Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Epic Flood

My sister was here last weekend and she reminded me that I hadn't told y'all about the epic flood.  (And she said lots of other things, too, and we went to the zoo and the Dallas World Aquarium, and had dinner with some friends and stuff, but anyway):  It all started, as these things often do, at two o'clock in the morning.  I woke up to hear a tremendous crash, which Joan apparently slept right through.  And as it goes when one has cats that are primarily nocturnal, I lay there listening for another crash before deciding on whether or not to get up.  No subsequent crashes followed, so I went back to sleep.  I mean, I figured somebody had just knocked some precious knickknack off a shelf and broken it or something, and if that was the case there'd be a mess to clean up, and I always deal with messes better after a decent night's sleep.  I don't know about y'all. 

Anyway, the next morning I got up (and two innocent-looking cats, lying at the foot of the bed, also got up).  I headed into the kitchen and put my stockinged foot down in an enormous puddle of water.  Lights, please. Ah, there we are.  Yes, it appeared that the entire kitchen was flooded to a depth of about an inch, which, in our kitchen anyway, is a lot of water.  No idea where it was coming from or such, but it did appear to have stopped. Which was good.  If it had gone on it might have filled up the entire house. 

So Joan got up and brought many towels.  This was an eight-towel job, including wringing some of them out and going back for more.  I mean it was really a mess.  And the tremendous crash I'd heard?  Well, that was the younger cat apparently trying to climb a chair in the middle of the night to get away from the floodwaters and bringing it and herself down on the floor and right into the cat food bowls. Which spilled everywhere,  making cat food soup.  And in the midst of the cat food soup were the three bras which had been hanging on the chair drying.  They, uh, weren't dry anymore.  They were soaked in cat food soup.  And kind of weren't wearable, at least not before serious washing went on.

At this point, the only thing more important than determining the source of the water became the quest for a decent day's lingerie.  I was going to wear one of those bras to work, thank you very much.  I have only one other and it was missing a hook.  So while I was hunting all over the kitchen for suspicious wet things to blame for the cat food soup, Joan was executing an emergency lingerie repair so I'd have something to wear to work. 

At about 7:30, our normal time of departure, Joan finished the emergency lingerie repair right about the same time I discovered the source of the leak.  The dishwasher. Aha, now we could call a plumber.  The plumber couldn't come until the next day.  So, the wet towels went into the washing machine and the cat food bowls got refilled and I got dressed and then we headed off to work, only like 15 or 20 minutes late. Yay, go us.  But don't think we're superheroes or anything. We totally stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and coffee.

Anyway, the dishwasher guy told us to have funeral services for it, and so we no longer have a dishwasher. Well, we have a dishwasher but it can't be used because of its potential to cause epic floods.  (Hey, on the plus side that was soapy water all over the floor. So at least the floor got washed.) We're doing the dishes by hand.  Kind of like in the old days when your cell phone screen was lit by candlelight and the Internet was all in pencil.  There's some possibility that we can catch a post-Memorial Day sale and still get one at a decent price.  Otherwise we're stuck with the rubber gloves for a while.  (And I have to wear rubber gloves, even though they make me clumsy, because otherwise my hands break out from the dish soap.).  Number of glasses broken so far: 3.  (Hand washing is rough on glasses.)

So that's the story of the epic flood and the cat food soup.  I mean, I guess it could have been worse.  We could have had wet cats.  Cheers!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

So How's The Class Going, You Ask

Or maybe you don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.  It has gotten a lot better since I got my mitts on this portable keyboard here, which now clicks into my tablet and basically means I no longer have to haul my laptop around.  Except maybe for meetings.  The keyboard is by Arteck and it was all of about $20 bucks from Amazon and I can't even tell you how much easier it's made everything.  I'm typing on it now, in fact, in my favorite restaurant, Afrah, in the 20 or so minutes I have before I take off for my Meditation Group (TM).  (It's like church. Only quieter.)  

