A Respite and Reflections

I’m enjoying one those rare evenings when nothing urgently presses at the moment.  The Christmas tree is up and decorated, but needs some TLC from the local hardware store.  One holiday party is over.  I need to shake people down for their gift lists but that’s another day.  And there’s nothing to report from The Great Hobbit Tour blitz, thank goodness.  Now that I can hear myself think, a few thoughts have jumped out at me.

It’s been great without Winston, my black dog of depression.  He’s been MIA since May and counting.  Last year at this, I could barely get through the holidays.  Grudgingly, I threw up the tree, decorated slap-dash, and dragged myself to two parties I found a mental ordeal.  This year, the tree got the full treatment as I sang carols before rushing off to a holiday party.  My weekends are quickly filling up this month.  Old friends are reconnecting.

As soon as Winston fled, I met with external Real Life problems that I can’t do anything about right now, but they kept me on edge and wobbly.  The only thing I can do, instead of waiting for the problems to resolve, is to put them in a box, push them to the back of my mind and get on with it.  So, I’ve reemerged once again, flying to NYC for the day, blogging the Hobbit tour, chattering on Twitter (sorry Facebook), and reconnecting with people in real life and online.  Yeah, I’m tubthumping – I get knocked down, but I get up again.  I’m still gathering my mental resources.  It’s slow going, but considering how far I’ve come, I can’t complain.  Baby steps, baby steps.

It feels good to feel good.

As an older fan, I still have some reflections on the NYC trip.  I also haven’t forgotten about RA’s report card; I’ve decided to expand the critique to include the entire tour.  Then I will answer this question: Has RA overtaken my crush on David Tennant?  Wouldn’t you like to know?  Hmmm?

***

 

Give RA that warm and fuzzy feeling.  Congratulate him and show your appreciation by gift bombing his Justgiving page!  Show him and the world you care.

You know you want to.

Winston Goes to the Vet II or I Need My Drugs, Man

Dear Reader, you’re probably wondering what has happened to my usual posts, so I’m giving an update.

My black dog Winston has been been a little monster, clinging harder than velcro.  Trying to get the obedience regimen in place combined with the sometimes forced cheerfulness of the holiday season has him more hyper than Patty and that’s saying something.  Add to that the strain of daily blogging and I’ve needed a mental vacation. Typically, I would have taken a hiatus as in the past.  However that strategy led to extended periods of not writing that was hard to break. I grew tired of leaving, then making comebacks.  After awhile, that gets old.  Hence, I decided to do a string of Interlude posts to keep going this month.  It’s serving as a mental break without totally stopping.

Rest assured you won’t be forced to look at picture after picture of Richard Armitage the entire month.  I have a holiday treat in store extending for eight consecutive days during Christmas week.  During that time, my blog will be password protected, like it was for a certain excerpt. Interesting, eh?  I’ll leave you to mull over that.  Be sure to keep watching this space.

In the meantime, back to the RA Bag of Goodies for something sweet and calming.  How about RA reading you a bedtime story?  Jump into your jammies, grab you teddy, and have a listen.

 

Richard Armitage reading a story for Cbeebies, courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

 

 

Patty Takes on Winston

Patty can see Winston.

http://www.dogs4diabetics.com/

Courtesy McCartneyDogs.com

At least I think Patty can *sense* Winston.

When Winston, my black dog of depression, leaps out of the bag, morphs and starts misbehaving, I’ve noticed my pomeranian Patty has been suddenly like velcro at my side.  Usually she’d be off loving Dolly (which looks indistinguishable from biting, mauling and beating up her stuffed meerkat) or sleeping under the futon.  But when Winston threatens to comes out, Patty has been right there.

I first noticed this when walking her.  I’d bring her back in and usually she would trot back through the myriad of doors we have to pass in my building.  But on bad days, she would try to get me to go back outside until I’ve dragged her through too many doors.  She would persist at the front door, act odd and then give up.  At first I assumed she wasn’t finished with her business but each time that has not been the case.  She stayed close by, keeping an eye on me although I feel fine.  Then later, Winston would come out and run amok.

black pug art

Courtesty Black Pug Art, Deviant Art

It turns out this type of behavior is not unusual.  Sensitive canines such as  seizure alert dogs are being used to assist epileptics.  They also may be able to detect other disorders including diabetes and cancer.  Scientists aren’t sure exactly why animals are able to detect the onset of a seizure or a hypoglycemic attack in a human. They theorize dogs are able to smell chemical changes or are more connected to us.  Their reactions can be false positives; dogs may react whether it’s an actual episode or not not.  However scientists point out the important thing is the owner’s response to the dog’s signals.  A diabetic should immediately test her blood sugar; an epileptic should find a safe place to avoid injury.  Googling this subject, I’ve learned dogs are also being used as psychiatric service animals to detect disorders like depression.

I’m learning to anticipate the slumps, either alerting myself to log the episode, checking medication or rearranging activities.  This has been immeasurable in assisting the doctor in treating my condition. Although Patty has not been trained for any type of detection, perhaps being such a sensitive dog, she has trained herself to anticipate my moods. It appears as if Patty and Winston are squaring off nose to nose like competitors.  This possibility grows stronger every day.

If it’s true, it’s an amazing thing.

London and Me or Play It Again Sam Part 8

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.   If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

June 26

11:00 AM

There’s not much time to be a tourist today; I have a matinee performance of Much Ado and an evening staging of Butley.  Exhaustion is catching up with me.  So after a breakfast becoming more Continental than English, I opt to stay in and relax as much as I can on the sloping bed.  I doze off and dream.

*****

black pug

Winston wonders when the good times will roll. Courtesy of Uglyduckling on Deviant Art

I’m vaguely aware of a soft cold nose nudging me.  It’s Winston again.  Only he’s being stroked by flashy grinning version of myself.  It’s Jodi. As a child, I called Jodi the evil twin I wish I had.  As an adult I realize she’s my id, according to good ole Sigmund, one of the three parts of my psyche- id, ego, and super ego.  (It’s good to read a lot of psychology.)  Usually it’s Jada, the super ego, who does all the thinking and talking.  But ever since Winston discovered Happy Pills, Jodi has had more to say.  Knowing pleasure loving uninhibited Jodi, this is probably not good.

“Ah, sleeping beauty finally awakes,” says Jodi.

Winston drools.

Jada is as practical as ever.  “She really does need her rest. Don’t want to get sick do we?

“Yes, but look at the missed opportunities.  We could be shopping on High Street or at least finding Lords of the North!

I hate when theses chats happen as if I’m not here.  “Look, you weren’t awake for almost two days and sleeping on a bed that feels like it might tip over.  And stop spoiling that dog!”

Jodi flops Winston on his back and rubs his belly.  “Oh, but he’s such a cutie.”

Winston snorts in delight.

“He’s a cute horror. *You* don’t have to deal with him.  What are you guys doing out anyway?”

Jada begins. “We do need to talk about Winston.”

