Serving Two Masters: Writing vs Flying

I’ve been a bit torn lately. I get why they say “No man can serve two masters.”

I’ve had my writing for a long time, and that’s been my main focus for the last fifteen years. Then the flying thing came along, and I said okay, I’m going to throw myself at that right now while I have the opportunity, and set writing aside for a bit. It’s not going to kill me to set writing aside. It would if it was for something I didn’t love, but I love flying at least as much as I love writing.

This winter, C-FLUG isn’t allowed out to play if it’s colder than -20 Celsius, so I haven’t been able to fly much. I’ve been writing, and there’s things happening on that front, so it’s encouraging. So at once I’m kind of turning my focus back to writing, while still trying to get in the air every chance I get. I keep feeling guilty about putting one before the other, and vice versa. I feel like I’m doing a terrible job of managing my time, and I get frustrated.

But then I realized that was why I was frustrated – because I had these two things, and I can’t do them both at the same time. I’d have more time for both if I didn’t still have to keep the day job, but as it is, that’s not yet an option. I’m very close to one or the other of them taking off (excuse the pun), one if I could get a break with the weather to get some flying in and finish my commercial license, the other if I could get a break with an agent. And that closeness to making it with both makes it that much more frustrating that I’m dividing my attention between them.

So from there, taking that step back to realize that’s why I’m getting stressed out about it, I think that’s going to make it easier to deal with. Because to hell with anyone who says I have to pick one and give up the other. If anyone tells me no man can serve two masters, here’s what I have to say to that!

First Solo Anniversary Post

It was a year ago in a few days (April 17th) that my instructor first sent me up alone in a Cessna 152. I had more hours than most students do on their first solos, due to waiting on my medical, but I guess that just means I could make the landing prettier. It was one of my better landings up to that point, after all.

Most people don’t know when their first solo is going to happen. Instructors don’t want to put pressure on them. I had it explained early on, in my first lesson, how the first solo is the big deal, big special day thing. My thoughts on lessons had been mostly concerned about how I was going to pay for it, and not so much wondering about what the training would be like, other than it would be awesome, so it hadn’t occurred to me. Of course I was like, oh, yeah, I guess that would be a big deal. But past that, there wasn’t much talk about it. I’ve talked to some of the other girls about their first solos, and they all say the same thing. They were doing circuits with a senior instructor, instructor has them come back to the ramp, hops out and sends them off to fly their one circuit for their first solo. They’re surprised, unprepared, a little flustered, but they don’t have time to get nervous, so okay, we’re doing this.

Anyway, most people don’t know the day it’s going to happen, but for me, I was only waiting on one thing, and that was my medical. For the newcomers, my Aspergers diagnosis was a thing to fuss about, and I was starting to think maybe I wouldn’t be able to get a class 1 medical after all. I’d been on the phone with Transport Canada several times trying to get an update on whether or not my medical would be approved, and finally heard back that it had, and was in the mail. Which usually takes a day, so it might come that day. I emailed my instructor that it was in the mail, and she said, well, maybe we can get your student license together tomorrow, and I replied, oh no, I’m waiting at the door for the mailman, he usually comes early. And he did come before I had to leave for my lesson, and he was indeed carrying my medical certificate. And I was looking at the weather, and the winds and clouds were co-operating. There was nothing left to wait on, as long as my instructor decided I was ready, so I while I told myself it wouldn’t necessarily be today, I was driving out to the airport knowing pretty much what the plan for the lesson would be, provided I was up to the task. And the rest is history.

After that was the first point when I dared call myself a pilot, even in my head. Before that, I was going to become a pilot. I don’t know if there’s rules for when you’re allowed to call yourself a pilot, but if you ask me, that point where you can get a plane into the air and back on the ground safely without the safety net of an instructor, that’s should be when. It’s not like being a writer where if you write, you’re a writer, and there’s a million other writers out there that will happily pat you on the head and say you don’t have to be making a living at it, or be published, or even ever share your work with anyone, it doesn’t matter if you’re shit at it, if you put words on a page, you’re a writer. For pilots, it’s a little different. Can you fly this puppy or not? Yes or no? You can stick anyone behind the controls of an aeroplane and let them get the hang of climbing and banking – it’s not that hard to keep the wings level, really. But if someone goes around saying they’re a pilot after some pilot let them have the controls for a few minutes, we’re all going to go “aw, isn’t that cute.”