Anyway, I'm in what should be the third week but is actually the second week of the writing exercises in the book, "90 Days To Your Novel" by Sarah Domet (accept no imitations.) You're probably going to be mildly appalled to hear this, but the actual novel writing hasn't even started yet. We've been doing writing exercises this whole time. Now, I am no big fan of exercise of any kind (except for swimming and lifting weights and bicycling and once in a while I'll walk somewhere), but I'm actually really enjoying it.  Sitting down at the keyboard and being unable to write anything positively sucks. Sitting down at the keyboard and realizing I have something to do because I have to knock off the writing exercises on page 105 and 106 is actually kind of awesome.  One thing I was Not Doing before all this started was making time to sit down and write.  And I mean, yes, there's the Very Demanding Job and the Chauffer Duties and the Household that I'm supposed to keep running and two Cats that I need to make happy, but I just wasn't using my spare minutes very well.  I blame baseball season.  Luckily, the Rangers are tanking.  

The class meets in the basement of somebody's apartment building, which happens to be right across the street from where Joan works. So she Rollators over there and meets me, and does cross stitch while the rest of us (there are, I think, about nine people; we'll see how many show up this Friday) talk literary things. And writing exercises.  And one of the things I've figured out is that I might only think I know what I'm doing.  Seriously.  It's entirely possible I've been writing stuff for close on thirty years without the foggiest idea how any of it actually works.  

So I'm not sure when the writing exercises end and the manuscript writing actually starts, but it's completely untrue we're writing this thing in 90 days. It sounds like it's going to be a lot closer to 60 days or maybe even less than that.  Now, I did the National Novel Writing Month thing, which involved 50,000 words in November, and that, for the record, is crazy talk.  Of course, I once wrote fifty pages of Spellbinder in eighteen hours.  (And yes, I was manic as hell at the time, but That's Not The Point.)  So it can be done.  And hopefully, once we finally charge in there, I will have enough background put together to do a good job, or at least a passable job. (First drafts can suck. That's perfectly okay. Ask anybody.)  

In fact, so far my biggest problem has been which of the various works in progress I have strewn around my brain is going to be the winner of the Great 90 Day Novel Experiment.  Because I always have works in progress strewn around my brain, from a wild romp through alternative Dallas with Loki, Thor and living statues to the fifth part of the increasingly-inaccurately-named Mindbender trilogy.  But I think I've finally settled on one, and I think you're going to like it, and it's not my fault it's going to get lumped into that vague, nebulous category of YA fiction.  These days, you have a protagonist that's under thirty and the whole novel is suddenly YA fiction, even if it features blood, gore, gratuitous torture scenes and wild sex with men/women/fantasy critters.  After The Hunger Games, all bets were just off.  Kids killing kids was the last taboo in YA fiction, and Katniss Everdeen didn't just cross that line, she plowed right through that sucker with guns (oh, okay, arrows) blazing.  So anything goes.  Really.  Absolutely anything.  Next thing you know they'll have YA books about how to do your taxes and the finer points of the Microsoft Office suite. 

Anyway, I've settled on a project and I've done a bunch of exercises and I think I'm starting to write an outline, though the way these exercises work, they kind of sneak up on whatever thing it is you're doing, so you may not know you're writing an outline until you're halfway through it.  Now the only thing I need is for people to keep showing up to this class.  Every week we have a few less.  Of course, that's true of any school-type situation; I started paralegal school with 13 other wide-eyed and eager legal eagles to be, and there were only nine left when we graduated nine months later.  But it's also, I think, a function of the class not costing anything. Seriously, it should cost something.  If you pay money for a thing, you're a lot more likely to show up and see it through.  Or so some researchers said once, and I believe them.  Not, by the way, that I'm arguing for this particular class to cost something because the orange guy is still in the White House and the moon still goes through all its phases every twenty-eight days and I'm still broke, thank you very much. But it's something to think about.  