Jodi protests.  “What,  here, in London?”

Jada begins again. “We need to plan-”

Jodi interrupts. “We need to plan what we’re doing tonight.  Evening performance. Saturday night.  A night on the town… ”   She wiggles her hips. “There’s a club next to Hagen Daz in Leicester Square.  You saw last night.  Looked like where the beautiful people in black go. And there were some sexy guys…”

Jada pales.  “We didn’t come prepared for that – sort of thing.”

Jodi grins. “Oh, you even remember what that – sort of thing- is?”

I laugh.  “Beautiful? Well that leaves me out.”

Jodi is not phased. “You should have brought that little black dress.  It’s not too late to hit Marks & Spencer and buy another one.”

“C’mon, I’m really tired.”

Another voice pipes up.  “Yeah, me too.”

Winston sits up.

Oh.  I haven’t heard that voice in a while.  The three of us turn to look at a figure sitting in the shadowy corner.  I peer harder since I’ve never actually seen her.  She’s a younger version of me, much younger than expected, perhaps twenty years.  Oh my, she seems to be lagging behind.  She’s the third element of my psyche, the ego.  She rarely talks so we call her Quiet One.

“I think we should rest and take care of Winston.  We have two shows to sit through so let’s just plan where to eat and take it easy.”

The three of us gape.  That’s the most she’s said in a long time.

Jada coos.  “Hello dear.  That makes a lot of sense.”

Jodi sags.  “Well, she speaks and I’m voted down, naturally.”

I smile. “Good to see you.”

Quiet One smiles back.  “It’s good to be here.  Really.”

Jodi teases. “Oh, we *are* feeling good, aren’t we?”

Winston huffs.

*****

DT and CT in Much Ado

DT knows the good time are rolling.

I awake feeling a bit more refreshed. Winston whines it’s time for lunch so we head back to Leicester Square. There’s an Italian franchise restaurant with a 10% off tourist coupon.  Good enough for me. Finally back at the theater, on time and with a hearing device, I attend the matinee performance of Much Ado. I’m again shocked to find my seat in the 4th row a little off center.  Did Mr. Awesome give me another lottery ticket?  I can’t think enough kind thoughts about that man.  David Tennant is still in fine form although the afternoon audience seems a bit subdued.  He soldiers on and I’m not disappointed.  The audience peps up enough to give the ensemble three curtain calls.

4:50 PM

I debate heading to the backstage door even as I find my feet taking me there.  Lo and behold I locate a spot only three people deep and slide in.  I’ve already gotten footage for his fan club so there’s no purpose to being there except to get his autograph.  However I already got that hard won signature after his Stratford performance as Hamlet in 2008.  What do to? I notice I’m a bit taller than most of the people around me.  I am considered tall but seriously, this crowd is short.  Catherine Tate makes her way around the cordoned area and I impulsively hold out my program over everybody’s heads.  She immediately grabs and signs it.  Cool!

Well, should I go for a matched pair?  DT follows behind Tate and the crowd gets a bit wilder.  He smiles and chats and dives down for photo ops with a child.  He’s nearly in front of me and again stoops for a child.  A handler whispers it’s time to go in.  What the hell.  I shoot my arm out just as he rises.  Tall DT grabs the program from tall me and signs.  He turns to go.  He’s done.  Groans erupt around me.  I walk away grinning like a fool.

Winston chuffs.

Jodi is jubilant.  “SCORE!”

Jada tuts. “You should have allowed somebody else to get that you know.”

“But I wanted a matched pair!”

Quiet One laughs.  “Still that was cool.”

Jada isn’t finished. “You already have  one, why do you need two?”

“Awww, oh c’mon!   Jada, you’re really no fun.”

Winston snorfles.

Quiet One compromises.  “Look, why don’t you got back to the stage door. If you don’t see a needy child to give the program, then you can keep it. Okay?”

I don’t and keep it.

WIN.

 

7:30 PM

 

http://www.jagrant.com/chat/

Paul McGann remembers when the good times rolled.

Still filled with joy from the DT caper, I set out for the Duchess Theatre to see Dominic West in Butley.  Actually, I’m seeing an old crush, Paul McGann in the cast for old time’s sake.  My paper maps fail me as I can’t make out the odd side streets of this part of the West End.  I wander in circles until finally remembering to use Google GPS to find the damn place.  Butley it turns out is a two act biting comedy written by Simon Gray.  Butley is a washed up professor at a college who signals his disillusionment by being a slob, profligate and total bully.  Paul McGann plays Reg Nutall, the closeted boyfriend of Butley’s much abused closeted protege, Joseph Keyston.  Reg is a guy who doesn’t take abuse lightly and sees right through Butley.  PM plays him smooth, calculating and tough. It was a good performance and worth the ticket.

Almost immediately I realize I can’t hear the actors from my seat near the back. Winston stirs and sticks his head up in interest.  I approach the head usher at intermission and ask for a hearing device.  Let’s call him Mr. Nice.

Mr. Nice: I’m sorry but this theater wasn’t outfitted for hearing devices.  That is a problem.

Winston: Ruh roh.

Me: *crestfallen and about to ask for my money back*  Oh, so there’s nothing you can do?

Mr. N:  *thinking*  Come back to me after intermission is over.

Winston: Rawr?

After intermission.

Me:  I’m back.

Mr. N:  Follow me.

Mr. Nice take me down to the front row and whispers to a patron to move his stuff from a spare seat.  The man looks a little affronted.

Mr. N: This is her seat please.

Me: Thank you.

Winston sighs in disappointment

From that point on, I could hear the actors just fine;  they are right there.

I sit inwardly smiling.  Maybe I should find how to get an Irish Sweepstakes ticket.  Does that still exist?

London and Me or The Play Is the Thing: Part 7

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.   If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

June 25

much ado poster6:45 PM ish

It’s not a good idea to rest my eyes for a second.  I open them and realize I should have left already for the theater.  I poke around my bag for the precious ticket alarming Winston.  Confident I have everything, I rush to the Tube.  I pelt fast see a waiting train -should I have turned left, not right? – and jump on it.  Time looks good until the robotic voice calls out the wrong stop.  Oh shit, I’m going on the wrong direction!  Teeth gritted I jump off two stops further north and try to cross to the other side – except my Oyster card is confused and won’t let me through the turnstile.  It insists I should continue north, not south.  A kindly conductor spots my ditzy tourist self and sorts the situation.  Finally my train arrives.   Time is very tight; if I’m lucky I might get to Wyndham’s at 7:30 PM sharp.  If I don’t, I won’t be let in until intermission. I can’t believe I got this ticket only to miss half the show?  Damnit!

Winston sticks his head out of the bag in renewed vigor.  Annoying little bugger.

