Got up at 4:45 am and left at 5:15. Got to airport at 6 am as predicted, leaving me with 3 hours to wander the airport. Joy. Got a quad-shot latte at a Starbucks kiosk and then slowly made my way to my gate, which was at the end of the freaking airport as usual, stopping every few gates to sit and rest. Ate my muffin and drank latte. Got bored and called Mark at work, inadvertently giving the poor man a heart attack as he thought something was wrong, when I was only bored. Let him go after 10 minutes or so. Painted my nails. Finally got on plane. Plane took off. Found out I was sitting next to the Psycho Bitch from Hell, who literally threw a fit when it was discovered that her special meal had not been ordered properly (she yelled at the flight attendant then shredded the croissant she was given and threw it on the floor). I attempted to have as little contact with her for the rest of the flight, but she was always nice to me despite me squishing her and always rude to the flight attendants. I was not impressed. I was also not impressed with the movie Chicago, which I watched during the flight. It was good, sure, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for "Be Good to Mama" as I performed it myself, but overall, not Oscar-worthy IMO. Flight lands at Heathrow and I stumble off. I make it down the first bit near the gates okay as there are chairs periodically and I can rest. Then I get to a loooong corridor with two moving sidewalks in a row and by the end I'm in a lot of pain. I get off the 2nd one and, upon seeing no chairs in sight, lean against a counter and break down crying in an extremely embarassing and uncontrollable manner. The airport is mostly deserted as I am way behind everyone else on my flight, and the few people walking by ignore me. I finally managed to gain some amount of control and walk in extreme pain down another corridor where there are chairs and I collapse and cry more. I keep trying to stop crying so I can get up and get through to immigration and all that but I just can't seem to. Then angels appeared in the form of 2 Virgin Atlantic flight attendants. They stopped and asked me what was wrong and I told them that I have back and knee problems and was in a lot of pain. They offered to help me and the guy took my bags and they both said they would walk with me and we'd take it slow, so we did just that. They: talked to me and got me calmed down, told me stories, made me laugh, asked if they could go find Mark/call him for me, got me through immigration in about 2 minutes flat, and then got me up to Mark who was by that time the only person left in the entire airport except the work crews. I all but fell into Mark's arms and somehow managed to not burst into tears again. I thanked them profusely for being so wonderful to me, and told them that if Virgin would just fly to Chicago I would definitely start flying Virgin. I really wish I remembered their names or had gotten their full names because I would've written a letter. I still almost cry thinking about that - it was horrible. If I go to Heathrow again there will be other arrangements made. Mark and I made it on the almost-midnight bus to Oxford and then back to his flat by almost 2 am. I think I slept.
Got up around 9 and had a nice bath, then got dressed and Mark and I cooked. I made cheese pie with graham cracker crumbs and he made m00se. Then Chris, Erin and Hannah (I don't know if either of the Hannah's spells it Hana or Hannah so I apologize) arrived and there were hugs aplenty. We then had some cheese and biscuits and played the British version of You Don't Know Jack, which I sucked at badly. Later Chris and Erin went to find other t00bs - Sofie and Kazzi - and Cyg also came with one of those arrivals. He brought Fandomopoly and I was again trounced, with Cyg ultimately winning. I was most amused at how rabid the competition got with certain males. We then ordered Chinese food and a bunch ran off to Sainsbury's for other things while I waited at the flat. It was around this time that I found out that Anna was not going to be coming and I was very upset. I'm still upset and very sad and worried about her. We had dinner and played Trivial Pursuit where once again I lost, and this time Mark and I were teamed and still we could not win. We then had puddings and everyone seemed to love the cheese pie and the m00se, which was good. We then headed for bed.
We got up and got ready to head into town, although Chris decided to stay behind. We got to the Eagle and Child eventually (me being slow as usual) and then pondered the menu as more and more t00bs arrived. Simon gets the prize for being Least-What-I-Was-Expecting, if anyone cares, and I did not have reason to beat him with a menu, much to my chagrin. Kay was very woobie. I had Steak Pie which was very good, and a thumbing-my-nose at my dad who warned me not to eat beef while I was in England (haha, I did more than once!). For some reason (you can make your own guesses, I do not care, we weren't up any later than anyone else), both Mark and I were ridiculously tired, to the point which we were sitting on the couch in the pub and I fell asleep on his shoulder - and that was AFTER we'd each had a Red Bull. Eventually we made it out of the pub and caught a cab over to the punting location as there is no way I could've walked it. We got there and I saw the huge queue of people waiting for punts at the bottom of the steep hill and balked. I have no idea if I could've done it, but I was too afraid to get all the way down that hill to find that I couldn't get in and/or out of the punt and then embarrass myself, Mark, and everyone else in the group, so I just said no. Mark very sweetly decided to stay with me rather than go punting, so he handed over the Pimms and we headed across the street to the Botanical Gardens and walked through to a bench next to the river where we sat, hoping for a glimpse of our t00bs and tried not to fall asleep. Alas, we saw many people but no t00bs, and then were chucked out of the gardens after being there not even an hour as they closed at 5. We wandered back out to the bridge where we sat on a bench and watched the traffic go by and continued our struggle to stay awake. After a while a young man walked up to us and in my bleary-eyed state I did not recognize him at first and stared at him blankly, but then I realized it was Alex and jumped up and hugged him. He joined us on our bench as we wondered where the t00bs were. We finally called Cyg and co and let them know we'd found an Alex and he said they were at the ice cream shop so we caught another cab there. Mark and I shared a cup with hazelnut, chocolate w/Grand Marnier and Baileys ice creams and they were all yummy. Then people made plans for the rest of the evening while Mark and I drooped in the corner - they decided to come back to Mark's after dinner so Mark and I headed back to his flat. We got dinner from the chip shop there and ate and then went to lie down for a bit, where I apparently fell asleep for an hour or so while poor Mark didn't at all. Then tons o't00bs arrived and there was much talking. I realized again that I do not do so well in larger groups of people, because I felt rather lame and stupid and left out in various places throughout the day, and that's really no one's fault so don't think that - it's only in larger groups that my shyness seems to appear. Still in all I had a really great time and I was very happy to meet the people I got to finally meet. Gave lots of hugs as people left for the evening.
