Wednesday, April 09, 2008

jfk > long beach

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I had a solid night's sleep and woke up early on Tuesday to write. My body was still in shaky physical condition after enduring a cold and I didn't opt for a run. I walked a fair amount over the weekend, mostly wandering through the Upper West Side and Riverside Park. That was my only exercise in NYC, and I let my mind wander as I wandered. I definitely got a lot of serious thinking in during my wanderings. Let's see if I can apply what I learned to real life. Execution is always the problem.

I had one major thing to complete before I left New York City... pay my taxes. That might have been the hardest thin for me to ever do... part with so much money. I busted my ass last year only to see a huge chunk of it go to Uncle Sam for him to piss away on an overpriced war that I never voted for.

I went to the post office and experienced a rare moment. The place was empty and I walked right up to the front of the line without having to wait. It cost a total of $1.08 to mail both my state and federal tax returns. Once that was complete, I shed a little tear and said good bye to my had earned money.

I spent the rest of my afternoon packing and then I listened to WFUV for a couple of hours, while I caught up on a horde of unread and unanswered email for close to ninety minutes. Jesus, I have no idea what I used to do when I used to get 4x the volume.

I scheduled a car service to pick me up at 3pm. My flight was at 6:05pm but I wanted to avoid rush hour and left a little earlier. I picked a perfect time since there was light traffic. I got lucky and had a great driver who didn't say a word and drove super fast without me feeling like I might die. He got me to the airport in under 40 minutes and I gave him a $12 tip.

The JetBlue terminal at JFK airport was empty at 3:45pm. I was in that magical time in between the noon rush and the dinner rush where the lines were empty and travelers were sparse. I breezed through security. Considering that it was a major New York City airport, I experienced a miracle. I'm gonna make a note of that time and perhaps try to fly at a similar time in the future. The only thing about a 6pm flight is that the runways at 6pm at JFK is a air traffic controllers nightmare. That's when all of the European based planes are clogging up runways trying to take off for their red eyes to Europe.

Anyway, I had plenty of time to kill and answered another 100 emails inside of thirty minutes. I was a machine and cranked through my inbox(es), slashing and burning my way through junk email, spam, and other random emails from people who want to use or exploit me.

I grabbed a sandwich at the deli and had to wait twenty minutes until a minimum wage flunkie to walked three feet to a refrigerator and presented me with a pre-made buffalo chicken wrap. I sat down and played online poker while I tried to drown out the empty threats from a nearby mother who had zero control over her four-year old daughter. I prayed that they were not on my flight.

The Yankees played a rare late afternoon game and I went to the sports bar to catch the action. It was tied at 2 when at the bottom of the second. I wandered over to my gate and discovered that my flight was delayed for 35 minutes. That's par for the course these days. Wasting more time away in airports. I played online poker for a half hour and killed more time in the Hudson News stand. I thumbed through a couple of magazines like the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and ESPN. I almost bought one but decided against it. Why waste the money?

I usually have at least one magazine and a book with me at all times. For some reason, I was cocky on this journey or plain lazy. I didn't have a book (the one I had been reading was left in Nicky's apartment) and I accidentally packed my script in my checked luggage. That was a horrible idea in retrospect... it was my only copy with hand-written notes from myself and Nicky!

Basically, I had gambled that I would not need a book, newspaper, magazine, or my own scribblings. That would be a terrible choice as I'd eventually discover.

I walked by my gate and sized up the people sitting there. Like most California-bound flights, there are a handful of L.A. douchebags and hot chicks with too much plastic surgery. What I was scouting out where families with rambunctious kids or anyone with babies.

I also had the opportunity to juice up my lpatop, but didn't. Instead, I answered more email as I waited for my flight.

They boarded us quickly. I had booked the flight less than a week ago. It cost me $2.50. Essentially, it was one of the three free flights I had coming to me courtesy of JetBlue's frequent flier program. All I ad to do was pay the fees... which was a mere $2.50. I got the last aisle seat too on a flight tat was 90% filled to capacity when I booked my ticket.

Seats on airplanes are always a gamble. There are a dozen potential nightmares behind every trip. Not event ninety seconds into settling into my seat, I knew that I was about to face a flight doomed to drive me crazy. There was a young mother with two small children sitting in row 15. The two kids were already arguing about who got the window seat and I expected them to be rambunctious for the entire 5 hour and forty-five minute flight.

