Friday, May 8, 2009

Summer 2009 chapter 1: Brooklyn to Chicago

We woke up early Thursday morning for french toast before leaving for Chicago, despite the fact that two nights before I got back to Brooklyn at 5am and only slept for a few hours and the previous night I was up late watching Buffy with Melanie, but it was worth it because Janne made the most incredible home-made vegan french toast I've ever had. At least, at first we thought it was worth it, until it turned out that meeting us at noon meant meeting us at 3:30 (of course it was no fault of Mike's that he was so late, but sitting around all afternoon made us all a little antsy). Because most of my belongings, including my computer, were already packed away in anticipation of Adam subletting my room for the summer, we all sat cross-legged around my room listening to records; all anxiousness aside it was a lovely afternoon.

The first stop was the Vegan Treats bakery in Bethlehem, PA, where I once again did not have the willpower to resist Danielle's excellent food presentation. I don't have much of a sweet tooth and most of the things she makes are on the rich side for me (the goal is Vegan desserts that taste as good as or better than non-vegan ones, and in the pursuit of that goal I don't think she holds out on the white sugar and Earth Balance), but every time I see the elegantly prepared mini-cakes and brownies I break down and buy at least one thing.

The next several hours of driving were uneventful - I tried to nap while listening to relaxing music on my supposedly sound-cancelling headphones but minivans are not as comfortable for sleeping as tour vans and I was distracted by the European style dance party infiltrating my attempt at solitude. Around 3am, not feeling particularly well-rested, I gave up on sleeping and took over at the wheel since Mike and Josh were both getting too tired. I drank about 3/4ths of a Big Blue - a midwestern soda that tastes like cotton candy flavored bubble gum and contains about as much caffeine as coke or mountain dew - and set the cruise control at about 9 mph over the speed limit, a speed that I have been told in the past by cops is safe to drive without getting pulled over. Not so in Indiana. Around 5am I saw a cop car pull off the median going my direction after I passed. I slowed to just under the speed limit and got over to the right, but to no avail. After checking my license and registration and failing to notice Mike hiding under a blanket on the floor (there were 8 of us in a 7-seater) he returned to my window, perhaps dissatisfied with my clean driving record, asked me to step out of the car, and told me that he smelled marijuana. I tried to suppress my laughter because stone-faced as he was I knew he was bluffing, and explained politely that there was no marijuana in the car. He insisted that I had better give it up because he was going to find it anyway and I'd be in way less trouble if I cooperated, I asked him if he was familiar with the concept of straightedge, and the blank look on his face told me that no, he wasn't, so I sighed and held my arms out to be patted down.

Two more cars pulled up and helped search everyone for knives, guns, illicit substances or any excuse to arrest the city slickers that dared to drive through their quiet Indiana town, population: 1000. By some miracle the found nothing on our persons and pig #1 proceeded to search the rental car, hand in latex glove, with admirable determination. His bluff would not be called by a bunch of punk kids, god damn it! The 8 of us, under dressed for the late-night cold and groggy from road trip napping, waited on the side of I-80 while I chatted with pigs #2 and #3. I've always prided myself in my ability talk with adults, and after a while we were all chuckling and conversing about punk music, tattoos (pig #3 had one or two and was frustrated that the local police department didn't allow any below short-sleeved shirt length), and my bike trip through Indiana the summer prior. At one point #2 quietly asked #3 if he smelled anything, which he didn't, and several times throughout the 20-minute ordeal they looked over at #1 and rolled their eyes.

Finding nothing, pig #1 wrote me a warning for speeding and Adrian and I busted Chain of Strength, Go It Alone, Carry On, In My Eyes, Count Me Out, Strife, and other such straighedge and youth crew jams (beginning, of course, with True Til Death) for the next several hours.

We rolled into Chicago at 8am, EST, now locally 7am, and shuffled into a large, fancy, and mostly empty apartment in what used to be the newspaper building. Being the only one still hopped up on caffeine, I offered to return the rental, and no one complained. I dropped it off a few miles away, and having worn my running shoes and mesh shorts, I ran 3 1/2 miles back the apartment, did some push-ups and sit-ups, showered, and finally went to sleep around what felt like 10am, only to be woken up less than 3 hours later for the Chicago May Day parade, vegan sandwiches at the Chicago Diner, and eventually, the Hope Conspiracy Burning Fight pre-show.

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