The journey feels interminable.  I swear my iPhone is slowing down just to spite me.  I push through the horde of people to the turnstyle.  Wait, where’s my Oyster card? I pat my pockets. Shit! I’m cursing aloud. I’m going to miss the show!  I look up to see a conductor pushing towards me.  He must have heard me because he opens the  turnstile and points towards the stairs to Wynham’s.  Oh thank you!  I bound up the stairs and race into the theatre and down the hall as the third bell sounds.  SHIT!  I hold up my ticket; am I too late?   The usher waves me through.  Glancing over my shoulder to see how many are behind me, I see her stop some latecomers.  Oh wow. Winston chuffs in disappointment.  Heh, take that little bugger.

I’m quickly sorted out by another user and find myself seated in the 3rd row on the floor, dead center.   My seatmate to the right is the lady from earlier in the day.

Woman: Hi, didn’t I see you this morning?

Me: Yes, you won the lottery ticket.

Woman:  Well, it looks like you did too!

I’m stunned.  Mr. Awesome must have given me a lottery ticket.  I’m actually speechless.  No matter, the lights drop and Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate begins.

Much Ado About Nothing productionSince I didn’t have time to pick up a hearing device before the first act, I have some difficulty hearing the dialogue, but that doesn’t bother me.  DT has my interest from the moment he drives onstage in a golf cart.  The setting is early 1980’s Gibraltar.  He plays Benedick. He  and his crew serve in the navy. Catherine Tate plays, Beatrice, the niece of the Duke.  The show played for all the laughs it can get and the audience is receptive.  In the most modern version of Shakespeare I’ve ever seen, we are treated to discos, stag parties, blow up dolls, slapstick and covert sex.  It’s right up my alley.  DT does a brilliant job in the comedic role and frankly outshines Catherine Tate in her own specialty.   Tomorrow, I’ll have my device for the entire show and will be a better judge in reviewing the performances.  This was the purpose of my journey.  It has been worth it.

I’m a very happy camper.  SQUEE!

10:45 PM

After the show, I head to the stage door.  I already have DT’s autograph from Hamlet a few years ago, so I don’t need another.  His fan forum wants footage of him and I’m there with my trusty iPhone.  The crowd although pushy seems a bit more controlled than the ones in Stratford.  I’m pressed but not beaten up.  Making one of his fastest changes, he’s out and working the crowd.  He’s one of the most considerate and sweetest celebrities I’ve ever seen when dealing with his fans.  Although he’s no longer the Doctor on Doctor Who, he still takes special care with children.

 

David Tennant in London at Much Ado Backstage Door

Back stage of Much Ado with David Tennant on June 25, 2011.

 

It is a cool night but the rain stops by the time the autograph session is over.  I head to Hagen Daz to for dessert.  Leicester Square is a madhouse in the evening but it is invigorating to be out and about like this.  I did some shopping, visited the London Transport Museum (one of my faves), and had a bit of dim sum in Chinatown.  Not bad for my first full day in London.

NEXT: When two squees collide

 

London and Me or the Much Ado about Much Ado – Part 6

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

full english breakfastJune 25

9:00 AM ish

This time no growing din awakens me.  I’ve been semi-unconscious most of the night, waking fully every two hours to look at my iPhone clock. Sometime in the night I realize my bed has a gentle right sliding slope.  I won’t roll out of bed but there’s still a sense of it on the edge of my consciousness.  I literally roll out at 8AM for that much needed shower.  It’s a cute octagon shaped stall with a water pressure problem.  My shower turns into a sort of drippy whore bath.  I’m not phased; soap, wash cloth and water, even in the sink is all I need. This is an old house after all.  Happy in nice clean clothes, it’s time to get to that good English breakfast.

Winston stirs.  Bacon!

My nose leads me to the dining room.  Breakfast seems to be a catch-can affair; I finally flag down a harried server who sends a plate flying out: springy scrambled eggs, powerfully salty fat ham, half rip tomatoes and good ole pork and beans without the pork.  It’s just what I remember.  I recall reading real Brits actually don’t eat this.  Furtively observing fellow roomers reveals the location of the mysterious tea bags: in a large tin labelled “TEA.”  Right.

Fortified I attempt to powerwalk to the Tube station except that the all downhill trip coming has turned into an all uphill trek going.  This saps the power of the walk quickly. It’s a cold clear London morning.  Young Brits in suits stride by like I’m standing still.  I’m either old, out of shape or both.  I’m the only one in the station puffing like a train.  Sigh.

I arrive at Leicester Square too early for the Lottery and have a walk about.  The main half price kiosk in the park is gone; a whole area has been cordoned off with a high green fence with signs saying “OLYMPICS.”  There’s a great deal of construction going on all over London for the Games next year.  At least six smaller kiosks have sprung up along the main square. I pick one and buy a ticket to see Butley the next afternoon with Dominic West and Paul McGann.  McGann was an old crush but want to see the play and report back to the fandom for old time’s sake.  I’m a sentimental gal; after all I have my ticket to see David Tennant.  Returning to the theatre, I pick up my lottery number and waited for 10:00 AM.  Winston sticks his head out of the bag in interest.

leicester square10:00 AM

On the dot, the manager, Mr. Awesome, comes out with his helper and starts pulling numbers. He will lottery 20 tickets at half price.  He must have lost count because I don’t think he gave out 20. I hold my breath along with a fellow tourist.  Alas I lose by one number but she won a ticket.  He calls out that a few returns and mostly standee tickets will be sold and to queue, naturally opposite from me. I’m near the end of the line.  I consider giving up but decide to stay for the hell of it.  Finally I approach the box office.

Me: Hi.  I suppose you’re only selling standee tickets now right?

Ms. Friendly: Yes.

Mr. Awesome: Weren’t you here yesterday?

Me:  Yes, that was me.

Mr. A.: *reaches around a corner*  Here’s another ticket.

It’s a ticket for the next day’s matinee.

Winston: Rawr!

Me: What!

*Murmur behind me*

Ms. F.: *low voice* You’ll have to pay half price for that.

I think she doesn’t want the remaining people in the lobby to twig onto this.

Me: Gladly!  Thank you!

Winston: *curls back up in doggy shock*

Dominic West in 'Butley' at the Duchess TheatreI leave the theatre now the owner of TWO Much Ado tickets, replacing the two dead ones.  So I can see DT tonight and again tomorrow afternoon – the same time I’ll see PM.  Uh oh.  The Butley ticket is nonrefundable. Winston looks up expectantly.  I head back to the kiosk.

Me: Hi, you remember I was here about 15 minutes ago, don’t you?

Nice Young Man: Oh yes.

Me: *happy waving ticket* I just got a ticket to see Much Ado!

NYM: Oh, congratulations!

Me: *sweetly* Is it possible to switch times for this Butley ticket?

NYM: Sure! *patiently cancels and switches*

Winston: Rwow.

Heh heh, sorry pooch.

My Karma is SMOKING hot.

London and Me: Kill Claudio! – Part 5

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

 3:00 PMish

As I stand unsteadily near the bed, it’s quite clear that any leaning, sitting, lying or even showering will be my undoing. If I have any hope of seeing tonight’s show,  I need to stay on my feet and active.   I don’t have a clue how I will stay awake.

