Things I Observed and/or Learned During Holiday Travels

I’m back in L.A. after 9 days with family for Christmas. I fly every year during this time so I’m usually prepared for hassles due to delays and changed flights. I find the best way to combat the exhaustion and frustration is to look at everything from a humorous angle. Here are some random things I experienced/learned:

  • A family Skyping via netbook while eating dinner at 2 a.m. at Denny’s, the only joint in town open all night. The computer was passed around so everyone can wave their food at the screen. The face on the screen kept insisting she couldn’t see clearly what everyone was eating so each person speared a huge chunk of steak/meat loaf/chicken on their fork and waved it around extravagantly for the Skypee to ooh and ahh over. I started mentally forming narration a la Tina Fey and Steve Carell in Date Night when they provided commentary in a restaurant while observing other diners: “See my big piece of meat? You want some, don’t you? If I actually put it in my mouth, I bet it’d be delicious.”
  • When I got into the rental car, the airbag indicator said: “Off.” When I returned to the rental agent and asked why, the agent said I didn’t weigh enough to trigger the airbag function. My response: “Well, since the car doesn’t recognize me being in it, can you just pretend I’m not really renting it?”
  • If you see a small yappy dog or baby is being carried onto a plane, you can rest assured it’ll sit right behind you. But hey, that’s still better than someone with a bag o’ snakes.
  • The $12 airport sandwich does not have gold nuggets in it and looks an awful lot like the sandwich I can make at home for 89 cents.
  • Orlando, Florida is stinkin’ cold in December—32 degrees during the day! At night, I could’ve poured food coloring on my fingers and eaten them as popsicles.
  • People who freak out and threaten the lives of gate agents when their flights are canceled do not get better service.
  • Kindness always seems to arrive when you need it most. When my plane landed at LAX after I’d been on the road for 15 hours and looked as if I was a half-breath away from collapsing (found out later I was suffering from a viral throat infection exacerbated by cabin air), the man in the aisle seat stepped back, pulled my suitcase from the overhead bin, handed it to me and said, “You go first.” Among a mob of people fighting to get off the plane, this was no small act.
  • Despite the hardship, I remain grateful for the fact I get to travel at all. Some people don’t get to be with their family for the holidays—e.g. the men and women in our armed forces—and/or never have the opportunity to explore the world. Focusing on the positive aspects of my life instead of its imperfections helps me get through obstacles big and small.

How were your holidays?

Once I’ve decompressed, I’ll post a review of Biutiful and notes from a lively Q&A session with star Javier Bardem. That man is one huge ball of charm in person! If I’m extra productive, I might also do a “best of” list but that requires re-examining all the pop culture I’ve watched/read/heard this past year and that’s a lot of stuff.

Happy New Year! Got resolutions?



  • Reply
    December 30, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Hey! Glad you’re back. I always love flying, even when it’s bad, I’m grateful. I didn’t get to go on a “real” vacation or fly until I was 23, so all of it is pretty fantastic to me.

    I am so grateful my brother got to come home from NYC AND that we got to keep him an extra couple of days because of the weather. You and he would totally hit it off; I can tell by the stories you guys tell.

    I know home feels good after all that travel. Happy new year!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 31, 2010 at 10:24 am

      Hi Jenn!

      Your brother sounds cool; isn’t he picky boy who reviewed WINTER’S BONE? I’m glad you got to spend time with him. I love being with family so whatever hardship I endure during my travels is worth it.

      Here’s to loads of good reads in 2011!

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    December 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Glad you’re home safely and I hope that throat thingy clears up right quick.

    Javier Bardem, eh? He’d need major amounts of charm to get me shed of that mental image of him making use of that captive bolt contraption.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 31, 2010 at 10:31 am

      So relieved I made it through the night for the first time in 6 days without waking up several times trying to hack up a lung. I either pulled a muscle or cracked a rib several days ago from coughing too hard. I am badass!

      Bardem gave me nightmares after NO COUNTRY and his character is a desperate, dying man in BIUTIFUL. But he came bouncing out after the screening I attended and was so funny and full of energy, there wasn’t a trace of anything creepy in him. Just goes to show what an amazing actor he is.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Viral throat infection, huh? So, no alien. Oh well. 😛

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 31, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Sorry you lost money on the alien thing. I was disappointed, too. Would’ve made a good party tale.

  • Reply
    December 31, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Profanity over delayed flights? Sounds like you traveled the same airline I did. I wistfully remembered complaining about airline food way back when. These days I light up when I see the cart full of those little understuffed bags of pretzels approach my seat.

