Travelogue III: A Bus Ride and Some Overservations

September 2, 2008

Okay so, after this post I will declare an end to the minute, boring detail portion of the telling of the story of the trip of my life. But for now, the portion continues.

Basically, after the events of the last entry, I woke up, doodled around in the city for a while until about 1 (did nothing interesting, actually I think this was the time I went to the Met and MoMA so I’ve accidentally used up my story for this day), then it was time to take a train back to the airport to catch the shuttle to SUNY New Paltz. The bus was leaving at 2, I got there at 2:30, I fretfully looked for people in blue NP shirts thinking they’d left for sure, found them, discovered that they weren’t leaving at 2, they were receiving students from 2 to 4, at which time they would leave. So I thought, “okay, good, I’m here, I found the shuttle, but now I have to dick around, again.” I haven’t traveled much in my life, but from my brief, recent forays into the hobby, it seems to be constituted by a lot of dicking around. I’m not really any good at it, I hate dicking around. It feels inefficient, but on the upside it’s better than riding a train and not knowing whether it’ll stop at the place you need to be at in five minutes (or rather, from five to a hundred and twenty minutes in the future), so I more or less happily went duty free shopping in terminal 4.

(Terminal 4 at JFK, by the way, is a more upmarket version of terminal 7, where I landed when I got here, and where you can get a Starbucks drink and a McDonalds burger and you can watch a young black man change out of his work uniform into some other clothes and call a friend telling him he’ll be around later, but that’s it.)

Looked for lipstick for Katie but they didn’t have any Revlon and I should’ve just gotten some other lipstick but I don’t really know how to buy lipstick so I became disoriented by the shop, so I left. I went into what I thought was the classiest eatery, like I was actually worried about walking in there with my sneakers and rolled up jeans is how classy it appeared through the window, but it was just some tacky bar that served wraps and sandwiches not much better or fresher than those you get in plastic boxes from servos. Had a beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and a chicken wrap, and these made me feel ill. It’s funny but here they seem to put a lot of emphasis on whether a beer is a lager or not. Like if it’s a lager they’ll prominently label it so. I don’t think we do that, do we? Are any of the beers I drink lagers? People who know what beers I drink team up with people who know what a lager is and help me out. Get that older guy from the Rosemount drive-thru or that young Greek guy from the Liquor Land near my house on the phone.

I watched some Olympic water polo at the bar then noticed that there was a big display for Australian wine next to the TV. I kind of “huh”ed at myself, then stood up and made the “check please” sign to the bar girl (felt old school at that point). I saw on the check their different rates for tips: 0 if the service was bad, 15% if it was good, 20% if it was excellent. It was good, so I pulled out a dollar bill (I had about 13 at this point as well as a dozen pennies, which led me to think that I was bad at doing US money) and was all set to leave a tip, but I didn’t know how. Like, do you give them the money and say keep the change, or do you get the change back and then go, “AND NOW I BESTOW UPON THEE, THINE TIP.” Since then I’ve been to the Bowery Ballroom and worked out that you just plop it on the bar before you walk away, but at this point I was still going bwawwww I don’t know anything, bwaw bahaw bahaw every time I was the least bit disoriented, so I just walked out feeling glum.

There was still an hour to go, I tried to play Galaga but the machine ate my dollar coin, so I went and sat amongst the luggage and what few other international students were there and read Best American Non-Required Reading. Read a really good story written by an author called Miranda July, and I was like, that name, that name sounds familiar, isn’t she an… Australian actress? I was thinking of Miranda Otto and I slapped my forehead when I looked at the back of the book and discovered that, of course, Miranda July is the director of Me and You and Everyone We Know. Since then I have looked at Leonie’s blog and discovered two really neat things, this website of hers and this video that she’s in:

(I love this kind of simple but brilliant shit and I bet you do too, hipsters!)

If you knew about all three of these things already, you are way more on the ball than I am. You have been on the ball so long you have federated the colonies of the ball and declared the ball a sovereign nation. I envy you and your gigantic ball.

I was feeling waaaaay weird at this point. It reminded me of the time I went to that Buffy convention in Sydney and met all the people from the website and they turned out to be much closer to the Comic Book Guy and the nerds from the Homer Goes to College episode of the Simpsons than I’d imagined. This time, instead of sweaty obese office workers and shy, boney quasi-rangas from WA wearing clothes too big for them (ahem), the alienating group was full of people whose bodies shivered and eyes glazed over when a bald male official said things to them like, “Okay can y’all hear me? I’m going to bring the van around front, we’re gonna put as much of the luggage in there as we can, then we’re going to go over to the gold bus over there, put the rest of the luggage in there and climb aboard. Understand?” It also felt like we were refugees from a country whose government had just been toppled and its people run out into neighbouring Ethiopia, in that we didn’t know what was going on, and we were waiting for the Americans to help us out. But anyway, at some point the bald guy got his little van out the front and some of the luggage was chucked in there, then we went to the bus and put whatever didn’t fit in the van into the bus, and once we were all aboard we drove out of Queens, onto a highway, and north toward New Paltz. This swarthy-looking Japanese guy sat next to me so I was like, ‘sup, then I fell asleep using my book as a pillow. I woke up as we were pulling into town, and I saw a bunch of shitty shops with names like “Shop Rite” and “Bank of America: Drive Thru” and “The Convenience Deli” and “Worst Omelettes of All Time” (at least that’s what it shoulda been called), and then I saw the university. It was beautiful! It’s covered in ivy, it’s backed by some kind of mountain, and a river runs through it, and it’s little and cute and it’s got some… well, pretty ugly, Curtin-esque buildings.

