Learning To Fly

The first time I got on an airplane, I was an unaccompanied minor. Except that back then, there really wasn't anything called 'unaccompanied minors' and I was accompanied by my older brother and my two very little siblings. Eddie sat way up somewhere else on the plane and I sat with J & J, making sure they ate their Kudos bars and didn't spill their many airplane-sized cups of soda.

Eventually, they just gave us the cans. You can get anything on an airplane if you whine enough.

I never did fly with an adult in all the times I've flown back and forth, Philly to Denver, parent-hopping my way through my childhood. And that never seemed like an issue at all; I mean, it's getting on a plane, sitting down for three hours and getting off the plane - not rocket science. I was 13 whole years old, I knew everything, and I found flying to be intoxicating.

Now, actually flying the plane is a little bit like rocket science, and since I always loved flying so much, when I had the opportunity, I learned how to fly them myself. I have yet to find anything as exhilarating and freeing and close to godly as piloting an airplane. Maybe I haven't done much with my life, maybe I've never seen the world, maybe I've never even seen Detroit, but at least I've flown airplanes.

But the problem, for me at least, with knowing how to fly the airplane is that now I know every single thing that can go south, literally, when trying to keep a few tons of metal aloft. Knowing how to do it took the magic out of it for me, and made me the world's worst airplane passenger. Learning how to drive made me the world's worst auto passenger, too. Really, ask my husband. My complete inability to sit in the passenger seat and not completely freak the fuck out has almost driven that poor man to the divorce lawyer.

I think that if I'd just not learned how to fly an airplane, I wouldn't be sitting here right now shivering inside while my husband sits at a gate with our sons, waiting to load them up on a plane and send them to Denver for two weeks. I wouldn't be going through all the worst case scenarios in my head, if only I didn't know what they are. I wouldn't be worrying about whether or not they can get oxygen masks over their faces, or whether or not they will whine their way into cans of Sprite.

Or maybe I would. Maybe I would because those are my babies, and they're going 1500 miles away from me, where I won't be there if someone falls off a bike and scrapes their knees, where I can't come get them if it turns out that they don't still get along with the best friends they left behind four years ago when we left Denver. That powerless feeling I get every time I buckle my seat belt and put my tray table up for take-off isn't much different from the powerless feeling I'm getting sending my sons into the world on their own for two weeks.

But I guess the best things in life are the ones that leave you feeling helpless - like motherhood, like launching yourself through clouds and over mountains, like letting go.  I never knew how to see the world until I saw it from a few thousand feet up, and maybe I don't know how to see my kids for the little men that they are until I see them from a few thousand miles away. I guess it's time to let them go. I supposed I have to let them go, and trust that I taught them how to put mud on a bee sting and ask politely for sodas and behave even when I'm not watching.

It took me a while, but I learned how to fly. It's taking me a while, but I'm trying to learn how to give my kids wings, too.

My Parents Went To LA And All I Got Was This Stupid Blog Post

So I've been out of town this week on business, and shut up. No one is laughing harder at that statement than I am. I mean, really, people....the only 'business' I am qualified to conduct is more along the lines of this business, and by qualified, I simply mean I've seen it done on the internet a few times and imagine that I can learn by example. Like crafting the perfect rap video.

I was supposed to go have dinner with The Queen of Spain while I was in town, but it turns out that when you say "I live in LA", that's about as specific as saying, "Oh, I'm right down the road from the Milky Way" and my house is closer to the hotel I stayed in than Erin's is. And Little Miss "I'm too enlightened for credit cards" can't exactly rent a car, so yeah, that didn't happen.


I did get to go have dinner with a few close friends while I was away, and the best thing about having kids is that at some point in your life, all your friends have kids, too, so when you go to dinner with them you get to spend an entire evening teaching those kids how to get the plastic lids off off their kids cup and once they've got that down, you can teach them how to blow really huge totally awesome milk bubble towers with their bendy straws and the only downside of that is that you have to suck all the bubbles up from out of their cup before they all fall in your lap because you don't exactly have any other clean jeans for the next day and you just realized that you're fairly certain your dairy allergy has decided to host a revival right in the lining of your intestines and oh my god your stomach. Maybe milk bubbles over the first Mexican food you've had in two years isn't the smartest idea you've ever had. But at least you had a really big hotel bed with tragically fluffy blankets all to yourself to trap the toxic fumes away under, all night long.


