Tag Archives: lost

Further Adventures With Kathy

Besides the adventure at Barnes and Noble, Kathy and I ran into an inordinate number of adventures on Wednesday. Perhaps I need to take the occasional half day from work more often. Or hang out with Kathy more. 

It started with the ice cream truck. I have not seen an ice cream truck since maybe grade school. But all of a sudden we heard the tinkling of music and the truck not only pulled into my apartment complex parking lot, it put on the breaks and turned off the engine as though it intended to stay for a while. Obviously, we needed to go buy some ice cream! ‘How handy,’ I thought. ‘A blog post for tomorrow! Only think, they still have ice cream trucks.’  

Then we went and painted pottery. A group of inner-city high schoolers, chaperoned by several weary looking adults, apparently rented the party room that day. They liked Very Loud Music. The owner of the pottery store kept walking around tut-tutting and asking if anyone very much minded the music. She would tell to turn it off immediately if we did. But it made them so happy…

So of course we said we did not mind. 

The students left and a very skinny man with a very large Adam’s apple came in. He was working on a coaster. A very, very detailed coaster. Apparently he came to the shop semi-regularly to work on it. A woman joined him a few minutes later. She walked around, decided nothing caught her fancy, and started cutting up square for a quilt. 

Minus the music, it quickly became painfully impossible not to listen to our neighbors’ conversation. And was there much to listen to! The woman carefully asked the man about his job (he nearly lost it recently and now one mistake could get him fired), his mental health (determined not to commit suicide, meeting with his counselor weekly, getting a new counselor, in fact, because old one retiring), and his social life outside of work (nil). We learned a great deal about him. It was almost embarrassing. Every now and then Kathy would say something to me so we could have our own murmured conversation and hopefully remind them of our existence. It did not work. 

We then had our Barnes and Noble excursion. But the adventures did not end. Going back, we got turned around and the GPS sent us on back roads. 

Now, I must blame the atmospheric thriller I am currently reading. It created a spooky atmosphere in my imagination. Madison did the rest. I thought I knew Madison fairly well. Turns out, I do not. We passed cemeteries and accidentally drove into a spooky arboretum and got turned into fancy subdivisions that looked like they belonged in rural, suburban neighborhoods. At one point, the hard, bright lights of a car shone behind us and instead of feeling glad we were not alone, I felt my nerves kick into gear. “This is the point,” I told Kathy, “where our car breaks down and that person murders us.”

But we did not. In fact, we made it to my apartment without much hassle. We then decided on a movie and went to the local Pick N Save for a Redbox movie. 

Even this did not go quite normally. Mind you, it is 9:30 pm at night and pitch black out. A lady with a sleeping child sat outside the store singing loudly as if to drown out the pop music. She smiled and by the time we left had gathered a small crowd. (Actually, they might have been with her and had no choice but to listen. Hard to say.)

The store smelled like dog food. We got Isn’t It Romantic because, duh, that’s my new favorite movie and if you haven’t seen it yet I will make you watch it. 

And so we did. 


Friday Adventures

After the excitement of coming home to an apartment with no electricity, yesterday ended on an almost anticlimactic note. Not long after I posted my blog, my landlords sent someone to sort it out. Only my room appeared to suffer an outage. The rest of the building was fine. Three, non-English speaking men showed up and went into the little electrical/storage room that I assume services the entire floor. They then started flipping breakers. Now, I am not entirely sure how breakers work, but it strikes me as singularly inefficient to flip one breaker, look expectantly at the still dark apartment, flip another, look at the apartment, flip another…but eventually it worked and I got electricity again! 

Maybe because of that, or because I got too much sleep, I woke up cranky this morning. I decided to channel my crankiness and finally buy a cell phone and data plan. My previous attempts all came to naught and left me exhausted and frustrated. I figured my crankiness would keep me going. 

Unfortunately, endorphins kicked in on the 2.5 mile walk to the nearest mall and I ceased feeling grumpy. Not that it ended up being only a 2.5 mile walk, as I managed to get lost. I may have no sense of direction but I know how to follow my nose and my nose quickly told me I had no idea where I was. I decided to cross the street. This proved an extremely challenging task as traffic kept whizzing past.

I don’t think I dawdled too long staring at traffic, but apparently I dawdled long enough. A police officer popped out from nowhere and literally stopped all lanes of traffic to help me cross! Sometimes looking helpless works quite effectively. 

Once I crossed over, I found my way to the mall with little difficulty. The malls here are…huge. The one I visited easily had 7 floors. I kept trying to count them from the escalator and then realized I couldn’t even see them all. And this mall isn’t even the biggest or most well known one around! 

Mindful of the advice I received from the internet, I began my phone hunt by comparing the prices of various phone retailers in the mall. By which I actually mean I furtively stole glances at the price tags on the kiosks full of phones and tried not to make eye contact with the salespeople. I’m very susceptible to sales pitches.  

I knew, though, which place I wanted to buy a phone from the minute I saw it. Only females worked there and I immediately liked the look of one, joyful looking saleswoman who barely looked out of her teens. While her knowledge of English lacked breadth, she knew enough to help walk me through the various phones and prices. As I only wanted a basic smart phone, don’t know much about phones, and couldn’t read the packing describing the options anyway, the conversation went something like this: 

Me: “And they all work with Google maps?”

Her: “Yes! Google maps comes with all of them.”

Me: “And I just need to go buy a sim card and data plan? Nothing extra?”

Her: “Yes, they all work that way.”

Me: “…”

Her: “…”

Me: “…”

Her: “…”

Me: “So…how are these different?” 

