So…it’s been a minute since I last posted. Besides having traveled all over the country in the past month or so and working crazy hours in between travels (you know, what else is new?) I’ve been floundering to find a sense of direction in my life. And I don’t physically mean a sense of direction (though mine is terrible, and regularly waking up in different time zones and parts of the country will fuck you up a little bit), but a sense of purpose. A direction to follow along the path of life.
Or hell, even which path to take at all.
So now, I sit here with a cup of macadamia nut tea from Hawaii, incense burning, and Motionless in White blaring in the background. It’s a surprisingly inspiring combo. I’ve spent the past month reading self help books and writing lists on how I want my life to look. The Universe is pretty good about responding to our wants and needs when we put them out there…the problem for a lot of us is figuring out WTF those wants are. And that is exactly where I am at the moment.
I’ve talked a lot about “shoulds” in previous posts, and we all know those pretty well, and are often pretty good about acting on them. Or if we don’t act on them, we feel their pull; we feel the guilt; they drain us. We ignore what we really want in favor of these shoulds, and often don’t take our wants seriously — they’re dreams, or things we’ll do “when we have time”. Here’s the deal, people. Life is short, and the time is now. If we’re not actively living the life we want, what the fuck is the point?
I say all this, because it was exactly my lack of direction and sense of purpose that caused me to make a big, expensive mistake. Well, not mistake, per say. We’ll call it a “learning.” See, I paid attention in the third grade.
Y’all have read my blog: you know I’m usually really good at traveling. I’m also usually good with managing my money (or at least, suffering through unethically long shifts for days on end to pay for my lack of money management when need be…same difference, right?). But a couple weeks ago, I had one of the most stressful and expensive travel experiences I’ve had in a long time, and I’d love to share it with you so you can learn from my mistakes. And maybe get a good laugh, albeit at my expense.
April was a crazy month. I started the month with a 3 day trip to Miami, and had a 3 day trip to NOLA planned for the end of the month. My favorite band, Avatar was also on tour, which obviously meant putting my life on hold for a few days to go see them (one show here and one show in Omaha, NE). The same week that I saw Avatar, I also drove down to Iowa and back after work one night to catch my friend’s band Devil’s Run open for a rock band for whom I have a huge soft spot and have seen many times, Adelitas Way. If you haven’t heard of or listened to any of these bands (and if you know me, you’ve at least heard of Avatar since I don’t shut up about them), do yourself a favor and look them up RIGHT NOW. Seriously, Spotify or Pandora or YouTube that shit and headbang a little while you finish reading about my poor life choices.
3 shows in 4 days had me feeling high on life in a way I hadn’t in YEARS. And all I want in life is that feeling that few things can give me like a good rock and metal show and a road trip. So, wanting to hold onto that feeling, I decided to book a last minute trip to NY to catch another show on the Devils Run/Adelitas Way tour. I had a rare weekend off from work thanks to Easter, and it seemed like a waste not to do something with it.
Here’s where I should have listened to the Universe though. Yes, I had the weekend off, but I’d been desperate for a few days at home to do some cleaning, to save some money, to work on my blog, and I should have taken advantage of it. One of my best friends who lives in NY wasn’t even around that weekend, (but would be available Monday night if I stayed through then), and the reason I’ve spent so much time in NY the past few years is because I have friends there. And the kicker: flights were $600. You guys know that finding cheap flights is one of my many talents, but none of my tricks worked. THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SIGN. The Universe was telling me “no” (and I just had this weird gut feeling that if I went it would all go wrong), yet I was trying desperately to find a “yes.” I booked my flight Thursday to fly out Sunday morning and thanked the Universe for credit cards.
Sign number 2 that I should not have gone was that I couldn’t even get in touch with my friend in one of the bands…because his phone had gotten stolen at a show the night I booked my flight. If that’s not unlucky, I don’t know what is. Also not having the opportunity to sleep more than 4 hours per night for the few nights leading up to what I knew would be a busy trip with long days and late nights was also not a great sign.
