Losing Me, Finding You, and a Near-Miss Over Honolulu

losing me

Yes, this is what $20m worth of flight simulator looks like.

There’s no witty way to say that Me has been lost in a very comprehensible pile of shitola over the past few months. I had two books due (book #1 on 9/15 and book #2 on 10/20), business trips, an abortion of a 20th high school reunion and well – just shit. As of last Thursday, the comprehensible pile has come to a much-welcomed end. If it were a pile of fall leaves in the backyard, I could finally see the grass again instead of being stuck in a windstorm that just continuously fucked my efforts to rake up the bleeding mess into a manageable pile.

Which brings me to Hawaii

While the pile of shit I’d been living in was comprehensible, my sleep has not been. After hitting the send button on Thursday evening and summarily jettisoning my manuscript into the Road to Publication ether, I slept for 8 hours. I woke up on Friday in a bit of a fog, wondering what the hell had just happened. 8 hours, my own bed, no pressing deadline. Incomprehensible. Inconceivable, even.

It was unnerving. Yet, I set about the process of getting my life back after letting it run me for quite some time. I spent the weekend surrounded by people I like, who make me feel good. I laughed. I decided to run six miles (no explanation). And on Saturday evening, I got to fly a $20m full-motion Boeing 777 flight simulator. I took off, flew, and landed all over the world. And here’s where we talk about Honolulu.

Being someone who’s pretty comfortable in the back of an airplane, I’d never really put much thought into what goes on up front. I mean, shit – as long as everyone’s sober and they get the plane up and down without incident (evident by my typing this post, I’ve flown sans incident), I’m right as rain. Let me tell you: it’s an entirely different world when you’re sitting in the cockpit of a flight simulator that costs a gazillion dollars and tasked with taking that thing up into the air, flying it and putting it back down on the virtual ground without making headlines. I didn’t have any real expectations of what the experience would be like when a friend invited me along for the experience and left with any expectations I had blown out of the virtual water surrounding Hawaii.

First and foremost, I did not crash. And before you get all judgy on me for being proud of not crashing a “fake plane,” there’s a reason this thing costs $20 million. It’s real airplane parts. Real equipment. It’s what the pilots that fly you and me all over god’s own creation train in. And when your hands are on the controls and you’re told you’re at rotation speed and to pull back on the yoke…oh, and don’t crash…it’s not a fake plane.

Side note: I’d gone into the experience with a somewhat cavalier attitude, sporting a pair of black high-heeled boots and declarations that I’d be playing the role of the Jet Blue flight attendant for the evening. In retrospect, heels are super crappy footwear for controlling rudders. In case you were wondering.

Over two hours, I got to take off and land a huge fucking plane at three airports around the world. We started in San Francisco and ended in London, and my last turn at the controls was a takeoff and landing in Honolulu. Well, right after I took off, the awesome guy (he really was awesome) running our simulator decided to blow one of my engines.

I believe I squealed at an eardrum-piercing volume (like a GIRL) and let a “Shitballs!” fly (which the simulator operator was apparently amused by, not having heard that particular turn of phrase before) and summarily had to get my shit together so I didn’t crash my “fake airplane.” Let’s just say that there is a “pause” button in the simulator (for which I am thankful) and I never ever thought I’d be so worried about crashing a “fake” airplane.

But I was.

Which brings me to what we believe is real

Having lost so much of myself over the past few months, it was incredibly cool to go face-first into a total nerdgasm on Saturday in the flight simulator. Sometimes life brings us experiences and opportunities we never imagined we’d have and when those come along, you just kinda have to grab on and believe what’s happening. Kinda like climbing into a fake plane, y’know? We could fight them or treat them with less respect than they deserve (which is what we tend to do way too often, I think) or we could believe. We could give them their propers, embrace that we have no idea how it’s all going to turn out, and just smile a shiteating grin ear to ear while we figure out how to fly a plane with one engine.

What we perceive to be real is, more often than not, exactly what’s going to be our reality. So on Saturday, I had a near-miss with a $20 million plane over Honolulu and it made me think for the better part of the weekend that remained about what I paint as my reality on a daily basis.

When I see my life as overwhelming, guess what? It’s going to be overwhelming. If all I can think about is panic and holy fuck what was that noise my plane just blew an engine oh godfuckingofallhamstersdammit, how much energy do I have left to deal with the situation that needs dealing with?

Which is the problem. We spend more time on the emotions attached to our situations than we spend on the situations themselves.

See, for two months, I’ve been freaking out about ignoring my blog audience. Overwhelmed, on book deadline, short on sleep, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to put it all out there and post as often as I felt I owed you. Here I was, writing a book where the primary focus is on brand personality and understanding how to build a brand for the people who will pick up what you’re putting down, and I was ignoring the people who were already picking it up. Fuck me, right?

