Response: What I learned over my summer vacation

nycsunset_tysonSummer vacation was great. Life threw itself at me, or I threw myself at it, and the question is, how did I react?

Most of summer focused on a three week period where I saw Coldplay, went to NYC, traveled the east coast, and then saw The Fray.

(If you don’t read anything else, read the story of our first night in DC)

The rest of this might be kind of long. I really try not to talk about my life just for the sake of talking about my life, because then it just feels like I’m bragging, like one long facebook status where I get to say “Hey world! Look at me!” So I’ll try to context what I saw within what I learned. ‘Try’ being the key word there.

Speaking of what I saw, I tried for a good couple of hours in class last week to upload this pictures of our trip that were on my phone. For one reason or another, it didn’t work. So I’ll give it another shot tomorrow, (what else am I going to do in class? listen?) and eventually I will get all the pictures from Caleb.

Back to our trip,

I knew this summer would be different then last summer. Last summer I was dirt poor, living out of a duffel bag, had none of my old friends, and basically spent the entire time living to work (and loving it) whereas this summer, I had money, a great apartment, great friends to spend time with, and was working to live. And live we did.

After spending the first month of summer working at saving money, summer finally got underway with an a Coldplay concert. The band ended up coming up to the grass and playing a couple of songs (including a cover of ‘Billy Jean’) just a couple of feet away from us. Not a bad start to our vacation.

The next day, me, TJ, and Caleb got up and boarded a plane for NYC. The only thing I remember from the plane ride is that they didn’t serve us food, and the first thing I remember thinking about New York was, “Where can I get some pizza?” We ended up spending about four days in the city. In that time, we were lucky enough to stay at my friend Ryan Larette’s apartment in New Jersey. I have never been so content sleeping on the floor. Ryan is an engineer at a music studio in Manhattan, and one of the best moments of our trip was when Ryan granted me some late night studio time to record a rap song. For some reason I was REALLY nervous before this. but, in the end, life goal: Check. Thank’s entirely to him, it didn’t sound half bad.

We definitely hit all the tourist spots in the city, and thanks to my friend Kate Mckinniss, we got to hit up alot of the local spots too. We got on the late show, saw the presidents motorcade, and even braved the projects as we searched for Rucker Park. My favorite part of the city (and of the trip) was the Staten Island Ferry, we got to see the city and the Statue of Liberty at dusk, it was almost surreal. It’s one of those moments that I can’t explain well, but will always remember.

From there we boarded an unmarked bus that was headed for DC. I would be lying if I said I never wondered if the driver was driving us all into the woods to kill us. I mean, common, how can you get away with charging only $20 for a 4 hour bus ride? And the driver just stuffed the cash in his pockets, i mean, how sketchy is that? I ended up forgetting about how sketchy the bus ride was thanks to a lovely lady named Tess. You see, like most buses, Our’s only had rows of two, and with three guys, that meant one of us had to sit alone. A position I gladly volunteered for when Tess got on the bus. None of this really matters except to say thanks to Tess, not only for putting up with me the entire bus ride, but also for bringing us cupcakes the next night in DC.

When people ask me about DC, I tell them it’s kind of like the grand canyon, it’s one of those things that everyone should see, but once you see it, you kind of go “Ok, sooo, is there anything else?” Cool to see, but once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. So we only stayed two nights, but that was partly for another reason…

Which leads us to what is probably the best story from the trip.

Our first night in DC, we got off the sketchy bus at about 10pm, said goodbye to Tess, and went looking for a cheap hotel room. One would think that this wouldn’t be so hard, except for the fact that DC recently passed a law stating that you had to be 21 to rent a room (So I can kill myself with smoking, kill other people with guns, but can’t put a roof over my head for a night? Amazing.) So we went searching frantically to all the hotels in the area…trying to find ANYTHING. around midnight, when it became clear that we weren’t finding anything, and while TJ was trying to haggle with the girl at the front desk of the Hyatt, I went exploring around the hotel. Now I’ve explored most of the big hotels here in SF, and one thing I’ve learned is that there is ALWAYS empty rooms, you just have to know how to find them. So I went exploring and happened upon a dark, vacant conference room. So I got the guys, took them to the empty room and basically said that this was our best bet, and that we should just tough it out here for the night. TJ gave me a dismayed look, and Caleb basically shrugged his shoulders since he was all about saving money.

