Habitat Spring Break – Part I (The Ride There)


Wow, I haven’t had real writer’s block in terms of blocking since I started a week or two ago (as you can probably tell), but most of the posts that I’m thinking of writing require more time and thought than I can give them in an hour and eighteen minutes, before midnight – I’m finally giving myself deadlines, even if they’re kinda middle-of-the-night deadlines. It keeps me focused. It’s easy for me to write personal posts and try to make them at least a little entertaining, even if they fail, but posts about “green” politics and book reviews and all… they take time, for research, and just for doing them right. Sure, I’ve finished Oscar Wao, but it would be nice to have a few hours straight to review it and not feel rushed. Perhaps posting times will change? (If I end up waking up earlier…? Or on the weekends?)

What great writers do when they get writer’s block is… plagiarize! (Themselves!) If you’ve gone through the college application process, chances are you’ve recycled or dressed up that essay that got you an A in that English class, or that everyone else you know did. So I’m going to take the journal entries that I wrote to record my week in Birmingham, Alabama, when I built houses with MIT’s Habitat for Humanity group (and Ohio State’s!) over spring break, and post some excerpts. Hopefully they’ll be… entertaining? (Maybe one day I’ll try recreating “entries” for Yosemite, and Yellowstone, and Abu Dhabi though there was apparently a “Terrascope blog”, and Costa Rica… *over-ambition alert* Fine, no promises as to when!)

I think I’ll split this up because otherwise the post would get too long. Guess what’s the topic of the story today? That’s right! BUSES!!!!!! Didn’t see THAT coming did you?

Video of the day:

March 19Traveling to Birmingham, first day

I’m on the bus in some Greyhound station that sucks. I had pulled an all night-er packing, finished my laundry minutes before leaving (and left the rest in the basement), luckily stopped at the C3 cafe/Harvest Market for Clif Z bars and veggie sushi and inari, and took the train and met the two MIT Habitat-ers traveling with me at South Station.

The New York station had a layover of a few hours, so we were able to grab some food. Enough for one meal (our entire ride to Birmingham would be over 24 hours), but I thought we’d have options at DC. And that the station would be nicer than New York’s, which was okay but not like AMAZING (by say Grand Central standards). Well let’s just say we get spoiled by our Northeast bus stations.

I’ve been to DC before – maybe I was imagining the train station, or something. Or a mall thing/train station. But the Greyhounds in D.C., Richmond, Charlotte, and Atlanta were all the same – overpriced unhealthy vending machines, one ‘restaurant’ with the same sausage egg sandwiches and burgers and hot dogs at each one, and bathrooms where all the open stalls were disgusting and pee or blood filled and you waited for the next person to walk out so you could use one of those rare ‘good’ stalls.

One bus I rode didn’t have internet, but the next one had internet AND outlets – a dream come true. For someone who’s working on sending in a late quiz paper. Only thing was, the person who pointed out the outlets to me was crazy. Before I knew that for a fact, I told him basic things like I was doing service with MIT Habitat, to be friendly. He said he was from Harlem, showed me pictures of his girls (girlfriends) on his phone and asked ‘isn’t she hot?’ etc. And then he was like “This is my new cell phone. I broke my old phone hitting my kid with it. He was asking for it. Man, he was asking for it.”

After that I tried to focus on my quiz. But he kept going.

“Your boyfriend ain’t going with you on this Habitat thing? You have a boyfriend?”

“You go to MIT and live in New York? You have a Boston accent.”

“Where you from? Chelsea?”

“I got to visit my cousins in Raleigh. I hate goin’. I can’t stand the South.”

“What you writing, poetry?”

“Friend me on Facebook so we can keep in touch.”

Well, that evening I had a boyfriend, I lived in Chelsea, and I got a lot of that quiz done. And I didn’t have many Facebook friends. Sorry.


May 20 and onwards – in the next posts!

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