Friday, June 29, 2007

Hell before Quinault

As I sit here on the plane from Boston to Seattle, on my way to escape civilization into the bowels of the Quinault Rainforest, I am feeling a bit martyrish ...

You see, about 72 hours ago I woke up, Wednesday morning, in the swamp that my bed had become during the night. You see, the weather had been rather nice over the weekend and it had rained a bit so I thought, idiotically, that it would be alright to just use a fan to cool off during the night. This was a bad decision. I woke up at eightish, soaked in my own sweat and not particularly well rested. As I got up off my bed, the spot where I was laying down looked like the darkened police outline of a murder victim. Got up and did my yoga, leaving the AC on through out ... couldn't finish triangle pose or any other standing pose for that matter as my feet kept slipping off the mat due to my sweat.

I know I sweat a lot, but in my defense it was hot. The heat index was around 108 Fahrenheit. Its dumb right, that we and Jamaica and basically no one else use a temperature scale, Fahrenheit, that is really difficult to convert to anything else, explain to anyone from anywhere else and may be based, in part, on a cows body temperature?

But I am derailing myself here ... the rest of the day consisted of work and showers ... more time spent working but all I can remember is the showers. Work, normally an air-conditioned solace against the heat, was no help, as the central air was broken, leading our lab to feel tropical and give us the bizarre impression that we had indoor weather issues. Additionally, I have brilliantly scheduled my opthamologist appointment, recommended by my dermatologist to look for moles in my eye the day before I leave for the trip ... so I was basically frantic all morning, as despite all planning there is never a good time to go on vacation, then left for my eye exam.

Exam is at 2, but I had ordered lunch and it did not come until 1:50, so I wolf down some shumai (which, by the way, look nothing like little birds) and some sushi and race off to the opthamologist. Sweaty and frantic, I show up 12 minutes late, fill out my forms and then sit in the corner for about a hour and a half. Now I know that appointments run long and doctors have busy days too, but what is the purpose of a 2 o'clock appointment when I don't even see the nurse until 3:45 ... I mean doctors aren't supposed to be like the cable guy, seeing you in the window between 2 and 5 ... couldn't I just fill out the forms on the Internet and be paged when the doctor thinks he'll be ready?

When I finally do get in to see the nurse, she has me read the eye tables and such, then she tells me she is going to paralyze my eye before dilating it with a gooey. orange liquid that smelled like rotten lime candy. So my eyes get paralyzed and colored and I sit back down in the waiting room until Dr. Haft is ready. What I am not told is that I will not be able to read or focus on anything within arms reach during this time. Not knowing this I try reading for a while and develop a massive headache ... which I am later told is a direct result of my trying to read. Not to worry, the paralysis will wear off in 4-6 hours and until then it will be just like being middle aged.

Oh, and its perfectly fine to drive, as long as I don't need to read any street signs. What?

Now dreading the aging process and my impending ride to Costco (the one stop buy far too much for any possible single reason but I am too lazy to go anywhere else store) I set off to try and buy the snacks and food supplies and responsible for on this trip. My headache, quickly becoming epic, gets much worse when I get to Costco and try to read the shopping list. I cannot do it am am forced to call Neal, and ask him to read me the things I am responsible for getting. I then walk into Costco, only to leave immediately when I am told that they are broken and can only take cash ... prompting me to drive all over New Rochelle trying to find an ATM. I did find one eventually, but it took me about 20 minutes to use it because I could not read any of the text on the screen!@#!@ Back to Costco, buying Trail Mix, Power Bars, dried mangoes and low-sugar mixed fruit, which I found by asking several friendly folks to read the ingredients on the packages for me.

Its 7:30 when I get home, I eat and pack and do some laundry and then head outside to work, only to discover that the sky has opened. Apparently late afternoon/evening thunderstorms of titanic proportions are normal here, but I had never seen one before ... this fact becomes important later. So I drive 3 blocks to work, get soaked going in, work until midnight and then get soaked running back to my car, only to discover that somehow my automatic lights, which I never turn on or off, stayed on and my car is dead. So I walk home, dripping, and crash out.

Thursday is much of the same, unbearably hot in the morning, so two showers before I leave the house, and very busy until lab meeting, where I am informed that I should be worried about thunderstorms and flying. This type of worry is not in my repertoire ... when you make a plane reservation, you leave at that time ... that is the point of the reservation. But my worst fears came to pass and just three and a half hours before my flight was to leave, all flights out of New York are canceled. And because they canceled all the flights the previous day as well, there are no flights available to Seattle until Saturday.

I spend over an hour talking with Jet Blue, which has become the official airline of both Springfield and of stranding your ass on the East Coast. The colossally stupid employees I keep talking to just keep telling me it will be okay, despite the fact that if I am not in Seattle on Friday then it will NOT be okay and there is no way to get from New York to Seattle before Saturday. I finally, on my fifth call, speak to someone reasonably with it, and this friendly but completely over-hassled woman helps me book a flight from Boston to Seattle the next night. Now I can get there, I just have to get up at 7 am, ride down to Port Authority, take a bus to Boston, meet Ted for lunch and a ride to the airport and fly to Seattle from there. I get tired just writing about it. I get home from work at 6, exhausted and worn from not sleeping well and being crazy, only to discover that I have planned too well and have no food in the house.

By the way, the thunderstorm that the flight was cancelled for never even showed up. A tiny, thunderdribble passed NYC around 630ish, prompting me to fall into full despair.

Fortunately, I have good friends and Aimee saves me from total despair by making me dinner and hanging out. The next day was as long as I thought it would be, the bus system being ridiculous ... I am glad I got to Port Authority early as half the people with reservations did not get seats. And this happened to me the last time I took Greyhound ... what kind of company oversells its seating capacity as a standard operating procedure. Anyway, I got a seat, right behind the guy with so much ear hair he look like paint brushes were sprouting in his ears. The ride was slow and we were basically forced (by the super loud speakers and numerous TVs) to watch the crappy movie, "Pursuit of Happyness" which apparently was made by people who believe that the quirky mis-spelling of the title and the disclaimer that it was based on a true story make up for the colossally boring and trite script ...

Got to Boston a hour late, Ted got stuck in ridiculous traffic, had some lunch and got to the airport, where the flight was delayed an hour and a half and I almost had a nervous breakdown because of this conversation,

PJ (to Jet Blue counter guy) - "So whats wrong with the plane?"

Counter Guy - "Oh nothing, we just need to get some more crew from an alternate site because some of the crew flying have logged too many flight hours."

PJ - "Oh good, so the plane is fine and the flight is going to be okay?"

Counter Guy - "Yeah, the plane is fine. But I can't say what will happen with the flight. If I were you, I would be worried."

What the fuck!*&!^$@*&!^$@ Nothing was wrong with the plane, the weather, the crew, anything ... a new guy was in transit as we were speaking. Unless he was killed on the way to the airport, we were going to fly ...

And fly we did, got underway around 745, and, barring some other catastrophe, will arrive in Seattle two hours late, but at least I will get there, and, in about 9 hours, I will be walking out of civilization into the Olympic Wilderness.

See you in a week.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

I am smiling because I am your friend, and despite all the trouble, you were able to have a great trip; I am laughing because I am a New Yorker, and I know this will not be the last time you will go through colossal efforts to leave this state.