The New Journey Begins – March 27, 2016
There was slack in the belt.
I didn’t care anymore that security had a malfunction with the card reader and almost made 7 plane’s worth of people delayed.
I didn’t think about the fact that I had lost a lot of t-shirts and other brand new personal items while trying to somehow equalise the weight of one of my pieces of luggage, losing my #100days tee, my Zoocraft, and a bunch of others I now sadly miss. *whistfully reaches out for the Doctor Who t-shirt*.
I was definitely not dwelling on the fact that poor Kaylee was now sharing her travel kennel with over a dozen books full of my writing, including the pad I have written this on, let alone all the hell she had endured while waiting in line…
I was well over an hour away from pulling a Heard/Depp in not claiming Kaylee properly on the declarations form, but I’ll get to that in due time.
There was slack in the seat belt. And not just a little. From extra stem to tip, it was well over six inches of excess strap.
See, this is the first flight EVER that I didn’t need a second seat belt, so the idea that there would be so much left over of the first one… let’s just say there was more than a bit of a happy *cry cry cry* moment. Gimme a sec, there are mini onion parades happening in my tear ducts again apparently. “Calling all catharsis feelers, head to the eyes, head to the eyes!!!”
This is one of those ‘things’ that many people thankfully get to take for granted. I guess, moving forward, as long as I am cognisant of my health, I’m not going to need to worry about extra belts, and can focus on the flight itself.
I guess, I should back up, since I did snap some pics along the way and properly document the leaving process. I think for brevity’s sake, I’ll stick to a timeline and fill in details as I go along.
Monday 21st – through – Saturday 26th
Monday was Day 50 for the DayLites, and I have a sense of guilt, severe panic attack, and worry that no one thinks I’m serious about this #100days. I am. I’m so “in” I have been working tirelessly to try to make it the best possible behind the scenes. I just didn’t know before the start of this #100days that we’d be shifting countries, let alone in the midst of this current run of the Journey.
Kaylee and Nia had their final Staten Island Vet appointments – Nia was cleared for international flight, and Kaylee had her bloodwork taken so she could get her Titre test done (currently only Kansas and Texas process this rabies test for domesticated animals requiring international clearance), so we were good as far as Canada to fly.
The hubs, as I’ve mentioned before, had a TN-1 US Work Visa, which expired April 3. Kaylee’s Titre was not due (even in the expedited timeframe we paid extra for) until at *least* April 4. That meant, that in order for us all to remain legal and copacetic, Kaylee would have to go to another country that her rabies vaccine alone without the Titre results would accept. That meant heading to Canada. Doctor Pugilese gave them a final check over, and said goodbye to the pretty girls.
Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday were crazy rush-rush-rush days with punctuated moments of calmness and easy skype chats to bring my panic to a minimum. I can feign chill mode when I need to, when I am a ball of nerves and only want to run around with my hands flailing around like one of those inflatable tube guys. I was still dealing with the information that had been handed to me by my doctor the previous Thursday, which I haven’t even had a chance to tell you about, but will in good time.
Thursday did come with two large time-events. The first was when SuperCosplayMan/ComicMan (yeah, that’s not his name, but calling him SCM or CM is kind of cool from now on. Hopefully he will end up writing one or five hundred articles for DekaSteps, and everyone can see his wit and hear his takes on things from Pratchett to Teen Titans and so many more!) and I had to endure the cold and silliness (he was right, I’m saying it outright for the world to see) of me being worried that the shippers would come and we wouldn’t be ready, so we sat outside in the frigid cold air, waiting for over 3.5hrs for the shippers to arrive.
He was cheerful, we had a unique time to bond more, and he understood my sense of panic, so he didn’t fault me on it in the least. He’s a really decent guy, and I hope you get to see his brilliant goodness as well. (Yes, this is totally a shameless plug to stroke his ego, and if it helps, than his wife is utterly fantastically wonderful and adorable and punny and sweet and I need her to write for DekaSteps as well, because the world would be better with her telling her stories too! AHHH that feels better. Now I can work on double guilt…err… double the respect I mean)…
Dinner with the SCM and his SuperGorgeousWonderful wife, our Comic Shop Lady, Joy and her ‘other half’ – Cable TV host, Ed. At some point, I really have to do a proper shoutout to Hypno-Tronic Comics in Staten Island, NY. Why? Joy was my first official friend on the island, and as such, she gets my loyalty and fealty for life.
