What the Dickens!

My life lately, Reader’s Digest Version:

1. Falling in love with the characters and writing of Charles Dickens

2. Mistakenly spending a night in the wrong part of town

3. Anticipating/dreading the start of graduate school

4. Putting off the move, yet again

5. Gearing up (mentally) to get back to my health and fitness goals

1. I started with downloading free e-book versions of Nicholas Nickleby (read!) and David Copperfield (almost finished). I can’t believe how engrossed I am with DC. I couldn’t believe it when he married Dora and overlooked Agnes, never mind was blind to Steerforth’s (lack of) character. I love his Aunt Betsey Trotwood, Pegotty, Mr. Dick, and the bombastic amusing spendthrift Micawber! I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Little Emily. And the evil Uriah Heep (so that’s where the band got the name!), and the venomous Miss Rosa Dartle. My goddess, what a book. I have since downloaded more of his writings though I have been told on good authority to forget about reading any novels once graduate school starts. See item 3, below. 🙁

2. This is what happens when you pull into a strange town, late at night, exhausted, and are unwilling to spend any more than you absolutely have to, to get a night’s rest. There were clues, certainly. But we didn’t pick up on them until it was too late. It seemed to be a reputable chain hotel – let’s call it the HoHo, instead of it’s real name, to protect the guilty, shall we? We had stayed at another HoHo in the town of the golf tournament that JD was playing in, and we had such a nice experience there over the previous 2 nights, that we thought we were in for more of the same in this town.

So, we pulled into the HoHo, just on the other end of the lovely main street – so full of very hip dining spots and trendy watering holes – just one street away from the beautiful waterfront. JD negotiates an excellent rate for us and we head to the second floor to find our room, using the outside landing to get there. I happen to notice that some of the rooms appear to be let out on a long-term basis – people are actually living in them, with their own belongings in there, instead or beside the standard hotel-issue furniture. Hmmm.

We enter our room and it’s…on a slant?! The floor is so slanted that a golf ball rolls quickly and inevitably from the back of the room to the front. Walking to the bathroom feels like walking uphill. Also, there is no phone. But we don’t care – it’s cheap, clean and we’re too tired from 2 days of a golf tournament followed by a long drive to this town, halfway home. JD shoves the phone book (that we do have, for some odd reason) and some towels under the mattress so we don’t feel quite like we’ll roll off of it towards the front of the room during the night and we head outside for a walk and a bite to eat.  Right next door to the HoHo is a Chinese buffet restaurant, so after our walk to the beautiful downtown and waterfront only a block away, we go there for our late supper. The restaurant is almost empty (it’s late, after all)…just us, one other couple and, at the next table, an obviously homeless man. Hmmm.

Bellies full, we head back to our tilted room and crash. JD doesn’t make it through 5 minutes of TV and I close up my e-reader soon after. Then, around 1 am JD wakes up because he hears a couple of people talking outside our room. I sleep the sleep of the righteous (or dead) right through the kerfuffle. The woman is upset because the hotel manager apparently has locked her out of her room. JD thinks she is talking about the room next door to us. Eventually they go away and JD falls asleep again. Hmmm.

Shortly after 8 am the woman and her friend come back and this time I wake up as well. I can hear her bawling at the hotel manager across the parking lot that he is a “creeper” and she is calling the police and he better effing let her get her stuff etc. etc. We still think she is talking about the room next door to us. The mirror in the room is angled just right to see her reflected through a slight opening in the drapes – a young woman with a short-cropped, almost shaved head, what little hair left is died multiple colours in squarish-looking blotches. She is wearing a checked flannel jacket and cargo pants and has many ear piercings, fully occupied with hoops and studs. Then she starts telling her companion that she can see her stuff and I realize she is looking through the same crack in the drapery at my bags, parked under the mirror!

