Flight of the Bumbled

I love flying, all kinds, except the kind that involves planes. I hate airplanes... not the plane itself, but the side effects of TSA on flight. I don't think that I fly often enough to become a TSA identified persons target for writing this, but even with that heightened risk, I can no longer hold myself back.

So, I'm taking flight into my own hands and I'm writing about it. Hopefully the writing therapy will work it's magic and cure all, as it has many crucial moments before.

To fly across this country, I am subjected to a myriad of restrictions which seem to tighten each time I fly. First yellow alert, then orange, and these levels limit what I can pack, what I can wear, and now it seems that we have escalated to high alert, RED and it's all about what I can and cannot say.

The last time we flew, it came down to this: My latest look.
Oh and with the new restriction I find I must add an extra five minutes--that extra five minutes is to grant the husband a head start through security.  

Something about guilt through association...

Flight of the Bumbles II

The treatment for plane phobia is the standard clinical recommendation--immersion, so I'm headed out to fly--cause I'm totally irrationally paranoid of airport security.

I'm at the airport hearing a faux voice over the loud speaker... "We are at an extra high security level," and despite it's monotone calm, my guts begin to unravel.
In my extra high state of insecurity, I perch at the edge of my seat and listen for the next announcement. My nerves are at a matching extra high level, and my reaction is knife sharp. I clutch at my husband, "Did you hear that? Did you? Extra high!"

He mumbles something from under the newspaper that he customarily settles over his face as soon as we alight in any of the nation's waiting areas.

"We are currently at orange."

"Orange?" "Orange," my nervous twinge releases in a snap!  The tightly drawn string releases with a reflexive outrage that is noticeable to other passengers, except to the husband who is still under his paper.

 I'm off on a tirade.

"Orange?" I repeat the comment giving it the correct derisive emphasis, "Orange?" "It's apparent that TSA has never raised children! Do they not understand the fine art of threats?" 

And the diatribe begins.

My verbal soliloquy to the newspaper covered lump continues, "Do they not know that you have to hold back. When you issuing threats, you must reserve something for the worst!  The human psyche becomes inured to the constancy of empty threats."  Hold something back for  "RED" for heaven's sake! 

"What are they going to say when it's red? Explain that? Does the lack of government vision extend even to the airlines?" I continue with rhetorical queries, but that verbal technique works with all government--whether Congress or TSA is involved.

"Has noone thought ahead? What are they going to say next?" I muse aloud. By this time, other potential flyers are overhearing, but I have my earbuds in, so they assume that I am accidentally speaking too loudly over my sound reducing earphones. They would be wrong.

"What comes after extra high level? What can they say next? We are currently experiencing "PEE YOUR PANTS" security levels?" and finally I ease into my ending.

"Please. Anyone with children knows that you must reserve your hyperbole. Hold something back for heaven sakes! That's why my best threats start at one and count to ten. Heaven help the child that doesn't move by five or six. Even a teen knows that to get to eight is life threatening--because by then, Mom has to get up and enforce--and you'd better duck if you make Momma move."

And I settle back into my waiting seat, noticing out of the corner of my eye each head that nods, and eyes that glint. I have made even more converts to the frustration that accompanies flight.

Another important risk in fear therapy is rational thought. It would be healthy to admit that our flight security levels are never--not ever-- going lower than orange. Just admit to myself that flying "extra high security, orange level, ' is forever.

'Cause even though Bin Laden has been assassinated, we're stuck with TSA because no government worker is ever laid off.

And there I go off. Off on another writing rant.

Hey, it's therapy!

Flight of the Bumbled III

I have a total phobia of flying. And part of my therapy is to do it--immersion. It's not working thus far, but, here I go again. Another flight.

An important part of therapy is self-mind manipulation and role playing, so with this flight, I'm trying what the terrorists do, I play "Try to outwit TSA." Thank goodness, it's not that difficult because TSA is always playing catchup. Whatever new crime terrorists have tried, that is the punishment that the rest of us suffer for-- the freak out d'jour.

Today I'm a stripper. I remove my coat, shoes, my belt, my jewelry, hat, hairclip, purse, and just when I feel totally denuded, I'm stopped. The guy watching just through the X-Ray portal points at me and exercises that flicking gesture with the commanding forefinger, "You'll have to take that off."

I look around "What?" I'm truly stumped, not just pretending this time.