Friday was panic time. Would the laundry room be open early enough? We were still on reserve power since the start of the month when we had a horrible fire in the apartment building. Hubs had the day off work, as Thursday was his last official day at his USA job. I tried to cuddle the kittens – particularly Nia, as I wouldn’t be seeing her for 11 days after Kaylee and I left, and tried to sleep, tried to sleep, tried to… ah fuck it. I “rested” reasonably well. The boy made a fantastic curry chicken, and I spent the remainder of my last ‘resident’ day as a Staten Islander (Statenite? Ack! What was I called!?) trying to stay calm, not overthink anything, and relax as much as possible, so I wouldn’t agitate the flealionesses.
At midnight, I gave up trying to sleep for good, and started my final countdown of things to do in America before leaving. Dope the cat, harness the cat, stuff the cat in the kennel, make sure luggage is at the door, do I have my boarding information, passport, etc with me handy… taxi called and en route shortly… then it was 145am and Kaylee and I were heading down the elevator of 60 Hamilton Avenue for the last time.
No time for tears, the taxi is there, and the boy is kissing me and making sure that I have everything and I’m going to be fine and … the taxi is leaving, I wave bye to the boy, and whisper, “Bye Hamilton Avenue, thank you for the memories but not that fucking hill”. Then zooming past Forest Avenue, where I had my first date ever with the hubs way back in 2014, and then two of the most significant tattoos of my life near that restaurant (Nucci’s and Bound for Glory Tattoo, respectively).
And then passed a couple private schools, the last epic view of the Verassano Narrow’s Bridge, and it all becomes a blur of memories until I’m being dropped off at Terminal A Departures – and there is a FREE buggy I don’t have to go in search for to load up my luggage/Kaylee, and I get inside the Newark, New Jersey International Airport, and it’s 2:18am. Of course the Air Canada ticket booth to check in isn’t open yet. But I put my luggage buggy at the starting line area, and go to sit down with Kaylee at the closest bench to wait for it to open.
There is a delightful lady who is a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, and we proceed to have an over 2 hour discussion about flying, international locations she’s visited, DekaSteps, Kaylee and then she thanks me (and my husband) for ‘not being shitty and going online and buying fake service animal certificates so we can transport the furgirls for free.’
Well, let me just say this, it didn’t even cross our minds to be anything BUT honest. She pulled her phone out and showed me various pictures of “service animals” and “emotional support assist animals” that have been on the various flights she’s attended. Look, I am ALL for someone having their guide dog, or even emotional support animal – if they need the animal. Doing a disservice by claiming a fucking TURKEY is an emotional support animal ((on a DELTA flight)), is not only a slap in the face to those who are truly needing that service available to them, such as the blind, or autistic children who have bonded to an animal.
Transporting a fucking turkey to EAT (which apparently the fool made the announcement that the bird was being relocated for thanskgiving dinner purposes, and since that made the guy ‘happy’ made the bird an ‘emotional support’ animal. NO NO NO NO NO >.< you are not a decent person if you try to skirt the rules for your own personal gain!)
((**disclaimer: a girlfriend of hers was on that Delta flight as an attendant, and had to clean up after the foul fowl**)) .
She showed me other pictures of others that were clearly abusing the privilege and necessity that was created for those who have an actual need, but since I don’t want to get her into trouble, I won’t go into detail about the specific ones she’s had to clean up the piles of shit and try to FIND when various passengers get drunk on the flight and let their animals out of the cages/kennels, etc.
Long story short: If I EVER have to use Southwest Airlines for anything, I truly hope she’s the flight attendant, as she is so amazingly sweet, and she gave me about a dozen hugs and wished me and Kaylee all the best in our flight to Canada, and then onto Nevis.
430am came and the people for Air Canada started to shuffle in.
I’m going to speed up the time a bit here and just say I have no clue what happened with the luggage – one was grossly underweight – and of course that was immediately accepted and sent off, and the second was over 22lb over. Wasn’t allowed to pay an overweight fee at that point, and was told I had less than 5 minutes to get it all sorted. I started to chuck things I now miss, but since it’s just mostly tshirts, some things I would break a few people’s hearts to reveal was lost in the fray, and my laptop’s mouse (along with a bunch of memorabilia in a box I was keeping I guess not so safe), I was finally at the 48lb (they wouldn’t let me shift another two pounds worth from Kaylee’s kennel back in! That poor kitten! She’s so amiable, I can’t begin to express how good of a traveling companion she is!!! Love her so much!), and I’m finally free to go. OH MY STARS. What is this lineup?
