later seasons of Angel, Doctor Horrible, and more); Bryan Fuller (creator of Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, and Dead Like Me); the show-runners of Lost, Terminator, and Chuck;
- Making a Dresden cosplayer’s day when he didn’t make the line cutoff for Jim’s last signing by bringing him to Jim’s attention afterwards, so Jim could sign his staff.
- Seeing so man amazing costumes! MAN, the world is filled with creative fans!
- Having my own costume praised by so many people! Man, the number of photographs taken of my outfits was staggering. On Saturday, Jim and I died laughing at the number of people that asked him to take pictures of themselves with me, without realizing who he was.
Then on the flight home, as I worked off two hours of sleep, the flight was delayed nearly an hour on the tarmac, and when we got to New York, we couldn’t land because of the weather, so we apparently flew to Cincinnati and back. Then they lost one of my bags, and I had to wait nearly two hours before it finally surfaced. Then I went home and went to sleep.