[something clever and obscure here]The chronicles of Amelia's post road trip adventures
Wednesday, June 30
I've felt like an observer the past 2 days. It's like I'm slightly off from everyone else. Phase shifted? I can't come up with a good way to describe it. but i'm drinking some coffee so maybe that will bring me back to life
Monday, June 28
You really aren't supposed to cut your friend's hair. It's like dating someone they dated, and they say that it's ok, but it's never really.
well, I've been busy.
I've had proud women taking lemon drop body shots off of me. [PICTURE CENSORED]
I bought matching underwear with Margo that says "HOT COOKIE" on it.
I bought a dress in China town.
I've eaten sushi.
and I've been working (paid work means more road trips!) so I haven't had much time to share.
sorry about that.
Saturday, June 26
it's pride weekend....cool.
I fell in love yesterday, at least three times. It was just that kind of day, and I got an appropriate fortune in my cookie last night. "What do you love more than love?" Dar Williams asked me from my radio. Jason (fellow road-tripper) says I use the word too loosely. I do, that's right, but in the English language there is a dearth of words to describe how I feel about the world and the people and things in it. "Love" is a good word. It has different shades of meaning each time I use it. Sometimes it's more lust, sometimes loyalty, sometimes it's like envy, sometimes caring, sometimes it's more awe, sometimes it's pity, and those words don't always fit the situation. So, I cop out, I say "love" and I expect you to know what I mean.
Once, yesterday, I fell in love with Billy in a gas station near Big Sur. He had "rescued" this young deer we had seen, who had been hit by a car. The deer probably wasn't going to live, and Billy said he was going to eat it. The woman making my coffee was aghast that anyone would eat a poor little baby deer, so half the fun of the conversation was that she was whining about soft, fuzzy babies. Billy and I had similar philosophies about meat eating. He said that if you can't handle the process of going from a live animal to meat on your plate (killing, skinning, etc) then you should be a vegetarian. I agree. I think meat-eaters should visit slaughterhouses to see how the animals get into those clinical, plastic-wrapped plates in the grocery store. It's just about being aware of what's going on and not being ignorant of your impact on the world. That being said, I'm a complete hypocrite, because I do eat meat at times, and I haven't been to a slaughterhouse...but it's on my list of things to do.
I also fell in love with Jeffrey Lewis. Cassie, the Beautiful, had played a couple of his songs for me the last time I saw her, and I bought one of his CDs ("The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane, and other favorites") yesterday at a used CD store in Santa Cruz. He is a master lyricist, and I loved him and his words.
I fell in love with the jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The text messages do cost something, but it's part of a package I've already purchased. I'm nowhere near using up as many as I can, so text away...for now.
Friday, June 25
For a while i thought that only beautiful people lived in California, but i've finally found where all the ugly people are: 1700 Clement St., Alameda.
Love frees us of all the weight and pain of life.
I'm not sure if it's waking up on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, or just the potent, energizing brain chemicals that often bathe my brain in the morning, but either way, I woke up loving life today. Someone should bottle this stuff.
i'm posting this from my phone...technology rocks
Wednesday, June 23
Go here. You can send a text message to my phone.
I've actually come up with a better way to do this now that doesn't use Cingular's services, but this is what I implemented first, and it works just fine, so I'm keeping it for the meantime.
This is me at the San Diego Zoo coveting a lovable stuffed panda. I could not justfy spending 20 dollars on a stuffed animal for myself, but I was immediately in love. I could have stood there hugging that bear until they kicked me out.
The zoo cost 29 dollars. It was $21 for the standard admission, but $32 if you wanted unlimited rides on the zoo transportation. There was an arial tram and a guided bus tour. We were still kind of tired from walking all over Las Vegas and Tijuana, and could foresee the zoo transportation coming in handy, and we had coupons for 3 dollars off. It's a lot of money when I'm used to Washington, DC, where everything is free, but I sucked if up and paid my cash. I spent all morning there, left to find a cheap lunch, and came back for more. I think the experience was worth it, though I wish they would have thrown in that stuffed panda as a parting gift.
camels, hippos, giraffes, bears, meercats, panthers, pigs, monkeys, exotic birds...this story is better told in pictures
I had dinner in Tijuana on Sunday night. I'd never been to Mexico and I was nervous about going because I'd heard lots of stories about the bad things that happen to dumb tourists there. I never would have gone by myself, especially at night, but having a big guy with you really alters your odds of not being harassed. We parked the truck in a lot near the border: under a light, and near the gatekeeper. We walked across the border. No customs agents to talk to, no border inspection of any kind, just a revolving gate. I just walked into another country like I was walking down the street.