Anyway, that's the State of the Class.  Everything else kind of sucks at the moment, and I don't know if that's me, or the orange guy in the White House.  But hey, Memorial Day Weekend is coming. And so's my sister. So that's cool.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Classy Dame

Another Thursday, another sandwich at Afrah before I run off to a meeting.  And, inshallah, another blog post. I've taken to cramming what little writing I do lately into the small spaces between this and that. Which is okay, I guess. I keep thinking about getting another portable keyboard for my tablet so that I don't have to haul around my computer. The first keyboard didn't work out so well.  Maybe technology has improved since then. I saw one keyboard that didn't even really exist;  it was projected, like a hologram, onto whatever surface you happened to be sitting at. So you could type on anything from a table to Formica to a stuffed animal, as long as it was reasonably flat.   Now that was pretty cool.  But I'd settle for something that approaches regular keyboard size so I don't have to keep an eye on my fingers the whole time I'm typing.

Now before I get into the whole blog posty thing, I gotta report something I just found out today; Kameron Hurley has a new Nyx book coming out. It's called Apocalypse Nyx and it'll be out in July.  So if you haven't read the Bel Dame Apocrypha (and if you haven't, what's wrong with you?) go get yourself a copy of God's War and get busy. Heck, I might just go read them all again myself. In between the book I'm supposed to read for my book group and all the professoinal reading I'm not doing and blah blah blah.

Speaking of writing stuff (were we speaking of writing stuff?), what am I up to lately, anyway?  Um, honestly, not a lot.  I mean, I'm working on a thing, and I'm like over 100 pages and so on, but it just doesn't, you know, pop the way the increasingly-inacurately-named Mindbender trilogy did. (Of course, I also feel guilty for leaving Cameron standing in a cemetery, a strange man's hand on his shoulder, having just heard someone say, "Your Honor, a word please."  I know who it is and I know what the question is but damned if I know the answer, so there we are.  Kind of like the ringbearers staring down at Balin's tomb in Moria. And stop me before I subreference again.)  So I don't know if I should keep slogging away at it, or just chuck the whole thing and move on. I mean, I don't know if I can make something pop.  It might be that it just either does or it doesn't. Like having babies. Either they have hair or they don't, and either way it takes you nine months to find out.

So just about now I figure it can't possibly hurt to take a class.

Yeah. I get up at 4:30 and some nights I don't get home til 10; I drive all over the damn place; I work a job that can stretch to ridiculous hours; but sure, I can take a class. I can do two or three hours of homework a night.  Why not.  It's not like I need to sleep or anything.

Get this; the class is called "90 Days To Your Novel."

I've been reading the textbook for the class.  (Of course I'm reading the textbook. I don't have time to do all that other reading, but this textbook I can manage.) Not only do they honestly expect you to knock out a novel in 90 days, they expect you to outline it first.  You know.  Plotting.  Graphing.  Charting. Creating a narrative arc. Actually planning where you're going before you go there? Why, that's like--like buying maps at the gas station or charging the batteries in your GPS or something.  Who'd have ever thought?  Not me.  I usually just wing it and see what happens.  And--she hesitates, then goes on--maybe that's been the problem the whole time. 

So anyway, the class starts next Friday.  In the meantime I need to shovel off my desk, find some kind of program with which I can make digital flash cards (Joan may have found me one; thanks, Joan) and figure out how I can make my old computer fast enough to keep up.  Or else break down and buy a new computer, but I'm trying not to buy anything expensive until I get a new mattress.  Maybe I can get a used computer on Craigslist.  And while I'm at it maybe I can throw lots of money out my car windows and see if it's still there when I turn around. Cheers, all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Fun With Copy Machines

I don't know why this is, but I have never managed to feel like an adult human being doing a job. I always feel like a little kid who has somehow stumbled into an office in a suit way too big for me, faking it as much as possible in hopes that I can pass for a grown-up. Kind of like Tom Hanks's character in Big (and what do you mean, you've never seen Big? Go rent it right now).  The only time I ever feel like an adult is when I'm in some kind of trouble, and--no, actually not even then. This is a big switch from when I was a kid and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I was stuck in a room with other kids all day,  I mean, I was at least thirty. Okay, past life thing, whatever.  But there it is. I got older but somehow I never grew up.

Anyway, regardless of my actual age, there are plenty of times when I wonder what in the hell I'm doing in an office. Any office. Somebody like me should be wrestling polar bears in the Great Northwest or hand firing swords or looking through a microscope at dangerous virii or something.  And sometimes technology is not my friend. Okay, sometimes technology isn't anybody's friend, but sometimes I feel like I have more trouble doing what should be very simple things than other people do.

