Saturday, November 17, 2007

I've been out four times this week--someone might even mistake me for someone with (gasp) a life. Imagine that--a suburban mom on maternity leave actually getting out of the house to socialize. I could so get used to this. Lest you're on the verge of judging, I did take the kids with me twice. And John is gone on a trip or two. What's a girl to do, sit at home and pine? So not my style. Anyway, a month or two ago we had a seminar at my real estate company in which we had to list the one activity that made us the most money. Socializing, of course. Now maybe most people would refer to this as networking, but I didn't finish my MBA so I can still call a spade a spade. So really all this socializing is nothing more than a business obligation. Right? That's the world according to moi anyway.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The cockpit? What is it?

Why would you marry a pilot? First of all, you never want to be with anyone who spends more time primping than you do. And second, you'd have to have a special room in your house dedicated to housing his watch collection. Plus it takes hours to starch their uniform shirts just so and even then most of the time it's not good enough. Add to that enough conceit to think that you could actually safely control a pressurized tin tube hurling through the air at five hundred miles an hour and you start to get the picture.

No, I can't say I wasn't warned. But don't worry, I got one of the good ones. He only has three watches, none of which he wears until it's time to go to work and, more importantly, none of which features a calculator. And he's got enough of a sense of humor to admit that he's paid pretty darn well for reading newspapers and drinking coffee all day. Although I have to tell you that I gave up a long time ago trying to iron his uniform--that what God invented delivering cleaners for.

At Flight Attendant training, they taught us the rules of sky etiquette and appropriate treatment of our crew. For example, the pilots can hear everything you say over the interphone, even if you're just calling the flight attendants in the back. So if you have leftover meals in First Class, for goodness' sake don't use the phone to offer it to the girls working coach or the guys up front will want some. The girls should always get first pick. And they pass on the story about the flight attendant who got on the interphone to tell the other girls that the first officer warned her the captain was a jerk. Word has it the first officer called in sick and went home immediately following that leg. This just illustrates the distasterous results of not paying close enough attention during training, at least during the important parts. As far as flight attendants are concerned, pilots might as well be second-class citizens. We tolerate them as necessary and no more.

My husband, though, like I said, is one of the good ones. We met when he brought my outbound aircraft into New York and I helped his crew clean it before they deadheaded with us on the next leg. In fact, his first words to me were when I was bent over, straightening seat belts: "Your skirt's unzipped." The worst part about it was that it actually was unzipped. Then my jumpseat was stuck right before takeoff and he got up to help me with it, very slowly and very deliberately and very much in front of everybody. One time we were flying together out of Nashville and he got on the P.A. and told the passengers: "Welcome aboard our flight today. You might recognize the blonde flight attendant. She was a finalist on Star Search in the singing category! If you're good and ask her really nicely, she'll sing a song for you." One passenger actually tapped me on the back and told me the person sitting next to him was an agent and insisted that I sing for him. (For the record, I was never on Star Search and can barely carry a tune, although that doesn't usually stop me from trying.) Our first trip together after we were married he told the passengers to be nice to me, that I was his new bride and they should all chip in and buy me a drink. That sort of fun stopped after 9/11. A lot of the fun stopped after 9/11. Flying wasn't as fun again for a long time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Where am I? And how did I get here?

When I was furloughed I landed smack in the middle of suburbia. Gone was the apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the weekend trips to Paris, the part-time job that paid full-time (well, sort of.) In their place was a starter house, a fiance with a dog, the sense of finally settling down. Oh the cliche: I was now an ex-flight attendant, complete with real estate license (a full-time job that paid next to nothing.)

Fast forward one wedding, a baby, and two houses and the airline called. They had a job if I wanted it. Did I! I was ecstatic to get back on the line (read: get my travel benefits back.) Then I got pregnant. Now pregnancy and I don't get along so well, so three trips into my new old career, I went out on maternity leave. There's nothing worse than morning sickness on an airplane. Three kidney stones, one Ceasarean and another house later, I'm getting ready to start flying again.

Which is being met with some strange looks from around the neighborhood. High school prepares us for the ubiquitous schism between the haves and the have-nots. Here it's the haves and the have-mores. The stay-at-home moms and the career girls. The private school car pool caravans and the (gasp) public school buses. And this is just the middle-class. The middle of the middle-class. Why on earth would you want to work? Doesn't your husband make enough money? What about the children? The unspoken benefits of employment--mostly opportunity for adult conversation and sweet escape from changing diapers, cleaning toilets and folding endless loads of laundry--remain just that: tacitly cherished by those of us selfish enough to consider them. It's as if defining yourself outside of being a mommy has suddenly gone out of fashion.

Not that anyone here would know anything about fashion. This is, after all, Ohio. When I first came back, the labels on my Canal Street handbags meant nothing; no one here had even heard of Prada. The evolution of the purse party changed that and now everyone has a knockoff. In an cruel twist of Midwest irony, Canal Street has lost its prestige. Although even though I'm of course over the whole fake purse thing, I do still have a pair of Christian Dior sunglasses acquired south of Wall Street. They just fit my face well. Really.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The days are long, but the years fly by...

So I'm 32. Ten years ago I decided that twenty years of school was enough to warrant a short break. I'll go to graduate school later, I assured my parents. For now I'm going to see the world. Funny words, "for now..." So ten years ago I packed my bags and took off for Flight Attendant Training. Ten years and I haven't looked back. Or finished graduate school. Sorry Mom.

I still feel 22 and fabulous. And it's all about how you feel, right? And maybe a little bit about the MAC cosmetics and the Botox? And the shoes, of course. But I digress. For ten years now I've been the reluctant recipient of my Alumnae Quarterly Magazine, in which I get to read about my classmates, all of whom seem to have gotten their PhDs while starting their own software company and traveling the globe. And here I can't even find time for a facial. I skipped my 10 year reunion this year, as I was hugely pregnant and looking less than amazing. Suddenly flying somehow didn't sound quite as glamorous as it did ten years ago. Even though, of course it is.

But besides the husband and two kids (and between you and me, about fifteen pounds) I'm still the same person I was at 22. Even better. My car insurance isn't nearly as high.