We stopped at a little restaurant once we'd been in the country for about 10 minutes. We had the most delicious tacos (3 each), 2 beers, and tipped the waitress all for 5 dollars. 5 dollars! for the two of us! and it was soooo good!
We walked around for another hour or so, shopping in a grocery store, buying some tequila, haggling with vendors. I don't speak a lick of Spanish, which is unfortunate. Well, actually, I can say a few short phrases, such as, "where is the beer?" and "my boyfriend has a shotgun," but I'm pretty useless. I was able to get by, but I don't like not being able to communicate well with people. Jason bought some candy and kid's drinks from the grocery store. I bought a knife.
On the way back into the US, we could see hundreds of cars lined up at the border. Maybe there were thousands, waiting for hours to get in. We walked through customs, showed our driver's licenses, told the officer that we had 2 liters of tequila (you're allowed to bring one liter each), and we were back in. We each had told someone that we were leaving the country, and to wait for our call when we got back in, so we made those calls to sleepy loved ones, and walked back to the parking lot, getting only slightly lost on the way back. It was a successful trip: no injuries, nothing stolen. We had mild adventures, like getting free tequila, "do you want to buy coke", and even got a picture of Jason with la policia. "his padre es policia..."
Tuesday, June 22
I've started a lot of posts in the last couple of days. Then, something comes up and I don't finish them. Here are some examples:
[yesterday] I'm in California! After an hour of being stuck in traffic between Las Vegas and the California line, we're finally here. It's about 100 degrees. I've got my feet propped up on the dashboard with my toes on the windshield and they're burning up. We're going to try to make it to Tijuana for dinner tonight. Jason and I just took turns screaming about how f*cking hot it is.
[this evening]Argh. I'm tired and cranky. I'm in LA, planning to stay with a sister of a friend of Jason's. I need a day off. It's been 6 long days of exciting road tripping, and I'm a bit burned out...
I certainly don't feel like finishing anything now. I'm exhausted. I spent all day at the San Diego Zoo, and now I'm going to sleep.
Sunday, June 20
woke up in Las Vegas, had supper in Tijuana...just your average day, right?
Saturday, June 19
Hello, All. I've covered quite a lot of ground in the last 3 days. I was eating dinner Wednesday night in Memphis and spending the night Thursday in New Mexico. Last night I stayed in Las Vegas. I haven't had much time to post, because I can't seem to get the internet to follow me around. I did manage to set up a multimedia package on my mobile phone (Cingular) so I'm able to send and receive emails. I can also send non-elaborate posts to this website through email with my phone. It may appear pathetic that I feel the need to be constantly connected, but keep in mind that I'm not on vacation and I don't need to unplug and unwind. This is my life at the moment, and my livelihood requires me to be available to my clients. The whole roadtrip thing is just icing on the cake. A constant distraction fueling the creative process. You're familiar with "home" offices, right? Well, at the moment, the highway is my home.
I've got dial-up right now, which is a wonderful blessing for an internet-deprived girl. I've been crafting a way to send text messages to my phone from this website [the one you're reading]. That will be cool, won't it? I got the basics to work, it just needs a little more polishing before it's ready for primetime.
Yesterday we spent loads of time in Arizona, and we took hundreds of pictures. The painted desert, the petrified forest, and the grand canyon. Triple wow.
quotes from Vegas:
A: I don't know what the hell that is, but it sure is big.
J: You just gotta keep your hopes high and your standards low, and even YOU can get laid.
bored in the car...taking pictures of myself with my camera phone
Friday, June 18
no time to post
Thursday, June 17
[FINALLY, I've found internet access! I'm in Oklahoma now, and I can finally post this from yesterday.]
