Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Weekend that Almost Wasn't: My Nightmare at O'Hare

Last week, this girl:

Me
got on a plane to go see this girl:

Lis, my FLL.

We drank lots of wine


and ate lots of delicious food
like this awesome cheesecake.

We watched movies

like this
and otherwise had a wonderful time.

But first... I had to get there, and so began the worst experience I've ever had traveling.

I never fly American Airlines, but I'm all about saving money, so I decided to fly with them since they were cheaper this time around. Bad, bad, horribly bad idea.

My flight out of Arkansas was scheduled to leave at 2:30pm. At 2:40pm, we were all still standing around, waiting to go. Everything still said we were leaving on time, even the gate attendant. Turns out... not so much. They "forgot" to let us know our flight was delayed over an hour.

Ay yi yi.

We finally got on board about 4:10pm, and I thought, "That wasn't so bad!"

Pfft. After puttering around on the tarmac for half an hour while they tried to decide whether or not to cancel our flight, we finally took off to Chicago. 10 minutes before landing, the flight attendant told those of us with a connecting flight which gates we were leaving from and our new flight times, because apparently all AA flights in and out of Chicago had been delayed.

We land.. and spend another 45 minutes cruising around the tarmac in the plane while the Captain tries to figure out which gate they want us at. We finally rush off the plane to our next gates... only to be told, "Oh, that flight was cancelled. But here's a voucher for a discounted hotel rate, and if you call this number, they'll get you booked on a flight out tomorrow."

I call the number provided and beg and plead for a flight out that night to no avail. They book me on a flight at 1:20 the next afternoon and tell me it's a "guaranteed flight".

So, I panic. I've never gone anywhere by myself for reasons no important here. And here I am, stuck in Chicago O'Hare with no clue where this hotel is, how to get there, or how to even find the dang airport exit. I call my husband freaking out.

He and my dad finally get me calmed down and on my way to the shuttle... and then I find out the hotel they gave me the voucher for is already completely booked.

So far, this is not going well at all. I'm freaking out again, and swearing I'm never ever going anywhere by myself again... like ever. My husband gets me sorted out with a new hotel and lets me know the shuttle is coming to get me. I wait for half an hour or so, and then hop on the shuttle. I have no bags, no clue where the 'eff I am or if this hotel is in a safe area, but it's nearly midnight by this point and I just want to sleep.

Get to the hotel and they can't find my reservation.

Eek!

Fifteen minutes later, the manager on duty finds it and apologizes profusely. They load me up with essenstials I don't have since AA made me check my bag, and get me on my way to my room. I sleep on and off, and am up and ready to head back to the airport the next morning.

At 1:00pm, we're informed our flight has been delayed an hour. Lovely.

At 1:20, the gate attendant asks for 7 volunteers to stay behind because they overbooked the flight. In exchange, they'll pay for our meals, hotel, and give us a $500 travel voucher.

At 1:45, no one has volunteered. We've all be stuck in Chicago for the last 16 hours or so. We just want to get where we're going and get the heck out of O'Hare. Not to mention, we're all having serious reservations about ever flying with AA ever again.

At 1:50, the gate attendant informs us that if 7 people don't volunteer, the "last 7 booked onto the flight will not be allowed to board". They will then "be responsible for their own hotel room and meals." I think, "Well, crap. I better go see if I'm one of the last seven."

Turns out...I am. The gate attendant informs me that I can either "volunteer now" or they will "refuse to let me board and I can sort out arrangements for my overnight stay" on my own.

I argue because I've already been told my seat on this flight is "guaranteed", and I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to spend another night of my vacation without clean clothes, in Chicago.

The gate attendant tells me the flight isn't guaranteed, and blah, blah, blah.

I have another mini-meltdown because I am so tired of O'Hare, I'm scared, and I'm alone. The husband tells me to go ahead and volunteer, but to demand they get me on a flight out that night and change my flight back to Monday instead of Sunday. I do, and they promise me I will be on the flight out at 9:50 that night, and if I call their Customer Service line, they will get my flight home bumped back a day for no charge.

I spend the next 8 hours of my vacation roaming around O'Hare. I see a monk using a payphone, help a poor elderly man who tripped and fell face first in the floor, read The Hobbit, and curse AA for being jerks. I'm so upset at this point, I just want to go home. I've spent over 24 hours in Chicago, most of them in the stupid airport, and the AA people have been horrid. No apologies. Nothing. They're rude, abrupt, and otherwise don't really seem to give a shit. The meal voucher they gave me doesn't even cover one meal at the airport (a burger and fries), so I shell out more cash.

