Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heading West, on Xanax

If you know me, you know I've been counting down the days for this west coast trip forever.

In T minus 11 hours, I'll be on a Virgin Atlantic flight heading to LA.  Just my husband and I.  We have my husband's colleague to thank, who decided to get married at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA. 

Gwyneth Paltrow got married here.  Just sayin.  

Before heading to Santa Barbara on Friday, we're going to spend a day in LA, which I plan to spend poolside at the W hotel, with a cocktail.  Or two.

Life doesn't get much better, right? 

There are only two things putting a downer on this amazing trip right now.  One, I am pathetically sad about leaving my kids.  Yes, they will be fine.  Yes, my mother raised me and my sister and is capable of taking care of two kids.  Yes, it is only four days and once I'm back, they won't even remember that I was gone.  But I just can't help it.  I'm heartsick over leaving them!

There's that, and then there's this:

I. Hate. Flying.

I'm sure there's something Freudian about it.  When I was young, my parents were divorced, and I would fly from Cincinnati to New Jersey every couple of months to see my Dad.  So from the age of 9, I was flying by myself (with my younger sister) on a pretty regular basis.  I had a handful of scary flights.  I've been petrified ever since.

On a plane, I'm that girl that makes you nervous.  I gasp at every bump.  I assume crash position during heavy turbulence.  I frantically look around at everyone else's faces to gauge whether I am the only one anticipating my last moments.

Like many phobias, I have these weird rituals that I think will control my situation.  If I plug my ears and put my head in my lap during heavy turbulence, it will subside.  I must do this, for the safety of all of the passengers.

If I get too immersed in a book or a movie, this is a bad thing.  This means I am not concentrating hard enough and the plane could soon enter turmoil.  Therefore, I must stop other activities, and concentrate on keeping the plane under control.

Ha, control!

Yes, I know this is ridiculous.  Yes, I've had therapy over this.  And yes, I do it anyway. 

When I turned 21, I learned the art of drugging oneself into a state where anxiety was kept at bay.  Morning or night, before boarding a plane I would drink enough wine so that my impending death didn't bother me so much.  This worked well for a while.  But then, after a flight from Rome to New York, I drank too much wine and not enough water and ended up dehydrated in the ER.  So now, I turn to prescription drugs.  Oh, Xanax, how I love thee.

But in the spirit of my magical thinking, I must admit that by writing this post, I have a small belief that I am ensuring the safety of my flight as well as the well being of my fellow passengers.  I mean, what are the chances that I write this post, and then the plane ACTUALLY goes down in flames?  That would just be too weird.  Especially now that I've just written this very paragraph.  No, there's no way that could happen.

No need to thank me.


  1. Yeah, we'd be a great pair on an airplane. I'm not a nervous flier, I just get horribly air sick if there's any turbulence whatsoever. The first thing I do on the plane is locate the barf bag. My husband actually tries to not sit next to me on the plane.

  2. I feel you on the flying phobia. I know (KNOW) that I will die in a plane crash if I venture on a plane. I don't care that it's safer than driving. I KNOW it will happen. I have such bad luck in my life, everything that can go wrong will. So for the safety of other passengers, I don't fly. You all can thank me later!

    I hope you have a wonderful time. You seem to have excellent luck, so I am not worried about you. :)

    Enjoy yourself!

  3. I go in waves over this, but when I'm going through major turbulence, I remind myself that there has not been a single air traffic accident caused by turbulence. Also, when I was traveling for work a lot and going through my major fear stage, my dad had me open the window of the car on the freeway and put my hand out. Good reminder of why planes are almost stuck in the air once they get up there. Safe travels, in any case :)

  4. I'm with you 1000%. Working at a big firm and flying regularly my anxiety was kept in check (with some assistance from drugs and the fear of crying/freaking out in front of the partner/colleague in the seat beside me), but having not flown in over a year things have gotten worse (after reading your post yesterday I dreamt about a plane crash last night - shudder).
    Wishing you smooth landings and turbulence-free flights - and a great time with your husband!


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