I’m in London, alive and hating the time difference: it’s 2 in the morning here but feels like 9 at night for me. The trip here didn’t go quite as smoothly as I would have hoped, but I survived.
Couldn’t sleep at all last night: too much packing to do, too many nerves on edge, and it seemed in vain given that I had to leave for JFK at 3 in the morning. My flight wasn’t until 8:30, but also needed 2.5 hours to drive, a little time for getting lost, and arriving the mandated 2 hours in advance for security checks. Instead of resting I packed, worried about whether my bags violated the American Airlines’ regulation on maximum permitted weight, repacked, and then worried some more. I was still looking forward to the trip but also realizing that I’d miss much in Wilkes-Barre.
Made it to JFK by 5:30. After finishing security and all that jazz, I still had 2 hours to kill until my flight. A combination of nerves kept me awake until my 8:00 boarding, but just barely: I slept straight through take-off and most of the flight. Probably has something to do with why I’m writing instead of sleeping now…
Fortunately, nobody was seated next to me: I managed to donate half a gallon of saliva to American Airlines via the chair next to me. However, any compunction I had about my wet gift was erased at baggage claim: American Airlines managed to place my main suitcase, which has pretty much all my clothes inside it, into limbo. I guess we’re about even: they’re plane’s a little wetter for awhile and I’m a little smellier.
The Underground was pretty straightforward, so I made it to what I thought would be my hostel quickly. Unfortunately, the hostel had decided to tell anyone that applied for a room that night that they had it: I was one of about 50 people booked into imaginary rooms. So, I’m spending tonight at a shabbier hostel a few blocks away. Walked into my 8-person room before 11 to find everyone else fast asleep.
I was smart and foolish to trust strangers today. Doing so saved me a few pence when I bought a used subway pass, but I lost out on several pounds after a different stranger gave me a misspelled list of places to see and a sob story about how he really needed a little money. I tried making up some excuse about how I didn’t have any change on me and couldn’t get money out, but when he continued his bullshit tale I decided to just give in instead of having a loud argument within hours of arriving in the country.
Thinking I’d exercise my newfound alcohol autonomy and take advantage of the United Kindom’s liberal alcohol regulations, I went into a convenience store to buy a beer at a little after 11. apparently I’m going to have to change my sleep schedule: much of the city shuts down after 11:00 at night, including most places that sell alcohol.
The day had setbacks but ended up well: I had a nice debate with some French guy and got an offer for an interview with someone else. How’d I manage this? It was tough: I sat down in the lobby of my hostel and started writing this. The French guy struck up a heavily accented conversation with me, during which he recommended some books to read, bashed Americans’ focus on image, and said that Le Pen is just like Bush. People are the same in some basic ways, though: we both agreed that “Fight Club” and “The Matrix” are excellent movies. I continued to work hard by sitting in the lobby for another half hour and ended up talking to some English guy. He bashed the hustle of life in London, recommended that I move to a smaller city up north, and gave me his boss’ business card in case I want an interview.
All in all, an up and down kind of day but a good enough adventure.