Realities are what we choose. No more, no less. If you put yourself in a world where 98% of your attention is diverted away from you, you’re going to lose you. When you tell yourself that you don’t have time for you, it’s guaranteed that you won’t. You’ll probably also start to resent yourself if you (god forbid) take a moment out for yourself because what kind of asshole does that?

So on Saturday, I flew a big ass plane and didn’t crash. And for the rest of the weekend, I worked on shifting my perception and sorting out what my reality truly is instead of what all this bullshit I’d let in told me it was. I never thought I’d get mad wisdom from a flight simulator experience – goes to show you what I know (and what any of us know for that matter).

And back to you…

You’ve been here for the past 358 days of what’s been a crazy ride – the year since Jason died. On October 31 last year, everything I thought to be reality was indiscriminately shattered and I was left to pick up the pieces. At first, it was like shards of glass cutting my fingers each time, giving me a little “fuck you” for even trying. And now almost a year later, you’re still here. As am I. A better me – a much different me – than before. I’d venture to guess that your lives are much the same – different and better. Maybe more one than the other. We should all be a bit more skeptical of our perceptions, as they’re just as influential and have the power to derail a well-lived, meaningful life as the things we consider to be real.

Our perceptions can be delusions and our delusions…well, they can be perceptions. I think the best thing I can do is take more time for myself and cut myself some slack. Give myself the time to sit and think about what’s important and why I feel this way. While a one-engine-down commercial airliner at your controls doesn’t really offer the luxury of pondering, I can do better about treating everything in life as if there’s a decision to be made, and now. And when you cut yourself just a little bit of slack, you just might find that you get to walk around with sore cheeks from smiling so much from an experience you never thought you’d have.

So thanks for hanging in there while I had a distorted perception of my reality, when I forgot that y’all are the most important aspect of what I get to do for a living. The single best part of the whole weekend is, aside from being “back” for all of you, knowing that if I’m ever on a flight where 80% of the passengers and crew had the fish, I can raise my hand when they ask if anyone knows how to fly a plane.

Because I can (just a little bit). And bonus? I also speak jive.

The bitch is back. See you Wednesday – I think it’s time for a fresh Bitch Slap. All in favor?


49 comments
JudyMartin
JudyMartin

Glad the bitch is back. Energy runs amuck when the creative juices flow toward a particular end. Same for me when on deadline. Often I just stop everything to dive into a project. But I do continue with yoga and meditation even if food goes out the door along with just about everything else. Those are my chaos anchors. And ain't it grand that somehow your true buds  are still there waiting for your next word. Your writing energizes me, so count me as one of the coming book readers. Glad you're doing so well.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Now that you mention it, I'd like to try a flight stimulator, too.

Stephanie - The Travel Chica
Stephanie - The Travel Chica

Glad to see the bitch is back.   This sentence really sticks with me, "We spend more time on the emotions attached to our situations than we spend on the situations themselves."  Awesome piece and much-needed right now.

Rebecca Corley
Rebecca Corley

Aye!  My favorite bits to carry in my pocketses through the day: "And now almost a year later, you’re still here. As am I. A better me – a much different me – than before. I’d venture to guess that your lives are much the same – different and better. Maybe more one than the other. We should all be a bit more skeptical of our perceptions, as they’re just as influential and have the power to derail a well-lived, meaningful life as the things we consider to be real." "We spend more time on the emotions attached to our situations than we spend on the situations themselves." Real shit, Red. <3

The Redhead
The Redhead

OMG - my *first* Captain Kirk reference on the blog! I'm in geek heaven :) And thank you - for all the kind words and for using "4-H" in a blog comment.

XS
XS

I woke up this morning and found this in my inbox.. and it lifted me right up! plus described how i've been feeling for the last month of crap happenings - I am working on sorting out my perception of my reality and deciding that my reality from now is going to be a fun one amongst other things! thanks & welcome back.. :) oh & am totally envious of you 'flying' a plane all over - i will remember the next time i'm a pilot to leave off the heels though.. :) 

J. T. Evans
J. T. Evans

Red- Glad you're back. Talk about a fucking whirlwind tour. SFO to LHR in 3 hours . . . Cap'n Kirk would be proud. You bring up an overlooked point, especially in this day and age. We keep taking on/getting so many things stacked on our plate we'll never clean the thing off and get the big cookie. You can only prioritize and re-organize x number of times before you prioritize the YOU right out of the equation. I seem to remember something about taking care of yourself to take care of others? Time for the You is good and needed. It's such a goddamned stupid 4-H cliche, but as busy as we all are, it's important to stop and smell the proverbial roses now and again. And land the plane. Congrats on the books, landing the plane, and being happy.

Airhead
Airhead

I can't seem to find the pause button.....yet.

