Home > Misc. > 27th Annual Bridge School Benefit

27th Annual Bridge School Benefit

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Haven’t written here in awhile. Totally forgot to do the 31 horror movie thing for October, too. It was a fairly quiet October (and 2013 so far, to be honest). But I went on a trip for the first time in ages and wanted to ramble/write about it, so here I go.

Near the middle of September, I learned through a friend that Tom Waits was going to be playing a show, the Bridge School Benefit. She was going, so I commented that I was jealous, and how I wished I could see him play. Then I forgot about it for awhile. This summer was a fairly trying one, due to weather, work problems, and some personal stuff going on that I still don’t fully understand. So I had been in hermit mode for a good while, staying offline and doing things like reading and catching up on rest. Not the healthiest thing socially, but everyone needs a good pause every once in awhile. It was a good pause, indeed.

Jump to early October, I’m trying to catch up on my online haunts (except this one, haw), and someone had mentioned the Bridge School show. I forget who and where. I was given a vacation week in the middle of the month, which I really needed, but it was the week before the show. When I’m on vacation, work does not exist; I don’t go pick up a check or call in requests for days off or anything. If I drive back there and an airplane landed on the building and demolished it, GOOD. Anyway, I went back to work that next Tuesday, and I saw it: I was off Saturday night/Sunday morning. Then it clicked in my head that I could actually go to this show, it was like an actual possibility. I put in a request for Sunday night/Monday morning of the following week, just to make sure I had time to travel back.

I came home and tried to arrange the travel. This was October 20. The concert was two nights, but Tom Waits was only appearing on Sunday night, the 27th. Securing the show ticket was no problem, the Bridge School website linked to ticketmaster and I’m a fan of printing out my tickets. They also send a QR code for your phone, which is pretty handy as well. I forget, but I think the ticket was thirty-four bucks and after fees it was forty-nine dollars. Not too bad. Then it was time to find a way to actually get there. When you arrange travel, it’s generally a good idea to do it as far out as possible, in order to get a better deal. Doing it a week out, and on a limited “I really shouldn’t be spending money on this” budget makes it exceptionally tricky. Flying was about three hundred dollars and thus out of the question, so I began looking for trains. Amtrak was right around eighty dollars, but I could just drive my car and spend about the same on gas, so I looked further. Found a thing I’d never heard of, called Megabus. They go from Los Angeles to the Bay area, and it was fifty-four dollars or something, round trip. That’s more like it! Ordered my ticket for the bus, and now it was just a matter of waiting a week.

It was then that I realized a potential boondoggle: my bus would arrive in San Jose at 1:05 PM. The concert starts at 2:00, up at Shoreline Amphitheater. If I take the trains up there, google’s transit thing said it would take about two hours to go from the San Jose station to the stop nearest Shoreline. This would be way after 2:00, and what if Tom Waits plays first? All that time on a bus and everything, just to miss him? Shit. Requested an assist from a message board I go to, and people were pretty helpful with their suggestions. I was pretty nervous about making it up there in time, but worst case, I’d just hail a taxi. All week I was excited, to the point of feeling almost sick over it. I don’t normally get hyped up for things, so it was a strange feeling. I mean, I like things and I look forward to things coming out or going places, but usually it’s just a “aw yeah” moment, and then I soak it in. This was like… first day of school nervousness, but the polar opposite because with school you don’t want to go, but this couldn’t come fast enough.

Sunday morning, my trip starts. It helps to go in expecting that things won’t go smoothly, I think. I leave my house at about 3 AM for a 6:30 AM departure, and Los Angeles is roughly seventy-five miles from my house. I’m driving in the dark, and for some reason there are long stretches of freeway with zero lights. Even the signs don’t have them. This wouldn’t be a big deal normally, but it was foggy as well. So I miss my interchange and end up over by Dodger Stadium. Get off the freeway and get myself back on track using the standard iphone maps app. After a bit of trouble on side streets, I find the 24-hour parking. Get parked and get out. It’s almost 5 AM. I check my inventory: jacket, phone, phone charger cable, comb, wallet, ipod, headphones, bandanna, contact lens case. I’m unable to locate my beanie, which I must’ve lost, and I know I’m going to be colder without it.  Head up to the bus arrival area and wait. I check in, the bus comes, and I get a window seat. The bus’ website stated the availability of AC plugs, so you could charge phones or laptops, but I don’t see one where I’m sitting. No biggie, the phone is mostly charged still.

