Tag Archives: public transportation

Miss Kona: Pride Parade Adventure

Check that off the list: Marching in a Pride Parade.

A friend of mine called and asked if I was interested. Well, let me see….
It’s fun.
I can be silly.
I’ve never been in a Pride Parade.
I get to ride in a trolley.
Yes! I’ll do it!

For the weeks leading up to the event, I was pondering what I would say to the spectators. You see, we were going to be on a big trolley and handing out Hawaiian leis. So the possibilities are endless, but generally came back to the one comment, “I wanna lei you.” Terrible. But funny.

I, however, can’t say it with a straight face.

Three nights before the event my friend calls. “What are you dressing up as for the parade?”

What?

“Aren’t you dressing up for the parade? You did all those Wearable Art Shows….you have to dress up.”

Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Wearable Art Show 2011.

Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Wearable Art Show 2011.

Well shit. I didn’t think about it. Then it smacks me in the forehead, like a mosquito, this is a perfect excuse to dress up! How could I have not realized this? I love to dress up! What the hell am I going to do? I can’t believe I almost went as a normal person!

I pressed the urgent button. Must. Get. The. Creative. Juices. Flowing.

Now, I don’t have months to prepare, I only have two nights. This is going to be a mess.

We’re doing leis, so Hawaiian would be good. That’s a no-brainer. What kind of Hawaiian stuff do I have on hand? Nothing. Not a floral shirt. Not a lei. Flip flops. I have flip flops. Well that’s not very Hawaiian.

Where are my wigs? In the storage closet. UGH. I don’t have time. Do I even have a long black wig? No. Eyelashes! Has anyone seen my eyelashes? I know the little box they’re in….but where is that box? I’ll worry about that later.

To the drawing board I go….which in this case, is the party supply store.

Lo and behold, they have a big selection of left over Halloween items. Thank you! First I pick up a cool mask, with giant beak and feathers out of the top. I find different colored table cloths to match the feathers. Then I look and say to myself….THIS is NOT Hawaiian themed. This isn’t going to work.

I put everything back…then stumble into the Hawaiian section.

Two grass skirts.

Four pretty silk flower leis.

No, they had NO coconut bra tops. Trust me – I was looking. I did flirt with the idea of using real coconuts but the thought of trying to successfully crack it open and then drill holes for a string to hold it together….was too much comedy of errors for me.

And on the way out…one last pass through the Halloween section. YES! A long black wig. They call it a fashion wig, I’m thinking…seriously? Whatever, it’s long and black. When I check out the cashier advises me there is no returns on the wig. Okay, she doesn’t know me, but I NEVER return a wig. Miss Kona Supplies

Next stop. The Dollar Store. Yep. I hit the jackpot! Pink flamingo plastic table cloth, fishing nets, sequined butterfly things and clip on flowers.

I go home and assemble the costume.

The next night I realize, I didn’t have a headpiece. You always need a headpiece! So using a headband, some shells and glitter…I fastened together a sea princess crown.

I also realize I can’t find my eyelash box. Yes, besides wigs, I have an assortment of eyelashes. I look in the obvious places. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Then, literally, while I”m on my hands and knees looking under the bed….(side note, we just moved into this little place…which causes me to still not remember where things ended up. It is plausible the eyelashes ended up under the bed, not likely, but possible.)

Yes, I’m on my hands and knees when I break out my Catholic education and say a prayer to St. Anthony.

“St. Anthony, please can you help me locate my eyelashes? Thank you. You know it’s in that plastic box. Please help me find them.” St. Anthony never fails me. Whenever you lose something – pray to St. Anthony.

Tah-dah! Try the bottom dresser drawer.

I did and under a bunch of other stuff….there’s my eyelash box! YAHOO!

Now that I have my outfit assembled, I fall to sleep as a big day is coming tomorrow!

Rise and shine at 7:00AM. I have to be at the trolley by 10:00AM. I’ll be driving into Boston, parking at work and then taking the subway to where the trolley is staged at the Copley Center. I’ve written down my subway directions…..have them in my pocket. I’m ready to go.

I put on the top of my outfit, which consists of a white flimsy tank top blouse thing, aqua colored bra and sequined butterflies. My eyelashes are on. Big glittery eye make up is on. Lip stain is on. Body glitter is on….of course!

