You can take away my gels and liquids…

I know what you're thinking. Air travel isn't that bad now. Really. Sure, there were some kinks to work out after 9/11; the sneaker bomber; and the liquid explosives plot — but now that we know what we can and cannot bring aboard a plane, then air travel should go smoothly!

Except we still don't know. At least I didn't. And I prepared. So help me, God, I prepared. I read the Air Canada website, the airport website, the Customs website — and still, there were surprises. Even more than last year.

Check-in: There are 5 separate lineups and no clear signs. I spend 10 minutes in one line before realizing it's for first-class passengers, and then sheepishly switch over to the next. I am asked by the clerk for the address I will be staying at while in the U.S. Last time, I didn't have to provide this information until I got to customs. And so, the frenetic digging in the bag begins.

Security: I was prepared to have to take off my jacket and shoes while going through the metal detector. I was not prepared to have to take off my sweater, too, leaving me in just a tank top. Note to self: next time, wear a bra.

Customs: You know, I used to get through this *fairly* easily; being a meek, SWF with the intimidation factor of a turtle. But not anymore. And that's okay. What's not okay is that the man who won't even look me in the eye just confiscated my $10 facial scrub — even though it was packed in a Ziploc bag, like they asked — because the bottle is too big.

The Gate: No problems here. But why? Because what I don't know yet is that the flight will make up for it.

The Flight: The last time I was on a plane, I vowed to myself that I would never sit through another one-sided conversation initiated by the person seated next to me. Unfortunately, the relief of finally being seated has made me forget this, and I succumb to small-talk with my fellow passenger. He asks me what I like to write about; I say celebrities. He asks me if I am Lebanese. It is not until half-way through the ensuing conversation on Lebanon that I realize he thought I said I like to write about "the Lebanese."

The Arrival: This might as well say, "the homecoming," because I'm never going through that again. I'm staying here. You hear that, Customs?! I'm frigging staying in the U.S. no matter what I wrote on that form, because you drove me to it, and you can't stop me! In the words of Michael Scott from The Office, "SUCK. ON. THAT."

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