I glance down at what I have left on. Last I heard, it was illegal to fly naked. (I'm thinking of the girl that nearly tried it and was kicked off a flight by the airline..."Hey, but I skated through security.")

So, I'm nearly naked, and I guess that the TSA guy is flicking at my wrap. Okay, it's not even a wrap, it's a crocheted poncho--not even a poncho, it's see through accessory that couldn't even possibly in the wildest stretch of my imagination be knitted with fiber nitroglycerine nor piano wires, but his pointer is insistent, "Off."

Never mind the lady going through ahead of me has on a denim overshirt that looks like it is concealing a suicide bomber belt. (My apologies to persons with the perpetual bomber belt look) but, get real.

"This?" I again query. Hoping against hope that he is joking because I really want to continue with my delusion that TSA is smarter than it lets on, and that I am safer than I must be,  but he nods and with his next word, my thin shield of sanity shatters.


Flight of the Bumbled IV

Another flight--another potential conflict with the TSA agent. Today's therapy is visualization. Sit, calm, breathe deep, imagine a happy auspicious outcome to a delightful flight.

But, it's not going to happen. I'm a celiac and that requires a specialized diet that is 80% more expensive than normal food and it's not reimburseable by the government and I can't even take it off on taxes... but that tirade is for another time.


Anyway, when I fly across country I take the opportunity to purchase foodstuff from specialty stores that have heard of flours that are gluten-free, unlike Oklahoma.


Anyway, I am packing this stuff cross country. And it is going to be a problem because I have two entire suitcases packed with four gallon sized bags of white powder and eight little pouches of more white powder.

The powder is in reality just innocuous flours, potato and tapioca starch, sorghum and amaranth flour, and the pouches are guar gum. They really are what they are labeled, but TSA can't know that.

And that's going to cause a problem--a big problem--I'll probably be jailed, or at least waylayed for an hour, or a half hour, or even a minute while they identify the problem from the x-ray, open the bags to check it all for explosive chemicals... and ask all the probing questions. 

But no, not at all. I glide through security, without a comment, no bag check, no chem test, not even a backward glance, nor a flicking finger.  

Although I did have to stop, return and remove the ring that could potentially be a dangerous lazer.

So this round--to my mental chagrin--I again lose the TSA game.   There is no hope that a modicum of rationality exists and that I will be safe flying across the nation with unchecked bags of white potentially dangerous material.  

My ziplocks of white powder moved through airport security without a hitch. The husband later remarked, "The hard thing is to get it into the country from Colombia. But once it's here, it seems you can move it around with impunity."

And that makes all of us feel so secure.

Flight of the Bumbles (Next To) LAST!

As I settle into my seat in the airplane I heave a sigh of relief. This therapy is working. I can almost make it to the plane now without hyperventilating, passing out or vomiting, or imagining all kinds of new hideous invasive scenarios--strip searches, pat downs, cavity searches.  

This time I made it without being detailed for backtalk!  

Oh no, I feel the tension rising...what would it be like next time? No! I'm calm, breathe, imagine peace, play the TSA game... I can do it.

Then I flick open the inflight magazine that describes the newest security innovation, full body chemical blows and X-rated skin-rays. (I knew it! I'm telling you, the goal is to get all of us flying naked!)

And once again, I'm reassured that our most vulnerable are secured by the ignorant insecure.

The tensions escalate. Suddenly, psycho-logically it dawns. It's an initiation--a college initiation. The tougher the process, the stronger the brainwash, the more the stupid college student feels a part of the even stupider group.

And, it's working. As I smile, relax and look forward to the most dangerous part of the flight, takeoff, I'm calm, cool and collected. I, and every other person feel more secure on flights (a comforting statistic provided by the TSA).

And secure for the most part, because we are so relieved to have made it through the perils of security.

Do fly the friendly skies.

…suburban vermin

We have vermin! Encouraging vermin through careless habits is greatly frowned upon in our neck of the woods—that we may actually shelter them in our abode is near profanation, and I risk censure by the neighborhood association if they find out!

The HOA’s (Hallowed Office of Analogousness[1]) current President and protector of decelerating house values will be appalled, but pretending that the problem doesn’t exist doesn’t work either.

Dear Diary,
I think that we’ve moved into a suburban wildlife habitat, and I don’t mean just teenagers. The other day, as I loaded the car for the errand excursion, I glimpsed a little red fox as it pattered across the front yard, up to our garage door and peeped in. The fox was oblivious to me, he was only after the cat food.

