Let's talk about buses. More specifically, let's talk about my eXtreme hate of public buses (i.e. the kind in cities and city suburbs). I have hated public buses pretty much forever, and the reason is, every time I get on one, my experience is a more or less ridiculous version of what happened to me today.
Now before I get into that, let me state for the record that I have a pretty good sense of direction when it comes to walking or driving a car. However, put me on a mode of transportation where I am NOT behind the wheel (or where I'm walking with someone else who knows the way better) and I will zone out. If it's trains, planes, or automobiles, I'll be reading, sleeping, listening to music, or talking to the other person. It's not my fault. All of those things are *infinitely* more interesting than knowing where to turn. If it's walking, I'll undoubtedly end up deep in conversation with my co-walkers within five seconds. I blame the interesting people I go places with.
Anyway. So I CAN find my way places, and I CAN read maps, and I almost never get lost. However, pretty much every single time I try to use a public bus I either:
a) am not sure I am on the right bus even though it truly IS the right bus and it's just taking a really long time and is it REALLY this far from Bala Cynwyd to UPenn's main campus, REALLY? Are we sure? I'm not sure. And therefore spend the entire long bus ride anxious that perhaps I am going to Guam in an unplanned sort of SNAFU or I've missed my stop or I'm about to miss my stop, and thus I eventually arrive safely at my destination but feeling like I've run a mental anxiety marathon to get there;
b) I get on the right bus but miss my stop due to Something That Is Totally Not My Fault except sometimes it is, like not paying attention because Kevin and Dayna (holla, made_of_fail_pc) and cleolinda are talking about geek stuff on my iPod and it's making me laugh;
c) I get on the completely wrong bus because even though I think it's probably wrong someone else who should really know better has told me it's the right bus;
or d) some variation of these things.
Whatever happens, I, usually a travel-savvy person who LAUGHS in the face of driving on the NJ parkway, unexplained DC Metro delays, driving IN NEW YORK CITY (truly a terrifying feat), creepy people on the NY subway, flying to foreign countries that speak other languages, Amtrak mix-ups, strange door releases like unto Rube Goldberg locks on the Paris Metro, 25 days of cross-country travel across the UK, weird names of London tube stations, and Catching The Last Train Out of NYC (*sprints into the station, hurtles some barriers, and arrives panting at the train in time to board*) end up looking foolish, or feeling anxious, or just plain LOST. Oh, and don't even get me started on trying to figure out which bus stop I'm supposed to be at when there are five in two blocks, all of which service different buses at different times.
This leads me to today's adventure. Today was Free Comic Book Day. As some of you may know, I get VERY EXCITED about Free Comic Book Day. Because it offers: FREE COMICS.
My Twitter excitement a few days ago:
#FCBD from @Marvel - Iron Man/Thor by @mattfraction` JRJr.; IM: Supernova by @PaulTobin` Craig Rousseau` Ed McGuinness. Woo!
#FCBD From @BoomStudios - @MarkWaid's "Irredeemable." Been wanting to read that!!
#FCBD From @DC_Nation - "War of the Supermen" and "DC Kids" - cool!
#FCBD From @DarkHorseComics: Dr. Solar / Magnus - have not heard of it before` but @DennisCalero is doing the art.
#FCBD From @ArchaiaComics (@stephenchristy) - a Mouse Guard comic! :)
#FCBD From Drawn & Quarterly (@DandQ) a collection of John Stanley comics. Oldschool! :)
#FCBD From Dynamite Entertainment - a Green Hornet comic. From NEC Press - The Tick #1! Which is great. :)
#FCBD From @BluewaterProd - a @ladygaga comic. Yes really! I must see this. From Gemstone Pub. - an Overstreet Guide #handy
#FCBD From Del Rey Comics - excerpts from Last Airbender; Pride & Prejudice & Zombies; more. (Feat. @fredvanlente)
#FCBD From Th3rd World Studios (@Th3rdWorld) - "The Stuff of Legend" Heard GOOD things about that one. #want
#FCBD #wildcard From @ONIPress - "The Sixth Gun" Looks like it could be interesting...
#FCBD #wildcard From @Red5Comics - "Atomic Robo" - the art looks good & it's an Eisner nominated series. Oooh!
#FCBD So those are the ones I'm most excited abt. We'll see how many Edie over at Hole in the Wall will let me make off with! :D
So I was all hyped for Free Comics, and in fact had already secured the company of a friend (with a car!) who likes to go to the same used book store/comics store I frequent, which is, alas, not on the main Metro routes. And then Friend Kelly texted me that she had to work today. *tear* So after a valiant effort to find another person to go with who, perchance, also had a CAR, I decided, oh, hell, I'd suck it up and take the bus. I mean, it'd been awhile. Why did I hate buses anyway? It's really pretty silly to hate buses. Or so I told myself.
So, off I went, in the SWELTERING heat and sun, to take the nearby Metro to West Falls Church station so I could catch the bus there that stops one block from my comics store.
LET ME TELL YOU, INTERNETZ. It was a very good thing I had decided to wear the quintessential light summer dress to make this trip, as I would end up being out in the heat A LOT LONGER than planned.
Witness the quintessential summer dress, which I bought at the street market a couple of weeks ago, and which I had a friend photograph because I wanted to show how awesomely twirly the skirt is (pls. note, when twirling it is *key* that one throws one's arms up in the air so as to feel like a happy five-year-old whirling around until one is falling down from dizziness. This is why these photos feature me with my arms in the air. Twirling any other way is MADNESS.)
Quintessential summer dress - light, floofy, twirly!
(...and then I fell down. J/k.)
BTW, here's my other new dress that I posted on Tumblr. I love it!
