ANN ARBOR - Day One
So I made it to Ann Arbor yesterday, and managed to set the World 24-Hour Record for Surreal Experiences in the process. Let's go to the replay:
3:45 AM -- I wake up (after having gone to bed at approx. 2:45AM, and not having slept more than 3 hours a night for the previous 4 days) to get ready to leave for the airport to catch my 6:10 flight. I open the door, bag of trash in one hand, duffel bag in the other, purse over the arm, backpack on, and notice that, oh wow, all the lights in the hall/stairwell are off. I quickly shut the door back and go retrieve my mace, which I was intending to leave at my apartment so I didn't get it confiscated by airport security, and considered a return venture into the hall, but discovered that it was truly pitch black in the hall once I shut the door, so that wouldn't do. I called 311 to ask if it was within my rights as a tenant to wake the super up at 4am over a lighting issue, they said it was. Fortunately, I live at the other end of the hall from, but on the same floor as, the super (and there are only 4 apartments on my floor, so it's not an extremely long hall.) I called the super's apartment, but naturally, no one answered. So I put my bags down, test fired the mace into the toilet to make sure it was in good working order, and headed out into the hall, leaving my door open for light. I got to their apartment, and knocked. Nothing. I rang the bell. Nothing. I knocked again. Finally, the super's wife comes to the door, and is shocked to discover that the lights are out in the hall, but not her apartment. I point out that I'm trying to get to the airport, and already running late, so she grabs a flashlight, I grab my bags, and she lights my way down the stairs. I go and hail a cab.
5:45 AM -- I am on the plane. I am in row 15, seat F, against the window. Seat E is empty. Seat D is occupied by a large, 40-50 something Arab man who occasionally glances at me. I attempt to sleep.
6:20 AM -- Beverage service comes around and my seatmate "helpfully" wakes me to see if I want anything. I take this opportunity to get out my iPod, as we are now allowed to use our personal electronic devices. My seatmate asks me if I speak French. I do not. He attempts to ask me questions about my iPod. He tells me that he is Lebanese. Now I'm interested. I want to know about the political situation there, but do not want to ask outright for fear that he is pro-Syrian, and I am having trouble communicating my questions indirectly. He asks me if I've been to Beirut. Nope. Do I want to go to Beirut? Well, someday, I would not be opposed to seeing Beirut, but it's not really in my plans for the day. He gives me his phone number in Beirut. And Germany. And Detroit. I learn that his name is Shakib, and that he's a professor of political science. I get out my computer, as this interaction is now, in my estimation, over, and I have work to do. He insists I put his numbers in my computer. Okay, whatever. Now, from this point on, he's TOTALLY leaned over the middle seat, and I'm a little stuck here.
This is approximately the time in the flight, about 45 minutes (or as we will later see, an entire eternity) from the airport, when we have to put away personal electronics and remain in our seats. Now I'm really stuck. I have no props to ignore him, and I cannot move about the cabin to avoid him, and this situation does not yet appear to merit reseating. And by the time it does, it will be too late. So now that my hands are free from the computer, he takes one of them and starts vigorously massaging it. I'm having a fairly difficult time retrieving my hand, short of slapping him, which is a step I'm not ready to take at this point for fear of causing an on-board disturbance/international incident. It's when he goes for the cuff button on my overshirt that I manage to get my hand back.
My hand goes back into my lap, where it firmly clasps my other hand. He lays his hand face up on my leg, begging to be held. I pick it up and place it back in the neutral middle seat, with a firm 'NO'. Enroute back to my lap, my hand is captured again. He notices the ring I wear and asks if I am married. In an unfortunate fit of honesty, I say no. He asks me to marry him and come back to Beirut with him. I refuse, and manage to retrieve the captive hand again. He asks me to move into the middle seat, presumably for more convenient access. I firmly refuse. Fortunately, he never gets it in his mind to move himself, because that would have caused an international incident. It is at this point he starts puckering up and beseeching me to kiss him, which gets a very emphatic no. I turn to looking out the window and think about the possibilities for using this situation in my next playwriting class. He starts saying, softly, in a slightly wounded tone, "I love you! I love you!" over and over. I do not speak to or look at him for the remainder of the flight, which takes several eternities. Also, I have to pee. The pilot can't land this thing fast enough.
