08 September 2011

From Oakland to London, with an unplanned stop

I started my journey yesterday, taking the west oakland bart to the coliseum and transferring to AirBart, which only cost me $1 instead of $3 on account of me being certifiably disabled.  (I don't believe I am.  I prefer to call myself unique.  But my uniqueness makes me just a little less equal in American society, so if the city, state and federal government wants to give me a few perks, I'll take 'em.)  I had never ridden the AirBart Shuttle before.  Amidst the unhappy looking polo shirt traveling for work (the way he rolled his eyes upward, wishing he wasn't and despising everyone around him reminded me of my ex-boyfriend and what traveling to places he didn't want to go to do things he didn't want to do did to him) and the few couples and students in their 20s with only small carry-ons, I stood out in my Oscar the Grouch t-shirt and 42 pound camo backpack.  I had  managed to hold back the gleeful terror that accompanies a leap into the unknown all morning.  My  journey begun, all I could do was beam at people, engage my abs, and soften my knees under the weight of the clown show contained in my luggage.

Evidently, the AirBart is a joyless place.  No one wanted a balloon animal.

The Oakland airport was drab and uneventful, but my flight got me safely to LAX.

After retrieving my monstrosity of a knapsack, I got on the shuttle to the Travelodge.  If you've never been, the weather in Los Angeles is amazing.  At 6 pm, I did not require my hoodie and, in fact, wished I had been wearing a sundress.  My room, though drab and dimly lit, was clean and next to an enormous swimming pool.  Losing no time, I donned my one-piece and ignored the NO DIVING sign.  A young German family from Hamburg were playing in the shallow end.  The woman taught me how to say "Mein nama ist Harvey Rabbit."  I can now introduce myself in English, Czech, German and Spanish.  Though I am far from being able to have intricate conversations about art and science in all but my native tongue, I think introductions are a good start.  My friend of 11 years, Jenny Nichols who now lives in Topanga, drove down to my hotel to hang out for the night.  It had been a few years since we had seen each other, so we decided to use the evening to catch up.  We get in her small silver Toyota and drove down to Sepulveda Boulevard in search of a bar and grill.  Miraculously, we past a CVS and Trader Joe's right next to one another.  I was able to purchase healthy snacks for my next 24 hours of travel so as not to spend money on expensive airport food and also a small day planner so I can keep track of gigs and workshops without a smart phone.  (All of you who are used to instantaneous replies via email will have to be a bit patient with me, as I'll have no smartphone for the next 3 months.)   We went to a strange establishment called Melody's.  Mostly middle-aged men, old rockers and bluesmen, a cornucopia of black, white and brown, each and everyone of them bearing an uncanny resemblance to barbecued pork.  A mediocre blues band played in a mediocre way.  Jenny noticed a strange vending machine.  It was lit up in red neon, one of those glass boxes with plush toys and a plastic claw that you tried to grab them with.  Instead of plush toys though, this one had a tank full of live lobsters.  A sign flashes over it in gold, "Lobster Zone."  If you catch one, the chefs in the kitchen cook it for you.  I watched one of the bald, porky men grasp one in the claw, but at the last moment, the shellfish wriggled free.  Jenny and I sprawled out in a circular red vinyl booth and talked over the band.  She had a whisky sour and some sort of spicy chicken wrap.  I drank a vodka gingerale and had a spinach salad with blueberries, dried cranberries, glazed walnuts and chicken.  We talked over the band, then took a drive down Sepulveda.  She dropped me back at my hotel around midnight.

This morning I strapped on the 42 pound behemouth, grabbed my rolling carry-on, and took the shuttle to LAX.  The departure gate for Montreal and Edmonton were right next to each other.  Sitting there, reading my book, I heard screaming.  Not kids having fun, but full on grown woman banshee screaming.  My head snaps to attention and I see an overweight but stunningly beautiful women, all in purple, being wheeled to our gate.  There does not appear to be anything distressing happening to her. This is just the way she communicates, I suppose.  She gets out of the chair and it is apparent that she has a mild sort of palsy. The man she is with asks her to sit and again the screaming.  I am secretly relieved when she boards the plane to Edmonton. That may not be PC to say, but it's the truth.

The flight to Montreal was about 8 hours, and I was supposed to fly all night to London, but my flight was cancelled.  Air Canada put me up in a hotel, and I have to be back at the airport at 6:30 tomorrow morning.  I land in London at 8:30 pm, and I've got to be honest with you, I am a little more nervous about negotiating my way to the East End at night than I was about doing it in the middle of the day.  But really, who's going to fuck with a smelly girl wearing a 42 pound backpack.  I won't exactly look like a target, more like a grungy travellerpunk.  At least that is what I hope.  By midnight tomorrow night (midnight London time, that is) it will all be okay and I won't have to strap my pack back on until the 13th.

It's been a long friggin' day and now it's time for shower and bed.


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