Saturday, August 12, 2006

home again

well, i'm over my fear of flying. the last 2 flights home were actually enjoyable! my first flight from san antonio to memphis was at 6:15am, so i got to watch the sun rise. my 2nd, from memphis to knoxville, was short - but the day was beautiful and i sat in the first row - so i actually had leg room. i think it finally dawned on me how safe and routine flying is. i don't know why or what did it. maybe just having 6 flights in 7 days was enough. whatever the cause, i can now comfortably board an airplane without total mental shutdown.

this new found comfort was a combination of many thoughts. for one, over and over again, as we taxied out to the runway, i would see the line of planes waiting to take-off. it seemed so totally routine - like cabs or buses lined up in front of a hotel. i began to realize how absolutely mundane flying somewhere is.

but really what struck me was that my fear of flying was almost totally based around the fear of the loss of control and subsequent death. and death is with us every day, everywhere we go. no - actually - it's more than that. the fear was the fear of the unknown, of being out of control - of not knowing what would or could happen in the next seconds. but ALL of life is like that. sure, daily life is routine and safe. we never think that we'll be hit by a bus or slip in the shower and hit our heads. because showering is so routine, so normal, so safe that we never even think twice about it. flying isn't routine or safe for me, because i start to feel out of control. but that's the POINT. control everywhere else outside of a plane is just illusion. i think i'm in control in my car, at school, in the classroom, in my house. but it's all a facade. we have no control, anywhere in our lives. i think i finally realized the basis - the root - of my fear. not merely death, but the loss of my perceived control over when and where it happens to me. and it's exactly that - a perceived and phony control. i have no control. i can't spend my life fearing everything that might represent the slightest possibility of death, else i'll never leave the house. or get out of bed in the morning.

as for LSU and TX - both went well. the poster presentations were enjoyable. the experience itself - not so much. the event planners only planned for 80% of who showed up, despite having received registrations from many more than that. so, instead of being in a nice hotel room, we were stuck in a freaking dorm room. no TV, no phone, no nothing. just beds. it was really depressing. overall, i was glad to leave LSU when the conference was over. i did like baton rouge, and i could definitely see going there for an internship and/or residency. one fun activity was visiting alligator bayou - a cypress swamp (2000 acres) privately owned. i got to go out on the swamp in a barge and see lots of wildlife, including a mother alligator lying in a den, on a clutch of eggs. i have many pics.

i presented my poster there - but didn't do an oral presentation. i did do an oral presentation in san antonio, on monday. we stayed in the rivercenter marriot, a $350/night hotel. luckily, we got a conference discount (a mere $138/night). i was unimpressed with the hotel. it was nice, and the beds were fantastic - but they didn't even provide breakfast! however, i enjoyed my first foray into the world sans husband. in some respects. i missed jim, and i wanted to be home - especially considering all that we're going through right now - but it was also nice to see that i was capable of being on my own. of getting a cab, being in a city 1000 miles away, boarding an airplane - all alone. i told jim that i think that having been with him since i was 17 years old has weakened me in some ways - made me dependent and frightened to be alone. going to TX was a big step for me - the flying alone - the being 1000 miles away from him and being okay.

at any rate, i gave my presentation on monday at 3pm. it was in front of approximately 300 people, in a huge ballroom that could have seated 700 easily. i was terribly nervous beforehand, and all during my talk, my knees shook. however, afterwards - people kept coming up to me and gushing about how professional and comfortable i looked speaking in front of people. dr jones raved about my talk for a good 5 mins, saying things along the lines of i was a public speaker/teacher in the making, that i looked unbelievably relaxed, sounded confident, enunciated, and explained my research clearly and succinctly. i was thrilled that so many people were impressed with my talk. i also got to meet dr lafeber himself (founder of lafeber bird foods) - who funded our study. i was able to thank him directly for his monetary contribution to my research, which was nice.

i met a lot of vets and students, as well. it was a good networking opportunity - and it was great to get my face and public speaking ability out there. all in all, the oppportunity itself was great. i think i was the only 'undergraduate' vet student to speak (residents and interns also spoke). i felt special and proud of myself. i did well. all that said, i was really, really glad to come home on thursday. in fact, i wasn't supposed to come home till saturday - but i missd jim so much - and needed to be with him due to all of the chaos at home - so much - that i changed my flight to 6am on thursday and came home early. he met me at the airport with roses. how sweet is that?

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