“See”, she says to him, “I always leave the bottom window open and now I’m gonna bust through the screen and open the door and get my stuff.” Which she does, but we have the security latch on (thank heavens!) and she gets nowhere. I leap out of bed and run downhill to the window and stick my head through the drapes. “HEY!” I yell at the shocked and surprised woman. “Sorry!” she says, “I thought this was my room.” “WELL, IT’S NOT,” I say and shut the drapes. I stomp back to bed, not sure what to do now. JD gets dressed to go see the manager and I can hear her talking about how she has this really great lighter and it’s a peace offering and then this green Bic lighter flies through the broken screen into the room, and of course rolls slightly back towards the window. She leaves. I throw the lighter back onto the outside landing. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, JD has gone down to see the hotel manager, using the room’s OTHER door that accesses an interior stairwell, to get there. He comes back up shortly. “The manager’s locked himself in his office,” he says,”Because of the woman. I can’t get in.” We decide to get showered up and try again later. While I am getting dressed, a maid tries to bust into the room, without knocking, via the OTHER door (also held back by the security latch) and I yell “EXCUSE ME!” as I grab the blankets to cover myself. Hmmm.

Thoroughly ticked, JD goes back down to find out what the hell is going on around here (because of course, we have no phone in the room) and this time the manager lets him in, because Mizz Checker Head is nowhere to be seen. More negotiating happens, and JD returns with half of what we spent on the room, in cash. We go down to breakfast, which the manager has graciously (?) kept for us beyond the regular breakfast hours, once JD reminded him we couldn’t go down for breakfast earlier due to the aforementioned locked office door.

After breakfast we pack up and I return the key to the manager. I caught him in the act of brushing his teeth so I couldn’t really hear him distinctly but I’m pretty sure he hoped we would be back soon and stay at his HoHo again. Yeah. Like that is going to happen. We drive 500 yards to the McDonald’s on the same street to wash the unclean feeling of that room off of our hands and to grab a couple of hot teas for our drive home. Signs on the locked bathroom doors proclaim that we must ask staff to buzz us in. Hmmm.

We just leave town, quickly as possible. JD and I have stayed in a lot of cheap (as well as some quite luxurious) hotels during the course of our travels, but my friends, this experience in the wrong part of town takes the gold in memorable.  And not memorable in a good way.

3. I’m getting nervous about school. I’ve been hearing things from well-meaning people like “forget about reading any novels till you graduate” and “make sure your family is prepared to make sacrifices” (more like BE SACRIFICED on the altar of the MBA gods, I think) and this is a tad upsetting. Then I remember I’ve been through this before, when I did my B. Ed. degree part-time and I calm down…a little bit. It can’t be that much worse than then, can it?

4. JD and I have come to our senses and realize now that there is no way we can move soon, what with graduate school starting in a little over a week. We continue to work on prepping the house – the outside is looking quite nice with the painting I have been doing – but the move will now happen during the month we have off of school in December.

5. I feel soft and puffy. I haven’t been eating right – too much restaurant food and not enough clean eating. Not enough movement. I am going to start back to my regular gym routine again – starting over on the Couch -to-5K running plan, start over on the weight training. I am going back to tracking my food and exercise on MyFitnessPal. Just watch me.

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  • Oh my. HoHo’s you say…. ummmm yeah.
    Reminds me a 2-story motel room booked in late-nite desperation in some burbette in New Hampshire. The 50+ motorcycles in the parking lot should have been a give-away, but we ignored that. The 1st room we were shown had a kicked in front door, the 2nd a very unclean bathroom with no plugs in the sinks & we stupidly took the 3rd. I swear we hear gunshots in the night and many fights.
    After eyeing the sheets, we slept in or clothes, on top of the bed.

    I LOVE my own bed.

    Dickens you say? YUMMY!
    I will keep my fingers crossed you get to move when you hope to; that you get to have some you time while pursuing your MBA & I DO have Faith you will achieve your fitness goals.

    Excellent to read your adventures, pal!

  • Kim, your story reminds me of our trip driving thru the States last summer. We tried to find a room in Little Rock, Arkansas but there was a motorcycle rally going on and every room in the whole town was booked. Wonder what the town looked like after that weekend! Never saw so many bikers and bikes in one place in my whole life. We ended up staying in the next town, the one I think the Walmart founder came from? Can’t remember the name…

    Anywho…thanks for your kind thoughts!

    Hugs, D

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