Pre-flight ramblings (Part 1)

I wrote this stream-of-consciousness post at LAX on Friday while waiting for my flight to San Francisco. I had to heavily edit it this evening before publishing, though. As written it was a little strange – even by my standards.

My flight to San Francisco doesn’t leave for almost two hours, but I’m already sitting in Terminal 3 of LAX waiting for it. That’s the only problem taking Supershuttle. The latest they would pick me up for a 7:15 PM flight was 4:40 PM even though I only live a few miles south of the airport. I know they do that to make sure no one get upset about a missed flight, but it sure does get me to the airport early. These are the times I wish I had some sort of broadband internet service on my laptop. It certainly would make the hours I spend sitting at the airport more enjoyable. I will definitely consider it when I get an iPad (although I’m probably going to wait until the iPad 3 comes out, which could be a while). So what else can I do to pass the time before my flight? I could go get something to eat, but my stomach doesn’t usually cooperate if I eat anything before I fly. Something about sitting hunched up and not moving for a long time makes it very unhappy. Granted, this is going to be a very short flight (on the order of an hour) so I shouldn’t have as much trouble as I do with cross-country flights, but I’d rather not risk it. Any food item at the airport is overpriced and probably not worth it anyway. So besides writing this post on my laptop and watching movies on my iPhone, my most promising source of entertainment right now is picking up a magazine or two. It’s my favorite time of year for cooking magazines too so I’m considering going to the little gift shop and buying a couple of them to read. Paula Deen’s latest issue looked promising and any Thanksgiving tips I can gather would be good. Speaking of Thanksgiving, I have no idea what Dan and I are doing yet. Earlier this week I looked up a couple of restaurants to see who is even serving Thanksgiving dinner this year. We went to Craft last year and it was delicious. However, I had a good excuse for not cooking dinner for us at home. I got on a plane to DC for a business trip on Black Friday last year. That was a surreal experience. Riding to the airport at 3:30 AM for a 6 AM flight is usually very quiet and peaceful, but I learned that things are very different on Black Friday. I know folks like to shop early that day, but why in the heck were the freeways packed in the wee hours of the morning? Only my work duties could drag me out of bed to go anywhere in the middle of the night – I don’t understand how shopping can do it. My family has never been much for Black Friday shopping. I usually stay home to avoid the crowds. Cyber Monday is more my speed. Going back to Thanksgiving for a minute, I just used my iPhone to look up Melisse (the French restaurant where Dan and I went for our anniversary last year) and see what reservation times they had available for Thanksgiving. Then I texted Dan (who is in Las Vegas with his fraternity brothers for the weekend) to see how he felt about a 7 PM Thanksgiving dinner at Melisse. He was excited about it so I booked the reservation! I love technology. Two years ago I would have been stuck in the airport waiting for a flight with no way to access the internet. Now I can just pick up my iPhone. Amazing. That’s one of the reasons I think I’ll get broadband internet service when I get an iPad. As much as I love my little laptop, I can see how wonderful an iPad would be when traveling. Not only would it be perfect for watching movies, but it would also be an e-reader (to replace my beloved Kindle, but let’s not think about that), and I could write these crazy stream-of-consciousness posts on it too. Not that the world is a better place with my inane writings, but they sure do make me happy. I write my blog solely for me. That’s the only thing that’s kept it going for the last twelve years! I never considered myself much of a writer, but I always feel like I have something to say so maybe that makes me one by definition. I would never presume to think that what I have to say is meaningful to anyone but me, though. One of my favorite sayings is, “So much to write, so little of it interesting to anyone but me.” My blog is my outlet and it feels so good when I put something into words exactly the way I wanted to say it. That doesn’t happen very often, but it’s magical when it does. OK, my flight is boarding in twenty minutes so I think I’d better go see about those cooking magazines. Paula Deen may be one crazy-eyed woman, but she sure has some delicious recipes.

September 11th

This is a re-post of my diary entry from September 12, 2002 looking back on the events of one year earlier. It’s funny, but I remember things somewhat differently now that ten years have passed. I should write another account of September 11th as I experienced from my point of view today, but I’ll save that for later this week.

