Monday, September 27, 2010

All Times (Approximately) Local

3:02AM - Katie's House
-- "Are you awake, Katie?" Dad asks and I sigh before responding in the affirmative. I dress in pre-selected clothes and go to make coffee.

4:22AM - Katie's Driveway
-- My car arrives with a friendly driver. I give kisses to Dad and dog and step into the first of many transportation vehicles.

6:00 AM - Large Airport
-- At the early hour, it is not yet busy. I walk through the lines with my suitcase, laptop bag, passport and boarding passes I printed at work.

7:52 AM - First Airplane
-- I have found my aisle seat, selected my first book and settled in to fly. I feel good - not nervous, not tired, just dreading the ordeal to come.

10:00 AM - LAX
-- I'm hungry yet I know the time change means it's still morning in SoCal. I wander around, determined to stretch my muscles and find a bar where I have a Diet Coke (#1) and bowl of soup.

12:15PM - Second Airplane
-- I have found my window seat on the 11 hour ride to Japan and am organizing my belongings accordingly. I have hurt myself trying to help an elderly woman place her heavy suitcase in an overhead bin and peeked out my window to frown at the wing. Consoling myself that there won't be much of a view at 35,000 feet, I close the shade.

After 1st Movie - Second Airplane
-- It's going reasonably well. I like the books I've read, both steamy romance novels, have work I wanted to do and enjoy that United uses real headphones instead of the buds that hurt the insides of my ears. I've had a snack, watched The Back-Up Plan (mediocre movie) and drank Diet Coke #2.

After 2nd Movie - Second Airplane
-- Growing a little weary. I watched The Joneses (liked it - at first, I thought it was a television show since I swear I've never heard of this movie) but am beginning to fidget in my seat. I fret for a moment, knowing there's no real escape, adjust the neck pillow (pink - from Brookstone) and try to relax.

After 3rd Movie - Second Airplane
-- I do not want to watch Iron Man 2. So I pull out a folder of documents and begin to review, feeling my brain kick in happily after being utterly physical on flights. Have you noticed, especially on long journeys - that life simplifies to 'eat, drink, potty, sleep, try to move around a little and not go insane'? So it was good to engage.

After Finishing Work - Second Airplane
-- My head aches so I take a single Advil, wanting to ration the precious brown tablets and not grow immune if I really start to hurt later. I am bored. I want to be there already.

During Television Shows - Second Airline
My watch is out of battery - if that's not already been clear - and I'm getting sleepy. And am very uncomfortable. And the two people between me and the aisle are sleeping, meaning I'm trapped by manners in my seat for the entire flight. I've not moved out of my chair once.

(More updates to come to finish this post - I have a meeting to take right now though!)
(Updated to Add...)

Beginning of Second Meal Service - Second Airplane
I have decided to get the turkey sandwich over the vegetables and rice, but would happily jump out of the plane rather than endure these last two hours. My muscles ache. I'm bored. And I want to be there and know I'm not particularly close. I drink Diet Coke #3.

Midway through Just Wright - Second Airplane
The movie is stopped as we prepare to land. I fidget and squirm until we're safely on the ground and grab my belongings to get off the blasted airplane.

4:00PM - Narita Airport, Tokyo
Due to the long flight and 14 hour time difference, I am now in the future and it's late afternoon on Monday in a very humid Tokyo airport. There are three stalls in the bathroom - two Western-style toilets and one Japanese squat toilet. No one is using the latter and despite my rather urgent need, I decide to wait for a stall where I can sit rather than squat.

I find a seat near my new gate after clearing security for my next flight, immediately decide I'm tired of sitting and rise to wander the Duty Free shops. The air conditioning works better here so I linger among the gifts and scents and treats.

I remember I need yen and see a currency exchange. I give the girl $100 and receive about 8500 (there may be another zero there - I can't remember the magnitude of the exchange rate) in return. I tuck the bills and coins into my laptop bag and trudge back to the gate.

I think I see Adam so I wave. Then I get embarrassed because it may not have been him so I bury my nose in a book. He says hello a moment later and I smile at him and ask if he thinks it's hot in here.

He agrees and offers me entry into the international lounge. Thinking of free water and cooler temperatures, I agree. Once inside, I look around and decide I'm unimpressed - I thought the lounge would be more...luxurious? Instead, this appears similar to a lobby in the Holiday Inn Express. Which is fine, of course, not not the decadence I expected. Still I get a Diet Coke (#4), and settle in the crowded room.

We return to the gate to join boarding lines. In the lounge, Adam was able to upgrade me to an exit row so I look forward to the extra space.

5:40PM - Final flight to arrive in Korea
In seat 30H, I realize I am two steps from the bathrooms that eluded me across the Pacific and have tons of leg room. I do, however, have to stow all my luggage overhead so I have no books or personal screen to amuse myself.

After leveling off at cruising altitude, I rise to go to the restroom. Because I can.

I've filled out my immigration and customs forms, then returning them to my bag. I go to the restroom again.

I am exhausted. It's nearing 5AM at home and I want to sleep. Desperately. Despite my best efforts to remain awake, my eyes won't focus and I keep nodding off, only to jerk painfully awake at any noise or shift in pressure.

There's a person in a mask! He means to do me harm! I look closer and realize it's a woman with her hair in a barrette. I shiver, sigh and try to rest again.

There's a spider on me! A white spider! I look closely, in horror of course, and realize it's a spot on the carpet. Sigh again when I realize my vision is unreliable in my state of exhaustion.

After one more trip to the bathroom, we land and I grab my luggage, blinking at the way people push to leave the aircraft when it's not yet time for their row to go. Anarchy, I think, a little worried.

I see Adam waiting for me and join me, following along in the mass of people as we ride escalators, move swiftly down hallways and ride on trains. I don't like crowds in general and I'm exhausted so I begin to feel panicky. I remind myself to breathe.

Adam looks at me in concern as we continue to move past quarantine. "I am a salmon," I tell him, meaning that I am following my fellow passengers dutifully and am also fine with being eaten by a bear or other large predator at the moment. "Be at one with the salmon," I remind myself, bracing my hand on the rail of the escalator before scurrying to join an immigration line.

We wait for a taxi to get to the hotel.

We arrive at the hotel and I'm completely useless. I've lost my credit card after paying the driver, despite the 10 steps between him and the lobby. I try to fill out the form I'm given but can barely answer the simple questions. Upon receiving my key, I drag myself behind Adam to our rooms on the 14th floor.

Admiring my room absently, I undress and realize I need a shower. I step under the rainshower in the corner of my pretty bathroom and try to get clean.

I swallow a sleeping pill after realizing I'm wide awake after my shower and email check. I lie on the hard mattress, thinking it's heavenly nonetheless and close my eyes to rest. The room is too warm, but I'm soon unconscious and don't notice.

Stay tuned for stories about how I vomited in my pretty bathroom, ate 2 meals with forks (yay!) and got presents after my presentation (which should so always happen).

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