Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why I need a notebook

(ed. note: This was originally written the old-fashioned way and transcribed. It was interrupted in the middle by the need to board the aircraft.)

On the road in the middle of nowhere -- actually, to be precise, sitting in an airport somewhere in the Southwestern U.S., about to get on the last leg of my flight home -- it suddenly occurs to me that I'm the type of girl who needs to travel with a notebook. No, not a notebook computer. An actual honest-to-god paper notebook. I have a lot of thoughts, you see -- and my work computer's wireless card stopped working mid-trip.

As it stands, I have one remaining page in the back of a legal pad. Well, that's not exactly true either. I have most of a page, since I used the upper left-hand corner to do some rudimentary mid-deposition math.

I spend a considerable amount of time in airports. I think that if you add up all the time I spend in airports and airplanes during a calendar year, and average it out, then I spend no less than four days of each calendar year in the process of air travel. While that only computes to about 1% of each year, it adds up to a significant portion of my life.

I have flying down to a science -- what to pack, what to wear, when to carry on my bags, when to check my bags, how to prepare for security screening. Although maybe it's not really a science -- it's more of an art form. But whatever it is, I know how to do it. (I have been known to get it wrong, though.) And then, once I'm through security, I sit and wait and observe. Which brings us back to the notebook. I need a notebook for times like these, to record my observations, before the constant churning of my thoughts moves onto the next fleeting thing, and I forget the things I've seen and heard, the things that make me laugh and ask questions. There are a lot of those thoughts, especially on days like today -- a day that started hours before the sun was even up -- before the hotel even started serving breakfast, and which will involve three cities and hours of flying time.

If I had a notebook today, for example, I could have started by writing excruciating detail about my breakfast. McDonald's. Which was the only thing open in the entire airport. And about how it was the first time since childhood that I ate a "Big Breakfast" -- which is really not so big, especially if you only eat the eggs and sausage. And I could question how they somehow managed to make the eggs so bland that they taste like nothing, or perhaps describe the looks of horror aimed at me for ordering a large Diet Coke at that ungodly hour of the morning.

Or I could write about the girl I saw in the rust-colored L.A.M.B. velour sweatsuit, and how her hair was dyed a very fake orangey color -- which resulted in her having the overall appearance of a carrot. From there, I would probably venture onto a discourse on how those sweatsuits, especially the ones with the words on the ass, do no favors for anyone's figure. I would probably also note how people need to learn the difference between "outside clothing" and "inside clothing." Not that I am entirely without sin on that one.

I could have told the detailed story of how I killed the bug in the hotel bathroom with my hair mousse, or how weird it was that yesterday, a beautiful day, I was walking outside in the downtown section of a major metropolitan area, but only saw five cars and two people.

I could also express my utter confusion as to why anyone would wear a ten-gallon hat on an airplane. Seems very uncomfortable.

Or I could comment on how cheap the airlines are -- not giving out peanuts or pretzels anymore, instead charging $3 for a candy bar. And how it must totally stink to be one of the people who agreed to take the next flight out for a $150 credit, when the next set of people were given $300. Or how all of the people who agreed to fly out later to resolve the "weight balancing issues" were all skinny. Go figure.

I could attempt to figure out why I always wind up writing in the margins, sometimes even around the corners, having to tie my thoughts together with lines and arrows, and sometimes even circles, when it's one of my pet peeves. And I might even question why rollerball pens explode on airplanes, especially since all of my other pens mysteriously stop working mid-flight.

But if I had a notebook, and a pen that worked, maybe I could find words to describe the beauty of how, when flying over a lake or another body of water, it first looks like a cloud, and then it looks like snow (maybe a glacier?) and then a shimmering piece of silver foil, and then -- only when you're directly over it -- you can see that it's water, with an infinite number of teeny tiny little ripples on the surface. And if I could find the right adjectives for that, I could certainly describe how gigantic and beautiful the full moon was on the way to the airport just before the crack of dawn.

But then there's the practical stuff. Like making a list of the things I need to pack for my trip that stars forty-five hours after my last flight of the day ends. Or figuring out how I managed to keep my .mp3 player and computer in my carry-on bag, while leaving my keys and headphones in my checked suitcase. And how by violating my own three-book rule, I wound up having to buy a new book. But I only have this one page, and I'm already at the end.


Daniel said...

Whats wrong with ordering a Diet Coke with breakfast? It's a heck of a lot better than those "juices" and on par with coffee.. I think the coffee mafia have a lock on this country

Paige Jennifer said...

I love the concept of a journal but I can't stand the slowness of it. The agony of writing out each and every letter. My hands move way too slowly compared to the pace of my brain. But McDonald's breakfast? Now that is something I can get on board with.

dara said...

Daniel: Exactly. Those morning coffee or juice people don't know what they're missing.

Paige Jennifer: Sometimes I have thoughts when I don't have a computer. And then by the time I get to the computer to write, I've lost at least half of it. I need a notebook like an artist needs a sketchbook. Just in case.

And the McDonald's breakfast was functional. It wasn't great. I should have eaten the hashbrown and biscuit, since I'm sure that's where all the joy lies. Not to mention taste.

honeykbee said...

I know what I'm getting you for Chanukah.

cube said...

I've got notebooks all over the place & I still manage to not find one when I need it. So I'm awash with little scraps of loose paper with notes on them waiting to be transferred into a notebook. This writing this can become a vicious cycle from which there is no escape.

BTW I think it's OK to order whatever you want for breakfast.