Take, for example, Tuesday.   At this law firm, we have these very punctual Monday morning calendar meetings, where we get together and go over the calendar and make sure everything's covered and that nobody is scheduled to be in, say, Boston and Houston on the same day. Very punctual,  except on this particular Monday,  the litigation section had a big meeting of its own. So the calendar meeting got moved to Tuesday.

Tuesday morning came and I forgot all about the calendar meeting. I was still running triage after the litigation meeting, making lists of stuff to do and trying to decide what I could handle  myself and what I could foist off on other people. Suddenly my phone rang and the receptionist told me they were all waiting for me at the calendar meeting.  And a mad scramble ensued.

Part of my gig, you see, involves printing the big calendar for these meetings. We need 18 copies. What's more, it's long, running to ten or twelve pages sometimes. So I jump up. Then I sit back down and tell my computer to print out the calendar, 18 copies, collated and stapled  please, and would it kindly step on it because I'm late for a meeting. The printer obligingly whirs to life, starts printing the first copy and then promptly jams.

Well, of course it does. Copiers and printers only work when you aren't busy and there's nothing due in the next 5 minutes. I don't have time to figure out which tab has stopped fitting into which slot, so I do the next best thing, which is sending the whole print job to a different printer.

I hear the printer fire up across the hall and I run over there with my notepad and pen, ready  to grab the pages off the printer and run like a maniac to the other end of the office (because the meeting is at one end of the office and I'm at the desk it's the farthest from). I grab the pages and start flipping through them while I'm waiting (impatiently) for the last few copies to roll off.  I've only looked at two or three pages when I realize I have another problem. The top of the page says February 3. This isn't February 3, it's March 27.  I've just printed 18 copies of  the wrong calendar.

Back to my office I go. At great speed.  I pull up the calendar again. I set it for the right dates.  I decide to send it to the high-speed printer, which is in the mail room, which is at least sort of on the way to the meeting.  It is also, as the name suggests, high speed.  I grab my notebook and pen and take off out of my office as the phone starts to ring again.  And I burst into the copy room, ready to grab my calendars and take off.

But no. I don't know why or how, but I've somehow sent this print job to the only printer in the entire American legal system that doesn't collate automatically.  Which means I now have a nice, stapled set of 18 copies of Page One, 18 copies of Page Two... you get the idea.

I grab a staple remover and start ripping out staples.  Then I sweep everything off this big long table and lay down my 18 copies of Page One, face down. Then my 18 copies of Page Two.  And Three.  And so on, and so forth, one fricking page at a time, until I finally have 18 copies of the right calendar.

I still have to staple them all. Then I have to clean up the mess from where I swept everything onto the floor.  Then, pretty out of breath by this time , I have to run the rest of the way down the hall to the other end of the office, burst in on the group of people who've been waiting for me for the past 20 minutes, apologize all over the place and (finally) sit down.

After which, things went pretty smoothly. At least until I got to the part of the meeting where I said, "Please  turn to paage 5 in the calendar," and all these little voices at once started saying, "I don't have a page 5."

Turned out nobody had a page 5. How could they? Page 5 was still on the frick'n sorting table. Next to the bin full of metal clamps and the heavy duty stapler.

Seriously, maybe I should open a cheese store. Or become a professional wrestler. Or manage a heavy metal band. As long as there are no copy machines. If there are any copy machines, I'm going to send my assistant over there. Right after he finishes separating out all the green M&Ms for Eddie Van Halen.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rohingya

So I guess the way I've been feeling lately is kind of how you ordinary Christians probably feel when somebody like the alleged Reverend Robert Jeffries gets on TV with some Fox News pundit and says it's totally irrelevant if Donald Trump cheated on his wife with a porn actress but that all gay people need to die.  There's sort of a collective cognitive dissonance, a wanting to jump up and down and yell, "But we're not really like that!  The church isn't really like that!" to anyone who will listen and at the same time wanting to hide under a rock rather than attract any more attention.  Or to use another example, maybe the way you might feel when you see the Westboro Babtist folks picketing some soldier's funeral with signs that say "God Loves Dead Soldiers."  You want to throw rocks at them, and at the same time you notice they're wearing the same t-shirt as you are and so when the TV reporters show up you want to deny that you're wearing a shirt at all.  Three times.  Before the cock crows for the dawn.

