July 18, 2004

Italy...Or Not?

We're thinking about where we can go for our 'big vacation' this year. We already took a wee vacation (North Carolina) but we're talking a 10-day extravaganza here. Since we did France last year, we logically came up with Italy.

If I can pull back the curtain and let you see the Dark Side Of The Cactus for a minute, I'll let you know that I don't do so well with adventure...or flying. I'm happy with a beach and a book...and a means of getting to said beach without hurtling through the air. See, there's this thing I do...I obsess about stuff (like flying) for a long time before it happens. I've been known brood in anticipation month ahead of time. I do strange things like start smoking again and act like a twelve year old. Anyway, I would be lying if I said that I was fun to hang out with in that state. Even less fun than hanging out with me is probably being married to me. Really, it brings out my completely whacked-out side which I try and hide at all costs.

The thing? Beth really wants to go...and it would be over her birthday...and she'd probably be very disappointed if I cancelled because I'm, well, frankly a pussy sometimes. So while I'm still not positive, just pass me the pack of cigarettes because apparently I'll be going to Italy in the next few months. Let's hope my wife doesn't kill me for being a pain in the ass in the mean time.

Anyone? Words of wisdom? Kind pieces of reassurance? A light? ;-)

Posted by Chris at July 18, 2004 1:18 PM

Pffft. No wisdom here. It's hard to focus on how much fun you'll have when you get there, when getting there isn't high on your "enjoyable" list. Maybe you can distract yourself from flight-obsession with thoughts of yummy, yummy Italian food. And scenery. And and and... I think I'm jealous. You'd better pelt us all with photos when you come back.

Posted by: Olive at July 18, 2004 1:25 PM

Chris, you are more likely to get hurt or killed in a car than on a plane. Although I know this, flying is not my favorite method of transportation. Yet, I am not willing to give up all the things I could not see or experience without getting on a plane. I am getting on a plane week after next, why, well because San Antonio is just too far to drive. Go to Italy, have a good time, and they have counciling for people who are afraid of flying, see French Kiss!

Posted by: goodsnake at July 18, 2004 1:35 PM

i am insanely jealous. i want to go to italy more than any other place on earth. but thanks to a serious lack of money and my paralyzing fear of flying, that's not going to happen anytime soon. and don't feel bad -- having to fly last year quite literally put me in therapy and i'm sure it was much like hell for my friend who had to fly with me. you'll love it and it will be worth it.

Posted by: laura at July 18, 2004 1:35 PM

If you start smoking again I will enver ever come back to your site and read. SO THERE!

And won't you be sorry then??? HMMMM?

Posted by: Tjej at July 18, 2004 1:57 PM

enver=never in my world. Just letting you know that.

Posted by: Tjej at July 18, 2004 1:58 PM

Who's jealous? *raises hand high* Chris, consider yourself lucky just to be able to go at all. Take it from a poor, soon-to-be-going-to- a-very- expensive-college-(fingers-crossed!) teenager who really can't go anywhere yet. I'd be willing to take a plane around the world a few times for the opportunity to go. Enjoy yourself, but don't start smoking again. Yech.

Posted by: Chrissy at July 18, 2004 2:24 PM

Italy is BEAUTIFUL. I'm sure you'll love it!
And no smoking please, the pope won't have it ;p

Posted by: Sweety at July 18, 2004 2:57 PM

Don't trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.

I don't like flying any more, because I hate having to take off my shoes at the airport.

Hey - It'll be fun. Need a light?

Posted by: cassie-b at July 18, 2004 3:56 PM

Italy will be one of the most memorable and beautiful traveling experiences you will ever have, I promise! I lived there for about four months when I was 12 and 13 and I've been dying to go back ever since. The people are fantastic, the food is amazing, the art is to die for, and the cities and towns are heaven on earth (well, 'cept for Rome.) Promise me you'll go to Florence - that was my favorite city and it's often ignored by tourists. Remember to protect your pockets, don't forget to eat Gelato every single day that you're there (because you'll miss is once you get home), and never ever eat in a touristy restaurant. Find cute little Trattoria's and try to speak Italian to the families who run them. And always remember: when it doubt, shrug and say, "Stupido Americano!"

As for the flying bit, I flew to Europe twice last year, and again just this last April. The thing I do to calm my nerves is play a simple game of People Watch. I don't normally do that, but it's so much fun in airports - watch the other people around you and start to make up stories about who they are, where they're going, and why. It sounds stupid probably, but it's really distracting and calming. At least, it is for me. :)

Just like everyone else, I'm jealous you're going to Italy. You'll have fun, I promise, and the flights really aren't that bad. Or, at least, just keep telling yourself that. Maybe eventually you'll be so used to lying to yourself that it'll sink in and flying will be second nature. Ciao! :)

Posted by: Heather at July 18, 2004 4:22 PM

I dislike flying too, but I do manage to put it out of my mind until it's takeoff time. I concentrate all my anxiety on takeoff and landing ... that limits real discomfort to a few minutes.

