Tuesday Travels #6 The Flight to Cambodia

FT (Florida time)7 am, out the door and on the way to JAX, Julie drops me off, 50 lb. bags get checked all the way to Phnom Penh (thank you Lord), I go through security on pre-check (thank you again) and am waiting for my first flight

FT 10:30 am, ATL, sitting in the waiting area for the international flight. I was able to move by tram from concourse B to concourse F, which was marked as the international terminal. At the help desk I found out I was really supposed to be at concourse E, so I walked back rather than ride the tram all the way around the circle. Easy check in at the gate, hardly anyone else there. FT 10:45, Mike and Trish arrive. They started in ATL and the security check made them unwrap the video projectors Trish had so carefully bubble wrapped, towel wrapped and duct taped. We visit and catch up on each other’s status while waiting.

I want to keep track of how they plan events on the trip to make us think in the time of our destination. I’m not going to buy food in the airports, hoping that what we get on the flight will be plenty as it usually is. Still fighting this headache for the third day now but perhaps it is getting better. Wishing I had some noise canceling headphones for this trip. I settled for new earbuds that have soft rubber cradles to keep them on my ears. My ears seem to be different from the average human since most everything pops right out the minute I put it in.

My biggest source of confusion on these trips is my back pack with it’s zillion different pockets, compartments and zippers. I’ve named it Helper, hoping that it will take the hint. I always try to have as little “stuff” to keep track of as possible, but on this long a flight you do need to have some things handy. I’ve already nearly left my driver’s license at the bag check place in Jacksonville. I’ve had to hunt for my baggage claim checks when at the Korean Air desk. I needed my fingernail clippers after tearing off a nail stowing my pack under the seat, and of course, I needed my ibuprofen. I got the Kindle out on the flight from Jacksonville but as it turned out I only opened my eyes long enough to drink my cup of coffee. All this stuff has to come out and go back in handily or I look like an idiot.

FT 12:50 We take off and are soon at over 500 mph at great height. By 1:15 we are being served beverage and snacks, I decide to watch a movie “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” which I saw on the plane coming from Minneapolis but couldn’t hear any of the words. By 2:00 we are being served a meal. I take chicken. By 3:00 the lights are being dimmed and by 3:30 it is quite dark and most are watching a movie or sleeping. I will also try to sleep because my headache is coming back.

FT 8 pm. I did try to sleep as it was a bit like taking a late afternoon nap. However, these seats are every bit as hard as I remember them being and that is what keeps me from being comfortable for long. I am sitting on actual pain, even though I have used my blanket as a cushion. Numbness.

Around FT 6pm we were offered a glass of juice and choice of a brownie, peanuts or a hot bun. I’ve had the hot bun before and it was good – has something in the middle that tastes like a spicy stew gravy. Nothing like it in our country. So that’s what I had. Decided to watch another movie. Cinderella, just because I’m curious about this recent remake.

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My Helper, with it’s many pockets, compartments and zippers…

Now we have just crossed the international date line, so it is no longer Tuesday here. We are at 36,000 feet going 537 mph and a little over half way there. I smell food again. I have been smelling something not so good as food for which the young boy sitting behind me is responsible, I think. He is also the one creating “turbulence” by kicking the back of my seat periodically. When we were all strapped in our seats during takeoff, he released himself from the seat belt and took off down the aisle. Two attendants quickly left their jump seats and grabbed him which was a bit dramatic since the plane was on quite an incline. They all three kind of fell down the hill, and then climbed back up. I’ve done pretty good finding things in my helper, except for my glasses case. I searched every compartment before I remembered where it was. That happens. As I said it’s now 8pm in Florida where I started, I’ve had a good nap but the plane is still dark. It’s disorienting to sit in this room with no outside view and with a constant loud white noise of the engines. I think they are counting on people being disoriented so they can play with our internal time clocks…

FT 4am on Wednesday morning. I am in Seoul, South Korea where it is 5:10 pm Wednesday. Confused yet? As I said about six hours ago, I smelled food. Meal number two was served at FT 9:30 after hot, warm washcloths were passed to all. We ate and the room was darkened again. I was sitting on both the pillow and the blanket which made my seat much more comfortable and I was able to sleep for several hours. This would have been normal sleep time for me at home. At about FT 2:30 we were awakened and readied for landing.

Incheon aiport is very nice, very busy. We followed the crowd to the line for International Transfers and went through another security check. My backpack was carefully examined by x-ray and then a manual search was requested. For some reason my wooden jewelry box with its two pair of earrings was hard for them to identify and after seeing what it was, all was good again.

There was sufficient time for us to find food, use the restroom and find Gate 20 where the next flight to Phnom Penh will board. I have gotten a welcome message on my phone from South Korea stating that I can receive calls and texts but cannot make them until some special authorization. I may not have wifi until we reach the guest house later tonight. All for now.