Any idiot can get a plane into the air. A pilot can get it back on the ground. (And still be able to use it later.)

Thoughts On The Agent Search

There was a time when I had someone (an abuser) accusing me of lying constantly, of thinking things I didn’t think, and so on. In that time, I felt like there was two people living inside me. The person doing all the things that person was projecting onto me, and myself.

I don’t know if it’s just normal, or if that split just stayed with me, but I feel it again. Like there’s two people living inside my body. The first is the one who’s worked on honing her writing craft for the last sixteen years, has gotten to the point where she knows she’s got something good to show for it, and deserves to make it.

And the second is a weepy thing who’s no better than anyone else, and why should she get to live her dream when so many around her still struggle? Why do I deserve to succeed?

Sometimes it’s hard to remind myself of all the hard work I’ve done on this. Thank the gods, I have my husband, who’s seen at least nine years of it. He reminds me.

I’m not sure how much I should say about the status of my manuscript. I’ve gotten past the query stage. I have nothing to announce yet, but I know this manuscript is the best I’ve sent out, and it’s worthy. I think I’ve had publishable novels that I’ve sent out in the past, but while I think they were good enough to be published, they weren’t as good as this one. No one who’s read the manuscript disagrees. I’m confident. I feel like…

Okay, here’s the metaphor I used describing it to my husband: it feels like stall practice. Not so much like being on the takeoff roll – there, you hit takeoff speed, you pull back on the control stick, and the plane lifts off, right there, the moment you  give her her head.

No, you don’t have that kind of control here. It’s more like stall practice. That moment when you’ve got the airspeed down near stalling, and the stall horn is blaring. That moment before the stall, just waiting for the nose to drop….

General Update Because I’ve Been Busy

Everything’s happening at once.

We’re moving, and it might be sooner than we’d planned, which is good, but stressful. Still, just as well to get things over with, if it’s going to happen. We found a place where we won’t have to hide the cats, and we just need to find out if we get approved, thanks to a friend who spotted the rental listing on facebook.

I’m putting off rewriting that one section of the commercial exam because there’s just too much going on right now to deal with it.

Women In Aviation Week: that happened, and it was big, exhausting day for this aspie. We had fifteen women interested in flying out at Lyncrest, though, with limited planes that had skis, we only managed to get a couple of them into the air. We had lots of time to chat though, which is cool, because my husband gets tired of listening to me talk about flying…

Four year old asks the tough questions: I was over at my critique partner’s house (she gets mad when I call her my BFF) and her nephew, who likes planes and has been told about me, asked “Are you really going to be a pilot?”

I said “I already am.” He seemed very confused. I assumed perhaps he didn’t understand what a pilot was, so I elaborated, “I fly a plane.”

He still looked confused, and finally he asked “If you have a plane, then why do you have a car?”

Valid question. I tried to explain that the roads weren’t really wide enough.

Writing: Been querying. There have been developments. I don’t see a lot of people talking about getting requests for full manuscripts, so I don’t know if that’s because it happens so infrequently, or if it’s because there’s some faux pas about saying when you’ve got an agent looking at your manuscript, but there have been developments. I am hopeful. Cross your fingers for me.

Like I said, everything’s happening at once.

The City

There’s an interesting cultural observation I’ve made since moving to Winnipeg. I never thought of myself as a “country girl”, but since moving to “The City” I’ve realized I really am.

My last boyfriend, before my husband, was in the military. He told me a story once about when he was on the road with some friends and they ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. They had a jerry can of gas in the trunk, but the jerry can didn’t have a funnel, so they couldn’t get the gas into the gas tank.

I said “Well did you have a newspaper or a magazine or something, that you could use as a funnel?”

He looked at me for a few seconds and then said “shush, you.”

My husband was in Boy Scouts and liked to remind me, “A Boy Scout is always prepared.”

We’ve been together long enough now that he’s stopped, because he knows my response is “Yes, but a country girl knows how to improvise.”

The phrase “The City” means different things to a lot of different people. What I’m talking about is Manitoba, though. If you talk to anyone who lives in Manitoba, outside of Winnipeg, if we say “The City”, we mean Winnipeg.