Quote of the day:
“The terrorists thought that they could strike fear in America’s heartland, but, through you, the heartland strikes back.”
-Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense (to airmen)

This time last year every channel on television had 24-hour coverage of the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Even MTV was broadcasting their news affiliate instead of the usual music videos. Of course these events were of interest to the nation, but watching smoke pour out of the World Trade Center towers became tiresome after awhile. At the time I couldn’t wait for things to get back to normal.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Even though a year had passed, September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2002 had one thing in common – comprehensive television news coverage. Even though it was confined to the major networks and a few cable stations this time around, I still had the same reaction. I wanted everything back to normal. (At 1 PM yesterday that meant that I wanted my regularly scheduled programming back because “Days of Our Lives” was supposed to be on.)

There were two things that I did like about yesterday, though. 1) “Little House on the Prairie” marathon in the morning, and 2) “Star Trek: The Next Generation” marathon at night. OK, so I’ve been watching too much TV recently.

For me, September 11, 2001 started like any other day. I was living in Seal Beach during my seven-month internship. I was in the middle of my morning workday routine and I turned on the TV to watch “Little House on the Prairie.” (I love that show.) It was about 6:15 AM Pacific Time and, as it happened, the news was on before I could change the channel. My first impulse was to immediately switch channels but something kept me from doing so and what I saw on the screen made me catch my breath.

It was the World Trade Center billowing smoke. Both towers. It took me a second to figure out what was happening from the unscripted explanation of the news anchors, but I finally discovered that passenger planes had done the damage I was looking at. The phone rang. This was a strange occurrence considering I was the only one awake at that time of the morning (and no one ever calls me then). It was my roommate Sarah’s mom asking me to wake up her daughter. I went back to watching the news. A few minutes later Sarah stumbled out of her bedroom and sat down in front of the TV with me. As we stared in amazement a new story broke – another plane had crashed into the Pentagon.

I left for work at 7 AM, a little later than usual. My favorite radio station was following the crisis as well so I heard dumbfounded updates instead of the witty banter that I was used to. As I turned the corner onto Westminster I heard, “Oh my God, one of the towers just collapsed.” A shudder went down my spine. Several people were crowded around a computer at work trying to load news websites like CNN and MSNBC but getting nothing due to heavy web traffic. This meant that we relied on the people just coming into the office for the latest details. One tower of the World Trade Center had already collapsed. The other followed a short time later. A fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania while, evidently, on route to another target. Terrorism was blamed.

I remember thinking, in the weeks following the attacks, how fiercely patriotic Americans are as a whole. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the Stars and Stripes at least a dozen places, from bumper stickers to billboards to baseball caps. Now, one year later, our attention to the tragedy has waned. Things have gotten pretty much back to normal, if you don’t count how difficult air travel has become. And isn’t “getting back to normal” exactly what I wanted in the first place?

Writing prompt – 6/3/11

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from June 3, 2011:
Which author made you want to be a writer (or blogger)?

What made me start blogging? Well, in my case it wasn’t an author in the traditional sense – it was my dear friend, and future maid of honor Käthe. Back when we were in college and lived in different cities, I loved reading her many blog incarnations to find out what was going on in her life. This was back before the time of the ubiquitous cell phone (I didn’t have one until my third year of college) so the internet was the fastest and easiest way for us to keep in touch across the 150 miles between Gainesville and Tallahassee. We sent a lot of emails those days, but there was no better place than her blog to learn about her life, which seemed infinitely more exciting than mine. So in May 1999 I followed her lead and established my online diary. The first incarnation was called “Shrew’s News” and I pretty much wrote about anything that came into my head. It’s really embarrassing to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote then, but I’m still grateful to have an easily accessible compilation of all of these writings. After a few years the diary became more of a standard blog as I had less and less free time to spend typing my daily thoughts online, but my original goal of publishing whatever I was thinking about was still being fulfilled. So thanks to Käthe who’s been a great friend to me since we met in ninth grade, I’ve been blogging in one form or another for the past twelve years. And here’s how it all started…

