Got Here Safe

Posted May 14, 2006 in California

This particular California blog is sort of new to me: I'm actually blogging about my personal life. Well, I suppose it had to happen sometime.

For the remainder of this entry I'll dispense with words like "yesterday", which for obvious reasons are overly complicated.

Also, this entry is excessively long so that Mom won't ask me endless questions.

Wednesday: had a great time with my friends at McKibbins and Brutopia. Thank you for coming, Lisa, Beth, Jen, Sam, Marc, Rob, Raph, Caitlin, Gen, and Jesse. ("The Other Jesse" will henceforth be referred to as "Jesse S". Sorry you couldn't make it, Jesse S.)

Thursday: woke up with a killer sore throat, which faded by noon to a rather tame one. Had a great time with Rachel. Saw Dad, Kate, Jesse, and Mike at Hurley's. Made hotel reservations online, reserved a taxi. By the time Rachel left, I technically found myself in Friday.

Friday: you can do a heck of a lot when you count days as 24-hour chunks. I started off with laundry, made some coffee, and packed. Luckily my apartment is small; after seeing the disaster in the country clearing out Gran's and Dave's houses, my apartment is a relief. In the bathroom, I just emptied the medicine cabinet into a plasic bag. In the kitchen, I just ate everything in the fridge. In my bedroom and living room, I stood in the middle and turned in circles until I couldn't see anything left to pack.

3:00am: Went outside with my luggage. I had planned to go outside 5 minutes early to catch some fresh air; as I walked out the door the taxi driver came. Cool. He turned out to be an electrical engineer who was laid off, and he complained to me about discrimination. He though I was a bit crazy to be going to the airport so soon.

At the airport: first of all, I found out that the Expedia receipt, despite the website's protests, is not enough to get tickets: I also need to know which airline I'm flying with (which is not printed on the receipt). I had to whip out my laptop and use the Internet (cost: $5) to view my information online. The logo next to my flight was an Air Canada one, but the flight was "provided by" United Express and Shuttle something-or-other, somehow. I chose the United Express check-in line, even though the flight number on Expedia's wesite was an Air Canada one. I was about 5th in line and the line hadn't started moving yet, so I copied the rest of the passengers and stole a customs information form from the desk and filled it out. The line moved (very slowly) and I was relieved to discover it was the correct one. I then found myself in the enormous customs line. As Flis suggested, I checked that my luggage was tagged correctly.

4:30am: The customs line was huge. It kept moving, so I couldn't play video games. I had no idea what I was supposed to do once I actually got to the counter, but I figured I'd worry about that when the time came. It came and I found myself with an extremely rude customs officer. I was friendly and acted clueless and said I needed a J-1 visa. He was rude: he gave me a form and told me to go "over there" to fill it out, then come back to a different desk. I did, and the person at the different desk was pleasant.

5:00am: Dropped off my luggage. Realized immediately after that my Swiss Army knife wasn't going to fly, literally. I use that thing every day, dammit. Still, I guess I had to forget something in my sick/exhausted state.

The plane from Montreal to Chicago was nice. I had a window seat, but it was raining in Chicago and I saw nothing. The airport is really cool there, and I spent a while wandering around aimlessly, trying to avoid spending lots of money on food. I finished Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, ate pizza at a place which looked good but tasted bad, and boarded my flight to San Jose. I was miffed at not getting a window seat. The guy next to me didn't want to trade, so boo.

10:00am: I'd been awake roughly 24 hours at this point. The flight lasted forever and I could barely sleep (if only I'd had a window to lean against!). My sore throat was annoying me (I could never drink enough), so I chewed through my pack of gum on the trip. I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (the in-flight movie looked absolutely horrible: some Wind in the Willows knock-off written, directed, and animated by a first-year computer graphics student?). I read some Neil Gaiman and tried to sleep, but neither went over very well. Just as I was breaking out the video games ("ultimate boredom"), we were told to disable electronic equipment because we'd be landing soon. Woo-hoo!

12:30pm: After so many hours, morning is just barely over! San Jose's airport is miniscule. I picked up my luggage, got my car (unpleasant surprise: Google said that the corporate discount would bypass the $50 under-25-years-old fee; it didn't). A Chevrolet compact. Then I drove around Mountain View, trying to get a feel for the city. It's larger than I expected. Also less... mountain-y. I think I saw a hill in the distance as I was driving down one street. Most streets are 4-lane at least (many are 4- or 5-lane in both directions). One-way streets are extremely rare. There are huge trees everywhere. There are no skyscrapers; still, the street layout makes Montreal seem somewhat quaint in comparison. Google's collection of buildings is massive: the campus must be a bit larger than McGill (I'll know better once I've been inside).

I checked in to my hotel, then walked along "downtown" (Castro Street: practically the only one-lane street in the city) looking for a place to eat. I was happy to notice at least one Irish pub. I ate, then headed home (I was too tired to execute my plan of getting a bank account).

6:00pm: I was disappointed to discover that the 20 channels in my hotel room don't include the San Jose hockey match. They do basketball instead. I watched that for 10 minutes (flipping constantly for a hint of hockey). By 6:30 I was asleep. Apart from a coughing fit around 7:30, I slept like a baby until 8:30.

And luckily, that's 8:30am (as opposed to pm: I wasn't sure). I found an internet cable in my apartment and I've since been setting myself up electronically. Now, my plan is to go out and not come back until I have an apartment and a bike (and maybe a new cell phone plan).

So far, I have seen nothing but beautiful weather in Mountain View. The temperature is just right, and in my experience the sun is always up. I am comfortable and almost completely healthy, and I'm looking forward to my day. Maybe I'll get the bike first; I'd love to bike around a lot.

Odd differences between Mountain View and Montreal:

  • Culture: mostly Mexican and American; I haven't noticed any, say, Chinese.
  • Accents: as expected, the accent will take some getting used to and until then I find it awfully amusing.
  • Smoking: since landing, I saw one cigarette total.