Brett Bee
Brett Bee

Aye! (Oh, and SanFrancisco to London in just 3 hours?!  Shit, you can fly me ANYWHERE - you'd have me in Vegas for the weekend before I thought we'd even taken off!)

Josh Hillis
Josh Hillis

I had a similar experience with my book.  In my total and complete manic push to finish my book on deadline (finished a week late...  of my extended deadline), I totally and completely ignored my blog audience.  I was scared to death I'd lost everyone, that I was forgotten about, and that no one loved me anymore.  I joke slightly now, but in truth I was solidly freaked the fuck out. As it turned out, as soon as I started posting again, everyone came back.  It was just like old times.  Turns out when they wrote "see you next year" in my yearbook, they meant it. Makes me wonder about how many other things I freak out about that I don't need to.  Or how many "rules" of blogging don't matter at all.  Or is the flight simulator any more real than the inexplicable 6 mile run. So anyway, when I saw you pop up in my inbox again, I just realized how much I've been missing the awesomeness that is Erika.  We're glad you're back =) P.S. I don't speak jive, but I do rock a little Ali G http://mackers.com/alig/

The Redhead
The Redhead

Glad you enjoyed the post - and now I even have more confidence in sticking those landings. You know how to make a girl smile!

Tara D.Coomans
Tara D.Coomans

Next time skip the near miss and do a landing in Honolulu! We'll have a welcoming committee and a mai tai waiting for you!

Killian
Killian

Ah, Red is back.  Thank you for once again giving a reminder (in the form of a clue by four upside my thick head) that investing in the abstract gets us just that - abstract.  If we want to hold on to what's real, and to truly feel what life is supposed to feel like, then we need to work for it. I am horrible about "down time."  My best friend still snorks at the memory of me having H1N1, complete with a spiked fever, muscle weakness, all of it, and still having the kids being me laundry to fold while I was on bedrest because I felt GUILTY for doing nothing.  One of my goals lately is to knock that shit off and prioritize myself before I need it, so that when I do need it, it doesn't freak me the fuck out to do so. I, for one, am ecstatic that you're back in the saddle (and none of that girly side saddle crap, either), but I need to call you out on one smidgen of a detail in your post.  You do not "owe" us as your readers.  Yes, there is a symbiosis of sorts here, but slathering the guilt onto your shoulders doesn't get you anything but filthy.  You needed to get your shit together, and you're doing it.  The only person in your life that you OWE anything to is yourself. (And I still hope you make it to NC in your travels some time, just so I can buy you a dirty chai.)

Tom Mowry
Tom Mowry

Love this. Well written, informative, and fun as always. And if you ever  do have to take the controls in the future remember those most famous words of wisdom, "Don't panic, and never forget your towel". Unfortunately airline peanuts are no longer generally available.

The Redhead
The Redhead

It was a moment of which I am not proud. However, my friend and the simulator op seemed to enjoy it thoroughly. What can I say? I'm here for everyone's entertainment.

James Johnson
James Johnson

Always love your posts...life can be overwhelming sometimes. Thanks for the reminder to take a break and check into ME once in a while and embrace my inner geek, dork, or whatever floats my boat...

MegCarpen
MegCarpen

Glad to see you back, and congrats on taking time to find yourself! I think we all get lost from time to time, either with things that we think we "have" to be doing, or just getting so caught up in being caught up that it takes us a near crash to realize that we've fallen into bad habits. One of my worst habits is not taking time for myself today, because I have goals for tomorrow (or a year or so from now). This is a good reminder to treat myself to a little free time, especially if it means finding myself again. Thank you Erika!

Janine
Janine

I DID crash the fake jet. We flew in and out of several airports (including Salt Lake City, which is just as scary as it is in a real jet). Then we took off and crashed. Because the flight engineer (that would be me) forgot to check the fuel levels and we ran out of gas. OK, shut up, everyone. I'm already well aware of what this just might say about my real life. Off to refuel as we speak....

Rochelle
Rochelle

Aye. And thanks for landing this thing. 

Hannah Hudson
Hannah Hudson

yay yay yay yay yay yay !  Oddly enough, I also took my first day off yesterday after a heck of an insane wedding season - after running full speed into it while ignoring my own personal tragedies that occurred this past spring ... so I feel like you wrote this post for moi ;)  Why do all of us successful chickies feel so bad for taking downtime?!  Must be chromosomal... he he he

Al Smith
Al Smith

Thanks for keepin it real, Red.  U r awesome.  Love the "Airplane" movie reference.  That was some funny stuff.  Only been on line for a few months.  All I can see is great things for you.  Super talented writer, funny and sexy.   Continued success, Congrats on the books and so glad the "bitch is back."  Missed u. Thanks for inspiring and writing from the heart. Al

Erin Blaskie
Erin Blaskie

This post was PERFECT for me at the moment... I actually just got back from Honolulu (real Honolulu, not $20M simulated Honolulu although that would be totally awesome to fly that simulator!!  NERDGASM!!) and the whole flight back, all I could think about was ... WHY THE HELL DID I TAKE TIME OUT TO COME HERE!?  You know, beating myself up for trying to take some downtime.  So, I needed to hear what you had to say today... Thank you.  I am glad you are back :)

Mike Masin
Mike Masin

A big welcome-back hug and a chorus of "hallelujah, it's good to take a day off". (And since I heard it in my head as I typed, I'm cranking up  k.d. lang crooning Hallelujah.)

