Alex Blaze

My mom would say, "I hope some day you get paid for being Alex Blaze"

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 08, 2009 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: airport, bus, Chicago, Kimya Dawson, paris, small town, Yasmin Nair

For the past two or three weeks I've been in and out around this site, and this past week has been even worse. I'm back to as full-time as I normally am, though, and I'll just give the short version before the jump: if I owe you an email for something, I'm getting on it.

But about what's actually been up....

This past week I moved back to Paris from Indiana. After spending a week packing and preparing paperwork (how I even managed to not only post on this site during that time, but maintain it with Bil gone to Creating Change, is beyond me), I hopped the Greyhound bus for Chicago this past Monday morning at 7am.

I've been riding the Greyhound bus for years now and I don't really get why it has such a bad reputation. Sure, it isn't as fast or as clean as an airplane is, but as airlines have become more and more annoying, the Greyhound bus has been looking better and better. Especially when it comes to price.

Take, for instance, the trip to Chicago from Indianapolis, which I had to do to catch my flight to Paris. Let's say you're traveling on February 23, a Monday, and want to leave in the morning. Expedia says that there's an unusually cheap flight that day at $66. Greyhound has its normal two-week advance price at $20. The bus will take 4 hours, the flight, with security, will take 2 hours.

Of course, this doesn't figure in the $40 it costs to take two suitcases on most domestic flights nowadays. With that added in, the bus is $86 cheaper. And, in Chicago, the Greyhound station and O'Hare are both on the Blue Line, making transport to the airport pretty simple.

But, well, I didn't go straight to the airport. I stopped by TBP contributor Yasmin Nair's place in Chicago to do lunch. Yasmin is really cool, and we got to talking about a story she was working on for the Windy City Times and queer politics and the site and people, and then she mentioned that someone she interviewed got turned around in London because she didn't have a return ticket to the US.

I, um, was going to Paris and didn't have a return ticket to the US either. Not that I'm not planning on going back - I just hadn't decided exactly what day I wanted to return. I had already checked the US Department of State website, and they hadn't mentioned anything about having a return ticket, and the French embassy's site, which Yasmin and I found at her place, said that a return ticket is "maybe" required.

Yeah. "Maybe."

So I emailed my boyfriend in Paris and he called her place (as I've mentioned on this site before, constructive regulation of the telecom industry in Europe has increased competition, driving down the price of service while increasing quality, which means lots of French people can call the US for free). After an intense half-hour of phone calls all over, I had a return ticket and was headed off to the airport in a Chicago bus.

Well, this past week I've been suffering from some jet lag, sleeping a few hours at a time and waking up at 4am most days (I think I'm over it now). I also had a terrible flu the latter half of last week, and I'm guessing it's something I picked up on the flight. Really, 200-some people breathing the same air for 10 hours means that something's going to spread.

But it's great to be back in Paris with Alberto, eating smelly cheese and living the real city-dweller's life. You know, where you can walk to a store, where you can step outside your house and see people, and where if you walk a little further you can go to a concert or the movies or to a play. Where if you need to make love, well....

I'm a small-town boy with big-city needs.

So there are three morals to this story:

  1. Over short distances, Greyhound is better than an airplane.
  2. Yasmin Nair is super-cool in real life.
  3. I have an excuse for my long absence. I will be getting caught up over this next week!

And, no, Greyhound didn't pay me to write this post. But I do have some interesting stories about riding the bus that one day I might get on paper.

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Glad it all work out, Alex. Enjoy Paris! And next time you're in Chicago (on the way back perhaps) let's have coffee in the Greyhound station ;-)

Oh definitely!

I hadn't heard that you moved out to Chicago, though! Your profile here still says "Washington, D.C."

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 8, 2009 4:56 PM

How cool: you're back in gay Paris!

I miss Europe so much.

Enjoy all that the wonderful city has to offer!!!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 9, 2009 6:58 AM

"Se la Amour!"

I hope you and Alberto are very happy and that your past visa problems were taken in to account before you reentered the land of Chas DeGaulle and smelly cheese.

Oh, Alex,

I'm just getting my head together and only just read this post. You're much too kind, and I think YOU are super-cool in real life. And next time you come to Chicago, I'll make sure we actually leave the apartment and explore.

Glad you made it all in one piece; enjoy Paris!