December 29th, 2006

krazy koati

Just pretend that all is grand

Taking a long airplane flight is a good way for me to restock my neuroses about being on a long airplane flight, in addition to being a pretty good way of getting pretty far from where I was, sometimes even to places I wanted to be. The most productive neurosis it encourages is my fear that I'm breathing too loud for the people around me. I know I don't, but all I can hear from inside my own head is every single breath, and air rush past my nose or my lips, and it coming in and resting and then -- wait, have to breathe out -- rushing back out, and given the chance to really think about it the whole process seems like a horrible racket. Yes, the person next to me hasn't said anything yet but surely they're just trying to be good neighbors and aren't going to act until it has them driven mad.

So I'll try to breathe more quietly, but all that accomplishes is to suffocate me, and much as the person next to me might approve I get selfish over things like that, so I go back to the old way and now I worry the person next to me has been really enjoying my temporary quietness and now going back to normal will just make it all the more annoying. It hardly seems to matter even that there isn't a person next to me. If there were he'd be working up such a sarcastic query about my breathing, and I wouldn't be able to answer, as that requires breathing again.

Thinking about the seats is another way to quickly go crazy. I don't think I have the knack of them. When I'm in the ordinary economy class everybody else seems to know some trick to get their seats to recline farther than mine does. Certainly the person in front of me knows it. Best I can guess is that I should push the large aluminum disk in some way and lean back, but that doesn't seem to change things any. I can try sleeping, but I feel like I'm not getting the full reclining possible, and then there's the worry about snoring, so it's easier to close my eyes and call that sleep. On the other hand I can't get the seat to be quite upright either. It seems to be tilted back a couple degrees from what the empty seat next to me has done. I push the button while leaning forward and it bounces up, but it doesn't seem like it stays up. Before landing I make a show of doing this again in front of the flight attendants, but it feels like they're quietly glaring at me, and talking about me to one another, and they're glad to see me leave.

This changes if the seating thingy puts me into Business Class, because they don't have single buttons for the seat reclining there. Instead they have a whole network of little plastic levers that don't really move, except you can kind of push them forward or back, and they're tucked all over the seat. Those seats recline, and the head tilts forward, and the legs go up, and this footrest pops out, and the wides wobble jauntily, and there's this button to make it feel like something's being pushed into the small of your back, and they're all labelled by a rounded rectangle with arrows going clockwise and counterclockwise. Again I worry that I don't have the things put back in their original spot by the time it comes to land, but I try to pretend that I didn't hear the flight attendant, as I'm breathing too loud.

Trivia: Joseph F Shea was appointed to be deputy director for systems engineering at the Office of Manned Space Flight on 29 December 1961. source: Project Mercury- A Chronology, James M Grimwood. NASA SP-4001.

Currently Reading: Napoleon's Buttons: How Seventeen Molecules Changed History, Jay Burreson, Penny Le Couteur.