“Let me start by saying that yes, I am a copycat. My best bud Käthe (with Käthe-dots) gave me the idea to post an internet diary with her “My So-Called Existence” (MSCE) and now I am following in her footsteps.”
Excerpt from my 5/19/99 diary entry

February 1997

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my 1997 All-State Chorus experience that caused me to miss the January Mu Alpha Theta regional math competition that year. I hadn’t missed a regional since I joined Mu Alpha Theta in eighth grade, and only an opportunity as amazing as All-State Chorus could have kept me from the first one of my senior year. Math competitions were what my friends and I lived for and we looked forward to proving our school’s dominance at each and every one. We studied year-round to make sure we were ready when competition season rolled around. Now that’s dedication! So what was I supposed to do when I got a part in our school’s annual musical and one of the Saturday rehearsals conflicted with the Mu Alpha Theta February regional? I auditioned for the musical (we called it “show” for short) all four years I was in high school, but I was only lucky enough to get (very small) roles my junior and senior year. As a senior I was ecstatic to see my name on the cast list as “Woman #1” in The Music Man. I didn’t know it yet, but being in that musical was going to be one of the highlights of my high school career. I’ll never forget what a wonderful opportunity that was, but it did monopolize a lot of my time from January to March 1997. I missed out on a lot of other activities that I loved because we rehearsed every day after school and at least one day each weekend that spring, and the Saturday of the February Mu Alpha Theta regional was no exception. I was in calculus that year and I was competing against the smartest students not only from my own school (a formidable bunch), but also from all of the other Florida Panhandle high schools. It was a daunting prospect. I knew I wasn’t all that good at calculus so I didn’t have high expectations for my performance on the tests, but I still wanted to compete. I’d been living and breathing math those last four years and I wasn’t going to give it up yet! Luckily for me, the February regional was held in Tallahassee (at our rival high school, no less) and the calculus individual test was administered first thing in the morning so I had time to take it and still get to the show rehearsal. I remember sitting in that classroom, pondering each question on the test and thinking how hard it was. I only answered half of the thirty questions because I didn’t want to guess at any of the others (your score was penalized 1 point for each wrong answer). I was discouraged when I got into my car to leave, but I was grateful that I’d gotten a chance to compete at all. Being in our high school’s musical was demanding so I put the difficult math test out of my mind and drove to rehearsal. That Saturday we we started putting together the immensely entertaining “Iowa Stubborn” musical number and it turned out to be one of my favorite rehearsals for The Music Man. After lunch two of my fellow cast members, Allen and Robert, who also happened to be dedicated Mu Alpha Theta competitors, showed up to rehearsal late and got chewed out by our director. To them, the regional competition was more important so they stayed not only for their individual tests, but for the team competition and the awards ceremony. After being scolded by Mr. Stuart, they scrambled onstage and took their places amongst the other performers. Even thought I was dying to find our how our school had fared (we hadn’t lost a Mu Alpha Theta regional competition in almost five years), I had to wait for a while before I could tiptoe over to Robert (my character shoes weren’t exactly quiet) and ask about the results. His reply was faint because he didn’t want our director didn’t catch him socializing, but I thought I heard him say something like, “You got sixth.” Huh? I was confused as I crept back to my spot. “You got sixth” didn’t make any sense to me because there was no way our school had come that low in the overall standings. I figured he must have meant one of the calculus teams came in sixth, but I wasn’t on either of those teams so why was he telling me about it? I wasn’t until we had a break later and Robert presented me with a trophy that read “Calculus – 6th place” that I finally figured out what he meant. It was my trophy. I had gotten sixth place on the individual calculus test. I could hardly believe it! This was quickly becoming one of the best days of my life. Being a part of the annual musical production at my school was a dream come true, and getting that Mu Alpha Theta award was something I couldn’t even fathom. After starting that Saturday discouraged because the calculus test was so hard, it ended in the best way possible. That competition was the last regional of my Mu Alpha Theta career so I was lucky that it ended on a high note – one that I didn’t even know was achievable.