The bus went up the 5 freeway. Maybe this is pretty during spring, but I have my doubts. I was leaning on the window and trying to sleep, but every little bit I’d look out the window and see nothing but crops in every direction. The podcasts I was listening to were helping to pass the time, but we were only about an hour in when I started feeling uncomfortable. Getting out at the rest stop was nice, as it allowed me to buy some aspirin, some Reese’s pieces, and a Dr. Pepper, and I was in need of a sugar boost by that point. But I could not wait to get off that bus, once the second leg of the trip started. The last third of the way or so, I found myself using the map app to try and see how much longer we had. It would feel like we’d gone a long way, so I’d check it again. Not as far as I thought. Still, it beat driving that far by myself, and I’m positive I would’ve fallen asleep if I’d driven on the 5 out of sheer boredom, but the bus got into San Jose at 12:40, almost one half hour early. The chances of making it to the show on time had increased!

Hop out, and earlier in the week I’d done a street level view of the area online, so I could see where one gets a taxi. Turns out I didn’t need to, as a line of about fifteen taxis were all sitting right across the street. I asked some guys standing by them if they drove taxis. They said yes, and I said I needed to get to Shoreline. Some other guy came running from around the corner and hopped in the first taxi. I guess whoever is parked in front gets firsties? He asks where I’m going and hands me his little GPS thing. I don’t have the address memorized, because you could just type “shoreline amphitheater” into my phone and it pulls it up. His GPS was like the prototype of a GPS, slow as shit and wasn’t helping. So I got the directions on my phone instead, and he drove like we were evading police. The bus swayed and bounced because it’s a long vehicle and also a double-decker, but this taxi was like being in a bounce house. It was cool to see the NASA facility off to the side of the freeway with the big… I guess they’re barns for housing space shuttles? One wasn’t fully built and so you could see the its skeleton. Really cool. But it flew by in a blur, because this taxi guy is channeling Emerson Fittipaldi as he hauls ass up the freeway. As we got closer, the traffic became more dense, so I had him let me out. Forty-six bucks. Taxis are not cheap!

I walked the rest of the way, and I wasn’t exactly sure where it was, so I just followed other people. Eventually I saw the big double tent thing, so I knew I’d made it. Talked to people in line about how long they’d traveled to get there, and people seemed surprised that someone would travel that far and that long for a show. It’s definitely out of the ordinary for me personally, but I figured that it’s a fairly common thing. Got inside, made it up to the grass area, and sat down at about 1:40 or so. All that stressing, all week, and even more during the trip, but I had made it with time to spare, awesome. I had situated myself dead center, about halfway up the hill (pardon my thumb in the shot, it was sunny and I couldn’t see it when I looked at the picture after taking it):

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I had a good bit of room, but no blanket, so I just sat on the grass. I’ve never been in grass seating, nor to a festival-type event, so I don’t know the proper etiquette for one of these things. Apparently, it involves asking the guy sitting by himself on the grass, “are you waiting for people?” and then when he says no, you spread your blanket all up in his area, three-feet rule does not apply. I didn’t mind it at first, really. I don’t like big gatherings of people in stores or in traffic, but when you’re at a show and it’s a good vibe with people who are also excited like you, it’s cool to exchange stories and all. But I found myself quickly surrounded by people, and since one of the unwritten rules seems to be “don’t step on someone’s blanket if you can help it at all”, this means people walk between blankets and step over people sitting on the ground. I stood up and got a lemonade from a vendor, then retreated up the hill to another spot with no people. As the show went on, it seems like the people became less interested on asking if anyone was sitting there, and they’d just spread stuff all over. So I spent a good amount of time moving around the same area, hopping from empty spot to empty spot. I could’ve avoided this if I’d found the friend I initially found out about the show from, but there were so many people that it just wasn’t an option. Took a photo of where I was, and posted it online. Noticed my phone battery was super low. When the hell did that happen?