I look like a drag queen stuck in a disco ball.

Before I leave, I decide I better wear a zip up hoodie. I’m taking the subway after all. I grab my sunglasses, tote bag with various paraphernalia and my grass skirts in a big trash bag.

Okay, now I look like a hobo in a disco ball.

The transportation adventure begins. I zip right into Boston – SWEET! Every day should be 20 minutes.Park the car and walk to the first subway stop, which is three blocks from my office.

Silver Line to South Station….I’ve done this lots of times. No sweat.

South Station, I hop over to the Red Line going to Alewife. Okay, got this. I’ve been to South Station lots of times. Just have to look for the sign for this particular line. Easy. I get to the platform 1 minute before the Red Line arrives.

Next, I get off at Park Street and have to transfer to the Green Line. Well, this is an experience. Never been on the green line. And I need to find the C Berth for the train that goes to Connelly Circle. That’s what it said on the website for the transit system. A berth? That’s for cruise ships. Why not call it a platform? A berth? Okay, whatever. C Berth.

I still have my sunglasses on and hoodie zipped up.

I arrive at the Park Street station and feel like I’m wandering through purgatory. Dark, old, hot and fierce. At any moment I fully expect to see an elevator that says Hell? With an arrow pointing down. The signs here say C berth is also track 1. I’m at track 4. Well where the hell is track 1? I see a little old man walking across the tracks and I’m thinking, “that’s not the smartest thing to be doing….”

Then I see a sign that says C with an arrow down. There’s more layers? Or is this the elevator to hell I’ve been expecting to see here?

I hit the elevator button and wait. Nothing.
It finally arrives and the door opens. Apparently, lions have been using the elevator as their litter box. The smell curls my eyelashes even more. I turn around and look for stairs.

Down I go, along this hallway that could have been in a hospital horror flick from the 50’s. Then another sign says to go up for my berth. I truly am a mouse in this labyrinth.

I pop up and there I am on the opposite side of where I started. Four tracks, yellowing light and stale air. Big industrial floor fans running to try and keep people cool. It’s old. Old. Old. Some of the lines coming through are only 2 cars. People run and push to get on the car.

Dear lord. Please don’t let this be a long wait.

I see on the transit map I could take lines C, D, E to get where I’m going. However I stick solidly to my C plan as all these tiny cars….and I’m hoping C is multiple cars.

People are coming in obviously going to the parade, which makes me happy to know. I’m not lost.

Unfortunately, I’m sweating like a banshee. I don’t know, do banshees sweat? I’m still wearing my glasses and zip up hoodie. I’m dying. I can imagine the tank top is plastered to my back. Sweat is breaking out on my upper lip. This guy in front of me won’t stop pacing….like a caged animal. Okay. Enough.

I unzip my jacket and put my glasses on top of my head. AIR. Sort of.

Within a minute a big guy comes over and asks, “How did you get your eyelashes to do that?”
They’re fake.
“Oh. Are you with him?” (There is a young guy with a pull cart filled with signs about gay rights standing next to me.)
No, but we’re going to the same place obviously.
Then guy then says something and more about his wife….not sure what he was saying…as the noise from trains, fans and people were deafening in this crowded subway pit.

Another train comes in and he walks away to get on one of the two cars.

I put my glasses back on and patiently wait.

Hark! A train on my track! It says Connelly Circle! Thats’s the one I need. Whoop Whoop! AND it has a bunch of cars! I jump on the first one and get a seat. I sit down and immediately want to hug the conductor….the A/C is on high and I feel like I’ve walked into an ice box. Thank you, sweet fairy godmother of the subway system. And whoever invented A/C.

Three stops later, I hop off and continue to wander the lackluster white tiled subway….(which note, some people actually put this tile in their house….why?) I continue to follow signs that say, “Exit. Street.” I climb the stairs and pop out into the sunshine, like a mole who has been underground too long. To my surprise, I am actually where I should be. I didn’t get lost!

I walk 1 block and there’s my trolley, waiting in line with all the other vehicles, for the parade to start. Yahoo! It’s a small miracle I didn’t get lost. Or loose my patience and hop in a cab. Yeah me – high five!