My flight out at 9:50 is delayed, and I'm ready to scream. We FINALLY get in the air about 45 minutes late. I make it to my destination a few minutes after midnight, tired, dirty, and air sick. I still need to call the CS department and get my flight home changed, but if I have to deal with AA again, I may actually leap through the phone and begin strangling them, so I wait until I feel rational (a day later) to deal with them again... at which point Mario promises to get me "taken care of". He gives me information about my new flight out, and asks if that's acceptable. I say yes, and then he says, "And that'll be $194.00".

I tell him there is no way I am paying $194. We argue for a few minutes, I hit my bs limit, and tell him to use the stupid travel voucher they gave me. He says no, they can only use that for a new flight.

What the crap?!

I've officially had enough. I tell him where AA can stick that particular flight out because there is no 'effing way I'm ever 'effing flying with them again. Granted, it's not a particularly polite comment, but I'm furious! I've spent the first half of my vacation in an airport because they screwed up, and now they want to charge me $200 more out of pocket for something the gate attendant promised I wouldn't have to pay for?

Um... no.

I call the husband and tell him if he doesn't deal with this jackasses, I'm going to climb through the phone and start putting feet in body parts. It's ugly, y'all.

He tells me to drink wine with FLL and let him deal with it, so I do.

45 minutes later, he calls back with my new flight information. Thank god! I relax and commence with enjoying the rest of my vacation with my FLL, which was fabulous. But I'm honestly horrified at how awful the entire flight experience was. Everyone I spoke to was incredibly rude. Had even one person said, "I'm sorry," I probably wouldn't have been so upset. As of today... I still haven't heard an apology or anything remotely close to it.

So I still think AA can take that travel voucher and shove it because I will never, ever fly with them again.

When I got back, Odin and the husband met me at the airport with lots of love. And yesterday, this little guy:


Loshie
brought me this:

donut delivery!

to welcome me back.

Which leads to this: even if AA sucks, I can safely say I'm incredibly fortunate to have really amazing people in my life who look out for me, take care of me, and turn really bad situations around when nothing else does. I'm blessed, and that makes me happy.

American Airlines can still stick it though.

Never again!

What's the worst travel experience you've ever had?
 
xoxo,
Ayden


Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meet Odin

When my husband and I moved at the beginning of the year, we went from a tiny place in the middle of Little Rock to a sprawling 2.5 acres, located in a tiny community outside of Little Rock. We absolutely love the house, the space, the neighbors, even the little pond across the road that attracts giant, man-eating bugs of all varieties. But, as previously discussed, I'm not a "can be safely left alone" kind of girl, so the husband and I contemplated getting a big dog to keep me safe, and out of trouble.

A few weeks ago, my nephew and sister were at Sonic in her hometown (about an hour and a half from me), and came across a dog who'd been abandoned. There was something obviously wrong with him, and the pound was there to get him.

My nephew asked if they could help the dog. Naturally, my sister didn't say no. She told the animal control people that she would take him instead. It took her and my nephew and a few bystanders four hours, two Benadryl and two dog tranquilizers (note: this was vet approved!) to coax him into her van to get him to the vet.

Once there, she sent me this picture:

Poor baby!



I felt so bad for him!

And then we found out what was wrong with him. He has five different tick diseases, arthritis, was dehydrated and starving, and was covered in fleas and ticks, sores and bug bites. :(

It broke my heart in tiny, little pieces. The poor baby! How could someone just abandon him to that?!

Anyway, the vet gave him a few shots, prescriptions, lots of instructions, and sent him home with my sister to recover.

Sis recently adopted a crazy puppy, so she couldn't keep him, but we all wanted to help this dog. And I do mean all of us, y'all. Once everyone found out what was happening, half of her hometown was ready to help. While we were trying to sort out where he was going to live, the poor baby wandered off. He was massively drugged, confused, and used to being on his own. My sister immediately went looking for him, and found him being cared for at a local business. He'd stumbled up to them, and instantly passed out.

The day he was rescued

When she got him home again, I told her that SS and I would take him. We live in the country, have plenty of room, and I wanted to help. After work the next day, SS and I headed out to go get him.

I fell in love as soon as I saw him. He came right up to me and let me pet him.

We loaded him up, got all of the instructions, and brought him home. By the time we got him home, he'd fallen in love with me, too. And he had a name: Odin.

So, meet Odin, my new baby.


Hanging out in the yard

He's the most amazing dog.

He follows me everywhere (unless I'm bouncing from room to room to clean, at which point he says to hell with that and just lays down in one room and waits for me to finish). He's housetrained. He responds to all basic commands. He loves to be petted and babied. He gives hugs on command. He dances with me. And he looks after me as if he's been with us forever. No one (person or animal) is allowed near unless you pass his inspection.

