Adventures In God Damn Air Travel

Hello Blog.  It’s been a while since I’ve written in you.  

Last week I was in Ethiopia and the week before that I was packing for my trip and in no mood to write.  In fact, I’m not really in a mood to write now but I need to get my post back up to where it should be.

The trip out there was pretty good.  It was my first flight out of the country and the longest I’ve been in a plane by a factor of four.  It was a 12 hour flight there from Toronto.  (On a side note, Canada is awesome.)  I didn’t freak out being in a sky tube for that long like I thought I would.  I have a serious problem with heights.

The airline I took was Ethiopia Air, which I thought was the shit because I got free food, free beer, and free movies.  What I did not know was that every international flight does this to mollify it’s passengers into a comatose state so the over worked cabin crew don’t have to fucking deal with them.

So while I was in Ethiopia, I was telling everyone who awesome the airline was and how I couldn’t wait to use them again on the trip back.  The response I got from this was a sad smile and eyes that said, “you’ll know better soon.”  I’m not completely social inept so I did pick up on those cues, but I shrugged it off.  

“You just don’t know Ethiopia Air like I do.  Our love is pure.”

The return trip liked to fucking kill me.  First off it went from being a 15 hour flight to about a 17 hour flight.  That’s a long time to be stuck anywhere.  Especially when your seat breaks and can’t recline forcing you to stay awake for the entire thing.  It wasn’t like I was going to be getting much sleep with the 16 crying kids all around me.  Maybe I’m miss-counting that.  It is possible that it was one baby that got passed around the entire cabin.  I had my eyes forced shut while I desperately tried to hate-fuck some sleep, so anything is possible.

But the children weren’t really the problem.

It was the guy at the front of my section who would angrily scream every 20 – 60 minutes for the entire flight.  It seemed like it was triggered by something.  Guy starts the sneeze. “AAAHHH!” Guy coughs. “AAAHHH!” Guy wakes up from a nap. “AAHHH!” Guy thinks I might be taking a nap. “AAAHHH!”

I wasn’t able to take a nap so that’ll show him.

You’ll also notice that I said the the flight was supposed to be 15 hours but it went over by two.  What does that mean for my connecting flight, you might ask?  It means I missed it by an hour helpful, question asking reader.  

Thank god for Air Canada is all I’ll say.  They got be on a plane back to Boston about two hours after I landed.  I did have to pay for my beer on that flight, but I’ll take it as a net gain for nobody randomly screaming.

Image via – Flickr

The Crusade For The Grail Diary

In 1989, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released.  While it is my favorite of the three – and only three – Indiana Jones movies, it stands out in my mind not for its plot or the acting, but for one very specific prop.

In the film, Indiana’s dad has a notebook that he keeps all of his information about his grail quest.  It’s a little palm size book that he calls his Grail Diary.  This prop seemed so magical to me when I was kid.  I’d been surrounded by books my entire life but there was something wonderful about the idea of a one-off book that only you, the creator of the book, understood.  Something that was half reference material and half art project.

“Look at this epic fucking thing, Junior.”

I’ve alway wanted something like the Grail Diary, but I didn’t want that notebook.  I love movies but I don’t really have the prop obsession that some people have to go out and create a replica of a movie prop.  I wish I did, but that requires way more patients than I currently have.

However, the grail quest like obsession that the Last Crusade did give me was for notebooks.  I wanted to have my own Grail Diary about a subject that I thought was cool.  This lead me to lots of spiral notebooks filled with story ideas and pen and paper RPG notes.  Alas, they do not have the same presence as something that was create by a movie’s art director.

Like everyone who went to college for English, I started collecting Moleskin notebooks.  When I was first getting into them, they were just palm size, hard cover books.  I still have my first one kicking round here somewhere, still waiting for me to finish filling its pages.

And that’s my major problem: I never finish any of the notebooks that I have.  Sometimes it’s because I pick a topic that I’m only going to write about in that notebook.  Of course, I then lose interest in said topic and don’t want to take notes about it anymore. Sometimes I create one that’s just going to be a journal.  I can’t lose interest in the notebook when I’m the subject right? Wrong.  Not only am I not the most interesting person in the world – I know, it was a surprise to me too – but writing journal style entries kills my hand.  It’s just easier for me to write long form on a computer.  I’m faster and I have more stamina.  However, I lose out on the tactile joy of analog materials.

About a year ago I stumbled upon Bullet Journaling.  Which is a productivity system where you write down everything you want to do or are thinking about as a running series of one line notes.  It’s pretty elegant system and I ran with it for a few months, filling up a new Moleskin, graph paper notebook.  This system was creating something the most like the Grail Diary.  It was non-linear, yet it yielded a useful book upon rereading.

The problem with Bullet Journaling is that it is a productivity system which means that if you’re not using it every day it’s really easy to lose interest and then you kind of build up a negative streak.  “I haven’t looked at my journal for three days, why look at it today.” I stopped using my bullet journal towards the end of last year.

I’ve created a new one with the start of this year but I haven’t put a lot of effort into it.

That isn’t to say, however, that I’ve given up on creating my Grail Diary.  I still love the idea of journals and notebooks.  I love that people create these ad-hoc systems for recording information that’s only important to them.  I research new ways to write notes and new systems to keep track of them. I look up what other people have made journals and notebooks about.  When there’s someone on a train writing in a notebook, I’m always shoulder surfing them.  Not because I want to see what they’re writing, but because I want to see them creating an artifact that is unique, and only useful to, themselves.

The act of journaling is something so personal, yet I don’t think we talk about it enough.  I don’t think we share enough information about this habit that creates these bespoke, handicraft books.

For the most part most of my note-taking and journaling is done digitally.  Making my computer my Grail Diary of sorts, but I’m still looking for ways to journal in an analog way that will create something truly unique at the end of it.  But like the true quest for the Holy Grail, it’s not the Grail that’s important, it’s the search.

Main Image – via flickr