travel tuesday: preparations. [03/31]

Today was one of those reflecting on logistics of travel sorts of days. I spent the day sifting through and uploading video for an upcoming Healthline project on travel and asthma. I received some further information on my first ever overseas trip (Zurich, Switzerland in November. Disclosures etc to come once things are finalized there.) I got a reimbursement/stipend cheque in the mail for my upcoming trip to Toronto for the Asthma Canada conference in 2 weeks. 

In the beginning of the Incubus Look Alive DVD, Brandon Boyd reflects on these logistical aspects of travel—and I am not even planning a tour (although with asthma and ADHD it sometimes feels like it!).

Anais Nin wrote,

“In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in the moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety, and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, and with it came weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again”.

Her sentiment is frighteningly in tune with our plight at the moment. We’re in the plotting stage of the game. I’m looking at pages and pages of potential tour dates, and travel arrangements logistics, et cetera, et cetera. And if I wasn’t completely ecstatic about everything at present, all these moments of preparation would be quite daunting. […]

Brandon Boyd, Look Alive

The thing is, I love/hate this part. The pouring over Hotels.com, even after I’ve booked a hotel, the forays to Airbnb, finding that home base, however off the beaten path it may be at times (so long as off the beaten path is not so much so that is in a seedy area!). The ridiculous amounts of time spent looking at flights, weeks before booking will even take place. The e-mails saying that my reservations have been added to TripIt. The preparations for whatever events I will be attending. The juggling of multiple schedules as I try to schedule coffees, lunches, dinners with friends in Toronto.

Yes, it is work before the wheels even lift off, but it is all so worth it. Even for the moments in airports when I want to throw dollar store earphones at people who seem to not understand that there is a 3.5 mm jack on their device for a reason (unless they have a dumb iPhone 7). Even when my 1:30 AM arrival flight gets in at 3:30 AM. Even when I spend 5 hours too long at SFO. Even when every damn time I fly through YVR I get delayed (just about, although my last delay out of YVR saved my butt because it allowed me to make my connection from SFO which was 2 hours late, and I even got to eat.).

The preparation for travel part might not be about rolling with it, but the travel part sure is. I’ve learned that over the years. Like the time Steve and I were in Toronto in the middle of friggen nowhere (AKA outside the Don Valley Hotel) and my Google Maps refused to acknowledge I was no longer in Winnipeg, and would not even tell us what food was nearby. Which turned out to only be a Tim Hortons unless we wanted to take public transit. Like finding a magical drink machine in YVR that sells drinks for $1 less than the news stands—and remembering its existence. Like when Union Station was deserted and under construction and I got lost wandering around “The Path” and stuck in some weird triangle under the CN tower/Ripley’s Aquarium, etc… Which was I got to Toronto from Philly and my bag had to be tracked down at Pearson since I was no longer connecting to Winnipeg, and that took like two hours. All I can say is, for once, thank God for Leafs fans because there was a game going on and I somehow found myself in Maple Leafs Square where a cab driver flagged me over and asked if I wanted a cab and I was like “You know what, yeah.” Even though I was close to my hotel.

That was also the day when a baggage handler at YYZ preached to me about Jesus. As my friend (Reverend) Jessica said, “Only you would get preached at by airport staff in Toronto.”  
And the cab driver talked a lot about staying positive. I needed that dude after the day I had. 
And then I got amazing macaroni and cheese from Uber EATS to my hotel because, also, that day I had to call Air Canada after the Philly woman would not tag my bag to YYZ instead of YWG, and also, I lost my Team Toba jacket in PHL, which I am convinced was destroyed by airport police because it was in its pillow form and possibly a suspicious unaccompanied package and also because I called them and it was not in their Lost & Found.
That was all in about 8 hours, people. 

That is the stuff that makes travel what it is. The stuff you can’t prepare for.

