Every year I go into manic closet cleaning mode, and this year was no exception. I worked my way up from the first floor to the second. I cleaned out the junk drawer in the kitchen (why did I buy all those wooden skewers?), the wrapping paper closet (a misnomer since it is filled with recycled gift bags that I will stuff with a pouf of tissue paper), the cleaning closet (I need a new mop), and, finally, the toy closet.
The toy closet is in my oldest son’s room. He has not lived at home for years. but it will always be his. It is a rather plain room with a bed, a desk, and a television. What makes it special is the paneled door that leads to the toy closet. The door is painted bright white, the knob is brass and the door itself is three feet high. Standing in front of it I feel like the too-tall Alice in Wonderland. Like Alice, I can’t resist opening that little door.
Inside this room under the eaves, the floor is carpeted and a bare bulb hangs from the slanted ceiling. The room is horrendously hot in the summer and incredibly cool in the winter. There are no windows. You can’t hear anything when you are inside.
Against the front wall are a chest of drawers and a steamer trunk that accompanied me to college. Both pieces explode with fabric. I have carted fabric back from Hong Kong and England and Hungary. I have bought out every fabric sale I have come across. In my next life I will be a designer. In this life I am simply a woman who thinks she will eventually stitch together an evening gown made of a piece of iridescent silk laced with peacock feathers. In my mind that dress is a beautiful creation; in reality I would have no place to wear it and would look a little bit like a colorful dust bunny if I did.
To the right are suitcases. Battered and bruised, airline tags still hang from the handles to remind me of a hundred adventures and millions miles traveled. Behind those cases are the crutches, boots, and canes that I’ve kept just in case any of us ever break anything again. In our family, the only one who ever breaks anything is Eric. Even as a kid he jumped without looking. The crutches, boots and canes belong to him. He hasn’t needed them in years. He still jumps without looking but seems to have learned how to land solidly on his two feet.
On the left are boxes of toys that I keep for the grandchildren I hope to have one day. I will give them boxes of Hot Wheels and Legos that my son, Alex, favored. He was a methodical child, lining up cars, clipping together the oddly bubbled pieces of plastic until he made cities and castles. He quietly figured things out, moving forward with such great determination, focus and intelligence that his father and I marveled. Today, he is an incredible man, lining up his life with an enviable precision and vision, unafraid of what may come because he has planned for every contingency.
And behind all of this are the big, blue, plastic containers full of my books. Twenty-eight years ago I put six copies of my first book inside one of them. Now I have two big containers: six copies of each of the twenty-eight books I’ve published. Inevitably, I spend an hour rearranging these books. I keep them in the hopes that my children will take them to their house someday when I’m no longer here and share them with their children. I entertain the thought that a few will survive the years and be passed down to my great-grandchildren. I like to think that someone will read them and know who I was through the words I’ve written. I like to think that those books will end up in someone’s toy closet, too precious to put in the trash and too curious to give away.
As you can imagine, this closet is never really cleaned out. Everything inside it is touched and looked at. It is the rabbit hole where I fall into memories, reassess the path I’ve taken in life, indulge in a moment to be a little proud of it all – the children, the travels, the books. I am lucky and I am grateful and the best thing I could wish for anyone is that somewhere in the house there is a tiny door that leads to a closet where they can hide away with the things that matter to them.
Walking for ABILITY FIRST*
It's Mothers Day - almost. This is not a modern celebration. The ancient Greeks and Romans beat us to it.
But this isn’t about history nor is it about my boys and me. This is about my mom because she is a unique celebration of life no matter what day of the month it is.
Take last Tuesday. I had forgotten the name of a store I wanted to visit. Since the last time I was there I was with her, I gave her a call. As usual, she answered the phone breathlessly. I have long ago given up asking if she is rushing somewhere – she is always rushing somewhere. At 88 I think that is pretty cool. I usually ask what she's up to. Tuesday I just wanted to know the name of the store I was trying to locate.
