Forced Relaxation and the Silence of Flying

We’re two hours and twenty-one minutes in. At least, I’m estimating from the time we were scheduled to take off. 5:10 p.m.

I need an outlet.

I keep glancing out the window, but it is darker than dark. We’re not close enough to Springfield yet (the next landmark on my in-flight progress map) for the pinpricks to shine through the velvet.

My palms itch. My hands tingle. I. need. an. outlet.

I haven’t yet caved in to the siren’s song of the turned off seatbelt light. I am sturdily buckled in, nylon webbing firm across my hip bones.

This chair can’t go to upright. Not completely. I’m at a perpetual 10° angle, which my back is thrilled about.

I had “I’m Leaving On a Jet Plane” (the Peter, Paul, and Mary version) humming through my head for the first hour. Then it was the end theme to the movie Wreck-It Ralph.

The ice in my drink is 80% melted. Will it get to 100% before I finish it?

I need an outlet.

I could read. I already started the book I stowed in my purse.

I can only troll through Facebook so much. I’ve checked my email over 30 times now.

I need an outlet.

I punched out that quick stream-of-consciousness over the course of a few minutes. This is an example of my brain at work — a constant stream of GoGoGo that makes me wonder if my blood has been swapped with jet fuel somewhere along the way. But we learned in Family Guy that using jet fuel does not mean you can fly. Except I am flying because I’m in a plane so… I guess I win?

The point is, relaxation is seen as an art. Rarely is it addressed that relaxation is also a freaking trial. An endurance trial, at that. It requires a process of letting go that, for some of us, no longer feels natural. The drive and deep need to DO has been programmed into us over years and lifetimes and generations of constant “DO IT NOW” ness and less “it can wait” ness. Longer work hours, the internet, smartphones… all distractions from that every so scary question.

What now?

What do we do when we’ve relaxed? How do we know we are relaxed? What is the quantification? How can we measure it?

We are terrified of uncertainty. We work enough in every other arena, don’t we? Why should we work for relaxation? And don’t fool yourself — for the DO addict, doing nothing is work, if only in that you have to work to silence the constant chatter.

Relaxation is an art, it’s true. But Art is work.

Embrace the art. Practice the art. Perfect the art.

My ice is melted.

We’re over Oklahoma now. My previous concept of darker than dark is now updated.

Breathe in, breathe out.

“Wreck it, wreck it, Ralph, as fast as you can. You know you can do it with your colossal hands…”

Nobody is perfect.

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

Free Coffee! Hold the martyr

This is a tale of addiction and anxiety, loss and learning.

I was recently at McDonald’s during the breakfast wars with Taco Bell to avail myself of the free coffee.

(Btw, if you’re judging me for this, you are so reading the wrong blog.)

While in Costa Rica, I re-acquired my morning coffee habit, and boy, she is a harsh mistress. I was jonesing for my morning fix so bad I probably would’ve been on a street corner if I hadn’t known the car would be faster.

But I was on my way to probably nowhere an important appointment, and I really didn’t want to be late, so I scorned my usual dealer in favor of the quicker McDonald’s drive-though. And seriously, who am I to scorn free coffee?

Mistake #1: Hitting a McDonad’s in a college town late Saturday morning.

There is a LINE of epic proportions in the drive-through. This is the point where common sense needed to kick in and calmly guide the wheel so that I drove past that den of sin and breakfast sandwiches, reminding me that I had a bottle of water right by my elbow.

Apparently, my common sense was still asleep in my nice comfy bed that morning. Lucky bitch.

I finally get up to that glowing box of promised relief and orally submit my request through the most heinous static since my first car blew a speaker. But, the glow is somehow… different. Lessened, in a way, by the presence of a price next to my beloved java.

But it’s a fairly new promotion, so maybe it’s something that has to happen outside ordering system

Mistake #2: Not inquiring about the pricing mistake when it happened.

I make it to the window, now vaguely concerned about my ability to navigate the final mile in the required amount of time, and the giver-of-dreams/taker-of-cash gives me the total, along with a litle white bag.

The total that still includes the price of my beloved coffee.

Tremulously, over the backdrop of my caffeine monkey screaming so loud I was certain a cat was getting tortured, I inquired about the fee behind my java.

And I am met with the blankest stare since Bela Lugosi rose from a coffin.

At this point, I am now subjected to a combination of complete panic and righteous frustration (you know the customer is ALWAYS right, right? Right). I have the dang flyer next to me in the car, which I show Window-Dracula. I’ve ordered this same combination twice during the week, so I know the total well enough that I have the exact amount with me.

The response? “Ok, give me…” tapered off into NOTHINGNESS. I think the person behind me could hear the ellipses in the response.

But now I’ve caused delays. I can practically feel the stares of the multiple cars behind me, preparing a bonfire for the ritual sacrifice of my body on the Altar of Hungover Undergrads. I break out in a cold sweat. I lock my doors. I…

…say thanks, pay my exact amount, and pull away.

Without my coffee.

Mistake #3: Caving to the imagined/perceived expectations of my fellow addicts.

Yeah, not my proudest moment.