Like Torontonians not stopping to give you directions even if you are CLEARLY tourist looking and downtown and wandering with a suitcase. I enjoy you Toronto, but you people stick to yourselves too much. Which I usually like but not when I am confused and the elevator to Front Street goes up but the door at the top is locked and I can’t get there. (Jess and my mom were watching me wander lost on Friend Find. Jess was being helpful, whereas my mom was just not texting me and watching.)

There is adventure to be had. Prepare well (but not too well ;))… and go have it.

hello, there. again.

It’s been months, literally months since I’ve written here. Probably because I’m writing other places on the internet. So here I am, wrapping up May after I haven’t written since January 30th. I have half written posts around on adventures since then, and words that have been published elsewhere (aka asthma.net). And some things that’ll never see the internet, shitty circumstances where I was somewhat stabbed in the back where I’d trusted someone and then had to clean up a mess they made–which was even more mentally time consuming than physically time consuming (if that’s even a way to explain time, in a physical sense). 

March, April, May even have involved airplanes and time invested and spent and wasted and given. 

I’ve gotten really sucked into podcasts which take more time than I realize–and I am smarter if not necessarily better for it. I’m thinking of going back to school and taking, no word of a lie, political science, even though prior to six or so months ago I had no interest in politics although I’ve been strong on voting since I could vote. At the start of May I was in Ottawa for World Asthma Day, in April, I was in Palo Alto to present at Stanford Medicine X | ED, and in March, I was in St Louis, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Toronto on a whirlwind adventure that happened t settle around two conferences.  

Here are some (a lot, but only a sample) pictures.

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

[Also I can’t figure out what I’m doing so to see the flickr album if it doesn’t load, click here.]

Not to say there wasn’t more.

There surely was.

But without writing everything down–whether here or in a journal–I’m living through Facebook and instagram and Twitter and a camera, and being in the moment, but maybe not translating that into reconstructable memories as readily. And maybe that’s okay but I think maybe I want that to change too. 

So here I am again.
Back.
Hopefully more intentionally. (Therapy.)

Because I’m getting closer–checking my Fitbit, logging nutrition with myfitnesspal (for five days now), and I actually rode the stationary bike the other day.
Now I’m writing.
Next is meditation.

Getting back to who I really am. And some (small bit of) routine.

on airports: embracing chaos.

Airports are places that—like airplanes—probably instil panic rather than calm in most people—I mean, those TSA announcements about the current threat level isn’t really all that calming. Myself? I love airports. (I don’t love that they’ll charge you $3+ for a bottled drink, but honestly, I went to the University of Winnipeg for a film shoot on Friday and paid, I am not lying, $3.38 for a bottle of Minute Maid Lemonade. A single serving bottle, not a 2 litre. Madness. I’ve gotten that item cheaper in an airport.)

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Swarm informed me awhile back that I had 5 consecutive weeks that I checked in at airports. Then I broke the streak. I love airports, and I will—I hope—break that record one day. I thought I was going to break it after four weeks, and then I went for my Nexus interview. (By the way, I’m super safe, all—Trusted Traveller status right here.)

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The moment I fell in love with airports was probably in Minneapolis, on a 3 hour layover to Orlando—this was years ago, and I remember watching this little girl with her roller bag and a pillow, lining up to board the plane. I remember this girl in a “hugs not drugs” hoodie. I remember writing down these observations somewhere (which is probably why I remember this.)

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I remember my first solo trek through security in 2012, en route to Quebec City. My first solo flight followed shortly after, by about 5 weeks, to San Francisco. On the Quebec City trip I met Cathy, another NAPA member, at the gate, so the flight wasn’t exactly solo. My first solo connection—and international connection at that, in YVR. The conversations I’ve had in airports, only really happen when you’re flying solo (but are easily avoidable, for the most part). Finding super overpriced snacks and refusing to buy them ($7 for a bag of chocolate snack mix? No way.)

