I hate the TSA, I love comic books, and home is a beautiful place

Rook persuaded me to go home and so I spent the morning mildly drugged and with Rachel Edidin who was so awesome at Wiscon and got me to be one of the Birds of Prey, and who writes for Girl Wonder. Rachel took us all around Dark Horse, where she works as an editor. Moomin liked the giant statue of Concrete a lot and I am sure now he’ll want to read about Concrete. The first dude we talked with gave us a cool hardback book of Tarzan comics, the ones by Joe Kubert. Moomin opened, started reading, and then just folded up and sat down in the hallway where he had been standing. It was very awesome looking because he was so small and so engrossed. My son, let me show you him:

stopped cold in tracks by comic book

See? Really awesome. It just makes my heart flop around like crazy in an AWWWWWW sort of way. How lucky we are…

I feel like a good, or at least competent, parent again.

So, we toured all around and I met a zillion amazingly cool-seeming people whose offices are all decorated with comix posters and action figures and books and fun stuff. And did I mention all the people were super nice, and loaded us with free books and comic books and stickers and keychains and buttons? And there were lots of cool women working there. I mean, I’m sure it’s like working in any small publishing job where the pay might be a bit sketchy and yet, there are amazing benefits to working there

Rachel drove us back to Hell Hotel, where we ordered some food and ended up eating it in the car on the way to the airport. I was so relieved to be going home. And so grateful for the ride. Thanks Rachel! I wish I were more “on” and sparkly and talky and all that. But I just wasn’t… I was in that barely hanging onto reality place, where you go when you’re in a lot of pain. I know Rachel understands this from her own experience and was cutting me a lot of slack.

I will miss Rook and Moomin and I feel guilty for not being able to pull it together to stay and be cheery and family-ish. And I had looked forward to being in a bunch of games with zdashamber, because she rocks… Yet it’s so much better to be home.

The nicest thing about friends, and this morning, is that friends fix everything wrong. Rachel does not know it but she cured me of feeling full of bitter hate. Not with the 50 lbs of free comic books but with just basic human decency.

Rook too of course. He was a glorious force-field of reality-warping goodness.

The Portland airport was easy to get around, very small really; I got my ticket and to security in like 5 minutes. Then, the TSA gave me shit because my drivers license had expired. I forgot about this and if I’d remembered could have brought my passport. And I have a current license, but lost my wallet and then used my old expired license figuring I will go back to the DMV soon, and then haven’t had time, and then forgot I had to do it. Soooo… it was super dumb, because an expired drivers license is still perfectly valid ID. The only reason it expires is to make you go back to the DMV to check your vision and if you are still competent to drive, or something. It’s not like the ID-ness of it expires! There is your photo! Still very you-like! But the TSA is too dumb to realize that. And so put me down as having NO ID. Which also is no big deal and just means you go in a different line, which as a crippled person I do anyway, and they frisk you extra (which they do anyway since I’m crippled, naturally) and search my bag by hand.

SO. Here is my little irate-customer fight with the TSA. Because what more fun thing could I do high on Vicodin and nearly crying with the jabs of pain and fire pulsing down my shattered tibial nerve, and my zombie leg spasming like a dying eel?

As I was being frisked by the well intentioned but clueless TSA frisking lady, who was named something like Paula 56234 or Denise 52342, bag-searching guy yelled from maybe 10 feet away, “HEY! Does she have her boarding pass?” I looked up from where Paula 56234 was shoving the backs of her hands uncomfortably between my ass cheeks and the wheelchair cushion, waved, and said snappily with a bitchy-polite smile, “Hey man! You can ask me directly, I’m a human being right in front of you, and I can hear!” The bag-searching guy walked over with a menacing cop swagger. His name was something like Robert 56965. (I have to find the little piece of paper where I wrote down his badge number, but he was definitely a Robert; an older man with a grey mustache.) Robert 56965 got right up in my face, considerately bending down to my level. Robert 56965 then yelled at me like he was my dad and I was a bad teenager. He let me know that there was no cal for me to be rude. And that I would learn, and he would teach me, that I should “keep my mouth shut” and “not butt into conversations that were not addressed to me”.

I am a crippled girl with purple hair, travelling alone in a wheelchair carrying a backpack and balancing my sticker covered crutches between my legs. I yell at hotel managers. I have a job. I am the media. I go to Beijing. And I just got a lot of free comic books because of powerful geek girl solidarity. I’ve already been a giant entitled bitch about a hundred times on this trip. Do you think I am afraid of being arrested and thrown in fucking jail by the likes of Robert 56965?

No. I am not.

Well maybe a little. But, fuck it.

I might have flipped off Robert 56965 when he turned his back and the frisking lady definitely saw that and smothered a giggle.

So then when frisking was over, I explained to Robert 56965 that he should address me directly and that it was rude not to and that it is well known to be offensive to disabled people to talk to the person next to them using the 3rd person to talk about them as if they could not hear or understand. He refused to answer me and instead directed many sarcastic comments to Paula 56234. I whipped out my own Sarcastro superpowers and began to critique Robert 56965 to Paula 56234 while he searched my bag and swabbed my digital camera and my extra laptop battery and my toothpaste as if they might be super secret dangerous hi-tech crippled bitch weaponry. “Maybe you can let ROBERT 56965 KNOW in your SPECIAL LANGUAGE THAT ONLY YOU SHARE that I do not mind how much he searches my bag and that I would like to SPEAK TO HIS SUPERVISOR who maybe just maybe will know MY special human-being language.” Oh, poor Paula 56234!!!

Robert 56965′s supervisor came over and in front of Robert 56965 I told the supervisor that it was not right and that some people have issues because of people looking a little bit different. And that that was not acceptable. And that I would be complaining to the TSA with everyone’s badge numbers. I explained very politely and coherently that when a person points OUT that someone is being rude, that rude person might then get defensive and hostile. And that as a disabled person I am very familiar with people who thoughtlessly speak not to me but to the person next to me, and I try to point it out on the spot when it happens. Etcetera. The flak-catcher nodded and put on a Very Serious Listening Face and said nothing-ish things and I took the comment card and left.

Oh, glorious mocha, and nice lady in the waiting area who had been in China and talked with me about the Great Firewall, and perfectly nice seat-mate on the plane who was a real estate developer who worked on the California Academy of Sciences and is now proposing to build the Disney Family Museum complex in the Presidio and who listened to me talk about wikis, thank you for making me feel human again and helping me not burst into tears and cry all the way home.

I didn’t, and I am now home, and the nice taxi driver helped me load up all my crap back onto the chair and then my housemate the Pilot brought in my chair and the mail and my backpack and the exciting packages from Amazon that had come in my absence, and talked with me to make sure I was okay alone, and brought me a soda.

I am very happy to be home in my own bed.

I’m so happy to be in a place where I can go to the bathroom without being on public display and without going through many heavy doors. I still can’t put any weight at all on my right leg. But I can crutch myself like 8 feet away to the small bathroom. I have internet from bed and I have my cell phone, so I am very comfortable and happy considering my leg doesn’t work and hurts a lot. Later… a hot bath. Zond-7 has a cold and an uncertain kid-pickup-schedule so he might not be able to rescue me from alone-ness without herculean effort. But he will come tomorrow. If I need help tonight there are tons of people I can call.

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One Response to “I hate the TSA, I love comic books, and home is a beautiful place”

  1. Rachel



    Moomin has thoroughly won the hearts of the DH editorial department, by the way–consensus is that he’s pretty much the best kid ever.
    It was great to see you, even under the kinda lousy circumstances. And even when you’re not at your most charming, you’re still pretty damn charming.

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