Me: Mom, do you remember the name of the fabric store that’s in that giant warehouse?
Mom: Oh. Oh. Ummm. (breathless) No. (giggle) Senior moment.
Me: Was it Home Fabrics?
Mom: I don’t know.
Me: Couldn’t we see it from the freeway? Which freeway?
Mom: Yes we could see it, but I don’t remember which freeway.
Me: Okay. Thanks. So, what are you up to?
Mom: Oh, I just got home. I was at Universal Studios. I walked three miles for a charity event. My feet hurt.
Me: Wow, that’s fabulous. Put your feet up. You must be tired.
Mom: Oh, no. I’m going to paint a wall in the garage.
Me: Put your feet up, mom.
Mom: Okay. I ‘m sorry I don’t remember the name of the store.
Me: Tha’s okay. You should rest.
Mom: I have to paint the garage wall.
Me: That can wait.
For as long as I can remember my mom has been figuratively painting the garage wall after walking 3 miles. She raised six children, sewed our clothes, volunteered at church, helped my dad in his practice, wallpapered the house, gardened, cooked and cleaned. I remember her in dungarees, disheveled from all her chores, but at five o’clock she would disappear into her room. Thirty minutes later she would reappear, make-up on, hair just so, slacks and shirt. “I want to look nice when your father gets home,” she would say. Even then I knew this was her way of showing she loved my dad. The love was mutual because every time he saw her, he told my mother how beautiful she looked no matter what she was wearing. My mom read books and cried at old movies and dreamed of being a missionary doctor and of seeing the world. She is still seeing the world but didn’t become a missionary doctor. The world’s loss.
Any given day in my mother’s life is a poem, a short story, a novel filled with new adventures. She is my creative template, my inspiration and my muse. She will read this and not believe it. She is like that. Unaware of how amazing she is.
When we hung up the phone on Tuesday I still didn’t know the name of that store. What I did know was that mom wasn’t going to put her feet up. She was going to paint the garage wall.Happy Mothers Day to every woman who goes the extra mile but especially to my mom!Check out Ability First.
Attending book club meetings used to be one of my favorite things to do, but with the advent of e-books, discussions are now often conducted online by members of groups that are, at times, far-flung. Recently, though, a group in Wisconsin asked me to participate in their meeting by sending bookmarks and discussion guidelines for Hostile Witness, the first book in The Witness Series. I did not have discussion guidelines for any of my books.* I also did not have bookmarks since most of my readers were choosing digital files. But the request was so nice that I immediately wrote discussion questions to send along with a Hostile Witness Book Club Box: jars of sand from Hermosa Beach (the location of all the witness books), candles to put in the sand, and tiny plastic mermaids that are always attached to drinks at the legendary Mermaid Restaurant where Josie Bates met with Linda Rayburn in Hostile Witness. Not only did the Wisconsin group inspire me to revisit the themes of my novels, they got me to thinking about why I liked book clubs so much. Here are the top reasons why I’m sending out big hugs to book clubs: 1) Book clubbers not only think about what they want to read but what they do read. 2) Book clubbers are curious. They want to know why a book was written, what inspired it, and who wrote it. 3) Book clubbers are articulate. They explain in detail why they did or did not like a book and even reference specific words and passages. 4) Book clubbers are considerate. They listen to authors and one another. Sometimes they even raise their hands before they talk. 5) Book clubbers don’t judge a book by its cover. They may not like a cover, but they don’t judge until they read what’s inside. 6) Book clubbers are reliable. They read the assigned book and show up on time. Okay, sometimes they don’t read the whole book, but they pretty much show up on time. 7) Book clubbers are law abiding. They make the rules so that means they can happily live with them. 8) Book clubbers feed authors. Enough said on that point. 9) Book clubbers do not discriminate so they are a diverse group. If you love books you can join the club. 10) Book clubbers give big hugs to authors every time they read a book. So next time your group meets, don’t forget – Group Hug. You are way cool.*Discussion Guidelines/ The Witness Series.