Yet another road trip has begun, and I've still got to tell you about the last one. That's the problem with having them back to back. No time to breathe. I'm going to start by telling you a little about this one, and then I'll backtrack
At the moment, I'm sitting in the passenger seat of a sweet Toyota Tacoma. It belongs to my friend Jason, who is currently driving us to Asheville. Who is this Jason? He and I have known each other for more than half our lives, but we haven't seen or talked to each other much since high school. We have occasionally crossed paths lately, like going to the Connells concert this year. He asked me at the beginning of the year if I was interested in road tripping with him this summer. He knew I was planning my own trip and thought I was a worthwhile candidate as road trip partner for two reasons: I was reasonably easy to get along with, and I could easily pack up and go at any time. So, here we are, going.
Let's get back to Bonnaroo.
Last you heard, I'd gone to sleep. I woke up early on Friday morning to the sound of helicopters flying over. They were probably taking photographs, because the campgrounds were a pretty amazing site from above. I sat outside of my tent and read through the concert schedule, picking out the bands that I didn't want to miss. I brought a propane camp stove with me that I lit for the first time, and then quickly turned off. It sounded like a rocket engine, and I didn't want to wake up the people sleeping in tents around me. I thought about it for a minute and changed my mind, deciding that it wasn't really that loud. I boiled some water and made some instant coffee. Too strong, yuk. I poured out half of it and added water. That's a little better. I ate some trailmix and brushed my teeth. It was already starting to get warm. I thought I'd be most comfortable in a bikini, so I painstakingly lathered sunscreen all over me and got dressed. It was early and bands weren't going to start playing for 3 hours, but I wanted to explore the festival grounds. I wanted to get on the internet, post and check my email. I had checked the night before if I could get wireless access in my tent, but there was nothing way out here. I packed a bag with a towel, water, sunscreen and my laptop. I was off.
It's about a 7-10 minute walk to the site. There are so many more people around than I thought would be up this early. I notice that there is a guy walking near me who looks like he's alone. I think, "I'll probably speak to him in minute." He speaks to me first. I can't remember what he said, but we're chatting about hippies. I don't think that I look the part. My hair isn't tangled enough. He's 21, he's in Camp Shaggy. Neither of us had been to a Bonnaroo before. We get to the gate and I get my bag inspected. The woman makes some comment about how I was dumb to bring my laptop in. I don't think she used those words exactly, but I made a comment about how I didn't ask for her opinion. No, I didn't actually say that.
My new friend is Will. He's come from New York with some friends, but they aren't up and around yet. He's wearing boots, but needs to buy some sandals. We check out the vendors. There are some funny plastic/rubber sandals being sold at one tent. I think they'd make your feet too sweaty. We keep searching for alternatives. There is a sign that says "sandals." They're selling sandals made out of rope. They look pretty cool and Will buys them. We find a place to sit down and I offer him some water. I joke that I've drugged it with GHB, but he doesn't mind. We find the Internet tent and we both check our email with my laptop. There are about 40 laptops there and I'll just use those later when I come back. I stick around and he goes to the Gibson tent, where you can play thousand-dollar guitars. My battery is running low, and before I can plug in somewhere, the staff at the networking tent kicks us all out. It turns out that it wasn't actually open yet. I wander over to the Gibson tent, and find a power source. I'm plugged in, and picking up the wireless access nicely. I'm happy to sit there for a while. A guy named Andrew comes over and we chat about what bands we're there to see. He's from Connecticut and he reminds me of my cousin, Ean. He's very affable and I like him. He leaves. I finish sending some emails. Will is playing a guitar and hands me his headphones so he can play for me. It sounds great and he explains that a quality guitar makes all the difference. Yeah, those rock stars have talent, but they also have great guitars.
[I'm realizing that at the rate I'm writing about Bonnaroo, it may take me all week to finish telling you about it.]