Just after 2 PM, the show started. Pegi Young (Neil Young’s wife) came out and spoke a bit, and there was a ceremonial dance by some Native Americans. It was a bit hard to hear speaking voices where I found myself situated, but the bits I could pick up were about thanks and positivity, and it was a nice welcome to the show. The show is an acoustic thing with a small feel (despite the big venue), so there’s no pyro or smoke machines and the sound is nicely subdued as acoustic sound offers. Neil Young came out and played a couple of songs, and it was cool to see this legend, but also to know that the entire idea of this show and the school itself was for a good cause. Then Jenny Lewis played, and I had completely forgotten that she would be there, so it was a nice surprise. She had the Watson Twins with her, and I’m not sure why they weren’t also listed on the billing. Their set covered some songs that I knew from her 2006 album, and it sounded really great live. It wound up only being about twenty minutes total for Jenny Lewis’ portion of the show, so I thought to myself that this show might be done in just a few hours if that’s how long everyone played. Then I thought that, when I get back home, I need to listen to some more Jenny Lewis. I liked Rabbit Fur Coat quite a bit, but I’ve fallen off since then.

Heart was next, and even in her 60s, Ann Wilson can still go. She doesn’t hit all of the longer notes, but she does them better at her age than I can at mine, so I can’t really talk shit. Nancy Wilson still looks like a rockstar too, and their set was fun. The two hits I knew were “Even It Up” and “Crazy On You,” and people in the crowd gave their first big cheer to the first notes of Crazy on You. They played a couple other songs I didn’t know, as well as a song with Neil Young, and it was weird to think about how they play Heart all the time at my job, and the real Heart is right down this hill, in the flesh. Maybe that’s the appeal of being at a show, is to occupy the same space as these people who’ve had such amazing lives? I don’t know, but it was fun.

Speaking of fun, the next act was fun., and I have to admit to being out of touch as I’d never heard of them. When I say that, people scoff and go, “They’ve won Grammy awards.” So did Henry Rollins. “Who?” Exactly, so don’t talk shit. Anyway, these guys came out and did their thing. Parts of the crowd seemed to really like them. I can’t fully comment on it because more often than not, groups sound different live than on an album, and I’m not familiar with them. But the general feeling I got is that they’re good at what they do, but I am at the stage in my life where I can recognize where something is not for me. That doesn’t make it bad, nor anyone who likes what they do, but I wasn’t like, “oh MAN, I need to go check these guys out!” Plus, and perhaps this is unfair, but I would apply it to anyone: they covered Queen. You can’t replicate Freddie Mercury. Yes, you are a good singer and carved out a fanbase, but that’s damn near sacrilege any time anyone does it. So between that and my constant ongoing evasion of hippie kids with blankets, I wasn’t too into fun.’s bit. But people cheered and that’s cool for them.

Diana Krall came out next, and my dad really likes Diana Krall. He thought I was making her appearance up, because tickets to see her when she’s in our area are in the neighborhood of six hundred dollars. But there she was, and he had warned me that her sound might not work as well outdoors. I’m unfamiliar with her music, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I may be wrong, but I think she’s kind of cool lounge kind of music? Of everyone that played, I had the hardest time hearing her voice. She looked really cool up there though, playing piano with a scarf and aviators on.