One person (from what we were informed in the line) was able to swipe their card to get into the security area, while EVERYONE (25+ others) were stuck outside the door, still trying to get in to do their job. So one dude was stuck trying to do +25 peoples’ jobs, for seven (yup, 7) full 737/747/etc types of planes – hundreds of passengers lining up. I was the FIRST one through my Air Canada part – at 445am max, I hit the line.
***** I am purposely going to try to punctuate the next area with some bitmoji’s of ‘me’ that might break up the tension of what I’m going to relay, as it’s not exactly pleasant – and let me say for the record, Kaylee is fine, she probably felt less than 1/10th of what was happening.*****
After a ridiculous amount of time standing in line, Kaylee’s starting to get a bit more restless and a bit agitated (remember, I’ve shoved a bunch of papers and stuff under her, so her actual move-around-space is cut into about 1/4 of the room). I try to calm her down as we move through the line, but when we’re separated into 4 lines [pending when the actual security team is able to get into their positions], there’s a situation that develops that is soon consuming all of my attention. I tried to ignore it as long as possible, and even downplayed it significantly when talking to the hubs later, because well, I didn’t want to scare or unnerve him. But here it is, for (him) and everyone to read at the same time.
The IDIOT behind me begins to swing his suitcase and it is repeatedly hitting Kaylee’s carrier, even though I keep moving Kaylee away from his motion, and he’s talking to someone on the outside of the tape line very loudly and is ignorant to his surroundings. Swing. BANG.
I glare back at him and move her away again. He ignores me and keeps shout-talking to his friend.
I have nowhere to move. Swing. BANG.
I AM GOING TO FUCKING SNAP.
It’s like 530 in the morning by this point, and we’ve been in line for 45 minutes and Kaylee doesn’t understand what is going on and this fool is banging on her kennel. She’s trying to move around now, and she’s shoved her body into the remaining ‘front’ area, as far away from the supreme fuckwhistle as she can, but he is relentless.
“Sir, my cat is in here, could you not do that please?”
Why do people think this is an acceptable response for being a raging douchecanoe? “It’s a free country.”
I shake my head; nope, it’s not worth it. Breathe, Sera, it’s okay. Kaylee is fine. Just repeat yourself a bit louder.
“Sir, could you please watch where you are swinging your luggage.”
“Make me.” <<< REALLLY? Who even says this shit. Are you a 5 year old on the kindergarten playground? Did your little sister just tell you to give her back her brush? WTF?!
Last time to try to be nice… and at this point, I’m only slightly aware that there are many others who are now very intrigued with this show going on, as it’s a nice distraction for them in the line as NOTHING seems to be moving. I’m about to say something, but I don’t have a chance, before the case comes sailing toward her kennel, and I barely get it out of the way as it grazes the size of the kennel (it’s a soft carrier designed for travel in cabin) – and “TING!” the case connects with the pole next to me holding the tape line in it, and now everyone is looking to see what the hell is going on.
Foolishly, I wasn’t prepared for this connected hit, and the tiny little “mew” that emanates from the kennel smashes my heart into about a trillion pieces. The guy in front of me has graciously offered as much space as he can, and I take the step forward, trying to shield Kaylee from anymore harm. The gentleman whisper-asks me her name, I say “Kaylee” and he starts to quietly talk to her, while the FOOL behind me is now going on about how I’m carrying germ warfare and shit.
Me, raising my voice, as I am now losing what little patience I have left, as he reaches around to bang on the top of Kaylee’s case and that’s it. GAME FUCKING ON.
You do NOT want to piss me off when I need to pee and you’re potentially scaring if not also physically HARMING my child…
“Look, I was trying to be nice. PUT YOUR FUCKING LUGGAGE ON THE FLOOR! GROW UP! YOU’RE NOT FIVE YEARS OLD! MY CAT DOES NOT NEED YOU TO BE HARASSING HER, SHE’S CONFUSED AND SCARED ENOUGH AS IT IS.”
*He proceeds to purposely swing the bag this time, and because of how I’m standing, he has to try to reach around me to reach her now, and I hip check it away from Kaylee’s kennel.* And now I do something I am not proud of, but he’s continuing to exacerbate the situation.
“Buddy, do you really think it’s wise for YOU to be harassing someone like ME?”
