Stand Up? More Like Run Around! Am I Right? No, I’m Just Late.

A PWNED SYMPHONY in three parts

PART 1: OMG U n00b

My entire attempt at executing my plans last night gets a small, irate FAIL stamp.

The instructions were simple, too simple maybe.

I had to be at an open mic at the University of Maryland by 7:30pm.

As I work in the south of Virginia, the trick was to cut through the District of Columbia real suavelike, and then get on some road that turned into another road that turned into the dead center of the University of Maryland campus. It sounded too good to be true.

It might still be. The fact remains that I didn’t get close enough to ever find out.

I mapped everything out using the Internet and then painfully transcribed the directions onto the back of a receipt. Ha! Little did I know my paltry measures would never hold up in the face of the cold, hard facts!

So I left slightly after 6:30, giving me an hour of time to get there (that’s a century in a chronic late person’s arsenal).

I missed the first crucial exit I needed and ended up circling the museums and monuments in Washington a coupla times. A worthy pursuit, but there was no time for sightseeing! Not at a time like that!

Then I thought I was going the right way but then it became the wrong way and then it became the oblong way and then it just became the long way. All of it was the bumpy way. Potholes, people! I’m telling ya!

At many points, I felt like this car: overwrought and alone, so alone.
photo courtesy of Failblog

I ended up crossing the And-uh-that’ll-cost-ya river (cost you time, that is!) into a shadier part of town. Said river also has a bad raw sewage pollution problem so no, it was nowhere near as glorious as the crossing of the Delaware. But thanks for hitting me where it still hurts.

After passing a naval base and an air force base, I finally got my “bearings” if you could even still call them that anymore.

I was even farther from my destination and a good deal south of my original starting point, but I was back on track.

I also had suspense movie-style sporadic phone conversations with Justin (AKA Night Hawk), the poor, trusting organizer at the open mic to which I was headed, to give him status reports and blow-by-blow commentary. Fittingly, he could only get phone reception outside of the actual basement lounge. So our communication was totally erratic. Edge-of-your-seat stuff! Top notch.

Here is a map detailing what happened:
I Family Circus-ed it just like Jeffy!


At about 8:40pm (70 mins late and counting), I pulled through the holy gates of the campus of the University of Maryland on a full ride charity scholarship for the directionally-challenged (I got stuck in two parking lots first).

After circling the entire campus in my car (see also: pretty but deserted) and ending up at the football stadium a few times (again, sporting events are good, old-fashioned fun, but there was just no time!), I finally parked my car in front of an innocuous enough place called the Benjamin Building.

I respectfully put quarters in the meter, two of which it ate with no gratitude whatsoever, and skittered off into the night, sticking to darkness so no one could see the wild, crazed look in my eyes.

No one can see me this way.
photo courtesy of Failblog

I had no idea where anything on that campus was, and Queen Anne’s Hall sounded like it could be anywhere.

Side Note: They should name buildings on college campuses based on the way they look (i.e., “Yellow and Round Student Union Center” or “Atrocious Concrete Trapezoid Library” instead of “Queen Ann’s Ballyhall” or “Ezekiel R. Lurgenberger’s Howzit Lab” because I have no idea what these people would look like in building form, geographically and spatially speaking.

I stopped at the Student Union Center, and asked a guy, walking by himself because I’m afraid to speak in front of groups without a stage present, for directions, and he said “I don’t know but I can check on my laptop.” He then proceeded to open up the most gigantic laptop I’ve ever seen. I’m talking 80s cellphone translated into a computer. I think the brand was Voltron. It could have doubled as a car/house. That big!

He then couldn’t log in properly to see the campus map (even though the buttons are each small islands in their own right), but after he finally got all of his wires uncrossed, he gave me the vaguest advice I’ve ever heard. “It’s behind the library.” I clearly didn’t have time to get into it with this guy (as in “get a load of…” with requisite hitchhiker’s thumb point) and his giant port-a-puter so I shimmied away.

Needless to say, I ran up to every slightly bookish edifice in search of the library, and I found one! The Hornslater or Hornbaker or Horntooter or something fitting-sounding.

I then made a huge perimeter around the library to ensure that I didn’t miss a single possibuilding that could be Queen Anne’s Hall. I realized pretty quickly that my parking meter had since expired and I was only wearing one shoe (a cute exaggeration) but I trudged onward.

I just wish stuff would be clearly marked and easier to find sometimes.
photo courtesy of Failblog

I avoided groups and happy people because my espirit de corps had dissolved somewhere along the journey. I had no animal totem to beg for help and the idea of telling jokes now seemed blasphemous. But Night Hawk told me he could still squeeze me on if I just SHOWed UP. That was it. Vengeance could still be mine.

I desperately asked another girl for help and she claimed having no knowledge of this mystical place, Queen Anne’s Hall. Because I had no choice at this point, I then asked a sad couple having a serious talk, and one of them turned to me slowly and gave me a sad, serious answer.

“Do you know where the quad is?”

“Yes, of course,” I said (meaning no, absolutely not).

“Well, it’s across the quad, way over there,” he said, pointing into pitch darkness as far as the eye could see.

I wanted to kick him in the shin and yelp for justice, but I merely nodded wordlessly and plodded away. He apparently had bigger problems than I did.

I crossed many streets and rivers, and got to this famed quad. There was no one there except one other girl who was far away enough that I still felt like the main character. It was just me in the middle of a grassy space that was ideal for showing movies on a giant projector or having joyous, memorable times, and I had a moment of inner peace quickly followed by a moment of indigestion all capped with an angst and frustration chaser.

After some more circling, I got a call from Night Hawk. He informed me the show was really just about over.

“Where are you?” He asked hopefully.

“I don’t know,” I said realistically.

We finally established I was near the chapel, which let’s be honest, I could have used at that point. Asylum and salvation sounded good, real good.

I told Justin that “Hey, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”

He said, “I’m sorry.”

Then I said, “No, I’m sorry!”

And then there was nothing left to say.


Then somehow I get back to my car, after a few near run-ins with cars and positive people…it was then 10:05pm, but it seemed like the year 2031. And a beautiful parking ticket sat on my hood as the final middle finger of the night.

The joke was on me.

Ultimately, even the law loses out…to the law.
photo courtesy of Failblog

3 thoughts on “Stand Up? More Like Run Around! Am I Right? No, I’m Just Late.

  1. Aparna says:

    justin – i somehow knew it was right there, and yet, i would never find it. lisa – mine was delivered fresh exactly 16 minutes before legality kicked into effect for the evening. *shaking fist at sticklers*

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