Me, being helped.
Me, being helped.

G for Going North

This morning once again I’m leaving the “family story” theme behind and writing about present experience. I am going north. The destination is Minneapolis for the Association of Writing Professionals conference. My daughter attended the conference last year when it was in her home town of Seattle and it was an outing she wanted to repeat. So for her April birthday she gave herself a present – the trip to Minneapolis – and for my birthday (which is today) she invited me along. I am masquerading as a real writer for three days and hoping to pick up some interesting experiences, and knowledge.

In the next three or four posts I hope to give a picture of what the conference is like. To be part of it I’ve had to join the Association, of course, and purchase my registration. I have already spent several hours looking at the hundreds of things on the schedule trying to decide what to take in. The online portal allows me to choose and develop my individual schedule which I can access at any time through an app on my phone. The app also links me to others at the conference and gives me a map of the conference center. I say that I’ve spent several hours wading through the many offerings but I’ve only gotten through day 2 of the conference. There are presentations on all kinds of writing and publishing, workshops, author signings and a huge book fair.

As I was getting ready for this trip, I asked my daughter “what do writers wear at these things?” Probably it was a stupid question, but honestly if I’m going to buy new clothes that don’t have stains on them I might as well fit in so I don’t feel conspicuous. As I suspected, writers don’t have a uniform. The most important thing is to have comfortable shoes and a sweater to keep warm. It is still snowing in this part of the country.

But the going part is also interesting. My ticket choices did not include a non-stop so I am airport hopping in what was supposed to be a three city trip. Unfortunatley our plans are “up in the air” so to speak. What do you do when the destination airport closes because of a storm? Evidently you circle until you run out of fuel. Actually, the pilot was kind enough to inform us that if we get close to running out of fuel we will land at another city that is kind of on the way (but not really). I don’t think I’ve ever been on a four city trip, and I’m desperately hoping I’m not on one now. It would mean missing my flight to the final destination for sure.

Maybe this is the start of my first novel!  Will she make it safely to the conference or will the plane mysteriously disappear over the cornfields of the midwest! The turbulence is getting rather dramatic. I’m just sayin’, stay tuned …

Fear Not

I am always, ALWAYS thankful for safe travel.  Air travel especially is a marvel in this day and age.  When you look at the statistics, which I don’t happen to have at hand, going somewhere by plane is many times safer than going by car on a road trip.  Yet we all get in cars and travel without giving it too much thought.  But many people have a phobia about getting on a plane.

Maybe it’s being strapped into something akin to an aluminum can, with dozens of strangers….

Maybe it’s knowing that one man’s alertness, judgment and skill determines whether your flight ends well or badly….

Maybe it’s wondering what you would think about for the last 120 seconds of your life should you be accidentally sucked out of the plane….

Maybe it’s walking down that aisle and discovering that your seat for the next three hours is next to… a baby.

A baby that’s already been on the plane for two hours.

A baby who is possibly putting on that look of “I’m done here.” and whose mother is nervously bouncing her up and down on her knee, hoping for the best, whatever that is.

Meet Eleanor.

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Ellie’s carseat had the window place, she and her mom were in the middle seat and I was in the aisle seat.  I always choose aisle seats.  Somehow it lessens the claustrophobia.

The nice man across the aisle from me felt obligated to say what a good baby she was the whole flight from Ft. Lauderdale.  “Smiled all the way.” he said.  I know babies.  Two hours of smiling at one stretch is about their limit.

Sure enough, as we sat endlessly watching people trying to put their way-too-big carryons in the over head bins, Ellie got tired of being bounced and cajoled and started to, well, cry.  She got red, and angry.  She let her mom know that she didn’t want to be stuck under a blanket to nurse, most definitely not that.  She was hot, sweating, infinitely uncomfortable.

Honestly, at that point I was overcome with sympathy and compassion for mama, because everyone in the plane was turning around and holding her responsible.  Her worst scenario was coming to pass and she had emptied her bag of tricks. (No really the worst scenario would have been trying to put oxygen masks on herself and the baby… I’m guessing.)

“You know, it can’t get much worse. Give me the baby. Maybe stranger shock will quiet her down.”  Was that brave of me or what?  And a second later, with no argument at all, it was me and Ellie.  Seat mates.

She really was a good, sweet little child and this story turned out much better than I hoped.  The change of perspective, someone else’s lap, and the air vent that we opened full blast in her face, quieted her down right away.  Personally I think she didn’t want to be bounced any more so I held her quietly and sang in her ear.  As the jet engines roared  to life (and they were about six inches outside our windows on either side – love the back of the plane, not) and we took off on our journey, Ellie went back to her mom and fell asleep for all but the last few minutes of our flight. Nothing as peaceful as a sleeping baby. I got to look at her the whole trip which was sort of a blessing for my blood pressure.

