(photo by night86mare on flickr)
It is strange. I am on an airplane and I am not quite fully there, in the way that you get when every hundredth second or so you realize that you have fallen asleep, and you wake and the world changes. You realize that a moment ago, you were wrong about everything. Sunlight filters through the windows carving strange shadows on the black aisle floor — with my head canted on the headrest, the moving lines convince me that there is a dog on the airplane.
Sometimes I think the dog is going to be crushed by the stewardess, but it never is.
With my ear against the headrest, the entire airplane resonates. I bring work onto airplanes, my dear Internet, but it is impossible to think in here. Even watching television becomes a chore. Since when has watching television been a chore? Since we started to feel compelled to appreciate things. I do not like wasting time. I do not like watching things that I cannot appreciate. Everything is exhausting, now, even watching television. This time, I can’t manage it.
I sometimes come up with story ideas on airplanes, but they all revolve around airplanes and the circumstances of being on them. When I get off the plane my ideas all involve the struggles inherent in the airport parking lot. I am awash in newness and difference, and then, inevitably, along the long length of Lincoln Boulevard I am lowered slowly back into the same half-finished life from before.
Maybe I will not fit into it anymore! Maybe I have changed from my trip. But the life is like pants that have never been washed, Internet. It keeps its shape. Although it does, over time, become softer.
I like the idea of airplanes. I like going high, and fast, and becoming a guy who is in a different place. When I was a kid I used to imagine that maybe every time I got onto an airplane, vast crews of people leaped quickly into action tearing up roads, deconstructing the false fronts of buildings I’d never been into, and replacing it all with, say, Spokane. The plane would just stay up for as long as it took for all the work to be finished.
I don’t really think this anymore, but I don’t know that it’s any more fundamentally ridiculous a notion than what actually goes on. The difference is mainly in my decreased conception of my own importance in the world.
But I am uncomfortable with the airplane as a device for removing me from a place where I have changed, and reshaping me to fit the place I vacated. I think they do it with the rumbling. The rumbling is what breaks down all the molecules. The vibration allows them to settle.
Why am I talking in this melancholy manner to you, my good friend Internet? I have just read a book by Joey Comeau entitled Overqualified. It has wrapped me in its pages and made me mimic it. It is a thing that happens sometimes with me and books, because of chemicals in my brain. The book made me think of things, and then my brain did something with chemicals. I am not totally clear on the details but I think that is probably okay. I doubt I will be asked to explain it to a class or anything. There is not much I could teach children about it.
I mean, I could probably say “Forget that idea that your brain makes you feel things. You make your brain feel things, and then your brain does something with chemicals.” Then I would sort of halfheartedly shrug. Maybe I would add “Most people do it backwards.”
I do not mimic your work out of irreverence, Mr. Joey Comeau of Canada. I like things that surprise my brain into doing the chemical thing. So I figured if I must be shaped into something by this high, fast, gently-quivering softening chamber, I may as well try to make it something that surprises me.
David Malki !