Then a young couple sat behind me with their baby. Double whammy. Three kids within a five foot radius of me. Like a stone cold junkie seeking a fix, I tore open my bookbag in search of my pill bottle. I dug out two Xanax. I cracked one in half and popped than along with a whole one. 1.5 Xannies seemed to be the appropriate formula for three kids on a six hour flight.

Then the annoying ethnic family sat down in the row across from me. They were some sort of Middle Eastern family and appeared to be somewhat wealthy. Since the moment they sat down, all they did was harass the flight attendants. They had the arrogant chip on their shoulder and an air of entitlement surrounded the three. One of them demanded that I give up my aisle seat so another member of their family could seat nearby. I was put off by the rude manner in which they presented the potential deal. I listened anyway and discovered that all they had to offer up was a middle seat in the last row. I declined and then caught a barrage of condescending remarks. They tried to guilt trip me and I wasn't having any of it. I barked at them

"This is my seat that I paid for. If you wanted a different seat, you should have gotten to the airport early or asked at check in. And don't even think about giving me lip. You have no right to pressure me or guilt trip me into giving up a seat that I deservedly owned."

After all, it was a free flight. I spent a couple of grand in JetBlue tickets just to get the free seat. I'd be dammed if I was going to get stuck in a middle seat.

Then I caught the biggest bad beat of the flight. JetBlue is popular for me because of their inflight DirectTv service. That's really the only time I get a chance to watch TV... is when I'm flying on JetBlue. Of course, the service was out and the crew offered up an extremely vague response to why it was not working. I had already been on baby tilt and annoying neighbor tilt. The one thing that could have saved my sanity was gone.

I popped the other half of Xanax as I lamented over my lack of preparation. I had gotten lazy this past few trips. I stopped packing essential materials such as a book to read in case of an emergency. I was too cheap to buy magazines at JFK and I thumbed through them instead of buying a stack. And I had poorly prepped the juice levels on both my laptop and iPod. I was at less than 40% for both which meant that I had to ration what little power I had. I also ingested almost all of my drugs. In short, I was on a flight to hell and did not have the necessary items to help guide me through the arduous flight over Middle America.

To make ting seven worse, the baby behind me cried for the first two hours. I have no idea what the parents behind me were doing, but they sure as hell failed to shut their kid up. I wasn't the only one annoyed. A suit sitting in my row seemed super pissed too. He mumbled to me that he had two kids at home and that he would never fly without doing everything in his power to keep his kids from disrupting other passengers. The couple behind me seemed like they didn't care and that's what irked the guy next to me.

I said something tot he stewardess and asked if she had any Valium that I'd be game. She didn't have any pharmies but offered me a free drink to soothe the pain. A cheap glass of red wine was not enough compensation to have a wailing kid scream at the top of his lungs... so loud that it pierced through the protection of $400 Bose noise reduction head phones.

About 2.5 hours into the flight, I gave up and popped another half of Xanax. 2.5 in total. I had only .5 left. I never took that much Xanax and only ventured into that territory after a night of heavy high altitude partying and I'm looking to come down and stay down in order to get any semblance of sleep.

There I was, hurtling through space above Colorado on a JetBlue flight without any TV. One of the kids in front of me insisted in play peek-a-boo and I refused to acknowledge his existence. Once I did, he'd pester me for the rest of the flight. I opened up my laptop and I tried to write up everything that had happened between the time I left for the airport. That proved to be more difficult than imagined... since the head full of Xannies had made me type very sloppy and my thoughts were all over the road. I had to stop writing prose and opted to open up a blank word pad document and ramble on... part in prose and part in poetry... just random lines and disconnected thoughts induced by the Xannie haze and my tired and annoyed soul.

My flight eventually landed and by that time, I was faded. I mean completely wasted. I should have not even been awake, let alone shuffling off my plane and fighting my way through the crowd at baggage claim. As usual, Nicky was late picking me up at the airport. As soon as we got home, I collapsed in bed. I fell asleep with my clothes on. I was sick and tired and drained and jacked up on so much Xanax that I could have sedated 87% of Kansas City.

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