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I'm not lost, I just don't know where I'm going.
But I'm determined to enjoy the journey.
Yeah, I need to update LJ more often. 
2nd-Jan-2011 19:52
Treehugger
 

Alive and well, for the most part. Just been terribly uninspired to write, so this is super late.

The rest of my trip to the US was okay. I still don't like Schiphol much. Had to go through the body scanner there (they put everyone through it as far as I could tell, and I didn't realize you could opt out/not sure if I could have). They are also really bad at getting people through security in a timely manner, and this coupled with security at the gate for my flight to the US ended up with us being AN HOUR BEHIND SCHEDULE at take-off because yes, it really does take that long to board a full jumbo-jet. I was distraught because my scheduled layover in Detroit was just 1 hour 45 minutes, in which I knew I had to go through immigration, picking up my luggage and taking it through customs, re-checking baggage, and then going through security, all before boarding my connecting flight.
I got lots of moral support from the passenger next to me and calmed down. I mean, seriously, if I missed my flight because of that delay, that would hardly be my fault and they'd just re-schedule me, right? It's not like I'd be stuck in Detroit and that'd be it. It's just that I totally break down when I'm faced with a situation where I don't know what's going to happen.

Anyway, the pilot must have been very skilled because when we finally got there, we were about four minutes ahead of schedule. So I need not have worried. Immigration was, as usual, kind of scary. Customs was a tad less bothersome. Re-checking baggage and going through security was not a problem; didn't have to go through the body scanner that time, just the metal detector (though some travelers were picked to take the body scanner).

I did not have time to eat at my favorite restaurant or look around the airport; just headed to my gate, waited around for a short while and boarded my last flight. That flight had wi-fi available, and despite the short distance involved, I opted to pay for some internet access so I could connect to IRC. Ah, connectivity.

Arrived in Madison, cab back home, blah blah blah.

About a week later, niichan and I went to Indiana for Thanksgiving. The trip out there was terrible; we had decided to go by bus and train. The bus ride wasn't that bad, but it was long, and getting to Chicago took ages due to traffic. I think the bus was something like two hours late on arrival? More? Getting to the train station was also no easy task. After a while in the freezing rain, we finally got a cab, which took us to the wrong station - we were going to Van Buren Station, the cabbie took us to LaSalle station on Van Buren Street. I don't even know if we'd have made the train or not even if we had been taken to the right station. There was only one more train going to South Bend that night, and we had to wait a while for that - hours? It sucked.
The train was a bit crowded - we couldn't get seats next to each other at first. At least the seats were comfortable. The train also suffered severe delays; part of the way it had to go much slower than its usual speed, possibly due to weather. No explanation was given.
At long last we arrived at South Bend and were picked up by niichan's friends, thoughtful people who had brought a nice warm blanket for us, which we really needed. At that point we only had a long car ride ahead of us and were able to doze in the back seat, utterly exhausted.

Thanksgiving itself was great. People were so incredibly considerate, and I felt bad about being unable to contribute anything more than my presence. Naturally we decided to fly back to Madison; at this point, no cost could have made us take the train + bus route again. We really dislike Chicago, especially O'hare airport, though it's been several years since I've been there, I don't really remember why - but the feeling of 'I don't want to go there again' still persists.

Niichan's card kept being declined for the ticket purchase, so I had to pay for the tickets. Later we found out that it was Delta who had screwed up and used a test account to charge the card, thus triggering his bank's fraud alert, resulting in a denied transaction. Heh. Anyway, we flew back to Madison and traveling with a companion is so much less stressful than traveling alone. They put all travelers through the body scanners at Fort Wayne, but I opted for a groping that time, and was a bit disappointed. I got the impression that if I had actually been hiding anything, the TSA agent would not have found it. But I guess it's random how thorough each person is.

We had a nice layover in Detroit, time to eat each at the restaurant of our choice. We were not originally seated next to each other, but got that arranged at the gate. The guy there printed us some new boarding passes, handed niichan his, addressing him by his first name, looked at mine, realized he couldn't pronounce my name, and addressed me as ma'am. XD

Then a day or two later I got sick. I don't particularly want to go into the details here, but it was very uncomfortable, sometimes painful, particularly on the first day (Nov. 30th), to the point where niichan asked Seth-kun to come over and bring painkillers. A single Advil gave me great relief that night.
Wanting to avoid the stress of doctors, antibiotics and dealing with my insurance company, I wanted to try to get better on my own - but after a week of that I was so worn out from the constant discomfort and being unable to go anywhere because I constantly felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, and finally allowed niichan to get me an appointment at the clinic he uses. It was a nice place. Filling out the paperwork was a bit difficult since it was clearly aimed at US residents. The nurse and doctor I saw were both great, despite being unable to pronounce my name. Talked a bit about my symptoms and just general stuff, and I was prescribed an antibiotic called Nitrofurantoin. Unfortunately I could not pick it up at the in-clinic pharmacy because I'm not on their insurance plan, so we had to make another stop at Walgreens, where they still had my name (misspelled, of course) on record, complete with niichan's mom's address in Florida, from back when I had that horrible ear infection. That was a bit creepy.

I felt significantly better after just an hour or so from taking the first capsule. At the end of my one week of treatment, I still didn't feel 100% recovered, but a few days later again I did. Again, have had some days/moments where it felt like it might be returning again, but now I've been OK for several days in a row - I think it's over for good this time.

I'll just post this entry now, or else it's going to sit here for another month while I try to catch up...
Comments 
3rd-Jan-2011 12:29 (UTC)
Usually they have to reschedule you if your flight is delayed, but there are a number of things you may do to lose that right:
- Buying tickets from RyanAir, or other low-cost airlines.
- Buying the segments separately. (Same thing, essentially.)
- Not noticing the person carrying a sign with your destination (or transfer airport, or possibly your name) on it when disembarking the plane.
- Refusing reasonable options at the desk.
- Not showing ut at the gate in time. (Unless you're told to try running.)
4th-Jan-2011 00:11 (UTC)
My understanding was that the body scanners are randomized and that only a small percentage of people are asked to go through them. Mainly because it slows down traffic to a halt.

Honestly, I'd rather get fondled a bit than opt for more radiation. I realize that it's probably an insignificant amount of radiation, but why bother at all if I have the choice?
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