Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Shared Studio and The Westin Hotel

Before heading up to NYC, I did sort of move out of my parents' house for a while.  I got a job as a glorified camp counselor at a summer enrichment program for high school kids called NYLC.  There were four eleven day sessions over the course of eight weeks in the summer, and for the entirety of each session we all lived in the illustrious Westin Hotel in Tysons Corner, VA.  The hotel itself was nothing special, but while working seventeen hour days teaching high school kids about the government and carting them all over DC to see the sights, any bed anywhere was welcome.  I basically spent my three days off between sessions sleeping for seventeen hours a day back at my parents' house. 

In the midst of this madness, I was preparing to move to New York.  I'd decided to live in NYU graduate housing my first year, since I didn't really know anything about the city and didn't have time to think about it.  I waited, and waited, and waited to hear where I was living.  My first choice was in a two bedroom apartment, but there were a couple of different buildings and I had some preferences.  A couple of days into my last NYLC session, I was notified that I'd be living in a shared studio.  A what?  Basically, a freshman dorm room.  Suddenly, in the middle of seventeen hour days playing tour guide, I had to cancel my university housing, get my deposit back, look through ads on craigslist, and maybe even go to New York to look for a place.  To complicate matters further, I had a planned, five day trip to San Francisco two days after I finished working.

By my last day at NYLC I'd basically decided that I would have to take a place sight-unseen because I didn't have anytime to go to New York.  My mom sort of freaked out about that.  Since my brother was working for an airline, I could fly standby for free, and my mother convinced me to just fly up for the day in between finishing work and going to San Francisco.  It was a total whirlwind -- I saw two apartments, and liked both.  I managed to grab a beer with friends somewhere in the middle as well.

Then it came time for me to go.  I'd gotten into the city without any issues and had taken the subway around all afternoon.  I thought I had it covered.  Just get on the A train and get off at Howard Beach.  It was 7:30, my flight was at 10:00, and I thought I was totally fine.  I got on the A train at West 4th street and read my book for half an hour until I thought it would be wise to start keeping an eye out for my stop.  We got to 80th Street, and then 88th, and then the next stop was to be at the Aquaduct, right before mine.  Only, it wasn't the Aquaduct it was 104th street.  It was at this moment that I realized that the A train forks out to two lines right before JFK.  At this point it was 9:00.

I managed to turn around and get back to where I was supposed to be in about twenty minutes.  I found the SkyTrain and raced to get on.  We went one stop and stopped and waited, and waited, and waited in the station.  Eventually they announced that there was a suspicious package on our train and they were calling in the bomb squad to dispose of it.  Honestly, the one time someone saw something and actually said something . . .

So I got off the train a bit frantic -- it was now 9:40.  Another announcement was made that no trains would be running through that stop until "the situation was contained."  I ran up to a SkyTrain worker and asked him if there was any way for me to get a cab out there, since I was afraid I was going to miss my flight.  As soon as he said no, I burst into tears and started blubbering about getting on the wrong subway and needing to get home because I had a flight to San Francisco the next day, etc.  This guy looked at me and said, "I'll drive you."  I weighed the possibility of getting raped and murdered by this stranger for about a second before I decided it was my only chance of making my flight.

He drove like a maniac and got me to the terminal in about five minutes.  I threw five dollars at him and shouted thank you as I ran out the door.  I flew through the terminal, trying not to knock people over in my quest to get to the security checkpoint as quickly as possible.  I was whisked to the front of the line, as irresponsibly late people frequently are, at 9:55.  It was at this point that I was informed that I was a selectee.  I was identified as a possible threat and wanded up and down, my purse was searched, and I got a pat down.  As they started the whole process I said to anyone who would listen, "It doesn't even matter now, because you've made me miss my flight," which luckily didn't get me into further trouble with the surly folks at TSA.

After the indignity of the increased security check, I was positive I'd missed the flight, but ran on to my gate anyway.  They literally closed the door as I ran down the stairs.  I could see my plane, but per FAA regulations, couldn't get on it.  There's a rule about opening the door after they've closed it.  At this point I was a blithering mess.  I got re-booked on the first flight the next morning, and went to find a comfy place to spend my first night in NYC.  I slid under a large sign onto it's concrete pedestal (which was oddly the most comfortable place in all of Terminal 4) for a quick little map before heading back to check-in for my new flight.  At 7:30 AM, after an hour and a half delay, I was finally out, not even knowing if it had been worth it, not knowing whether I'd gotten either apartment or would have to come back up again the next week.  Ridiculous.

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