We got up and dressed in what we thought would be time to say goodbye to everyone, but found that all except Chris had left - apparently there was a misunderstanding and they thought we would be coming to Cyg's to meet up with everyone else, when we had said our goodbyes last night to everyone else. So I apologize to Erin, Hannah, Sofie and Kazzi for that. We said goodbye to Chris so he could go off to join the group, and then we planned our foodstuffs for the next few days. I offered to cook, so I found the ingredients as close to what I would use at home via the Sainsbury's site and Mark went off to do the shopping. The flavor turned out a lot differently but it was still good I thought (as did Mark I think). We also watched The Matrix and Animatrix, which definitely fills in some holes in the plot and backstory but some of those are major mindfucks.
We got up the latest of any day of the trip - it was nearly noon by the time we got out of bed. We ate food, watched Shrek, played Scrabble (Mark won but not by much), played video games, ate more, watched Casablanca (which I hadn't seen before, it was quite good and leaves you with a rather "Hmmm?" feeling afterwards), and went to bed early. EDITED TO ADD: How could I forget?? I finally had some dick. It was quite good, although Mark assured me that Kay's dick was much better, and I have no doubts about this. I am quite glad to have had dick now.
We got up at about 9 and I finished packing and got ready. Mark took the bus into Oxford to see me off at the bus station. I got on the bus and he waited for it to leave, waving and blowing kisses at me until we couldn't see each other any longer. I got to Heathrow and managed to get my boarding pass and then head to the departure area. I wanted to go to Lush but because I am a stupid t00b I didn't realize what they meant by "landside shops" and went past the security area, so I couldn't go back. Well, maybe I could've but I thought I shouldn't chance it. Instead I bought the UK versions of all my magazines (Cosmo, Glamour, Marie Claire - I have such an obsession) and looked in the 2 British touristy shops they had, but they didn't have anything I particularly wanted, although I should've gotten a keychain for my collection. I then headed down to my gate, which was in fact easier to get to than coming in. There was again a long corridor with 2 moving sidewalks, but here there were chairs at the end of them so I could sit right away. I then got down to my gate and soon the lounge was opened (which was a bit weird as they don't open or close the lounges at US airports), and soon enough got on the plane. This flight was much better - I had an empty seat next to me so I wasn't squishing anyone. Unfort they screwed up the movies, so instead of giving us the out of the UK movie list we had the going TO the UK list again. This time I watched Daredevil and I thought it was complete crap, other than what's-her-face, who is very hot with long hair. I would go into what and why I thought it was stupid but it's really not worth doing. Finally arrived in Chicago and made my way through the arrivals area - there are many benches through here so that was really helpful. I was resting on one of them when one of the flight attendants on my flight asked if I needed help - I explained that I needed to rest because of my problems and she said okay. I ventured on to the immigration area, which was packed and got into the shortest line for US citizens, still dreading the wait. The same flight attendant pulled me out of the line and got me into the one for handicapped persons and I only had to wait about 3 minutes, which was wonderful. I then went to customs and had the guy snap at me because he told me to go forward and I was so tired at that point (it was nearly 2 am UK time) that I went the wrong way. Got out of the airport and my brother was already waiting in the car. Went home, ate something, took meds, went to bed a bit after 10 pm and passed out completely, although I woke at like 5 am and was very -.-! at the clock and slept a bit more until I had to get up at quarter to 8.
So that was the trip that was. It was a wonderful time overall, mostly because of spending time with Mark (you expected another answer??), but I was very glad to meet so many people and spend time with you all, although I am still sad about Anna (but I have high hopes for a trip in the fall and perhaps there will be a Toby and an anatsuno then too). But we have OotP in just a couple of days and less than 4 weeks til many of us meet again for Nimbus, so there are good things to look forward to soon. *hugs t00bs*