In Vancouver

The flight to Vancouver was long, long, long, but there were some interesting characters that my mom and I got to experience on the way. I’ll be writing about them eventually – unless I decide to hoard them in order to use them in some piece of fiction eventually.

Our first day was yesterday, and (incredibly) we dragged ourselves out for a full day of walking around and exploring the city.

Today my mom, my aunt, my brother and I walked around Vancouver some more. We went to Granville Island, this really cool inlet that has an arts university as well as an arts high school and is full of awesome young people. There’s a market there that looks like it came straight out of Disneyland – it’s too perfect and adorable. I loved it. There are also a couple dangerous stationary stores that I had a hard time tearing myself out of. I love that stuff way too much.

My hands are strangely slow and heavy as I write this, so I think that it’s time for me to fall back into bed. I got out of it a mere twelve hours ago, but a second day of walking around and a healthy dose of jet-lag is affecting me, clearly. Good night, people.

A Pause, An Apology

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve not been here quite as regularly during the past few days – and that includes not reading and commenting on all your wonderful blogs as often as I’d like.

The reason is pretty much the usual one when it comes to me: I’m stressed and getting ready to pack up my essentials and move back to New York for a semester. In addition to the logistics of wrapping up my summer vacation and getting ready to go back into study-mode, I’ve also been going through on emotional roller-coaster. One of the ways I contend with it is to remind myself that everything I experience, however painful and difficult, can always be used later as material. It might be a cold way of dealing with things, but it works.

On Tuesday night, my mother and I fly to Canada to visit my aunts for a week. From there, we go to New York for a couple days vacation before I go back to university, where I get to move into my shiny, new (well, newly painted, at least) single dorm room. Once it’s all set up, I might actually take pictures and post them here. Then again, I might be too lazy. In two weeks, I’ll be part of the team of students welcoming the freshpeople into the college by helping them move their things into their rooms.

So the next two weeks are going to be hectic, full of flights, family and friends. I’m going to do my utmost to continue updating regularly and reading your blogs, but if I miss a couple days, I’m extending my apology preemptively, and hope you’ll forgive me.

Freakout

Tears swell up.

Bile churns.

Head aches.

Heart burns.

*

Muscles tense.

Thoughts amass.

Hands shake.

Words turn crass.

*

Flying away.

Later today.

Not to stay.

But that’s okay.

*

Freakout.

Walkabout.

Lipsapout.

I’llsortitout.

Almost Done…

Promises are made to be broke, I suppose. Nevertheless, it literally makes me ache that I haven’t the time to write here nor read the words of my friends. The only thing that comforts me at the moment is the fact that in less than two weeks I’ll be boarding an airplane and flying home for a month, during which I hope to rejuvenate and let my creative juices flow for a while.

If I have my way, I’ll be taking a writing workshop next semester, and so I’ll be able to combine work for class and posts to share here. Also, hopefully, as next semester will be my second one and I’ll be a bit more blooded and not quite as green and new to the whole intensive studying experience, I’ll be able to have more time to sit at my leisure and pursue all the blogs that I dearly miss here…

Next week my work should – hopefully – be winding down in general, and so I hope to be able to start to re-familiarize myself with this space again, starting then already.

Chicago-Bound

It’s time to get going again. I’m packed, mostly, and my carry-on bag is as of yet non-existent. Those things don’t worry me though. By now, I’m a pro at closing up suitcases and backpacks and getting out of the house and into a waiting taxi at 3AM as I’ll be doing tonight. The thought of boarding a plane and beginning the journey to the United States is what worries me at the moment. Not so much the fear of being struck by lightning [though I must say that plane that disappeared has made me fearful] as much as the fear of tedium and inactivity.

I’ve gone on and on about flights before now, and so I’m not going to tackle this issue now. What I am going to substitute it with, though, is the matter of long layovers. Long layovers that aren’t long enough to warrant leaving the airport, but are plenty long enough to make the travel-time seem just about endless. This is the kind I will have on this flight – a four hour layover in Zurich. The Zurich airport is an odd one – pristine and clean-cut, long [a.k.a endless] hallways leading to the gates and bathrooms that seem to be tucked away from the normal person’s eyesight as if by spite.

However, I’m comforting myself with the fact that my mother and I are both word-lovers, and so we’ll spend our time by doing crossword puzzles and playing the brilliant card game called “Quiddler.” If any of you love words, I recommend you buy Quiddler right now. It’s brilliant.

Hopefully I’ll be writing fairly regularly, and maybe even with interesting stories or tidbits from my trip!