I head to Wyndham’s Theatre for the tickets.  Thankfully it is located just outside the Leicester Square station, thus sparing my labored brain any further work.  I enter with some trepidation because I lost the ticket reservation number and booking in a computer crash in March.  Could I get the tickets?

Winston wakes for the first time in hours, refreshed.  He loves his drama.

There is a friendly young girl at the box office.  Let’s call her Ms. Friendly.  Just out of sight is the theatre manager, let’s call him Mr. Awesome.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m speaking coherent correct English in pleasant American.

Ms. F.: May I help you? *stops a bit and stares*

I can’t imagine how I look now: a homeless woman?  A drug addict?   Lucifer?

Me: Yes, I’m here to pick up my tickets for this evenings performance please. My name is Judiang.

Ms. F.: *thumbs through envelops*  I’m sorry, there’s nothing here by that name.

Winston: Ruh roh.

Me:  *frets*  Are you sure?  I lost my reservation number in a computer crash but I have my passport here.  *thrusts out passport*

Ms. F.:  *rechecks*

Me: *blathering*  I’ve been traveling here for since Tuesday, I just got here today, there must be some tickets.  I booked them in January.

Ms. F.:  Really? What happened?

Me:  *tells the whole sordid story*

Mr. Awesome: Wow, that’s amazing.

Winston: Rarf!

Ms. F.:  I’m sorry, there’s nothing here with your name for tonight.

Me: *decidedly whingy*   Oh nooo!

Winston: *sticks head out bag and wags tail*

*We all stare at each other*

Me:  *horror dawning*   Was there anything for last night?

Mr. A.: *motions to a shelf*   Check that parcel there.

Ms. F. checks and places a dead ticket on the counter.

Winston: *wags tail more*

Me: *despairing*   And was there anything for Tuesday night?

Ms. F. checks and places another dead ticket on the counter.

Winston: *wags tail harder*

We all stare at the dead tickets

Me: *absolutely whingy knowing the show is sold out*   Oh noooo. I’ve taken so long to get here.  Don’t you have anything?  Behind a pillar?

Mr. A.: It’s just you right?

Me:  Yes.

Mr. A.: *reaches around a corner*  Here’s a ticket.

It’s a ticket for the next day’s evening performance.

Winston: *doggy gasp*

Me: *somewhat deliriously* Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you! *might have bounced but refuse to confirm that*

Mr. Awesome and Ms. Friend grin.  Enjoy!  That’s a very good ticket.

Winston huffs and curls up in the bag.

I stumble out of the lobby on cloud nine.  What an incredible thing!  Things are looking up. I’m smiling so hard I must look like a loon.  A passer-by turns and smiles.  Such nice people.  Just outside the theatre door I spot a sign.  My brain pieces together there will be a lottery for tickets the next morning at 9:30 AM.  Oh!  I could win my second ticket.  I resolve to return first thing.  Now I can go back to the room and pass out after all, thank goodness.

11:00 PM

I awake sprawled across the bed feeling as if I’d been run over by a lorry.  Something lightly sits on my chest drooling and snorting.  Winston!  My medication schedule is screwed up and I forgot to drug him. Nicely docile, he gets back in the bag with his happy pills.  Good boy.

I head to High Street but discover I woke a bit too late; all the restaurants are closing.  As I wander up and down the darkening road, I see across the street light streaming from an eaterie, like a mirage. It’s apparently a franchise called the Chicken Spot.  Its doors are wide open and the lovely aroma of fried chicken teases me.  I need to cross the street to this oasis but my brain tells me I’m on my own. Miraculously I make it across without getting knocked over by a car.  I order chicken and chips.  It is either delicious or I’m starving to death.

I’m so delight I tweet the following: Why did the tourist cross the road?  To get to the chicken- and it was good!

NEXT: Much Ado and David Tennant!

London and Me: Baggage and Other Issues – Part 4

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click hereIf you want to read past installments click here.]

June 24th

8:00  AM GMT

I make my way through Heathrow’s labyrinthine walkways to  Baggage Claim.  The joyful trembling is now just trembling.  In uncalled for optimism I check the bags from my flight.  There is the sea of black luggage and a smaller lake of – red.  What? My head swims as I check a puce one in hopes it’s mine and I might be going blind.  Nope.

8:15 – 10:30 AM

The baggage clerk confirms: no, the bag is NOT in Chicago; yes, it was last in Dulles; no, it should have been on this flight.  Oh wait, it should be on the next flight blah blah blah, due in at 10:00 AM.  I’ve journey since Tuesday morning with only six hours of sleep in 48 hours.  What’s a two hour wait?  Wait, did she say blah blah blah? My hearing’s gone funnier than usual.

I sprawl across a seat near the appointed carousel.  Security eyes me several times as they patrol.  I can’t imagine how I look.  My fingers cease to cooperate so I pocket the iPhone.  Peering like a drunk, I realize the Toilet is nearby thank goodness.  Sheer masochism prompts a look in the mirror.  All things considered, my clothes look pretty wrinkle free; hooray for cotton blends.  Wish I could say the same about my face.  My eyes are a shade of red to complement the lime green top and blue jeans.   My hair looks like I stuck a finger in a socket right before being whacked in the back with an anvil.   My feet – my feet are there somewhere. Sigh.

At the carousel the sea of black bags continue flowing with streams of red.  When the heck did people start buying all these red bags?  I eye a whole set of luggage, neon Barbie pink with logos on it.  Is that really Mattel?  Surely not!  I insanely consider buying something like that; it would certainly stand out from half a mile away.  I mull over other times me and my baggage were separated, 12 hours in London, 6 hours in Detroit, 2 days in Rome and wager when I might see it again.  Given what is turning out to be a long weekend, I want it back before I leave on Monday.

Finally Flight blah blah blah arrives and the bags disgorge, and the last one – is mine.  I’m so ecstatic I’m thisclose to hugging the thing but think better of it; security eyes me closely.  I double-check the tag, walk few a paces, question my vision and double-check again.  Yup, still my luggage.  Now I won’t be whiffy and need to wash my undies in the sink for three days. Or spend too much buying replacements at Marks & Spenser.  Or Selfridges.  Or Harrods.  Dodged that bullet.

11:00 AM

Another long passage finally points the way to the Tube.  All I need to do is swipe my debit card through the travel card machine, purchase an Oyster Card and be on my way. Except the machine does not like my debit card.  I turn around.  There’s a long queue for that.  Sigh.  The line inches as I longingly watch better luck travelers move swiftly through the turnstiles.  I zone out for a bit and I’m before the window clerk.  He looks like a nice elderly man out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  He gently extracts the proper information using small words in a calm voice and patiently draws on the map.  I am age four again.  I nod complacently.  Clutching the prized Oyster Card in its protective plastic, I jump on the next Piccadilly line train confident I can’t mess up.  After all, there’s only one direction it can go -out.  With a change at Leicester Square, I’m on the Northern Line to Finchley Central.  I’m armed with Google maps on paper and on my iPhone; I’m prepared.  As I fight sleep, it dawns I couldn’t be any farther away from Heathrow than if I was in the Docklands.  It’s almost an 1  1/2 hour journey.  Despite a map plotted to the B&B’s door, I manage to get lost but am set right by a friendly florist.  It’s an easy walk, all downhill.

