It’s 7:30pm, and I’m sitting in Brisbane airport, waiting to go to Sydney. Another epic day is done, except this time I don’t know where I’m going to sleep – or who my roommates will be. But the writing stuff is done, so here I am – plugged into an airport socket between a billboard and a pair of guide dogs. In a curious moment of repeating motifs, I ended up eating fish and chips with plastic cutlery for dinner today – just like on that mad first day of this adventure. I wondered at the time why Celia used plastic cutlery, and now I know – the scene was written that way for narrative impact. So not Celia’s fault at all.
And so to today.
I awoke at 3:45am, a fact to which I say: Bring. It. On.
Celia and I both dithered somewhat before leaving the house. This was emphatically not a good thing. Celia had said we should allow an hour. We left with 33 minutes to hand. The trip took 55 minutes.
I tried and failed to print my tickets the previous day. There were technical issues. Celia did frightening things with wires, but the technical issues remained. “It’ll be fine,” I said. “All I need is my ID.”
I love driving in a car at night just after heavy rain. The whole world shines. I didn’t think I’d actually miss my plane. I thought the clenching in my gut at the thought was a feature (not a bug) – a way of adding to the magic flight experience as we raced through the night.
Celia took me through dense bushland (in Australia these areas are known as ax-murderer chic). She ran a red light (not because she was hurrying – because she wasn’t paying attention). I amused myself by wondering if I’d be too smashed up in the coming crash to hitchhike onward to the airport, and then agonised over the moral dilemma of leaving Celia alone and injured so I could still catch my flight.
As time passed, my thoughts changed.
See here’s the thing. When my grandmother died in 2004, I bought a Virgin flight to her funeral. Hazy with grief, I arranged myself a lift to the airport on the wrong day. When I realised my mistake I called a taxi. I arrived 20 minutes before the flight was due to depart – and was refused entry.
There was no-one else in the airport. I had no checked baggage. I explained that my grandmother had just died.
They didn’t let me on.*
And so today, knowing how late I was becoming, I was. . . concerned. My pitching appointment was at 10am, and I was unsure of the location of the conference or how I’d get there from the airport. I wondered if pretending to be pregnant would get me on board. I wondered if I could leave my bag (and all my most precious worldly goods) with Celia in order to pacify security measures. I wondered if violence might help.
Celia dropped me at the Virgin area with ten minutes remaining until my plane flew away. I ran to an annoying perky (sarcastic?) kiosk and put in my details wrong. I tried again. It told me I was too late. It said to see a staff member.
I ran to security. There was a line.
I stood helpless as the tosser in front of me fumbled through his pockets for loose change and mementos of his past life as the kind of evil butterfly that flaps its wings on purpose to kill millions, because that’s fun when you’re an evil butterfly who studies chaos theory. I considered swinging my incredibly heavy bag around my body and knocking him to the cheap carpet with a single blow. (I didn’t.) I bit my knuckle – hard. I wasn’t surprised when I saw I’d actually bitten through my skin and was bleeding.
I got through security, running. They didn’t stop me. I went to the right gate, shaking with fear and knowing that I was panicking and I can’t think when I panic couldn’t find the river am I going to find the right gate or just screw up and cry?
I found the right gate. There was a line. It was going to Brisbane. It was my flight.
I went to the desk, and said who I was.
Have you checked in?
I’m not sure.
Let me see. . . here you go.
He handed me a ticket. I stared at it. I stared at him. He looked blankly back at me.
I stared at the ticket. I stared at him. I said, “I suppose it’d be innappropriate if I kissed you.”
He looked afraid.
I smiled sweetly and went to line up – sweating, shaking, and bleeding.
My day had almost begun.
Did I find my way to the pitch in time? How did it go? Were there tears – and if so when, where, and why?
Tune in tomorrow!
*In the end I was able to pay $50 for a flight several hours later, and I went and cried and then fell asleep in the green green grass out the front of the airport. Two strangers stopped their cars to check I wasn’t dead/injured.
Today’s article is my personal favourite so far. It’s about giving a robot cat the ability to learn and evolve (because what could possibly go wrong?) Here’s a sample:
“This now makes de Garis’ project a practical proposition – when he first conceived the idea many of his colleagues thought he was “nuts”. . . The CAM brain’s developers admit that they cannot predict exactly how it will perform when it is linked to Robokoneko.”