What's up people of the syberworld, it's Actual Acorn comin' at ya
with another blog update. For the past 48 hours, my life has been
very interesting indeed. You see, my life is in a transitional
period; a liminal space, if you will. The month of May lies between
my graduation from college in April and my trip to Japan in June. So
for a month I have nothing to do. No employer will hire someone who
is going immediately take a month-long vacation, and I couldn't find
any temporary work in my area. On top of that, my parents went on
their own trip to Kiev or someplace, so I haven't even had any chores
to do. After a week of total isolation I was starting to go quite
insane, and impulsively decided to go to an anime convention "nearby"
that I had heard was happening soon.
That was Anime Central 2023. On May 17th I booked a cheap hotel that was relatively close to the convention center, and on May 18th I embarked on my journey, around 6:00pm, and the nightmare began.
First, I drove an hour to the bus station where I could park overnight for free. Then I took hour-long bus ride to the train station. The train ride into Chicago is usually two hours long, but, get this, the train CRASHED INTO A CAR that was parked on the tracks! Everyone gathered on the left side of the train to watch the conductor and crew push the car off the tracks, and they failed, so they called a tow truck (or something, it was very dark), and then I think the owner of the car showed up and saw what was going on and called the police.
So the police showed up, then the conductor called the railway police. At this point the car was off the track and the cops and crew, as far as we could tell, were just dicking around on the tracks. All in all, the train was delayed over an hour. The train arrived at Millennium Station around maybe, 11:00 pm? I never checked the time. From there I walked a few blocks to the CTA blue line, which would, theoretically, take me to my hotel, and to the convention center the following morning.
Problem one is that the hotel was like 500 feet away from the nearest train station, so I had to walk through a parking garage and along a highway, then cross the highway to get to there. (This is city planning in America) And then I got to the hotel. There were lots of middle-aged businessmen milling about. I tried to check in at the front desk, but the people there told me they couldn't check me in, because I was under the age of 21! WHY DO I NEED TO BE 21 TO STAY AT A HOLIDAY INN?? They told me it was because "they serve serve drinks at the bar". I'M NOT GOING TO THE BAR I'M TRYING TO SLEEP!! Plus it didn't say anywhere on the booking.com that it was 21+. So what exactly am I supposed to do?
Luckily, she at least gave me a full refund and also recommended another hotel "nearby" that was 18+ and accepted walk-in bookings and gave me directions.
"Ride the blue line to the O'Hare airpot, then switch to the purple line and take it north to the hotel"
Wanna know what I learned after reaching O'Hare? THERE IS NO PURPLE LINE. There is a METRA LINE that doesn't stop at O'Hare and doesn't connect to the blue line AT ALL. So, thanks to Holiday Inn Chicago O'Hare, I got stranded in the Chicago suburbs, 100 miles from home, at 2AM. I called Holiday Inn back to ask WTF was up but apparently the girl who gave me the bad info had clocked out by then LOL. This is normally the point where travel bloggers usually go "I wont say the name of this establishment to protect their reputation" but those bitches fucked me over for fun, plus they kept shit-talking me in Spanish. Fuck Holiday Inn.
(I'm half-Hispanic but look white, people can't usually tell unless I'm with my parents)
Anyways, back at the airport I went to the shuttle bay and my hotel didn't have a shuttle so I bribed a Comfort Inn shuttle to take me there. But he dropped me off at the wrong fucking hotel (lol), which I didn't realize until talking to staff, because apparently that hotel has two locations or something? Anyways, I was reaching my breaking point as I walked half a mile in the middle of the night to the other hotel. I got there but the door was locked and I couldn't see anyone at the front desk, so I walked around the building until I met an escort whose client had a key and they let me in. I went to the front desk, and apparently there was someone there, he was just laying on the floor or something.
And it is at this point I realize my great mistake. You see, I am "between licenses" right now because of my age. I have a temporary license that is basically a sheet of paper stapled to my old license. It doesn't fit in my wallet, so I keep it in the glove box in my car. My car, which at that point was at a bus station in Indiana. I. Forgot. My. FUcking. License.
I showed the guy my credit card, my insurance card, I even tried to show him my steam account (lol), but unfortunately only my physical driver’s license or passport would do. I was on the verge of tears at this point, and exhausted, I tried to persuade, bribe, and intimidate him like a fucking Morrowind NPC, then drifted out of the hotel in a daze. Without a photo ID, I couldn’t stay at any hotel in the USA. I thought, “I’m soooooo screwed”.