Around this time, I had found a good spot to stand, and the weather was getting colder. It was a somewhat cool day anyway, but I was shivering and the wind was starting to bring rainclouds our way. I took note of the people around me. One group had shown up to sit on a sheet and play cards. Another group had broken off into cliques all on the same blanket, with one couple taking approximately ten thousand photos of each other during the show. They never stopped. One guy kept being the drink-fetcher for his group, and he took his shoes off every time he came back. He must’ve put those shoes back on thirty times over the course of the show. People passing joints around, asking if I was cool. I said I was good, and they seemed disappointed that I didn’t want that. I’m cold and I hate that I lost my beanie and I’m hungry and tired and where is Tom Waits. Then there was this group of older guys, probably late 40s/early 50s, who’d been drinking out in the parking lot prior to coming in. The one guy had apparently done four shots of everclear, which they were explaining as being far more than someone should have. So he was laying on the ground as his friends stood and loudly talked about whatever. They barely paid attention to the show. The everclear guy sat up at one point, puked all over himself, then casually laid back down like nothing had happened. His friends laughed and handed him a paper towel when he finally moved again, about an hour later. Concert crowds.

Diana Krall introduced Elvis Costello and they played a few songs together, then he played for what felt like an hour solid. My Elvis Costello exposure is this: he was the bartender in Spice World. Other than that and knowing he’s a legend, I know nothing. But the crowd seemed to really like him, and I think I want to look into his library sometime soon. The only issue I had was, is he the missing member of Phish? It was like every song had a seven minute chorus jam going. For a few minutes, I thought that maybe they told him to stall for time or something. But I like that it was him going long and not fun., at least. By the time he was done, I was sort of stepping in place with my hands in my pockets so I could keep warm and really hoping Tom Waits was on next.

Next up: My Morning Jacket.

I was starting to get kind of pissed by this point. At the start of the show, it was all feel-good and nice. But it looked like this:

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Thousands of people, now just rudely walking in front of people and over people, kicking over drinks and not apologizing, tons of smoke in the air. I want to go get food because I’m hungry as shit but I don’t want to lose my spot because I want to see the stage, even if it’s from way far back, but if you weeded out the people who weren’t even watching the show, I probably could’ve been in the very front of the grass, and jesus christ it’s cold even with this jacket on and my head is freezing and I really really hope it doesn’t rain because my train ticket is in my pocket and it’s paper so if it gets wet, I now live in San Jose. People were getting louder and more aggressively friendly as they got drunk, and why won’t you take this, just take this joint, brah. So I’m just stepping softly in place and giving serious consideration to not even staying until Tom Waits plays. “Fuck this, it’s cold, these hipsters and this old guy with a ponytail keep trying to give me drugs, my phone is going to die and I’m gonna have to walk back to the train station from here… no, you spent over 8 hours on the road to get here to see Tom Waits, you’re going to wait… fuck you, no I’m not… fuck you, yes you are!” and so on. I should note: I enjoy cold weather. Summer is my very least favorite time of the year because I live in a desert and it’s miserable as shit from about March until October. You can’t escape heat. It’s hot outside, you take a shower to cool off, five minutes later you’re hot again. It sucks. With cold weather, it’s pretty to look at, it feels better, and you can always bundle up in a blanket or have some hot chocolate and it feels so nice. But when you’re a dumbass that didn’t bring a blanket or even an extra shirt and you lost your only headwear and you’re out in it for hours with no escape, it suuuuucks. I mean, it’s still preferable to being out in the heat, but by about 5:30 I was fully ready to just leave.

My Morning Jacket is another group that is popular but I don’t know them. Not really my thing, again, but that’s an unfair judgment given the situation and how I was doing less listening and more internal struggling against the idea of leaving. They went about as long as Elvis Costello, I think. People cheered for these guys a lot, then cheered even more when they did a tribute to Lou Reed, who’d died that morning. During that song, everyone who’d played already, came out and joined in. The guy finally took his guitar off and I felt bad for wanting him to get off the stage, but he was in the way of why I was there and I was pretty miserable by this point. Then I see it:

Next up: Tom Waits.