Part of this is a result of the bare fact that Winnipeg is the largest urban center for… a long ways. The nearest place bigger than Winnipeg, without crossing the border is Edmonton in one direction, and Toronto in the other, and each of those is nearly half a continent away. Gonna throw this link out there if anyone wants to verify this fact: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/population.html

It’s something I never thought about growing up in Portage La Prairie, an hour’s drive away from Winnipeg. And I don’t think a lot of people think about that. But being a writer, it makes me think harder about how people think about things. Ant then it makes be think about how my own characters perception of things will differ from my own perception, or from other characters.

I think the reason I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with George R. R. Martin’s characters was that they were all lords and ladies and kings and queens. There were no characters that who’s roles I could see myself taking. I find in my own writing, I tend to write more characters who are small people – the “everyman” sort of character if you will. I think it’s because I don’t buy into the whole reality-show-about-how-difficult-rich-people’s-lives-are thing. I don’t have cable tv, and don’t miss it.

Actually I do, but I didn’t have it for about four years and didn’t miss it, and now that I do, I don’t watch it. (Netflix for evar!)

This post doesn’t really have a point or conclusion, it’s just something I’ve realized, and thought about. It’s a little bit about how people think about their own identity, an a little bit about my own identity. I mean, to people outside of Winnipeg, Winnipeg is practically a hick town. To me though, Regina is a hick town. (No, kidding, the last time I was there, all I remember is the teens wandering around with hickies on their necks. Not even joking.)

But the way I think about things is part of my own identity, and you have to remember, as a writer, that’s part of your characters’ identity. I’m a girl who grew up in, not a small town, but a small city. My dad was a bee farmer, and I spent tons of time out of doors, out in the country, wandering around in the bush, exploring abandoned buildings, building fires, building epic snow forts (that’s gonna take it’s own post) and playing with power tools at ages that people consider irresponsible of my parents.

The experiences a lot of people got from things like scouting, I got a lot of that just from tagging along with my dad. Things that a lot of “city people” hire someone to do, like cleaning the gutters, or shoveling off the roof, I wouldn’t think of hiring someone, I would do myself. I get my oil changed at the garage, not because I couldn’t do it myself, but because my dad gets it done there because they can do it more efficiently, and it’s less trouble. I’ve never done it, but I’m sure I could do it if I needed to. And it’s not a prissy rich white girl “pft, I could do it if I wanted to” – it’s a real, I know I could do it. I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty.

I’ve helped install magnetos, a voltmeter, a fuel gauge float, vacuum tubes, etc, on a plane I plane to fly myself. I’m basically staking my life on work I’ve done myself. No everyone trusts themselves that much. But that trust in myself, I will lay that with my dad. He might not have always been the most empathetic or emotionally supportive person, but he taught me things. Things to keep me safe. Things to make me feel confident walking into the world. Not specific things, but the phrase “come help me with this,” does something to a child.

For example, when my dad would shovel off the roof, he’d tie a rope around his waist and have us hold the opposite end. Us being my brother and I. We, at a very young age – I’m pretty sure under ten years old, were entrusted with making sure my dad didn’t fall off the roof, and if we couldn’t hold the rope, we were to get help. Around the same age, he brought me down to the spare room in the basement and told me, if he was ever working on the electricals, or dropped the hairdryer in the sink or something, and got electrocuted, here, flip this breaker, and it’ll shut down all the electricity in the house.

And sometimes I wonder if it’s that that made me the sort of person that, when something needs to be done, I go do it, or if it’s something inherent in myself. Something I was born with. I don’t know. I often assume everyone is as capable as me, and am surprised when I’m with others and

If someone had asked if I could learn how to install magnetos on a plane, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say yes. Not afraid of machines. My dad had a riding lawn mower, a mini front end loader, a garden tiller, etc. Dangerous machines that could have killed us. He built fires to burn rubbish and such, and let us play with them. We grew up old school, before they wrapped kids in cotton balls. Or at least, before the cotton reached the farmer’s kids in rural areas.

And realizing that makes me think. About what’s shaped me, and from there, what shapes characters. And why I tend to choose the characters I write about. They tend to be small characters, but capable. Not princes and princesses. Everyday, common people.

But it’s also why I write Dieselpunk. The machines. It’s familiar and comfortable.

Like I said, I have no point to make here, really. Just an observation and a couple of anecdotes.