So I crawled under a table…and as we all picked out our spots and got ready for bed, some strange man wanders into our little pitch black room! Now we all saw him walk in, but he didn’t turn on the lights or anything, and since it was so dark (and the fact that I was under a table) none of us had any idea what he was doing. Thinking he was a security guard making rounds, I instinctively froze in some awkward twister position. Pretty soon this guy started making noises, like he was snorting cocaine or something. I’m not joking. Soon he left, and we never did figure out what the deal with that guy was, but it sure was interesting.

A little while later TJ walks out and just does not return. I didn’t know if he had gotten picked up by security or what, but i wasn’t going to risk my comfortable little spot to find out.

About 6AM, I wake up to Caleb nudging me and telling me he was going to the bathroom. Now I don’t really remember much after that, except for dozing off again, only to awake a couple of minutes later to Caleb returning, and then right behind him, a security guard!

She looks into the pitch black room, less than 10 feet from where im curled up under the table and asks, “Hey! who ARE you?” At this point I’m a little nervous and trying to hold back giggles as Caleb sheepishly responds, “Uhm, I’m a kid…” He packs up his stuff as she follows him out. Somehow I managed to hold back laughter the entire time, and a couple of minutes later I get a text from Caleb basically saying “get out.”  So I pack up and leave, only to get a text 30 seconds after I walk out saying, “Hey, can you get my beanie?” So I walk back toward the security guard who is now diligently guarding the level we had snuck into, Me (attempting to sweet talk this guard) “Hey, listen, I just dared my friend to sneak into that conference room, and he left his beanie there, its all my fault, and I’m really sorry, would it be ok if I went and got it for him since you kicked him out of the hotel?” To my surprise, She tells me to bring Caleb in to see her if he really wants his beanie.

Apparently he got lectured, and among other gems, was asked, “Why do you have a beanie? are you Muslim?” to which Caleb replied “uhm, no, I just like beanies.” Haha. Priceless.

Anyway, we met up with TJ about a half hour later…he couldn’t sleep and had ended up going to some 24 hour coffee shop. Figuring we needed showers, we sweet talked our way into “previewing” a gym. “previewing” meaning that we walked in, used their showers, then left. Ironically enough, we stayed at that same exact Hyatt the next night, which was the only night we paid for the entire trip. And the next morning we happened upon some AAA coupons for a complimentary breakfast buffet on the same exact floor of the conference room we had gotten kicked out of less than 28 hours earlier.

Figuring to save money, and anxious to get to our free condo in Florida, We decided to take a greyhound bus from DC all the way to St. Petersburg, FL. Now, to be clear, it was 24 straight hours on a greyhound bus (which would make a fantastic movie title by the way) Among other things that happened, they did pull the bus over at one point and arrested someone. Luckily it wasn’t the guy who happened to be sitting to me.

Florida was nice and relaxing, and aside from sleeping in everyday, visiting the beach and catching sea critters, we also snuck into warped tour.

While in Florida, I searched all over the condo we were staying at for laundry soap, and did not find it. So i went out and spent five bucks on some, only to come back and find some in the one place I did not look at the condo. I was genuinely frustrated.

Now here is what I learned over summer vacation, I learned about my reactions to… life. When I went home in May, something happened where I was inconvenienced, I don’t remember what it was, but I remember my Mom saying “You know how I know you’ve grown up? You used to throw a fit over things like this.” And while it was absolutely true, it did not register with me at all until I she said it.

My question is this, why do I react to things the way I do? Especially subconsciously. When we were in NYC, and I got the chance to record in the studio, I was genuinely nervous. Serious butterflies. But why?! Because I was going to put my pride out there as I tried to rap in front of my three friends who could care less? Why was I so nervous over that? In Florida, why was I pissed about spending $5 on laundry soap? It was five dollars! But I was genuinely frustrated, and I still haven’t figured out why.

On the other end of the spectrum, I called my friend Rick the other day, and as we got to talking, he mentioned he was dealing with alot, that a girl had gotten raped on campus the night before. Do you know what my response was? “Man, thats crazy. Good luck with that.” Then there was a silence…which I interrupted with “So how is your fantasy football team doing?”




Damn. I really wish I had more appropriate responses.

Why would I get so nervous about rapping, so angry about laundry soap, and so nonchalant about rape? Something is seriously wrong there. Am I becoming numb to the real issues around me? I hope not.

In the weeks and months to come, I hope to improve my responses to things. To react better to the world and the problems around me. To live better through my responses to what life throws at me. Over summer vacation, I realized how I needed to respond to my world. Now I just need to learn it…


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