Somewhere over the Rockies on my early morning Midwest flight to Missouri, I was startled out of sleep when we hit a nasty bump of turbulence. It felt and sounded like some very large hand had smacked down on the top of the fuselage.
The pilot got on the PA to apologize for the turbulence, to say that he was turning the Fasten Seat Belt light again, and to reassure us all in his sturdy Missouri drawl, soft, weathered, but solid, like a long-loved catcher's mitt. Just as he was laying down his comfort blanket of drawl over us, we hit another, much nastier bump. Several passengers screamed. This one was the worst turbulence I've ever felt while flying. There was a beverage cart in the aisle. I saw all four wheels leave the ground as a pot of coffee flew onto the guy behind me, and a pitcher of ice water splashed down onto the guy next to me. I was pretty sure for a brief moment that we were going down. My heartbeat shot up and jumped against my sternum as the jets roared and pilot took us to a higher altitude.
I was so tired, having staggered out of bed at 4:30 that morning, that, somewhat amazingly, I quickly went back to sleep while everyone was still freaking out. I remember thinking there was nothing I could do, and that if we were going to crash into the Rockies, I might as well be asleep when we did.
Now I'm sitting in the Southwest "B" line, waiting out a delayed flight back to LAX. I was up this morning at 6 am Central (4 am Pacific), so I'm pretty determined to sleep the whole way, and just figure things out when I wake up.
Perhaps I need to rename this blog to Insomnia Diary or something like that. I'll tell you one thing: I am fucking sure sleep deprivation counts as torture.