Friends, I have arrived in continental Asia, and am resting comfortably inside a temporary apartment in the ass-end of Suzhou. The sky is an actual blue, I did not perish in a terrible fiery plane crash, and my VPN is humming along beautifully, so all is well.
But no one really likes hearing about the times when all was well.
In the intermission between periods of all being well was a 14 hour direct flight from Toronto to Shanghai, a slog of air travel surmounting my previous records of sustained mid-air sitting. In actual fact, sitting still for 14 consecutive hours isn’t the most impressive thing I’ve ever done, but it is certainly something that maybe drove me halfway insane, and thus something to write about. Join me then, won’t you, as we journey through the skies to the magical land of China, and while I stall until I can edit some of the last remaining content I have from India.
-2:30 I arrive at the airport with my life compressed into approximately 112 pounds. My parents offer to carry a bag, but I feel duty-bound to complete this drag alone. I have backpacks on both sides of my torso, and if I were to fall down, it is unlikely I would ever rise again. I am the backpack turtle.
-2:03 My employers rushed and managed to secure my ticket just yesterday, and I suddenly fret over what seat I will be trapped within for the next foreseeable chapter of my life. “I think it’s an aisle seat,” the check-in monster lies cautiously. I think she knows that if she told me the truth I may simply rip open my jugular and allow my weeping corpse to be carried off by the luggage conveyor belt.
-1:45 The Call of the Goober has sounded, and people are already mounting a preliminary line outside the stanchions. They tremble and quiver, such is there excitement to get on the plane and not move for half a day.
-0:25 I stumble aboard the plane and discover that I have a centre seat.
My world crumbles around me–through the blocky oval windowshade I can see the skies blacken and char as horrible tentacle beasts from beyond reach their fibrous, Eldritch tendrils down towards earth to bring forth the apocalypse. All of the stewardesses are cackling skeletons made of fire. The plane is slowly filling up with nerve gas. My teeth are all falling out and tree roots slowly emerge and fuse my jaws together. I hate everything and everyone.
0:00 I hunch my shoulders inward. The plane trundles down the runway and hurtles west.
0:32 I try to watch Lincoln. It looks like a good movie, like something important and worthwhile and historical and meaningful. Also it is quiet and the screen constantly shakes from the woman ahead of me slamming her head into her chair rhythmically, so I decide to settle on a movie that requires less thought or purpose. Oblivion. Do I hate Tom Cruise? I don’t even remember anymore.
1:04 I meet Chris and Katherine, who are also teachers in China. They seem very nice, and I thank the universe for sending me humans I can relate to in such a way. However, Chris occupies the aisle seat, and thus at least some part of me wants to kill him and claim his place.
1:21 An angered stewardess slams a meal before me, ahead of all of the other passengers. I wonder if I have been mistaken for Muslim, but the presence of this much juice and cookies suggests that this is not the halal meal. Another flight attendant confirms that I am not a small child and removes the food.
1:38 Tom Cruise is interrupted from Tom Cruising by the arrival of dinner. “Chicken and pasta” turns out to be strange meat-cubes laid in a fine bed of packing material, tiny little spherical globules with holes pierced in each. Am I eating cooked bracelet beads? I feel like a little girl’s jewellery kit has gone lighter, somewhere.
There is chocolate mousse. It does not cause me to puke my guts out.
2:11 I conspired with my doctor and secured some tranquilizers. Thus I must refrain from alcohol. It takes everything I have not to chug a dozen individual-serve mini-bottles of non-vintage red wine. I would suckle at a barroom carpet at this point.
2:13 Approximately twenty minutes after the meal, Window Seat Man already requires the bathroom. Chris and I move to the aisle to let him go. I wonder if he can feel my hate radiating against him?
2:35 I spy on other people’s movie choices. This plane has Argo? I guess I’ll catch up on last year’s Oscar season. Timely!
3:21 My spine is on fire, and I think it is making plans to escape my body.
3:39 WSM needs the bathroom again. I will plant a beartrap in his seat for his return.
4:04 I begin to wonder when delirium will set in. Will it make the time go faster? Knowing my insanity, probably not. I think maybe I will die here.
4:52 The time has come to test the potency of this tranquilizer. I told my doctor that I wanted to be unconscious for a good portion of this flight, and I hope that these pills are strong enough to kill a buffalo. Alas, WSM has gotten up and is lost somewhere in the plane, and I don’t want to drug myself only to be roused from my hazy slumber by him struggling over my prone, sleeping form.
5:21 WSM finally returns, having not been sucked out through the plane toilet, as I had once hoped. I pop some quality narcotics and turn on my sleepy-time playlist.
5:22 I purchased one of those neck-pillows. It is fuzzy and acid green. I feel like an ass.
5:45 The world sure has gotten all droopy.
5:49 My limbs feel like buttered corn on the cob.
5:58 I bought an eyemask too. It makes my eyes feel like maybe they are resting somewhere deep inside my corpus callosum.
5:62 I’m still not asleep. WSM is snoring. I will kill him and eat his dreams.
5:74 My spine feels better, though. Maybe all of my bones are made of marshmallows.
5:92 The playlist cycles over. Will I always be on this plane?
5:173 My vision blurs whenever I take off the eyemask. The woman before me is still slamming her torso forcefully against her chair, and her neighbours murmur in their slumber.
5:2974 Now is the twilight of my life. I think maybe the plane has already made it into orbit, and we are gently drifting towards Ganymede. We shall be there when I am old and grey.
7:21 At long last, I abandon my attempt at slumber, and put on Silver Linings Playbook. It is maybe a good movie? I have no way to tell. I am so tired.
8:19 The Air Canada Mid-Pacific snack: a cup of Mr. Noodle and some sort of meat substitute jimmied inside of a cold wedge of bread log. How many times have I eaten this exact combination? As many times as there are stars in the sky.
9:00 WSM rises again. He wakes periodically from his hibernation only to urinate wildly.
10:03 The mood-lighting in the cabin has gone from ultramarine to a gentle maroon. Some goon halfway down the cabin opens a windowshade and ruins the illusion: we’ve been chasing daylight for the last 10 hours. Still, I enjoy this simulacrum sunrise.
10:58 I watch episode after episode of Parks and Recreation. I liked this show, once, in the long long ago, in some previous life. I think back to the man I once was, before I started my new life on this plane.
11:05 Maybe I will attend Plane University. I could try out for the water polo team.
11:21 What will my major be? Probably planes.
11:38 The professors are all sour malcontents. Our dean, the captain, is such an old blowhard. We’ll prank him so good.
11:54 I’ve graduated from Plane University, with honours! Now to travel around Europe for a while, then settle down with a nice job on the plane.
12:29 The breakfast meal. Coagulated egg product is better than no egg product. It feels both too early and too late to request alcohol, so I drink as much tea as they will let me.
13:53 I record Chris and Katherine’s contact information on a barf bag that we rip apart.
14:08 The plane kisses the runway. Outside, the sky is the colour of wet concrete after a light rain, and the temperature is that of Satan’s butthole. I have never felt so greasy or so awake. But I am alive, and I am getting off of the plane.