Hostile Witness is always free for digital
. . .pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.
I doubt there is anyone under 50 who knows that rhyme; I am positive there is no one outside of myself who will pick up a penny. I know this because when my son was in grade school he entered the science contest. In our entire family there is not one person who has any understanding of science whatsoever. We couldn’t even do justice to the traditional paper mache volcano that spewed stuff if you put enough baking soda in it. So, we got creative and made up our own experiment. My son and I headed to the neighborhood village armed with twenty-five pennies. We wanted to know how long it would take for people to pick up a penny on the sidewalk.
Armed with notepads to record our observations, we parked, put a penny on the sidewalk, and watched. Time passed. We waited. People went by. No one picked up the penny.
“Maybe there aren’t enough people on this street,” I said.
“Maybe they don’t see the penny,” he said.
“I’m hungry,” I said.
He got out of the car and picked up the penny. We went to the big shopping center where there were plenty of people. We had hamburgers at the food court, and then took our notebooks and pennies and started again.
Still no one picked up a penny. I gave him a nickel. People walked around it and over it. One person kicked it. We put down a quarter. Nothing. We counted 97 people who had by-passed our coins. I was frustrated; my son was disappointed. I had one more trick up my sleeve. I put a dollar on the ground. The first person to came upon it pocketed it.
“Let’s do it again,” my son said, excited that something had finally happened.
“Let’s not,” I suggested, not wanting to give my dollars to anyone who wouldn’t have my pennies.
We went home. He made a chart about the experiment. I still puzzled over the fact that so many people ignored our pennies. Even if there was little value in them, didn’t they know that picking one up was good luck? Then I realized what was really bothering me: I believed in the magic and no one else did. Compared to finding out that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny didn’t exist, this was a small disappointment but it still left a definite ding in my spirit.
Three weeks later, my son brought home first prize in the science competition for his 'behavioral study'. I smiled, gave him a hug, and made cookies. I think of that day every time I see a glint of copper on the street, every time I bend down to pick up that seemingly valueless coin. You see, I now know something all those other people don't. I know that recognizing the worth of one small thing can lead to something bigger and more important than you ever dreamed of.
Look down. I bet you find a penny. When you do, look up again because something good is coming your way.
My mother-in-law, Helen, was ninety-one years old when she had open heart surgery. A few months later, the doctor implanted a new pacemaker. It was then that he showed us the video of the actual operation. It was then he kindly told us he had done everything he could. I barely heard him because on that screen was Helen's beating heart. I was awestruck by the strength and beauty of it.
Hers, I suppose, was no different than yours or mine. If we’re as lucky, as she was, our hearts will beat for almost a century. If we are as smart, as she was, we will fill ours to bursting with love of family, learning, nature, and faith in something greater than ourselves. My mother-in-law wrote poetry and read novels, she covered the walls of her home with paintings and photographs, she listened to music while the sun set. She loved the peace she found in the local mountains, she loved the beach, she loved to travel and she loved a glass of good wine.
That heart of hers had known pain and fear and joy and pride. It was filled up with memories of the small farm town where she grew up and rode a horse to school, a career in medicine, a family that was built one child at a time until it was big and busy, and the loss of one baby who was always remembered in the deepest, most personal part of her strong heart. And still there was room for me.
I was embraced as a daughter, I was championed as a writer, we shared hours and days and years disagreeing about politics and agreeing about everything else. My heart will miss her but it is stronger because of her.
I finally understand why on Valentine’s Day we celebrate the heart. It is an amazing vessel that each of us can fill as we like, and, like Helen’s heart, is never so full that there isn’t room for one more person to love and one more day to cherish.
