Thoughts on the flight from LA to Aukland, NZ
Greetings once again to all who read this.
I’m currently sitting in row 57K on a gigantic (two stories!!) plane over the wide ocean. Ocean is all I can see out my window, right to the horizon. This is a 12 hour flight, so I’ve been sleeping (got a whole row to myself, so I can stretch out!), and watching movies (The Taking of Pelham 123 and The Hurt Locker), and reading (starting The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman). According to my laptop’s clock, it’s 8:37 AM, so I’ve been on the plane now for 9 hours. 3 hours left.
Of the two movies I watched tonight, I liked The Hurt Locker better, even though Pelham 123 was a bit more entertaining, because it felt like (can’t really say whether it really was) a realistic depiction of military life, and it made me think about Josiah, even though he’s in the Marines, and these were Army guys, and Josiah isn’t in Iraq. Anyway, it’s a story that makes you both proud to be an American, and sad that young people have to go through such things.
The movies are free. Every seat-back has a video player, and a remote control built into the arm rest. There are a ton of movies and TV shows you can watch, in several languages. Every 15-20 minutes or so, a smiling flight attendant pokes a tray in my direction filled with snacks, which so far have been nothing but dried fruit, fruit juice, and apples. These Qantas people eat healthy!
The book – The Accidental Time Machine – caught my attention in the bookstore this morning, because (1) it’s by Joe Haldeman, who wrote The Forever War, which is one of the best sci-fi novels ever, and because it’s about time travel, which is always entertaining (I just finished Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt a few weeks ago. A fun read.) So far all I can say is it’s caught my attention. I’m in chapter 3.
Oh, I forgot to mention New Years! Midnight passed tonight just as we were taking off from LA, and it was a bit of a letdown. A few people throughout the plane did a countdown, and there was a smattering of applause, and that was all I heard about it. Sadly, no free beer or champagne. As we took off, I saw a couple of fireworks from the air, and tried to get my camera and take a picture, but by the time I fished it out of the bag, we were over the ocean, and I couldn’t see anything.
It’s starting to dawn on me now that this is really going to happen. In a few days, I’m going to board a ship and sail to Antarctica. I’m going to live aboard a tiny ship down near the south pole for two months. Honestly, at every step up to now a big part of me has been waiting for something to happen to spoil this. There’s still part of me saying that I’ll get turned back at customs, or that the expedition will get cancelled at the last moment. It’s that cynical, jaded part of me that’s grown so loud over the years. Nothing really cool can happen to me. I sit in a cubicle working on software I only marginally care about – if that much. I don’t go sailing to cool places, doing amazing things. Surely this is all some cruel joke God is playing – he’s gonna hold out a carrot, but when I go to take it, it’ll disappear, or be rotten.
Really, aren’t all carrots rotten to some extent, here on Earth? It’s true: they are. This job will have a shovel, like all jobs. I’ve got to remember that, but still, a brighter, more youthful and idealistic part of me that’s been stifled for many years is starting to perk up again, and I’m glad to hear from him again. Once he gets a taste of that salt air, he’s gonna be harder to ignore.