Ruth Zive
Ruth Zive

This is actually my first visit to your blog (I think), so I didn't miss you.  I am, however, pleased that you're back.  Detaching from emotion is my priority pursuit these days - dispassion, equanimity.  Something I could NEVER, EVER, EVER achieve in the cockpit of an airplane - real or otherwise.  But it's a worthy pursuit.  Especially as a writer.  Allows me to focus on the task at hand no matter what I'm feeling.  I wrote about it last week, in case you're interested.... http://freelancewritingblog.com/dont-give-a-shit-disengage-a-mantra-for-copywriting-success/

Sandi Amorim
Sandi Amorim

As one of your many devoted (love that word, so glad I can use it on you!) fans I'm glad you're still here, lovin', slappin', bitchin' and sharin' yourself so, so brilliantly. Looking forward to the book/s and more RED! Yay!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm glad you found something in it for you, Stephanie - and yes, the bitch is DELIGHTED to be back!

The Redhead
The Redhead

You know what I find surprising? When I write a post, I sit down, write, proof and post. It's rare I can tell you what I just wrote. When my readers come along and share what they found the most meaningful parts of the post, I learn probably just as much from reading their insights as you did when reading the post. I love this nutty gig I've got :) And great to see you, Rebecca...as always.

The Redhead
The Redhead

My initial attitude was that if I couldn't fly a plane in heels, I didn't want to fly it at all. Then pragmatism and an engine failure kicked in and - well - yeah. Skip the heels! And I'm glad that this lifted you up. An incredible compliment, so thank you :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Only took me 38 years. Don't be so hard on yourself :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Well, we *did* have a little help from a simulator technician for that whole "change of venue" thing!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm glad to BE back, Josh. And you're right - what's more real than anything else? I suppose it has to do with what we're willing to believe at any given moment. And thanks for the link laugh :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Hah! I'll see what I can do to convince them to let me fly a *real* one ;)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Shucks, lady. Well, yeah - I feel I owe you guys a LOT for being here and coming back. It's the care and feeding of what's important to you, y'know? But yeah. I owe myself. *applies sticky note to forehead* And the "clue by four" >>>THIS. IS. WINNING.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I always get peanuts when I fly. Huh. And good Hitchhiker reference, my friend :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks, James -- great to see you. And hey, if my royal screwups can help other people prevent the same screwups -- my work here is done :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

And yeah - what YOU said about the "near crash" incidents being a wakeup call. Great turn of phrase there, Meg.

The Redhead
The Redhead

HAH! Well, I'm sure I would have crashed on low fuel as well, Janine - and what does it say about me that I was pointing to the little side window and telling the simulator op: "You know, a cup holder would go really well right here." Great to see you, lady. I'm headed to LA soon and will ping you.

The Redhead
The Redhead

My pleasure. Thank you for flying Redhair Air!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Way to take that You Time, Hannah. Isn't it funny how we spend so much time and energy running for everyone and everything but ourselves? Effing chromosomes :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I do my best, Al. And thanks for the kind words :) You know how to make a girl blush...

The Redhead
The Redhead

Why, thank you, Erin. And wow - taking time off? What the HELL were you thinking? ;-) *so says the girl who's going to take a completely off-the-grid vacation in the next 2 months!*

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks, Mike. It's always great to see you stop by and I'm glad for having taken some time to hit my "reset" button. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thank you, Sandi - I'm grateful you're still here, too!

Tom Mowry
Tom Mowry

I love Zaphod.... "I'm so hip I just put out my Pelvis". Plus I just found out that Adams used to write episodes for the Dr. Timelords rule.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Awww. U R welcome.  I am fortunate enough to be going to the TEDx Peacthree talk in Atlanta next Friday, Nov. 4th.  Are you going to bless us with your presence ?  i hope so.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Cool.  Look forward to meeting you.  I guess I will just look for the sexy redhead, with attitude and a pilots license ?  No disguises, please. ha !

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'll be there covering the event - for sure!

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  1. […] Losing Me, Finding You, and a Near-Miss Over Honolulu “When I see my life as overwhelming, guess what? It’s going to be overwhelming. If all I can think about is panic and holy fuck what was that noise my plane just blew an engine oh godfuckingofallhamstersdammit, how much energy do I have left to deal with the situation that needs dealing with? […]