Thursday, November 21, 2013

Laughing At Homeland Security

This is the post from Facebook:

"Just had the most insanely fun, crazy weekend in Seattle. Stayed with fabulous friends, lectured with a stupid hat on, met up with artists at a house party, re-connected with one of the best, petted MANY cats, found stunning new restaurants for that special night at Emerald City, talked to fun strangers, got to see the early Christmas lights and decorations, got to ride Lite Rail (wheeee!) AND in a cop car AND got to giggle and laugh at Homeland Security people until they begged me to "please take this seriously." And visited the Fantagraphics store - TWICE. I WUV SEATTLE. Oh, and got to see "The Water Horse" and its wonderful making-of disk."

Now I shall attempt to clarify.

First, here's the whole weekend's itinerary.

Had to go to Seattle November 16, to get a NEXUS card, instead of a passport, because those suckers are expensive. Didn't quite understand what it was, of course, and my Canadian friends had been all, "Get a NEXUS card! It's only $50!" So if you know what it is, you can laugh at them - and me - now. 

All done? Good.

Me, by Maureen Vanderpass © 2013
Since Cartoonists Northwest was having their monthly meeting on the 16th, I took advantage of the proximity of the date to tell them I was going to attend. John Lustig ("Last Kiss") asked me if I'd like to speak. So I said I would. Not a bajillion people showed up, but - true to my mishaps in the universe with time-lines - they'd posted the date incorrectly in the newsletter. No matter! We had fun, and I got to tell people about the Clallam Bay Comicon and the Desert Peach musical (links on this page). And wore the Stupid Paper Hat I'd put together for the Kickstarter Campaign.

Thank you, Kevin Boze and Grace Reamer for letting me stay at your wonderful house, and play with blue, chinchilla-soft Miranda cat, again. And for the wonderful spaghetti dinner Saturday night! I sort of "pay" to stay at places with bottles of wine. We dropped by Wine World on the way to the meeting, and, being the perennially broke creative I am, asked the nice girl to help me.

"Because there are no bad wines here, I assume I can just ask for the cheapest red and not get back?"

"Well, we DO have one bad wine; it tastes like socks. Don't tell the boss I said that."

"Then a nice Italian or Spanish." Which nice, light red Spanish she got me, and we had with the spaghetti and got buzzed and silly and noodged into politics almost dangerously. I CAN hold my tongue, when requested, at dinner.

The next day I went all the way out to Renton to see T. Brian Wagner and film more promotional spots for the musical, and the hat came in handy again.  We're going to get a CD out, if nothing else, just as the fans have been begging for, for over two decades. To get there, I'd intended to take the 101 Seattle-Renton bus (the 102, which would have gotten me further along the route, doesn't run on Sundays).

Instead, the 106 came first, and I grabbed it. It wasn't an express. It wandered. All through Rainier Valley, passing Carkeek Park and Kubota Park on the way. It went everywhere! It was like a tour of the nicer part of South Seattle. 

On Monday, I know I did a lot of entertaining things, starting with a visit To Re PC, with constant adventure companiion Roberta Gregory, who found me a nice cheap cooling tablet for my laptop in the junk piles, for $5.00, and it works great. Cooling laptops extends their lifetime by years. If you can't afford a USB cooling tablet, just put the computer on top of one of those frozen pads you use for headaches.

Then, off to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore! Oh, it's a great place, in a block of charming brick buildings, in what looks like the space for an old tavern. Had lots of fun chatting with the guy on the desk, and did a hand-drawn poster for the Clallam Bay Comicon. At this point, only Fantagraphics has one!

That evening - the Kun-Rah party! Roberta and I met mutual buddy Maggie Bloodstone and one each friend of them both at Bimbo's Cantina on Capitol Hill. I couldn't buy the promised pitcher of Margaritas - they didn't make pitchers - but Roberta and I and Maggie's friend had the drinks themselves, and I picked those up. We were wearing silly stick-on snowflakes to represent Kun-Rah's bone mask, and two girls at an adjacent table had to know what we were doing, and receive cheek snowflakes as they became acolytes. So I suppose the cult is officially spreading to the masses.

We decided the red-lit restroom downstairs in the Cha Cha Lounge was the coolest place in Seattle. Then we went to BabeLand, where I wished I could buy ALL the kinds of lubricant - and then discovered that, when sample packets of brands run short, they scoop up a candy-box of lube packs and put 'em in their own little pack. So now I had pressies for Dan when I got home.

Then we went to find chocolate (the 2nd ritual of Kun-rah) and found the good stuff on sale at the QFC. We ate some of it and took some home.

On Tuesday, after getting the right addresses off the website, I got to ride Seattle Lite Rail to Sea-Tac airport. Whee! It was like a roller coaster over the freeway! No more driving to Sea-Tac for me - or even to Norwescon, if I ever make it down there again. Of course, when I finally did find the passport office, they did have a record of my appointment but - it wasn't in their office. It was at another office. 