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I’ve napped on airport floors (or attempted to), done a nebulizer treatment in the YVR bathroom (when Cali made my lungs hate me), sat in obscure places for a power outlet, gotten lost (and gotten lost with my friends who may be blind but know where they’re going 300 times better than I). I’ve bought over priced snacks, and mock-Lego WestJet planes (thanks, YOW!), surrendered a bottle of iced tea to a TSA agent at LAX (I still haven’t really been to LA), walked in an entire huge circle unnecessarily through security at MSP (and wandered out of security by accident at YYZ). I know airport codes better than phone numbers. I’ve tweeted WestJet en route to YVR at YYC asking what the heck the alarm was that was going off. I’ve confused CATSA security officials coming back inside with Guide Dog Murray, Gerry, and Guide Dog Brody, trying to assure them that no I was fine guiding, and no, we did not need a guide after going outside to relieve the dogs (…I guess being a sighted person with a guide dog in harness is a bit confusing?). I’ve sat on airport floors and reorganized my bag, and arrived too darn early and waited impatiently for flights, or for friends to arrive (a la finding Steve at YVR in 2013). I try to keep my “Inhalers I’ve taken in airports” and “Starbucks drinks I’ve purchased in airports” tally pretty even.

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I love the chaos, the hustle—I love when I can enjoy this without being in a rush (and, when I screw up my gate, I love the rush, too, because it means I’m going places. I don’t, however, love disorganized people in security. Look, if I can seamlessly get through with medical aerosols and a laptop with no delay, people should figure it out, no you cannot take all that cologne through.)

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Thanks, YYZ, for the construction barrier to lean against?

Next to being in the sky, being in an airport is a pretty close second in the list of places I love. The preparation for takeoff, the departure from the arrival…

Whichever way that’s being spun. 

she said planes made her feel like she could get away
[…] i wish i had an airport…

airports, something corporate 

12 of 12 – may 2016 | minneapolis edition

On the 12th of the month, I take 12 pictures throughout the day and blog them. This month, I started off a trip in Toronto, and then flew from YYZ to MSP to spend nearly a week in Minneapolis.

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11:36 am | noodles & company. I had some ambitious food goals on this trip (there’s lots of stuff on the University of Minnesota campus, where I was spending my time). Lunch #1, Noodles & Co.

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1:12 pm | East Bank train platform. I wandered around for quite awhile after lunch, hitting up the UMN Bookstore, CVS (my favourite), Walgreens (to use the Coke Freestyle machine, because how could I not?) and stop in a few other places. Here’s the East Bank train platform, on my way back from the bookstore.

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1:29 pm | University of Minnesota. Not only do the crosswalks talk, they have very detailed signage of how to cross safely.

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1:30 pm | Washington Street (?). We’re not really super school spirited in Canada, so I’m not sure if I love or hate all the spirit around university (COLLEGE) campuses in the US. Either way, here’s a logo’ed bike rack of an M, and in the distance you will see a Golden Gopher bike rack. 
Really.

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1:35 pm | Mesa Pizza. Well, two hours since Noodles means it’s time for second lunch… Today, penne marinara pizza. I also had mac & cheese pizza here on this trip… Twice.

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 2:10 pm | University Avenue. On the sidewalk near the Days Hotel, there’s this poor mom graffiti… It’s amusing and confusing, and the cursive is quite good given the medium (at least it’s better than mine on any medium…)

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2:23 pm | Days Hotel. I’d been living at my cousin Dean’s apartment for the past couple days. My aunt and grandma arrived on the 12th, and my aunt added me to the hotel reservation—and they let me check in early (two for two on this trip!).

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3:35 pm – Days Hotel. I took about 5 trips between the hotel and Dean’s apartment (basically parallel but a few blocks away) with my 10+ days worth of crap (and things I’d purchased). I then re-set-up my bed, aka air mattress, in this corner… It’s quite the bedroom, even if I did have to move the fridge and clear an armchair to the other side of the room.

