10 stupid things I’ve done while jet-lagged

Posted on
Jan 29, 2010

So, my hubby described my post yesterday as “provocative.” I disagreed, and there might have been some jumping up and down to emphasize my point. But while my intention had been to give shout-outs to the awesome bloggers, I think there was too much focus on my part on the negative side of of things (hell, it was a Dick Move! post, after all). I got a lot of emails and messages from people apologizing, thinking that they had offended me (note: don’t start unfollowing people on the same day you said you unfollowed someone who pissed you off. It’s a recipe for disaster. Including some notes from a few people who said, “What the heck? I’m not even a travel blogger. Why are you mad at me?”). So, in short, I want to say that I love you all, and stop worrying: it wasn’t about you. It really wasn’t.

And just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to make it clear who I’m talking about in this post. It’s about me. Most specifically, about the stupid things I’ve done while jet-lagged or half-asleep. And I promise, all of these stories are true and unembellished. Looking through them, I realize that it sounds like I might be a little off, but keep in mind that my sleep deprivation in each of these cases was pretty damn extensive.

Wait ... wheres my hotel again? And who are you?

Wait ... where's my hotel again? And what's that thing sticking out of my head?

  1. I hallucinate. I’m not really sure if it’s sleep-walking, and I just wake up about halfway through, or if it can be considered a hallucination. Last time this happened, we were in Munich, and I was curled up on the bed, freezing, and asking Rand why he had turned on so many fans.”Honey, there aren’t any fans on.”OH, but there were. I was staring at them. Tiny little rotating fans, hundreds of them, located all around the room. I became adamant, and angry. Why couldn’t he see them?! He gently came over and hugged me, and I was screaming about the fans, and on the last scream, I suppose I was loud enough to wake myself up, at which point one of the fans I was staring at melted into the wall and was gone.

    “Holy shit …” I said quietly. “What the hell am I talking about?”

    “I don’t know,” Rand replied. “I usually don’t.”
  2. I forget where I am. I suppose this is pretty common to people who travel a lot. But I get it bad. Last time we came back from a trip, I went to the grocery store, and then went home. To an apartment we haven’t lived in for years. I sat there in front of the building thinking, “Something’s not right here.”
  3. I start misplacing things. But not in a normal way. Once, I left the remote in the fridge. Another time, I left cheese inside a drawer. When Rand couldn’t find the salt, and I casually told him, “Oh, it’s in the bathroom.”
  4. I sleepwalk. Perhaps worse than the weird “at-least-I-haven’t-left-the-bed” hallucination is the time I woke up while standing on the bed, trying to open a window (at the time, we lived on the fourth floor. You can see why this might be a problem). Fortunately, I wasn’t anywhere near a window, so instead Rand just found me flailing at the air above him.

    “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” he yelled.

    At that point, I woke up, freaked out, and started bawling. No, really.

    You know those stories about how you should wake up sleepwalkers? Those are very, very true. In Rand’s defense, he woke up to find his wife standing on the bed and screaming, so I forgive him.
  5. I rearrange paintings. Okay, truthfully, this should be categorized under sleepwalking, but it’s so weird, I made it it’s own number. A few years a go we had a painting on the wall that I evidently did not like. Truth be told, it kind of freaked me out (it had people without faces on it).

    One night (after returning from Europe) I apparently got up and put the painting on the floor. The next day I woke up, figured the painting had fallen and put it back where it was.

    The night after that, I apparently got the painting, took it off the wall (and this thing is HUGE), carried it to the living room, and placed it on the coffee table. I had no recollection of doing so. But the next day, when I got up and saw the painting sitting on the coffee table, I nearly peed my pants. Since then, the painting has resided in a closet.
  6. I forget people’s names. I know, I know – this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. “I do that all the time,” you’re thinking. The thing is, I don’t do it all the time. In fact, I not only remember people’s names, but the outfits they were wearing on a particularly day, where they went to high school, and any other random details they might have shared with me. My memory is so extensive and flawless, Rand has told me to tone it done, because it freaks people out. So I pretend not to remember them or the date of their cat’s birthday.

    But sometimes, if I’m tired enough and jet-lagged enough, I forget people’s names. And not the names of say, random people. I forget the names of my closest friends. And relatives. I called Chrissy “Christy” several times one night before thinking, “That ain’t right.” I full-on forgot my cousin’s girlfriend’s name (and they’ve been together for years). I hugged someone hello and realized and I had no idea what to call them.

  7. I get lost very, very easily. My sense of direction is bad enough on its own. When I’m tired, I’ve literally forgotten where my husband works (I’ve driven there roughly 100 or so times) or what street my friends live on (again, to places I’ve been 100s of times before). Once, the day after coming back from London, I went into bathroom of my favorite store and wondered how the ladies inside could pee while standing up. After a few seconds I realized: this was the men’s room.