General Update – The Weather Sucks

So, those of you who don’t live under rocks will be aware of this snazzy “polar vortex” thing, which is just a fancy way of saying we’re freezing our butts of in weather colder than it’s been in decades. This plane, C-FLUG that I’m trying to do all my time-building on, is not allowed to come out and play if it’s colder than -20 degrees. There hasn’t been a lot of that all through January. In fact, every time it got warmer than -20 all January, we had either a snow storm or fog. I got out a couple of times in December, but not at all through January. I was crawling the walls.

Working on the plane with Jim helped at least. Got me out to the airport and learning. Installing new magnetos turned out to be far more interesting than removing the old ones.

In the meantime, I finished up commercial ground school, and studied for the test. Took the test, and got a partial pass. Which pissed me off royally. You have to get 60% overall, as well as 60% on each of the four sections. If you get at least 60% overall, but less than 60% on any of the four sections, you get a partial pass, and you only have to rewrite the section you failed. I failed one section by 1%. So, working on studying for that again. I did really well on air law though. It’s the math that gets me.

Did a winter survival workshop at Lyncrest, and got pulled by dogs on a sled, learned to build an igloo, and signal search and rescue planes. Slept in the igloo overnight. There were about thirty people in the course, and only around fifteen had planned on staying the night. Of those, when I got up in the morning there were seven of us that hadn’t wussed out and gone home. I don’t think of myself as tough, really, but I suppose I have to remember that’s in the context of being a country girl.

Anyway, the new mags finally came in, and we installed them, Murray Bryson took it out for a flight test, and Thursday it was finaly nice enough go flying.

The wind was forecast to be 15G25. Fifteen knots gusting to twenty five. At Harv’s Air, they don’t let students go solo if the wind is stronger that twenty knots. I was getting checked out on the runway conditions though, since the snow is packed down nice and hard now. So I had an experienced pilot going out with me – not as an instructor, just as a safety pilot, so we could still go. I figured I wouldn’t get to go alone, but at least I’d get in the air.

We got up there, and the wind was straight down the runway. It was strong – there was obvious drift in the crosswind and base legs of my circuits, and the downwind legs were very quick. The landings – I wasn’t as rusty as I was afraid I might be. First landing was nice, right off the hop, close to the beginning of the runway, and smooth touchdown. After about a half an hour, my checkout pilot got out and let me fly alone.

I remember the first time I went out with my instructor in 15G25, and thinking “how do you get this thing back on the ground without being smashed into the runway?” Thursday I was handling the wind well. I was convinced that it must not have got as windy as it was forecast.

When I rechecked the METAR, to see what it actually was while I was flying, it said 18G25. It was kind of weird. Granted, there was no crosswind to speak of, but still. I remember wind like that being more…challenging. To the point that I was convinced that it just must not be as windy as forecast. It sank in how much quicker I was to attribute how I handled it to the conditions being more favourable than I thought, than to attribute it to improvements in my own piloting skills.

After I’d done a bunch of cross country flying, I wrote about how I’d noticed my navigation skills had improved. I guess it’s obvious that the same thing would happen with the stick and rudder skills, but it’s a little different to actually notice things getting internalized. I was watching the airspeed indicator, but I wasn’t having to correct as often. I was flying more by feel, and using the instruments to confirm, rather than constantly correcting according to the instruments. It’s weird. I remember watching my instructor do everything so effortlessly, and being promised it would come. Not gonna lie, there a lot of satisfaction in being able to see that happening.

Why I Stopped Reading George R. R. Martin

This is not a post about how George R. R. Martin is a bad writer, or his books are lousy. Nor am I here to trash people who love George R. R. Martin and say they have no taste.

This is a post about how, if you don’t want to invest the amount of time required to enjoy his books, or the investment required does not justify the reward for you: it’s okay.

Now, before you go and say I didn’t give it a proper chance – I got to the end of book two. I think I probably read more material written by GRRM than some authors ever publish. I really wanted to like it, and to an extent I did (though, IMHO, he doesn’t write female characters as well as some people think he does). It’s really not the content that bothers me, and I did appreciate his skill in constructing a climax to a scene. I *can* see why he is well loved. And if you’re one of those readers who love him, all the power to you, go enjoy. (What, you’ve read book five and there’s no more? Well, uh, sorry, I got nothing for ya.)

It’s not even because I read it at a time when I was a tad disillusioned with epic fantasy. I read other epic fantasy before and after, and enjoyed that.

