Or perhaps more accurately, I currently have so many balls in the air that I am dropping them and thereby acting like an idiot. The effect is the same, even if the root cause is different.
This morning, I woke up at Jed's at 4-ish. The alarm was set for 4:30, so I could be ready for the Airporter Shuttle due at 5:10. I got up early, showered, dressed, and a good thing, because the shuttle arrived at 4:50. As I stepped onto the shuttle, I had a sudden realization. A sequence of them, actually. They went like this:
I was flying to Vancouver. Vancouver is not in the United States. Vancouver is in Canada. Canada is another country. Flying to another country requires more ID than a driver's license. Specifically, for me, it requires both my Sri Lankan passport and my green (alien registration) card. I did not have either of those on me. They were in Chicago. There was absolutely no way they could be gotten to San Francisco before my 7:40 a.m. flight.
I spent the 45 minutes to the airport in a state of adrenaline-heightened shock, trying to figure out a) how I'd been such an idiot, and b) what my options were. When I got to the airport, the nice lady at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter said that she thought they'd let me through if I had a fax of the relevant documents, plus my driver's license. I called Chicago, waking up Kevin and persuading him to take my documents across the street to Kinko's to photocopy them and fax them to the ticket counter. He sleepily did so, though he was dubious about the efficacy and wisdom of this plan.
When the documents arrived, the nice ticket lady had disappeared, but a nice ticket man said that they'd be willing to let me fly with them, but that I'd be taking some risk of either not being allowed through Canada customs, or not being allowed back into the U.S. Normally, I wouldn't think being exiled to Canada for a few days while we straightened out paperwork would be such a bad thing -- I adore Canada and its oh so charming Canadians. But a) I needed to get on a plane to Sri Lanka on Sunday evening, b) Fed Ex had told me (while I was waiting for Kevin to photocopy and fax) that they didn't do same day shipping from the U.S. to Canada, so I couldn't have the real documents in hand when I attempted to re-enter the U.S. on Friday, and c) I was far more worried about the mean U.S. immigration people than the nice Canadians. So I asked nice ticket man to please call Canadian immigration and tell them the situation and ask them what they advised.
Then I called Kevin and fretted some more while I waited. Kevin thought I should just give up and come home, but I was loathe to abandon the $300 spent on that portion of the plane ticket and the day of academic excitement and scholarly interaction at AWP. Not only would I be presenting as part of a panel on South Asian lit., getting the chance to spend more time with various S. Asian academics including Sejal Shah whom I met so briefly in NY, but I'd be attending a University of Utah party with old classmates and professors, and even seeing some of the Vermont College and Roosevelt University folks. It was going to be a one-day academic extravaganza. And I had a $100 hotel room reserved too. So I waffled.
In the end, the decision was taken out of my hands. The nice AA ticket man came back and said Canadian immigration said no no no. Absolutely not. Faxed documents could be faked, and if I got on that plane to Vancouver, I was not going to be allowed out past customs. So the Vancouver jaunt was cancelled, and I was going home to Chicago with my tail between my legs, my head hanging low.
The plus sides: The hotel let me cancel my room, no charge. AA rescheduled me home to Chicago today, no charge for the change fee or new ticket (though naturally, no refund for any of the old ticket either, and they shipped me through Seattle, which is where I am now, so it's already a long, long day.) All the service people involved were very nice to me, perhaps because I was clearly about to cry all over their nice clean counters. (The nice reservations lady at the Marriott in Vancouver called me a poor baby with much sympathy in her voice.) I'll get another day in Chicago to prepare for the Sri Lanka trip, which will hopefully help me avoid a much bigger travel fiasco. I'll get a chance to look at the new book cover draft Friday and let them know what I think (the mehndi foot, btw, got nixed by the sales team, so I have no idea what they'll be showing me). I'll have some time today to work on student responses, rather than squeezing them all into Fri/Sat.
The minus sides: Well, those are pretty obvious at this point, I think.
Gods, I feel dumb.