Monday, June 28, 2010

Searching for a Home...

Work took me to New York City for one month.

These are my stories.

I had no place to stay, I was quickly realizing. After contacting every single person I knew of who lived in or perhaps near NYC I was not having any luck finding a free place to crash. I had hoped to defer some of my cost for being in the city with a place to stay, but such was not to be my luck. My last great hope died when the lovely A said I could not stay at hers because she was moving, had plans, or traveling during all my dates.

With that I started looking on Craigslist for a place to sublet for my time in the city. Unlike Korea I don’t know a place where I can get a functional hotel room for three hundred dollars a month. I figured a hostel would be a cheap bet, but didn’t want to worry about constant switching of roommates or worries about leaving things in the room. Aside from that not having a kitchen and having to live on outdoor food for a month seemed like a really bad idea.

The Craigslist search was infuriating to say the least. For every ten ads I responded to I might get one reply, usually one or two word sentences, loaded with grammatical errors, or looking as if it had been sent for a cell phone, asking me the most random questions.  Just when I’d think I had a place something would sink it.

One guy, who had gone through all the trouble to do a video walking tour of his place, was nice but wanted way too much and had rented it out already starting at a date about four days before the end of my trip. In the end I almost considered it, but his asking price just seemed way too damned unreasonable to actually take it seriously so I let it go. This lead to an even more maddening search for a place to rend, and after another month of not finding anything I was starting to give serious thought to the girl who responded with a few words basically saying that I could stay there as long as I was not a smoker and had never associated with any smokers. I am not, by nature, a smoker, at least not at home, and said so. However I was honest that I do occasionally have friends who smoke and asked if that would be a problem. It was not.

Then comes an email from her that in order for her to hold the room for me I would need to send her a copy of my passport page. I thought this was odd. I told her so, but said I would get it too her as soon as I had a chance to get to a scanner. I asked to about the price and to see if there was any kind of deposit that maybe I should be aware of. She sent a message back, with more mistakes, and yet more confusing language to explain that I would need to pay a deposit. The deposit would be the same price as her asking price for the room. Then I would still have to pay the asking price for the room. Then I would get the deposit back at the end of the month, and would I also include a fifty dollar key payment, that I would also get back, but not until after I had paid the rent price. Basically she was asking me to pay twice what the room was with the promise that she would give me the money back. I was a little incredulous with that.

Having never been impressed with this particular girl I responded to some new ads in a last-ditch effort to see if I could find a place to stay. Of the three I got responses from all. The first was a no go because the place need someone to take it for two months. The second had already gone for June.

The last was being offered by a nice girl who had just finished her TESOL MA and who was heading back to the Ukraine. She thought it was interesting that I was in fact coming to New York to teach people how to teach English and after just a little talking I had found a room to stay in.

This was good news, the asking price was almost half of what I had seen for many places, there was no deposit, and from what I could tell she, being a student herself, had found the digs more than live-able for the last two years. Her roommate was a medical student who was doing rotations. With my schedule that was more than perfect as I’d be keeping pretty odd hours myself. There was in fact only one hitch to the perfection. She wouldn’t be leaving until the 1st of June, and I would be arriving on the 27th of May. I had a few days where I needed to work out exactly what I was going to do next. Whatever I worked out would have to hold me four roughly four days. At this point I was in Korea trying to make arrangements for what I was going to do.

By the time I left Korea and arrived in Chicago I still had no plan for the extra four days.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coachella: Adventures in Hitchhiking

I realize I never posted this:

I was stuck at Coachella you see. My group was leaving on Monday morning. After seven hours of sitting in traffic on the Friday night there was no way in hell that I was going to make my flight, which was at tacking off around ten a.m. Monday morning. Unlike everyone else I didn’t realize that I needed to schedule my flight for the evening so I needed to be ready to go Monday morning.

See here is the problem.

I was in the desert.

Surrounded by about 80,000 people, at least ¾ of whom were on drugs.

I had no car.

I don’t drive.

And internet communication was a problem because you had to have power. I had not brought my computer. I did have my phone.

Also, the Coachella website decided that I would not be a valued registered member.

I learned by reading the website that there was a carpool forum. Sadly I could not post a message because I wasn’t allowed on the board. After three days of not thinking about it Saturday night I knew I had to. I found a very nice person on Saturday morning who was checking the Coachella forum and let me put a post under his name with my information. I also read through the carpool forum and realized that I could send private messages to people. So every single person who posted an offered ride on Sunday night or Monday morning I messaged.

Around six in the evening I started to get a messages from people. One mystery person said he was pretty sure he could take me, and suggested we meet. I agreed. We planned hit-or-miss meetings for the rest of the afternoon. I kept going to the place to meet and he kept not showing up. Finally as Faith no More was coming on I started to get a little frustrated, got a last message from guy that we would not meet today, sorry, tomorrow, etc.