Her: “They all come with Google maps!”

Me: “Would they work in the United States?”

A confused shrug. 

Her: “This one comes in two colors and this one comes in three.” 

And so forth. I appreciate her patience. Eventually we found one for me. I think she found my inefficiency a form of haggling because she even lowered the price a few times. We parted mutually satisfied and she asked to be friends on Snapchat. 

I then sallied forth to get a data plan. The last time I walked in, I did not realize I was supposed to get a number at the door. I was politely chastised for overlooking this step. Now I confidently walked in and received the little ticket that would send the next person who spoke English in my direction. 

Except apparently no one spoke English today. Or at least, it took 3 of them to help me and I’m not really sure about the results. They asked how long I would be in Thailand and we spent several minutes trying to figure out the translation for “June.” They then disappeared and reappeared with a sim card, a price tag, and the information that I was set for the next 6 months. As I payed an obscenely low amount for the plan, I’m skeptical about how much data I actually received. Unfortunately, all my inquires met with equally blank and confused faces. After posting this, I’m going to try and see if I can figure out what I got! 

I then ventured forth from the mall and – buoyed by success – decided to swing by a drug store and buy face masks. The pollution is down considerably but with all the walking I do, it can’t hurt. Drug stores here keep everything behind the counter so I’ve been too intimidated to buy masks before. The lady who helped me proved very cheerful. After learning I was from the United States, she said it was much colder in Chicago than in Thailand. I agreed and said I was from a place near Chicago. She was delighted by this discovery! For a moment we basked in mutual understanding about the frigidity of Illinois. Then I tried saying something else but we apparently maxed out her English and I was politely dismissed from the store. (Thankfully by that point I acquired a box of face masks.) 

For my final errand, I visited my favorite store: Tesco. In England, Tesco reminded me of Pick ‘n Save. Here it seems more like a Wal Mart. Not that I am complaining. I love that I can buy jam, a mug, and a pillow case in the same place and not have to worry about haggling over anything. 

The only difficulty I ran into at Tesco was finding instant coffee. Actually, finding it was easy. The store carries a variety of instant coffee flavors and types. Finding one, however, that doesn’t list “sugar” as the second ingredient is almost impossible. While I’ve enjoyed waking up to what amounts to little more than hot chocolate every morning, I’m a black coffee kind of girl and I miss it. Forget coffee beans and a coffee pot, though! Everything here comes instant. (In the end I did manage to find a non-sweet mix and am enjoying a cup with Digestive biscuits right now.) 

I walked out triumphant and loaded with groceries. The bag then split down the middle and it dawned on me I had a 2.5 mile walk home. I almost took a taxi but I decided taxis were for the weak and I marched on. By the time I arrived home, my arms were shaking and my legs aching but by golly I made it! 

And so my Friday adventures roll to an end. Sort of. I need to work on a paper tonight (and probably the rest of this weekend, ugh) but I think this feeling of triumphant success should last at least until next weekend’s adventure! 


Never Pee Alone

At this point last week, I was wandering around a campground hoping someone would eventually notice me missing and come find me. 

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For the first, and last, weekend of the summer, all 14 of us interns were in town. We decided to then all leave town and go camping in Buena Vista, Colorado. 

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As those who know me well, or not so well, know, I’m not a big camper. But I did spend all of last summer as a camp counselor in a wilderness camp, so I thought, how hard can it be? I felt particularly scornful of the mattress pads and tents. I was a real mountain woman! I did not need such luxuries! (Though I’d take ’em!) 

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Sunday morning I woke up and needed to do my business. I started walking away from the campsite to find a convenient bush…and kept walking…and walking…and eventually it dawned on me that I had no clue where I was. 

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I listened for the sounds of my somewhat loud compatriots but could not hear them. I looked for familiar landmarks but suddenly felt unsure. Was the house on the hill behind us? Or did we drive pass it when entering the campsite? And where had that river come from?

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I considered my options carefully. I could follow the river but, as there was definitely no river by our campground, this would get me nowhere. I could sit in one place and wait for someone to find me. However, I was not confident they had even noticed I was gone yet, or would think to walk this far out in search of me. Further, I was not dressed for the heat and already felt myself sunburning. 

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Worse, the only thing on my feet were cheap, Wal Greens flip flops. Every rock and thorn punctured them and went straight into my foot. No matter how judiciously I avoided the cacti, they somehow found me. 

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After wandering for what felt like days but in reality was only 30 minutes, I realized that if I could find the road that looped around the whole campgrounds, I could find our specific campsite. So I shoved my way through the brush until I located someone else’s campsite, and from there the road. I started walking on it until I heard distant shouting. Up on the largest rock they could find stood three of my fellow interns shouting my name. 

Apparently, they were the 4th group sent out in search of me. 

We made it back just in time for breakfast! 

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Moral of the story? Always take a buddy when you have to pee.


Turned Around In Sheboygan 

I was going to find my brother’s apartment without using the GPS. While this was a lofty goal, I reveled in my ability to achieve it. How I would brag when I arrived about getting from one end of Sheboygan to the other without getting lost! Except ten minutes later I realize I was in the middle of nowhere leaving civilization and somewhat lost. So, being a resourceful girl, I pulled out my GPS and put in Culvers, the only landmark by his apartment I ever remember. Turns out there are three Culvers in Sheboygan. I chose the wrong one.

Finally, admitting defeat, I called my brother. He told me to go East. This meant nothing to me. I decided to go right. Turns out that was South. It took about five more minutes for us to figure out my mistake. However, eventually, I arrived safely! The moral of the story is that even when I think I know I’m going, I don’t.