We walk around some more, and sit down. Maybe it's now that I offer him the bottle of water. I definitely offer him sunscreen to cover those pasty white feet that are now bared to the sun in sandals. Burned feet are the worst. We decide to go back to camp. I'm going to drop off my laptop and he's going to drop off his boots. We see his friends on the way out. We see my friends on the way back in and hang out with them at their tent. Sunny has just gotten there, and Heidi and Genya have been there since yesterday. Our first band to see is Yonder Mountain String Band. We drink some Heinekens and eventually get there. The music is excellent. I believe Will enjoys the bluegrass to his surprise -- being a damn Yankee and all. I think, "the poor guy just hasn't lived." A life without bluegrass must be devastating.Genya and Sunny leave to walk around and when they get back, Will and I leave to check out Wilco.The others are staying for Ani DiFranco, and we'll be back to meet up during that show.
We get back to Ani. Boy, she still sounds angry. I thought that she had lost some of her angst. Nope. I look around for Heidi's blue flowered hat, and Sunny's Indiana Jones hat. Will and I sit down and listen. I want to find them before the show ends, because I don't know where they're going next. I leave Will sitting there and tell him not to go anywhere, that he's got my towel. I can't find the flowered hat. I get back to where I was sitting and there is my towel, but no Will. Hmm. He's disappeared. I think back to what I said to him last that made him run away. Maybe he'll come back. I was kind of enjoying his company, ya know.
That's enough of the Bonnarecap for right now. The beginning of this post where Jason was driving to Asheville, well, that was last night. We spent the night with my friend, Aileen. We got to her place at 2 AM. She wasn't waiting up for us because she had to get up at 6AM to be a counselor at a girlscout camp. I haven't seen her in years, so we chatted for a little bit this morning before she left. I don't actually remember much of what we talked about, because I was still sleepy-brained.
Today we've driven through Tennessee. We stopped to eat in Memphis. We were having trouble navigating the city, and both of us are sensitive to being hungry. We just don't think well when we need food. We'd finally gotten to Third Street, and I knew we needed to turn left. So I'm saying "left on Third, left on Third" and Jason turns left on Third. At which point we realize that Third is a one way street and not in the direction we were going, and we also realize that there was that there had been a nice police officer right beside us when we made the turn. Maybe he didn't see us, or maybe we disappeared before he had a chance to U-turn. Either way, we found a parking spot quickly and walked toward Beale Street.
We ate on Beale Street at the Blues City Cafe. I don't recommend it. We were looking for someplace that would give us authentic Memphis food. This food may have been authentic, but it sucked. We walked around some, picked up a couple of postcards, and listened to live blues. Now we're back on the road. We've crossed the Mississippi and all I can tell about Arkansas so far is that it stinks. Literally. It smells like old portapotties.
I've done my best to try to convince Jason to go through Houston on our way to the Grand Canyon. I've got a fondness for that city, or at least one person in it. It's only 2 days out of the way...my wiles aren't working, though. I'm waiting for him to fall asleep while I'm driving. I don't know how we ended up all the way down here...
Quotes from today:
J: I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body.
A to N about T:
He's sooo dramatic. To take nothing and make it something-- that's drama.
A: How could I not have a big ego? I'm fucking fantastic!
J: Yes. You're a legend in your own mind.
Tuesday, June 15
This was written last night (Monday)
I'm home again. Home is where mom is, these days. Other than that, home is my car. My trunk functions well as a closet. The drive today wasn't too bad. Last night, I stayed in a hotel in Tennessee, somewhere west of Knoxville. I wasn't planning to leave Bonnaroo until today. It was my intention to stay and see Trey Anastasio, but there was a big storm coming, and everyone I knew had already gone home, so there was not much keeping me there. Rain increased my chances of getting stuck in the mud when I was trying to leave and my chances of having more wet clothes and a damp tent. It was an easy decision to leave and find a dry place to take a shower. [yes, I do realize the irony]
A shower. It had been four days since my last shower: four long days. I thought I was tougher than that, but this time I wasn't. I thought I would be able to handle "Survivor," but I don't know how they do it for that long. I really needed to be clean. It was the first thing that I did when I got in my hotel room, after turning on the air conditioner. I used a whole bar of soap (albeit, a small bar), and I still wasn't completely clean. I had been trudging through mud for a couple of days, and my feet were still kind of brown in places. I was clean enough, for the time, and exhausted. I called my mom to tell her I was safe, and I passed out. The front desk woke me at 10 AM, to ask if I was staying or going. I was worried for a moment that it was really 11, and time to check out, but my phone set itself to the right time when I crossed into the Eastern Time Zone. I hadn't realized that I'd crossed this line, but apparently part of Tennessee is Eastern and part of it is Central. That's got to complicate things some.
