Friday, June 04, 2010

Notes on Travelling

As I write this, I’m somewhere over a snow-covered Greenland. I think. The little TV that tells me where I am won’t turn on again, which is mildly troubling. I didn’t realize how much I liked knowing exactly where I was until I wasn’t able to know exactly where I was anymore. I’m wishing, rather desperately, that I was the sort of person who could sleep on airplanes.
If I were to believe that sleeping in a moving vehicle were something more than an innate ability, I would consider myself terribly unskilled in it. I don’t believe it’s a skill, though. You put some people in a car, and they’re almost immediately unconscious. Others, like myself, are completely incapable. Put me on some good drugs, and I’m down for the count. Send me un-hindered by the marvels of modern pharmaceuticals, and I’m a complete insomniac. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that I’m not normally inclined to sleeping, moving or not. I sleep, on average, five hours a night, with many of them being far worse off. I think it’s a geek thing.
Not sleeping means that I have the distinct pleasure of trying to find things to fill my extra hours. I’m usually up far later than anyone who is sharing my bed, leaving me a good three or four hours of time each night to muse and muster, playing video games or writing or reading a good book. On an airplane, my resources are a touch more limited. I cannot, for instance, devour the entire flight by leveling up my space ship in Star Trek Online. Despite flying on a state of the art airline with a state of the art navigations system, made to the specs of some of the most impressive engineers in the world, they’re still convinced that a $600 laptop has enough juice to fuck over the whole operation.
So I’m reading. And writing. Which led me to thinking, which is probably the most dangerous of my pastimes.
What do your characters do while they travel? I mean, we all know the standard trope, singing songs and telling tales, but when I’m travelling for ten hours I run out of shit to talk about. I don’t even know what I’d do with three weeks of solid horse-back riding. I’d very likely know a lot of kick-ass stories after the first bout, but I don’t think that characters start out rocking a prodigious knowledge of travelling tales. Also, this gives an unfair advantage to bards.
Personally, I like to read. You can only bring so many books with you when you travel by air, but most of our characters, especially at heroic tier, aren’t going to be flying to their destinations as often as they’re going to be walking or riding.(Teleporting means you can basically whistle a jaunty tune and you’re where you want to be). I can devour a book in the course of a few hours (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norril is quite lovely, by the way; thanks to Erin for that). So when I’m done with that, or I can’t read anymore, I’m left looking for something else to do.
I watched Alice in Wonderland. It was pretty alright. I especially liked the bit about six impossible things before breakfast. Also, vorpal swords. Also, David Elsewhere does Johnny Depp’s dance at the end, of which I wholeheartedly approve.
In a few hours, I’ll be in Frankfurt. Then I’m on to Amsterdam. Then, maybe, I’ll be able to sleep.

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