I went to the show a little worried about my fate on Sunday morning. This probably did not improve my mood Saturday night. Several margaritas, did, however improve my mood, and later I crashed at the camp not thinking too much about it.

Sunday I worried.

I got a call early Sunday morning from a guy who talked really, really quickly. The conversation mostly went like this:

“So, okay, I can meet you at the giant speakers. You know the giant speakers. By the VIP tent. Those speakers, yay. So I live in San Diego and you’ll be driving is that a problem? Cool, I need you to drive to L.A. it’s cool. After we meet we are going to get in the car and drive to the 24 hour gym. We will shower so we have a clean ride. Then you are driving to San Diego. Then I will drive from there. Okay. So yeah, we meet at the speaker tower.”

Put that in your CD player on repeat and hit the speed to fast forward and you will have a sense of how this conversation was. As for interjections I mentioned that I don’t have a license in the U.S. (been in Korea too long), haven’t driven in eight years, and was not sure which of the three VIP tents or 30 giant speaker stacks he wanted me to meet at.

Guy just kept talking.

Sunday morning I got a message from the first guy saying yes he could take me, we’d meet in the morning. And finally, we managed to end up in the same place at the same time. I did not get serial killer vibes, it seemed cool.

“Hi, I’m GI.” He said.

“Hi, I’m the crazy chick looking for a ride. I like sex, drugs, rock and roll, not always in that order, tequila and porn, I have stories to cover all of these things, promise to be entertaining and really hope you can give me a ride. “

He was understanding. He also understood when I said I would not be able to share driving. He lived in LA and mostly just wanted some company back for the drive. He was an ex GI, current college student with classes on Monday. He was shy as hell, but sweet. So I agree on GI that I would be his wingman. We made arrangements to meet a little later for me to drop my stuff off in his car. One sleeping bag and backpack tossed later, I was back and enjoying the show.

Around 7:30 I went to try and see sly and the family stone at Coachella. They were supposed to start at 7:30. By 8:00 we were still waiting. By 9:00 I had to head out to meet my ride and so I did. From what I understand good ole Sly started around 10 and was really something.

My ride showed up in plenty of time and I helped break down the camp and all the road we went.

Since I wasn’t driving my job was to entertain.

I asked what kind of stories he wanted. He asked me what that list was that I had rattled off when I met him that morning. I recalled it as best I could. He said to pick a topic and start there.

So I did.

Granted I mostly started right with the rock and roll and then switched over to sex and stayed there as well. Sadly I was also getting on to about four days with no real sleep. I was also, while waiting for my ride, reading a really fun book. And I may or may not have endured a contact drunk from everything else that was going around. During the ride I talked. I’d keep talking.

Apparently at some point during a story involving Korean girls, a small dog, and tequila sunrises, I’d suddenly say “No Dresdan.” To which the erstwhile driver would respond. “What?” I’d ask for a repeat of what I had just said and he would try to sum it up. It varied between talking about orgiastic college experience, don’t kill him, discussing a wild night at the bar, not this time you fiend, or ‘so there I was being kidnapped by churchies’ ‘no Merlin will not be coming back this time, no more travel Lilith.’

It made about that much sense.

Fortunately I was entertaining enough even with my have dream additions to the stories to keep us both awake and moving until I ended up back in L.A. around two a.m. I was dropped off rather nicely at the airport, where I walked in and found myself on the wrongs side of a ticket counter. I asked the very nice security guy who was there if he minded me sleeping on the floor, he said no. I found a small space just big enough for me and my sleeping bag between the window and the escalator and I promptly rolled it out, put my backpack under my head, and passed the fuck out.

I woke up at around five a.m. with plenty of time to roll up my bag, take a bathroom-sink bath, and collect my thoughts It was a few minutes after this that I realized that I was, in fact, seven terminals away from the right one.

A short walk later and I was in the right place, talking to the backup musicians for Mike Snow and soundly sleeping on a flight to Chi-town, smellier, but none the worse for all my adventures.

When I finally arrived at the Bard's I walked in, asked to borrow some clothes, instructed her to burn everything, and promptly passed out in bed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I swear I have so many words....

I swear, I have words. I have so many words you will be inundated with words. I will tell you everything, everything.

I blame New York City and constant travel for eating my soul. I have so much to tell.

I will tell you about the bartenders.

I will tell you about the trains.

I will tell you about the work.

I will tell you about the people.

I will tell you about the sights and the sounds and the smells. I will tell you everything, I swear I will tell you everything. Give me a few more days and you won't be able to keep me from telling. My fingers will bleed before the stories are all through.

I miss you.

I need you.

I love you.

~S