After which you eventually what?  Go home, watch TV?  Or maybe pray over it.  Maybe hold focus groups, meetings at which a lot of church ladies with clipboards twist their pearls into a knot and look concerned. But how do you DO anything about it?  You can't, right?  I mean, you can make sure everybody at church and in your community knows that cheating on your wife with a porn star is verboten and you're totally cool with gays and lesbians, but it's not like Fox News is going to come over there and film you because people being nice to each other don't get any air time.  Basically, to attract any media attention at all, you have to be an asshole.  And people wonder why my doc has repeatedly told me to stop watching the news.

Anyway, that's sort of how I'm feeling about this whole Rohingya refugee crisis.  What?  You haven't heard of the Rohingya refugee crisis?  Well, I can't hardly blame you.  Even with our blood-hungry news media, the Rohingya are getting like two inches under Dear Abby. Time Magazine ran a pretty decent article about it this week, but it didn't even run on Page One; in fact, the only time Time ever covered this story as a lead article, it ran in the international edition, so we U.S.ians didn't even get to see it.  Maybe the wire services have had a few stories about it, so you might vaguely know that there's something going on in Myanmar that involves Buddhists and Muslims.  Well, there is, Blanche.  There is.

Most Rohingya are Muslim, though some are Hindu.  Unfortunately, Muslims and Buddhists have a very uneasy history over many hundreds of years, and usually the Muslims won.  Well, yeah; if your religion tells you not to touch weapons and to run away rather than fight, you will probably lose most geopolitical confrontations.  That's just the way it is.  This time around, though, the Buddhists are winning.  And by "winning," I mean they've managed to chase at least 700,000 Rohingya out of Myanmar and into Bangladesh.  And kill about 300,000.  And burn the villages of many of the survivors, and rape them and torture them and cut off their sources of food.  Meanwhile, the rest of us Buddhists are wanting to jump up and down and yell, "But we're not really like that!" and...yeah.

(It reminds me a little of when a cult of otherwise ordinary Japanese citizens declared their willingness to die for Buddhism by launching a sarin gas attack on the Toyko subway during rush hour, killing 13 and injuring hundreds.  Die for Buddhism?  I mean, that's so--so unBuddhist-y.)

Let's back up a little here.  Who are the Rohingya, anyway, and how did all this get started?  Well; they are a group of people who speak their own distinct language, and they're an ethnic minority that has lived in Myanmar since at least the 1800s (documented) and possibly as much as a thousand years before that (myth, legend, family stories).  For much of that time, their presence in Myanmar has been a thorn in the side of certain "ultranationalist Buddhists" (and that's another contradiction in terms; I've never even met a nationalist Buddhist, much more an ultranationalist one).  The Myanmar government's official position is that the Rohingya are invaders from the Bengali region of India that crossed into Myanmar from Bangladesh; illegal immigrants, in other words, who shouldn't be there. They cannot be citizens or hold civil service jobs, and their kids are legally kept out of state-run schools.  Tensions between the Rohingya and the Buddhist majority rose up in 1978, 1991-ish, 2012, 2015 and of course just recently (interesting observation; two of those dates coincide pretty neatly with global recessions. Hmm.)  This time around, though, it's not just arguments over whose land is whose and who married whose daughter; this time it's out and out ethnic cleansing.

The Myanmar govermnent looks like it's ready to kill, chase out or forcibly remove every single Rohingya in Myamnar. The military is leading these attacks on Rohingya villages, and stirring up anti-Rohingya sentiment though officially, the government denies involvement (where have we heard that before?).  Aung San Suu Kyi, who's sort of the leader of Myanmar and who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle for peace and democracy, hasn't done a thing to stop the violence or even spoken up against it. The government of Bangladesh's official position is that Myanmar has to take the Rohingya back, because it can't handle an influx of so many refugees. Nobody else has spoken up to say, "Send them over here, we have plenty of room," so the crisis continues. 

