The Never-Ending Journey


I knew I was getting punchy when I laughed at the kind German physicist whom I’d just slept with.  The U.S. Army guy, who had slept with us as well, looked on in confusion.

It’s not as bad as it sounds.  In fact, I could make it sound worse since, if you’d like another part of the truth, I spent the night with six men, two elderly ladies, three children and a baby.  Or with more than 200 people, most of whom I had never met.

Yes, I was on the plane from Philadephia to Frankfurt—forever, I think.  And to be fair, the kind German physicist—who was a fascinating man—had just pulled a Charlie Chaplin with a blanket in that half inch U.S. Airways so arrogantly calls “an aisle.”

We were all in each other’s pockets, and we all slept with our heads on each other’s shoulders (accidentally, mostly), except the baby, who slept like…um…a baby in her father’s arms.  Not so great for him, but she looked dang comfortable.

The flight lasted 8 hours. The wait on the tarmac, an hour more—not to take off, but to get to a gate. Some other flight was hogging our gate in Frankfurt. We were a half hour early, and the bastards refused to leave even when our time rolled around.  Necessitating a bus.

Not that you want to hear all of it. As flying stories go, it’s not that bad.  All of my flights were close to on time. All of the flight attendants were marvelous. My seatmates were fascinating.

Nope, the real problem on this flight was the guy behind me, who was an aerospace engineer.  He kept telling all of us that “this plane wasn’t built to cross the Atlantic.”  In fact, he’d say, “it wasn’t built for flights longer than three hours.  Not that it can’t handle the distance, but the interior wasn’t made for people to use for more than three hours at a time.”  That was a well, duh.

But he was a minor inconvenience. Even the babies had a good time.  In fact, I was more in the mood for a temper tantrum than they were, but I held back.  I figured screaming, Land this thing already! wasn’t productive while we were over the Atlantic.

Customs in Europe is a blessing.  People say hello. They stamp your passport. They let you pass through the gate.  And going through security is nice too.  You get to keep your shoes for one thing.  No one seems tense, for another.

I had another three-hour layover in Frankfurt, which I spent trying to read menus, giving up, and pointing Then the 40 minute flight to Leipzig.  I confess, dear reader.  I slept.

Even though the convention doesn’t start for almost a week, Thomas Braatz picked me up from the airport—going above and beyond the call of duty—and bringing me to the hotel.  I already feel like an honored guest.

A tired, honored guest.  Who shall give you her first impressions of Leipzig after sleep. When she can type without the computer repeatedly telling her she can’t spell.  (Which she can’t do whether she has slept or not.  She usually hides it better from the nosy computer.)

I will tell you I have already had too much pastry.

That is all.

6 thoughts on “The Never-Ending Journey

  1. So you did fly via Halle Leipzig airport? I must confess I was wondering.

    The airport is located between the cities of Halle and Leipzig, therefore it’s called Halle Leipzig. But the actual town where the airport is located is called Schkeuditz. I know Schkeuditz quite well, because my great aunt used to live there and we visited her every year back in Communist times. I even got to visit an East German youth club as a teenager there (I’d escaped my aunt’s house and wandered past the club, when the local kids invited me in and asked about western pop music).

    The airport already existed in Communist times, though it’s been extensively rebuilt since then.

  2. I’m glad you got there with no real delays. One theory about overcoming jet lag is to get up early and get a lot of sun in the morning. (In the past 30+ years I have tried out all theories and am convinced that most only work sporadically if at all).

    1. Thanks, y’all. Mary Jo. I stay awake as long as possible, then don’t sweat it if I can’t sleep. I get up, read for an hour, then go back to sleep. I follow a schedule and it’s not that bad–except for the book tour in France, when I was expected to be nice, polite, and happily speaking French an hour after arrival (on a near 24 hour trip!). I managed, but I’m told I slipped into Spanish occasionally.

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