So I and my summery dress got to Falls Church without incident. I even got to the bus shelters outside the Metro without incident. Each bus shelter is even neatly labeled so you know which stop to wait at for each bus. Woo! This is going to be EASY, I thought. Great. And only 4 minutes until the next bus. Buses! They are so convenient! Why do I hate them again? It's so silly!
So the bus arrival time came and went. ...And there I was, still standing out in the summer heat, no bus in sight.
Rule #1 of public buses: They Are Never On Time.
But hey, someone else was there too, waiting at my bus shelter, so surely it was ok. He said to me, "Boy, it is HOT!" And I said, "Yes, and I guess the bus is LATE!" And he said, "Yes." Quite the fascinating conversation, we were having, me and this slightly creepy man who kept staring at me. Until another bus for a different route arrived, and he got up and walked all the way over two bus shelters and took that one. So...was he sitting at my shelter just to creepily look at me? I don't know, but that's ANOTHER reason I hate public buses. There are a lot of creepy people on them. *shudder*
Rule #2 of public buses: The Creepy People Will Stare Unabashadly At You For No Reason At All. Sometimes Glaring At Them Will Make Them Stop. Sometimes Not.
Finally a bus arrived at my stop. It was the 3T, not the 3B, which I was supposed to take. I said to the bus driver, "Excuse me, do you know when the next 3B bus will be along?" And the bus driver said to me, "I am doing all three routes today: 3A, 3B, and 3T." And I said to her, "So you will be stopping at the corner of West Broad and West Street?" and she said "Yes."
Now the above conversation is key, here, because it is where Things Started To Go Really Wrong. I believed the bus driver, as you do, since she is the one driving the bus. I happily boarded the much cooler bus, to sit across from another Creepy Man Who Did Not Stop Staring At Me For The Entire Ride (see Rule #2). *shudder* We drove along, and then I thought I recognized the intersection I needed to stop at, so I pulled the cord. The bus driver stopped. She said, "Didn't you want to go to West?" I said, "Oh, yes. Are we not there yet?" She said, "No." So I stayed on the bus. a few minutes later, she said, "Up here is the last stop I'll make before I turn off this road (West Broad). So she let me out there. I said, "Is West St. up ahead?" And she said "Yes."
Now, ladies and gents, read the entirety of the last two paragraphs again, only this time, imagine that it's an hour later and you are aware that everything the bus driver says is the opposite of truth and you are, in fact, on Opposite Planet. Boy, I wish I had know that then, instead of after I walked approximately 5-6 blocks in the heat and figured it out for myself! At that point I had been on the phone with cleolinda for about 15 minutes while walking, and had to get off the phone with her so I could call my friend Kelly and say, "Help! I am an idiot! Did I walk the wrong way?" To which the answer was: "YES."
Rule #3 of public buses: Never Listen To The Bus Drivers. They Hate You And Will Lie To You Because This Is Apparently Their Idea Of A Prank.
SO I turned around and walked back the other way. I got on the phone with cleolinda again, and we talked for 37 minutes before I finally reached the comic book store (granted, I also stopped for a smoothie because I was DYING of thirst by then - Cosi blueberry pomegranate smoothies, folks - I recommend!). But hey, while dying of heat stroke at least I got to see some cute caterpillars zipping along the sidewalk (yes, I hate centipedes but love caterpillars. There is no explanation for this except perhaps for the last photo on this page. LOOK AT THAT THING. And then GET IN THE CAR.)
So back to my voyage. Remember way back when I pulled the bus cord the first time? Yeah, I was RIGHT, and if I had gotten off the bus then, I would have been ONE BLOCK from the shop. D'oh! (See Rule #3.) I gratefully entered the cool shop and then proceeded to make out like The Bandit of Free Comics. Given that it was after 4 by this point, Edie was cool with me taking pretty much anything I wanted, so I got a bunch, including the Matt Fraction Iron Man/Thor, which it looked like they were out of but then it turned out Comic Book Guy Tim had one hidden away in the back (woo!), and Mark Waid's Irredeemable, via the same method of Tim having just one in the back somewhere.
The big group at the bottom are this year's free comics, the group on the right are from past FCBDs(they still had them; why not?), the two up top are the first issues of Deus ex Machina and Transmetropolitan, which I've been meaning to read forever and they had for a dollar, and the ones on the left are some of my actual subscription comics plus THE LAST UNICORN. <3 I didn't know it was being made into a comic, but now I do and IT IS MINE and it's very pretty and did I mention that's the first movie I ever remember seeing? Yeah.
(Sidenote: Peter S. Beagle also won WSFA's Small Press Award in 2007. He couldn't come, but sent an acceptance speech.)
I also picked up some free posters just for fun. Among them, Prelude to Deadpool Corps (written by Victor Gischler) and Prince of Power (drawn by Reilly Brown).
When I was done rifling and browsing and collecting and paying for comics? Yeah, I WALKED back to the Metro stop. I wasn't going to try the #%$#U$@! bus again. Gah.
In other things, yesterday was one of those fairly surreal days I have once in a blue moon, where you get an 11 a.m. conference call from Sir Terry Pratchett and assistant Rob, followed by a frantic cab ride to the National Press Club where you are thankfully only five minutes late for the Special Reception to Meet the Secretary of the Navy but in fact end up talking to the Secretary of Agriculture (who is very nice) before going to sit at the head table and hopefully not do anything too silly while Secretary of the Navy is talking about things like women in submarines because the whole thing is being broadcast on C-Span, and then DO get to briefly meet the Secretary of the Navy but not for long because he has to rush off to an important meeting and possibly talk to the President. Yeah.
So, how's things for everyone else?