So Sunday morning I wake up at 3am to catch my 6am flight. Smooth sailing…er, flying. I arrive in NY a little after 11am and decide to grab some coffee and brunch in Brooklyn. I had a healthy acai bowl and a cold press because the weather was fucking gorgeous. Also, I’d been sick the past few days and wasn’t able to stomach much more than that. I had a few hours to spend leisurely before this 3pm metal yoga class that I’d been wanting to take, and had missed the last time I was in NY in January. Pro tip #1: If there’s something important that you want to go see or do (when on vacation or otherwise) CHECK, AND DOUBLE CHECK, AND TRIPLE CHECK the time. I missed the class previously because I thought it was at 3pm, not 2pm. That could have been avoided pretty easily. Well, on this trip, turns out the class had gotten moved to 3pm (which I then DOUBLE and TRIPLE checked), so I decided to grab a beer at Brooklyn Brewery before heading to class. I’d checked the subway schedule and it looked like the commute from beer to yoga would be a quick one. Perfect.
Pro tip #2: Have a back up plan for NYC public transit. Like, I should know this by now. I’ve been to NYC a lot in the past few years and have never had a successful public transit experience by myself. Accompanied by my friends who are locals though, everything goes just fine. That, folks, is called Murphy’s law. It seems like it’s not an uncommon experience to for the metro to only run partway to my destination (seemingly unannounced) leaving me scrambling to find a way to reach a destination on time that doesn’t hurt my bank account.
I gave myself 45 minutes for the 20 minute journey outlined by Google Maps — they even listed that the L train was running on time! What it failed to mention was that the L was only running one stop, and not the five I needed to go. So I took the train one stop and was shuffled onto a very crowded bus, barely making it on and irritating people with my large backpack. Time was ticking as the bus was much slower than the subway thanks to NYC traffic, and I kept looking at my phone and quietly spewing cursewords like I had Tourette’s. Only 2 more stops to go…I should make it! The bus stop would be right outside yoga. Then — what in the world is this guy doing? The bus driver had missed the stop before mine, and despite driving all the way to one block from where my stop would be, he GOES BACK to the previous stop. I watched as my little blue dot on Google Maps goes from being 2 blocks away to .7 miles away…and it’s now 2:55pm.
I hop off the bus and sprint the .7 miles to yoga. I’m a runner, but I’m not used to running in the heat with a huge backpack, stressed and panicked. 2:59pm and I’m a block away when my backpack bursts open and someone in a nearby car yells, “Ma’am, your bra!” and I turn around to see that I’ve spilled most of my belongings. I gather them up and arrive out of breath and drenched in sweat a few minutes after 3pm.
Turns out, the instructor had decided to start class late, due to the L being down. It was a bit of a relief, but I was also on a time crunch to get to a show later. I tried to just be happy that I was finally going to make it to metal yoga, part of the reason I’d come to NY that weekend in the first place. (As in, I’d convinced myself this whole trip would be a good idea if I could find a flight early enough in the day to make it to this class.)
You guys. It was SO WEIRD. There are many different breeds of metalheads, and I realized that day the kind that I wasn’t. The class was fun and upbeat and a great workout…but while yoga and metal go together pretty flawlessly for me, yoga and Satan don’t. Like, I never thought I’d be in a yoga class (or, frankly any other situation) where I’d be pretending to “slit my throat for Satan!!!!”
I’m the kinda metalhead who likes really melodic death metal, cheesy power metal, hair metal…and has a soft spot for metalcore. WHATEVER, GUYS, I WENT THROUGH MY EMO TEENAGER PHASE IN MY EARLY TWENTIES, OK?! But I digress. Long story short, I’m not the kind of metalhead who pretends to fire off machine guns in a yoga class. To each their own! A lot of the class wasn’t exactly my cup of tea (or, should I say, cup of sacrificial blood), but I did really enjoy being in a yoga class with a kick-ass metal soundtrack (Judas Priest!!! \m/), a mini mosh pit, and lots of hair windmills and air guitar. It gave me a few ideas for the (much tamer) metal yoga I teach at home.
Between the yoga class, my desperate run through Brooklyn, and spending all morning in the stale fart air that is every airplane ride, I was feeling pretty gross. I grabbed my free beer after class (pretty thankful for some alcohol after that experience, honestly) and then called an Uber to Manhattan. No way I was risking another public transit struggle when I only had an hour and half before I needed to be at the show. Also, NY is, like, a real city and has this life-changing thing called Uber Pool.
I arrived at my hotel in St. Mark’s at 5:45pm, a little later than I’d hoped but still enough time for a quick shower since the venue was just a few blocks away. Turns out, however, that the hotel was CASH ONLY. Umm…is that actually a thing?! Apparently, it is. I shouldn’t have been surprised: St. Mark’s (and the East Village in general) is one of my favorite parts of NY, but it’s also a tad shady: multiple shops that sell bongs — oh, excuse me, water pipes — in the front and do tattoos and piercings in the back all crammed within a few blocks amidst bars, thrift stores, and vendors trying to sell the same souvenirs for cheaper than the guy next door. I always spend a lot of time there when I’m in NY, but I know it’s too much time when I watch someone grab a plastic bag and vomit into it.
