I'm sure you're not going to try to say to me that these are not the most incredible shoes you've ever seen. I'm sure you're not going to say that.
I'm in Paris. Yesterday I was in Missouri. Today, Paris.
It's fascinating that some people get on a plane and never once think about how they're about to perish in a tragic firy ball of fuselage and detritus.
My experience has never been that. I fret endlessly about flying, plane-falling-out-of-the-sky nightmares keeping me awake for hours and hours on the night (or several nights) before I'm scheduled to board a plane. Looking for subliminals in advertisements and design elements that will tell me this is not a plane I should get on. Once the plane starts hurtling down the runway, I lose the desire to keep pretending to my seat partners that I am okay with this turn of affairs. I go total asylum escapee: white-knuckling the armrest, panicked lurching away from the window, exhaling loudly and grunting, twitching, holding with sweaty palms onto the ceiling of the plane, and on two regrettable occasions, *actual screaming.* Takeoff is awful. Turbulence is as bad as takeoff. And every landing has come with the blessed, life affirming relief that, through sheer luck, a bullet has been dodged.
Thursday, as I posted on Facebook, I finally discovered the four-element combination of medication and behavior that allows me to combat my ridiculous flying neurosis: 1. having Greta with me on the plane; 2. taking an Ativan; 3. chasing it with a pint of beer; and 4. dressing like a character in a Wes Anderson movie.
(Strictly speaking maybe the last one doesn't per se help. But I think, and I'm sure we all agree, that wearing a stripey hat with a pom pom on top certainly cannot hurt.)
So I'd had a good experience with my first leg of the journey to Paris: STL to EWR. For the first time I discovered what it's like to fly when you are not a crazy person, because I got happily buzzed (Ativan: gold star) and actually enjoyed the flight. I was so happily buzzed, in fact, that I blithely left my debit card sitting on the bar in St. Louis airport. I discovered this when I needed to buy a light rail ticket to Penn Station. Pleasant and bald, a guy approached me and said, "You look like you know what you're doing."
Because whoever runs the universe has impeccable comic timing, right as the man said this, I was staring at the place in my wallet where my debit card used to be and trying to retrace my steps — my foggy, sedated steps — from the airport bar to the gate.
He was smiling. Did I know where Avis was? I smiled and shook my head. "I don't drive. I only train." (Maybe the Ativan has not worn off. "Can I borrow $15 for my trouble?")
The emergency debit card did its emergency thing, and off I went home to Brooklyn, for a drink and dish session with some friends. I walked out the next morning (my neighborhood is glorious for walking and shopping) and snagged the best bagel in town: onion with butter from Bagel Hole on 7th. Mmm. I've been dreaming about it for months.
Hey bagel that paper wrapper looks a little tight. Mmm. Why don't you slip into something a little more comfortable LIKE MY TUMMY.
(New York food, I have missed the SHIT OUT OF YOU.)
My new sedation experiment had been so succesful that when I arrived at Newark the next day, I was not even nervous. By the way: two visits to Newark Airport in as many days? Guys, did I win the life lottery or what?!
An hour and half before boarding, I bellied up to the bar, had a pint, washed down an Ativan. It's very nice, the feeling that comes over you like nothing could ever bother you. I begin to understand why people use recreationally. I won't, though, ever ever ever, because I NEED THEM FOR PLANES.
Since one beer was good, I figured two would be better. (I very carefully replaced my emergency debit card in my wallet.)
When I got on the plane I was feeling happy and I started writing.
I'm on the plane, people are putting their bags overhead like they all believe we're all going to Paris, and for them it's matter-of-fact like when I fly from Yorktown to New York. And I am sitting here, watching and typing and assigning all kinds of poetic import. For me, it's so symbolic, so big, so rarefied. In so many ways. I'm in that hilarious headspace engendered by drunkenness/druggedness and ecstasy over the new long-awaited experience where every new song on my iPod, heard a hundred times, feels like a relevation, and the whole world seems wide-open for me. How can I ever thank the world for giving me this experience? I probably can't. I never want to leave this feeling. For the first time in my life, and this is not hyperbole, I'm actually looking forward to the physical experience of a flight. It is equally about the drugs and about the promise of the new experience living, for the next week, in the same arrondissement as the Louvre. I mean, come the fuck on. Like all plane takeoffs, I may want to scream. But for the first time, if I scream it will be for joy.We'd been sitting for awhile (those blathery ruminations about it being so lucky, rare and amazing to be sitting on a goddamned airplane actually go on much longer; you are spared) and the flight attendant announced (in both French and English! which in my drugged state I found to be utterly charming and exalting) that we would be de-icing the plane (de-icing! how exotic! how thrilling!) and that the snow storm was going to give us a rocky takeoff and some climbing turbulence. (climbing turbulence! the romance! the beauty!)
And then, something cut into my sedated "the world is wonderful and amazing and new" fog and I thought, "Wait a minute. Climbing turbulence. I hate climbing and I hate turbulence, this has the potential for filling me with terror.") Although I still felt happy, I wasn't quite as out of it as I had been a half an hour prior, and we weren't going to take off for another 45 minutes.
So I took another pill. Safety first!
And then I kept writing. Here is the beginning of the next section. I like how you can identify the exact moment that the second pill hits my bloodstream.
This city that Matthew Arnold was staring at from across the Channel and addressing blandishments in French at a girl who'd run to seed. Poor girl. We've all felt ourselves to be the girl that ran to seed, but we don't really keep those ugly mean voices around, which is why we are all still here. we are then then which is why are sill heere roo. i n a dark voice in my mind, am ind o ired o rdedb ut ugger certiny that n everage wmna and woks the work of29 thoooif we desity on fam, Pam? he ased. "Umm, I really don't think iits a bones question, sshe said mminnie could s out there if you set her uo but coul et her nussukyffnd.At the time I totally thought I was writing something, if not brilliant, at least sensible. Hey, Coleridge, I know you invented the whole "writing while coked out of your gourd" idea, but your crap poem has nothing on me. Did Kubla Khan ask any bones questions? No? I didn't think so.
As you might have guessed by the writing, the takeoff and turbulence (which were, as promised, pretty scary, if you were not insensate with booze and mood-altering medications) did not bother me in the slightest. I hate taking medicine and putting chemicals in my body, so I avoid it whenever possible. Which is why it took me so long to try medicating my flight phobia, but you better believe I am hooked now. This better not be some kind of gateway thing and soon I'll start taking aspirin when I get headaches or something.
I conked out and I awoke in Paris. Pretty good deal.
I winked at this, Lucille Bluth style, when I walked by it.
So far, Paris looks a lot like Newark.
I'm happy to report that the train situation was no sweat. I didn't even need to pull out directions.
I'm liking this photo. GHOSTS!!!! RUNNNNNN!!!!!
A sax and a trumpet is less annoying then you might imagine. I wanted to give them something but all I had were Euros, and of course I have no idea what any of the bills mean. Did not wish to accidentally give the buskers $50.
This is the neighborhood we're staying in, in the 4th arrondissement, Le Marais. It is so Paris-y.
Does his chin say Entman? Let's pretend that it does.
Here's me staring into a puddle like a jackass. This shit is artsy, okay?
More artsy juxtaposition and shit. I can't wait to take photoj next semester.
And the view of Le Marais from the window of our apartment.
More to come, obviously. Maybe I will begin taking pictures of things other than airports and trains, but no promises.