1:20 PM

Finally, almost 46 hours after leaving home, I enter the B&B.  It’s typical English brick Victorian in a quiet leafy residential neighborhood.  The proprietor, Mike, greets me, takes me to the dining area and puts the kettle on.  He murmurs and coos and plots out a quicker way to the Tube station.  I nod complacently.  He stares hard asking if I’m taking in any of this.  I’m sure but awareness is relative at this point.  The place is busy; phones ring.  I’m left to figure out the complexity of tea making.  I locate a cup, hot water and milk but not the tea so I drink the milk.  My room is happily on the 2nd floor off the landing.  It’s small and updated with a wooden floor, twin bed, table, lamp, microwave, TV and an en suite bathroom containing toilet and a skinny shower.  The view is a lovely garden out back.  It’s cheap, cheerful and clean.  It is actually better than other B&B rooms in which I’ve stayed.  It’s too far from the airport but there’s no help for that now.

I can’t think of sitting down and losing consciousness.  I need to get to the theatre.

Winston still snores.  Sleep must be nice.

NEXT: Kill Claudio!

 

London and Me, or London or Bust: Part 3

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click here. If you want to read past installments click here.]

Wednesday, June 22nd

5:30AM

A growing din finally reaches my brain.  I sit up and pry my eyes open.  It’s daylight. The hordes have returned, looking fresh and crisp.  A young professional woman in a black suit perches on a chair next me pecking on her Blackberry.  Across, an elder woman dripping money in an exquisite beige pants suit clutches an iPhone in a gold diamond studded case looks up at me.  Two small preschoolers stare.  The airport is awake.

I peer at my dying iPhone and inwardly groan.  Did I even sleep?  My mouth tastes like the bottom of my sandal, my eyes burn and my brain hurts.  The tantalizing aroma of sausage and hash browns wafts to my nose.  McDonald’s calls.  I ungracefully unravel myself from the blanket and stagger to the rest room passing my fellow overnighters clutching their blankets like refugees.  We are not a pretty sight.  After some splashing and swishing of water and bedhead fluffing,  I tell myself I’m presentable.  Sated by the Golden Arches, I discover my makeshift bed is where I need to be.   And that I slept no more than two yards away from a computer station replete with plugs.  I dart for one as civilly as possible, commandeer a nearby chair and join the tweeting and facebooking horde.  My virtual followers tut and commiserate. What will happen next?  Damned if I know.  Winston snores on.

7:20 AM

More suited professionals crowd the lounge.  I feel wrinkled and frumpy but hopefully not smelly.  Mithum works.  A rep announces we will board late.  Color me surprised.  Most of the profressionals tote identical little black bags and I congratulate myself for buying a new red one – like the one I… checked…  Oh hell. A quick chat with a rep confirmed: no, my bag would not have been allowed to leave the country without me; yes, the bag was still here; yes, they will tag it through to DC.  I don’t believe the last part but resolve to deal with it in Washington.  It’s time to board.

11:30AM

After a delightfully boring flight, I land at Reagan, scoot quickly out the exit and into a shuttle for the 45 minute drive across town to Dulles.  There is an upside to having no luggage.  I see nothing of the sights but recognize my job’s headquarters of all places.  Bah.  After a few bumbling attempts dialing international, I reach the proprietor of the London B&B on my cellphone and explain the situation.  “No worries, luv,” he says. “I’ll put the kettle on for you when you get here.”

12:30 PM

Dulles is a large expanse of emptiness with its soaring maple dome and blindingly polished floor.  I’ve never seen such an empty airport.  TSA still manages to hold up the short line out of pure cussedness.  I make a conscious effort not to roll my eyes;  it’s not good to annoy these people.  I rush to baggage but find a line – in an empty airport.  Inexplicably they wander off as a happy rep comes my way. (She is too old to be called perky).   Ms. Happy confirms: yes, my bag is still in Chicago; yes, it’s possible I will see it again; yes, it will probably join me before that night’s flight to London.  She will flag, alert, and expedite.  I should check at 4:00 PM to see if it arrived.  Things are hopeful.

2:00 PM

Winston as a dog is a fitting metaphor. He awakes wondering about food, just like a dog.  I duck into a restroom and drug him.  Onwards to food.  Dulles has some of the longest corridors to terminals I’ve ever seen.  Am I in Virginia?  Then I must be walking to West Virginia.  There are no food courts, only hidden eateries tucked into alcoves off endless miles of carpet.  I’m pretty sure I’ve lost weight since yesterday.  Finally I spot a seafood place and collapse there.  I order a lobster roll and new england clam chowder, reasoning that I shouldn’t be poisoned, being so close to the ocean.  The food is fresh and quite good.

3:00 PM

Miles later I find my gate lounge. There are a few early souls.  My head spins; it’s a good time to get some sleep.  Maybe 2  1/2 hours  of sleep last night and semi-dozing on the plane so far.  Pulling out the Amazing Collapsible Blanket, I cocoon myself across a bank of seats near the rep counter just to be safe.

5:00 PMish

I’m awaked again by a growing din.  The hordes have returned. I blink at the lounge, chock full of tourists? professionals?  Who are they?  The relentless stares of the obligatory small fry finally propel me up and towards baggage.

5:50 PM

It took 48 minutes of powerwalking to baggage and back. I learn in two minutes: no, my luggage is still in Chicago; yes, my luggage will be flagged, alerted and expedited through to London.  Riiiight.  I’m piqued about Ms. Happy.  There’s no help for it but settle things at Heathrow.  I try sprawling in different seats but can’t capture that snoozy feeling surrounded by so many people.  I would read an ebook but my eyes won’t focus. I’m in a twilight zone.  The plane is here.  I stare longingly at it.

7:30 PM

I’m surprisingly on the aisle side of twin seats, having resigned myself to being stuffed into the freezing center seats.  My seatmate is a grumpy woman around my age.  I decide not to bother her.  The flight is on time.  There are no screaming children or hacking sneezing plague carriers near me. I’m close but far enough away from the lavatory.   I have three blankets and two pillows.  It doesn’t get better than this unless they put me in first class. Alas Ms. Wonderful checked that too and it was full.  I eat something, peer at something on my personal screen, and wrap myself in blankets before passing out.

June 24th

5:00 – 7:00 AM GMT

It’s difficult getting real sleep on a plane.  I’ve dozed maybe 3 1/2 hours but feel like I’ve not gotten a wink.  By now it’s like medicine; you keep taking it hoping it’s doing some good.  Flight attendants pass out water and snacks to supplement the dinner I can’t recall.  The movie I can’t recall plays again.  My brain refuses to process the images.  I doze off once more.