But since obviously it bothers you a good deal more than me, why don't you just give yourself five minutes a day to brood? Make an appointment. Then if you notice it entering your mind at any other time, just remind yourself to save it for Brood Time. Don't give yourself a hard time for having thoughts that are uncomfortable--they're punishment enough in themselves. When trying to dismiss them, it is useful to Do Something (smoking's not the only Thing) or Look At Something or Sing Something.

Posted by: jilbur at July 18, 2004 5:00 PM

No wisdom (you dialed the wrong number) just envy...Italy.

Posted by: debby at July 18, 2004 5:16 PM

I am not a good flyer either, and I hate surprises/adventure. I am all about planning and control. Although if I had the chance to go back to Europe I would just grab a bottle of Xanax, grit my teeth and go for it. Besides we're talking Italy man ... saltimbocca mmm mmm good.

Posted by: LOUP at July 18, 2004 5:32 PM


Posted by: Amalah at July 18, 2004 5:39 PM

You will love Italy. Have a wonderful time. I have no words of wisdom about the flight, but remember it will be only a small part of a wonderful vacation. I don't fear flying because crashing is completely out of my control, and i make it a policy only to worry about things i have some control over.

Posted by: Sheryl at July 18, 2004 7:56 PM

My boyfriend just got back from a trip to Italy, and he had a blast! He says the traffic there SUCKS. From the way he made it sound, you'd be better off worrying about getting around there than actually getting there. Lots of architecture and spiffy things to photograph though. I can't wait until it's my turn to go!

Posted by: Manda at July 18, 2004 8:57 PM

Sorry no words of wisdom from me. I hate flying myself, but once on the plane, listening to the flight attendent give the usual emergency lowdown and reading the emergency phamlet gives me enough of a false sense of security to get through the flight. :) So Italy will be awesome. What a wonderful birthday present for Mrs.Cactus! Great place to get venitian glass if she's into that kind of stuff. :)

Posted by: groovebunny at July 18, 2004 9:33 PM

Fuck the cigarettes, man; what you need is DRUGS. Ain't nothing a good Valium can't fix when you're enduring 8 or 9 hours of flight time.

Posted by: Michelle at July 18, 2004 11:20 PM

start taking the beta blockers now, me thinks.

Posted by: chlamygirl at July 19, 2004 7:45 AM

All I can say is that there is no point in worrying over something that hasn't happened.

Posted by: wlfldy at July 19, 2004 8:03 AM

Because it's an international flight, there is alcohol served, and regularly. I don't drink, but this method helps my uncle and grandmother, who cannot STAND it.

You'll be fine, I promise.

Posted by: krista at July 19, 2004 8:31 AM

Italy is my favorite place ever--I'm sure you're going to love it! My family is going in three weeks, and I'm just so excited.

On those overnight flights, I usually take some herbal something to help me sleep, and try to sleep for as much of the flight as possible. I've been known to start sleeping, head back, mouth wide open, during the security presentation. One time, a flight attendant made fun of me about it.

Posted by: Claire at July 19, 2004 10:58 AM

GO. It's so worth it.

My friends and I rented a villa in Tuscany for a week a couple of years ago. It was beautiful. We drove around Chianti, tasted wine, sat by the pool, drove to nearby cities for culture.. it was the best, ever. Even though I love Paris so, I do dream of Italy often.

And regarding flying: it's an international flight. Get drunk. Sleep off the hangover. Next thing you know, you'll be at your destination!

Posted by: jacinthe at July 19, 2004 11:14 AM

You must go. You loved France, you talk about how you'd like to go back...so if you had fun there, wouldn't it be the same with Italy (or another similiar country)? I know it's easier said than done to convince someone that they shouldn't be worried about flying (I know more than a few people who avoid flying at all costs), but sometimes it's the only feasible way to get somewhere.

This is a part about you that I didn't know, by the way! :)

Posted by: Zandria at July 19, 2004 11:24 AM

Italy is marvelous. And? You can smoke everywhere over there!
You take yourself some drammamine and sleep your way over there. You'll have a wonderful time, see beautiful people and sites. And? You and the Mrs. Cactus will fall in love all over again with the country and one another. Worth it. Without a doubt.

Posted by: GranolaSpice at July 19, 2004 11:57 AM

for your sake,
i'll recycle an old joke...

Chris and I were talking recently about whom we know, and he seemed to know everybody, so I asked him about that, and he said, yes, he does know everybody.

So I asked if he knew Dubya. He said that he doesn't brag about it, but they live in the same town, now, and, yes, they've met and talked a few times.

I was skeptical.