This takes him off guard. I can see two security officers (they are now all in and the line is starting to move really fast now) heading towards us. The guy he’s talking to outside of the line takes off immediately, and I’m red-faced, PISSED off, and have to pee, and I’m worried so sick that Kaylee might have a heart attack from the stress or fear (remember, she’s not had the best life to begin with before we rescued her last year), and the security folks are almost at us… the fool/idiot/loser/whatever you want to call him, drops his luggage immediately to the floor, and proceeds to SLIDE IT up passed me, and next to the guy who is still trying to talk to Kaylee and calm her down.
This part is actually laughable, because I swear, I wasn’t ready for such a deep voice out of a guy, especially since I’ve been hearing him coo Kaylee so softly, but “OH HELLLLLLLL NO!” comes out of his mouth, and I can’t help but audibly chuckle.
There are red cards that are handed out in footie, and they aren’t good. Guess what? The ones at an airport aren’t either.
Smugpixie watched as the cat hater was handed a red card that has in big BOLD letters “EXTRA SCREENING REQUIRED” and a list of things they will be needing to prepare to do. One that was listed was “potential cavity search”, and the humanist side of my brain goes for a break while the mama side of my brain really hopes that someone forgot to warm up anything that is used to scope things out up there. Don’t judge me too harshly, he had been attacking my cat for over 40 minutes without provocation.
I didn’t say I was proud to think it, but I would be completely remiss in telling the story with accuracy if I didn’t say I purposely acted as short and vulnerable after that as possible to get through security. I’m innocent of anything nefarious, and I’m sure they didn’t find anything bad on the guy. Maybe next time he won’t be such a jerk.
So I get through the line at the security, and everyone by this point has been waiting to see Kaylee as I have to remove her from her kennel, and “oooh, she’s so cute!” and “pretty kitten, sorry that mean guy hurt you!” and all other form of coos are all over the security area, while I’m trying to get a scared, half stoned, sleepy, sweet Kaylee Buttons back into her overcrowded kennel, all of my stuff back on, including my shoes, and I happen to see on the screen of the one security worker’s computer that it is 602am. Oh good, and now we run.
I am so thankful for many things, and at this point, my #100days and my desire to get healthy and my walking/standing ability all come in so handy, but I wasn’t prepared to have to run with over 35lbs of extra stuff, leather jacket on, laptop and kitten (she’s almost 12lb, so hardly a kitten), bouncing and I get to the gate and they are loading Zone 1 of the flight.
I look at the boarding pass – I’m Zone 4. They are checking extra luggage at the gate, free of charge. I grab that chance, and give them the carryon, hoping like hell my laptop isn’t destroyed in the process, and go sit for 45 seconds (might have been closer to 12, who knows anymore) and notice the lady three seats away is calmly typing on her laptop.
“Excuse me, could…” I don’t know if it’s the crazy-I-have-to-pee-so-bad-I’m-in-tears look, or the tone that is the same.
“Sure I’ll watch…” she looks at the kennel, smiling.
“Sure, you go pee, Auntie Mel is here with Kaylee.”
“Oh, thank you!” Okay, that was a bit TOO hysterically happy as my bottom lip is trembling and I’m sincerely about to leak from … somewhere, but then I’m sprinting, and Olympic medalists could take pointers off of me at this point.
You know that kind of “aaaaaaaaaaah” you get when you relax; I mean that complete utter soak into a bubble bath, have a drink of ice cold water on a hot day, collapse on a bed with brand new flannel warmed sheets? Yeah, that’s the kind of relief I had in the bathroom.
“Now that’s a woman who is happy to pee!” someone said from outside of my stall. I don’t think I’ve ever audibly “aaaaaaaaaaah’d” as long or loudly. Not to be too gross, if peeing could have an orgasmic level of reality, I was the Nirvana Queen of Stall #4. I got the two thumbs way up from one of the ladies, and they all laughed when I mock-curtsied when I went to wash my hands. All of that, and back out into the waiting area for the flight, just as they were calling the first loading of Zone 3. I had time to actually sit an breathe for a moment.
“Thank you, Mel.”
((As I type this up, Kaylee can sense that I need her affection again and she’s now laying within petting distance of my left hand. I love this flealioness so much.))
“Her and her sister know it.” Mel looks confused, and I begin to explain – the short version – of Nia/hubs heading to Nevis on a different day/flight and why.
“Zone 4 will begin loading now, please have your passport open to your picture, and your boarding pass ready.”
