Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seat Backs and Tray Tables

I love flying. There’s something very romantic and exciting about airports: everyone is in a rush to go somewhere and do something, people are reuniting after long times spent apart, and everyone just seems like they’re on their way to starting an adventure. Also, really more than anything, I love mini-size toiletries. (Does anyone else make it a goal to finish all the mini-toothpaste by the end of the trip? No? Just kidding, I don’t either.)

The interesting thing about flying is that the more you do it, the more you can end up hating it. At this time in my life, I still love flying, but every flight gives me reason to go “you know what? Never mind”. I’ve been stopped in security for “inappropriate clothing” (“Ma’am, please leave your jacket on if you are only wearing lingerie underneath.” “But I’m not, it’s a shirt—“ “MA’AM. YOUR JACKET. PLEASE LEAVE IT ON). I’ve been on a flight that was delayed for 3 hours because of a nesting goose (what?). I also super love paying 9 dollars for a sandwich within the airport that would only cost 4 dollars in the real world.

Personal experience aside, flying just has its own special (and enduring) culture that exists from plane to plane. It also has specific types of people that make up that culture. Maybe you are these people; maybe you’ve seen these people. Either way, trust me, they’re there:

The I’m-too-good-for-you-in-first-class flyers: These are the flyers that are already situated in their seats by the time you stagger onto the plane, panting and overheated from the weight of your carry-ons. Note that they usually don’t make eye contact, but if they do, it’s only for the barest of seconds before you’re dismissed. They don’t care about you: you’re sitting on the other side of that thin netting curtain…in coach. That mesh divider might as well be a moat around a castle: it acts to separate first class and the rest of us commoners. What do you think that mesh curtain is going to do, fancy first class royalty? I CAN SEE YOUR OPULENCE THROUGH THIS FLIMSY BARRIER. DO NOT THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN ME BECAUSE A BASIC PIECE OF FISHNET SEPARATES US.

The germa-phobe-DO-NOT-TOUCH-ME flyers: These are the people who freak out at the barest of touches from a wayward elbow, ankle, or stowaway backpack. I’m all for avoiding a contagion/pandemic, but pulling away dramatically when my forearm accidentally hits your ankle as I stow my purse under the seat in front of is just being over-dramatic. And antisocial. It’s not like I’m trying to caress you…I was assigned about 15 inches of cubic space, and I’m just trying to fit my entire Gigantor body and all of my other belongings into it. There’s going to be contact. Don’t try to hide behind your magazine as we awkwardly dance on this armrest. I know what’s happening.

The-my-seatback-musttttttttt-be-reclined flyers: These people are always seated directly in front of you. They’re never in front of your traveling companions, or in front of any other airline patron seated elsewhere on the plane. They’re always just in front of you. God forbid these types of flyers be uncomfortable for about 2 hours in an upright position. Oh no, these people must lean their seats back so far that their tray tables are now one with your rib cage. No matter what, do not sneeze.

Crying babies. Someone implants a crying baby on every flight, like a louder, smaller, non-secretive, and less bowel-controlled version of an air marshal. They’re always there. Always.

The I’m-asserting-my-authority-by-moving-around-this-cabin flyers: These are the people whose fingers itch to remove the seatbelt as soon as possible. Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, and a flight attendant chimes “You can now freely move about the cabin”, these people are up and out of their seats. They’re sprinting to the bathroom, ripping open the overhead compartments, or just running up and down the aisle, waving their arms. I don’t know what their issue is, but we get it, rebels. You can’t be held down.

The I-challenge-you-to-a-duel, Sir Overhead-Compartment flyers: The placing of bags overhead is a tricky activity. I mean, you’re trying to get yourself and your 2 TSA-approved carry-ons down a tiny aisle without knocking everyone unconscious. LOL, it’s impossible. Such a difficult activity spawns the separation of the world into two different types of people: people who handle their overhead baggage like men, and people who handle it like pansies. The first category is comprised of people who quickly and efficiently pick up their bags mid-aisle and make one, two, twenty, fifty-seven attempts to stuff their suitcases into the overhead compartment. After succeeding, they sit down and move on. Then, there are the frustrating idiots of overhead compartment storage, or the second category. These people know that everyone else on the plane is trying to get their stuff stowed away, but they’re still totally okay with holding up the aisle just to pack away their sweater and/or miniature wristlet purse in the overhead compartment. Just know, second category flyers, that I secretly loathe you.

The I’m-An-Air-Warrior-Because-I-Fly-Allll-the-Time flyers:  These are people who have read the entirety of and own everything within a Skymall magazine. They are a blur of roller suitcases, Blackberrys, business suits, and efficiency. They spend their entire lives outside of the airport using 3 oz. containers of liquids. They are a docile, bland, and possibly soulless brand of people.