What seems like a short time later, the flight attendants walk briskly through, turning on the lights and throwing up the shades.  It’s morning across the pond.  Below the clouds sits the UK.  We all sit up quickly, packing away our things, shoving blankets and pillows, trying to make ourselves presentable. My seatmate is a British ex-pat visiting family.  She’s lived in the US for 16 years and prefers it there.  I say how much I’d love to there.  We laugh how the grass always seems greener on the other side.  Winston stirs; must be breakfast.  There’s tea, clotted cream and scones.  I feel a rush of excitement.  Almost there.

7:30 AMish

I’m here.  I tweet victoriously: “LONDON I’M IN YOU!”  I’m almost delirious with joy and exhaustion.

Winston whines and buries his head.  I think he’s jet-lagged.

 

NEXT: Of Baggages and Tickets

 

It’s Me or Winston

So Dear Reader was left huddled and shivering with me in an airport and then –…   And then –?

Er… hasn’t this been the greatest cliffhanger ever?  It’s like the break between episodes 7 and 8 of Doctor Who.    No?

Taming the Black Dog

Godzilla would be impressed.

What if I said the dog ate my homework?  Yes, it’s the old tired joke, but for the first time in my life, it’s true.

Winston ate the next installment.  The pug leaped out of my bag and morphed into an ebony version of the Big Red Dog but not a bit as cute.  He went on a rampage, much like those little monsters on It’s Me or the Dog except far nastier.  He didn’t like his happy pills any more, so he got more different happy pills and then more pills to make him happier about those, but only just.  To my chagrin, he thinks he’s still a lapdog, so he’s been spending most of his time flattening me and whining in distress, only since he’s a dog, he can’t be useful and TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON.

Currently, Winston in calmer times.

So this is where we stand.     Dr. G. and Winston are at an impasse.  Dr. G. suspecting an underlying physiological problem sent me to my ole Dr. V-A who after prodding and blood tapping pronounced my hormones whacked and why was I still having menses? Why in the hell was he asking me?  He deduced there wasn’t much he could do but throw more happy pills at Winston; he didn’t deal with black dogs.  So Dr. G. is casting around for A Specialist in the elusive field of whacked hormones.  I’ve had dealings before with this specialist species.  This should get interesting.

In the meantime, I’ve reverted to being really blonde on good days and vacuous and addle-brained on bad ones.  Because I can’t focus consistently to get any appreciable work done,  I’m starting the paperwork to take paid leave from my job.  I did this 10 years ago during a string of bizarre physical problems (my first dealing with Specialists); that lasted almost three months.  I really hope to have some meaningful control over this situation by the holidays.

So that’s my update and explanation about the unintentional cliffhanger.  I’ve been out of the loop with ArmitageWorld and the latest goings-on like RA’s birthday.  I’ve been trying to keep a toe in by visiting the chat room and being utterly silly with some lovely and supportive members.  Thanks to all who have asked after me, I appreciate it.   I’ll try to post when I can.

London and Me, or Winston, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: Part 2

[This post is reconstructed from semi-coherent posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.  Social medial experts call it microblogging.  I call it leaving a trail to remember I was there.  If you want to read about the newspaper account, click here. If you forgot who or what Winston is, click here.  If you want to read past installments click here.]

 

Tuesday, June 21st

4:30PM-ish

I arrive at the airport with no mishaps: read departure time correctly, remember to pack everything including iPhone, iPad and their accoutrements,  comfort upset Patty (my real dog), remember passport (barely) and tickets, get limo on time, and hit no traffic snags.  I lug my spanking new red overnight suitcase purchased to better identify my luggage in the sea of black.  Medication is split between bag and purse in case something is lost.  The cotton waist pouch under my clothes contains money, birth certificate, copy of passport, credit cards and other personals in case I’m mugged. I check the suitcase and watch it disappear in the bowels of the airport.  Security flows relatively smoothly.  I’m not selected for “advanced security clearance.”  A wave of my new enhanced security chipped U.S. passport gets me everywhere I want to go.    The Golden Arches beckon and I indulge in a Big Mac happy meal reasoning this is vacation time. I walk miles through the main terminal, down into the even longer funky multi-color lit people mover and into the United’s steel and glass terminal Concourse C.

5:30PM

The lounge holds seats for the 6 surrounding gates.  It’s a very hot humid day and the AC is barely detectable.  I find my gate – Chicago to Ottawa departing at 7:00PM, take a seat and chow down.  Rubbernecking reveals the plane is at the gate.  Things are going swimmingly. A gate door opens and I breathe in the heady aroma of jet fuel, infusing me with a sense of contentedness and well-bearing.  How I love the smell!  I’m doing what I love, traveling, to a place I love.  The only thing better would have been to leave from the international terminal, but no worries.  Winston sleeps in my bag, snuggling his bottle of happy pills.  I’m almost fond of him.  Almost.  I’m cool.

 7:00PM

After quickly popping into the women’s restroom and not the men’s (don’t ask), I gather my things.  The airline rep announces the flight is delayed until 8:00PM.  We look out at the mildly overcast sky, puzzled.  My Ottawa connection to London is at 10:30PM-ish.  A passing flight attendant confirms I’ll need to clear customs in Canada first, so there’s no way in hell I will make that flight; I’ll need to reschedule.  Damn it!

I find customer service has a maze and a long line.  Pulling out the trusty iPhone, I call their line and wait on hold as I stand.  Everybody around me is doing the same thing.  After 50 fruitless minutes, I decide to sort things out in Ottawa and return to the gate.

8:00PM

We board quickly.  I luckily get a single row seat still worrying about the London flight. Will I get another in the morning?  The plane taxis, and taxis and taxis and I wonder if we’re driving there instead.  A flash catches my eye, then another and another.  It dawns on me we are taxiing into a lightning storm, while in a pressurized metal can.  This is not good.   The pilot chirps rather loudly over the PA system, “well, we’re not taking off folks; there’s a storm coming.  So, just hold on!”  WHAT?

Suddenly the heavens open and a curtain of rain hits with a WHOOSH. The rain is so torrential we can’t see out.  I’m usually unflappable during travel.  The increasing lightning storm around our little sardine can has me only slightly concerned.  That is until the gale hit, rocking the plane back and forth. “Oh shit,” I mumble.  The passengers around me obviously think the same thing as we clutch our armrests.  The wind whips and howls.  It’s like the Blizzard of 2011 except with water.  Everybody is actually remarkable calm considering. They probably are pondering the weighty question of why we waited to taxi into a lightning storm like I am.  I mull how long it would take United to go out of business after paying out outrageous settlements to our heirs because all the passengers and crew were electrocuted or drowned or both.  I feel the solidarity with my co-travelers and hope we will be commemorated by President Obama in a special ceremony.  I’m cool.   I wonder if the others are medicated too.