I’d brought some cash, but not enough to cover my whole hotel room. After 3 years in the service industry, I’ve alway just refrained from depositing cash if I know I’ll need it, and can’t remember the last time I’d had to use an ATM. I had no idea what my PIN was to get cash, and I was a little bit short of what I needed.
Pro tip #3: Carry some cash in case of emergency on vacation, and know your freakin’ PIN like an adult if you need to get cash.
I feel like maybe I’m the only one for whom the above advice wasn’t obvious. Long story short though, I tried resetting my PIN online but couldn’t find a way. I took a few guesses at possible PINs on the ATM. I called my bank only to find out it can only be reset in person at the bank or a new PIN can be mailed to my home address. At this point I lost it and started sobbing about how a lot of good that would do me since I only needed the room for one night, etc.
They then tried to walk me through sending money to myself on my bank’s website and picking it up at a Western Union. I had to run to two different places to find a Western Union that was working, only to find out that the request couldn’t be processed in time through my bank (it would take 3 days). I had only one option left to get my money: to use Western Union’s website directly. This resulted in getting charged lots of extra fees…and then because my bank had instructed me to just send the money to myself (and my address is in Minnesota) I wasn’t able to pick up my money in New York.
I wish I could say that I handled this situation with aplomb, like, “thanks Universe for teaching me these lessons. I’m not hurt, I will figure this out, and I will get my shit together when I get home.” Alas, I’d been up since 3am, hadn’t eaten a proper meal all day, and had just wasted one of my precious 48 hours of vacay, so I didn’t exactly have my head on straight. Instead, I sobbed and cried and eventually ran dramatically out of the drugstore to the venue, still carrying my backpack full of possessions. On the bright side, my backpack at least stayed shut.
The bands I’d gone to see that night were all friends/new friends/friendly acquaintances, so I shouldn’t have been so worried about my plight. I showed up, said hey to people I knew, then changed out of my sweaty, disgusting clothes and redid my makeup. I guess it was a small victory that I had all my shit with me, because then I was at least able to put on deodorant before I gave anyone a hug.
When I explained my stupid situation to the group at large before the show (I’d at least managed to make it before the show started!), everyone was sympathetic but didn’t quite understand why I was freaking out. “You’re among friends, you should have known someone here would help you out!” I was told. My pride had allowed me to waste over an hour of my life crying and panicking because I didn’t want to resort to asking for a favor. I pride myself on self sufficiency.
So here comes Pro tip #4: Swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it. And that’s exactly what I finally did. My friend was able to lend me what I needed to get into my hotel, and I was able to pick up the tab when we went out later after the show. (Also, Venmo is a really handy app for sending money to your friends in situations like this!). It sucks to ask for help, but people will help people who help themselves. I don’t mean mooching off of people. But people — especially your friends! — are pretty willing to help someone in need. Ask and you shall receive and all that jazz. And if you ask and the answer is no, it’s not like you’re any worse off than where you started.
I wish I could say the rest of the night was a breeze, but one of the bands suffered technical issues and had to cut their set short, their was some stress and confusion about where to park vehicles for the bands (Pro tip #5: DO NOT bring a vehicle to NYC if you can help it! Unless you also plan on bringing your firstborn to pay valet fees, etc.), and everyone was very hangry by the end of the show. Let’s just blame Mercury being in retrograde for the clusterfuck of a weekend, shall we? It seems a lot of people I talked to after my trip had had similarly rough weekends. DAMN YOU, MERCURY!!!!!!
All in all thought, even if there were some glitches, there’s still nowhere I’d rather be than a rock show. Good music, a new city, and surrounded by my kind of people. And the night ended with pizza, Insomnia Cookies, and wandering the streets of NY with new friends until even the City that Never Sleeps slept. Looking back the whole thing is quite funny. I don’t like to use the word regret for any experience and regret is certainly not what I feel for this (mis)adventure, but, damn, I could’ve saved myself a lot of trouble (and money…) if I’d just listened to the Universe and skipped this trip!
Remember when I’d talked in an earlier post about finding simple and healthy ways to get high on life? This is not a good example of that. Sometimes, though, we need to take a risk, fuck everything up, and then go home at the end of it all and enjoy the simple things.