There you have it, ladies and gentleman. An anthropological field guide to the culture of flying in today's world. Now put your seat backs upright, put away your tray tables, and stow away your's time to ignore the flight attendant during the safety demonstration.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Bravery can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be rock climbing, extreme surfing, or jumping off some sort of tall thing onto a surface that will hurt like unbearably or break both of your legs if you jump wrong. It can be standing up to a friend, or taking that 11th shot of tequila, or putting your own life on the line for someone else. It can be going to a party by yourself, telling off a bully, making a sacrifice, or doing something you just don't want to do. It can also be an act of complete, bone-deep, nauseating honesty. And not "no, those jeans actually make you look fat, not PHAT" honest. I mean, "hey, this is what I feel and what I think, and I'm telling you because I want to see how you feel too" honest. That type of bravery is a whole other level of crazy, and 9 times out of 10, I run as fast as I can away from it.

Honesty becomes bravery when you have to figure out if your feelings match up with those of the someone you care about, or want to care about. I mean, let's just be truthful here. Is there anything more terrifying than going up to that person you like (or just thinking about going up to that person) and being all 'heyyyyyy....sooooooo....
yeahhhhhhhh *insert feelings*'. You don't know how they're going to respond. I mean, I imagine that others don't have the same awkward seizures I do when confronted with the objects of their affections, but either way, that stuff's terrifying. My personal favorite technique (and the one I have used so far on all the guys I've emotion-bombed) is to kind of side crab step up to them, blink a lot, and ask them in a painfully squeaky voice if maybe they have feelings for me because I like them lol this is so awkward is it hot in here? *pass out*.
Apart from the circumstances you have to go through to meet someone (that's a whole different conversation for another time), it's exhausting to get all your thoughts lined up with someone else. You want an emotional connection, the person you're talking to wants everything but. Or, on the opposite side, you're looking for something temporary and physical, and the person you're with is all like "yes, marriage and kids. I"m ready now. And have we discussed china patterns yet?" All of my guy interactions as of late have been a vortex of "here's where I am, but clearly we're not even close to the same wavelength". I recently went on a date where the guy seemed nice, but I was definitely not into him, and it showed as dinner progressed. However, somewhere after the bill had been paid and we were heading to the next location, he was throwing around the "L" word and asking when he could see me again to plan out "the next step of our relationship". While this conversation happened, I was trying to delicately and ever-so-politely claw my way out of the car to find the safest (and farthest) location away. While at a bar last week, I started talking to a guy, and  when I thought maybe there would be a little smooching, a little cuddling, whatever, there instead ended up being a literal 3 hour conversation regarding (I kid you not) the sociology of sexuality, the perception of homosexuality in the Brazilian military, and whether or not in my medical opinion, he should have the metal rod in his leg checked out. (For the record, I told him that yes, he should get more XRAY's). I mean, I'm all for a guy not being attracted, but must we discuss the TLC network (the blandest and least attractive TV channel in all the land) to prove the point? Even the most basic of statements can come with 10 different meanings. While I was talking with aforementioned metal-rod guy, he paused in our riveting discussion regarding international business policies to let me know that I was 'hot'. I'm all thinking 'yessss, we're finally connecting, work it girrrrrrl'. I then responded with a flirtatious and coy "oh yeah?", while channeling my inner Victoria's Secret Model. He responded with "umm, I mean, your skin is hot. Like sunburnt". Well...this is uncomfortable. At least I tried. 

Sometimes I wish it was more like the 18th century. That way, I could have gentleman callers, twirl a parasol, and giggle girlishly behind a fan. I'd have a fainting couch and smelling salts, and I would blush prettily at the mention of an exposed wrist. Apart from the fact that I'd lose all rights to vote/think/be independent, at least "courting" would be easier. A gentleman in gloves and buckled shoes would come to my home, ask my father for my hand, and after several uncomfortable social gatherings discussing the weather, we would be married. Boom. No having to read between the lines, no having to guess what the other person is thinking, and no having to endlessly obsess over what I'm saying/doing. I'd only be as attractive as my dowry and my corset size. Most of all, I wouldn't have to be brave, because I wouldn't have to try and put myself out there.

In reality, I'm COMPLETELY teasing about the whole 18th-century thing. Overall, though, it is pretty amazing that anyone ever gets together with anyone else at all, if you think about how scared we are most of the time. I currently have feelings for a guy I know, and I am ten types of terrified to tell him how I feel. I know that the worst thing that could happen would only be him saying "no thanks", but still. I'm pretty sure that if/when I try to tell him, I'll likely pass out mid-speech and concuss myself. Also, another thought: imagine how many relationships are waiting to happen right now, but aren't because most people are too scared to just say "I like you. This is how I feel. Do you feel the same?". Imagine how much more we'd get in life if we were just brave and honest and told people what we wanted. 

We all know those oft-repeated sayings in life, where blah blah blah, the only things that are worth it are the things you have to work hard/try for, blah blah blah (go to Pinterest, they'll show you a pin with this statement in a fancy font and some sort of inspirational Mason jar). I guess those sayings apply here too, because this type of honesty is hard work. In the end, maybe the first person you're really honest towards isn't The One, or even someone you should be with. But telling someone how you feel seems like good practice to me for the real thing, when you really need it. And after all, bravery isn't being fearless. It's being mind-crippling and body-paralyzing scared, but still going for it anyway, right? :)