Aboot Damn Time

I don’t know if other people experience this, but for a little while after I come back from a trip back to Cali, I fall into the rabbit hole. I lose my words and transition into a kind of fugue complete with an inability to communicate effectively (in any language!). I can talk; I just can’t get my brain to translate thought into words, spoken or written. I rebound as soon as I get bored, (my inability to concentrate for long periods of times comes in handy), but my tolerance for wallowing is high. It’s not an active depression. It’s just a gnawing on my mood and my motivation and my words.

So in the last week, I’ve gone to school, but haven’t done homework. I clean up, but only the absolute minimum required. I’ve left shoes and clothes and scarves and shawls in every part of the house in little do-not-touch-I’ll-get-to-it-later piles. Sparky has been so busy with work, he barely notices (bodes well for the kid thing, huh). I’ve watched The Gilmore Girls Fifth Season in its entirety about 6 times.

Today I got bored with the whole thing. I had a little help from Miss Gwen Stefani. If I was a rich girl nananananaaanana…. I challenge you not to shake your booty to Hollaback Girl!

So, let me tell you about my exciting trip to Winnipeg! This is our before picture. Keep it in mind.

When we left, Sparky and I met our friend at LH. Business class did not happen, but she did get us an entire three-seat row to ourselves via a last minute cancellation. The only empty seat on the entire plane was between Sparky and me. This proved to be very handy later.

All my bags were within the weight limit. I didn’t, however, mention my new Le Creuset Utensil holder in the duffel bag I hid below the counter. That duffel was way over 8 kilos and if I added my handbag to the duffel, I had two hand carry items, both well over 8 kilos. I have my game down. I can lie to a airline employee like a champ. I have to work on Sparky. He has no idea how to play these games. I have to inform him before hand how it should go down and to let me do the talking. I’m much better at improvising truths in these situations.

As an experienced traveler, I pack my handbag specifically for the flight. In my bag I had a small cosmetic bag, a bottle of water, a sandwich, grandma’s brownies, trash magazines, a book and my trusty Nyquil. (Sparky had a sandwich too, but he ate his before we boarded.) This was going to get us through the 10-hour flight (we had a great tailwind).

Once we were in flight, before the meal, I took a big shot of the cherry flavored magic juice and technically, could have been out for a good 6 hours only to wake up an hour before we landed. That’s the way I envisioned it. Ah, how sweet it could have been.


I knew something was up when the pilot asked if a doctor was on-board. It was curious, but I thought nothing of it. I was 30,000 ft high with Nyquil as my co-pilot. We were doin’ just fine. I wanted to nod off to the movie, a little background noise, you know. Then the movie was cancelled and the flight attendants started running up and down the isles. A few minutes later, about 5 hours into the flight, the pilot informed us that “Due to a medical emergency, we will be detouring to the nearest airport”.

As previously established, the flight over Canada is endless. I guess, if you’re so ill you can detour an entire plane, it really is endless.

The pilot told us we were too heavy to land. I had no idea what this meant – I’ve never felt so guilty for being overweight. That newsreel in my head ran “Fat American Downs Plane over Canadian Wilderness.” I sobered up pretty fast.

Turns out he meant fuel, not the American in seat 27A. We had too much fuel to land safely. If I hadn’t sobered up before, I certainly did then. Visions of fireballs danced in my head. An hour later, after polluting a forest, field, sub-division? in Manitoba with excess fuel, we started to descend. The same wordsmith of a pilot told us that we were landing in rough weather and to buckle up and hold on.

Now, before the flight initially took off, I had the required What-happens-if this-plane-crashes thought process: “Did I tell everyone I love them? Do I have any regrets? I totally could have had that piece of tiramisu. What do I say to Sparky? Will I be a woman in my next life? Can I request a different body type? What body parts will they find? How much money will my family get? Will Jeff buy a car with it? Will Mim invest in cashmere? Will I be able to contact them from the dead? Oh shit, my mom is going to kick my ass for all those dead mother jokes.” This is a required thought process in order to keep the plane from really crashing, you know.

Well, now, heavy (thank god I didn’t have that piece of tiramisu) in icy, stormy Canadian weather, we descended towards Winnipeg. Its really pretty at night, lots of spread out lights.

At approximately 4 am CET, we landed hard in Winnipeg. Obviously we made it, but even Sparky was a little worried. It was a hard landing and if you’ve never had one of those, well, I hope you never do. The flight scene from Final Destination was my preparation for our landing. I really should NOT see those types of movies.

They got the sick guy off and we were told only that he was holding on as they took him off. No details, no scoop. I think we were totally gypped. If we had to detour to a remote Canadian airport mid-flight, I think we’re owed a few details. But no. We got nothing. For five hours we got nothing.


We sat on the tarmac for five hours and were told repeatedly to remain seated. First, the sick guy’s luggage had to be found and taken off – safety reasons I totally understand. Then, because we left the US and entered Canada, all the luggage had to be taken off and clear customs. Then, the plane had to be re-fueled. ‘Member we lost all that weight over mooses (meese, moose?) and maple leaves. Well, Winnipeg, I’m sure has a lot of great qualities and granted it was the middle of the night, but the refueling truck was awfully slow. I really wouldn’t have any idea how long refueling a 747 takes, but during that five-hour period, the pilot/attendants spoke to Peasant class exactly three times other than to tell us all to remain seated. One of those times he told us it was a slow refueling.