A local realtor left a package on my doorstep. In anticipation of the new year, she had stashed goodies inside a reusable shopping bag: noise makers, a paper crown, a plastic fish that would tell my fortune if I put it in the palm of my hand, and a notepad on which she had penned: Write Your New Year’s Resolutions Here!
Talk about pressure. That little bag brought up a rash of memories. Resolutions I hadn’t kept; resolutions I hadn’t even tried to keep. What a failure! What a miserable excuse for a human being! What a disappointment!
No body likes to admit they couldn’t accomplish what they set out to do, so I decided to resolve to do things I could. This is what I wrote.
1)Always try hard
(then you won't have to try harder)
(at strangers and friends)
3)Learn something every day
(and put it to use)
When you see me in 2013, I'll be the one smiling. Happy New Year!
Recently, having just committed a bizarre faux pas (the details of which I won’t bore you with), my son dubbed me a wabi sabi mom. Wabi sabi, he explained, is the philosophy of the beauty of imperfection.
Good grief! Who knew!? I’ve been living wabi sabi my entire life but never so eloquently as I do during the Christmas season. So in the spirit of giving, I want to share ten perfectly imperfect holiday memories in the hopes that they will inspire you to embrace your wabi sabi.
1) Made Beef Wellington for holiday guests. Fabulous looking pastry, but the beef was a bloody mess. Oops, someone didn’t defrost the roast completely. It was a vegetarian Christmas.
2) Wished for a fancy coat; Santa brought a sewing machine.
3) Wished for jewelry; got sparkly new vacuum cleaner.
4) Husband entranced by beautiful girls at the cosmetic counter results in a pile of presents – all make-up. Spent Christmas day imperfectly trying out 36 shades of eye shadow, ten tubes of lipstick and some cream that smelled suspiciously like spinach.
5) Husband becomes entranced by beautiful lingerie sales girl and scores a size large nightgown for a size small wife.
6) Got husband Pong, state of the art cool thing way back when. Most boring game in the world; cost of which sorely tests our new marriage.
7) Gifted my husband a latte machine. He doesn’t drink lattes, but I just couldn’t bear buying one more white dress shirt. He returns latte machine for 3 white dress shirts.
8) Made him a pair of pants (the year after I got the sewing machine) that didn’t come close to fitting.
9) Enlisted a friend to call our kids and say he was Santa. Santa promises to bring the MOST EXPENSIVE video game on the market. Choice? Confess our subterfuge or get the game. Kids got the game.
10) Got one pre-teen child a piece of art (sort of) and another a cell phone. Mocked about it to this day. Best ever wabi sabi moment ever.
Immediate results: Imperfectly gauged gift giving, gift getting, and merry making.
Long Term results: Perfectly wonderful memories, good laughs, appreciation that the right gift can be as simple as the good intentions of someone you love, like, would like to love, or love to like.
So don’t sweat it. Be creative. Do your best. Put it out there. In every imperfect moment of a holiday – as in life or work - I guarantee there are a hundred perfect ones waiting.
Wishing you all a very merry, very wabi sabi, Christmas
Two weeks ago I ended up in the hospital for the third time in twelve months. Now, I’m home and healthy and have no intention of boring anyone with the particulars. I just want to shout out to my husband, sons and other guys who showed their true – and glorious – colors in a time of need.
To my husband:
Thank you for dropping everything to take me to the walk-in clinic and for not panicking when the doctor sent us on to the hospital without collecting his fee. (I guess that’s when we knew it was bad.)
Thank you for being there when they put me out and when I woke up. I was blissfully unaware that you hit In & Out Burger while I was asleep.
Thank you for checking to make sure my IV was hooked up (it wasn’t) and that I had my pain meds (I didn’t).
Thank you for making sure I had enough to eat when I got home. The Jell-O with Oreo chaser was especially critical to my recovery.
Thank you for checking on me: every minute, every second, sometimes every millisecond. You must be exhausted.
Thank you for not minding that my midsection looks positively perforated.