This taken the next day. On my way to get tinea cream.

This taken the next day, on my way to get tinea cream.

You can see I framed it to get the sexy momma in too.

I tried to come up with a jokey caption without mentioning the slightly overweight girl at bottom left, but I failed.

Ever seen a prettier, shit-brown river?

Is just brown and water.

Okay, so it’s not beautiful, but I was very excited by all the green at the time. Then these obnoxiously peppy volunteers jumped right at us off the bus and were like “HIYA! How’s it going, are you excited? Where are you from? Where are you from? Where are you from? Are you excited? Why isn’t anyone talking? I get it, you’ve had a long day, you’ve had a long flight, you just want to settle in, you don’t need big ol’ me all up in your face. No you can’t go in yet, you have to wait out here while we check you in 15 at a time. Who lives in this hall? Oh, you don’t know yet? Well if you end up living in this one then, phew, look out because I live in this hall and I am a little bit cuh-rayzay. Do you want to play a fun game? Well they don’t have to play a fun game, Alicia, but it’s better than just standing around doing nothing not talking. If they don’t want to play a game then we’ll be silent for another twenty minutes. Hey, there’s Diones. Wassup Diones honey. All right that’s probably enough, they can find their own ways to their rooms now, can’t they?”

I waited through this interminable reception with the knowledge that if I did I would be shown to my room and given some necessary supplies, I would be able to shower, I would finally have some roots in this country. So I sat on my suitcase for half an hour, the check in lounge started mysteriously emptying. This lounge:

They were very particular that we not ruin those lounge chairs.

They were very particular that we not ruin those mustard lounge chairs.

Then someone came over and said to what few of us were still in the room, “All right, so we’re all sorted over here?” I pointed out that I didn’t know what was happening with me, they flagged down an RA (residential advisor, apparently a term you know if you watch enough college TV and film) who very irritably showed me to my room and left me there without any further information about what was supposed to happen, was irritated and condescending again when I told him the keycard to my room didn’t work (“You have to swipe it”, “I know that”, “*swipes, doesn’t work* That’s weird”), and then at 9am I was in a bedroom by myself, in a pretty much empty hallway dorm, thinking, that’s it? What do I do now? And why are there no sheets on my bed? That had to come the next day, when we went to fabulous Target in nearby Poughkeepsie, one of the many spectacular shops in the, wait for it, Galleria Shopping Center. (Yes, I had flown thirty thousand kilometers in twenty four hours to go shopping at the Galleria.)

For the moment then, I made a pillow out of one of my hoodies, my pyjama pants, and one of my rank smelling t-shirts, and sheets out of one of my other hoodies and my pyjama shirt, and slept a very uncomfortable sleep. In New York they may have called me meth head and hit my neck with a magazine and made me wait in lines to see the tops of their stupid buildings, but they at least gave me proper bedding.

Actually my roommate's bed, before he moved in. He had bedding.

Actually, that bed and side of the room belongs to my roommate. He had bedding.

That’s basically the end of my odyssey. Next, a feature on water fowl, or, Do you feel ducky?


6 Responses to “Travelogue III: A Bus Ride and Some Overservations”

  1. Matt C Says:

    VB, Carlton Draught and Tooheys New are all lagers

  2. Oz Says:

    I would be more than fine with a continuation of the minute, boring detail portion of the telling of the story of the trip of my life. I really liked your description of the obnoxiously peppy volunteers!

    PS. like 50% of this comment was actually written by you

  3. h Says:

    well do ya

  4. Leonie Says:

    i feel pretty great that my blog helped someone!
    “No One Belongs Here More than You” is Miranda July’s book of short stories and it is FUCKING AWESOME, dude. yeeeep.
    also, if it’s a lager you can take it to a ball game.

  5. Leonie Says:

    wait i didn’t need ot say that thing about her book of short stories you already knew that. so yeah forget about that.

  6. anna d Says:

    i reiterate the above comment about “No One Belongs Here More Than You”, because is the short story you mentioned in “Best American Non-Required Reading” rather than her anthology? If so (a) you should buy “No One Belongs Here More Than You” and (b) I should buy “Best American Non-Required Reading”. Because Miranda July is a genius. She also has an excellent short story in “The Book of Other People”, called Roy Spivey, which is almost the only good short story in that whole entire book.

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