8:20PM

The storm abates.  The plane has not shaken apart or sprung a leak.  The chirpy pilot returns.  I start to hate him.  “The storm looks like it’s passing over but the tower says we need to return to the gate.”  No shit.  “The problem is it will take time to find a gate, maybe upwards of an hour.”  Out come the phones to call customer service.  I try but notice my battery is low so opt to wait.  The flight attendant passes through with cups of water.  She later does the same with salty pretzels -after we drink the water.  We taxi, and taxi and taxi back and double park along a median strip. I listen to a woman behind me give extraordinarily complicated directions to a third party for booking another flight.  I chat with a stressed young woman from Ottawa who has to be at work the next morning.  The pilot chirps from time to time. I imagine sticking him with pins to fix that chirp but Winston snorts in my bag so I switch to rubbing his tummy and he goes to back to sleep.  I’m cool.

11:ooPM-ish

We finally are in hailing distance of a gate and dumped.  After three hours in a plane without ever taking off, nobody cares.  Ironically we could have flown to, back and to Ottawa in that time.  We trudge into the terminal which turns out to be Concourse B and hordes of milling people. Instead of emptying out, the place looks like the middle of the day.  I again find customer service behind a maze behind a line and queue behind a young newlywed couple.

“Guess I’m not getting to London anytime soon,” I say.

“Oh we just flew in from London,” says the groom.  “The turbulence was awful from the east coast.  But wasn’t that exciting?

I am clueless.

“You missed it? The concourse was evacuated.  A tornado was in the area and they moved us down to the people mover area cuz this place is glass. Hundreds of people down there.”

“Yeah I missed it,” I yelp. “Because I was sitting in a little metal plane out in the middle of nowhere waiting to get hit by lightning or sucked up!”

“Wow!” the bride says.

“Guess you guys were on your own,” he snickers.

 

Tuesday, June 21st to Wednesday, June 22nd

11:00PM – 12:30AM

Eavesdropping passengers around us join in with their stories. We eventually piece together that the storm was so big, all eastbound flights were cancelled. It doesn’t look good but there is nothing I can do.  Shit happens, as they say. Hopefully I can reach London by Wednesday night.  I’m cool.

The other stranded passengers realize the same thing and after awhile people laugh and talk. We save spots for each other for toilet and food breaks.   Occasionally some hothead screams on his phone and those around him murmur in disapproval.

“Don’t be a dick,” smirks the groom.

As we enter the maze, we spot an elderly distressed Japanese couple with an increasing disgruntled rep.  They clearly don’t speak English.  Word passes down the line and a young woman volunteers to translate.  She quickly handles everything much to the couple’s relief.  We cheer the woman as the smiling couple departs and motion her to complete her business.  It’s a feel good moment and everybody looks at each other smiling.  I idly mused if enough people had playing cards we could break into bridge groups, or maybe do pinochle.  I’m cool.

12:30AM

I approach the airline rep.  Let’s call her She so I don’t call her something else.

“What’s you final destination?” She asks.

“London.”

“Well I can’t help you.  We only do domestic here.”  She’s mouth forms a grim line.

“But I had a connection in Ottawa.”

“Sorry, we only do domestic here. You’ll have to leave security and go to the international terminal or go to customer service in Concourse C.”

I stare at She.  “Are you SERIOUS?”

“Ma’am we only handle regional flights here.”

“My regional flight originated here.  This is where I was supposed to leave from.”

“But your final destination is London and that’s international.  You need to go to Concourse C.  She scowls.

“Are you seriously not going to help me after I’ve been standing in line for a hour and a half?   You want me to stand in another line?”

“There’s nothing I can do,” She spat.

I step away in complete astonishment.

‘She refuses to help me,” I say to the line.

“What?!” says the line.

“Yes? Did you say something?” She calls over.

“I can’t believe you’re refusing to help me!”

“Ma’am, you’ve got to go Concourse C. It’s that way!”  She points viciously.

Winston stirs in my bag.

“Rarf?” he asks.

“Shut up!” I snarl.  He goes back to sleep.

I’m so not cool.

 

12:45AM

I storm down into the not so funky multi-color lit people mover and up back all the way to Concourse C where customer service sits behind a maze behind a line literally gates long. I waylay a young pert rep supervisor in stilettos pretending everything is under control and tell her what happened.  “I don’t know why she wouldn’t help but we’re take care of you here,” she coos and beats a hasty retreat.

I queue with an old English lady who is as dotty as I am furious.  I compose a scathing but brilliantly crafted testimonial and indictment of the airline in my head.  An ironclad legal defense for airport rage blooms in my mind like an epiphany as I sense a Wednesday night arrival slipping away. I’m handed a voucher for a reduced hotel room; they do not reimburse for weather-related cancellations. The line inches and stalls, but mostly stalls.

Winston quivers with fear in my bag.

2:00AM

A young rep supervisor arrives but he’s not wearing stilettos.

“We’re taking about 25 people over to Concourse B. They handle domestic and international there,” the supervisor announces.  People tiredly drudge towards him like dying men to an oasis.

“But I was over in Concourse B and your rep refused to help me saying she didn’t handle international!  She REFUSED!  And I’ve been standing in lines for almost THREE HOURS!”  I am incandescent.

“What!”  The supervisor has the grace to look indignant.  “I don’t know why that happened.  You stay with me.”

I remain close as he organizes a group and issues order into his walkey-talkey.  He’s apparently a real honcho because other reps crowd around waiting for instruction.  Wild horses couldn’t tear me away from him now.  He marches us through Concourse C, down through the damn headache inducing multi-color lit people mover and back up to Concourse B.  The crowd is herded to the scene of the crime.  He barks more orders; it’s almost time to shut down operations and send the reps home.

The supervisor shepherds me past gates looking for particular people.  He finds an older rep willing to help me when she hears my story although she’s technically off duty. Let’s call her Ms. Wonderful.  Ms. W. exudes experience and compassion and I deflate like a balloon.  She motions me to a terminal and gets to work.

2:50AM

I drape myself across the counter in exhaustion as she searches and mutters. Ms. W. discovers the issue is how to get me out of the country.  The eastbound cancellations also affect international hubs in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey.  I can’t get a flight on any other carrier either direct or non-direct. My heart sinks.  The trip is quickly turning into an expensive long weekend abroad.  I debate whether to give up and go home.  Winston stirs.  I groan.  Ms. W. offers two options from which to choose.  Winston peers out with interest.  I decide to sally forth and pick option B: an early flight to Reagan Airport in Washington D.C., shuttle to Dulles Airport, and then a night flight to London.  I would arrive Thursday morning, and still see the show that night.  This trip can still be salvaged.  I’m proud of my optimism and persistence. Winston harrumphs and goes back to sleep.  Little bastard.