Thank you for fluffing pillows, doing the laundry, turning on the fan, making sure I knew that the mail had come.
Thank you for keeping your mom, my mom, my sisters and brothers, my email friends, and the dry cleaner informed of my progress.
Thank you for eventually going back to work so I could rest.
To my oldest son:
Thank you for coming home.
Thank you for sitting with me through every scan including the one that lasted on hour. I didn’t mind at all that you spent 45 minutes of that flirting with the technician.
Thank you for bringing Tucker home (a superior little dog) and training him to lie quietly and snooze with me.
Thank you for watching all the daytime girl shows and pretending that you liked them.
To my youngest son (who is far away):
Thank you for finally figuring out after talking with your healthy grandmother for an hour that dad meant YOUR mom was in the hospital, not HIS mom.
Thank you for the emails.
Thank you for the telephone call.
To my brother:
Thank you for the flowers
Thank you for checking on me
Thank you for telling me that you were tired of sending flowers and checking on me. I know that was your way of saying ‘stay well, I love you’.
To all good guys:
Thank you for being men who can be counted on. You are all one in a million.
Each year, a week before my mother’s birthday, we have this conversation:
Me: “Mom, call Chris, it’s time for your birthday dinner. Give me some dates.”
Mom: “Oh, Chris doesn’t like to intrude.”
Me: “It wouldn’t be the same without Chris. Call her. Pick a date.”
Mom: “Okay, but this year let’s go somewhere close. Or we could pick up tacos at Taco Bell. You don’t want to spend too much.”
Me: “You don’t like Mastros?”
Mom: “It’s so expensive.”
Me: “I thought you loved Mastros?”
Mom: “I do, but you have to drive so far. You have to drive and pick us up. Then drive all that way to Newport. Then drive all the way home again.”
Me: “Well, if you really don’t want to go."
Mom: “Oh, no. We'd love to go. I’ll call Chris.”
The arm-twisting is part of the fun. I know she’ll say yes. I know Chris will say yes. I know we will go, as we always do: my mom’s best buddy, my mom and me driving down Pacific Coast Highway parallel to some of the most beautiful beach in the country. When we get to the restaurant – Mastros Oceana Club - we will all exclaim how lovely it is and mean it despite the fact we’ve been going there for years. We will be shown to the table we always claim, the one where we can watch the sunset over Catalina.
This year, as always, there was much well wishing from the sweet hostesses who remembered us, the gorgeous barmaid who acted like we were the only three people in the crowded place and, of course, the most-handsome waiter, Robert, who has served us before. Once a performer with the Austrian Opera, last year Robert sang to mom in her native German. This year, he told her that surely she could not be 88. Even though I don’t speak German, my mother’s blush transcended any language barrier. I knew exactly what he was saying.
Our server, Alicia, decided the requisite piece of chocolate cake at the end of an elegant meal was not enough to celebrate a lady who, at a certain age, still giggled, still told jokes and still walked a straight line in high heels after a Long Island Ice Tea. Alicia brought a butter cake and three giant ice cream filled chocolate topped cream puffs. She brought something even sweeter: the woman who sings in the lounge came to our table and sang for my mother. Were those tears I saw? Naw, not my mom. She doesn’t cry over stuff like that? Maybe those tears were in my eyes.
The manager thanked us for coming. The busboy noticed we loved the bread and filled three black and gold boxes with it: one for each of us to take home.
We drove back away swearing that next year we’ll be satisfied with salad and perhaps some soup. Oh, and the Long Island Ice Tea. We all know this isn’t true. We will follow tradition starting with the arm-twisting, over-ordering and ending with plans for next year. And maybe, that’s the real magic: we leave believing there will be a next year and a next and a next.
Happy Birthday mom. Some stories cry out for sequels and yours is one of them.
Want to know more about my mom?
