25 April 2007

Some bird, I am ...

Posting has been pretty light around here lately, and for that I apologize. I’m going through one of those dry periods that hits every now and then. You know the kind – you sit down to write, thinking you have a great idea, and then it just ... poofs.

So, to shake things up a bit and get the old synapses firing again, I’m heading to Washington, DC.

No, really. I’m leaving Saturday morning at oh-dark-thirty and winging all the way to the other side of the U.S. of A. for a week.

OK, I’ll admit I’m not going just because I’m fighting writer’s block. If it was just that, I’d go to Ireland. But I have a perfectly lovely aunt and uncle who live in DC and I’m visiting at their invitation with my mom and sister. It should be fun – I’ve never been there before and as much as I write about the mess emanating from that tiny spot on the map, it sure can’t hurt to see it for myself.

There’s just this one, itty-bitty thing. I don’t like to fly.

I mean I really, really don’t like to fly. I’m the one who begged her doc for just enough Valium to keep her doped during the flight back to the States from Europe on leave. He was very nice and gave me four tablets, two for each way. And when we flew back the final time in ’92, he gave me two more.

Those were the nicest, most stress-free 19-hour flights I’ve ever taken. We're at 40,000 feet and bouncing like we're on a dirt road? Hey, no problem.

But this time, I’m stuck. No health insurance. No nice doc. No Valium. I’m just gonna hafta suck it up and be brave.

I’ve been afraid to fly since I was a little tiny kid. Sure, I’ve done it anyway, and I’ll do it this time. But just thinking about walking down that echoey plastic causeway into the belly of that tin can with wings and thick little windows makes my stomach flipflop. I think it’s a combination of a fear of heights and enclosed spaces, all rolled into one nasty, white-knuckled, just-close-your eyes-and-try-to-breathe phobia.

A friend said, “But that’s what the airport bars are for!”

Well, yeah. But drinking at 7 a.m. isn’t my thing. Besides, I’d probably just throw up.

It’s not the flying itself that gets to me. Once the airliner has leveled out at altitude, I can sorta let go of the armrests, look out the window at the clouds down below and pretend I’m in heaven instead of riffing on the fact that I’m sealed into a tube hurtling through the air at some ungodly speed several miles above the earth.

It’s the taking off and landing that curls my toenails and sends a trickle of cold sweat down my spine. Since this is a cross-country trip and we have to stop in Denver (where my sister will join us on the flight) it means up-down and then up-down again. Twice between here and Baltimore.

Erk. Same thing coming home.

Yeah, people fly all the time. Some people fly the way they used to take trains. It’s like commuting for them.

But not me. I haven’t set foot in a 720-anything in 15 years. Not even once. And I hear now you don’t even get an icky meal to complain about. Just some peanuts and a soda. Or booze.

I’d barf.

And all this silly quaking is in spite of the fact that I once took off, flew and landed a tiny Cessna (with an instructor) just so I could write about the experience. And that I’ve shot watershed news photos from the windows of a small plane piloted by a testosterone-powered arsehole as he banked it low and nearly sideways over the high Sierras. Both times I was scared nearly spitless, but way too busy to worry about it.

Anyway – this will be my last post for a while. I’ll be back, oh, around May 6 if the plane does all those ups-and-downs correctly. If it doesn’t, it’s been nice bloggin’ for y’all. Toodles.

But since it’s more likely I’ll get there and back again without suffering more than cramped knuckles, I’ll tell you all about my trip to DC when I return. I can’t think of a better way to bust through writer’s block than facing down personal cowardice twice, can you?


Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Ummm.... weren't you in the Air Force? I'm sure I read that on your blog before!!! Surely you can't join the Air Force if you're afraid to fly?????

Have a nice trip!

Blue Wren said...

Heheheh ... an astute observation, Patrick. Actually, I had to fly only to travel while I was in the AF, though I did once fly figure 8s over Portland, OR in an AWACs during an exercise. My job was controlling fighters by radar using monitors on the ground. Worked well for me. Thanks for the nice trip wishes. I'm looking forward to feet on the ground in DC.

Dragon Laugh said...

Mom, mom, mom ... Cowardice and instinctive fear aren't quite the same thing, I don't think. Cowardice would be like, say, accidentally hitting someone with your car and then taking off because you don't want to pay the cost of medical care and don't want to feel the guilt of it, no matter the consequences to the person you hit; cowardice is entirely self-centered and self-serving. Instinctive fear isn't the same at all- it's a very natural thing driven by experience, ancestral memory, and nature itself; in this case we silly humans don't have wings, so why the hell should we be comfortable hurtling through the air? It's so very ok to be afraid of flying; there's not a thing in the world wrong with it. Maybe you could take some Melatonin about thirty minutes or so before getting on the plane? That stuff knocks me out. It might help.

Onc e you've survived the plane ride, have fun, take pictures, be a tourist ... and take a journal with you. Might be cool to keep a day-by-day record of your adventures there and then post them here when you get back, eh? Have a great trip, and say hi to Bud and Anne for me and Matt.

Wil Robinson said...

I'm jealous - I've always wanted to see the capital.

Having family there should only make it a better trip...nothing like having your own personal tour guides who know the ins and outs.

I don't really like flying, either (mostly the take-offs and landings as well), but have found myself doing quite a lot in the past year. I hate to say it, but I'm getting used to it.

My tactic is to watch the flight attendants...I figure if a flash of fear shows on their face, we're in trouble. So whenever there's a bump or a sound I don't think sounds right, I'm immediately spinning my head around to see the attendants reaction. Seeing their calm and serene face usually makes me feel quite a bit better.

...that and a gin & tonic...

Have fun in D.C.

Jamal Otolorin said...

Thanks 4 visiting my blog. When they are not hiding in caves, Wren's fly quite well. Have a safe flight to washington.

Kevin Wolf said...

Guess I'm a little late, but I hope you're enjoying your trip. DC is well worth seeing. Do not miss the Vietnam Memorial and the National Gallery. (I still haven't seen the new American Indian Museum but then I only get to DC every 20 years, it seems.)

Connie said...

"And I hear now you don’t even get an icky meal to complain about. Just some peanuts and a soda."

This made me laugh because it reminded me of an almost unbearable flight I was on a couple of years ago. I fly a lot so fear is not the issue. This one flight I was seated next to a rather large, shabby looking young man who, when he sat down, spread his legs WIDE and well, just kind of invaded my body space - more so than one should have to expect even in such cramped quarters. I'm small enough I was able to cross my legs, cross my arms and lean far enough away from him to make the situation tolerable. UNTIL he cracked open that can of soda... Glug. Glug. Glug. Ahhhh. Then the pistachios... even above the engine noise I could hear him in my left ear. Crunch. Spit. Ping (as the shells hit the bottom of the empty soda can). Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Crunch/Repeat. Ping. Again and Again. It was disgusting.

So here I am chuckling to myself, thinking that I wouldn't wish that on anyone, except for maybe you Blue Wren. But only because it's the one thing that could help take your mind off all those "ups-and-downs". :)

Hope you had a great trip...

robin andrea said...

Hope your journeying has been good, wren, and your visit to Washington a truly memorable one. I think it's a great city, and I can't wait to read your take on it. BTW-- I have the same feeling about flying as you. I have been on an airplane once in 17 years. I'm planning on avoiding it for as long as I can. So far, so good.