Traveling, to the arms of unconsciousness

Have I ever been out of sorts. This has been a tumultuous week in several ways. Besides the obvious problems I've had just trying to keep my site online, I've had other computer problems having to do with a so-far unsuccessful attempt to change the cpu in my computer. I thought I flashed the BIOS, but maybe not. Now the computer will run, but nothing shows up on the screen. So I'm laptoppin' it for now until I get back from Atlanta.

Speaking of traveling to Atlanta, my flight down here was easily the worst I've ever had. I fly about once a month, and I'm almost always a good flier, but I didn't handle this one well. We took off from Minneapolis just fine, but then as we neared Atlanta, the airport said they were having thunderstorms. The pilot got on the intercom and explained that we were in a holding pattern over Atlanta, waiting for the OK to land, but that the fuel was low, so if they didn't give us the go-ahead after 15-20 minutes, we'd land in Chattanooga and refuel. Well, a few minutes later, they said we'd be landing in Atlanta. BAD IDEA. It was horrible, turbulence like I have NEVER experienced before. Not just turbulence, but SHARP DROPS directly downward, like the Free Fall at Six Flags. I later found out those were microbursts. I was absolutely terrified and sobbing uncontrollably. I kept imagining how devastated my family would be if they had to put me in the ground. I imagined Prof. B.'s recent post about having to put on a brave front for one's child and how utterly incompetent I would have been had I had a child with me. There was a woman on the plane, probably about my age, maybe even younger, with two small children, and she didn't make a sound. Maybe she wasn't as scared as I was, who knows, but she was great. Her calmness definitely reassured the kids; I have no idea how she was able to hold up the way she did.

Okay, back to this harrowing experience -- it's not over yet. The airport then said we couldn't land after all on account of the microbursts, and that they'd be diverting us to Augusta. Remember, now, we're still on LOW FUEL. So we go toward Augusta, then hear from the Augusta airport that too many flights are being sent their way, so we'd have to go to Chattanooga after all. Once we finally got to Chattanooga, we were on the ground for two hours, and for liability reasons they couldn't let us leave the plane. When we got back in the air, it was still a rough ride to Atlanta, and I hadn't stopped crying this whole time (Tuesday, 16 August 2005: The day I cried all day, and much of the night). To add insult to injury, they lost my luggage. Yeah.

But they found my luggage, and I went to the beach for the first time in fifteen years(!). Jonathan and I, after going down to Gainesville for a certain purpose, took a celebratory trip to St. Augustine. It was really nice.

UPDATE: By the way, there are comments under this post. Turns out when I turn comments off in Drupal and then turn them back on, it doesn't indicate that there are comments, even though you can leave them and read them if you click the title of the post. This only applies to posts that were created while comments were turned off, not prior ones.


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bad flights

2 Board AlleyI'm curious about why they told you all about the low fuel. That would have gotten me worrying about having enough fuel to land anywhere. Not being able to do anything about it would have been nervewracking. Glad you're okay and had a good time in the end.

I know!

Really -- give us something ELSE to worry about while we're being tempest-tost.

For the flight back, there was a little turbulence, and while it was nowhere near as bad as the flight going there, it was still bothering me. I know people who somehow manage to get a prescription for Xanax or Valium when they fly, but I wanted an alcohol- and drug-free solution. This little trick worked for me: Have a clear cup or bottle of some kind of liquid (I used the remainder of my club soda from the beverage service). When you experience turbulence, focus on the effect it's having on the liquid. In my experience, what strikes fear (pounding heart, hyperventilation, sweaty palms) in me will only make the water ripple slightly. In Getting Things Done, David Allen writes about having a "mind like water" that reacts in perfect proportion to the impact of the problem, never overreacts or underreacts, like when you throw a pebble in the water, the ripples correspond to the weight of the pebble and force of the throw. I believe he says it's a Buddhist principle. Point is, it worked. I focused on my breathing and that club soda, and I felt better.

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