Thursday, September 3, 2009

Welcome

I must warn you that unlike most blogs on the internet, the author of this one has almost absolutely nothing to say about life, the universe, or anything important in particular. I don't deny it, and, following in the grand tradition of every one of my past blogs, I intend to fully embrace it. Thus, this blog is dedicated to everything that is mundane in life: chance encounters, odd incidents, and basically whatever pops into my head. I'm also thinking that I might try to post some of my sketchbook pages, because my sketchbook is turning into a bit of a visual diary, albeit not a very linear one.

My writing skills are pretty rusty, but I think I want to start this off with tales of my summer. I worked at a technology summer camp at William & Mary, which, in and of itself, was an experience, what with swine flu one week, teaching three classes at one time in another, and basically being a parent to 20-30 different kids a week. Those are stories destined for another post; tonight is all about the week after camp ended, when I was transferred, along with two of my coworkers from the W&M crew, to work at a camp in New York City. Christian was to go to Fordham University, while Zach and I were all set up to live at Fordham for the nights, and commute to none other than Columbia University to work during the day. It sounded like an amazing opportunity; what we weren't aware of was how cursed we were in regards to getting into and out of the city.

Prologue: Mostly Useless Background Story

Saturday rolled around, leaving behind a bittersweet closing of iD at W & M. The drive started off smoothly enough. Zach picked me up from my apartment, and together we set off in his red pickup for Christian's. We were both a little apprehensive of riding the rest of the way to New York in Christian's little kia, especially taking into consideration the amount of pure STUFF that was in it last time I rode with him. We need not have worried; it was completely emptied out by the time we pulled into his dad's driveway. I volunteered to take the back, imagining foolishly for a moment myself sprawled out on the back seat, napping all the way to New York. Instead, after we managed to shove everything into place, I found myself kept company by Zach's highly inconvenient iMac and several pillows which did their best to be consistently in my face throughout the trip. Still, everything went smoothly enough as we passed the time talking about everything from crossing cats with lemurs, to the benefits of commercial medicine versus alternative methods.


Chapter 1: Finding Fordham
10:00 pm

The first signs of trouble didn't start until I tried calling Fordham's director to let him know we were leaving Christian's house. The inbox is never a great thing to get when you have plans dependent on the other person's knowledge of your existence; however, we were still hours away, and I figured we(or he) had some time before we needed to start panicking. We had a GPS(three, in fact) and the address of the college, so we should've been set, right?

Instead of smooth sailing, I think we actually wandered through a wormhole into a different dimension that night. Traffic into and out of New York is always bad, but at night, it's ten times worse. Everything is dark, there are about a thousand lights constantly flashing into your eyes, horns going off everywhere, and in the case of the bronx, there are people all over the streets, and they all look like they want to eat you. It was only about 10 when we arrived in the Bronx, so we were feeling pretty good about ourselves despite the overwhelming sensory information pillaging our brains, right up until the moment when, in the middle of a very busy street, our GPS tells us, "You have reached your destination."

That was when we started getting worried. The director hadn't picked up his phone yet, the lead instructor hadn't been able to get a hold of him either, and we had no idea where to go. We found what we thought was Fordham, which would have been great if there hadn't been a chain link fence extending as far as we could see, or at least if there had been a gate to get in. We parked illegally on the street and attempted to get our bearings in what looked like a shady back alley beside a Jesuit mission house, and called around desperately, trying to find something a little more specific to go on. We finally got in contact with Fordham security, who told us that instead of looking for something on Fordham Street, the building we needed to find was on South Boulevard. "Just drive on down, you can't miss it." Luckily, South Boulevard intersected Fordham, so we found it, but then we happened upon another problem. We didn't know which way to turn. So we picked a direction and drove. And drove. And drove some more. By this time we were starting to feel a bit frustrated, so Zach handed the phone to me and I called security back.

"Hi," I said, figuring it was as good a way to start out as any, "we're in the Bronx trying to find O'Hare Hall. Could tell me how to get there?"
"It's right on South Boulevard," replied a disinterested voice, "you can't miss it."
"Okay," I said, struggling to keep my voice natural, "but the thing is, I'm from Virginia. Those would be great directions if I knew the area, but I'm not from around he-."
"Look, it's right on South Boulevard."
"Right," I said,"but we've been on this street for about the last ten minutes, and we haven't seen anything. Do you have, like, a rough street address or something?"
"No."
"Okay, then. I... guess we'll drive up and down South Boulevard again. Thanks anyways?"

So we proceeded to circle the Bronx, searching with increasing desperation for a way into Fordham. There were still people running around in the streets, cars stopped in the middle of roads, and even a few jaywalking kids on scooters, at whom Christian yelled, in what I can only assume was a temporary bout of insanity, "Get off your damn scooter, boy!"


Chapter 1.5: Still Finding Fordham
11:50 pm

We finally could take no more and parked along Fordham street. We approached what appeared to be a pedestrian entrance to the college, and waited for the security guard to finish with his call so we could ask for directions. It was one of the most awkward situations of my life. He kept pacing back and forth, shooting us shifty glances all the time, while we leaned against the fence staring at him. Finally, he paused his conversation with the cell phone and said, "Who are you waiting for again?"
"Umm, you," said Zach.
"Oh! I thought you were waiting for someone inside!" the guard replied, looking a bit abashed. He hung up his phone and suddenly became the most helpful person we had talked to. He explained to us exactly how to get to O'Hare from where we were, and even gave us some landmarks to go by, such as the botanical gardens. I let Zach and Christian handle the directions, since I had been in the back and was the least informed of all present anyways. My brain was feeling pretty shot, and in the interim, I had decided I needed some semblance of sanity which I found by letting the world, aka Jordan, know of our troubles via text.

The rest was a blur that involved many more minutes of driving in circles around the Bronx. We were all feeling a little loopy by the time we pulled into the Botanical Gardens and were directed right across the street to an entrance into Fordham, where we triumphantly pulled up to the guard box.

"Hi, we're trying to get to O'Hare Hall. We're with iD Tech Camps," said Christian.
"Oh, I haven't heard anything about that," replied the guard. "O"Hare is right up there to the left. If you pay me ten dollars I'll give you a parking pass."
He watched pitilessly as we emptied our pockets, dug through backpacks, and looked under seats for loose change, only to come up with $6.45 between the three of us.
"There are ATMs all over," said the guard.

So we ventured out into the city once again, found an ATM, then realized we didn't know how to get back to the entrance. Thus, it wasn't until around 1:00 in the morning, and after a flurry of phone calls between conference services and Fordham's lead instructor(we still hadn't gotten in contact with the director) that we finally got to our rooms.

Further details of our adventures coming soon.

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