Sunday, February 7, 2010

Up in the Air

Last night, I went to see "Up in the Air" with Steph, Adrian and their friend K, which is about a guy who flies around the country firing people until a young upstart tries to create an online firing system that would ground him permanently right as he's about to earn the coveted "10 million miles" frequent flier card. He takes her on a trip to show her the ropes and ends up rethinking his relationship-less existence. (Those of you wondering what my excuse for a relationship-less existence is, I say shut up. I have friends!)

Actually, George Clooney's character's life on the road didn't seem so different from mine when I was an athlete except that instead of a plane, it was a bus (at least for the varsity stuff) and instead of fancy-pants hotels, it was this hotel in Oklahoma that had an unlocked secret passageway behind all of the rooms and various fist-size holes in the walls; (that's not fair, actually. We did stay at quite a few Hampton Inns with their warm cookies in the lobby and their free make-your-own waffles).

Like George Clooney's character, I once traveled enough to have an efficient, zen-like packing routine. Unlike George Clooney's character, however, my mental packing checklist included items such as "Is the foam-rubber wedge you use to keep your hip from subluxing that you have named Gregory James Mantooth both present and wrapped in plastic to prevent its smell of sweat and Lysol from contaminating your clean clothes?" or "Do you have your bag of Krazy Glue, Nu-Skin, bandages, cotton gloves and industrial-strength "Working Hands" salve designed for people who work outdoors in extreme weather conditions to prevent and repair hand cracks?"

Also unlike George Clooney's character, I have the unfortunate combination of incredibly long legs and a hip that refuses to be wedged into tight spaces, plus the added awkwardness of the fact that my hip is fake and I have to go through the whole "the metal detector is beeping because I have a fake hip...yes, I know I'm young...No, I really had a hip replacement....there is no need to be fondling the waistband of my jeans like that. I generally require people to buy me dinner first...."conversation. Unless I have the aisle seat, it is literally impossible for me to sit in a coach-class seat, which means that I have gone to some pretty spectacular lengths to get one, including the time I bought a gin and tonic for a New Orleans Saints player if he would give me his aisle seat and then talked with him for 2 hours about Noam Chomsky, which he was reading. (Go Saints!)

The disorientation that George Clooney's character feels when he goes from a life of endless travel to being grounded, however, really resonated with me, as I think it would resonate for anyone who's ever retired from any sport or job. Even though I don't like traveling, I do like the 95-miles-an-hour-dangerously-skirting-the-line-of-utter-collapse-juggling-8000-balls-in-the-air-built-in-excuse-for-not-internet-dating lifestyle. That's why I'm glad that after 8 months of stewing in the slow cooker of hip-replacement recovery, I've finally hopped back into the pressure cooker.

For one, I have a full-time job now in addition to my internship for the publishing house. I'm a Communication Coordinator for the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships and I'm doing a lot of their social media stuff. You can check it out on Facebook ("2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships"), Twitter @2010wwrc and online at Those of you who have seen "Murderball" will know that wheelchair rugby is a kick-ass sport, so any of you in the BC area will have to come check it out from Sept. 17 - 26th. Tomorrow, I'm also moving back to Champaign Urbana and will try my best to overtax myself to the point of exhaustion with a social life, a job, a writing career (one of these days, I really need to stop writing about American truckstops and turn my attention back to a novel), and an internship. Oh, and I might start training with my old varsity team if my hip cooperates. I may get another case of mono, but at least I won't be bored!

Now here's hoping that that whole "German guy with the sword in the cane" thing won't add an additional few hours of security frisking to my airport routine.

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