It’s funny how people see snapshots of you, and that’s all they will ever see. There were three Australians who had been in line behind me at the start of the Air Canada check in, and I didn’t see them again until we were lining up to board the plane.
“Ye made it then I see!” The younger one with eyes as blue and bright as Kaylee’s says.
I don’t know why, but I answered “Aye, that we did” and now I wonder if he thinks I donned a sudden Scottish accent thinking that was Australian, or trying to perhaps sound cultured in some way, or that I was mimicking or mocking or … see what happens in my head in the space of about 0.04 seconds? Perhaps he assumes I am just a huge David Tennant or Billy Connolly or Peter Capaldi fan – which I am obviously – but that’s not why I did it. I don’t know why I did it. If you’re that Aussie, and you’re reading this at any point in the future, it was way too early for my brain to be processing regular conversations apparently, and I was still quite keyed up from all the angry and running and peeing and worrying… sometimes you just have to be Scottish to an Aussie and get on a plane from America to Canada.
The flight itself was calm, short, and wonderfully quiet. I was in an aisle that normally would hold three people, but I had the entire row to myself. I had a bit of a lay-down – 20 minutes or so, and managed to enjoy the beautiful view of the morning through my window on the west side of the plane.
The papers for declaring the stuffs that were coming into Canada – Dear declaration form creators, please list live carry on animals in a different area than you do!
I overlooked the phrase “LIVE ANIMAL” on the section that had ‘meat, fish, animal by-products…’ and didn’t mark it down that I had anything to declare, because I didn’t think I did. I figured Kaylee’s travel docs would be good enough, since their vet in Staten Island is USDA certified to write those kinds of things, and her rabies info and everything else…
When we got off the plane, I made sure I had all of Kaylee’s medical paperwork, her international certificate for travel, etc, and went to the kiosk, not seeing where I would “check her” in – okay, maybe because she was already cleared in USA, she was good to go? Who knew… I’ve never flown with an animal before.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO FLY WITH AN ANIMAL:
A giant red “X” on my customs form is scary. V6621 (of course I didn’t think to write down anything, I was too busy trying to not get Kaylee taken away from me, which is a very distinct possibility if you don’t declare your animal) I think it said Being told I SHOULD have a $3600 fine for withholding information about a live animal is even more frightening. Being told that the animal can be confiscated and destroyed… I’m in tears again even thinking about the fact that I almost put this poor creature in a position to be killed because of my own stupidity.
DECLARE YOUR ANIMAL.
Thankfully, they realised very quickly that I had no desire to hide her, and seeing the shock and fear and panic and ALL of her paperwork I kept trying to give them… they were very kind at Pearson International Airport Customs. I had to deal with five people in total, and each one was incredibly sympathetic to the fact that I wasn’t attempting anything nefarious, it was just an oversight and it was early and I wasn’t thinking clearly and didn’t realise that Kaylee was to be listed with the meat and fish because no one was going to eat my cat and… Just in case you’re thinking about being a goofus and NOT declaring your animal… you might want to rethink it. HERE’S why.
“Ma’am, calm down, you’re okay. Welcome back to Canada.”
So I get through the doors, and head down the ramp with my luggage and very sleepy stoned kitten (I gave her another 1/2 dose of her sedative pill once we were on the plane), and we get down passed the new arrivals to Canada who are hugging children and grandchildren, and I see her. THAT BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. Sweet D, our Hostess with the Mostest Heart. I have a moment to catch my breath before I call her name, and she sees us.
Hug, tears, smile, smile, hug, hug, kisses, tears, hug, thank you for the XL Tim Hortons coffee – shot of cream in there, gulp, yup, chugging that fucker down, pour in the rest of the cream, down it goes in one big CHUG CHUG CHUG – you wimpy frat boys ain’t got nothin’ on a Canadian chic who needs a coffee – and BOOM, done. Time for another round of hugs and kisses and happy tears, and cooing at the sleepy stoner kitten, and off into the cold of Toronto to head to D’s place for the next 11 days.
A lot of that time I’m going to keep private, as it was special and important just for us, but it definitely secured our friendship, and solidified our sisterhood.
And now it’s time to go wipe these eyes again, as this brought back all the damn feels from the trip, and I need to remind Kaylee how incredible she is.
If you take one thing away from this entire article, please make it this: If you are going to travel with an animal, don’t be douchey and make them a service/emotional support animal unless you need to HONESTLY, and DECLARE THEM properly on your forms!!!!
And to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say on that subject.”