My friend is waiting for me at the trolley and I think may be surprised I made it as well! I’m thinking, I needed a shot after that. Not a vodka shot but a tetanus. And I didn’t bring any handiwipes!

I pull up my glasses and SURPRISE! Hope it’s okay that I’m planning to dress up!

Then I start to pull my outfit together. Skirt on. Wig on. Crown on.

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Tah-dah! Two people, that I’ve met before, didn’t recognize me. It was great!

One of the guys looks up my Hawaiian name online. Apparently it’s Kona. Okay then call me Miss Kona.

I walk off the bus and a lady approaches me, “Are you going to do the hula on top of the trolley today?”

Ahhh no, but thank you.

If I had a dollar for every time someone took my photo, I’d have enough to buy a round of drinks in the bar. I walked down the street before the parade to see the floats and people were stopping me left and right. I didn’t think my outfit was that amazing, but apparently it was different enough.

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The parade starts and our music on the trolley was the best. We were literally dancing in the street. I spent most of the time walking in front of the trolley, which was great, so I couldn’t loose the trolley. And they couldn’t loose me! Win-win on that one. We were handing out leis to anyone who wanted them. Must have handed out thousands. I decided to aim for kids and people in wheelchairs along the route. I also asked many, many police officers if they wanted one – all but 6 declined. Those who did take them, gave them to the people next to them. Of course, when someone mentioned that was a Congressman in the suit standing over there, I immediately ran over. He didn’t want a lei either. Well, I tried.

One lady, who obviously was a parade organizer, due to the enormous headset she was wearing and clip board she was carrying…said to me, “You better move over to the sidewalk, there is a trolley behind you. You don’t want to get hit.” I told her I was with the trolley and I’m pretty sure they’re not going to run me down.

What a great time. Miss Kona had a hoot. I was exhausted and slightly sunburned when I got home. The energy of the crowd, the excitement of being in a parade and running from side to side wore me out….and a 4 hour nap was enjoyed when I got home.

Let’s do this again next year! Game on!

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Standing Room Only.

I’m not going to lie.
When we left Alaska, it was exciting to be going to Miami.

Daily sunshine.
Palm trees.
The beach less than a mile away.
Warm weather.
Rocking thunderstorms.
Eating outside.
Not having to wear a winter coat 8 months out of the year.
Disney was a short drive away.
Fresh coconuts.

Delightful.

After about a year, the novelty wore off.

For us Alaskans, it was always hotter than Hades.
The humidity was so thick even the cats’ fur was frizzy.
Christmas wasn’t the same without snow.
We didn’t speak Spanish.
The insanity of the drivers on I95.
Honking is relentless.

Enough already. So we started to look north to New England.

We landed just south of Plymouth Rock this February and couldn’t be happier.

Of course, we arrived in the middle of winter. And for anyone who is familiar with the legends of the 2015 Boston winter….you can only imagine what we faced. Of course, we were likely the ONLY people in the Boston – New England area that was THRILLED to see snow.

Need someone to help shovel? We’re on it.
No, it’s not too cold to go out for a walk.
Forgot something at the store? We can go.

Laying in bed at night, we were like little kids, “do you think it’s snowing yet?”

With the first snow storm coming down, the schools quickly started to broadcast on the TV who was going to be closed. Okay, when I was a kid you had to listen to the radio (1060AM) the morning of school to know whether or not you were making the trek into school. Things have progressed in the school districts!

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At any rate, we went over the public transportation again and reviewed how I would get to work on my first day. (Actually, earlier in the week we did the entire route just to be certain I knew where I was going on my first day.) I was ready to go.

Buzz-buzz-guess what?

The recruiter who had been along with me for the entire hiring ride, emailed me on Sunday night… “Work is cancelled for tomorrow. It’s a snow day.”

Really?

Huh. Okay. Well, this is definitely different than Alaska.

The next morning we awoke to multiple feet of snow. So exciting!

That night, the Mayor of Boston was on tv and says, “Due to the blizzard, all non-essential employees should stay home tomorrow.”

Well.

Am I non-essential?

I feel pretty damn essential.

How do you know if you haven’t been told if you’re essential?

Excuse me, could you tell me if I am a non-essential worker?

You see, I now work for the city, so yes…I could be essential or non-essential.

