Required Rest.

Year Three. Month Eleven. #DFW.

Sunrise or sunset in southeast Alaska? I'm never quite sure.

There's an alarm going off somewhere.

It seems far away, as though it is chirping underwater. In my lucid dreaming the strange sounds get closer, further together. It's the lav smoke detector, beeping. A TSA screening check point in Fairbanks. A tropical bird outside my window in Maui. A car alarm in the parking lot in San Francisco. A security breach in the C gates at Sea-Tac airport.

No, wait.

It's a call button on the airplane. I walk towards the sound, down the darkened aisle of this redeye flight that I'm apparently on, searching for the source. The aisle lengthens as I increase my pace. The galley at the other end of this plane is a pinpoint of light, seemingly miles away. I squint and wonder why the phosphorescent strips on the aisle floor seem to not be working.

Is it weird that I still dream in CRJ 200?

Where am I?

Ding. Ding. Ding.

I turn my head and suddenly I am shrouded in darkness. I feel warm, even fuzzy and realize that I am surrounded by a blue blanket, curled up in my uniform in a big leather Recaro chair.

When is it?

I pull the blanket down to peek at my surroundings. Bright sunlight, and the roar of a jet engine. The chair that I am in is facing a wall of windows in a small, closet sized room. There are other chairs next to me, each containing a similarly sleepy crewmember, each of us in that strange space between dreams and reality.

After three years, two airlines and hundreds of early wake-up calls, I'm still not a morning person.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

With a start I realize the cause of the mysterious noise. It is my cell phone, joyfully and somewhat persistently announcing that I have a caller and that caller is Crew Scheduling.

I'm the airport quiet room, the odd holding tank of fatigued flight attendants who need a little shuteye. Commuters, airport standbys and the odd reserve come here to curl up in the reclining chairs, to watch the airplanes take off and to dream of Crew Scheduling sending us off to tropical places. It's an in-between place, not a hotel or a crashpad. Just a place to pause and rest for a moment.

I jump back to the present and grab my phone to answer it. It is Darla, she hopes I am well and she wants to let me know that I'll be working the Fairbanks all-nighter tonight.

Some sweets (and donuts, too!) on a Fairbanks redeye. Treat yo' self!

I thank her, rub my bloodshot eyes and get ready to work another night.

I've been sleeping so strangely lately.

My days get mixed up because they are actually nights. I go to work at midnight, only to finish four days later at three in the morning. I nap in odd places: my car, the airport quiet room, on my yoga mat in my living room, mid-pose.

I wake up wondering where I am. Who I am. Where I've come from and where I going to.

From Fairbanks I find myself returning home before the first light of day hits the freeway. The next trip is Dallas-Fort Worth: a redeye there, a nap in between and I'm back to base for my required rest. I sleep in strange spaces and at odd times: a quick shut-eye in the quiet room, at home on the couch in the middle of the day or as a deadheading crewmember, savoring every moment of my paid nap.

New airline, same need for undereye concealer.

This job is fifty shades of exhausting.

If you are someone who is thinking about joining the airline industry, you've gotta get one thing straight: this job is not for the faint of heart. You need to take care of yourself when you can, and if that means vitamins, yoga, meditation, chamomile tea or splurging on a fancy lavender diffuser so you can sleep, do it. Get in self-care before anything else. Learn to nap (I had to learn!), don't always rely on coffee or soda (as I type this with a twenty ounce mug of dark roast next to me), listen to your body and get that required rest.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

An alarm is going off again, but this time, it's an alarm I set for myself on my phone. Time to put away my laptop and curl up for a much-needed midday nap.

Me + eight hours of sleep + sunshine =  <3 <3 <3

Happy resting, friends!


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