As a bad Buddhist myself (I eat meat, I meditate with music, I'm pro-abortion, I make mala beads out of pricey gemstones), I dunno why I'm so surprised that this is happening, but I am, Blanche, I am.  You would think (or anyway, I would think) that the Buddhists would be the first ones to hold up their hands and say, "Can't we all just get along?" Certainly, burning out your neighbors, or killing them, is about as un-Buddhist-y as you can get.  And over here I'm crawling under a rock, waiting for the first person to say "Oh, you're a Buddhist, right?  Isn't that you guys killing all those people in Myanmar?"

Which, I guess, may never happen, since hardly anybody seems to know about Myanmar anyway.  But it could.  And when it's all over and all the Rohingya are dead, I really don't wanna be the one answering the questions.  Especially if I have to follow it up with, "But we're not really like that."  Because if one of you is, then all of you is, especially if the one of you is the only one who can get any attention from Fox News.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sick

So I've been sick for about the last 3 weeks. You gotta admit, when I get sick I don't fool around.  None of this crybaby, I-have-a-bad cold sissypants crap. No, I go whole hog for the pneumonia, the ear infection, the sinus infection or whatever else will make the pharmaceutical companies richer this week.

This time it was bronchitis, which is kind of like pneumonia that hasn't quite made it to the finish line yet.  It started out as a simple cold. It always does. Well, this time it might have been flu.  Anyway, I felt rotten for a couple of days, stayed in bed one weekend, and called in sick on Monday. (Nothing like calling in sick to a job you've had for a week. Eesh.)  Tuesday I felt better, so I went back to work. Wednesday I felt worse, and down the rabbit hole we went.

I finally went to the doctor.  I'm also breaking in a  new doctor, so she hasn't seen me do this every April and October for the last ten years. I told her I couldn't breathe, even with the nebulizer and the resue inhaler going full bore.  She asked me was I taking my inhaled corticosteroids. (Yep.).  And I still couldn't breathe. (Nope.)  So she sent me down for an x ray.  That was great, having to walk across half this hospital to Radiology when I, uh, couldn't breathe. I should have made them take me in a wheelchair.

Anyway, the x ray came back that I didn't have pneumonia.  Yay. I did, however, have bronchitis and my lungs were full of fluid.  That's why the nebulizer wasn't working; nebulizers can't help you breathe unless you have pissed-off alvioli that need soothing.  Alvioli drowning in glop need not apply. 

So a cortisone shot, antibiotics and a bunch of other stuff and we were off to the races.  It's about three weeks later and I'm just starting to feel like I can maybe do some stuff.  When I'm sick and have to go to work, which is most of the time, I just do as little as possible other than working.  I don't swim, I don't go to my meditation group, I just go to work and go to bed.  Not that I'd be a jolly companion anyway, but I miss my life, man, ya know? It's been so long since I've been in the pool, I'm not sure I know what to do after I jump in.

Also, most of my friends are to be found at this Stuff I Do in the evening. So besides not swimming, I don't get to see anybody.  I could call people, I guess, but apparently I'm as bad at calling people as I am at staying healthy during flu season.  So it's been a long lonely stretch.

Anyway, I am feeling better, and I'm reporting to the pool first thing Saturday. But honestly, I could do without the whole semiannual ritual. Any suggestions? Vitamin C, maybe? Echinacea? Lots of chocolate?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

So I Have This New Job, See...

...and for the first time ever, I am Management.

This is deucedly weird.  I have been one of the rank and file for so long that I thought the rank never ended and the file expanded indefinitely.  But no, I am really Management. I have an office, though not a secretary, and I am in charge of some stuff. In short, I am more responsible for making sure other people get stuff done than I am for getting things done myself, though there are still things I am supposed to get done.  That is probably the best definition of Management there is.