I smiled and the crowd cheered at just seeing that sign. Then I noticed people standing up. Not just people, but everyone. The gaps between each performer were maybe 20 minutes per, I assume for setup time and to give people a chance to buy drinks or use the restroom. People stopped at this point. It’s like they were staking out the best viewpoint they could. It was at this point that I regretted having surrendered so many spots on the hill. I mean, nowhere on the hill was close, and the stage was still far even from the front of the grass, but I wanted to actually SEE the stage, not just the screens. I had a brief conversation with one girl about Fishing with John and I think her boyfriend thought I was trying to hit on her because I’d seen it and he hadn’t. Like, reality check, man. First off, watch that show because it’s cool. Secondly, I’m no prize pig and you don’t need to be that insecure, I don’t even go here. He cooled out and then everyone turned toward the stage and it just got strangely quiet. All day long, the groups had their pockets of fans cheering for them, and a few moments drew big applause, but it seems like everyone was there to see Tom Waits. This was after a week of coworkers going, “who?” and even people in line saying the same thing, so it was something I didn’t expect. I got wedged between some people and then he came out. I took a picture, but it makes it look even further away than I was, which was pretty far:

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I went to the very back and stood on a cement support thing, so I could see over the crowd. This other girl, who had been loud as shit and more into the show than probably anyone I saw all day, came up and asked if she could share the spot. I said sure, and she asked if smoke would bother me. I explained that I’d been up since 1 am and traveled over 400 miles today just to see Tom Waits, so nothing was going to bother me now that he was actually on. She was like, “Just for Tom Waits? Wow. But yeah, he’s cool.” Then some security lady made us move and I noticed that the crowd was slowly condensing down the hill. I was able to get closer and actually see the stage, which was great. He ended up playing ten songs:

– Raised Right Men

– Singapore

– Talking at the Same Time

– Chicago

– Lucky Day

– Tom Traubert’s Blues

– Lucinda/Ain’t Goin’ Down the Well

– Last Leaf

– Cemetery Polka

– Come On Up To The House

I was down the hill for everything except Raised Right Men, and it was so… man, it was just cool. One, Tom Waits is playing a show and he doesn’t really ever play shows, but he’s playing right now and I’m here for it. Two, I damn nearly let myself walk out of here because of the weather and the people, but I stuck it out and how he’s playing. Three, and probably the most important: so very often, I say I’m going to go to things and then I find reasons not to, right at the last minute. But I got this idea to go to this show and it came together and I never ever follow through on stuff like this, but I actually did it this time, and I actually feel a small bit of pride for having done so, even though it meant enduring so much hassle to get here and wait until this point. So for me, it was more than just being able to see this guy live after years of talking about doing it. It was about talking about something and then actually doing it. If that feeling is how it feels to accomplish some shit, I ought to start doing that more, because it felt good.

So Tom played and told jokes between the songs and was good like I was hoping he would be. I was also surprised because the billing had said he’d be playing songs from Bad As Me, which he did, but then he threw older songs into the mix and that was wonderful. When Singapore started I was legitimately shocked and could only chuckle because this was so bad ass. The only thing that was missing and that would’ve made it better is if I’d had my friend with me; we’ve talked on many occasions about going to see him if he played. She’s my Tom Waits gateway, as we worked together and she’d play him at the store and his music grew on me. So it only made sense that she should’ve been there. But we’ve had a sort of falling out that I still don’t really fully grasp the how or why of, and hadn’t spoken in about ten weeks when I bought those tickets. I definitely pondered it for awhile but couldn’t think of how breaking the ice by using concert tickets would’ve been seen as a good thing. So the whole thing had a certain tinge of sadness behind it, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to not go on this adventure, you know? Kinda got upset a little when Lucky Day was playing, for reasons, but I was there to have a good time, so I did. It could’ve been that much better, but apparently it wasn’t in the cards this time.

He ended his set about an hour after it started, and I noticed that I didn’t feel as cold. Maybe it was being in tight with so many other bodies, or maybe it was just the high of having watched him play. But the host guy was like, “Give another round of applause to Tom Waits!” and I thought maybe he’d come out and play more, but he didn’t. Then I was cold again. The screen said that Queens of the Stone Age were next. So there were two performers left: QOTSA, and Crosby/Stills/Nash/Young. I don’t think I know any QOTSA songs, or if I do, I don’t know that they’re by them, but I really would’ve liked to see CSNY. Especially if they played Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, because I love that song. But I’m colder more than I love that song, so the exact moment I saw the screen change to “Next up: Queens of the Stone Age”, I turned and headed for the exit. No disrespect to either of those groups, but it was time to go. This is where things got difficult.