Flight From Hell

I am now officially back in the Holy Land, and hopefully in the next few days I will be resuming my normal updating pattern. I will also update those interested parties in which school I will end up going to in the fall and also I hope to go over my travel journal and write about the various amusing things that happened during my insane trip. Right now, though, I feel a great urge to explain just what sort of horror was vested upon my mother and I on our Delta flight home. You might actually have heard or will hear about this as a small item on the news today.

Our flight left NY late. Ok. Happens. Whatevs. I can deal.

An hour in, there is a slight commotion up front. Flight attendants are dashing up and down the aisles. Plane starts to descend and what looks like liquid is streaming out of the engines on the wings. None of the crew is telling the passengers anything besides to stay in our seats with our seat-belts fastened.

We’re finally told, after some major panic going on inside my rather too broad imagination, that we’re landing in about five minutes due to a “situation” with a passenger. A few minutes later, as an afterthought, we’re told that nothing is wrong with the plane and we can stay calm. Thanks. NOW you’re telling us.

We land. Somewhere. No one’s said what city we’re in. We all believe that a passenger is ill, has had a heart attack, a major allergic reaction, something life threatening. I stop a passing flight attendant and discover that this is not the case. It is some sort of security concern. Some sort of dangerous and destructive behavior. The flight attendant, who seems almost more panicked than the passengers, goes on to say that it is a very big deal.

Once again, fear becomes rampant – terrorist attack! Hijackers! Criminal group! Maybe there are accomplices on the plane! The FBI are involved! Rumors run rampant.

Eventually, and this is about an hour after landing, the co-pilot comes out and we get some real information: a passenger had gotten up from the back of the plane, had walked to the front and to the cockpit door and had begun banging on it, trying to guess the code to get in and punching at the number pad. He was wrestled to the ground by five passengers and was tied up and calmed down. The regulations in this sort of situation dictate that the plane make an emergency landing, which it did. The passenger was taken off in handcuffs, his luggage and handbags were removed, and the local and federal police became involved.

After another two hours or more, it is determined that the man was simply unhinged and having an anxiety attack. He is not connected to any criminal or terrorist groups. All is well, all is safe. A new flight plan is made, the plane is refueled, and we finally are able to head out once more. I must stress, though, that for a while there we were warned that we might all need to get off the plane and there was some indication that there would be an investigation. Apparently the FBI actually was involved, and thus was able to check in their databases that this disruptive passenger was acting alone as they say.

You’d think that once the whole thing was sorted out and we were able to be on our way again, all would be fine and dandy. Ah, if only. It seemed, however, that the fates were determined that my mother and I have the absolute worst travel experience of our lives to date.

During the first part of the flight, and the wait on the ground as well, there was a woman and a man behind us who had been talking non-stop. They were strangers and were having a nice airplane chat. That’s fine. What is NOT fine is that they were doing so in extremely loud voices. Once the flight had resumed, the man was exchanged for some reason with a different one, and again the woman chatted him up. She seemed determined to have as many partners in her bed that night as possible. Or something.

Basically, for the rest of the flight – ten hours and forty-five minutes, in case you were wondering – these two conversed in extremely loud, obnoxious, piercing voices, not even attempting at keeping their conversation private. Thus, I know that She has an Austrian boyfriend. I know He has problems with his girlfriends. I know which movies He and She like. I know that He and She were hitting on each other for half the duration of their in-flight-conversation. I know that She has four really good friends and I know that He wants to travel to South America. I know more about He and She than I know about half my friends. Oh yes, She was also kicking my seat for most of the flight.

So if you hear about an incident on a Delta flight, then know that I was there. And know also that the only thing preventing a second “incident” [namely, me murdering the He and She behind me] was that I really didn’t want the plane to be diverted yet again.

Respectful Fear

Well, I’m in the United States of America, using a new and adorable miniature laptop, also known as a net-book, and finally catching up with this blog. I cannot, sadly, keep up with my usual schedule of all the blogs I usually read – I hardly have time to write, let alone browse at my leisure. However, if I happen to find the time, I will definitely pop over and say hi to you all. Hopefully, I will be forgiven for my lapse of attention for the time being.

I would like to share some thoughts I had while on the long [long, long, long] flight to the US.

Some people are afraid of flying. Mortally afraid. Many know how unreasonable their fear is and how safe air-crafts are these days, but still, something about being so very high up in the air in a vehicle they cannot control on their own – something about all this terrifies them in a way they can’t deal with, and it is enough to make them give up travel to distant countries altogether.

I am not one of these. As one who has traveled back and forth to Europe and the US at least once every year since birth, I suppose I could be considered quite the veteran on airplanes. Heck, I even remember the days where you could go to the back of the plane to a “smoking row” if you so wished. So, as I say, I’m quite confidant about flying.