3:15AM

I wear a fleece hoody zipped to my neck but I’m cold.  The airport AC had been set to 32F after all.  People wrap themselves in blankets which are flying off the shelves at the only open drug store in the terminal.  I rush in and get one for myself.  Starbucks is also open, selling hot coffee by the vat.  I decide caffeine now is a bad idea.

3:30AM

I walk miles up and down the concourse, wrapped in a blanket with a phone in one hand and an AC cord in the other looking for an available outlet to recharge the damn thing.  I see bundled shapes huddled by plugs, sometimes hogging two, recharging their phones, iPads and laptops. It’s every geek for himself.  I eye a spare outlet but a shape moves and gives me the evil eye.  I move on.  I find a spare and plug in, but realize I need to guard the phone.  It’s so cold.  I give up after half a hour.

4:15AM

I walk up and down the concourse looking for a place to sleep.  It made no sense to pay for a hotel since the flight was at 7:30AM.  Sleeping bodies lie everywhere, on seats, on the floor, across a stage, up against pillars.  I’d seen newscasts showing hundreds of travelers trapped in airports and wondered what it as like.  I wonder no more.  Finally I spot a row of armless seats not under an air vent.  Mummifying myself in the blanket and using the bag as a pillow, I stretch out and slip into semi-unconsciousness.

Winston snores.

 

NEXT: London or Bust

 

 

London and Me, or Two Ships that Almost Passed in the Night: Part 1

I’ve touched some heavy topics like depression, racism and the impact of Richard Armitage’s facial hair. It’s time to move on a lighter topic: London!

I left off blogging about the suspenseful 4th week on medication. Ordinarily this would have been only me and my shrink heaving a sigh of relief as Winston morphed into a pug and hid in my bag. But I also had a long standing problem demanding resolution. In January, I purchased tickets to see two performances of Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant (my Other Squee) and Catherine Tate in London for the third week of June. In March, my computer fell ill with a virus, causing me to lose about everything including my ticket reservation code and dates. I tentatively planned to leave Saturday, June 18th and spend a week there. But as Winston dragged me down, it became unlikely I had the mental wherewithal to do anything, much less vacation alone in a foreign country even though I’d been there many times. I renewed my passport and had it expensively expedited. I moped and procrastinated and despairingly checked the expensive air fares. My friends asked how I would cope if something bad happened? (My backpack with passport was stolen on an earlier trip.) I suspected not well. Still it galled that I would miss seeing DT and the city I loved.

The 4th week when my medication kicked in was the same week I’d planned to leave. As I sat talking to my shrink on June 16th, an inner voice I’d not heard in a while spoke up. Not sure whether Freud would have called this my id, ego or super ego, but I call her Jada. Jada suggested that since I was so much better the trip could still be salvaged; I could get there in time to see the second show (I was convinced the tickets were for the following Tuesday and Thursday. Remember that, dear reader.) Dr. G. thought this an excellent idea. I thought my chances of finding a relatively decent air fare on short notice was as good as getting the stars’ autographs – meaning nil. (Remember that one too.) That night I found the cheapest fare yet and a Bed & Breakfast to boot. So I booked everything. This was Thursday, June 16th. I was to leave Tuesday night, June 21st. This was my shortest turnaround for a trip ever. I’d never been on a trip alone so that was a bit scary. But I would see DT onstage again and London after all.

I was a happy camper through better chemistry, so I was chuffed.

Next: Travel Trauma!

The Other Dog Goes to the Vet or Better Living through Chemistry

Two days ago I announced the return of the new and improved blog.  Actually it’s the new and improved me.  Although I’ve been graciously maintained as a blogger in blogrolls here in ArmitageWorld, many of you probably have noticed long gaps between periods of writing.

In a post over two months ago, I blogged about my problem with my other dog I’ve since called Winston.  He’s named after Winston Churchill and is the metaphorical black dog of depression.  I mentioned he was quite the shapeshifter, changing from a big Great Dane to a small Chihuahua and back at any time.  I had hoped Winston would stay teacup sized but that wasn’t the case.

It turned out to be the lull before the storm. As shown by posts shortly after the beginning of June, I was incapable of writing anything substantive and before long, incapable of writing.  My memory and concentration left me.  I grasped for words, couldn’t retain thoughts, and failed to correct mistakes because I was unaware of having made them.   My paralysis extended to work where extended decompensation was not an option. I’m my sole breadwinner with no back-up support so I didn’t have the luxury of sliding into the stereotypical Victorian “nervous breakdown.” Winston had grown to the size of a Mastiff and was crushing me.  Clearly it was time for action and fast.

Fortunately my job in the federal government made getting help as easy as picking up the phone and going.  There’s nothing inconsequential about depression.  It’s a bitch.  There’s nothing easy about clawing of it either.  Clinically depressed people cannot “snap out of it.” Counseling will not immediately make us better and medication is not a cure.  It’s amazing to me that so many people don’t understand this, even while experts state depression is the most prevalent mental disorder in here in America. Having dealt with this most of my life, I knew things would get worse before they could get better; that’s the way it works.  And it seems every transition into new stages in life creates new kinks, requiring me again to address and cope with depression in new ways.

So Winston and I went to the doctor.  Returning to counseling and medication has been no picnic while learning to deal with Winston instead of resenting the hell out of him.  Medication doesn’t mean taking a pill and everything is alright; it takes 4-6 weeks to determine it’s effectiveness and that isn’t guaranteed.  Different dosages must be considered. Then there’s the side effects.  Some people have known; others don’t have it so good.  For me it was awful and might have put me off it except the physical illness distracted from the mental distress. So I persevered as my body struggled to adjust.

Then sometime in the 4th week, I noticed something different.  On previous medication, I functioned but still had breakthrough symptoms.  This is why you see commercials for drugs such as Abilify, a secondary medication for people taking anti-depressants who are still depressed.  Yes, I felt better but there was something more. I felt not only an absence of misery, but an absence of depression.  Except for a very short period caused by another physical issue, I’ve been depression free for over a month.  This is a completely new experience for me. Winston, now a cute black pug, stays out of my way. Memory and concentration have greatly improved, although they might never return to previous levels. But I can work and write again and solve problems like fixing this blog’s technical problems.  I’m not cured and never will be; this is a lifelong disorder.  Counseling will help me realize my potential as I move into later middle age.  I’m hopeful.

Interestingly, people have told me they’ve observed a slight shift in my personality.  I seem brighter and more engaged.  I’ve noticed a friendlier attitude in others which probably reflects my own.  When I returned to work after a long absence, no less than three people waylaid me on the way to my office, not to talk work, but just to chat. My close friends have reacted favorably too.  After accepting me and Winston for over 15 years, they seemed happy about the new change. When I asked them how they put up with me they said when I was Better Judi, it made the wait worthwhile.  Aww, I love you gals; you know who you are.

In case you wondered how the improved me would react in a crisis, let me assure that very thing happened during that 4th week on medication.  The drama involved thrills and spills, as it were, across international borders.  I kid you not.  But that’s another post.

Images from Living with a Black Dog by Matthew Johnston