I took I-40 all the way home, through the mountains. I love the mountains. I don't know why I'm so attracted by big parts of Earth sticking up, but I think that the Blue Ridge is wonderful and amazing. I listened to great bluegrass during that part of the drive and thought about what it must have been like for my dad to grow up around the mountains. His father was a minister, and they would move every couple of years to a different rural church, providing services to areas that might not otherwise have a permanent minister. When I was a kid, we would take an RV and spend time in the mountains. I don't remember much about it, but it must have felt like home for my dad. I think if I'd grown up there, I would ache to be back in the shadow of a huge, tree-covered peak.
Now it's Tuesday, and I'm finishing up this post
What you do know is that I just got back home from traveling for the last couple of weeks. What you don't know is that I'm leaving tonight for the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and parts west. I don't think that I've recovered from my last trip, but I'm leaving anyway. This road trip will be slightly different because I'm not traveling alone, but I'll tell you more about it later. I've still got to catch you up on Bonnaroo.
So, where were we? I had told you that I had gotten to Manchester, Tennessee, and I was waiting in a long line of cars to go to the festival site. I had done the math and decided it would take me 29 hours to get there at the rate we were going. I paid a girl 5 dollars to show me a shortcut and I am quickly 5 miles closer.
It's already a party. All the cars are inching by, and eager festival goers are out of their cars walking around. There are Grateful Dead tunes coming out of the car next to me. I am taking all of this in, but I'm distracted because I desperately have to pee. The line is going just fast enough that I don't have time to leave my car for a few minutes. We inch closer. People are walking around selling t-shirts, cookies, beer, etc. I watch skateboarders and 4-wheelers go by and I surprise myself by thinking terribly mature thoughts like, "be careful, you could get hurt doing that." I still need to pee.
I finally get to the gates and get a wrist band which will let me into all of the shows. I know that Heidi and her crowd are camping in "Daphne." I don't really know what that means at the moment. I'm just following the cars in front of me. Camps are already set up all around me, and a guy walking by says that this is Camp Daphne. Well, at least I know where that is now. I follow the cars and I'm directed to a parking/camping spot. I find that I'm in Camp Scooby Doo. I find the portapotties. I am much, much happier.
I come back to my car and set up my tent. It takes me some time to figure it all out because I've never set up this tent before, but I prevail. It's not too late, but I don't feel like partying. I'd much rather go to sleep now and explore Bonnaroo in the morning. I hang a flashlight above my head and read "Ender's Game" until I fall
Expect to hear more about Bonnaroo tomorrow...
Sunday, June 13
I'm still here. It's poured since I've last posted. Extremes. I was so hot, I thought that I'd never be cool again, and then I was drenched and freezing and "dry" was a long-forgotten homestead, never to be visited again.
It's Sunday, the last day of music. Last night was phenomenal, and I've slept barely an hour in the last 2 days. I want to tell you more about it, rather than the short posts I've written lately, but there is no time to write. I compose great posts in my head, which I'll try to distill for you in a few days.
Saturday, June 12
It's hot and sticky. I've kind of forgotten about it for the moment because I'm in an air-conditioned tent checking my email. I know, however, what lies just beyond those tent flaps: blinding sun and dirty drugged hippies.
I'm having a blast.
Friday, June 11
I'm playing with my new camera phone. It rocks. It's got infrared and I can beam my photos to my computer.
anyway. I'm going to go watch some bands.
Thursday, June 10
I'm here, in Manchester, Tennesee. It's 8:35 and the sun has gone down. I'm sitting in a line to get in to Bonnaroo, and it's the first time that I've wanted someone else to be with me on this trip. There's a man sitting in his yard 10 feet from me and he says that the line stretches for 3 miles north and then east for 2 more. He also says that in the last twenty minutes that RV that is several cars ahead of me has moved one hundred yards. So what's that...29 hours to sit here? Maybe I'll get there before the concert starts tomorrow morning. I'm going to have to pee before then. That's why I'd like someone with me. They can sit in the car while I find a bathroom.