Until, of course, you roll over and *whoops* let the air escape from under the blankets. One of my eyeballs actually melted right out of its socket that night.

And then the next day that little girl recorded me a note that just said, "Thank you for blowing milk bubbles with me, tante. I miss you." I seriously doubt her parents echo that sentiment. The fact that I told her she could steal all of Jesus' rocks didn't help either, I'm sure, but that's a story for another day.

All in all, the trip was a success. I pulled off Professional Shannon as well as I could have hoped to, and they even let me sit in a board meeting. And talk. I don't even know who I am anymore. I learned a lot about the job I've been pretending to do for 6 months now, which just means I have to stop pretending and actually do it, so yeah...I screwed myself. Whatever; I can learn how to do that on the internet, too. I learned that in the modern business office, employees can communicate with each other from cubicle to cubicle, from office to office, from continent to continent, simply by logging in to Windows Messenger. I learned this by asking a guy named Tony who was trying to teach me something very important to my job, "Hey, are you im'ing other employees?" He so totally looked at me like I was on crack, or from Canada, and said, "Um...yes?" And that's when I realized that the last time I worked in an office, there was no internet.

And then I took a Geritol and got on with the rest of my work day.

I got everything done I'd hoped to for work, and came home with enough new projects to keep me from blogging for years, so sorry about that but they're paying me and you're not. And I just realized I like shoes. To excess. I didn't get to do a few things I'd have liked to personally, partly because holy shit was I ever busy, but mostly because of this guy.

Almost famous. But not quite enough.

I saw him in the holding pen at the gate for my departing flight. He had bright red sneakers on and he kept looking at me, probably because I kept looking at him thinking, "Oh, shit, did I sleep with that guy?" because every time I see someone I know but I can't place, I take 3 seconds where I'm all ohmygod did I sleep with him and forget?, which is only funny because yeah, never done that actually. That I can remember. Anyway, I couldn't figure out where I knew him from and then the woman sitting right across from me kind of twitched her head in his direction and mouthed, "Is that who I think it is?" and I thought, "Oh, fuck, did I sleep with both of them and I forgot?" but yeah, see 62 words back.

That's about when I realized he was a celebrity, and he was wearing brightly colored footwear, and that I was hosed. I don't exactly have a great track record with flying, especially when oddly dressed famous people insert themselves into the equation, but I was at the gate, I had my passport, and we were 10 minutes from boarding. I'd make it through the critical stages of my trip and figured I'd gotten lucky this time. Famous last words.

Five minutes after we were supposed to board, they said that something broke on the plane. Not, we're having mechanical problems or we ran out of mixed nuts packets but Something Fucking Broke on the plane that is supposed to hurl us through the atmosphere at decently fast speeds. They said to sit tight for 30 minutes while they figured it out.

45 minutes later, they asked us to move to the next gate down. Which had no plane at the end of the jetway. They said it would be "about an hour", and I said Fuck It and went to Burger King. Because everyone knows what "about an hour" means in airportese and it's not like I stood a chance in hell with the famous actor in red shoes who's name I couldn't remember (and still can't), or even one movie he's been in (and STILL can't) anyway, so why not, really? Extra mayo, please.
I don't know what time it was when we got on the plane, or when we landed in Los Angeles, because I'm too cheap to go to Walmart and buy a watch and the last time I flew, the airplane ate my cell phone, so I never know what time it is anymore, but it was way after when I was supposed to get there and the only thing I needed more than a drink by that point was anything but Burger King, so I went to the first place I found to eat. Which was Marie Callendar's.

And then I took another Geritol and had a great week at a real office doing a real job and laying real mexican farts in a really cozy bed. I didn't see any real boobs, but maybe next trip.