25 March 2007

Time is on my side

As if to remind us that time is an entirely human concept with little basis in reality, the clocks arbitrarily changed this weekend, and I didn't even notice. This has been a strange week, one in which I never really found myself settled in any one place or time.

I flew to San Francisco last Sunday, or at least that was the plan. There are currently no direct flights from Dublin to SF, so normally you have three routes to choose, via New York, via London or via LA (you could also fly via Chicago, Atlanta or Boston, but you would have to really hate yourself to do that). A lot of my colleagues travel via London, but I hate Heathrow for two main reasons, British immigration officials and Terminal 1. American immigration officials are afraid of everyone and are suspicious of you because they think you are going to attack them; it has been suggested that it is a major part of the modern American psyche to live in constant fear of the other, perhaps this is why many people in the US are insular and carry guns. In contrast British immigration officials have a deep seeded resentment of everyone else, and an unfounded feeling of superiority. In Heathrow they say that they have to carry out immigration inspections on any travelers in transit to Ireland, as if we are incapable of doing that ourselves in Dublin. Terminal 1 (where all the flights to Ireland go from) has been deliberately situated as far from the main airport as possible and still be in Heathrow. It is also made out of corrugated iron, to resemble a tunnel where mushrooms are grown. All expense has been spared when designing Terminal 1, and coupled with the ever-so-slightly abrasive immigration officials you are left in no uncertain terms that you are not welcome in their country and if you don't mind would could you leave as soon as possible. Thus whenever possible I avoid London and fly via NY. To be different this time I decided to fly via LA. Big mistake.

Over the early part of last week Ireland experienced snowfall and hailstorms, both extremely unusual in March. As we were leaving the front of this storm was just starting to hit the west coast of Ireland, and thus my flight was delayed almost four hours taking off, and by the time it got to LA it was over five hours late, and thus I missed my connecting flight to San Francisco. As the next one was six am Monday morning I stayed the night at a hotel in LAX, or rather I stayed 5 hours in a soulless room in a filthy carpark in LAX (which apparently was actually a fairly representative experience of any visit to LA, however long the duration), as to get the 6am flight I had to check in at 4am, and thus was up at 3am. Arriving in SF I went straight to our office, and didn't manage to check into my hotel until well after 8 at night. On Tuesday night I caught up with my friend Tadhg for a quick bite to eat, and saw him again on Wednesday with Dawn, a good friend from the Have' who had visited us in Dublin in January. We went to Millennium and indeed it was an amazing feast, but everyone was pretty exhausted and there just wasn't enough time to catch up properly. I left on Thursday, arrived back on Friday and feel like I somehow lost a day in the whole process. Normally whenever I travel to the US my body clock only adjusts to the new timezone the day before I am due to fly back, this time as the trip was so short I think I actually adjusted after I got back home, as instead of being in bed fast asleep at midnight the Very Understanding Girlfriend and I were out playing a karaoke game at a friends of a friends place until 6 in the morning(ish) - an experience both more fun and less sad than it sounds.

We then had to rouse ourselves after a few hours of snatched sleep as we had two deliveries of furniture arriving on Saturday morning. After almost 10 months in our apartment we finally got our kitchen table, and bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers. It feels like a completely new house, and that is more than a little unnerving. When my sister was a very young child, she had a teddy bear that went everywhere with her. We went to Disneyland and on the Peter Pan ride, so appalled with the crass consumerization of a classic children's tale by a faceless corporate empire was she that she threw her bear out of the flying galleon, into the miniaturized streets of London below. Despite our best efforts when the park was closed to retrieve the bear, it was never seen again, and my sister was inconsolable. My mother had a cunning plan, she later went back to the shop where the bear was originally bought, and she bought an identical bear, the perfect plan! My sister was far to smart to be fooled by that, however, as for children that age it is not the way something looks that signals familiarity, rather it is the way it smells. Her bear had many layers of encrusted baby smells that to her signaled "My Bear", and the doppelganger had none, and was instantly rejected. To this day I believe that her deep seated mistrust of globalization stems from the theft of her childhood by Disney on that artificially moonlight night over London's replicated foggy streets. That's what our apartment feels like now, it looks the same but that unmistakable smell is missing, and while I am less likely to suffer a violent allergic reaction to the dust that was magically attracted to the random piles of clothes scattered throughout the room, in a way I feel like a piece of me is gone. A dirty piece, but a piece none the less.

So it was all rather understandable when I woke up in the late afternoon today, not knowing where or when I was. As long as I still know who I am, the other two don't really matter so much.


At 8:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:49 am, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

Wow! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of a deeply traumatic memory buried deep for over twenty years being wrenched from the dark recesses of the subconscious.


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