Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stumbling out of the gate and into Writers' Police Academy


Dateline: Greensboro, North Carolina, 
September 4, 2014, 2:02 pm.

This weekend is the always awesome Writers' Police Academy and the third year in a row that I've attended.

Here's a taste of what I have to look forward to this weekend: A six-part felony murder investigation (that starts tonight after orientation and ends Sunday morning just prior to the debriefing panel), K9 demo, a cold case session and appearances by best-selling authors Michael Connelly and Lisa Gardner.  There's a lot more going on, but the murder investigation is monopolizing most of my time.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that when it comes to flying I'm a total coward and drama queen (although most of that is internalized, I try not to inflict my quirks on the world at large). I live in Los Angeles. Writers' Police Academy is held in Greensboro, North Carolina. There are no direct flights from LAX to the airport in Greensboro. You do the math.

So last night at around 10:45 pm (PDT) the shuttle showed up to take me to LAX and shortly thereafter I parked myself by gate 46B. Per my ticket, we would start loading at 12:35 am for our 1:05 am departure. 12:35 came and went and I kept waiting for them to call, and nothing. I watched the minutes tick by, and then around 12:50 realized that the big group of people seated in a section off to my right had pretty much cleared out and then it hit me - I was sitting by gate 46A, not B. Keep in mind they shut the doors to the plane 10 minutes before departure, in fact when I first arrived I saw a woman arrive a few minutes too late to board a flight to O'Hare. Luckily I was close by, so I grabbed my stuff and headed over and just made it under the wire. I never heard them call the flight even though other announcements had been coming through loud and clear.

The funny thing is that whenever I fly and I'm sitting in the terminal at LAX, agonizing over having to get on a plane, all I can think of is that I still have time to bolt for home. All I could think of was chickening out, grabbing a cab and going home and climbing into my big, comfy bed I love so much. Flying terrifies me so much that the first year I attended WPA, I actually looked into taking the train, but it just wasn't timely or practical. But no, I ended up on the plane.

Then, just to add insult to injury, the pilot comes on the intercom and announces that we're slightly delayed due to a repair...(cue my heart stopping)...on a broken latch on one of the overhead compartments. I almost bolted out of my seat and out of the plane when he said "repair".

Because there's no direct flights I had booked my flights to go through Dallas-Fort Worth, because it pretty much breaks the trip into two equal length flights (unlike the past couple of years, when Travelocity had me come home through Chicago, then Atlanta, leaving me with a short hop and then a long ride home).

So I made it to Dallas and after taking a mercifully short ride on their Skylink people mover or whatever the hell that awful thing is, I made it to my next gate (the correct one this time). My phone updated to the new time zone (two hours earlier than L.A.) but I needed to reset my watch. Oddly, it was only off an hour and a half, not two hours, and after staring at it for a bit I realized why. It had stopped working. So I don't have a watch for the entire weekend. At an event that's pretty much scheduled every hour on the hour.

It didn't feel like a particularly promising start to the weekend, and I still had another 2-1/2 hour torture session flight ahead of me, and in a much smaller (therefore scarier) plane.

Somehow, I managed to make it to Greensboro in one piece, despite all the drama. Oh, did I mention that yesterday I was up at around 7:30 am and can't sleep on planes, and therefore at this point I haven't slept in well over 24 hours? Yeah, poor me.

I've got a couple hours until orientation and part 1 of felony murder, so I'm going to try and catch a quick nap, but I'm not holding out much hope. I'm too keyed up about WPA and I'm running on adrenaline and excitement (or fumes) at this point. If nothing else, the Insomnia Queen should sleep well tonight.

Wed: Updated to correct a couple of typos. Like I mentioned in the post, I wrote this having gone 24+ hours without sleep.