So, I admit it! We’re infested with an insidious gremlin whose most repulsive habits are tearing holes in the garbage and defecating in the cat litter! This animal sheds, leaving shoes dangling askew, shirts thrown over doors, a reflector running vest on the saw table, and socks, gloves and hats everywhere else. He stacks the workbench so high that it’s virtually unworkable. The infestation is obvious in the scattered bikes, slung helmets, and unpacked storage bins. The mutt hides the bike pump and drop-kicks all the outdoor sports gear.

Dear Diary,
As a country-raised kid, I spotted cows in the corn, hit deer in the road, and even spied moose in the meadows that occasionally mowed down motorists, but I’ve never seen a fox. T.

The vermin family moves in as does the influx of garden tools, gloves, shovels, trowels, and bulb planters from the garden shed.  The pestilance trashes the potting corner, digging in the dirt, scattering the bulbs that are in various stages of preservation, slacks his thirst in the watering cans, and sucks the life from dormant plants. 

I'm willing to bet that this is the same evil gremlin that loses the tools, jumbles the drawers, mixes the recycle-ables, drips oil on the concrete and this week has scattered oatmeal on the garage floor? (Don’t ask.)

To me:
If the neighbors had noticed, a meeting of the HOA, would be called and plans would have been made for the immediate extermination of that fox, to protect the domesticated felines and rodent-sized poochies.

They breed… in thirty-weight oil maybe? I just know that when one gremlin moves in, others follow. Soon, it looks like you have housed a whole herd. 

[1]People who wish they owned your lot so they could manage it better.

...infestation grows

This pest is inherently evil taking on the appearance of good, ie., the running clothes draped carefully, limp with sweat and moldering on the bike handlebars to rot forever and in the used car towel ready to be used later to polish the car with its encrusted dirt.

To me:
I was raised within miles of a nationally certified wilderness area and that makes me more appreciative and tolerant of nature…somehow. I sympathize with squirrels that have made the big mistake of enduring as suburbia fills in around them. They are in the process of being trapped and deported; no matter that they were here first. Their eradication is aided by the daily commute as cars whip up an assorted road-kill casserole including a mishmash of squirrels, turtles, armadillo’s, frogs and the occasional possum.

And the polish... there are bottles of various car condiments everywhere. This gremlin snacks on car wax and tire-lube. Like salad dressing, one brand is never enough, and a various assortment accumulates along with caulk and duct tape.

The vermin has a strange proclivity for paint cans jumbled, un-stacked, opened and closed haphazardly, poured, spilled, restacked, and infected with rust.

It isn’t too bad until the nesting started. The garage rats unwind every extension cord and hose and carefully create masses of convoluted entanglements for what… or to aid who? whom?

Stop them at the garage or they spread. The nocturnal meanderings can invade the house at night, through the cat door, wandering through and randomly exchanging new light bulbs for old. That’s the only explanation for blow-outs only moments after installation. (I’ve been known to date the bulbs on the base, so I can see how fast he gets to them.) He stores a plethora of bad bulbs in the garage closets, intermingled with the good bulbs.

To me: I worry about the fox. He's shortlived for this world if he irks the husband. I watch the husband’s mole hunt escalate like the gopher hunt in Caddyshack. Bubble gum, traps, flooding, poison, animal feces, he’s tried it all. The cat is canonized each time she catches one to munch on, back feet first. The rest of us rescue and repatriate what’s left to the river park miles away. Gone Environ-mental…me

As yet, the husband is unconvinced of the presence of the garage gremlin, but I see. And as the world slumbers, the garage gremlin drags things out of the house to the garage—items you’d never expect to find there, toys, books, luggage, and toothpaste?

I’ve never discovered how to get rid of the vermin, I could call an exterminator, but that would involve a search for the phone book, the vermin spray, the sprayer and that would only be inviting the problem to worsen.

And truthfully, I think the exterminator is in on it.

I have learned the secret. To keep the beast at bay, all I have to do is suggest a house party. Somehow that is a signal that the pest needs tamed. While I advocate for help inside, the husband sidles outside and makes a valiant attempt to lasso and leash, train and domesticate.

Reality Bite: He assures me that it’s all in the event that a guest might ask for can of W-D 40 to loosen the lid on a jar of pickles.