It's really not so bad, because, as you can tell, I've got my computer with me. I've also got a book to read, Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. My phone appears to have signal, but I'm sure that every person who is bored in this line is trying to make phone calls, so none of mine are going through. I can probably text message, though.
Whoo-hooo! I just moved my car for the first time since I got into this line!
Let me tell you about my day. I've been in the car for almost 15 hours. I've driven about 850 miles. It took a while to get out of Houston this morning, but that's less due to traffic and more due to my inability to pick out the most efficient route before I left. I ate like a banshee all day. It was indeed a day bereft of moderation. I gorged myself on Mountain Dew and Doritos and trail mix. It was kind of weird, because on some of my long driving days, I will hardly eat anything at all. My lack of self-control was probably because my car was stocked with all these goodies for the weekend, and it was hard to say no to things right at hand.
I've just found a local chick who will show me a shortcut out of this traffic. yay!
I'm leaving for Bonnaroo right now. I should get there before the sun goes down. I have no idea what to expect, but I'll let you know what it's like. I checked the weather forecast, and there is a very good chance that I'll get to use my rain gear. It looks like thunderstorms every day.
Wednesday, June 9
Read this article from the Guardian about international reporters being detained or deported. Does it or does it not seem that we've gone a little too far? I would like to once more voice my abject disgust with the Patriot Act. I'm not doing much, except writing occasionally about it. I keep expecting to wake up from this bad fascist dream. I will step in and take over, though, if I have to. I just didn't want it to come to that.
Tuesday, June 8
I saw a car hit a train today. Both car and train were going slowly, and I believe the person was fine, albeit shaken. The car, however, was trashed.
That's about the most exciting thing I've seen all day. I was eating a McDonald's happy meal at the time. I'd been stuck in traffic for much longer than I could stand (it was quite a day for accidents), and I was starving. It was sooooo good. Let me say again: soooo good. I stay fairly far away from fast food if I can help it, but I love a McDonald's hamburger. Have you seen Supersize Me, yet?
I talked to Jon Horowitz this morning, to see if he was in Austin and if he wanted to have lunch with me today, but alas, he's back in New Jersey, which is too far for me to drive for lunch. That's too bad, because I was anxious to go for a drive today and Jon is a star.
I've been checking out Bonnaroo this morning and trying to figure out when I'm going to leave. I'm meeting up with Heidi, et al. there, but we're all notoriously last-minute planners, so who knows when we'll talk to each other. I'm pretty much packed and ready to go, but I need to pick up a couple of things. I have plenty of water, but I need food--some fruit, a couple of powerbars, stuff that will last a few days. I might pick up a camp stove today, too. I have visions of happily stirring up breakfast or pasta, but it kind of seems like a lot of trouble for just me. I don't know what the others are planning to do, but they're usually pretty cheap and into the whole survive-on-trail-mix-and peanut-butter-sandwiches thing. I'm sure they'd rather cook than buy from Jeff's Vege-burgers or whoever else is selling stuff. I'm sure the vendors are charging an arm and a leg for everything there, so I'm trying not to forget anything important. Toilet paper is a must, and sunscreen, and rain gear. I've got a tent and a sleeping bag. And my laptop, of course. I read somewhere that there was internet access. whoo-hoo!
This is going to be so much fun! Did I mention how I loved an adventure?
Monday, June 7
How did this happen? I have no idea, but most likely, I've been using up my luck faster than I've been replenishing it. Here is the evidence:
Well, it's not all bad, though I am slightly worried that my luck quota has actually been depleted and that I'll need to be more careful in the future. Here's the upside:
Friday, June 4
Not so much is going on. I'm in my car, surfing the internet, waiting for 12:30 to come around, because I'm getting a hair cut.
I was reluctant to write much since that big post on Wednesday. How could I possibly follow that? I mean, interesting stuff has happened since then, but it all sort of pales in comparison to driving 600 miles, getting stopped by the police, finding out that I have standards, etc.