  8. I have phone conversations I don’t remember. In all fairness, this seldom happens to me anymore, but was a frequent occurence in the sleep-deprived years of high school. I’d have phone conversations with people and have zero recollection of them (I’d occasionally wake up and wonder why the phone was next to my bed, though). This got me into seriously trouble when I started making plans to meet my friends and would later stand them up because, to me at least, the conversation never happened.
  9. I become very concerned about things that don’t matter. Lack of sleep often leads to a lack of perspective in my life. Consequently, I have trouble prioritizing what’s important and what isn’t. I’ll clean the lint trap of the dryer, but forget to put the milk away. Or I’ll start trying on and throwing out clothes, because I figure it’s time to clean out my closet … at five in the morning.
  10. I get a weensy bit emotional. I once was harassed by the guy checking passports in at Heathrow airport. He wanted to know why I didn’t have my return ticket printed out for my flight back to the U.S. the following week. I tried explaining to him that was impossible, since most airlines don’t let you print out your return boarding pass until 24 hours before the flight. He kept interrogating me and threatened not to let me in to London since there was no proof I was going to leave.

    Now, had I been less tired, I might have screamed something like, “NO PROOF? How about I enjoy good dental care?! Is that enough PROOF that I’ll be returning to the states, CAPTAIN SNAGGLETOOTH?”

    But instead, I just started crying. He eventually let me into the country, and I didn’t get arrested for yellow at a customs official. So I suppose it was for the best.

But … I can’t be the only one, right? Right? So please, please – if you’ve got stories about your own crazy jet-lagged neuroses, share them below, and let me know that I am not alone.

Leave a Comment

  • Mindy

    Also, sometimes you come over to people’s homes for dinner, put your head on the table, and fall asleep before the dishes are even cleared. Yes, you.

    • Geraldine

      Mindy – that might have happened once or thrice.

  • It isn’t jet lag, but I regularly suffer from numbers 2, 3, 6, 7, and 9. It would be funny if it weren’t such an ominous portent.

    Also, thank you for making “yellow” a verb.

  • Geraldine

    I’m not changing it.

  • Aly

    Hi, just found your blog through Candice’s site. Love your writing style!

    I’ve always had a hard time sleeping in planes…so I would always be terribly jet-lagged and groggy and cranky and emotional and..anyway I found out a cure to this problem accidentally when my friends decided one night that staying up drinking until five a.m. was a great way for me to be on time for a flight to China…at this point being up over 24hrs… Well let’s just say I slept on that flight! Still use this method on long flights, plus it’s a great excuse for a party 🙂


  • Let’s see, I suffer from 1,2,3…..hell I do everything on your list and like Philip I lack the excuse of jet lag….although my hallucinations generally have to do with arguing with stupid people, more than seeing objects.

    My husband says I have ADD (actually, he calls it “shiny object syndrome”), my mom says I’m just too overworked (thanks, mom), my friends write it off to being blonde (truthfully I did seem to have it together more when I was a redhead – I may have to give that another go)…..but I really believe the cause is a mind that is too active to be contained in just your most lucid waking hours. Which I also believe is a sign of superior intelligence.

    After all, I read somewhere a long time ago that Albert Einstein left the cheese in a drawer and the remote in the fridge. Or something very close to that.

  • Well, that was a lovely post. I guess I’ll need to find the receipt for all that Kevlar…

  • Also just found your blog through Candice’s blog which I found, in turn, through some random tweet. And I love it – really refreshing. Please keep it up!

    And by the way, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being “provocative”. It makes things all the more interesting, and if you didn’t take the risk and write that blog entry then you wouldn’t have got all those well-meaning responses and may well still be stewing. Let it all out, that’s what I say!

  • “Something’s not right here” – I love it.

    You should get (Rand to buy you some) Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Seriously – those things are awesome. They help you get proper rest on the flight. I was way less jet-lagged on the way home last time.

    On the other hand, don’t do that because you might become less funny.

  • Geraldine

    Aly and Will – next time, I’m staying up late and getting drunk the night before a flight, and then sleeping with the aid of Boze headsets. Thank you.

  • Viv

    Just found your blog, and am thoroughly enjoying it! I know I’m a bit late on responding to this, and that you may not even see my comment. But I’ve had some bad jet-lagged experiences, too, especially with sleepwalking, so I thought I’d share.
    My family and I went on a trip to Ireland a few years back. When we arrived that day, I was jet-lagged from the flight over. So that night, the hotel clerk found me sleepwalking around the property, as I had made my way out of my hotel room, down the elevator, out the door, and into the parking lot, heading toward the lakes our hotel overlooked. Apparently he had quite a time waking me up, because supposedly, I’m a “biter.”
    When we returned home, I was jet-lagged again, and woke up that morning in my backyard. I think I have a problem.

  • Laura

    Oh my goodness… Thank you for posting this! Jet lag hits me ridiculously hard. It makes me act like a crazy person, and I’m glad I’m not the only one. I have also hallucinated: One time I went to Scotland, and I was trying to sleep in my hotel room but I was convinced the characters from the TV show Lost were crowded around my bed and I had to keep telling myself I was the only one in the room. I also cry every time a customs officer gets just a little bit aggressive with me.

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