Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On which I pontificate on Viva Las Vegas, family, spas, and the TSA Fascist Party

I have so many stories to tell from my vacation, which was fabulous, by the by!

It was so relaxing and I so needed to spend some cue tee with my lovely bestie Krissy and her family. And I'm sorry, moms, but my nephew E is THE cutest little boy on the planet. True story.

Good Morning
See? Cutest kid everrrrr.


He's such a total cutie. Calls me Titi (for Auntie) and is in that phase where a constant stream of English words and 2 1/2 yo old babble floats around him. He can't sit still for 2 seconds and getting photos of him was a contact sport. He's good at being Captain No, in great 2 yo form, repeats everything you say, and says Ahhhaaaa instead of yeehaw!

ahhhh-haaa!
Ahhhaaaa!
I love that kid. I fear he'll be another foot taller by the time I see him next, but that's life.

Krissy also took me a spa at Caesar's Palace which was ahmayzingggg! How had I not discovered spa life before? This really deserves its own post, to be honest. From the herbal steam room to the ice room to the different whirlpools (Roman Bath style) of differing temperatures to the tea room to the cold menthol towels, all of which was included in a day pass, I was in heaven.

They give you cozy robes and spa flip flops and everything is provided for you from shower supplies to water and juice and snacks. Bliss. Clothing is optional and I wore a swimsuit, but wish I was brave enough to go nude (it's gender divided). Maybe next time. When in Rome, right?

Plus it was lovely to have girl time with my girl all day again, just like old times when we lived together and could gossip non-stop. That is, until a lady yelled at us to keep it down. Snort. At least it was at the end of the day.

But, before I knew it, the weekend was over and I had to fly home. Sad face. I did miss my kitties and my bed and the wet Portland air. So fly home I had to.

Thus begins the portion of the story where I talk about this TSA madness.

Flying to Vegas out of PDX was a breeze. Same old security lines. No special xrays. No enhanced pat-downs. A breeze.

Flying out of McCarren? Where do I even start?

They had the new machines and I saw people being pulled at random to be screened. Though I did not have to go through. I had planned, if given the choice between naked pictures and enhanced groping, to choose pictures. Unless they buy me a drink first. Then, who knows where this night may lead?

But I wasn't. I assume I'm not the profile of a terrorist. Whatever the fuck that means.  I know what it means. It means I'm a white girl. Dur. Bullshit dur.

Everyone is talking about the new measures and how they infringe upon our 4th amendment rights.  But I have to say that the machines and searches were only a part of the problem. Until you're in line at security, it's hard to know what it feels like to be there.

The energy was...terrifying. I kid not.

But I'll get to that in a second, because my story does not end there.

After security, I sat in the terminal for 5 years waiting to board the plane. Being SouthWest, I lined up in the A group per usual. That's when they announced there would be additional screening procedures in line.

Seriously.

This entailed TSA agents circling us like vultures, picking random people to search their carry-ons. Never mind that we'd already been through security. Never mind that those chosen only included one woman (who had to prove her water bottle which she'd filled after security was, in fact, water) and of all the men chosen, only one was white.

What this proved was beyond me. But what it felt like? Was intimidation.

I apologize if this feels like hyperbole, but this is what it felt like: like a scene from Schindler's List or a movie about the Communist scare in the US in the fifties. We stood in silence as they eyeballed us, walked through us like dogs, sniffing us, daring us to protest or say anything to get us pulled aside. We all just wanted to be left alone, so we stood silently like pliant cattle, not making eye contact, hoping they wouldn't pick us.

I am fairly well traveled. From international travel before and in college to the over two years I spent traveling domestically for work, I know the drill. Security never bothers me. I pick the right lines, plan my bags to make it easy, wear slip-on shoes, etc. I have never before felt scared or intimidated at the airport. Never.

But it was scary. Even though I knew I wouldn't likely be chosen, the energy was scary and tense.

It didn't feel like it was about terrorism. It felt like a witch hunt. It felt like a case of too much power wielded over those of us powerless to stop it.

What's next? Visas to fly from state to state? Restrictions on travel to keep us in line under the guise of safety? We round up all the un-Americans and dissidents and put them in camps? Those Japanese internment camps are probably all still standing. We could use those! The whole thing smacks of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia to me. The irony being that this country has been so terrified of communism for the last 60 years, you'd think we'd all notice when fascism starts rolling in.

Ahhh but we've been fascist all along, don't you see, Andy?

If you'll allow me to pontificate a little more, I'd like to quote a passage from The Lacuna:

"But I was thinking of what you said about confronting my accuser. I thought the Constitution gave me the right to know the charges against me. And who was bringing them."

Myers drained hi coffee cup and leaned forward with a little grunt to set the cup on the table. We were nearly finished, I could tell.

"Whenever I hear this kind of thing," he said, "a person speaking about constitutional rights, free speech, and so forth, I think, 'How can he be such a sap? Now I can be sure that man is a Red.' A word to the wise, Mr. Shepherd. We just do not hear a real American speaking in that manner."
Uh huh. Exactly. A real American just accepts his fate. Accepts that you give up your rights to board a plane because "if you have nothing to hide," what's the problem? 

What's the problem indeed.

23 comments mean you love me:

Alex@LateEnough said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Why I'm nervous to travel. I already felt that intensity in the last few years starting with the random shoe searches (before it was mandatory). I don't know if I could handle this. And the second search?
I hate feeling like I'm such a sheep. Because I liked to think I'm a wolf. It's hard to be a wolf in an airport though. Maybe in the US as a whole these days...

