THE AUTHOR

Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC.

He is a columnist for Bloguin's The Outside Corner. Previously, he was a MLB lead writer for Bleacher Report, and has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, SB Nation and MLive.com. 

You can also find him on the Twitter and the Facebook, where he craves your attention.

Someday, he'll get around to writing that novel.

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Thursday
Mar012012

Malaysia Diaries: Dramamine wishes and murderous dreams

One of the first questions friends have asked me when talking about traveling to Malaysia is the length of the flight. Yeah, it's a doozy. About 24 hours on an airplane. That doesn't include the layovers and transfers, either.

I don't remember exactly how much layover time we had four years ago, which probably means it wasn't much of an issue. (I do remember having some time to hang out in Los Angeles International Airport, where I watched the Pistons lose to the Celtics in the NBA playoffs. Wasn't that a long time ago, Pistons fans?) Transferring flights wasn't a problem either. We just got off the plane in Taiwan while it refueled and cleaned up (aired out).

Yeah, not so much this time.

The trip began with a 5 1/2-hour layover in Atlanta, an airport that charges for wi-fi. (I know; most of them do.) Food courts and newsstands are only so interesting, so if not for the wi-fi provided by Sojourner's Cafe, I probably would've gone nuts. However, that's not exactly free, either. You have to order some food and drinks when hunkering down at a table for a couple of hours.

From there, the trip really got started with a 14-hour flight to Seoul, South Korea and a 10-hour layover awaiting us. Thinking about that much time ahead, during which it feels like you're not really doing anything, plays with your mind a bit. At home, with 24 hours to kill, you could clean the house, watch TV, run errands, cook dinner, get some work done or whatever else you might find to occupy yourself before going to sleep.

But what about when you're trapped on a plane? And later, in an airport terminal? Sure, you brought books and magazines to read, music to listen to, movies or TV shows to watch. But can you really lose yourself in those distractions and not think about how much more time you have to get through?

Of course, there's also sleep. I looked to that as my anchor, the thing that would get me through this long passage. My ability to sleep on an airplane is always something I've relied on. Four-hour flight to Seattle? No problem; I'll snooze through most of it. Just give me a window and a pillow to lean my head on.

Four years ago, I slept through a big chunk of the flight from Los Angeles to Taiwan (much to the envy of others in our travel group). I even slept through caffeine withdrawal, though I do remember waking up in a clammy sweat with a dull headache at one point. But even when I'd look at the flight path on the monitor and see that we had, say, six hours to go, I just thought, "Okay, I'll go back to sleep" and off I went.

Oh, it all sounded so easy. But apparently, my body had other ideas.

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I should've followed my mother's lead, popped a Dramamine and fallen into a drug-induced slumber. But I didn't take a Dramamine because I don't get motion sickness. Yet there was Mom, enjoying the side effects of drowsiness. God, I wanted those side effects.

Especially because I had an aisle seat. Nothing to lean my head against. And if I dared lean out a little bit, someone would walk by and jostle my head. Even if it was a petite Asian flight attendant, it was enough to wake me up. Also, for reasons I can't even comprehend, the guy sitting across the aisle from me felt the need to frequently stand up and get something from his carry-on bag in the overhead bin. Oh, and when he sifted through that bag, he'd stoop over and bump into me, waking me up again.

I truly came to hate this man. The fifth or sixth time he woke me up, I wanted to shove him into the closet-size bathroom and give him one of those quick neck-breaks, like they do in the movies. That's happened in a movie, right? Or was it just the one I was making in my mind?

Also, if you are sitting in front of me on a plane, I hate you too. Mr. or Ms. Lean Your Fucking Seat Back all the time. The damn thing only reclines two inches, but it's enough to lean down on my iPad while I'm trying to watch a movie. Or trying to eat. Oh, and does it bug you when I lean forward and rest my forehead on the back of your seat because it's the only comfortable position I can manage? Really, you can feel that? And it makes you want to move your seat back up? Give me at least 10 minutes of comfort, you sack of shit.

But back to having to the aisle seat. I always want the window, but I'm not sure how I feel about that anymore. Yes, I can lean against something and that will probably help me sleep. But in the four years since my last overseas flight, I've developed the need to pee more frequently. Hey, I'm trying to stay hydrated.

Not to mention that it's just healthy to get up every couple of hours and walk around to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing. And I sure as hell wasn't going to develop Deep Vein Thrombosis or a blood clot that could eventually travel to my lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism.

Although if I did have to die, at least it might be in the arms of one of the cute Asian flight attendants. Please bring me another hot towel, too. Just give me enough strength to kill the guy across the aisle before I leave this mortal coil.

So yes, I think I now prefer the aisle seat on any flight longer than seven hours. At least if I won't be taking any drugs. (Over-the-counter medications, of course. Well, maybe some of the good stuff only a doctor can prescribe.)

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Reader Comments (2)

I will never ever ever ever fly that far a distance in my life. I'd go nuts.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKurt

24 hour flights are why God made Quaaludes. It's a sin you can't get them anymore.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

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