Many people were pouring out right when I was, so either they were there mainly for Tom Waits as well, or they’d had enough of freezing to death. My situation was like so: it’s about 8 PM. The trains quit running at 9:45 or so. So I need to find a train station so I can at least be on a train before they stop. If I don’t, I’m walking back to the train station and it’s fourteen miles away or something. So where is the train station? Whip out my phone to try and map it out. 10% battery charge remaining, shit. Okay, I’ll just follow these people who are walking down the street… for about fifteen minutes until they all break off to go to their cars in random parking lots. Shit. There is no train station here. Cabs are going by, but there are people in the back. Shit. Then I remember that a guy from the message board had recommended a cab service called Uber, and I’d put the app on my phone. At this point, the idea of walking in the cold all night was so unappealing, the taxi could be ten million dollars, so I click the button and it hails a cab for me. Pretty cool service, it even shows you how far away from you the taxi is. I’m hoping the taxi gets to me before my phone dies, which is now 5% charged. Please don’t call me, you’ll kill my phone. RING RING “Hello where are you?” I’m on the corner of Shoreline and Pear, across from the Starbucks. “I’ll be right there!” He wasn’t lying, it was like 17 seconds later when he pulled up.

He asked where I was going and he didn’t know where I meant. He asked if I had an address and of course I didn’t, so I’m trying to map it on my phone, hoping it doesn’t die. I get the route: take the 101 down to Park, get off at Park, and I can just walk the rest of the way. So after a few minutes, he asks if I said the Park exit, I say yes, and then I map where we’re at. He took the wrong freeway, so we’re miles away from where we’re supposed to be. He stops to call his friend for directions and I’m thinking that this really will be ten million dollars if he keeps this up. I find a route and he takes it, and we’re definitely close, but I’m not seeing the train station. His GPS thing didn’t get us anywhere close, and mine put us on the back side of the train station. I was getting kinda antsy because he was going in circles and I can only pay so much for a cab ride. So I kept telling him, “dude, just pull over and I’ll find it, we’re close enough.” I think he thought I was going to give a review online like “this dude got me lost and what the shit uber” or something, so he finally said he’d end the fare so it quit charging me, but he was going to get me where I was going. Sixty-one dollars into the journey, mind you. Eventually we find it: the Diridon station in San Jose. He asks where I’m staying, and I say I’m staying at the station, as it was about 9:15 at this point and my bus wasn’t in until 7:05 AM. He said he didn’t think they’d let me stay and I said they were gonna have to, and I finally got out of that taxi. It was only about thirty minutes, but it felt like hours.

Walk into the train station and wash my face for the first time in about twelve hours, whenever the rest stop was during the bus trip. My eyes are completely red and I can’t tell if that’s from the contacts or from second hand pot smoke or whatever, and that gross feeling you have after you worked all day and you’re in your work clothes? Like that, but the clothes are cold, too. A toothbrush would’ve also been exceptional. Hell, if the concession stand was open, I would’ve just eaten toothpaste or Scope or whatever they had. Sit down on the bench, lean my head back, and finally feel slightly at ease. I made it up and to the show, I saw what I came to see and it was good, and now I’m back to the station so I know I won’t miss my bus in the morning. I just need to make sure nobody picks my pockets if I nod off or whatever. Not that I have much, but it’s my stuff, and I’m kinda stuck if someone made off with it. But there’s only about ten people in here, so it should be cool.

“Attention: the lobby closes in two minutes. The lobby closes in two minutes.”

