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August 06, 2017


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A telephone booth in a railway station in Switzerland.

In a hospital bed having contractions after being induced. To be fair the place wasn't that uncomfortable, just the circumstances.

Oh, I hadn't thought about the very bad night I spent in the hospital after the kids were born (not the first night, but the second, when I was moved from postpartum recovery because of pre-eclampsia and then the nurses kept taking 30-60 extra minutes to bring me pain meds): that definitely ranks.

My mind went first, though, to various travel venues: sitting up on a crowded overnight train in Italy during Holy Week, on the night when the soldiers were given leave to go home for the holiday; and an overnight flight when restless legs left me unable to sleep.

A bathtub in a hotel in Miami to get away from my father's snoring.

The Burro Inn, Beatty NV

I also went first to travel: the overnight overseas flight we just took where I had a 5-year-old squirming next to me alternating between putting his head in my lap and his feet in my kidneys. But then I thought of the very worst: when that 5-year-old was a newborn with a 103 fever and the children's hospital admitted him but had no free beds upstairs, so we spent 24 hours behind a curtain in the ER. Dozing in an upright chair, freezing cold in the A/C, pumping every 2 hours because the baby was too lethargic to nurse, emotionally devastated.

Charles de Gaulle airport, on a bank of chairs, scootched under an armrest, waiting for a 4am (or some ridiculous hour) flight.

Same as el-e-e, but at Heathrow.

Stuck in Chicago O'Hare in December after pulling an all-nighter the night before and then having my United Limo bus late in a snowstorm get me to the airport after the last flight of the night had left... and the only part of the airport we could be in (ie outside security) had only the racks of seats neatly separated by hard armrests, and I was sooooo tired and already had a neck crick from sleeping on the bus. Ugh. It took days for that neck crick to resolve....

Easy one :) May that night never lose its pride of place!

All the times I chose to "sleep" in train or bus stations because I was travelling in Europe never bothered me as much as that one night. Probably a combination of prior sleep deprivation, desperation to get home, and my lack of agency in the outcome.


At the Dulles airport main terminal (we had to collect our bags after an international flight since they cancelled our connecting flight) -- the main terminal doesn't have any chairs now (it did have a few back in 2000 when this happened). Oh, and another horrible thing is the speaker announcements that go on all night long... :-(

Yes Amanda -- being stuck outside security to spend the night at an airport is THE WORST! Because chairs are more comfortable in the terminals. I hope hope hope this never happens again, but I don't know if it won't. :( Well, next time I may have money to go to a hotel.

A chair in the Singapore airport, from which we were roused at 4am by soldiers with large guns and made to wait in line to re-check-in for our flights.

I keep coming back to camping on a sandbar on the Current River in Missouri. The ground was comfortable enough (a sand bar - actually the most comfortable ground I've ever slept on). The uncomfortable part was watching the river rise as it was flooding and wondering if we were going to be in real trouble or just potential trouble... Come to think of it, this may not count, since we didn't sleep much that night.

In a tent, in Ireland, in the rain. We had a tarp, you see, but we didn't know how to use it, so instead of folding it neatly to the size of our tent so it would keep us dry, we spread it out niiiiiice and big so it would direct all the water that fell upon it to pool under our soggy, sad, very very wet bodies. It was very not my favorite.

Runner-up goes to the time we slept on a rock-hard mattress in a "cabin" in the woods of Minnesota. That had no electricity or indoor plumbing. When I was 34 weeks pregnant. NEVER AGAIN.

Blackwater Falls state park. Who knew it got so cold up there in the summer? I don't do sleeping bags so we had blankets and down comforters on an air mattress. Even with layers of clothes I still wasn't warm enough. My memories are sleeping restlessly and trying to burrow closer to my husband. He says I was practically clawing at him and that he was afraid I was trying to gut him like a Tauntaun so I could climb inside.

It was almost certainly an overnight train. Probably the one to Copenhagen. A crowded, overheated train. I remember at one point as I was desperately trying to doze hearing one French woman mutter to another: "Quelle nuit d'enfer!"

But it might have been the night I was forced to get off the train in Milan at 2 am and couldn't get on the connecting train till 6. That was one cold sketchy train station and I didn't want to sleep. I was so glad when the train got in early and I could claim a spot and catch another hour.

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