Buzz-buzz-guess-who?

My recruiter emails and tells me officially, “Day two snow day. No work.”

Apparently, I am non-essential. (Well, they haven’t seen my tiara yet…so just wait! Think that is what makes one essential. It’s really good when I bring out the confetti cannon.)

Day two snow day! Whoop! Whoop! Of course, at the end of the blizzard, approaching Wednesday. I’m suddenly filled with, like a little kid, “but I don’t want to go to work tomorrow!”

I wait in front of the TV to watch school closings. Few come.
I check my email for a note from my recruiter. Silence.

Okay, I’m going in.

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Fast forward about two weeks. Boston has been hit again, again, again and again with snow. People’s cars are buried until Spring.

You can’t see around the corner at stop signs. Wild animals are being brought to animal shelters cause they can’t find food. Even birds!

It was my goal all along to take public transportation in to the office however, lucky for me and thousands of other commuters…the snow storms have wrecked havoc on the public transportation system.

Multiple lines of the “T” are closed cause the crews can’t clear the tracks. People are left stranded. It has become a disaster. I would arrive to the T-stop in the morning along with 50+ of my closest stranger friends and everyone would stand together – looking down the tracks – waiting for the train.

We were like a bunch of penguins out there. Hands in coat pockets. Breathing into our coat collars. All positioned looking due east….anticipating the train.

If we’re freezing out on the platform, it’s okay because due to the snow levels and route cancellations….the train has become:

Standing
Room
Only

Seriously.

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NOTE: These aren’t my arms. These aren’t my body!

We all know how I like to snuggle up next to strangers. I might prefer to have lunch with a leper.

But the roads are bad enough that I don’t want to drive the 16 miles – so commute I must.

Going into the city, I NEVER got a seat. Since some routes were cancelled, hundreds of additional people crowded on the available trains.

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(NOTE: This is just the stop before mine – hundreds got off.)

After a week of riding out of the city, I figured out a system and I GOT a seat. It was euphoria when I figured this out. At the main station, my train always came into the same track. Although it was to arrive at 5:40PM, with the weather, sometimes it didn’t show up until 6:15PM.

I would wait calmly, well bundled up, close to the area where my track was outside. As soon as I saw the headlight make the turn towards that track, I started walking.

Excuse me.
Pardon me.

Sneak around this guy and that woman.

By the time I got towards the front of the pack, a few people…usually men…would start to walk down to the track. (Technically you’re supposed to wait for the train to come all the way into the gate and stop…) Nope, not happening for a select few. I was in the front herd. Those that don’t listen to the directions. I joined them.

The result? When the train came to a complete stop, I was usually by one of the doors!

Yahoo! I beat the system!

Why wait for the pack of hundreds?

When you’re small and sharpen your elbows, you can get anywhere.

Now, I too could get a seat. Not just any seat. No. I had MY CHOICE of seat as I got on.

Yeah me!

No more bumping and grinding with strangers.

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Then someone told me about the ferry. I can take a ferry from close to my home, right into Boston.

REALLY!? I checked the schedule and sure enough….it was operating.

I took the ferry into work. It was delightful.

That night, I took the 5:40PM ferry home. It left on time. But we hit a small bump.

Multiple small bumps.

Actually, some weren’t so small.

The harbor had iced over. We were hitting sheets of ice. All I could think of was the Titanic.

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No, we didn’t spend the night on the ferry, we spent an extra hour on the ferry waiting for the US Coast Guard Ice Cutter to come and free us.

This is when I discovered….there’s two bars on this ferry.

Case closed, this is how I’m traveling henceforth.

(Note: I’ve been trying to figure out how to use the word, “henceforth” so there.)

Now, the ferry isn’t what you would imagine, or maybe it is. It’s a sightseeing boat in the summer time. Some times I get the GIANT vessel that seats several hundred. Sometimes I get the cute little one. Both offer a decent selection of beer and for me…a chardonnay please… $6.

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Now I leave the driving to someone else!
I catch up on some reading.
Enjoy a great boat ride.
Have myself a chardonnay and relax on the way home!

So much easier than bringing my airplane bottles of vodka on the train. In those ass bumping moments, sometimes you need to self-medicate and it’s pitiful when you run out and haven’t even left the station yet.

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