No Sleep 'Til Ithaca

Remember last week, when Tinsel and Rot was exhausted? Guess what, we're maybe more exhausted this week. But a few more days and we should be OK.

This week's exhaustion was a result of last Friday and Saturday, which involved a really tiny amount of sleep. Like an hour. And that hour was in a series of 10-minute increments on a bus ride from New York to Ithaca that took about eight hours. Good times.

It began in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Friday night when the mighty Hudson Falcons celebrated their 1,000th show by headlining at the Stone Pony. Mr. Tinsel and Rot and Sister of Mr. Tinsel and Rot commissioned a cake from Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken for the occasion (see previous post), and as I carried it from the train station, I got to watch the rare late November fireworks celebration, which I would've taken a picture of if I wasn't carrying a cake. But you've seen fireworks displays, right? Yeah, well, it looked like that. Anyway, it made the walk a little quicker.

The rest of the night was spent anticipating the Falcons' set, along with sets from the Skels and the First Wave, and watching the occasional moshing, which I wish I could do every day of my life. There are precious few things I find more enjoyable than watching people mosh (from a safe distance). I think I'm finally comfortable enough to declare that "picking up change" is my favorite dance move in the pit. I find it impossible to watch that and not laugh. I don't think that's the intention of the mosher, but who cares? As long as he doesn't see me laughing, everybody wins.

Anyway, eventually the Falcons took the stage, in every sense of the phrase. The show was recorded for a live CD, so maybe I'll get to shame you into buying it someday. Suffice it to say (an expression I don't use near as often as I should), it kicked ass. They did a bunch of favorites, some songs I haven't seen played that often (including the personal favorite "Who's Talkin' Shit?"), and a straight-up cover of "The Thrill Is Gone" that confused the moshers and blew away anyone that had the good sense to pay attention.

By the time the show ended, I had come to the decision that I probably wasn't going to sleep that night. And a few hours later, after a diner run, my sister dropped me off in Jersey City about two hours before I was to catch a bus to Ithaca for the second 30th birthday surprise party for a friend in two weeks. I figured I would get a window seat and sleep on the bus. I figured wrong (a possible title for the next book).

The bus to Ithaca left the Port Authority at 8:30, I got a window seat, and all seemed to be going according to plan. I dozed off and woke up as we pulled into the next stop in Newark. I was vaguely aware of someone taking the seat next to me and a couple of others filling in the seats around me. Then we left Newark Penn Station around 9:15 and I drifted back to sleep. That didn't last long. As best I can recall, these were my thoughts as I drifted in and out of sleep for the next few hours:

"Hmmmph...it doesn't seem like we're moving."

"Whose damn cellphone is that? Oh, the guy next to me. I wonder how he hears it at all with the CD player on so loud."

"Damn, I guess we're in a little traffic on the way to the highway."

"Hey, who brought that crying four-month-old on the bus? And why is he sitting behind me?"

"We're taking a detour into Harrison? Why? OK, minor setback. We'll just follow that detour, get back on the highway, I'll sleep for five hours, and life will be good."

"Did the bus just jump a curb?"

"That cellphone shit has to stop."

"Where are we?"

"Why are we not moving again?"

"I think I might shove that guy's cellphone up his ass. If only he didn't look like he could kill me."

"Is that the IDT building in Newark? Didn't we pass that an hour ago? Oh my god, it's 10:30."

"Are you kidding me? This guy next to me fell asleep? Oh God, his cellphone is playing that song again."

"I wonder if I could just run off the bus."

"Well, at least we're finally out of Newark and on the highway."

"Why are we pulling over on the shoulder?"

"I sure wish the driver would tell us why we're on the shoulder. Oh wait, we're moving..."

"We're pulling over again? Seriously?"

"Why would you bring a four-month-old on a bus?"

And then came the announcement.

"Well, folks, there's an engine light that keeps coming on and I don't know why. They're sending out another bus from the Port Authority to come and get us."

It was now about 11:30. Three hours into the trip, still roughly five hours away from my final destination. Or mere seconds away from my final destination if I ran out onto the highway and called it a life. I decided to stick with the former. But I kept the latter in mind as I tried to get back to sleep while people were freaking out and complaining to loved ones on their cellphones. In situations such as these, it is only the complete inability of others to cope that keeps me sane. I thank them for their idiocy, particularly the gentleman next to me with the love of text messaging and ringtones who declared, "Man, this is bullshit. I got places to go," as if the rest of us just like to take long bus rides on a Saturday morning in December to gaze at asphalt and bare trees.

The replacement bus arrived about an hour or so later, and we all headed over to reboard. Now, kind, smart-thinking, rational people would simply take the same seat on the new bus that they had before. Unfortunately, such people generally eschew buses, so by the time I got on the new bus, after waiting for Johnny Annoying Cellphone to move his disgruntled ass, every window seat was gone. And there went my chance to sleep for most of the rest of the trip. Can't sleep on the aisle seat. Don't know how anyone could.

By the time a window seat opened up in Scranton, I was afraid that if I went to sleep, I would wake up somewhere in Buffalo, staring at Vincent Gallo's long-lost, creepier brother and having a Beef on Weck crammed down my throat. So I fought off sleep, with a fair degree of success. And it was lucky I was awake, because it enabled me to hear the creep next to me complain on his cellphone that he was going to write a real nasty letter to Greyhound demanding a refund, because they wouldn't let him leave during the bus switch and this sort of mechanical breakdown was unacceptable, especially when he was taking a day trip to Binghamton. Again, I found comfort in my time of sleep deprivation in knowing that I wasn't that guy.

I finally arrived in Ithaca around 4:30, played some Mr. Do in the bus station (used to be way better at that), walked to the motel, did a quick runthrough at Wegmans, and settled down for the final 15 minutes of sleep of the day before it was time to start getting ready for the party and pre-party festivities.

And then things happened. I think it was fun. People were laughing. I remember most of it. Actually, as the party went on, my eighth wind kicked in and I was able to speak and act coherently. I think.

Eventually, sometime after midnight, I settled down for a solid eight hours of sleep. I woke up feeling like a human again. It was a nice feeling.

No more buses in 2007. It's my Christmas gift to myself.

1 comment:

Counselor Del Greco said...

I know how you do it - you sleep with your head hanging halfway in the aisle. But beware of fast moving people who then have the potential to decapitate you.