So how does one Manage Things, you are no doubt wondering.  Well, so far, it's pretty mundane; I answer email. People send me email, I look up the answer and answer it.  And people, I get a crapton of email.  I mean about two hundred a day.  And true, a lot of them are reminders or things that don't apply to me, but a lot of them are actual things I have to do.  It's like trying to keep up with falling snow.

(Just incidentally, one of the email accounts I'm monitoring is actually my boss's. And that man gets more solicitation email than anyone I've ever known.  But almost all of it is from the good guys.  I won't say who the good guys are, exactly, but if you know which way I lean on the great political wheel, you can probably guess some of their names.)

Besides email, I'm also chasing folks around and getting things, documents and information to give to other people.  That's not so different than what I was doing before, but instead of writing up the documents myself, other people are writing them for me.  I'm kind of the litigation border collie, I guess you could say.

One thing I am in charge of, though, is travel.  When my boss goes somewhere, I make sure he has a way to get there, a place to stay at the other end and a way to get around. Well, that doesn't sound so hard,nyou are probably  thinking. How many places can one guy go in a single month? Uh, try the Virgin Islands, Mississippi, Colorado,  Thailand and Japan. Thats the first month.  Then the next month is Sweden, Washington and Florida.  Then--well, you get the idea.

But let me tell you; I'd MUCH rather arrange somebody else's travel than hop on a plane myself.  Travel, for me, is a logistical nightmare. Part of it is the sheer mental energy that it takes to get oneself to an airport and through the TSA lines and find the right gate and the right seat and so on. That's hard on a normal person,  let alone someone like me or (horror of horrors) a single mom with three under 3. Then there's the sleep problems that come with crossing time zones and having to figure out what medication to take when because it's really three in the morning, not six in the afternoon like everyone else seems to think. Top it all off with being too fat to fit in a single airplane seat and I'm serious, just forget the whole thing.  I'll just stay in Texas for the rest of my life.  Honestly, I can't do it without an Ativan.  Some days I can barely do it with an Ativan.

In case you did not know this, airline seats are getting smaller all the time.  In the 1990s, the average coach class seat was about 19 inches wide with a pitch of 35 inches (that's the distance from the back of one seat to the back of the next seat). As of 2016, the average coach class seat is now 17 inches wide with a pitch of 31 inches. In fact, some of the discount airlines like Spirit and Jet Blue have pitches of only 28 inches, barely enough room for an average-sized person's calves. Forget it if you are tall, or fat.  You can either pay for a roomier seat or you can just not fly.

My solution, and it is not a great one, is to fly only Southwest and buy 2 seats. Most airlines, including Southwest, will require me to buy two seats anyway.  If you fly Southwest and buy the two seats in advance, rather than be pulled out of line and forced to buy a second seat in front of two hundred other people, they treat you like any other disabled person and they're usually very nice. They let you preboard, for one thing. They also refund you for the second seat if the flight happens not to be full. The main problem I run into on Southwest flights is shooing people away from my second seat when they're trying to find two seats together. Nobody wants to sit next to the fat lady, until the prospect of being separated for two hours from one's beloved/child/parent/friend becomes too much to bear.

Now, I've been lucky so far. I've always been able to keep my second seat empty and nobody's complained about me or told the flight attendants that I kept repeating "Allahu akbar" or something in an attempt to get me thrown off the plane (yes, people do this).  I've never been asked how much I weigh or kicked off a flight to make more space for skinny people. But I know that happens, most often to women (fat men are less expendable; they must have Somewhere Important to Go, whereas fat women are just frivolously jetting off someplace and who cares about them anyway).

Here's the thing, though. As  airline seats continue to get smaller, this too-fat-to-fit-in-one-seat thing is going to affect more and more people. The average American is not getting any smaller. The average airline seat is. The more seats they can cram onto the plane, the more money the airline makes.

This might be something to address with your Congresscritter, because Congress ultimately tells the FAA what to do and the FAA regulates the airlines. You might also check out Flyers Rights, www.flyersrights,org, a grassroots organization that advocates for the safety and comfort of airline passengers. But in the meantime, be nice if you end up sitting next to a fat person on an airplane, folks. Trust me, she doesn't want to be there any more than you do.