My husband has read the first four books, and he’ll go on about how much he enjoyed them. He convince me to start reading them. He has the fifth book in his possession, and has not finished it. He’s tried several times to get into it, and just can’t. He says he got to the part where (yet another) new point of view character is introduced, and he couldn’t get past that point.

What it is, is a severe inefficiency of prose. The only reason I got through book one is because multiple people told me “You have to give it at least to page 100, and then it gets good.” Okay, I gave it to page 100. It actually starts to get good at, I believe, page 81, but that’s neither here nor there. And then I thought, “Okay, we’re getting into the swing of things now, right?”

Nope. Every scene takes forever to get going. It’s like he’s starting things from scratch every time. There’s *so* much buildup.

Speaking of buildup: Arya. She learns sword fighting in book 1. Somewhere in book 2 she gets her sword taken away, and hasn’t got it back yet. Then she’s got another plot line starting with this magician, implying she’s going in a different direction than the sword fighting thing. But it all feels like up to where I left off everything to do with her has been setup. The problem is the whole I-made-it-to-the-end-of-book-2-and-we’re-still-in-setup-mode.

Which results in me losing faith in the author. And I know people are going to run up to me screaming, “Oh, but later she ______!” Only, again, I got to the end of book two. I’ve given it a fair shot, and it’s failed to convince me that this character’s plot line is going to progress at a satisfactory rate. I’ve given up. I no longer care.

Then those people will say, “But…but…You’re going to miss out on all the awesome events that happen later! It gets even better in book three! You stopped at the wrong spot! Sansa gets less pathetically annoying!”

And to that I say, “I’ll watch the TV show.”

See, since I did get as far as book 2, I know exactly how true to the books they were in the first two seasons. And the parts they changed were changed for reasons that made sense to me from a storytelling perspective. They’re true to the characters and the spirit, and any changes to the plot are minor adjustments to make the telling more efficient (see that word? *efficient*) or in some cases to add interest to sections that were not as exciting in the books, like the dragons being kidnapped, or something that was implied, but there were not POV characters to tell the tale, like Renly and the Knight of Flowers hooking up. They’re taking all the awesome stuff and condensing it so that it’s a steady stream of awesome, instead of a dragging scene, dragging on, dragging you along because you know when you get to the end, *something* will happen, and you’re waiting for that little bit of payoff at the end of the scene. I think Daenerys is a psychopath, just like the rest of her family, and people just haven’t realized it yet because she’s doing nice things for brown people. I’m waiting for her to go off the deep end.

And like I said, I was enjoying it. Tyrion is awesome. Tyrion and Bronn are golden. I liked Arya. It’s just, I wasn’t enjoying it enough to keep investing the amount of time it took to get to the good parts. YMMV.

It’s just that I know there are books out there that I will enjoy more thoroughly than that. Even within epic fantasy. You don’t have to resign yourself to slogging through a book to enjoy epic fantasy. It’s like eating ten bowls of chicken noodle soup with one tiny piece of chicken in it, versus a one bowl with lots of chicken.

And saying that is not saying that GRRM is a bad writer. He’s obviously a good one, to have managed the success he has. There’s lots of people for whom this is just their cup of tea, and to them, all the power to you – enjoy. And I applaud GGRM for his success. My criticisms are as a reader, not as a writer. It’s personal taste. Chacun son gout.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say. Lets see how many page hits I get for dissing the Martin.

Chocolate, Nuts, and Raisins: An Aspie Post

I haven’t posted much about being an Aspie. A friend heard me use the word, and asked about it, because she hadn’t been sure if it was a word that people with Aspergers considered insulting. If it is, I’ve never seen an Aspie who considered it so. I don’t know if it was Aspies themselves who started using it first, or the Neurotypical community, but the Aspie community has taken ownership of the term. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is the fact that Aspies are struggling for acceptance of what they are, and therefore aren’t sensitive about being recognized as having Asperger’s syndrome. You can’t gain acceptance for what you are if you’re ashamed of what you are.

But also, “Aspie” isn’t a word that’s used as a general insult. I think possibly by embracing the term and not reacting to it like it was an insult, the Aspie community has maintained control over it and the meaning it conveys. When it’s understood at all, it’s understood to mean “a person with Asperger’s syndrome” and hasn’t ended up gaining any extra negative connotations the way words like “retarded” (which was once a politically correct term) has collected.