He was terrified of the cat for a while (because my cat is a freaking terror) but they're cool now. He gets along great with my two little dogs (who are insane). He loves people, but won't take treats from anyone except for me, sis, or SS. He doesn't bark unless he's excited.

But he has a big case of separation anxiety, and who could blame him? I left him alone in the house for an hour two days after we brought him home, and he ate part of my couch and demolished two sets of blinds. So, the next time I had to go out (to work), I reluctantly put him in his crate. When SS got home two hours later, the poor guy had chewed his way out of the crate, and was so upset!

I felt so awful for him!

We ended up scrapping the crate plan, and got him a running line (or trolley). It's 60ft, and we put him on it while we're at work, and then he comes inside with us when we're home. About a week after we got him, my sister didn't put him on the trolley right. When I got home that afternoon, he was gone.

I was heartbroken!

We spent hours combing the area for him, hanging up posters, enlisting help from the various animal shelters and Lost Pet Facebook groups in this area. I cried all night long. The next afternoon, we got a call from someone who'd found him. He'd made his way all the way across Little Rock to the Big Dam Bridge twenty miles from the house!

Oh. My. Gosh.

I was so happy to get him back home, and so glad he was okay. He was thrilled to be back, too. He doesn't wander too far even to do his business now, and we make a point to triple check his tether before we leave. I also got him tags with my contact information on it as soon as we got him home, and we're taking him to get doggie lo-jacked. No way is he getting lost again!

He goes back to the vet next Tuesday, and I'm so excited to see how things are looking for him. He looks so much better, and already feels so much better. He runs and plays now. He's gained weight. His coat is shiny and soft. The swelling in his joints has gone down. He's an entirely new dog.


Odin now

Isn't he beautiful?

I just adore him, and so does SS. They do boy things together, like watch nerd shows on tv and putter around in the yard. He's definitely my dog though. :)

Anyway, that's the story of how Odin came to be our newest family member and my constant companion.

And if you're wondering about the name, we did, indeed, name him in honor of the God at the center of The Ragnarok Prophesies.

xoxo,
Ayden



Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: #FALL (The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book Two)

Hello, my loves!

Could that be? Is Ayden really updating her blog?

I know, y'all. I suck at this whole doing fifteen different things at once thang, but I promise my long silence has been for good reason.

I've been busily chipping away at FALL (Book Two). I finished the book several weeks ago, and have spent the last several weeks going over it again and again, driving my pre-readers insane, ignoring the hubby, etc. And I've done as much as I can do without another set of eyes. So FALL is officially with the B.E.E. (best editor ever, aka Krystal Wade, for those just tuning in)!

I thought a teaser would be a nice way to celebrate. What say you?


           "Let's hope the pack finds them this time."

            My eyes widened, shock rippling through me. "You sent the pack after them?"

            "Yes."

"Why?"

"Because they're mine to command," he said, almost dismissively.

            "Since when?"

            "Since Sköll and Hati appeared. Since Dani died. Take your pick."

            "They're already in danger because of us, Dace," I said, speaking as calmly as I could. I wanted to shake him. He knew the pack wouldn't find Sköll and Hati out there, but the hunters could find them. Since when did he risk their lives so recklessly? So carelessly?

            "And you almost died because of Sköll and Hati. I want them dead."

            "At the expense of Kalei and Buka? Of Fuki?" I demanded, stunned.

            He looked at me, his jaw set. "If that's what it takes."

            "You don't mean that."

"Don't I?" he asked, and then shrugged a shoulder. "I didn't ask for this war, Arionna. Sköll and Hati did. I'm doing what needs to be done to keep you safe. Don't ask me for more than that."

"Then don't ask me to watch our friends die so I can live."

"I'm not asking you," he said, rising to his feet. "I'm telling you: I'm not letting them get near you again, no matter what it takes."

"And I'm telling you, I won't let you risk our friends for me," I snapped back, infuriated he could even think that was an option. It wasn't, not by a long shot.

"That’s their choice, not yours."

"You can’t do this, Dace. Dammit."

"I’ll do whatever I have to do, love. And so will Geri."

"Then I’ll do whatever I have to do to stop both of you," I warned him.

He eyed me for a moment and then shrugged again. "Fine."
 
"Fine."

* * *

Ruh-roh! Looks like there might be a wee bit of trouble brewing between these two. Ari standing up to Dace gives me the warm and fuzzies. She has spirit! I like it. :)

I will see you again soon with all sorts of updates about the other things I've been doing lately, and lots of pictures of my new companion. You guys will love him!

xoxo,
Ayden


Need to catch up? Grab you copy of Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.