The last communiqué was to inform us that we needed to be de-iced, but the de-icing truck was frozen. Nice. At this time, all the kids had had enough. So had the parents who totally ignored the fact that their kids were screaming and making obnoxious nosies and jumping up and down. Then some earnest college co-ed decided it was time to spread discontent and complaininess. In her straight off the Berkeley campus rightousness she started to handout complaint cards.

In all honesty, LH could have handled it better. We could have been offered beverages during the wait, but we weren’t. The pilots and crew wanted to be out of there just as much as anyone else, so what was the use of complaining? I’d rather have enough fuel and our wings de-iced. When I defended LH in my snippy, magic juice tired tone, I had to think. Have I lived in Germany so long that I accepted this type of treatment without thought? Where was my outrage, where was my sense of injustice?

Well, it was sitting next to me in an empty seat, packed nice and neat inside my handbag. It’s called an extra seat, a bottle of Pellegrino, a ham and salami sandwich and Grandma’s brownies. Sparky and I did just fine during that lapse in customer service. It was the kids, the chick and the length of time that drove me batty. See the after pictures. There is a great video complete with screaming kids, but its too big. There might have been a few more conversations with Dr. Nyquil, but sleep jumped ship in Manitoba.


After a 17-hour flight, we made it home. The rule is, you have to eat a meal in a country to say you’ve been there. As we did not deplane, it might be a little iffy as to whether I can say I’ve been to Canada. I took a ton of pictures, we cleared customs and we ate a meal, complete with desert. Thanks, grandma!!

After pictures. I will think twice before I complain about flying over Canada again. It can be so much longer.

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17 thoughts on “Aboot Damn Time

  1. Airports are international territory and therefore do not count as the country sorry sis but it sooooooooooooooooooo does not count

  2. Ohdearlordinheaven! That was the flight from hell for you but I am laughing my guts out here.

    And yep – I’d lay my money on having been in Germany so long that your sense of outrage is stunted.

    Yay for Grandma. She must rock.

  3. omg, thank you so much for that. I had seen that preview, but didn’t know where. That’s what I’m talking about. A little solsbury hill, and I’ so there. Thanks for that link.

    Mim – that’s the link i was talking about. I know, but FIVE hours, I think there’s some room for debate.

    Dixie – it was the flight from hell, but after all those final destination thoughts, it could have been so much worse. And the nyquil really helped me forget the moment we go off the plane. It really is magic juice.

  4. Sparky, you suck. I’m bored and you won’t play with me. its work, work work. I’m supposed to be content with comments on my blog? I’m sitting right across from you and yet the moment I say somehting like “I’m bored”, you snap at me.

    Fine, I’ll go watch Atlantis.
    Oh and by the way, you totally suck!

  5. jen, the moment you said that third seat in the middle was going to come in handy I began to be excited. Sadly this post remained PG (< -- due to the Nyquil). That “is there a doctor on board?!” thing always happens doesn’t it. Makes me ask myself, if I’m an extremely ill individual, sick enough to force an emergency landing and be carried off the plane, why would I get on it in the first place?
    (ie – Doc to Mr. B: you’re on your last legs, I suggest immediate bedrest and relaxation. Mr. B to his wife: Ethel! Quick! Book us a couple tickets to San Diego!) Duh.

    5 hours! You’ve got to be kidding me. 5 hours. Wow. No way. That guy wasn’t sick, he was a terrorist. They smattered him all over first class, and he had a bomb on the plane, and they had to clean him off the seats, find and disarm it. *That* is five hours.

    (I am so enjoying everyone’s airplane stories!)

  6. Holy crapola! It’s funny and terrifying at the same time. And Winnipeg of all places. Fun city.

    I was on a plane once that had to land in Iceland but I was only a kid so I can’t remember the details.

    I LOOOOOOOVE those pictures. Adorable.

    And I get you on the wallowing inability to communicate after getting back from vacation. I always feel like I’m on another planet.

  7. As a former Winnipeg girl I was especially fascinated with your story. Wow!

    And if you had ever lived in Winnipeg (which is actually having a balmy winter) you’d think nothing of the fact that the de-icing truck was frozen.

    I’m glad you’re home safe Jen and Sparky. Love the pics and Sparky sure looks like a smartypants guy 🙂

  8. Lisa – sparky made some sort of eyebrow raising suggestion to the like and we’ve never been the type of couple to uh.. be stopped by uh… well, I think I’ve grown out of my exhibitionist phase.

    I once had a really bad cold when flying. It was right around the SARS time period. I got a whole five seat row to myself because no one wanted to be around me. Even the flight crew asked me if i was okay to travel. That was just a cold.

    I think it might have been a heart attack or a stroke. something unpredictable.

    C: good to know I’m not alone in the wallowing. And this time I’m really homesick. I couldn’t wait to get home to a real bed, but now i miss the twins like crazy.

    PG: I thought you might be interested in the winnipeg part. So how cold does it get there? The pilot made a really big deal about how nice he was being for leaving the motor on so we didn’t freeze as we sat there. It looked awfully cold and how cold must it be to freeze a truck that was functional when we arrived? In fact upon landing they de-iced our wings.

    Sparky is a total smartypants and sometimes even in that annyoing goody-two-shoes way. I try to keep his feet on the ground.

    J: it totally could have been worse. It could have been without nyquil. but yes, it was bad. how was yours by the way?

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