We land. We have an interminable taxi to the terminal. Finally, we get off the plane. I make a sprint to the women's room across the way. There, I am able to deal with the urination issue, and also take the opportunity to put on my coat and scarf, wrapping the scarf over my head. I quickly go down to baggage claim, and fortunatly my bag is one of the first off the conveyor, and Alex is right there. We make our getaway.
And before you all rush to the comments to criticize my handling of the situation, three notes:
1) I was in an extremely sleep-deprived and somewhat delirious/slap-happy/loopy state. The mind was not firing on all cylinders.
2) This didn't seem to be an actually threatening situation. Uncomfortable yes, but benignly so, and not worth causing a scene/international incident. No harm done.
3) I have a perverse enjoyment of trainwrecks, which may be how I get myself into so many surreal situations in the first place -- when most people would head for the hills, I stick around as long as it seems interesting. I like being ON the trainwreck. I was hesitant to cause a scene to end the incident because really, I was fascinated to see where this was going, and really wanted to use it for material for a play.
Anyway, moving on.
11AM -- I am in the basement of the church building where I'm staying making hot cocoa to take, as a gesture of friendship, to the LGBTQQA Kiss-In rally.
12AM -- We arrive on the diag, and the organizers offer to go get us a table for our stuff. The woman in charge says, "Let me get some strong girls to go get it for you." Sometimes the stereotypes are right on. Now I am on the diag, wearing rainbow armband, handing out cocoa, and thinking that if I were running the rally, it would be more theatrically interesting. The crowd reaches a level of cocoa saturation. Alex and I get bored and leave.
Afternoon: I move into the room where I am staying. I talk to my friend Ciara, to whom the room belongs for a while, and briefly discuss my 20-minute musical, which I work on for a while. I go out get some lunch, go visit my tree, etc. I return to the building and take a nap.
7:45 -- Alex wakes me up and we go down to Yost for the hockey game. Alex was confused as to the game time and consequently, we have missed the first period. As we arrive, the score is Notre Dame 1, Michigan 0. The second period starts. Michigan scores. And scores again. And again. And again. Notre Dame puts in it's second string goalie. Michigan scores. And scores. And again. The second period ends. The score is 7-1. The third period starts. Michigan scores. Notre Dame puts in it's third string goalie. Michigan scores. Score: 9-1. Now the crowd is chanting "WE WANT 10! WE WANT 10!" With a minute to go, we get it. Final score 10-1. This was supposed to be game 1 in a three game playoff. Somehow I doubt game 3 will be necessary. Highest scoring game I've ever seen.
10PM -- Alex and I go to the bowling alley where all of my friends are. I flit between groups of people and do not bowl, largely because I'm such a bad bowler that I cannot even reliably bowl my age.
Midnight -- We all go to Steak 'n' Shake. Strawberry milkshake and onion rings and friends. Happiness.
1:30ish, maybe? -- I return to the building and get ready for bed. Ciara has another friend staying with her tonight, and they both return home. Her friend D appears to be Filipina. This intrigues me because I have a random question about Tagalog that relates to the project I'm working on. We chat for a while. We ask where each other are from, etc. She says "[place]." I say, "Really! Do you know the N family?" She says, "Well, I know a N family from [neighboring subset of place]" I say, "Yeah, that's where the Ns I know are from." She asks, "Are they Filipino?" "Yep." "L, C, and Jay N?" "Yeah, that's them." As it turns out, she grew up with Jay's family, their moms are close friends, has known him forever, etc. I point out that he's my collaborator at the moment in New York. This floors D, and also Ciara, as the one person I mentioned to her earlier from my program was Jay, as Ciara and I were discussing my 20-minute. This leads to a several-hour conversation of the crazy webs of mutual people we all know.
3AM -- Bed. Sleep.