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I’ve never heard anyone say anything good about the Philadelphia airport.  I should re-phrase that, I have only heard people say bad things about the Philadelphia airport, so when I booked my connecting flight through Philly en route to Las Vegas, I was a bit apprehensive.  I was not, however, so apprehensive that I was willing to pay an extra $50 each way to avoid Philadelphia, and none of the horror stories I’d heard were terribly specific as to what the hell was so wrong with this airport.  Usually people just said something to the tune of, “It’s a mess” and left me to draw my own conclusions.

I got a voicemail from Baby-Having Best Friend a few months ago that said “Call me right away, it’s important.” Naturally I panicked and called her, leaving her a message with exactly when I would be able to talk within the next two days.  She finally called me three days later and said, “Ok, it’s not an emergency, but I would like to talk to you.”  We continued to play phone tag until she finally cracked and left the message, “I wanted to talk to you about this and have an actual conversation, but this situation is this: I have just watched the Hangover, and I think you, me, Map Fleece, and Cricker need to have a girls’ weekend in Vegas.  Now we should probably just resort to email cause this phone thing isn’t working.”

So we picked a time, and booked a hotel.  Then I started shopping for flights, settling for leaving Friday from Providence, connecting through Philadelphia, and arriving in Las Vegas around 9pm local time.

Then the curse of the City of Brotherly Love struck me.

I arrived at the Providence airport (which is not in Providence) without incident, cleared security, bought an iced coffee and some trashy magazines, then had a smooth takeoff and landing.  For reasons I can no longer remember, we were a bit delayed getting either into Philly or off of the plane, but I hauled ass to my connecting gate, and made it there just in time for boarding.  Then we sat on the plane for the next two hours.

After 30 minutes of waiting, the captain told us that we were 25th in the queue to takeoff.

After 45 minutes, the captain said that there was lightning and we would have to wait it out before the tower would give us clearance.

After an hour and 15 minutes, the captain said that the direction we were traveling was now clear.  We taxied onto the runway, sped up, then slowed down and drove off to the side.  The captain said that the tower had just said “Just Kidding!” and we could no longer take off.

More time passed with the captain popping on the horn intermittently saying things like “Folks, I’m sure you’re frustrated, we’re frustrated too” and finally culminating with, “We have to go back to the gate since you all have been sitting on this plane for over two hours.”  People were given the option to get off, stay in town, and rebook for the following day, and then about 20 minutes after that, the rest of us who had so foolishly held up hope of getting out of town were told that the flight was canceled.

After re-booking for the following morning, I went off in search of food and beer.  I don’t really eat much when traveling since all that sitting kind of kills my appetite, so by this point, it was 10pm, and I had had a sandwich at noon.  The only offerings at this late hour were fried foods, but I convinced the bored waitress in the first bar that I found to make me a plate of nachos.  I ate nachos for dinner, drank two beers, paid $31 for all of it, and then went off to find a quiet corner to hole up in until 7:55am when my next flight took off.

I managed to find a gate where the seats didn’t have armrests, and CNN wasn’t blaring at an uncomfortable volume, and also found an abandoned US Airways pillow lying on the ground.  With that, my backpack, and a tanktop laid over my eyes, and my pajama pants pulled on under my skirt for warmth, I settled in, hobostyle, for a long night of restless restlessness.

The following morning I boarded a plane bound for Chicago.  I got off in Chicago, ate a bagel, and got back onto the same plane to continue my journey.  Prior to this trip, I had no idea that you could take a plane that behaves like a train or bus, so I guess I’m glad I learned that (?)  This plane’s final destination was Los Angeles, but I got off in Phoenix where the carpet has tiny airplanes on it.

Once arriving in Las Vegas, I hauled ass to the cabstand, got a lift to the hotel, called my ladies, changed into my swimsuit, and went to the pool to drink buckets of beer in the sun.  After the pool closed, I insisted that we go eat Mexican food, since there is no decent Mexican food in Rhode Island and I needed some food in my stomach if I was going to be able to keep drinking.  We went to a Mexican restaurant, ordered a pitcher of margaritas and food, posed for a picture with a mariachi band, and then I passed out at the table.

