February, 2016

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The best seat in the sky

Friday, February 19th, 2016

It is exactly 24 hours from my door to Alia’s, and 16 of those were spent on a 777 from Chicago to Hong Kong. I had never been on such a long flight before, nor in such a gigantic bird. (That’s an industry term, you know — pilots call them “birds.” Wait. Do they?)

On a massive airplane with nine economy seats across, lumped in threes, an aisle between each set, I’ve decided that the best option is to sit in an aisle seat of the middle set. Here’s the logic:

  1. No matter what, the middle seat is the worst.
  2. On a regular domestic flight, I opt for the window. But if you choose the window on a flight around the world, you’re forced to watch the ground below, which on a global journey is really just ocean, inducing panic attacks and visions of Tom Hanks as the only survivor in a life raft in Castaway, which is by far the scariest movie of all time. Also, if you need to get up for the bathroom, you have to step over two people.
  3. The aisle seat on the right or left set of seats is okay, but if either of your two row mates needs to get up, you’re standing every time.
  4. But the aisle seat on the MIDDLE set… you can stand up whenever you want. You don’t have to look out the window hyperventilating. And if the person in the middle seat needs to get up, there’s only a 50% chance they’ll choose to go your direction.

Voila — the best seat in the sky. That is, unless you can afford to fly first class. By the time I boarded, those ballers already had free drinks!

Speaking of free drinks, you do eventually get those in economy, too. Time does not exist whilst in international flight zones, so when the alcohol tray comes through at 2pm, 3pm, 8pm, 12am, and 2am, just say yes, man. You paid good money for those free drinks.

Here’s another perk about such a long flight: the movies. The movies! I’m so glad I never paid to see The Martian in the theater, because after spending more money I’ve ever spent on a flight, I got to watch it for free! I also watched The Intern and Infinitely Polar Bear; in other words, it was the day you want every Monday morning when you actually have to go to work. I guess that someone’s gotta bring home the bacon and all… but what good is bacon if it isn’t paying for Netflix?

One thing I was ill advised about: there are no power outlets in economy. I was counting on an endless power supply for my laptop so I could write my memoirs. Alas, this blog is what I wound up with.

I am learning to accept my writing style for what it is. It’s difficult not to compare when reading other people’s words, blogs, and books, especially when I love someone else’s writing. Some of my friends have made a genuine living out of writing, and occasionally I think, “I wish someone would pay me to just be myself” — you know, as if all they have to do is write whatever they want that morning, and then get paid millions and millions of dollars for it. (I do know better, writer friends, you work hard. I’m just jealous.)

Anyway, everyone has a natural “voice,” and mine just so happens to be riddled with capital letters and parentheses and dumb jokes and a tiny bit of cynicism but also a genuine love for stringing words together and telling stories. I like to think that I write like I talk, but the truth is that I write better than I talk. Which is probably why I love to write.

I hope that you’re doing what you love, even if you don’t get paid for it, and even if you don’t do it as well as other people, at least in your opinion. One’s own opinion isn’t always the best judge, anyway. Judge Judy is the only judge for me.

Okay, back to this ultra mega flight. I was worried that they wouldn’t feed us and I would arrive in Asia an emaciated shell (as if). I am very afraid of being hungry, so I packed Larabars, an open-face turkey sandwich, an apple, and a baggie of almonds — and while it all went to good nutritious use, it was largely unnecessary. Here are the things we were offered on the flight: sundried tomato bruschetta crackers, sweet wafery cookies, manicotti, green tea sorbet, wasabi rice snack mix, and scrambled eggs. I didn’t partake in everything because with the exception of Ritz Crackers, mass-produced foods generally taste like sadness — but I’m serious, the crew was through over and over again with something new.

If you’ve made it this far, you know I’m just a wide-eyed country bumpkin on a major international adventure — par for the course for many of you, but out of the norm for me. I know that this week will be full of amazing experiences, and I can’t wait to tell you about them. And just to give you an idea of the length of the journey, here was our progress two and a half hours into the flight:

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The whole rest of the world to go. I can’t wait.

Springtime, come hither

Monday, February 15th, 2016

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I retreat from the Internet — and lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. An introvert can handle only so much extroversion before she caves in, like a molten lava cake, but way less hot.

Seriously, you should see how non-hot I am looking these days. I am bedraggled and dried out and pallid and puffy. Winter in Minnesota will do that to a girl. After that cold snap of sub-zero temperatures, the weather has been far more tolerable — but it’s still dark and icy and laze-inducing. I am willing along spring like a spectator at a marathon, except spring is the slowest one.

Please spring, even if it takes eleven hours, promise me you’ll cross the finish line. I hear there’s beer! And have I mentioned how hot you look?

Luckily I am leaving for Hong Kong on Thursday. Hong Kong is subtropical! Granted, it’s only supposed to be in the 60s and rainy, but bring on the balm. I plan on coming back with supple skin and the will to live.

Of course, I am terrified that my plane will crash into the ocean like Malaysian Flight 370, never to be found. My friends tell me to stop being morbid, but I’m hoping that by speaking my fears out loud they will lose their power, like shining a light into a 4-year old’s closet. (Except seriously, I just wrote my Last Will and Testament. I’m not joking. Last Thursday in the back row of a music event, I had Gabe and Maia sign as my two witnesses, all “I’m signin’, you’re signin’, we’re all signin’.”)

As for Foxy, I am flying Anna in from Colorado to stay with her while I’m gone. If I am flying my dog-sitter across the country, I am absolutely the 1%. It’s time for me to accept it and stop eating the heel of the bread because I think I’m poor.

I plan on living forever, a regular Tuck Everlasting — but if my plane goes down, know that I love you all, more than I love molten lava cake. I want to see Minneapolis in the springtime though, so count on my triumphant return.

As a parting gift, here’s me on Saturday, STANDING ON A LAKE, harnessing the power of the sun because it’s all I can do.

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