They didn't really know where NEXUS office was. I had to call Officer Wang - yes, that's her name - and was told I couldn't get there, because it was at the  back of Boeing Airfield, behind the airfield, and I'd have to take a cab. WTF? I grabbed a couple friendly Seattle cops at Sea-Tac and scoped 'em out for information. They nicely told me where to find the Sea-Tac Secret Police Office and its public phone and VERY nice girl on the front desk, named Laurie, who helped me track down where the office was. By this time I was giggling. 

Anyway, back the Lite Rail, and onto bus #24, and the Museum of Flight. Did anybody know where NEXUS was? They did not. They knew where Perimeter Road was, though, and kinda sort pointed it out to me. Let's just say that, with the help of Randy's Restaurant, I was at least on Airport Way before I stood scratching my head, wondering where the hell the place was.

But who is this? A Sheriff's car? I waved - the officer waved back. Then I REALLY waved - with both arms - and he whipped his car around the corner, out of traffic, and waited for me. There was some head-scratching about where I was going before we figured it out, and after he saw the tiny muddy track along the fast traffic I'd have been perfectly willing to march along, he decided it would be safer to give me a ride. So, thank you, Officer John. I'm sorry I scared you with happy stories of Marijuana seed distribution on the Olympic Peninsula. Thank you so much, friendly policeman.

The office was the old airfield building, at the butt-back-end of Boeing Airfield, with no available buses for two miles. I missed my appointment, but I got there. 

I had to wait for a NEXUS officer, so I regaled the other people waiting with my story about how Osama bin Laden is and will remain the greatest military strategist of all time, because, with nothing more than 19 guys and some flight classes, he put an empire on a permanent footing of paranoia and war, and locked all of us except the most wealth and the military into our own country. And then we killed him, which was kind of like throwing away the key once we'd been locked in. And - they all agreed with me.

After figuring out paperwork with the NEXUS officer, I needed to talk to the Canadian officer, Officer Hicks. Yes, that was her name. By this time, I was literally burying my face in my hands and giggling at the whole process. The  cute, plump little Hicks said, "Please, could you take this seriously?"

She finally got it through my head that the NEXUS card isn't a passport - it's - get this - just so somebody in a car could go through the border quicker. As long as everybody in the car had a NEXUS pass, and carried no - for example - comic books. Oh, thank you for being so clear about THAT, NEXUS website.

She tried to be superior to me because I didn't get that right off, and out of my mouth came, "Really? Can YOU draw a horse in 30 seconds? Can you draw, write, and publish a comic book?"

She - almost sheepishly - admitted she couldn't (well, we ARE dealing with a Canadian here). I said, "Well, everybody's an expert in their own field. You know about this stuff - but nobody else does."

She asked me if I really wanted the NEXUS card, now. I said, "Oh, well, I've got this far - it's personal, now. I want to see if I can get through the whole process." 

She said she'd help me out there, and to get back when I got the passport, and offered to extend deadlines and stuff (they always do, you know; everything in life is open to negotiation, especially when it might have to do with fulfilled quotas or finished jobs - remember that when dealing with the IRS, whose agents always have a supervisor breathing down their necks).  

We were all polite and pleasant, until she told me she'd need some more information and I offered to email it, and she said she HAD no email - and that's when I fell apart, just laughing out loud at their whole operation. 

"You poor things! Abandoned at the back of Boeing Field! And you don't even have email! Homeland Security just LEFT you here!"

Now take a moment to enjoy the Twelve Banned Items of Christmas. You know how it took a while for the British Empire to become a joke? With the internet, it's taking us about six months.

Anyway, I said I'd try to get the rest of the paperwork, and go apply for a real passport. Then I went and found a nice sandwich at the snack bar in the building, and started trudging along the sidewalk toward Seattle. 

By the time I'd enjoyed the sandwich I found myself back at  - the Fantagraphics bookstore! 

Where I shared my Osama Is Killing Us story with them, and they thought it was pretty funny, too.

Then I went to my Seattle home, wandering around Pioneer Square a bit, and discovered Marcela's Creole Cookery and Spooked in Seattle - both must-sees for Emerald City - before running up the steep hill to catch the #4 at the last moment. Exercise! 

When I got back to the house, nobody was home, and Kevin had said I could use the VHS and DVD player. So I got into my cozy nightgown and had some bread and cheese and chocolate and beer, and watched "The Water Horse" - and its wonderful Special Features disk - with Miranda on my lap.

The next day I got up early, caught the early bus and early ferry, and did ALL the shopping that allows me to discount so much money it pays for more than the whole trip.

And spent the evening with hot cocoa and "True Blood." Yeah, yeah. Dumb show. But I needed to unwind my brain. And afterwards - my own bed, with my own kitties, and Dan.

Maybe next time I come to Seattle I'll be able to use the new trolley system!

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