Back in the belly of the beast

The journey back to the States went well enough considering how many things could have gone wrong.

1) I had two huge suitcases on the verge of disintegration because of low-quality standards of Chinese luggage, plus a big duffel bag and a briefcase, altogether two-thirds filled with heavy, heavy books (I brought a grand total of 62 books back with me) - but somehow none of the suitcases were over the weight limit and everything made it to Chicago intact.

2) They wouldn't let me bring both the briefcase and the duffel bag as carry-ons - but they didn't charge me for adding a third checked bag.

3) Expedia's incompetency left me without a reserved vegetarian meal - but United made me a good one anyway.

4) The girl sitting next to me was terrified of flying and spent the first 15 minutes before we took off telling her friend all the horror stories she knew of planes crashing into other planes and bombs going off in planes and even some fictional plane disasters from The X-Files, and when we were in flight she would violently jerk whenever there was the tiniest turbulence or the seatbelt light went on - but I've put my temporary flying discomfort behind me and it was more amusing and pitiable than annoying.

5) My meticulously prepared duffel bag carry-on was foiled when they made me check it, leaving me without any Chinese to read or my own music - but I still brought two dead gay French men to keep me company.

6) United's online music options are lame and loop about every hour, allowing me to hear specific Smashing Pumpkins or Offspring songs 4 or 5 times. There was no silver lining here. There's only so many times you need to hear "Come Out and Play" during a 13-hour flight.

7) I was "randomly" chosen to have all my bags searched at Customs - but they didn't confiscate any of my 200 or so pirated dvds. I think it's time to put that particular urban legend to rest.

I'd say this counts as 一路顺风.

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