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8:14 pm | Jax Cafe. We went out for dinner with Dean’s girlfriend, Jackie, and her family for dinner to celebrate Dean and Jackie becoming real engineers with pinkie rings the next day.

Yeah, pinkie rings. Read about that here if you’re confused.

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8:58 pm | Jax Cafe. “You call that a knife? This is a knife.

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9:13 pm | cvs. There you go again CVS, takin’ all my money. I dropped another $31 USD (so like, $50 CAD) in CVS with my grandma after returning from dinner. Here are some NOT BIRTHDAY cards.

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10:44 pm | hotel. Emptying out my pockets at the end of the day. I friggen hate pennies, and America needs to follow our lead and get rid of them. I don’t know how I still have a TTC transfer at this point, and I heart cvs (and love the extra care keytag that is not on any keys.)

copeland and airplanes

What? Two posts in a week? [And I won’t make this a goals update ‘cause that is boringpants. Although I haven’t ridden the bike this week—confession.] Since it’s becoming evident I will probably never actually complete VEDA or #hawmc or NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo [the last two, I cannot actually stand the names. NaNoWriMo has grown on me a teensy bit but not enough to say I actually don’t hate it] (and, though I will probably try them all again at some point) {bracket},

Untitled

I have to start somewhere, right? Here’s some stuff I wrote on the plane back from Ottawa, fleshed out a bit.
So, let’s talk about Copeland and airplanes.

Imbalance. Unbalance.
Imbalanced. Unbalanced.

Stillness… [while] moving.
Waves. 

I tend to feel most settled in a place where I am unsettled. The preparation for the next adventure is not enough: right now, I’m four weeks back from Montreal and Ottawa, and less than a week back from Toronto.
And despite that, the desire to be in flight again is strong. As much as I want to feel home, I feel unbalanced. Unpredictability, the non-routine of being away, being on the road, feels like home to me. Maybe I can thank ADHD for that, maybe it’s just how I’m wired, maybe it’s the bit of Romani Gypsy in my genes (seriously)–chances are it’s all three.

and it feels like we can’t get out
and it feels like hell

i think i’m safer in an airplane
i think i’m safer [with my lungs full of smoke / if i run through the streets]
i think i’m safer on the jetway
than a world without [hope / peace]

oh, and arms will stretch out when they’ve had enough
oh, when they are tired of holding up us…

–safer in an airplane, copeland 

This imbalance, this unsettled-ness, is a different type of unrest. The only cure is to travel with hundreds of kikometers between your starting porint and your end point, wherever those may be, without touching ground. The flight map that shows you’ve travelled thousands of miles hundreds of feet in the air, all without leaving your seat. The number ticks up. It is in the air that I am settled, a place where many find unrest.

“wandering flushes a glory that fades with arrival.”

–j. a. baker

I put my earphones in and stare out the window. My In the Air playlist and the sky—exactly where I want to be. Sorry to my friends who are my plane neighbours, I am not an in-fight talker. To the strangers who are my plane neighbours, I will engage until those wheels start rolling. After that point, my attention belongs in my head and to the sky.

UntitledThe seatbelt sign is on,
And I am most alive here.
Turbulence,
Matching the imbalance
I feel the other thousands of hours a year when I’m not in the air.
Colours streaking the sky that I can never dream to recreate on paper or even with a camera.
I am alive, free,
myself.

I am these things in a place that so many attribute to chaos. While I’ve engaged in a few discussions about becoming grounded, I think maybe I am most grounded when I am airborne. Embracing chaos. The sky is place that so many worry about the things that can go wrong. That is out of my control, so I might as well remain unfazed.

Cell phone with transmitting modes off. Nothing but me and the moment I’m in and the music (maybe some words flowing from my fingertips, and the cabin service cart). And I need more of these moments, replicated outside of a plane seat. Intentionally.

“cause my mind just can’t stop moving
i think i know why.”

–i’m a sucker for a kind word, copeland