What the hell? Union Station in LA is closed from 1 AM to 4 AM, so why is this closing at 10 PM and how long does it close for? Until 6 AM? What the shit. It’s cold outside… hell. Okay, I’m just gonna go find a hotel. Let me check my pho… oh, my phone is dead now, great. Walk outside and survey the situation. I see a Hilton way off in the distance and that’s a Hilton so I probably can’t afford it. Maybe there’s something over here… De Anza Hotel? Let’s check it out. I’m walking down empty streets at night and I feel myself tense up every time someone came by on a bicycle or drove by, and suddenly it got super windy. Like, actual swirls of leaves coming at you chest-level kind of windy. I finally make it over to the De Anza place and there’s a valet guy out front and some sign about special spa rates or something, so I figured it would be too expensive to stay, too. [note: as it turns out, I just looked it up and it’s about half what the Hilton was, I totally should’ve gone for it. So if you’re ever stuck in San Jose and need a place to not freeze, there you go.] Walk back to the train station after highly debating staying in a nearby bar until 2 AM. At least that way I’m only outside for four hours at most. But I don’t like drunk people most times, so I found a small covered area with a bench outside of the train station and sat there.

I could see inside the rear part of the train station, and there were people sitting in there. Were they waiting for late trains? Why does it say the trains stop at 9:45 if there are people waiting for trains? Or are they waiting for rides? After awhile, I had to flag down the security guard because two guys inside started fighting. He walked up to the door and opened it. It wasn’t locked? What is this little area and why are people in there? Eventually I overhear two security guys talking and get the scoop: it’s where you buy tickets and make your way to the trains via a tunnel, but it’s open 24 hours a day, so people stay in there to get out of the cold. You can’t lay down in there and you’re not supposed to sleep, but if you fall asleep sitting up, they’ll usually leave you alone. I looked through the glass doors, the benches were all full. I have this whole bench outside all to myself, I’ll just stay here. Man, my head is cold. I wish I had my hat. I’ve had that hat for ten years, too. And it was only a dollar when I bought it. Why did I lose it? That was stupid.

I sat on that outside bench until about 12:50 AM or so. It was situated in just the right place to catch the wind coming from the train tracks and out through to the street, so it was probably colder than the hill of the Shoreline. I finally surrendered, went inside, and claimed an empty spot on a bench. Pulled my jacket up as high as I could and cursed that I don’t own a longer jacket. Pulled up higher than my ears, the sides of my head were at least warm, but then it left my sides and lower back to be covered by just a shirt, and pulled down, my entire head was cold. I finally settled on pulling it up, then leaning forward with my cuffs pulled inside each other to keep my hands warm. I listened to podcasts to kill time, just like the bus ride. That actually helped a lot, but it sure didn’t make the time pass any faster. If I’d had a way to charge my phone, I could’ve kept busy the entire time. I didn’t bring any games or a book or anything because I wanted to travel light, and now I was paying for it. So I’d listen for what felt like a long time, check the time on the ipod, and it was only twenty minutes or so gone by. I did this over and over and I was getting legitimately irritated around 3 AM or so. The security guys would walk by every little bit and nudge people who’d fallen over, or yell to wake them up, and then look with this total condescending look as they walked by. Fuck off. You don’t know the circumstances that brought any one of these people here. Some of them are probably poor at planning trips like me, others may be down on their luck, and others may indeed be dregs. But you having a job walking in circles overnight doesn’t somehow put you on a higher tier, butthole.

Around 4:30 AM I couldn’t sit any more. If I leaned forward, my back hurt, and if I leaned back, my neck hurt. I think my head is too heavy. I started reading all the maps and it turns out that going where I needed to go would’ve been really simple if I’d had time to do so. It goes in a straight line and stops on the way, then it comes back the other direction and stops on the way. Still never been on a train. But I watched people come in and buy their tickets and board early trains and so if I ever go up there again, I see how to do it. But if I ever go up there again, I’m going in some way that involves a little more luxury. When I worked at the mall, I spent a lot of long days standing in one place and having to hold bathroom breaks for insanely long periods, so my body being trained for this kind of thing made me think, “I can handle sitting and standing for this long of a stretch.” But the longest single-day shift I worked was only seventeen hours, and on multi-day shifts I could sleep when the store was closed. However, this was closing in on 30 hours and there was no comfort in any position by now.

