Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flying Without a Good Book

I relish air travel more than most because of the possibility of extended time during which the most productive thing I can do is to read. The pilot up at the front has the plane under control--at least as far as I know. The lone airline host (Isn't that the PC name for male stewardesses?) is attentive but busy. My luggage is checked. I've done all I can for the session I'm helping to present when I arrive at my destination, and the crossword and the Sudoku in the airline magazine are already completed--or partly so, but who wants to finish someone else's puzzle? I'd just as soon try to help someone bowl a spare.

I'll admit that I packed hurriedly and under time pressure. On the hour-long drive to the airport from school, where I dropped of last-minute lesson plans, I began to fret because even though I printed off the airline information yesterday, I didn't look at it and I couldn't remember where I put it. I knew my approximate departure time, but I didn't know my flight number or even which airline I was flying, so I started scrambling at traffic lights. I dug though my bags within reach, to no avail. I called to see if I could catch my son John at home to have him look in possible locations there, and finally I called school until I found someone who could access my email to find my flight confirmation. (Thank you, Nancy R.)

In the airport daily parking deck, I was still shuffling, trying to arrange my bags so that I could check one but carry the others with me. I distinctly remember picking up March by Geraldine Brooks off the seat of the car and poking it somewhere.

I had a heavy but manageable duffel bag, which I stowed in the plane's overheard compartment--within reach, I thought--until the little guy asked if I minded moving "to adjust the weight." (Huh?!)

I finally sat down, settled in, buckled up, and started looking through my "personal bag" for reading material. March was not there. I turned on my little Sony eBook and for the dreaded exclamation point in the triangle: low battery. No bars. Just to be sure, I looked in my laptop bag for the charger cord. No, I had my camera cord by mistake.

The book that made its way into my bag was a lightweight paperback, not quite "chick lit" because the "chicks" in this book are in their late 50s and facing retirement. ( I must admit, too, that despite the truism, I didn't want anybody to judge me by the cover.) Try as
I might, I could not get engaged with the book. I tried my iPod--a little Abbey Road--but just about the time the Beatles were singing "The End," the iPod battery took the cue and went dead--and, you guessed it, the charger cord is at home.

Meanwhile my seatmate has his headphones, which may be used for listening but I suspect they were meant to discourage me from talking to him. I recognize it as a technique I would use. Then he opened his Kindle and started reading away.

I had a Mandolin for Beginners book I had picked up yesterday becauseit seemed to give me a clear overview of music theory. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to read a mandolin book without a mandolin in your hands? Yes, my mandolin is back home--with the cords to my eBook and iPod.

Finally I did what I would imagine doing were I stranded on a desert island: I pulled out my paper and pen and started to write.

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