Guest Post: Leaving on a Jet Plane.

My first memory of the airport is fragmented: seeing my cousin off to Berlin a couple of years after the fall of the wall, all I remember is a green glow emanating from Tullamarine airport (which is more than likely a figment of my imagination), playing with a plastic toy set of some kind bought for me by my grandparents at the gift shop, and the smell of The Body Shop’s cocoa butter moisturiser.

Almost fifteen years later I made my return to the terminal, my first ever flight being en route to San Francisco via Sydney as part of a US exchange program. It was scary, and a lonely trip overall, but it instilled in me the travel bug.

Twenty plane rides later, I’m hoping my next trip will be to New York for my 25th birthday in 2012. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve travelled anywhere interesting, unless you count the two hour train journey from Melbourne to my country Victorian hometown, which I don’t!

Personally, my favourite thing about travelling is the interrupted reading time; up to 20 hours on some flights! The atmosphere of the airport, with all its luxury stores, newsagents and overpriced food bars, comes in a close second, so after reading Chris Guillebeau’s “For the Love of Airports” piece on The Art of Non-Conformity, I solicited my high-school best friend, Natalie, who I remember being obsessed with aerospace travel, to write a post on her love of airports.

Airports have always been a favourite place of mine; having grown up travelling overseas every couple of years since I was an infant I have fond and happy memories of the terminals. Although it’s so large, there is somehow an atmosphere of warmth amongst the hustle and bustle at the airport. I love that you can be there any time of the day—morning, noon or night—and see so many people heading in all directions to catch flights. Just watching them, wondering where are they off to…

My favourite memory of going to an airport was probably the most disastrous start to a family holiday. It was the day before Christmas Eve and my family and I were headed to New Zealand for the holidays. We had many delays and ended up getting a free overnight stay at Tullamarine’s Travelodge Hotel in the interim. Although it was stressful and annoying for my parents, I really enjoyed all the excitement of having to shuttle our way to the hotel and knowing we would be returning to the vibrancy of the airport the next morning; anything to prolong my time there!

To me, airports symbolise many things. Often the happiness of reunions between families and friends, the enjoyment of embarking on a holiday, and the sadness of seeing someone off [Scarlett Woman note: I will be seeing my good friend April off indefinitely to Canada in a couple of weeks. I will be packing tissues]. At times, airports can be stressful, scary and unpredictable but they’re also mesmerising and intriguing to me. I could sit in a cosy departure lounge all day with my face pressed against the warm glass, marvelling at just how those big airbuses get off the ground. Sometimes the airport is more thrilling than the journey, because there’s always so much to look forward to: café food, duty free shopping and my favourite of all, the smell of aeroplane fuel! Strange, I know, but it always sends those airport memories flooding back…

Elsewhere: [The Art of Non-Conformity] For the Love of Airports.

Magazine Review: The Big Issue, 1–14 March, 2011.

Did you know that there are approximately 7.5 readers for every copy of The Big Issue sold? Which is great for circulating The Big Issue’s content to different kinds of readers, it sucks for the people selling copies out the front of The Body Shop (where I was first exposed to the magazine in my hometown of Bendigo in country Victoria) or at Parliament train station, where I picked up this week’s copy.

But when I read those stats on Girl with a Satchel a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t surprised. A colleague of mine usually brings in his copy to the staff lunchroom, which makes the rounds at work. He’s gone overseas for a few weeks, so I decided to be the one to provide the communal Big Issue during that time. I do hope that more people will fork out the fortnightly five bucks it costs to be exposed to some great Australian writing (“compared with $4.70 for your weekly copy of Who) but until then, I can take solace in the fact that I did my bit.

There’s still a week left to get your paws on a copy, and I suggest you do, as there are some great articles in there, a lot of them dealing with the social revolution tool that is Twitter, which features on the cover. And for you us pop-culture junkies, there’s Liz and Shane and their Twitter antics, too:

“Celebrities, meanwhile, have embraced Twitter as an opportunity to prove their Everyman concerns without having to directly engage with, well, every man or woman. Kourtney Kardashian, for example, recently tweeted her two-million followers: ‘Does anyone else get scared that being on their phones too much or sleeping with your phone near u is so bad? Or am I paranoid?’ I wonder how many fruitlessly replied, ‘Omg, I totes have a brain tumour! We should be BFFs!’ (Note to tweenie Tweeters: she couldn’t care less.)” (p. 15).

You’re such a visionary, Kourtney!

On a more serious note, editor Alan Attwood writes of the similarly prophetic Steven Johnson from Time magazine, who wrote ‘How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live’:

“He argued that all those tiny tweets add up ‘to something truly substantive, like a suspension bridge made of pebbles’. He concluded: ‘The weather reports keep announcing that the sky is falling, but here we are—millions of us—sitting around trying to invent new ways to talk to one another.’ And that, surely, can’t be a bad thing” (p. 4).

We’ve read all the articles about Twitter being a valuable tool for social change, particularly in Egypt, and there’s no shortage of that in the feature article, from which the above Kardashian quote is garnered. Worth the $5 cover price for this article alone.

Another article I loved this fortnight was Patrick Witton’s on “Sharing the Load” of the hellish daily commute.

I wrote last week about two friends of mine who spend at least two hours in their car getting to and from work each day, which sounds like my worst nightmare. Sure, I used to travel upwards of four hours to work from my aforementioned hometown, but that was on the train, where I could get valuable reading, sleeping and daydreaming done. Driving to work allows the driver to indulge in (hopefully) only one of those activities. Then again, I don’t have a license, so I have no idea how much daydreaming gridlock allows…

Witton profiles the car-pooling phenomenon in America, where there are designated pick-up and drop-off points, between which complete strangers ride in silence, and drivers take advantage of the express car-pool lanes. Like a bus, but without the mentally disturbed drunk espousing the apocalypse.

There’s also the teenagers in Jakarta, who make a living from hitchhiking along the highways, getting paid to be picked up so solitary drivers can hightail it to work in the express lane.

Fascinating stuff.

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] The Big Issue Blitzes Readership Survey (But are Aussies Being Tight?)