Anyway, in this post, I’m going to kind of try and paint a picture of Aspergers syndrome for you. I’m not trying to show you how terrible it is, or how much I suffer, or what other people have to deal with to be my friend, or even paint a complete picture. Just a little bit of insight on the sort of things my friends notice when they get to know me really well.

I don’t like certain things mixed with other certain things. As a child, I would carefully separate the peas on my plate from the mashed potatoes. Foods dished out of different pots would not be on the fork at the same time. I didn’t like foods served at different temperatures to touch. For example, if salad was served on the same plate as cooked meat or vegetables, I didn’t like them touching. Salad is a bunch of things mixed, but they’re supposed to be mixed, so it’s fine. But I prefer not to get any salad dressing on anything it doesn’t belong on.

And honestly, it’s not about taste. It’s all about organization. And I’m not that bad – if things touch, I’m annoyed. But I’ll eat it. I generally re-separate them if it’s feasible, but it’s not the end of the world, and I generally don’t say anything. I’m not such a severe case as I would have some kind of crazy meltdown over stuff like this.

Nathan once made macaroni and cheese for me, and cooked frozen vegetables in it. He says he knew something was wrong as soon as he saw my face when he brought it out. It took me like, ten minutes to pick all the vegetables out and eat them, and then I ate the pasta. The friend I mentioned before was observing me putting blueberries an whipped cream on french toast she made me, and realized that I was arranging the blueberries in such a way that I could get a blueberry in every bite as I cut it into pieces later.

One day, my friend was commenting on how she hated chocolate covered raisins. I replied that I like them.

And she was like wait, what?

See, she knows me pretty well, and knows I don’t like chocolate with nuts or dried fruit in it. And I explained, chocolate covered raisins aren’t raisins in chocolate, they’re chocolate on raisins.

That’s the point where I think her head exploded.

It’s two things that are such different textures – one you suck on and one you chew, and then I don’t know how to eat them together. And they’re never evenly distributed through the chocolate. One bite might have two peanuts in it, and another one might not have any. So, if someone offers me a cadbury fruit and nut bar, or almond bark, or chocolate with candy cane in it, I’ll usually politely decline. Unless it’s one of those situations where refusal would upset someone, in which case I’ll take it, suck on it until the chocolate is gone, and then chew the rest. It’s not a huge deal.

Then there’s chocolate covered raisins. The chocolate on them is never so thick that it’s worth sucking it off, so it’s easy to chew them without having to suck the chocolate off. But most importantly, there’s a more or less even distribution of chocolate and raisin in each bite.

Now, keep in mind, I don’t normally consciously think about these things, even as I’m arranging my skittles in lines by colour. I just do it. I don’t freak out of suffer unduly if I’m prevented from doing it, it’s just a tendency. Kind of like how when you smile at someone, they tend to smile back. It’s not about Aspergers being a terrible thing I suffer from, and it’s not about me being better than other people because I have Aspergers. It’s just me.

The frustrating thing is that there are people out there who won’t accept this is me. They want me to be normal. It doesn’t matter that none of this hurts or even affects them. It makes them uncomfortable that I’m different. They see it, and when they see it, they think there’s something wrong with me that needs to be fixed. I’ve been called a retard by someone like that, who was just that frustrated that I couldn’t just be normal. Who made fun of me as he watched me eat a sandwich because I was spending more time than he thought I should deciding where to take the next bite. I’ll let the internet pass judgment.

Sure, I could refrain from doing it. Force myself to mix my vegetables with the potatoes. It’s not like it would cause me to have some kind of breakdown. But here’s the thing: why the hell should I? It would take a huge mental effort to constantly remind myself to not do those things, and I would slip up regularly. Why would I go to all that trouble just so that you can watch me and not notice that I’m a little bit quirky? Just so that I can pretend to be some silly ideal of normal, as if it would make me healthier or happier? It wouldn’t.

But it makes me more grateful for the people I have around me who do accept me. I don’t need people to put on an Aspie pride parade for me. I’m perfectly happy just being Lindsay, and being allowed to just be Lindsay and not be made fun of for being Lindsay. That’s all Aspies ask. Is it really so much?

The Adventurous And The Anxious: Thoughts On Passengers

I’ve had my licence for a little while now, and that means I’ve had some time to take a variety of passengers out flying with me now. I’ve obviously been a passenger in a plane before, but being the pilot and having a passenger is a little different perspective. Because then you’re recognizing that this person you’re taking flying is someone who cannot take over flying like your instructor could.