So we went to the Capitol, and in the midst of a speech to a joint session of Congress, Dubya stops and says, "Look, everybody, Chris is here."

So I asked if he knew Bill Gates. I should have known he wasn't bluffing when he said he did, he works IT security, after all, but we went to Redmond, and as we approached their building, Bill was banging on the glass of his office window, holding up a big hand-printed sign that said, "Hi, Chris."

So I figured he couldn't possibly know the Pope, right? I mean, Catholic? Polish? No way.

So we flew to the Vatican. All the Swiss guards were nodding hello every time we walked by. For security reasons, I suppose, they wouldn't let me into the Pope's residence, so Chris said he and John Paul would come out on the balcony and wave.

About the time they did, I fainted.

Chris rushed out to make sure I was alright, and I was, so he asked if it was such a shock that he knew the Pope. So I told him, no, it was just that when the two of them waved, a group of nuns had walked by, and one of them asked me if I knew who that old fart was standing next to Chris.


Posted by: stacy at July 19, 2004 12:18 PM

Here is my advice...stay away from the inflight alcohol. I had myself a couple of margaritas the last time I flew (granted it was a 85 minute flight) because I hate to fly and I figured it might relax me a bit.

Anyway...I bent over to get my book from under my seat and was so dizzy I felt like the plane was doing a barrel roll. I nearly yelled "Dear god we're going down!" Luckily I figured that it was probably me...since the three other passengers in the vacinity didn't seem the least bit phased.

Posted by: Amy at July 19, 2004 12:50 PM

Oh and one more piece of advice...the cookies in firstclass are really good :)

Posted by: Amy at July 19, 2004 12:51 PM

Just go you big wuss... *light*

Posted by: Amber at July 19, 2004 1:09 PM

Chris, I'm usually a lurker on your blog...this brought me out...You are not a wizard after all...just a man!

Don't do the drinking, you will just puke, don't do the valium you NEED STRONGER stuff than that! Why stress it, you want to go, I can tell. You will have fun when there! So take STRONG drugs from the Doctor who you are completely honest with about the phobia! Take the pill, put on DEPENDS underware, Get on the Plane and have the best time of your life! Because you can trust your wife...just knock your butt out!

I have HORRIBLE anxiety about flying (Long Story there) I did hypnotherapy...it worked the first flight until I landed on a Puddle hopper! Can you say propeller plane? Out the window that went! I don't care if I can imagin myself as a tree with deep roots grounded in the earth, I was on a fucking plane that was small, hot inside and could crash! (I am clostraphobic too) See maybe you are not as bad huh!

I cannot EAT or DRINK even the day before a flight, I obsess so bad that when I am on the plane I have to close my eyes and repeat to myself over and over that I AM NOT GOING TO DIE! I cannot handle the slightest movements on a plane...ask my boy friend who took me to Disney World and we landed in a thunder storm in the dark in a wreck of a plane...the 2 stewards were so scared they sat and buckled up...when I opened my eyes I had to close them because THEY scared me! I almost did NOT come home by plane, I almost rented a car!

Although I always seem to sit next to men who love to tell me crash stories, or that they work on the landing gear and that every landing is in effect a crash landing... or tell me that I am better than an I Love Lucy episode because of my facial expressions! Grrr... Remember the one where she is in a wine barrel crushing grapes? Was that located in Italy?

Next time I want to go some where far away...I am going with someone I trust...and then I am knocking my butt out for the ride with a pair of Depends!! Last time I started smoking again, which didn't help cause I couldn't smoke on the plane and it took another 2 years to quit! Grr Don't start again.

And for the record, Beth loves you, you said so, so it doesn't matter if you act like a whack job until you go, or if you don't go at all! She loves you! Try to relax.

Posted by: Gypsy at July 19, 2004 8:24 PM

I have a great solution...you stay here and I will go with your wife! She can even call me Chris Cactus. But, I have to draw the line at that.
Italy would be awesome. But, then, I have never been to Europe. I am sure you guys will work out something that will make you both happy.

Posted by: Nicole at July 19, 2004 9:05 PM

Italy sounds like a good idea. Amalah wants us to go somewhere on our anniversary, but it is coming up quickly and I...am a procrastinator. Hope you have fun in Italy.

Posted by: Jason at July 20, 2004 2:26 AM

Having a flying phobia myself I only have one word for you, Lorazepam. Made flying a lovely experience for me. I SO did not care what happened on that plane. Unfortunately I ran out of it long ago and no longer see that doctor seeing as she's in Illinois and I'm in DC. But it was GOOOOOOD stuff.

I tried the alcohol thing once at someone's suggestion and it just made me super paranoid and even more freaked out. Get some good pharmaceuticals. you'll be happy you did.

Posted by: Heather at July 20, 2004 7:59 PM