Monday // Day 1
My gate at Houston International Airport was C31. The numbers kept following me around for the rest of my trip. It’s like Lost, but without the magical island and Others.
I arrived around 11:15 at night. I was so tired that I hit my head getting in to the cab (or it could have just been because I was wearing my straw hat and couldn’t see the roof of the mini-van). It hurt a lot. I arrived and checked in at my hotel, Hotel 31, without any other injuries.
Tuesday // Day 2
Yes, I stayed at Hotel 31 for the novelty. It was also inexpensive, at least by Manhattan standards, and conveniently located just two subway stops away from the hotels where the American Educational Research Association conference was held.
Nickie (my fellow grad student researcher) and I presented our report on UC admissions to two people. The low turnout didn’t bug as much as not getting ride of a stack of reports. I’d been lugging those all through Texas.
In the evening, I met up with Sean for dinner and drinks. We watched Lost and I kicked his ass in Rock Band. Yes, this is revisionist history.
After TV and video games, I made my way to Union Square for a party with the Latino special interest group. The Forum Club didn’t live up to its title as the “hookup bar of 2008,” at least not in my experience. I had a great time at the party catching up and dancing with friends from UCLA I rarely, if ever, see.
Wednesday // Day 3
I packed up my things and left Murray Hill for Gramercy Park and hotel #2. On my way out of hotel #1, I smashed my left middle finger on the old school elevator. It really hurt. I had some tea to calm my stressed out nerves and later met up with my roommates for the evening, Eligio and Jenee. We had lunch and took advantage of the mild early spring weather to explore Union Square.
Eligio and Jenee went off to do some sightseeing and I went uptown to attend conference activities. First stop: a social for graduate students focused on higher education held in a suite on the 47th floor. I got a great view looking south on 7th Avenue (from around 52nd Street).
I had some free time, so I braved the madness and headed south a few blocks toward Times Square. Even in daytime, the place is maddening. I ducked in to M&M World and wandered around taking pictures and checking out over-priced souvenirs. I found some boxers with the M&M logo and “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
That evening, I did a bit of reception hopping starting off with the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSEIS) reception. I got my first free beer of the evening. Yay for friends. I also discovered that some of the receptions serve more than just appetizers and I could save money on food.
At the last reception, I met up with Kris, a genius and my favorite playwright. Sadly, he had to do a lot of work for school so our time together was rather short.
No injuries today.
Thursday // Day 4
I checked out of hotel #2 early, intending to attend some morning conference sessions, but I got sidetracked by wi-fi at hotel #3. I left mid-morning for a session on affirmative action.
Xoloitzquintle, quite the tall Mexican, met me at the conference hotel. When he asked, “what do you want for lunch?” I had to confess that I’m horribly indecisive fwhen it comes to food choices. However, as soon as he mentioned Thai food, I was down. We got on the train and headed east to Queens. Lunch was yummy and I learned more about being a professor in anthropology. The trip back to Manhattan made me queasy, but I was better off than the dude who fainted. Xolo went for help while the rest of the folks stood around helpless. Xolo made sure I got back to my hotel okay and he went home.
I was supposed to rest, but caught up doing work. Later, I got a text from Nolan asking “have beer, want some?” He didn’t have to ask twice. I went over to the hotel room he was sharing with a few other friends from school. We drank and talked shit (like old times!) and then hit up the receptions for free food and more free drinks.
The higher ed crew got together to watch the UCLA vs. Western Kentucky game. UCLA won. We were happy.
I went back to the hotel with my roommate that night, P. We felt like college freshmen all over again sleeping in bunk beds.
No injuries today, but the smells of New York and the train ride from Queens made me queasy.
Friday // Day 5
I was really happy all day. The thought of being home soon had me cheery. It’s not that I didn’t like New York, I just wasn’t a big fan of Manhattan and all the craziness. It was dirtier than I remembered and the smells (cigarette smoke, food, trash, car fumes) made me nauseated. I wanted my quieter, slower LA. I missed my bed, my closet, my own bathroom, and my car. And after two weeks of Gira 2008, I was ready to go home. I wanted to walk VR (the dog), play Guitar Hero with my brothers, chill with my sister while she bakes, catch up with the grandparents and be spoiled by my parents. I missed home.
Friday was good, though.
I ditched all conference activities in favor of a fun lunch at a hole in the wall spot with Jeff. It was the first time I’d met him, but like meeting César and his wife in Austin, it felt totally natural and easygoing. I also have to admit, I need to see his hair stylist. Jeff has the best hair I’ve ever seen on a guy. It’s no wonder he gets hit on by aggressive New York women all the time. You’ll just have to take my word for it, ’cause I didn’t get any pictures of Jeff.
After lunch, I grabbed a cupcake with P and a couple other folks around the corner from hotel #3. I rushed out as soon as I got my hot chocolate and cupcake to meet up again with Sean. While we talked in the lobby, I spilled hot chocolate on my jeans and the floor (if you’re keeping count, this was my third accident in NY). It wasn’t that bad since the drink wasn’t too hot. After I got cleaned up, Sean and I took advantage of happy hour at a nearby bar. You can’t beat $1 beer, even if it’s not the good kind.
We returned to the hotel so I could make my shuttle in time. I took cheesy photos with Sean and P and was off to JFK.
*Click on any of the links to the photos to see the full sized photo on Flickr.