6 AM, the lobby opens. I go in, wash my face, and remove my contacts, which is the best feeling in the world. My hands look like I’ve been working in a coal mine or something… what the hell was I rolling around on that I can’t remember? Buy a small bag of doritos and a cherry Coke because I don’t trust my body with the way the day had gone and locally grown whatever in the sandwiches they had. Go outside and get in line for the Megabus, talk to some guy and he’s asking me about Los Angeles and how it costs compared to San Jose because he hates San Jose. I tell him I have no idea, but they seem real similar from just eyeballing them from the freeways. I’m hoping the bus comes early like it did in LA, so of course it’s almost late. Find a seat, get situated, and hope for some sleep between here and there. Oh, and an AC jack so I can plug my phone in! Awesome.

Some rasta guy had taken the seat next to me, and he was listening to his headphones and drumming the air. I don’t know how his arms didn’t get tired, because every time I looked over, he was doing it. Anything to kill the time, I guess. At one point I must’ve nodded off, because I snapped to life and jumped up because I had absolutely no idea where I was. It made the rasta guy jump, as well as the people in the seat behind me. I just apologized because I forgot where I was, and they all just chuckled and went back to what they were doing. At the rest stop, the lady behind me goes, “Honey, do you need any help? I can get you something to eat if you need it.” All I can guess is that I must’ve looked really ragged out. I thanked her and said no, that I just wanted to wash my face. Really, my brain was going, “I’d honestly take a shower with rasta guy right now if it meant I could take a shower and run water down my back and my ass.” Got out, washed my face, and sure enough, I looked like hell. I mean, I usually barely pass for coherent anyway, but this was bad.

Got back in the bus and my phone was charged, so I could check online, finally. A couple of positive comments about the photo I’d posted of Tom Waits being on stage, but I noticed that I’d been unfollowed by the friend I mentioned earlier. In multiple places, too. I get it, but at the same time I don’t. Maybe we’ll talk about it at some point, or I hope so. But that’s looking at it now, a week after the fact. At the time, I didn’t really know what to think and tried to go back to sleep. Other than that, I discovered what I already knew from my hermit time: you can be gone from the internet for a long time and it’s okay. I get on these kicks where I’m constantly refreshing things for the newest comment or article or whatever, and it’s so dumb. Aside from about five people I actively try to keep up on, and by that I mean people I actually know, I find that I don’t really care as much about being on top of my online accounts as I used to. It’s kind of a freeing experience, but at the same time I feel stupid about it because nobody makes me do it except myself. If I were ever in a Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy would probably troll me online before coming through my mouse cable to kill me or something.

We wound up in LA at 1:10 PM, a full half-hour early. Found my way to my car, smiled when it started (that car is acting up on me lately), paid a twelve dollar parking tab, and then headed home. Driving home after you’ve basically been up for 36 hours, in afternoon traffic and it’s raining? Not the easiest thing in the world. Oh, and when I got to my car, I was putting my jacket away and getting everything situated, and as I sit down, what is that on the floor under my foot? OH. MY BEANIE. Son of a fuck, I know I was probably too busy hurrying to the bus area to see it in the dark, but having that would’ve made at least a bit of a difference in my weather battling.

Got home right around 3 PM, took a gooooooood ass shower, and went to bed. Worked that night and wound up leaving early because I felt shitty still, and then called out the next night because I just can’t beat whatever it is I caught while I was up there. It’s been a week now and I’m still all tense in places and can’t get comfortable when I go to bed. Maybe that’s punishment for bad karma for not taking my friend or something. But I’m still proud of actually going to a thing I said I was going to go to and not chickening out right at the start, or even in the middle of the show. The trip itself was an extreme test of patience and not really fun, but that one hour in the middle was worth having made the trip and endured everything that wasn’t Tom Waits. Though, if he plays anywhere again and I have the resources to attend, it sure would be swell if it were closer to where I live.

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