I made my appointment on time. Sans caffeine, but on time. I paid the ultimate price — scorning my sweet, sweet buzz due to peer pressure. Maybe a little more fortitude on my part would have yielded my desired results; then again, maybe not. I’ll never know, now.

But man, that monkey was PISSED.

What’s one thing you can do this weekend to ease your expectations monkey?

P.S. — I’m looking at spinning up some kind of bi-weekly water balloon straight from my fingers to smack you right in the inbox. If you’re interested, pop your name and email in (really basic) form below:

Thanks!

Instant is 21st Century Crack, Part 1

Take a seat. This is gonna hurt, so buckle up buttercups. I’ve got some bad news…

We are addicted to instant.

And no, we’re not just talking coffee.

We are captivated, enamored, devoted, under the influence. We’re strung out, even dependent.

We are OBSESSED with getting things NOW.

We, as in you and I.

We, as in society. 

You see, the expectation for immediacy has been set and we’re addicted. But, as with all addictions, we go up and then we come doooown. And when we come down, we hit with a *BANG*.

(And not the good kind. Perv. The hurty ouchy kind.)

No, really. Think about how frustrated you feel when your packages are late arriving around the holidays. Or how utterly b*tchy people get with delayed flights. Or when your 3G isn’t quite perfect and you can’t see your cousin’s Facebook update with picture #98376421 of their LITTLE ANGEL who is puking (and said little angel is, in fact, some kind of dog smaller than a subway rat in NYC).

Instant is insanely popular on the market right now because we’re so hooked. You *know* you get excited when you see things like:

“instantly delivered to your (insert smartphone name here)”

or

“stream instantly to any device, even your left eyeball digital implant!”

(Gross.)

We practically vibrate when we can’t get what we want NOW (cue our best Veruca Salt impressions). Let’s face it. Instant gratification has turned us into

spoiled little pre-tweens.

(If a tween is a pre-teen, what’s a pre-tween? It sounds like a wash cycle — “run this dress through on pre-tween for optimal stain removal results!”)

Moving on…

In spoiling us, it is causing us more stress than almost any other substance on the planet. Something doesn’t go quite right, and everything just bloody spirals from there. Plans have to change, people are gonna get disappointed… it’s just a big ol’ mess.

OR

We could try taking delays with grace.

Remember how grace works? No, I’m not talking about the nickname I have for my skillful ability to fall while walking on an even, flat surface (ask me about how I busted my ankle the first time). I mean that nice, calm feeling of peace and acceptance in a stressful situation where something is getting between you and your WANT-IT-NOW.

Not sure what grace would look like? Let’s check it out.

What about…


…that guy cutting you off in the middle of rush hour going a bajillion miles an hour?

Clearly, he is sorely overdue for his extremely necessary bladder infection mediation, and he’s probably suffering a considerable amount of pain. Instead of providing an extensive overview of your most vulgar vernacular at ear-shattering volumes, avoid participating in a major traffic accident and send them some kind thoughts.

OR

…the should-still-be-in-diapers kid in front of you in the far left lane of the highway , going 20 mph in the middle of rush hour, when you need to desperately get home for your very necessary bladder infection medication?

Poor lil’ is just learning how to drive, and that instructor is NOT making it easy with the ranting and the raving and the Stetson large enough to swallow New Jersey. Pass them safely and hope that they know enough to pull over to the shoulder before they have a panic attack.


…the bespectacled tech nerd darting back and forth between your precious (and utterly cooked) laptop and the store terminal without really giving you any information?

You are their last customer of the day after what’s been an already frustrating 10 hours of work in a naturally hectic environment. Sadly, they don’t have all the answers, but they also didn’t dump a sippy cup full of Juicy Juice on your keyboard (thank your toddler). If you’re really lucky, they may be able to rescue everything essential, but it’s gonna take some time. Take a seat and catch up on some reading, cause Divergent just came out and that novel won’t finish itself.

OR

…that last support customer who just unloaded HER most vulgar vernacular on you while you are trying to bring their very dead laptop back to life? 

Yeah, the computer looks like it will actually take an Act of Congress and some serious overtime to resurrect, but this poor soul is actually a VERY overtaxed grad student with an assistantship and a tutoring gig that bartends at night. Bless her poor little heart, the only surviving copy of her research paper is on this now-crispy piece of hardware, as her three-year-old flushed her backup thumb drive down the toilet earlier today. She’s already going to be living on ramen for a week just to cover this fix. So take a deep breath, pull out the Emergency Boot CD, and revel in the extra dough from the work rather than bemoaning your lost Portal 2 Co-op time. The Mountain Dew tastes just as good during a late night data recovery spree.


So, a shift to a slightly more patient, though slightly slower moving, mentality probably won’t kill you (but stop forgetting your bladder pills dude, seriously). However, addictions can kill. It may not be the immediacy of a drug overdose, but the behaviors encouraged by our need for the NOW result in some very risky habits. And truthfully, it’s so not good for your blood pressure.

Give yourself a present: one to three minutes, TOTALLY YOURS, to breathe. To chill. To not be obsessed with the GIMME NOW. Hide in the bathroom if you need to. Don’t worry about completely reworking your schedule. But do it. Clock’s ticking, and we’re only getting more stressed.

YOUR MISSION: what can you do, THIS WEEKEND, to slow your roll a little?