Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sundance, the daily rundown-Thursday

Careful what you ask for...this one is long and unedited--and just the first day!

Thursday, Jan 15

7:30 pm Raced to the airport after class. After not eating for most of the day, I stopped to order a veggie burrito from one of the airport restaurants. I’m used to burritos figuring it would be something easy to take on the plane if needed. It was taking a while, so I ran to my gate to make sure they hadn’t started boarding yet. If we were, I was going to have to leave my $8 burrito behind. The attendant told me it would be another ten minutes, before boarding, so I joyously ran back and waited for my number to be called. Instead of being wrapped in paper or foil, they handed me a fancy black plastic box with the transparent lid through which I could see shredded lettuce and guacamole on the side, requiring a fork. I raced back to my gate and sat down with my food. I bit into my burrito. Rice and sautéed vegetables. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots and zuchini. No cheese, no beans, no salsa. Just rice and vegetables. Whatever, I like rice and vegetables. I plowed into it and finished in record time. I was so relieved not to be hungry I didn’t care that I was slightly sick from eating so fast. I would have eaten at a more civilized pace, however, had I known that in the next minute, the attendant would announce that our flight had been delayed for an hour.
So I had time to sit, entertain my fantasies about Sundance After a number of years in the peripheries of the movie industry in Los Angeles, I don’t really think about celebrity sightings or making impromptu film deals over the drinks table, but I was hoping for a couple of things:
1) To see some good films—despite the fact that my online ticket purchases had garnered only programs of collections of shorts, my brother-in-law had briefed me on strategies for completing my dance-card via the waitlist: The first showing of the day (around 8:30 or 9 am), at one of the bigger theatres is a good bet, and then target the documentaries, since more people will try to go to the high profile feature films.
2) To get to know my fellow USC students. Apparently, there were about fifty of us from several different departments. The organizers mentioned how last years trip included late nights in the hot tub and a mimosa breakfast where everyone got to hang out. So it was going to be a good opportunity to “network” with our fellow students. This sounded great to me, although I can work a party on occasion, in general I consider yelling at people over loud music while holding an icy drink to be just that—work. But interacting with people while doing some activity, like working, playing a game, or cooking dinner, is probably my favorite way to bond.
So, after all the drama and pre-trip anxiety, I was ready to get on the plane and embrace the experience.

Reached the airport around 11pm and met up with my classmate R and two other guys from our group, A and B, who were sharing the cab to our lodgings. As I waited for my luggage, I learned they were from the business school at USC. Somehow, when we boarded the cab, the guys ended up in the back seat, while I sat up front with the taxi driver, who was originally from Somalia. the front and back seat ended up having mostly separate conversations for the hour-long drive. I felt divided, wanting to be polite to the driver, but wishing I could listen and get to know my new friends in the back seat. Had the networking begun? Was I missing it?
Toward the end of our journey we consulted the room assignments. It looked as if the guys were in room 7, while I was with some women in room 8. We drove in the gates of the Bear Hollow condominiums and discovered it was more than just some ski-condos, it was entire subdivision. We drove up, down, and around for the better part of ten minutes before finding the correct address. As we stepped out of the car, it hit home how very cold it is up on a mountain in winter. The main offices had closed at 8pm, but we’d been told the first people to check in would leave us keys. so with rolling bags in tow, we started to look for rooms 1 through 8. The first building had numbers like 3505. We wheeled over a bridge to another building. The numbers were similarly high. We split up, a couple of us heading fifty yards in one direction a couple in the other. My ears were hurting in the wind so I pulled my hat from my carry on. We knocked on some doors with college age people, but they didn’t know our party. After fifteen or twenty minutes of wandering, we passed a couple heading out and they pointed us to an apartment building where they though the student organizer, D, was staying. Looking in the window we recognized him and a few other students. We knocked and were let in.
Ahh, warm!
Where were our rooms? we asked. D pulled out some keys with assorted numbers like 4508, 3216, 5410 and explained that the room assignment numbers had just been placeholders for these other numbers. Our group was spread across four large buildings. Okay, fine, we said—so if we were in 7 and 8, what rooms were those?
He didn’t know. Nor did he have the list he had sent with the groups of housemates, so I gave him mine. We should call the other people in our groups, he suggested, see if they had checked in yet, and if so, what room they had been given. Did he have a contact list of numbers? No.
Some other people came in to complain because they had arrived to find people already having taken all the beds. Apparently, at least one person had sold their slot to two people instead of one, and another had told a friend he could come and stay on the floor, but he’d ended up with a bed. Then D mentioned that he’d sold some slots to people even after the deadline to help with the expenses.
More wandering people arrived, including a couple of women, and after much discussion, we were given some keys. Our apartment, after we found it, was really nice—a great dining room table, and large kitchen, comfortable beds. We found the main bedroom had already been take by one of the women who had written at the last minute to tell us her boyfriend would also be sharing our flat, and the other queen room had been claimed by a woman who was out, K. Two bunk beds in the third room remained. Already with three of us, we were one shot. So the two girls who knew each other decided to share the other queen bed, while I took one of the single bunks. We moved K’s belongings in with me and left a note for her—hopefully she wouldn’t mind too much. Another girl was arriving the next day, but we’d have to deal with that then.
And finally, I was under covers, ready to sleep.

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