i like my boyfriend and airplanes and that’s about it
The Power of Pin Curls
Everyone knows her. Marilyn Monroe is an icon, a standard of beauty from a bygone era. Today’s Instagram-worthy high pony tails and long waves have never appealed to me like the glamorous coiffures of the last century. Not because I don’t like them; I just don’t think I have the face for them. On the other hand, anyone could wear this style well, and ladies of the era were rarely seen without it. If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m talking about pin curls: my absolute favorite way to wear my hair.
The Futures of Giants
“If it ain’t Boeing, I’m not going.” While the phrase is mildly funny and implies that someone might have learned something about airplanes at some point, the truth is, most travelers don’t care what kind of airplane takes them to their respective destinations (unless it’s a 737 Max or DC-10, in which case they become experts). Economy travelers buy the cheapest ticket, but more happens internally, and the market is much more complicated, than most of them realize.
The Soviets Had a Sense of Humor Too
Making my Russian professor laugh is not easy, which means making jokes in class is a gamble. Russians are notoriously serious, especially Russians who grew up in the Soviet Union. Last week, we were discussing illness, the vocabulary used to communicate with doctors, and how to describe symptoms. When it came time to play the doctor and pretend to ask the imaginary patient questions, I asked, “У вас завещание?” (Do you have a will?) It was a dumb joke, but I’ve never heard her laugh harder.
The Broken Planet
Frigid water sinks its teeth into Shaltet’s fingers and lets light, white-hot against his face, through the static. Water. They must have made it. Survived, at least. But the alien sea is pouring in and the screens are black except for the error codes: engine failure. Stabilizer failure. Total instrument failure. Heatshield failure. Everything. Eirin is slumped against the cracked window in the next seat. Shaltet touches his copilot’s chest, waiting to feel it rise. When it does, he tips his head skyward to thank the powers that be. Wherever they are.
Smoke and Cedar
Before I saw you, I never looked twice at a pilot. Not the way I looked at you. Never got butterflies for the epaulets, the bedtime-story voice, the pair of gilded wings you kept close to your heart. Then you looked at me. You looked at me. Across the concourse, across the bar in an airport in a city strange to both of us, across hoards of passing people, and you smiled. Fuck, that smile. Blinding. Nuclear. I was ready to let you destroy me.
My Favorite Photos
When I was a kid, my parents bought a Nikon D40, which I quickly claimed as my own. My birthday and Christmas lists shifted from My Little Pony to telephoto lenses and polarizers, and I took “my” camera everywhere. And I was a snob. Phone cameras wouldn’t cut it. Now I don’t carry around my five-pound setup so much anymore, but I still manage some decent photos once in a while. These are my favorite photos, taken by me, from the length of my hobbyist career.
One or a Billion
Dear Mom, I’m sorry people told you it was all in your head until you were so sick you could barely brush your teeth. You were always good at hiding your relapses, good enough that I thought MS was no worse than a runny nose or a twisted ankle. I didn’t know how it trapped, how it blinded, how it paralyzed without warning until I was older, when you started telling your success story. Success stories have downer beginnings. You have to climb out of a low to get to a high. Sometimes they’re sad in the middle too, but you made the best of everything life threw at you. Listening to you talk about the drug that freed you, the drug that gave your life back, and watching hope brighten the scared faces at your table—I miss that. You were what they needed to see: a teacher and a helper giving MS the finger by living life. I’m beyond proud to be the blue-eyed baby from your success story.
I have the bladder of an eighty-year-old. I’m also a pilot. Bad mix. For a while I got by ditching the plane with my copilots on the ramp and running—no, SPRINTING—to the bathroom. They probably assumed I didn’t want to fuel up or tie the airplane down, but the truth was much, much worse. I shoved my way into the traffic pattern wherever I fit, and whenever I had to get down urgently, I did everything fucking perfectly. When I had to pee, I was the pilot I’d always wanted to be.