    Let’s see……I think you covered most of the basics (although, I’m not sure I really believe the skype-ing family at Denny’s.) I guess the one thing that amazed and saddened me at the same time was the lack of a Christmas tree smell. I didn’t encounter one real tree this holiday. Saw some wreaths, but they didn’t smell like anything I remembered from my youth. It was very strange. Even at the mass I attended I didn’t see or smell an authentic tree or foliage of any kind. I’m all for saving the trees and fauna in general, but I missed that smell. It means Christmas to me. Anyone else feel that way?

  • Reply
    December 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Hi, PCN. I was laughing out loud when I read your experiences (there was no Coke involved, sadly).

    I seldom travel by plane during the Holidays. I often spend Christmas in Mexico City and New Year’s Eve in Irapuato or viceversa, and it always involves family. This year, Christmas Eve dinner was in my place -with my mom cooking which is always great!- with my dad’s side of the family, and though grandpa scared us s***less on the 25th, it was a fun holiday, indeed.

    I’m now on Queretaro, on my way to Irapuato (a small city 3 hours north of Mexico), where my grandma from my mother’s side lives, and where almost the whole family is gathering for New Year’s Eve. We’re expecting to be around 50 or 60 people for dinner. And this time my brother & family are joining too!

    Anyway. Winter holidays are always about family for me. I think I will be writing a recap of sorts in a few days. I’ll try to gather some fun anecdotes on the way!

    Thanks for this. And have a great New Year’s Eve and an even better 2011!!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      Your gatherings sound great, Poncho. Up to 60 people? Amazing! Why did grandpa scare the poo out of you on Christmas day?

      Looking forward to your own holiday stories!

      • Reply
        January 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

        Oh, well. Grandpa fell on the night of the 25th and we had to rush him to the hospital since he couldn’t feel one of his legs. Turned out it was just swelling and nothing else, but the doctors scalded him for not using his walking stick.

        Anyway, New Year’s was a great holiday. Ended up having a great time with my cousins, my brother and my little nephew (I’m an uncle now!)… going to a night club after dinner with the family and going back to eat leftovers around midday -from the party!. Way cool!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    December 31, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    You were at Denny’s at 2am? I’m intrigued! Oh, hang on ~ they sell buckets of fried chicken there, do they? If so, please double your bucket size so you will register enough weight for airbags, PCN. That’s a lovely message about having gratitude for all that we have, and being in the same proximity as Javier Bardem would make me very grateful!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Haha! Why didn’t I think of the fried chicken solution? It would’ve given me an excuse (not that I need one) to eat some extra drumsticks.

      And yes, it’s fun to be in the same room as JB!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    As always, love your take on situations. Should you avoid the yappy dog or unhappy baby, the next hurdle one hopes to avoid is the very fragrant food someone’s brought onboard…usually involving heavy onions. It’s amazing the impact of small courtesy of that gentleman, isn’t it? Sorry you’re having to fight off the throat infection (air travel is stellar for promoting such things), but glad you finally made it home. Better to be in your own comfort zone when trying to heal, yes? And thank you so much for mentioning those serving in the armed forces who are so far from home.

    This Christmas was the usual itinerary with my in-laws. We drove to Ohio to have Christmas Eve dinner and gifts at my father-in-law’s horse farm with he, Brian’s stepmom and 4 of 5 kids and their families. Christmas morning was at Brian’s brother’s home with his family and Brian’s mother. (Love being there when our nephews come down the stairs.) Then it was off to Christmas dinner at Brian’s sister’s with her family and Brian’s mother. (My sister-in-law’s husband is an AWESOME cook. He’s got that chef gene like my grandfather.) To round out the day, there was Skyping with my parents and 2 sisters in San Francisco and phone calls with the other 2 sisters. (There was no food viewage by the way, only thing modeled was the beautiful hand-knit poncho I received.;p)

    Hope you feel better soon, PCN and are able to enjoy your New Year’s Eve. Your friendship was one of the best gifts for me in 2010. All the best to you and Mr. PCN in 2011! xoxo

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 3, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      When I smell fragrant food on planes, I just ask, “Can I have some?” I think it’s reasonable since they’re already sharing the smell with everyone.

      Love all the get-togethers and how tight your family is. You’d better upload pics of you in that poncho!

      Thanks for the happy wishes, Christine. I’m feeling much better. Meeting you last year was a highlight for me as well so let’s hang some more this year!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Wonderful insights, Elyse. We rarely do air travel during the holidays, but usually drive about to visit both sides of the family. I look forward to your Biutiful review since Bardem is getting to good amount of interest with his portrayal. I hope you the best holidays and new year, my friend.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      You don’t need air travel to have interesting stories about your family reunions, le0! I send happy wishes right back for a magnificent year for you and your loved ones.

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