Stories My Mother Told Me
Mom Talks Trash
I spoke at a writers conference in Hyannis, Cape Cod this weekend. I intended to blog about the conference. Instead, I would like to share the story of my journey. I had an epiphany and it is this: a novelist cannot make up anything stranger than real life and sometimes the best stories involve the lunatics running the asylum.
LAX (Friday): Boston weather delays my flight. Thankfully, they told us this before we boarded so we didn’t have to sit on the tarmac. I arrive in Boston and bolted for my connecting flight on Cape Air for a 25 minute flight to Hyannis. Piece of cake.
Except it wasn't.
Tornado warnings (who knew there were tornadoes on the east coast?) caused Cape Air to cancel the flight on their teeny- tiny-little plane. Good call, except how was I going to get to Hyannis?
Answer: An old lady whose son has ordered a Town Car offers to share because the car is sooooo expensive.
I am saved.
We are joined by a very large man who has just come in fron London. He and the older lady need to make the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.
Our merry band becomes less merry as the driver battles rain and traffic. We inch along. The large man threatens no tip if the driver doesn’t get him to the ferry on time.
Two hours later, we are almost there. The large man convinces the driver that the light we are sitting at is not red but green. My heart goes out to the driver. I object, the man continues to insist. The driver runs the red light (this is not the same as running a red light in a big city, so no worries).
WE MAKE IT!
The ferry is loading as we drive up. The big man bolts through the rain, leaving the old lady behind. I WILL HELP! I get out of the car but the driver has somehow engaged the child lock. The lady inside screams LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! She pounds on the car windows. We scramble, get the door open and I grab the lady's bag. I see the large man settling himself on the ferry. He has forgotten us.
I get back in the car. The gas warning light is on. Forty minutes later he is still out of gas and cannot find the conference center. Finally, we arrive. The hotel was less than half a mile from the ferry.
48 HOURS LATER:
A friend picks me up, shows me the beach and we stop for lunch. I have a margarita. My husband calls.
Husband: “You’re at the airport, right?”
OOPS! I have misread the itinerary (blame the margarita). At the Hyannis airport, I strip off belt, shoes, jacket, pass through security, put everything back on, pack up my iPad, and rush around the corner only to find the Hyannis airport is so small I could have crawled on one knee and still made the flight. I also could have had another margarita.
So, I’m waiting with my seven fellow Cape Air passengers ) when the ticket agent appears. She needs our weight.
My turn comes. This feels like making my first confession all over again. Will she give me absolution or tell me I can't get on that teeny-tiny-little plane because I weigh so much it will tip the whole thing over and we'll all end up in the drink? I get absolved.
The teeny-tiny-little plane ride was rather pleasant. The lady pilot must have known what she was doing because she didn’t spend much time flying. She adjusted her sunshade, filled out paperwork, even whipped out her lipstick. She was rested and gorgeous by the time we landed.
BOSTON: I am an hour and a half early. I have a bag of Checks Mix, a limp rod of string cheese and an apple to get me through the 5 hours to L.A. I am happy.
Boarding: I have the first seat in the bulkhead in economy plus. I am first in and I will be first out. I am blessed. With that thought, everything goes to hell in a hand basket.
I will try to be brief if for no other reason than that I fear the ramifications of reliving the lunacy of this flight.
I am seated along with the business class passengers and my seat mate . One hundred and seventy-two people line up, ready for a Hunger Games fight for overhead space. A very tall woman carting a toddler enters with her shorter husband who carries a baby carrier (baby inside).
Woman (frantically): "My family got separated! We're not sitting together!"
Stewardess (calmly): "I can't leave here, but you can see if anyone will switch with you.”
Woman (frantic building to crazed): "Two babies! I have two babies! You have to switch 'cause I have two babies! Who wouldn't do that for two babies!?"
ANSWER: The group of Chinese people she's yelling at who do not speak English.
SIMULTANEOUSLY: The woman behind me pops up (tall, lovely, and reminiscent of a young spinster in an English novel).