Sleeping child, sleeping mother.  Peace for the whole plane.
Sleeping child, sleeping mother. Peace for the whole plane.
Leaving me free to crochet and enjoy a snack.
Leaving me free to crochet and enjoy a snack.

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I Don’t Care

I’m all cared out for today.  The trouble is I’m going on a ten day trip in the morning.  I should be packing, but I don’t care.  I’m going to do it differently and just not pack anything.  I’m going to get up in the morning, get dressed and go to the airport.  I’ll take my computer and my night mouth guard.  Maybe some underwear.

Will this have consequences in the following week?  Maybe, maybe not.  That’s why it will be a great experiment.

It will be nice not to have luggage while I’m traveling.

I can wear the same thing all week.  I can go to the thrift shop. It will be fun.  Maybe it won’t be fun.

I don’t care.

Beep, beep, boop?

What?  Who did this? To those of you reading who are not also bloggers, I will explain.  One of the latest updates to WordPress, my blog host, includes a cute little “beep, beep, boop” message wiggling around in the center of a blank screen for a few seconds after certain commands are instituted.  It’s a thing to look at while you’re waiting.  Evidently someone thought that us bloggers would lose interest and wander off if we didn’t have something new to look at for three seconds while our post is being published.  I’d like to meet the originator of this idea and try to figure them out. I’m always amazed at the things people will think to do.  Actually, sometimes I’m also amazed at the things people don’t think to do – the old rule, never say never,  applies equally to never say always. Both good things to remember.

This last week, every time I sat down at the computer I lost interest and wandered off.  One day I didn’t even turn the thing on.  But that’s ok.  A week of inactivity online doesn’t bother me much and gives me the opportunity to write about what I have been into while I haven’t been writing.

– Equate extra strength Headache Relief,  for the headache that doesn’t seem to want to quit.  Although I’m probably not doing my stomach any favors, I’m grateful for the four or five hours of relief and super wakefulness that I get from swallowing a couple pills.

Hello headache, my old friend...
Hello headache, my old friend…

– Intraocular injections (shot in the eyeball), for the eye problem that was dramatically improved, in the doctor’s own words.  I’m grateful that it’s working and that I don’t have to get another one for five weeks, although I am getting used to everything about them (except the cost…)

the back of my eye
the back of my eye

– Childcare, for several of my yòoung friends who I realize I’ve been missing.  How come you guys can grow up in what seems like no time at all? Gracie, Lydia, Josh, Zeke, Shiloh – grateful for time spent with you that makes me feel younger even while I marvel at you getting older.  I’m troubled by the fact that I’ve never played X-box.  Is that weird?

Childcare for her, adult care for me...
Childcare for her, adult care for me…

– Old letters and old files, for the urge to purge and to organize. Lots of stuff has been burned or shredded, but lots else has been rediscovered and readied for the next project, memoir writing.  I’ve always been alarmed by my lack of memory for details of the past.  Not only did I forget all those details, but I forgot that I’d written them down in letters to others.  This morning, reading letters written to my mother ten years ago, all I could think was “Really, I did that?” and “Did some other person’s life sneak into my letters?”  Grateful for the written record of the past.

I'm more prolific than I remembered.
I’m more prolific than I remembered.

– Appliance shopping, because the washer and dryer that have wanted to leave my house for years, finally broke free.  Grateful that within hours of starting to shop for replacements I came across a used set that is probableyten years younger.  After only one session with the furniture dolly, the truck, the hoses, wrenches and plumbing tape, they are installed in my laundry room and functioning almost correctly.  The printed message under the temp dial that says “all rinses are cold only” really means they are scalding hot only.  I think I know how we can fix that.

the Laundry twins, Hi and Dri
the Laundry twins, Hi and Dri

– Air travel websites, for the supposed improvement of doing it yourself.  Instead of calling a knowledgeable person and telling them when and where I want to travel I can now spend hours online hunting for the best connection at the best price.  And American Express Delta Frequent Flyer card, how dare you revoke the companion ticket feature without telling me.  Planning my revenge…

Did. Not. Happen.
Did. Not. Happen.

– the garden that was, the heat that is, that yard that will be.  Grateful for the healing work that takes place in me when I’m outdoors.  Grateful for green things, if they’re plants – not, if they’re worms.

Good green
Good green
Bad green
Bad green

 

– Face time, with friends and family who care.  I am realizing that the purpose and value of life is all in the relationships I find and nurture.  Realizing also that God is that friend and that family member who makes it all possible.  Having less work away from home has given me more time to nurture the relationship with him and I am so grateful for that.  Gives me some precious times of discovery, comfort, peace and excitement. Arlette and I took a lovely walk yesterday and talked of all these things.

Nature walk with my friends Arlette and God.
Nature walk with my friends Arlette and God.

 

My friend Arlette (and maybe God too, on her left)
My friend Arlette (and maybe God too, on her left)