Monday, October 09, 2006

Tales of Indianapolis: Or, Indy isn't nearly as bad as you think it might be. Yeah, total shocker!

Chapter 1: Good things, bad things

* In packing for my trip on Monday night, I realized that I needed to bring a black sweater for some of the outfits I was planning to take. The weather hadn't gotten quite cold enough here in CO to switch out summer stuff for winter stuff yet, so our sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves were still in our little storage area in the badly designed and ugly cinderblock thingy connected to our house. "It leaks!" our landlords had warned us, so we took precautions by sealing everything in those plastic blanket bags.

I went out to retrieve my black sweater and found that "It leaks" was the biggest understatement of the year, and everything we had in there was pretty much ruined - the winter down comforter, the extra blankets and flannel sheets, and (worst of all) the enormous bag full of all of our winter hats, scarves, gloves and mittens (and two of my favorite sweaters) was completely waterlogged. I went through everything at 11 PM, dreading the status of each item as I pulled it out and tossed the ones that looked salvageable in the washer. I managed to salvage one sweater, one scarf, one pair of gloves and three hats out of everything in the bag - the rest was rotted, mildewed, or both. We lost a lot of stuff that I'd made for Hulk, that I'd made for myself, and things that had been gifts to us from friends and family members over the years. My black sweater made it (thought it was pretty stinky and needed a thorough washing and airing, so didn't go into my suitcase), but most other stuff didn't.

* When the SuperShuttle came to pick me up on Tuesday morning, I got chauffered, because there wasn't anyone else who needed a ride. My driver was from Kenya and told me stories of driving across the US to California on his first vacation in the states.

* I got to the airport and was asked by the self-check-in machine whether I'd volunteer to give up my seat in exchange for a free ticket I could use later. "Hells yeah!" I thought, "Free ticket to CA for danksgibbing!" I talked to the ticket agent, who told me she needed one seat relinquished, and then she sent me over to the long line at Untied customer "service." As I reached the front of the line, the helpful agent said "They're still boarding, why did she send you over here?" and sent me back, only to find out that not everyone showed up for the flight and they didn't need my seat after all. So that free ticket fell through my fingers like goop, that stuff you make with cornstarch and water and foodcoloring for preschoolers.

* It was an Untied Express direct flight to Indy, and my seat was pretty comfortable compared to the usual 737 misery. I was seated next to a guy on his way home to prepare for a move to Oklahoma City for his fiance's job. We had a nice conversation, I discovered that men who look like they once played football and currently coach football probably did once play football and do currently coach, and he ended up offering me a ride downtown so I wouldn't have to take a cab to the hotel. It was a nice introduction to the midwest for me, my only other trip to said part of the country having been a trip to Michigan six years ago.

* My room was lovely and cushy and I spent a couple of hours shopping in the mall connected to my hotel by a covered pedestrian walkway. So people don't even have to go outside to go shopping. Sweet! Plus, they had H&M, which was totally fabulous. The hotel takes up an entire city block and the open atrium inside is a little vertigo-inducing if you take the glass elevator all the way to the top (21 floors) and then back down.

* I hadn't yet met up with anyone I knew, so I picked an oirish place to eat dinner ("Claddagh Irish Pub" - sure) and halfway through my meal and 20oz pint of Strongbow I realized that I'd forgotten a Very Important Prescription that I Must Take Daily To Stay Ungravid at home in Denver. Shit. And then I realized that, after taking said Prescription for nearly 10 years (with a short break to enable weight loss), I'd forgotten to take it Monday night in the aftermath of the packing and the mourning of the winter accessories. SHIT.

Chapter 2 Things Mostly Get Better

* The alarm went off at 6:30 Eastern time. That's 4:30 Mountain time. NOT FUN. My eyes were a lovely shade of salmon as I tried to do my makeup.

* My responsibility was the charity auction portion of the conference, wherein each year we pick a local charity, people who attend the conference donate cool shit from their state, and people bid on it, silent-auction fashion. I spent most of the morning organizing stuff and giving people reciepts and trying as best I could to jump into the presentations, none of which I wanted to miss.

* I figured out that I could have my prescription called in to a pharmacy nearby after waiting until a convenient break in the confererence schedule to make some phone calls. I ran out at the next available break to pick up the pills and start popping 'em.

* The charity we picked was Rupert's Kids, started by that Rupert guy who won $1 million on Survivor, but not by actually winning it. It's actually a really good charity (IMHO) and he came to speak at lunch and then signed autographs and posed for pictures and stuff. Since I don't watch Survivor, it didn't mean that much to me, but I was glad the money was going toward something important.

* The gym facilities: Very good. I didn't make use of the pool, but that looked good, too. The lack of free wireless in the rooms (and thus my week long blog silence): not good, especially considering how expensive the damn hotel was.

* There is apparently a chain of dueling piano bars in the Midwest (and south-ish, since Louisville has one too) called Howl at the Moon. I went to said piano bar in Indy on Wednesday night with some of my colleagues from New Mexico (Yes, Hulk, they have a NEW Mexico now!). While they didn't have food, they did have pretty cheap drinks, and the piano player guys seemed to be able to play anything (it was an all-request sort of deal). It took 4 drinks before I realized that I had had 4 drinks and was barely tipsy and then realized, "Oh, yeah, altitude to sea level. Damn, I'm not a cheap date here" and still had one more drink, so my tally for the night was FIVE DRINKS which must be some sort of record for me. Also, I totally got picked up by some guy because I was the only one in my group not wearing a wedding ring. I gave him my spam email address and told him to email me next time he was in Denver and Hulk and I would go hang out. I can't even remember the last time someone hit on me in a bar, and it was kind of flattering, just to know that Hulk isn't the only guy out there who thinks I'm hott.