I called an Uber. I
was so out it. I was tired, sweaty, dirty and cold. I lamented to the
Uber driver about my situation, not really expecting anything. His
name was Kenny. I just wanted him to take me to a CTA station, but he
came up with an idea. He’ll take me to a motel. I’ll give him my
credit card, and he’ll rent a room in for me with his ID. Genius!
Except hotels are pretty scrutinous about those things, so we failed
to book any nicer motels. Eventually we came across this run-down old
shack, which smelled like smoke, had no warm water and the floor was
grimy and bedbugs, herpes, lice… it was the kind of place where Jesse Pinkman goes to fuck hookers. But it worked! Kenny walked out and handed me
my room key, and told me it cost $100. (in hindsight, why was it so expensive?)
I don’t remember if I thanked him or not. After getting the hotel key, I think I was so relieved and tired that my brain shut off, because the last thing I remember that night is him handing me the key. So, Kenny, I know you’re probably not reading this, but THANK YOU! I don’t know what I would’ve done without you. You quite literally might have saved my life that night, or rather, morning, because the sun was rising by then. And I did leave you a massive tip.
I woke up a few hours later, 'round 10:00 AM, and the room provided no shampoo or soap, not that I was expecting any, but I smelled terrible from running around the Chicago suburbs last night. And you can’t go to an anime con smelling bad and looking like you slept in a dumpster! I actually ended up asking Bing Ai where I could take a shower (lol) and it directed me to a spa that I that I could take the blue line near to. So I called an Uber, and because I’m new to Uber I accidentally called him to the wrong location and had to run a block over before he left (lol).
The nearest CTA station was right nearby the convention center, and my Uber driver actually tried to drop me off there because I guess I fit his image of the stinky, unkempt weeabo. I am am normally just an unkempt weeabo.
I took the blue line eastwards, then got off and rented a Lyft bike and rode a few miles south to the spa. It was actually a co-ed spa, so I got to get naked with a bunch of old dudes. I was only there to bathe, but they had a dry sauna, wet sauna, ice bath and zero gravity chairs, so of I had to try those out. (I hated it all) I also hadn’t eaten or drank anything since I stepped foot out of my house yesterday, so I ordered a big bottle of seltzer water from the bar and chugged it in the zero gravity chair, then rode my bike to Walgreens to buy toothpaste and stuff (because my toiletries bag disappeared at some point. Idfk how or when) then got back on the blue line to Rosemont, brushed my teeth, then stepped off the train to finish my long adventure on foot.
It was so surreal to be outside and seeing cosplayers just… walking around? Like normal people? I had never seen a cosplayer in real life before that point, and suddenly I saw dozens of them just milling about. There was a long line of people walking from the train station to the convention hall. I felt like I was on a pilgrimage of some sort. A pilgrimage to the holy land of Rosemont.
Anyways, I was excited, but also scared. I wasn’t sure I would even be able to get in without a physical ID. Luckily, my parents had sent me a picture of my old license by then, but that hotel had told me even if I had a picture of my license they wouldn’t accept it; only a physical, government-issued ID would do. Acen (Anime Central) did say on their website that a photo ID was required to buy a pass, but they didn’t say it needed to be a physical ID specifically.
The convention center was massive. I wandered around for an hour just looking for the the “front desk”. I saw a screening of some anime about an unemployed pedophile girl, and in the next room over a seiyuu was doing a panel. It’s amazing that I didn’t need pay money for those. Eventually I found the kiosk where you bought the day passes. I was like, “Oh good, there’s no humans involved, so I wont need to show ID”, but then a staff showed up with my pass and asked me to show ID
So pulled out my phone and showed her the picture of my license. She stared at it for a painfully long time. I started to think that after everything I went through, I would really get turned away at the pearly gates.
“It’s my old license,” I told her. I pulled back my hair so she could see that me and the person picture were the same.
“Oh, okay. Here’s your pass. Go to that table behind you to get your lanyard and swag bag,” she said.
I looked at my pass.
It was just a glossy gray card with an anime girl printed on it, but
at that moment it seemed to me like the most beautiful thing in the
world. And it had my name spelled wrong.
And that's where this story ends. There's actually a lot of things that happened that I didn't tell here, such as the part where I nearly got arrested, getting harassed by drunk partygoers, debating the escort, and everything that happened after I bought my pass. But I couldn't figure out how to organically work those things into the narrative. Thanks for reading, peace.