Tag Archives: mapquest

panic at williamsburg bridge!

mapquest said it would take me four hours and forty seven minutes.  a fourteen mile walk punctuated by a five mile ferry ride to see f2fb friend #317 michele piersiak.  i sometimes do an eight mile walk around the perimeter of winnetka, so i figured it couldn’t be that bad.

oh how wrong i was.  my theory about new yorkers is that they do fifty three terrifying things and that’s before they get to work.  i didn’t expect to be scared in quite this way.

the williamsburg bridge is the seventy-fifth longest suspension bridge in the world, which makes any american immediately say “pshaw! there are seventy four others that are much tougher!”  still, i got stuck along the 1600 span that towered over the water.  i couldn’t move forward and couldn’t move back.  this happened three times.  each time, i had a vision of me being the homeless chick who lives on the williamsburg bridge, unwilling to leave or to move.  accepting handouts and generally letting personal hygiene take a backseat.  i’d be an object of pity, scorn, and perhaps curiosity.  i’d feed pigeons.  i would have several pet rats who would be attracted by my pungent body odor.  i’d lash myself to the bridge during storms.  i’d lose my cell phone!

i had to get unstuck.  i was so scared my feet had fallen asleep and if i didn’t get moving the legs would be the next to go.  i started saying thank you.  thank you to the rain.  thank you to the shoes i was wearing.  thank you to the guy who had helped when the mapquest directions were just a bit . . . off.  thank you even to mapquest.  i said thank you to my facebook friends, pausing only briefly as i realized the reason i was going across the bridge was to meet f2fb friend #317 who had introduced herself on facebook.  i thanked american airlines for getting me to new york.  i thanked whoever built the bridge (later i learned construction on the bridge began i n1896 with henry hornsbotal as the chief architect and leffert buck as his engineer)

as i approached the end of the bridge i felt an odd exhileration.  and it wasn’t just relief.  it was a sense that i was buoyed up by all the people i had thanked, even by henry and leffert although at that point i didn’t know their names.

and i got off that bridge and found the staten island ferry . . . thanks to five different new yorkers who made me think that new yorkers are the friendliest people on earth!  i thank them too!

i didn’t expect to get choked up by the staue of liberty, so i sat on the side of the ferry that does not get the view of the statue.  but as we approached, i couldn’t help myself.  statue of liberty, dollface, i’m grateful to you!

and so i was wrong.  it could be that bad.  and yet, it also could be wonderful!

there are so many ways to fail and so many ways to succeed

i hate mapquest.  i loathe it.  sure, it gets me where i’m supposed to go but its projections of how long it will take me are wildly optimistic and seem to include some wormholes in the spacetime continuum (exit 49a off  1-70 take a soft right into the previous hour and out fifty miles ahead of yourself).  i headed out of chicago at seven thirty a.m. aiming for columbus, ohio.  it was going to take me a mere five and a half hours.  it was the second time this year that i’ve been on this road to see f2fb friend #157 todd stiles.

i had recently been stung by some comments from a facebook friend who said roughly the following “i’ve talked to some of our mutual facebook friends who say your project annoys them and they will not see you this year”  i don’t see these mutual friends all that often and one of the side effects of this new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends is that i’m getting to know people i call friends a little better.  i respect boundaries.  if someone doesn’t want to make a video, sure.  if someone says i just want to get together with friends but i don’t want you to blog about it, okay (see friend #88).  if someone cancels and reschedules, sure. 

and that last had been the case with todd–

todd is in medical school and has faced many obstacles, not the least of which was everybody telling him “you look too exhausted to take the exam” on the morning i was last supposed to see him, for an exam that was critical to his success.  so he ended up cancelling the exam.  it’s set him back a bit but he is someone who just can’t quit.  he’s just stubborn enough, just ornery enough, just positive enough–i think we should all start calling him dr. todd now because it’s just a matter of time.  specifically a year, i believe, before he will graduate.

he is the first in his immediate family to graduate from college and the only one in his extended family to try medical school.  and medical school has dragged him from ohio to antigua, and from working at a pharmaceutical warehouse to get tuition money to long nights reviewing textbooks and lecture notes. 

we went to the short north neighborhood of columbus and whiled away a few hours while we caught up.  we had known each other when he was studying in chicago and then drifted apart when he moved first to champaign, then to ohio, and then to antiqua and back to ohio.  we realized we have a lot of the same issues with anxiety and self-doubt. 

todd was so sweet–when it came time for me to say goodbye, he pulled out of his backpack a printout of instructions on how to get to oberlin, ohio.  “you’ll be fine once you get on warren street,”  he said.  he overestimated.  i drove around for about a half hour before i found i-71 north and moved north into a thunderstorm.  the clouds did not lift me up and deposit me gently into oberlin but rather, slowed my progress.

todd and i in front of a mural of american gothic on north high street


so part of the reason i missed the ramp to the interstate was that i was crying–dr. todd told me that even if i run into obstacles, even if i run up against negativity, even if i run up against outright failure, just pick up, dust yourself off, and get back on the highway to success.  in my case, it requires a few illegal u-turns on columbus streets, but i’m aiming to oberlin and beyond. . . .