* The piano bar was fun, but we needed food, so we stumbled back to a restaurant in the mall across from the hotel and ordered grub. The server came over to us and said "You're guaranteed to win at least $25 if you sign up for karaoke, because there are only 3 people signed up right now." We looked around, saw that there were fewer than 10 people in the place (including the servers) and said, what the hell, so one of the girls from NM and I each sang a song and won our damn $25 and I only had water there. Also, a chicken sandwich. But $25! For free!

Chapter 3: 5 drinks in one night takes its toll

* I swear I set the alarm for 7 AM. It went off, I woke up, emptied my bladder, crawled back in bed and slept another hour. So by the time I got downstairs, breakfast was over and the presentations had begun. I sat in on a really good one and an OK one and got some knitting done, and loaded up on food at lunch. By this time, my body clock was totally wacko - it didn't know what time it was or what I should be doing.

* I managed to score some internet time at the conference-sponsored "Internet Cafe" to ensure I wouldn't have 304958309485 work emails to return when I got home, but that was about all I could do because there was someone sitting next to me doing the same thing. So I started going into Internets Withdrawl. Seriously, people, it was not pretty.

* Dinner was consumed in the big rotating restaurant on the top of the hotel that evening. I joined a group of people and saw the downtown from the lofty perch. I have heard that it is one of the most expensive restaurants in Indianapolis, and I still managed to find food to fit into my per diem, which should tell you something about how inexpensive it is even in downtown Indy. Speaking of - I didn't get nearly enough time to walk around and explore. It seemed like a good city for that sort of thing, but they kept me hopping. I realized after I got home that I averaged about 5.5 hours of sleep per night, and what with the time difference added in, I just didn't have the energy for everything I wanted to do.

Chapter 3: The Reckoning (and the reunion)

* Friday morning was the big presentation that everyone had been waiting for from Big Federal Agency that is doing its best to kill the program I run. After all the Agency bashing throughout the conference, I wondered how the presentation would go, but everyone was pretty respectful.

* We raised $1060 for Rupert's Kids (I donated CO wine, a calendar, and fancy package of tea from Celestial Seasonings for the CO package) and it was matched by my organization. Pretty good!

* The keynote/ending speaker was this guy who's having a movie made of his life (it comes out soon) starring Peter from Office Space. So that's pretty sweet.

* After a board/bored meeting, I had appetizers with some people, bought some jeans at TJ Maxx, and met up with EEK! and her husband The Boy. It had been three years since I'd seen EEK and was my first time meeting The Boy after hearing him talked up so many times, and we had a lovely evening. We heard a little bit of blues at this blues place while we ate, and then we found a quieter place to have ciders and beers and got caught up, though it didn't really feel like it had been any time at all since we'd hung out. I like friendships like that. Plus, I got to see them doing their Titanium Ring Wonder Twins thingy, which I've always wanted to see.

* My hotel (and EEK/Boy's) was overrun with all these people partying for some sports event that was going on in town. When I got in at 1:30 AM, my floor was relatively quiet (though the atrium and some of the other floors were hopping), but it smelled like some skunk-ass wacky tobaccy. Luckily, I was too exhausted to care.

Chapter 4: The Longest Day That Didn't Involve International Travel

* Another 7:30 AM call after showering and packing until 2:30 AM the night before. I had another bored meeting (Long range planning! so exciting!) until I had to get the airport, and when I hauled my crap downstairs, this other lady from the conference was there and offered to share her LIMO SERVICE with me. Dude! It cost me $15 to ride in a stretch limo to the airport, which was less than a cab ride would have cost to share. Plus, the driver was cool and the lady sounded like she was from Southy even though she lives in New Haimpshah.

* Flight: uneventful. Landing: a little shaky (smallish plane) but OK. Luggage: took 40 minutes to pop out on the conveyor after we landed. It was by far the longest I'd ever had to wait for luggage at DIA. Then I squeezed into the SuperShuttle destined for downtown, waited for all the conventioneers to be deposited at their respective hotels, got home, picked the 4093845098 ripe tomatoes, sighed at the plethora of tiny, tiny yellow leaves on the lawn and in the yard (a pain in the ass, because rakes don't pick 'em up and there are too many for brooms), and hauled my exhausted ass inside. I think I might have been a little delerious, actually. My cats were shocked to see me without Hulk. It's the first time I've spent the night at home and he's been away (on a cabin trip, lucky bastage) since we've lived together, though I have been gone many a night for work and such.

* I wanted to go to sleep at 8:30 but I made myself stay up until 10 and slept for 11 hours.

Conclusion: Indy wrapup

I seriously think that the Indianapolis Tourism Commission should have their new slogan be "Indy - Not nearly as bad as you might expect!" because it describes the city, at least the immediate downtown near the capitol and such, to a T. There are very few locally grown restaurants (most are chains that you'd find in any major city) and there are a lot of hotels, but they've done quite a bit to fix things up and make them hospitable for visitors. The streets are easy to navigate and some of the architecture is really cool. I wish I'd had more time to just go outside and walk around and explore a bit, but unlike Seattle last year and Boston the year before, I really didn't feel like staying an extra few days. Maybe someday I'll have occasion to go again, and I'll know that I don't need to dread it quite so much.

Also, I know this is the longest blog entry evar OMG and probably not as eloquently written as it might be, but if I wait any longer to write down my stories I'll forget them.


Anonymous said...

$15 limo! $25 karaoke! Indy's all right by me!

(But sucks to your leakage!)

yournamehere said...

Indy has a nice downtown. Try to visit Louisville sometime. You might possibly think it's not bad.