January 29th

The subject of this year’s January 29th post was “Just too tired” so it obviously didn’t contain much substance. That disappointed me so I looked back and discovered that I actually had more interesting stuff to say on this particular date in years past. OK, so maybe last year’s post doesn’t exactly qualify as “interesting,” but it sure does prove that very little has changed (work-wise) in my life since then. Business trip then, business trip now. Busy at work then, busy at work now. Missing Los Angeles then, missing Los Angeles now (both my husband and the weather!). I don’t claim to be neglecting my webpage this year, though. Today’s post makes 35 days straight!

January 29, 2010
“I know I’ve been neglecting my webpage (again), but I’m in DC on a business trip (again)…The bad news is that I have a very busy two weeks of work ahead of me and then, surprise surprise, another trip to DC. I knew the beginning of this year was going to be crazy work-wise. So here’s hoping for a quiet weekend at home where I can find some time to write something more substantial. Until then I’m going to hole up in my hotel before I have to leave for the airport ion the morning. It’s COLD here (19 deg when I went to work this morning and 25 deg when I left the evening) and I can’t wait for the relative warmth of the Los Angeles winter again.”

Then I look back at what I wrote eleven years ago and see that my life now couldn’t be much more different than it was then. In January 2000 I had my very first Boeing interview and at the time I didn’t realize what a pivotal moment that was going to turn out to be. It pretty much set the stage for my current career path. It also put me on the path to meeting Dan in 2001. Where would I be now without that interview?

January 29, 2000
“My Boeing interview took place at 1 PM last Friday…Since I had come directly from class I hadn’t had time to practice answering questions like we had been told to do during the “Meet the Recruiter” presentation a couple of days earlier. When I think back on it the interview went pretty well except for two of the questions. I didn’t have a good answer for “what do you think is your greatest accomplishment?” and I didn’t have an answer for the “what was your greatest disappointment?” one at all! I am only twenty-one years old from crying out loud! I haven’t had enough time for any of that yet. I am sure there are those who have great answers for both of those questions, but I had led a pretty sheltered life so far and nothing exceptionally wonderful or tragic has happened. Give me a few more years and I will be able to give you an answer that’s better.”

Oh younger Lauren, you had no idea how right you were.

Previous October 7th posts

I’ve got a couple of posts in progress, but until one of those is ready for publication, here are two blog flashbacks from past October 7ths. The first one is from the summer Dan and I started dating. We went to see “The Lion King” at the Pantages Theater that fall, which led to us listening to the soundtrack anytime we were in the car. That was fun. The second one is from my grad school days when I was convinced that political scandal followed me from Florida to California. For the record, I voted AGAINST the recall. And my vote was so effective that we’ve been governed by the Terminator ever since. At least we’ve got an election coming up next month.

10/7/2001 – What I’ve learned from Dan: “Hakuna Potato. It means no potatoes for the rest of your days!” (This motto emerged as we were listening to the Lion King Broadway soundtrack yesterday and “Hakuna Matata” just wasn’t good enough. By the way, I am making a list of other things I have learned from Dan so be on the lookout for more pearls of wisdom.)

10/7/2003 – On my way to campus this morning I cast my vote in the infamous California recall election. I had the opportunity to use one of the notorious punch card ballots too. And my polling place happened to be an empty fraternity house. The many facets of political scandal. If the actual results agree with the current predictions the next Terminator movie may be Arnold-free.

What I was thinking – September 19, 2000

“…I am of the opinion that the images you create in your mind from the written word are more tangible than anything projected on a screen. When I read a book my imagination creates visions of the characters and their surroundings that are all the more real because I made them myself. You can’t rely on Hollywood to do all of that work for you. In fact, that ‘work’ is what I like most about books. Don’t misunderstand me – I love movies. I will be one of the first people in line for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings next year. The difference between me and the person standing next to me, however, may be that I have read the corresponding text and he hasn’t.”
-Excerpt from my 9/19/00 diary entry