And believe me, they know it too. They know very well that they’re putting their life in your hands. It’s a huge gesture of trust and confidence.

Some ask lots of questions, some were very quiet. Most passengers are fairly quick to clue in when someone says something on the radio, that the pilot needs to hear it, and they stop talking. One interesting observation: when I say “Okay, I’m gonna be concentrating on landing for a couple minutes,” suddenly passengers are dead silent. In the plane, I’m the boss and most people seem get that pretty well. I’m a pretty laid back person, and don’t often take charge, so people are often surprised when I’m put in a role where I’m in charge, and have no trouble telling people what to do. People have observed that my whole demeanor changes. Being the pilot makes people in the role of passenger automatically look to you for direction, and taking that role has come more naturally that I thought it would. 

Some friends were terribly excited to go flying with me. There’s certain things (things that are still perfectly safe) that you can do with an aeroplane, that you’ll never see done in a commercial flight, like demonstrating the rudder by wagging the tail, or what our aerobatics instructor calls a “seat-belt check” (nose up hard for a second or two, then nose down hard to pull negative G’s. If your head hits the ceiling, your seatbelt isn’t tight enough.) Things that would frighten a nervous flyer, but for someone comfortable with it, can be fun. I’ve had some of my friends giggling like kids in the passenger seat.

Of course, not everyone’s happy to hear you say “Hey, you wanna see something cool?” I’ve been upfront about asking what my passengers are comfortable with, and explaining what we’re going to do before I do it, and what they’ll experience. Also, when you get your licence, your instructor is very clear on what you’re allowed to do with passengers and what you’re not allowed to do. Spins, for example. They’re an aerobatic maneuver – Harv’s 152′s are all insured for spins and we spin them in training. I’m allowed to do spins solo – in fact, as far as I’m aware, there’s no restriction on aerobatics maneuvers when a pilot is flying solo, with no passengers, as long as the plane is capable of it, you recover before 2000ft AGL, and the owner of the plane has it insured appropriately and is okay with you doing it. But you can’t do aerobatics with passengers unless you’ve done ten hours of aerobatics with someone who has an aerobatics instructor rating, or twenty hours of aerobatics solo.

Generally nobody gets caught doing things they’re not supposed to unless they crash. But quite frankly, I don’t see any point in doing anything I can’t brag about. Like, when my instructor said I should practice spins solo, even, I guess no one had ever actually said I couldn’t go do spins solo, but if I was going to, I would have wanted her to know before I did it, so that I knew I wouldn’t get a finger wag or anything. When I was taking one passenger out early on, and it was one of the ones who was comfortable with flying, and I wanted to demonstrate a stall, I even checked before hand with my instructor to make sure that would be okay.

I think I was a little bit afraid at first, when I got my licence, that my friends and family wouldn’t have enough faith in my competence as a pilot to go flying with me. I needn’t have been though – anyone who knows me, the better they know me, the more they have confidence in me. This is in fairly stark contrast to some of my family that I’m less close with, and who knew me better around ten years ago. In the last ten years I’ve blossomed as a person, and since moving to Winnipeg, made a lot of new friends, so most of my friendships are less than ten years old. There’s one main exception, and he was happy to go flying with me.

Family who knew me better before – strangely don’t seem interested in going flying. Some (a lot) of them cite being afraid of flying, some won’t even talk about it. There just seems, you know, to be a disproportionate number of people in my family who are now afraid of flying. My mother, off in Australia, tells me she worries about me flying, that I’ll end up getting myself hurt.

My husband reminds me that the people who know me, are the ones who have confidence in me, and it’s true. Nathan, as in a previous post, was my first passenger, but it was also his first time flying, so he was understandably nervous. He made sure he told me several times that the anxiousness was over the flying thing, not over any lack of confidence he had in me. After all, he was coming up with me, wasn’t he?  As much as I sometimes wonder if they’re saying “I have complete confidence in your piloting ability” as much to convince themselves, actions speak louder than words, and they are in the plane with me of their own volition.

And then there’s one friend who’s afraid of flying. She’s been on big jets, and I know that’s a lot easier for people afraid of flying to deal with. She says she has an easier time of those, considering she can remind herself that most plane crashes involve small planes. So going up in a small plane – she hasn’t quite got there yet, was how he put it. It wasn’t a hard no, though. She said maybe someday, if she can screw up her courage. And seriously, that someone afraid of flying would even consider going up with a relatively new pilot, is a huge vote of confidence.