I have a very dim recollection of my friends fussing over me, and the waitress saying something like “she’s really drunk, huh?  She didn’t seem drunk” and me wanting to protest that I wasn’t actually drunk just exhausted, but I didn’t have the strength.  Map Fleece took our food to go, and dragged me back to the room while Cricker and BHBF went out drinking.

I now have my Philadelphia airport horror story, though I suppose if anyone asks me, I’ll probably just shrug and say, “It’s a mess” since telling the whole story takes too much time.

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When I ran the Walt Disney World half marathon a year and a half ago, my dad kept pestering me over and over for what I thought my time would be.  It really does make sense that if you’re going to run in a race, your official time is important, but he just wouldn’t shut up about it.  In trying to organize the relay for the grog and dog job, team: The New Hotness needed to figure out how fast we could all run/eat a hot dog and chug a beer (well, we didn’t need to, but when you get a bunch of overachieving academics together, it’s just inevitable).  Yesterday was our dress rehearsal.

In preparation, I ate two hard-boiled eggs and did some deep knee bends.  We mapped out a course beginning and ending at Canadian Male Friend’s house where Wise Lawyer Friend would remain with the stop watch, and where the food and drink would be ready for each runner as he or she came back.  Having run a lot and quickly the previous weekend, I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to get around the loop in a timely way– less confident about my ability to eat and drink while winded.

Chinese Religious Scholar Friend went, and did very respectably; Early Christianity Religious Scholar Friend went and surprised us all with her speed despite having little legs, and Canadian Male Friend (Judaic Studies) ran the 1.25 miles before we even had a chance to get his hotdog and beer out onto the porch.

I got lost.

One of the streets on the route was not marked, and I added on an extra block plus minor backtracking and the extra time of standing there and looking for a familiar landmark, making my time the most pitiful of the bunch. My eating speed was adequate, but not enough to erase the shame of coming in dead last.

Later that evening, my parents called, and I let it go to voicemail.  I listened to my dad’s rambling and somewhat nonsensical account of his weekend running the Twin Cities Marathon, “Best time I’ve had in two years, Annie, so I’m real proud of that.  I feel good about it.”

Seriously, what are the odds?

Next weekend, I assume, the course will be clearly marked, so unless some local punks re-route things, it should work out fine.  I’m confident that if I get to the gym a couple times this week, I can work on my sprinting, and when the times comes, The New Hotness will win the day.

Rhode Islanders call shopping carts carriages, drinking fountains “bubblas” (or bubblers, if you pronounce your “r”s, which are optional), and apparently (this I haven’t been able to verify yet), see-saws i.e. teeter-totters are called danglers. Sounds filthy. Then there’s the best one: milkshakes are called cabinets. I’ve only met one person actually from Rhode Island, and I haven’t had the opportunity to interrogate her as to these language differences, I’ve just read them and heard from people who are not from here, but live here.

The other night I was in a car with people from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, etc., and I found out about this whole cabinet thing. No one was 100% sure, though, as to whether Rhode Islanders call cabinets milkshakes, or milkshakes cabinets. Do you order a strawberry cabinet? or put your dishes away in the milkshake? I cannot even begin to understand where this comes from since no milkshake ingredients are kept in cabinets, and it’s specific to Rhode Island. I haven’t been anywhere yet that serves cabinets, but I intend to. Also, I don’t know if I would be mocked for ordering a milkshake when I clearly mean cabinet.

In further New England news, I was in Massachusetts Saturday buying alcohol (no tax), and dropping off bottles ($.05 deposit). I’ve never dropped off bottles before and really had no idea what to do. I found an open door labeled “redemptions” and assumed that that was what I wanted. I went in, and saw what looked kind of like a tiny Laundromat covered with bright yellow signs that read “NO RHODE ISLAND CONTAINERS” There was a little old man in there, not redeeming anything, just standing there. I read the sign further trying to understand what the hell a Rhode Island container was, and if this was some other slang that I didn’t get, and he piped up, “no Rhode Island containers.”

“Yes, what does that mean?”

So he showed me that it had to have the MA $.05 deposit printed on the label in order to be redeemed. I loaded my bottles in the machine as he stood there and watched. I have no idea if he worked there, or if he’s a guy who hangs out hoping someone will just give him bottles, which must be a pretty easy (if boring) way to make a little money. Nice guy though.