I’m getting on a plane in the morning, and anyone who knows me, knows that is an issue. I have major league claustrophobia. When we make plans that involve air travel I tend to worry weeks in advance. It’s all about control. Yes, I have control issues too. As I tell Dan, I would be fine with flying, as long as I am the one flying the plane. He always tells me that the rest of the passengers might not be thrilled, but I believe I’d do a fine job. I understand the science of flying, and I know all the stats about how safe it is, but let me remind you all once again, I’m Irish, glass isn’t half full, nor half empty, it is broken on the floor, except when I’m about to get on a plane, in that case a piece of the broken glass is lodged in my big toe. We had a friend who was an airline captain, nice guy, goofy guy, but when it came to his job, a very serious guy. Knowing him has helped a little. I also remind myself as I fly that the people who work on the plane probably fly a lot, and I assume they believe its safe or they would choose another occupation. The strange thing is that when I was a kid I wanted to be an airline stewardess. (I know, politically correctness calls for flight attendant). There was a girl who lived down the street from us that was a stewardess. Madeline, I still remember how she looked in her uniform. I wanted to grow up and be her. Then when I was thirteen we went to Ireland. It was my first plane trip. I loved it, in fact I loved it so much that I came back from that trip and investigated the Air Force. I was disappointed to find out at the time that they had no female pilots, but the Navy did. I actually entertained the idea of joining up, but then the reality of basic training came to mind. Have you seen An Officer And A Gentleman? There was one female candidate, Seeger, she barely made it through the obstacle course, well she would look like an Olympic champion next to me. I’ve since flown to Scotland, Ireland for a second time, and France. Of course I’ve flown several times here in the States as well. I’m not sure when the awful fear began, maybe when I realized I had more to live for. I guess it might come down to losing fate in humanity (deep right?) I have learned a little trick or two along the way.
1. Take Xanax , it’s amazing how a half of a Xanax works so well. It’s as though my brain is screaming, “We’re on a plane!”, but my body is saying, “Its cool, relax.”
2. Memorize a Novena. For those of you non-Catholics out there. It is a series of prayers. Extra special religious insurance. Repeated in a loop as the plane is taking off.
3. Break the fingers of your traveling companion by squeezing them as hard as you possibly can.
4. Close your eyes. Any four-year old can tell you that all the bad stuff isn’t there when you can’t see it.
5. Travel with watercolors. It always takes my mind off where I’m at when I’m involved in my art.
So that’s it. Countdown to takeoff has commenced. (It’s actually more than ten hours from now, but why waste perfectly good worrying? ) For tonight just a little watercolor and ink. Inspired by an old piece of stationary. Tomorrow night you will see just exactly what can be accomplished in the air.