HOWEVER-

I still believe there is a healthy amount of fear and respect due to a few tons of aluminum that manage to rise into the air and race across the face of the Earth for hours. I suppose you could say that I regard airplanes like I would a horse – handy mode of transportation and all, but hurt it or disrespect it and you might just end up in the mud. And, in the case of airplanes, probably very dead too.

So every time the airplane stars to shake with turbulance, my stomach can’t help but get tied in knots, my jaw clenches of its own accord and my hands squeeze each other for comfort. That’s jut the way it goes, I suppose.

Halfway ‘Round the World

Flying is a journey that begins hours before it is actually underway with packing, passport gathering, and final checks of house and pets and luggage. Once the keys lock the door and the luggage is in the taxi, it is still only the merest beginning of the ordeal. Airports are no picnic, and the security in Israel is stricter than most places. Young, post-military-service men and women look at the passports in anĀ  appraising, ask if you’ve packed your own bags, and explain that they’re asking because you might have taken something from someone that you deemed innocent but would actually be dangerous.

A few lines, machines, check-ins and difficulties later, the next part of the trip begins: the perils of the Duty-Free Shopping Area. While many are drawn to this most dangerous of all airport pursuits, my mother and I are not among those many – in fact, quite the opposite. While others might stroll up and down the lanes of various James Richardsons and Tommy Hilfigers and The-Tie-Shops, we huddle in the most remote of coffee-shops, sip our beverages, and try to hide from the too-alert-for-this-hour shoppers.

Next, of course, is the constant peering at watches and clocks, the straining of the ears to hear the garbled messages that come over the loudspeaker, and, in the end, the walk to the right gate quite a while before boarding starts, just so we won’t be late. Here, again, begins the process of tickets, passports, lines and shuffling forward one step at a time, until our feet actually set upon the cheaply carpeted floor of the airplane, and we find our cheaply leathered or upholstered seats. Setting our behinds down in those, we ready ourselves for the many, many, many hours ahead.

All this was just the beginning.

Travel Plans

Whenever I hear an airplane buzz above my house these days, I turn my face to the sky and smile. Whenever I’m at work and have to answer customers’ questions about their purchases abroad, I smile as I read them the data. Whenever I look at the calendar and realize it’s the middle of March already, I skip over to April and smile some more. In two weeks to a month I will be on an airplane and I will be bored half to death on the long, long, long flight, but ultimately, the flight will end. I’ll get off the airplane and breath the (slightly) better airport air. I’ll walk to passport control, have my passport stamped, and then I’ll hear those words that they say every time my mom and I reach the US. They’ll say “Welcome home.”

I do love my home here. I do love my friends, and my tiny city, and Tel Aviv just a few minutes away with its beaches and cafes. I do love taking the ride up to cold Jerusalem, and I do love my time there with Sir B. F. I might sound as if I’m wild to begone from this mad country – that’s not entirely true. I just need a vacation. I wish I could take everyone I love with me, though.

I apologize for the very “bloggy” quality of this post – my mother and I are starting to plan dates, and so my mind is abuzz with the thoughts of open days in colleges and hotel prices and the fact that I’ll get to see New York for the first time ever. Plus, and almost more importantly than the college-scoping, I’ll get to go to BARNES AND NOBLES.

Oh yes. Book shopping and baggage-overweight -fees, here I come.

The Dos and Don’ts of Airport Terminals

DO:

-Get to the airport in plenty of time and stay positive and cheerful even if there’s such a long line that you think it must be leading to Timbucktoo and not to the check-in desks.

-Buy a bad cup of coffee, even if you’re not going to finish it because it’s too hot/cold/icky, because it’s traditional and social.

-Get something chocolaty to bring on the plane with you. You never know when you’ll get a sweet tooth.

-Make eye contact with security people. They like it when you smile as well.

DO NOT:

-Think about how much time you still have left to travel. Breaking down and crying in the middle of airport terminals in dispair is not a socially acceptable thing to do.

-Talk and joke loudly about the bombs in your luggage. You’ll end up missing you flight due to sitting in a cold room with a lamp shining in your eyes while tiny security people try to get you to confess what you’ve done.

-Sleep before a flight. You’ll want to fall asleep on the plane, not be wide-eyed, jittery and full of adrenaline.

-Begin conversations with people in the lines. You’ll end up needing to sit with them and hear all about their Uncle Morty’s social problems at his job and how many kidney stones they’re having taken out the day after tomorrow.

-Lose all hope for ever reaching your destination. Once again, public-meltdowns are not socially acceptable.