Yes, dear readers, I’ve been gone for a while. I’ve missed you too.
When starting this blog about travel misadventures, I somehow failed to register the fact that misadventures entail, well, missing flights, sleeping at airports, not having a place to brush your teeth and finally – not having Internet access in airplanes, airports, or random places where I finally get to lay down the tired head.
So this whole idea of updating you on my progress across the continent(s) was, I suppose, doomed from the start.
You will be happy to know, I’m sure, that my trip to Lyon, which entailed going to DC by bus, flying from DC to Heathrow to Lyon on Wednesday, interviewing in Lyon on Thursday, and then flying back to DC via London early morning on Friday, all took place without incident. I actually had a whole row of 3 seats to myself on the airplane flying out as the whole jet had only 20 people on board. Likewise flying back, although then the plane was packed apart from the empty row right in front of me – I basically staged a lie-in strike on the row, lay my head on three pillows, and only emerged from my three-blanket tent every few hours to glare unseeingly at anybody who threatened to disturb my peace or suggest that I was being selfish. The glaring was made easier by the fact that even on the return flight, I was still running on American time, and had slept about 6 hours’ total over the previous 48 hours.
I have thus come to two conclusions, linked to each other. One is that I cannot obviously update my blog from the airplane and until I get one of those fancy phones, I have to come up with a different way of staying in touch with you. The second one is the somewhat banal conclusion that humans are not made to change time zones incessantly. I was flown in literally just for the interview, which meant that I arrived in Lyon on Wednesday at 11 AM. I had thought I had planned it all out rather well, what with the short notice, by alerting my friends to my arrival and planning out a complicated 8-hour relay system (basically, every person got quality time with me, ie was responsible for walking me around Lyon to make sure I didn’t fall asleep). That worked out fine, so I actually got a few normal hours of sleep before my interview, but then the written exam started at 3 AM (it was 9 AM French time, but my body was not listening). I felt like I was pulling an all-nighter (not that I really know how that feels – I never studied past midnight, having early enough figured out what has been proven by research since – basically, you might as well sleep before an exam, because you don’t remember anything after a certain point anyway).
Anyway, long story short, apparently the interview went very well. Apparently I say, because I do not remember much of the 3-hour written test or the hour-long panel interview and the socializing and surprised former colleagues I met in between it all. I do dimly recall there being a social event organized by my Egyptian friend (who booked the restaurant but got so distracted by Mubarak that he never showed up himself) in which I believe I partook. I also recall sorting through the last remaining box of my things and putting
the leather pants and leather top I bought at the French version of Salvation Army for 3 euros for a 1970s party necessities in my suitcase and trying to sleep before getting up for a 4.30 AM departure to the airport.
Whether it was the stress, the lack of eating, the time zone changes, or the Elizabeth George novel I was reading (a surprisingly disappointing affair with a convoluted plot and a dominatrix, not very much to my liking), there was no sleep that night. Which explains my antisocial behavior on the plane, the lack of anthropological observations of my fellow passengers (what passes for entertainment on this blog) and the fact that my brother (who is awesome) picked up a sobbing, feverish mess from DC Airport on Friday afternoon.
Thankfully my awesome brother is also possessed of an awesome wife and awesome nephew, who shared both his room and his 7 PM bedtime with me. 14 hours of non-stop sleep later, I resembled a human again.
But my fellow passengers did not stay around long enough to see me change back into a human again. If anybody flew from London to DC last week and saw a girl with 4 (empty!) air sickness bags clutched to her chest and two wet towels dramatically draped over her forehead, please bear in mind that she might just have been ‘lucky enough’ to have been flown into Europe for an interview.
Oh and future participants of conferences I organize, you’re in luck. I’ll make sure your tickets actually allow you to spend at least 48 subsequent hours in one time zone, and hopefully you’ll be well rested for your speech/presentation/pantomime theater performance.
I have felt your pain.