Kimber Leszczuk. said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Glad you had a great weekend. That is a cute little boy!!

I want to travel. I am hoping they grope me. I am planning to embarrass them. I am going to stand there and moan like they are giving me sexual pleasure! Ha!

Butterbean said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

and now? i love you even more!

Mrs. B. said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I've seen a lot of bitching about TSA and it does scare me. Your post, however, scares me more, because it reminds me of the speech by Martin Niemoller

"They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

I worry, though, that even speaking up won't do much good in America right now. While I don't agree with what Assange did with wikileaks (seems more done out of desire to harm than desire to inform), the entire damn world just made him persona non grata. When you look at the videos that people have posted of TSA gropes, the other people are just standing there uncomfortably because they don't want to be next.

Anyway, I didn't mean to be so political on your blog. You've done it brilliantly. And now I'm gonna go read some more because I want to see if you've posted an update about Jete.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Alex- that's exactly what I felt like, a sheep.

Kimber- I thought it would be funny and I think you should go for it. it was scary. wish I had balls to protest. guess I don't.

Butterbean- awwwwww! love you too!

Mrs B- thank you! feel free to get as political as you want here. I encourage it. and I completely agree!

Bitter Betty said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

So I guess we're driving to Portland then? I'm all for beefing up security, because, hell, I so don't want to die in a terrorist attack, especially if it involves an airplane falling from the sky, but the second search? Fucking creepy. Our rights as humans, not just Americans, are slipping out the window.
P.S....that kid? Freaking adorable ;)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

you might think about it! it was crazy.

and I know! whose kid is that? he's so adorable!

Dawn said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Cutest boy EVAH! True dat.

Any sort of cattle drive makes me ansty these days. I spend my time with eyes downcast, but suppressing the urge to sing " I feel feel pretty...oh so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and gay" while twirling around on tip toe. Probably a bad idea, right?

Andrea said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The most action I got in Vegas last year was in the airport at 5am on the day we were leaving. LOL!

Colleen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Last Christmas I flew to London to meet a friend with whom I would be spending the holidays with her family in France. The guy at customs was such a jerk. I've never had anyone speak to me that way before, and I've traveled a lot. He was trying to intimidate me, but I was like "buddy, I work retail. Nothing you say can faze me."

I admit that I was being a bit of a smart ass with him, but he deserved it. He kept interrogating me, asking me how I knew my friend and could I give her a call to verify that she was actually going to meet me at the airport. I was like, really?

He didn't believe me when I said that I met her in Australia and that my American phone didn't work in Europe. He actually said to me "You're lucky I believe your story." Whatever, buddy. All he had to do to verify it was to look through my passport, where it would clearly show that 4 years prior I'd been in Australia.

What? Did he think I was meeting her for some terrorist plot to piss off the customs officers? Jerk.

Of course the flight back to the US was hell, mainly because it was just a few days after that moron tried to blow up the plane in Chicago. So it took us 2 hours to board, but at least the British were nice to us. They gave us water while we waited in line and were sympathetic about having to go through our stuff. You could tell that they were just as upset about having to do what they thought was pointless bs as we were.

Maybe I should move to Europe.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Dawn- you should SO do that! I'd pay good money to see it.

Andrea- right? I almost could've said the same!

Colleen- that sounds stressful! I was harassed by the customs guy in France. they didn't like me, I guess. I so think we should both move to Europe.

Liz said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

this makes me never want to fly with my kids again.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

tell me about it

Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sounds like you had a fab time in Vegas. :) Going to spa's can be interesting at times. In Sweden, in the saunas, most are nude and most are gender divided. Went to Germany a few years a go to visit a friend and there was this huge place with several pools, steam-rooms and about 13 different saunas...all mixed gender..and you were NOT allowed to wear any swimwear! The first few hours my fella and myself felt really awkward... but after a while you get used to it I guess. Was a bit weird though. :D

That travel security sounds mental! And you are right...fascists warning flags should go up in everyone's minds hearing that. It is scary that people forget so easily. Security is one thing but intimidation is a whole other chapter.

It is not quite this bad over here yet, maybe in France but then the police there etc have always had a bit of a crap reputation. Whenever you guys wanna pop over to Dublin where it is more focus on the drink..let me know. :)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I would love to! I loved Dublin when I was there. :)

Megan (Best of Fates) said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I absolutely love the first photo - the perspective is so interesting!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

oh thank you!! I'm partial to it as well. :)

meleah rebeccah said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

*Okay, you got me. Your nephew E IS definitely THE CUTEST kid on the planet.

*There is NOTHING quite like a spa-experience!

*However, your experience watching the TSA in action, truly sounds terrifying. Ive always been afraid to fly, so this just gives me more of a reason to STAY HOME.


"The irony being that this country has been so terrified of communism for the last 60 years, you'd think we'd all notice when fascism starts rolling in."

Well said. Very well said.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

meleah, thanks for your comment! I hope someone stands up to these goons. or everyone would be too scared to fly and that's not good. not good at all.

Simone Says... said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

1984 is next.

p.s. photos are fabulous. you're friend is blessed to have you in her life. you captured slices of heaven in her little guy.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

thanks much! she def appreciates me. and I'm lucky to have her too. :)

Natalie said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh I love this comment...you...your friend...all of it!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

:) love you, lady!

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