Yesterday, I played around with the Pengiun Sleuth Kit, a bootable CD Linux distribution that contains a ton of useful tools for computer forensics. In my quest to learn more about network security and computer networking in general, I have been exploring what tools are freely available for "cracking" networks. I'm not a malicious user, and I'd like to be able to say that I investigate these tools only so I can make my clients' networks more secure, but I mostly just do it for fun. I have no desire to read people's emails or crash a network or snoop very much, but I know that there are people out there who can, and I'd like to be one of them.
During the course of trying to get some of these programs to work, I often want to throw my computer out the window. I'm not a Linux expert, [yet] and the learning curve is sucking at the moment. I can do the easy stuff [like boot], but please don't ask me to install a patch and recompile my kernel. Maybe next month.
I got my Apache web server running nicely, though.
Thursday, June 3
Linux is making my brain hurt.
Wednesday, June 2
where to start?
Yesterday I woke up in Meridian, Mississippi at that $25-a-night motel. On my last road trip I'd stayed in several cheap places. Yes, they don't have coffee makers or ironing boards, but usually they're pretty clean, and I'm not that picky. I'm usually only staying there for 10 hours or less, so I don't need a lot more than sheets and a mattress, and a door that locks.
...and a toilet that flushes properly, which I didn't have in Meridian. It seemed to work the night before, because I don't remember it not working, but yesterday morning I watched the water in the bowl rise and rise until I thought I was going to have a nice waterfall park in my bathroom. Fortunately, the water was happy to stay put. I wasn't. I needed to get to Baton Rouge by lunchtime. I checked out and told the nice lady at the front desk that the toilet didn't flush well. I'm sure she already knew, but she feigned surprise for my benefit, and didn't say, "well, what did you expect for $25 bucks, little girl?"
I was off, happy to be in my car again, with only the slight lingering feeling that I needed to bathe in hand sanitizer.
Immediately, I got caught in a ridiculous thunderstorm. I'm just minding my business, driving down the interstate, and all of a sudden I couldn't see anything besides the water being dumped on my windshield. It was craziness, but I wasn't going to let a little thing like not being able to see get in my way.
I get to Baton Rouge, see Monica for maybe 15 minutes, before she has to go back and finish her (practice) MCAT exam. Her brain was jelly. She had been testing for 3 hours and had 3 more to go, I think. It was nice to see her, anyway. I finished my meal and chatted to Harry on the phone. He just started a new job, and called to tell me about his big first day. I've experienced jealousy before, but it's usually when someone else is getting more attention than I am. It's rare that I'm jealous that someone's life is better than mine, because who's life could be better than mine?! Yesterday, though, I found myself envying Harry's cool new job. He's working for a big IT corporation, and he's some sort of security specialist. I'm absolutely, without a doubt, thrilled for him, but ever-so-mildly, insanely jealous at the same time. It's an interesting mix of emotion.
I leave the city, buy $21 of gas, and motor on. I drive through another freak thunderstorm, and see that people have driven off of the road in this one. Someone's car is in the deep ditch in the middle of the highway, so I'm assuming that they skidded on standing water in the road. I think I'll be careful.
It's about 4pm, and I'm entering Lake Charles, I think. I actually don't remember for sure where this next event took place, but I think I must have been around there. I'm driving along, too fast, and I don't see that, as I've entered this metro area, the speed limit has dropped from 70 to 60 miles per hour. The road kind of curves steeply, and I think to myself as I slow down, "I wonder what the speed limit is, because I'm sure it's dropped. That was a pretty steep curve for 70 mph." All of this happens really fast as I notice the police car pulling up behind me. Oh, shit. I check my speed and I'm going 67 or so, and I glance around and finally see a speed limit sign, which says 60. Damn. I change lanes to get out of his way, hoping that he's after someone else, but he changes lanes with me, is right on my tail and turns on his lights. Shit. Damn. Shit. Pull over. Ok. Breathe. Look around the car. Turn off the radio. Roll down the window. Breathe. He comes up to my window and says, "I clocked you going 75 in a 60 mile per hour zone" or something like that. He actually said "clocked," but I don't remember much else. I said something about how I hadn't noticed that the speed limit had dropped when it did. Which was true, I was on the outskirts of this city and I had probably been past only one sign that said "60." I handed him my ID, he asked if I still lived in Willow Springs. Yes. He goes back to his car, and I think to myself, "No, don't write the ticket, it's going to be so hard to get you to change your mind once you've written it!" I'm thinking about all the extenuating circumstances that I can tell him about that will help me get out of this. About how I haven't been stopped for speeding in 9 years... or ever, actually, I don't think that cop stopped me for speeding back then. I'd love a warning. Please, Please, Please. I can be reformed. Doesn't a girl get any second chances? All of this is going through my little head, as he comes back to the car and hands me my ID. "Miss Smith," he barks "a warning: SLOW DOWN." Oh [exhale], thank you so much, I think I say. Utterly grateful. and scared enough to drive a lot more cautiously. whew. Breathe. I ride on adrenaline for the next hour.
