02 September 2008

Day 1: Los Angeles–Houston–Paris

This morning seemed to start well, and after my father dropped me off at LAX. I breezed through check-in and security, and I had every indication that it all would go smoothly for a change; except that once I was aboard Continental Airlines Flight 1594 to Houston, secure in my naive belief that we would start on time, the plane decided to taxi out to the runway, and then go right back to the gate again. A computer problem, or so it was explained to us through the infrequent updates from the disembodied voice of the captain. 

We left LAX an hour and fifteen minutes late, and with a layover in Houston of only an hour and a half before my Air France flight to Paris, I had some concerns. Okay, extreme concerns. The captain cut some time off the flight and we made it to the Houston airport with about forty-five minutes to spare, but I still had to sprint along the movingt sidewalks. (People, do not stand on the left side of the moving sidewalk. That's for the panic-mongers such as myself to sprit along so we can make our flights because our airline bungled the connection.) This, by the way, is the third trip in a row in which I have experienced obnoxious delays on the tarmac. I thought I would break the cycle here, but I have fallen into some sort of Taoist recursion. I'll just have to rely on the stoic philosophy of Ancient Greece to get me through.

After the mad sprinting through Houston, I boarded Air France Flight 33X to Paris-De Gaulle, and suddenly encountered instructions and questions in French. Damn, all this time trying to learn German and Slovene, and the first language that confronts me is French! My meager knowledge of the language failed me and I started spewing out German phrases instead of English ones, a language they are much more likely to understand. I was a bit frazzled from the time crunch, which didn't help. I hope my luggage makes it.

Now I'm on the Air France flight to Paris. We have a touch of turbulence to deal with, but I've already had my complimentary glass of white wine, so I feel mellow about it. Amazing, I am actually starting to enjoy white wine!

I should arrive in Paris at 8:40 a.m. local time, which will feel like about 1:40 Houston time (which was the last time I reset my watch). It's a nine-hour flight, and I'm amusing myself with the graphic novel Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons. Hopefully, I nod off later for the last part of the flight. I think we get champagne with the meal. That will help.

Whoa... sudden awakening many hours later as the airline switches to the "breakfast menu" light. I can see the slight blue horizon of a Gallic dawn outside my window. I've only slept fitfully on this flight, not so well as I did on the flight to Brussels last year, but that flight took place during my regular sleeping hours anyway. The second glass of wine and the cognac did help me catch about two hours of sleep, with the complimentary eye mask, plus Kind of Blue playing on the headphones from my iPod. Back up, got through some episodes of Deep Space 9 on my laptop DVD before the battery died. I imagine we will be on the ground at Charles De Gaulle airport in about an hour.

Since it it now technically “tomorrow,” I'll cut off this blog entry and start anew on September 3rd, as I start on the last leg of the journey to Munich... and finally get to see my nephew!

Again, I hope my luggage makes it. (It did, not to keep you in suspense.)