Young Woman (equally frantic): "I have a cat!"
She says it like she's warning "I have a gun". The cat is in a carrier under her seat but the man next to her is allergic to cats. She must now find someone to switch seats with on the sold out flight. The cat is passed over my head and everyone cooes and clucks at the darn thing while the Two-Baby-Lady screams. The cat woman climbs over the bulkhead seats because it's easier than trying to get across the allergic man and his wife.
I have always preferred dogs and I do not like the idea of animals on the plane at all. I do not coo.
LOGISTICS: These two events are happening in the first five rows and passengers are getting antsy.
Stewardess (on intercom): “Please move out of the aisle so everyone can be seated, or we will not leave on time.”
Someone has listened because now there is a tsunami of bodies pouring through the doorway. All these people carry luggage (don’t try and tell me these things are carry on items). As people twist and turn and maneuver said carry on items my head takes a beating because I was lucky enough to get the first seat.
Whack! Wham! Smash! I get up. I stand near the galley. The man seated next to me reads a literary novel. He is safe and oblivious.
Now, one of the Chinese travelers swims upstream toward the door.
Chinese man (anxiously): “Broken leg! Broken leg!”
Those seem to be the only words he knows other than Los Angeles. It is determined he is concerned that there will not be a wheelchair for his wife who has a broken leg once we land. He is swept back by the wave of humanity with large backpacks.
TAKE OFF. Two-Baby-Lady is up and down, looking frazzled. I believe she is hard of hearing. She does not seem to notice her children screaming and when she addresses anyone about her frazzledness it is done in decibels that defy description.
To keep the toddler quiet (about an hour into a 5 hour flight), the father walks him to the front of our section (in front of my seat which is in front of the galley where they keep the giant drink carts).
The toddler (a darling towheaded child) jumps and dances and hollers AND plays with the red levers that act as safety devices to keep the giant carts from crushing someone should the plane take a wrong turn.
I look at the father; he looks at me. I look at the kid; I look at the father; he looks at me. The kid whirls like a dervish. I look at the father. Finally, dad gets it.
Father (daring to touch child): "You shouldn't do that"
There's an impressive bit of parenting.
The child's name must be Damien. He becomes a little ball of curly-headed devil-possessed fury and throws himself into my tray. I grab my drink and glare at the dad who manages to get the kid back to their seats. Damien continues screaming a few rows behind me.
CONTINUING ON: One Chinese tourist tries to hijack the galley microwave for his HUGE bowl of noodles. The stewardess sends him packing. Another Chinese gentleman bounces on his toes while he puts his hands and nose on the door marked DANGER. It's the door that will suck him and me out if opened at 30,000 ft. Lucky me for scoring the seat in front of the door.
The stewardess makes him move back so often that he is finally banned from the front of our section. She won’t even let him go to the bathroom ‘cause it’s near the door.
At which point, I take a powder. The bathroom is quiet. I wonder how long I can stay in there before someone reports me. Just as I get my pants around my knees someone THROWS themselves against the door. The door shakes, heaves and strains. OH GOD! What was happening?
Pants up, I fling open the door expecting the worst only to find a Chinese boy who did not understand the concept of locked. The look on my face transcended verbal communication. He ran.
Finally, there was our pilot. Every half hour he advised us to fasten our seat belts, going so far as to insist the stewards take their jump seats. HURRY! HURRY! NOW! NOW!
The flight is as smooth as silk which leads me to wonder if the pilot had a wing nut loose if he panics that easily.
If you’re still with me, God bless. I won’t bore you with with more about Damien, Two-Baby-Lady, the Chinese tourists or what happened to my little, wheeled carry-on bag once we landed. Just know that if you happened to be driving by LAX last night around ten o'clock and noticed the silhouette of a woman kneeling down, that was me kissing the ground. And, if you read my next book, you won't have to wonder where the inspiration came from.