In conclusion, taking passengers is fun. To all my passengers, I love sharing this mad little dream with you and it’s been an honour to be your pilot.

My Painfully Shy/Attention Hog Split Personality

Last spring at Keycon, I had people I had never seen before come up to me and say Hi. They knew my name – knew me from my blog. It was a weird experience. I mean, that’s the point of the blog being public – getting attention, and getting attention from people interested in reading what I write when I get my novel published. I know there’s a certain amount of danger – there’s weirdos out there, but I figure if I plan on being a published author, I’m eventually going to have to bite it and have my picture associated with my name in public. I’ve drawn lines of course – I don’t put my home address or phone number out there, or even my email address – the contact me link on my site just has a form, and doesn’t give my email address. I stopped at giving my home city, and the airports I’ve flown out of, and what conventions/conferences I’ll be at. I’m not a paranoid person – I think I’m being reasonable.

It was just kind of different, to be recognized. And now that I think about it, kind of cool to have a male approaching me to say hi with interests other than hitting on me. It wasn’t just the blog at Keycon either, I did a few panels and it seems when you get up in front of a crowd, it changes how people treat you. You’re no longer a random face in the crowd, you’re the woman who discussed Dieselpunk intelligently on the Steampunk/Dieselpunk/Cyberpunk panel, and did the panel on flight, and was the organizer for the short film viewing. And then people talk to you.

I do fine in conversation mostly – when it’s answering questions about things, I’m fine. When I’m put on the spot to come up with something to say, like at the Women In Aviation gathering with the First to Solo award presentation, I freeze up. Deer in the headlights.

I’ve gotten over a lot of being painfully shy. I used to be so much worse. Though, I don’t actually remember being shy, so much as just knowing if I was the centre of attention, it was because I did something wrong, or stupid, or people were just picking on me for no reason at all. I was bullied as a child, and that always leaves scars.  When I’m put on the spot and am not prepared with something to say, then I’m suddenly afraid that whatever comes out of my mouth is going to be stupid, or come across horribly wrong.

Conversation – much easier. It distracts me from the attention and I can focus on the subject matter of the conversation. And yet, I love attention. Just not negative attention. I like having done something well, or made something I can show off, and being praised for it. I might be terribly nervous getting up to perform in front of an audience, but the applause at the end makes it so worth it.

I see-saw between being shy and being an attention whore. It came  on my again when I got to spending more time at Lyncrest, and C-FLUG, and Jill, and the other women involved in C-FLUG. Some of them were at the First to Solo award presentation and knew me from there. Some had seen my picture in articles, but it was again with the people coming up to me that I had never seen before, or if I had they were someone in a crowd, but they knew my name. And one day Jill commented about how wonderful it was that I was getting all my flight training down in my blog. I said I’m never sure if there’s anyone around home who reads it, and she said “Oh, we all do!” And then I was feeling all shy and bashful again.

It does sometimes feel safer to write about things when I’m not likely to ever meet the people who read what I’ve written. I love getting comments on the blog (I have a friend who has promised to troll my site, but has never actually done so. I’m disappointed.) But most comments are from people I haven’t met in person. Then at Keycon I met some of the people who’ve commented on my blog, and it was weird and cool. And now there’s people who know me from an entirely different circle. I don’t think I’m trying to make a point with this post. I’m just rambling an thinking thoughts.

And sometimes I do pour my heart out here, and I’ve never once had anyone leave a comment that made me regret it. I treat the thing like a journal, and the difference between a journal and a diary, is a journal is written for someone else to read at some point. I kept a diary for a few years, but it was hard to motivate myself to write anything that wasn’t intended to be read by someone else, either for entertainment or educational purposes.

But while I feel free to let myself be vulnerable here, there are certain things I hold back. Mainly anything that I think might embarrass people I care about, or who didn’t – you know – ask for it. This isn’t a platform for me to lash out or take revenge. It can sometimes be hard to avoid, because my writing is always influenced by my own experiences, and also, I do want to let others who have gone through the kind of things I have know that they’re not alone. So I’m torn sometimes, on how much to tell. But I’ll deal with those things as they come up. Negativity attracts negativity, and I want this to be a positive place.