Incidentally, this is a late posting but I'm hoping you'll join me in saying better late than never. It had been so long since I last set an aching foot in my beloved shiny, tacky Mecca--19 interminable, painful, jonesing months. Finally, however, my time had come. It was departure day! Thursday, 11/15/12 My flight was leaving at 1:05 PM and I'd been up since 7 the night before, plus I hadn't slept much the day before either. To further celebrate my ability to plan things well, I'm way behind on my overpacking. I did at least have the laundry done but as to actual packing, not so much. I hadn't even decided on what to take and what not. You'd really think I'd be better at this by now. I did do some prep work while I was not sleeping or packing. I printed off my coupons, my Restaurant.com certificates, my flight information, etc and got all my bills paid online. I also had to make a Walmart run to stock up on stuff for my nephew Duncan (my nephew who takes care of the apartment and the cats for me when I'm gone) and the B Boys, the aforementioned legendarily doofball cats, to eat while I was gone, along with trip essentials like geezer cream. I had planned to squeeze a nap in there somewhere but every time I laid down I'd either think of something I needed to make sure I didn't forget and have to get up or, even worse, I'd lie there in that frustrating tired-but-not-sleepy mode. In between all the other fun, I had to deal with the B Boys who were not at all happy to see me packing stuff, especially Bubba. Bubba is a very cranky cat when he's displeased. I spent way too long doing a stupid little packing dance where I'd put stuff in, take some of it out, then put even more stuff in. I tried (No, really. I did. I tried.) to make a desperate and futile effort to fight my usual urge to overpack but I swear things would just appear and fling themselves into the suitcase. And then there was the laptop. I have a USB thing from Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go that I use for my internet on these trips. It's a no contract thing so I just activate it before I go. Easy peasy. Or at least it always had been. I usually go ahead and activate it earlier but I had to wait for payday which was the day I was leaving. Once we passed midnight and my check was in the bank, I plugged in the USB, hit connect and....nothing. It kept saying the remote computer or some such wouldn't respond. Uh oh. I left it on and kept coming back to it through the night and morning, trying to get a connection but my luck didn't improve. After a while, I had to concentrate my efforts on cramming too much crap into my suitcase and ignored the whole USB thing. As it was getting closer to time to go, I saw the laptop had put itself into suspend mode and decided to give the connection thing another try. That's when I was reminded that things can always get worse. Now it wouldn't turn on at all. No response. Nothing. Just that black blank screen silently taunting me as I darkly muttered the longest string of cuss words ever put together at one time. After a bit of debate, I decided to go ahead and bring it along anyway, praying that it was merely in a comatose state and not pushing up cyber daisies. Hope springs infernal. Since I wasn't having any luck resuscitating the laptop, I put it in its carrier so it could think about the wickedness of its ways and then returned to something I was good at--overpacking. I had gotten some of those compression bags to use this trip. Of course it never occurred to me to try them out before I was actually leaving. Noooooooo, that would have taken all the adventure out of it. It seemed simple enough, which is always the warning sign of fresh hell afoot. You put in the clothes, roll it up, and the air goes out of a one way valve, leaving you with clothes that take up a lot less room in your case. A lovely theory except I didn't see any valve and there wasn't a lot of air coming out of the bag. Eventually, my last functioning brain cell clicked into place and I realized that the "valve" was actually the bottom of the bag. It's amazing how much better it worked once I stopped rolling it in a way that compressed where the air was supposed to come out. It also helped a lot when I didn't pack nearly as much stuff in the bags. They do actually save a good bit of space when you're packing, although I belated began to realize that this wasn't necessarily such a good thing when you have a tendency to overpack in the first place. Not that I let this stop me. I thought I was almost done when I saw a Tshirt that I know I had intended to take with me so I unzipped the case yet again and squeezed it in there. Duncan arrived just as I was finishing Take #741 of packing (Packing/cramming crap in there--let's not quibble) and took the suitcase away from me, putting it near the door to take out in a few minutes. But first I had to make his eyes shine with delight as I showed him the excessively long list of things for him to remember while I was gone and then proceeded to tell him pretty much everything on there anyway. Since much of it was stuff he already knew, I could tell that he especially enjoyed it. No wonder he loves house/cat sitting for me. It was getting close to time to head out so I went into the bedroom to change. I was going to be wearing black pants so I had decided to wait until the very last minute to dress in the futile hope to keep them cat hair free. Once again, I am optimism's bitch. As he headed down the stairs to take my suitcase down to the car for me, I realized why that shirt I had wanted to take with me was out--I had planned to wear it. As good a look as black pants, a bra, and a hoodie jacket is on a middle aged fat woman, I decided I'd best go formal and wear a shirt. Fearing that he might actually collapse with joy if I asked him to haul the luggage back up three flights of stairs, I decided I'd just go with a green Tshirt which had, after suffering motion sickness from being put in/taken out/put back in/taken out again several times, finally ended up winning the lottery and getting to go after all. Soon after he got back, I said goodbye to the B Boys, told Duncan a couple of more things he already knew, got my obligatory eye roll and bone-crushing hug, then headed off to Rinky Dink airport.