Leaving on a Jet Plane

Sunday, March 30, 2014
Burlington international Airport
USAIR 328 –> PHL
Enroute to LAX
6:45 am

Seated and taxi’d for take off, which is set for 7:25. Luckily these seats are cushy, the plane is half full of quiet passengers, through the window. The sun is crawling through the fog enough to light my writing, and my coffee is still warm. The brownie (which the clerk called “regular” when I asked her what kind it was) is stale–as I should have known. All plastic-wrapped pastries taste like the came from the gas station deli.

I’m on my way to a class–I call it a “conference” when I tell people about it because it sounds more professional, but who am I kidding? I’m there to learn. It’s ( I think) a new program for Asian American women non profit executive directors with less than 8 years’ experience–very specific, I know. The cohort is a group of about 15-20 from all over the US, but mostly from the East Coast, judging from the roster. It’s run by LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), a program that’s been around since the mid-80s. I’m surprised I’m finding out about it now. But perhaps I’ve come across it before and only know does it have meaning and relevance to me.

It’s taking place at the Kellogg West Conference Center in Pomona, which I think is on the campus of Cal PolyTech. This is all completely from memory, so I could be completely wrong.

It feels like we’re moving, but we’re not–the towers are still in the same place–my equilibrium must be off today. Is this going to be a good day? Elton John’s “Piano Man” was playing over the PA at the gate. The screen still showed that it was Wednesday, February 19. I took a selfie in the bathroom. I’m having a great hair day and since I have no seat mate, I’ve lifted the separating arm rest for more room. The predicted foot of snow ended up being a warm, melting rain (though driving through the early morning slush was still difficult) so no delays as I thought might happen. At worst it will be a weird day.

I meant to note that before the cabin lights dimmed and reversed the dark corners of outside, the empty Tarmac extending from beyond the wing, slick with rain, looked like the tranquil waiting surface of the ocean.

I take that back. At worst, the SoCal quakes will continue once I land and I’ll be a part of an earthquake event of some magnitude. Still it will be an adventure. I never worry about airplane events. Something about travel that makes me feel optimistic, even for the worst.

We are moving now–past the field of prop planes that look like relics of the past, useful only for movie sets. Past dirty snow. Past the FedEx jet. Past maintenance. Past the Heritage Aviation building, past the windmill. That reminds me of the windmill poem I once memorized but have since let slide from near memory. It does not churn the way those triple blades do. I will relearn it this year.

This year. I am grateful for many things, biggest of which of course is Dan, who drove me here in the pre-dawn, who last night named himself my protector and provider. Who has given me a life to look forward to, every day. We are buying a house–rather, we are negotiating the purchase of a house–and I look forward to moving in in May, tearing things up, making it ours. We talked about honey bees on the drive over. I’d always dreamed that I’d raise chickens (DB is fine w that) but now I’m leaning more towards the hive. Less mess and noise, more shared value products. I look forward to shipping our honey to our friends and family during the holidays.

The one thing I am hoping to gain from this class is better perspective about my career. Ways to think about the next move.

Oh, this year. I think I will be learning a lot. I want to note that I recently saw a posting by Kundiman for their next installment of Kavad–looking for 1st gen poets to interview and write about their mothers. We are airborn. 7:27 am. The application deadline is early to mid-April. I want to apply for it. A commission fee and a reading at Fordham. Mother.

It seems to me that opportunities that are perfect for me keep popping up–especially after I refuse opportunities that are *almost* right for me. Two examples.

I see the sun. No, not it exactly. It’s precursor. The limned horizon. I see the kind of day she brings.

I have been recommended to and contacted by the Vermont Leadership Institute, run by the Snelling Center for Government. I have heard about VLI for several years and never seriously considered it for myself, though people I know and admire have been a part of it. My main point for rejecting it out of hand was that I was/am not interested in politics/policy, though I’m sure the networking is great.

But because the fiscal year is coming to a close and I hadn’t figured out how to spend the allotted staff development budget and because I enjoyed being a part of the Marlboro cohort, I attended the recent recruiting session. I was hoping I’d be convinced that this program was worth doing, even for non-wonks like me. They talked about it being “life-changing”, about Myers-Briggs tests and ropes courses and discussing topics w people w different points of view and different passions. Yada yada. Yeah, I did that in the early 90s. Next…

Within the week of making the decision not to pursue VLI, a Facebook friend (whom I have never met in person) posted a link to the LEAP program, which was yes to everything I wanted. A cohort that was not the same fishbowl. Professional training that I could apply immediately to my job. Affordable.

I was determined not to write about the clouds. But the landscape out there just about beats out the Vermont mountains on their best and purest of winter days, even when lit in sheer rainbows of twilight. I want to ski across the clouds. But I do not know how to ski.

OMG. There is a rainbow orb outside the window that is following us. I am delusional. If I believed in luck this would be my luck sign. I tried to take a photo of it, but it refused capture. It’s a bullseye. It’s a double orb! I’m having double rainbow moment.

The second example is an offer that I did not think I was going to pass up. Eric Bass of Sandglass Theater called me to get my thoughts on working with them to write a theater piece for their puppets around the theme of refugees. Holy! Talk about a fun artistic challenge that is in line with the sort of themes that are core to my writing. So I asked him to send me photos of the puppets and the weekend to think about it. It took me a week to get back to him–I’d been too busy with work. And that is the crux of it–too busy to write an entire theater piece to be produced in September 2015. What was I, crazy to not even try? I knew I couldn’t give it my best and that Eric and Inez would be disappointed by that more than the sub-par quality of the work I’d produce.

And so here. Kavad. I haven’t applied. They only have three slots. And already I feel like it’s mine. I can’t wait to do this project.

That double orb is bright as ever.

I’ve printed off the course materials, which fill a 1″ binder and have meant to have read it all by now. But in true Phayvanh-fashion, I’ve only read the first day’s worth of materials. There is A LOT of reading. Oh well.

I could start reading it now, but flying is when I journal. I don’t think there’s much time left on this leg besides. Total travel time is 9 hours, most of it between PHL–>LAX. I’ll read then. Though I had planned on writing that long, long explainy letter to Cynthia. She’s waiting to hear from me, I know. I brought more than enough stamps and more than enough paper. Cynthia would want me to study. And write her later that night from the hotel bar. I’m afraid that there may not be a hotel bar. That would be the worst.

We’ll be landing in 15. The rain orb turned into a rainbow on its side. An end parenthesis.


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