Saturday, March 23, 2013

never again

Never again.  There is no way you will ever get me on an airplane again.  I just suffer too much discomfort during the process.

Flying home yesterday from California was actually mostly routine and uncomplicated by mishaps or bad juju.  Our shuttle to the airport arrived to pick us up on time and delivered us to the check in and departure desk with plenty of time to spare.  We glided through security without a hitch.  We found our departure gate easily and obtained a preboarding pass that would allow me to be first in line to get on board (using a cane gets you a lot of sympathy and extra attention).  The plane arrived right on schedule and we boarded right on schedule, we got the two aisle seats we wanted across from each  other and settled in for the duration. An interesting side note:  on the flight out last week I sat  next to a young woman (college student?) and only exchanged the briefest of greetings with no other conversation the entire flight.  Just the way I like it.  On our return flight who should show up but the same young woman who decided to sit next to me again.  I guess she liked the lack of conversation, too.  

So now you are wondering what, with everything going so smoothly, complaints I could possibly have about flying.  Well, first of all my legs cramped up from sitting so long.  The flight was full and very crowded so getting up and walking down the aisle to stretch my legs was out of the question.  No amount  of shifting and flexing my legs seemed to help.  I was a very uncomfortable the whole time.  On top of that I had gotten a cold the day before and my head was stuffed up.  I wasn’t coughing or sneezing or constantly  having to blow my nose, but my head throbbed from the cabin pressure all the way.  Then when we began our descent for landing my ears refused to pop as they normally would.  Consequently the pressure in my head increased with each passing moment until I thought my head would explode.  Actually I hoped my head would explode so I would be put out of my misery.  I used all the will power I owned to keep from screaming out in pain.  Mercifully we finally landed and the ordeal on board was over.  The problem was now I couldn’t hear a thing and could barely walk and keep my balance.  And the pain didn’t go away.  So I’m trying to walk through the airport staggering and stumbling with my ears ringing and not being able to tell Mary what the problem was because I couldn’t get the words out.  I was finally able to tell her what was wrong just before she was going to panic and call the paramedics to deal with me.  I knew, or thought I knew, that all I needed was to get my ears to pop to relieve the pressure.  But they just wouldn’t pop.  Too much sinus congestion from that cold I guess.  Luckily our friend was there to pick us up and deliver us home.  If I’m going to suffer I want to be at home.  

I lived through the night and some of the pressure is gone, but my ears are still ringing and I can’t hear very well, but the pain is mostly gone.  I know II will forever associate flying with nearly unbearable ear pain from now on.  So getting me on another plane to fly anywhere is going to be impossible.  I will stay home and be content, thank you very much.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

travel if I must

I am not an enthusiastic traveler.  While many people dream of roaming the world, seeking adventure and experiencing  exotic cultures, I prefer to stay at home.  But if I must experience their same travels, I can simply look at their photos and postcards, vicariously living the exciting times they insist on sharing.  Yes, I’m a homebody, and proud of it.

It’s not that I am fearful of flying, or bothered by long drives, I just don’t prefer to put myself through the attendant hassles that inevitably complicate any venture away from home.  Airports are the worst offenders, gluttonous consumers of time and patience.  Too often airlines suck the life out of travelers, pushing them toward the brink of insanity with their constant price changes, schedule revisions, and cancellations. And, of course, having the airline lose your luggage is a given.
I find it incomprehensible why otherwise intelligent people put up with such abuse just for the opportunity to go from here to there. 

Yet, getting from here to there is often an unavoidable necessity.  Some travel is required for important occasions, whether happy or sad.  So I am willing, on occasion, to venture beyond the comfort of my recliner at those times.  Some things override my stated objections to leaving home.  The chance to spend some quality time with my grandson is such an occasion.  Ezra’s second birthday is enough of a reason for me to get on a plane and fly for nearly five hours. 

So now I find myself on the west coast far from home.  Any of the hassles and minor discomforts of the trip out here from wintery Wisconsin were immediately forgotten when we walked into the room and Ezra went wide eyed in wonderment to see his Skype image of Bubbe and Papa come to life in front of him.  It didn’t take him long to accept us into his world.   And it didn’t take us long to wish for time to stop right now.  From the moment of his first hug we knew that the time would come when we would have to leave him here and return home.  Every second we spend with him is precious beyond understanding.  We have seriously debated the possibility of kidnapping him and keeping him all to ourselves.  But we will have to be satisfied with our weeklong visit, and the prospect of future visits.  I am certainly willing to set aside my distaste for travel when the next opportunity comes for us to hug and kiss that precious little boy. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

I dunno

Lately I’ve become aware of a verbal bad habit that I’ve allowed to become my conversational default setting.  My first response to almost any question or comment directed at me is to say “I dunno.”  For the past few says I’ve kept track of how often during the day I utter that short phrase.  I was surprised and dismayed to find that I relied on “I dunno” nearly two dozen times a day.

Using an habitual phrase or verbal “tic” is a lazy way of conversing. I’ve been critical of people who rely on “uh”, “you know”, “like” to fill out their verbal responses.  Such habitual utterings are usually a way for the speaker to allow his mouth to catch up to his brain when confronted with the necessity of verbal communication.  In my case I think using “I dunno” is a way to waylay any further questions and to limit the potential conversation that might result from a more specific and meaningful response.  I am not usually an enthusiastic conversationalist unless the conversation involves something I am truly interested in.  I don’t do small talk.  

I realize that “I dunno” is a deflective shield that I use because I don’t want to have to think of a real answer to the question put to me.  Most often I am just being lazy.  Sometimes I am lost in my own limited world of personal thought and don’t want to be bothered by an interruption that will sidetrack my thoughts. Yes, I realize that makes me selfish and self centered.  My private personal internal conversations are more important to me than anything you can say or ask.  I admit that makes me a bad person and someone no one wants to be around because I come across as utterly boring and totally ignorant.  You can only claim that you “don’t know” just so often before people start to believe you.  Then you become the village idiot who is just taking up space at the conversational table.  

So I have decided to make a concentrated effort to overcome my “I dunno” habit.  One way I thought of to fight this battle is to pretend not to hear.  I can legitimately claim at least partial deafness in my left ear so I figure if I make a concerted effort to always be to the right  of whoever is speaking to me and expecting a response, I can honestly point to my left ear as the reason for my unresponsive behavior.  That way I can just ignore most of the verbal chaff that is flying around me and pick and choose my conversational spots.  Of course by now everyone knows that “I dunno” a damn thing about anything since I have convinced them of such with my history of ignorant answers to their questions.  So maybe everyone will simply stop talking to me.  I can return to my private reveries uninterrupted by conversational intrusions.

Uh, like, you know, that just might work but I dunno.