I get to Houston with no other excitement, and meet up with Harlan. The A/C in his apartment is broken, and I think he's being a pansy when he complains about it, but after being in there for a short period of time, I find that it's unbearable, too, and make a mental note to stop thinking he's a priss.
We go out to eat a horrible meal, where the only good thing about it is that the restaurant is air conditioned. It was a nice place, too, I'd eaten there when I was Houston the first time and it was good, but last night, everything was bad about it. Bad Food. Bad Service. Bad. We went back to hang out in the sauna, both of us, a little bit bitchy.
Harlan calls his ex-girlfriend to see if we can stay in her A/C. Hmmm. What do you think the answer was to that? "Can I come stay on your floor?" "Can I bring a friend?" "She's a girl friend, but not a girlfriend." Not entirely true. He hands me the phone so I can verify that he hasn't been drinking. Also not entirely true, because we just shared a bottle of wine at the restaurant, as it was the only thing edible there. I'm not comfortable lying to his ex-girlfriend, because I'm not comfortable lying, so I hand him the phone back and tell him to forget about it. That was a dumb idea anyway, but that's what desperation will do to you.
It's 85 degrees in the damn apartment, and we aren't thrilled. Harlan says that shared hardship increases intimacy, and talks about frat brothers pledging. I think that sharing this hardship is making things worse. It really is miserably hot, but he's complaining about it, and there is nothing I can do about it, so I'm feeling useless, and all I want to do is go sit in the refrigerator. We watch TV and try to remain as still as possible. Still, I sweat while sitting. We talk about buying another fan, but that's not guaranteed to make things better. We give up. We'd like to enjoy a good night's sleep. We leave in search of a hotel.
It's funny that you can live somewhere and not know what's around you. I mean, why would you need to know where the nearest hotels are? It's just not something you look for. We just drove around, enjoying the air conditioned car. I spotted the "Alamo Motel" which looked sufficiently cheap. Too cheap, really, but, again, remember, we're desperate. The sign boasts "Movies and HBO". We park and laugh nervously about how shady this place looks. I tell Harlan that this is the kind of place I stay at, thinking about last night. I ask him if he wants me to come up to the office with him, and he says he doesn't want to go alone. He's cute when he's nervous. The guy tells us it will be $23. 23 dollars! Holy cow, that's cheap. Sure, that'll work. How bad could it be?
Bad. Bad. Bad. First of all, the guy comes to unlock the door and doesn't give us a key. I'm assuming he has a hard time getting his keys back. Then, the room smells sickeningly sweet, and there is a bare light bulb lighting the room. The bathroom. I wouldn't even get close to the bathroom, but it looks kind of brownish from where I'm standing. There is one bed which is kind of lopsided. There is a hole in the door which is plugged up with a plastic grocery bag. The air conditioner works, though. At least there's that.
Minutes pass. Harlan thinks we're going to get robbed in the night. I wonder how many tricks have been turned in this room. I try to convince myself that I could get used to the smell and that I'll be able to fall asleep. Harlan says, "I can't stay here." Which is what I've been thinking, but I've also been thinking that the feeling would go away. I never would stay in a place like this by myself, but I feel slightly safer with someone else here, even if he is a scaredy-cat. We doubt that the motel gives refunds, but it's worth 23 bucks to us to leave. It was that bad. We bail. We drive away, relieved.
We find a Howard Johnson's, and stay there. It was twice the cost of the other place, and infinitely better. They even had high speed internet, so that's where I am right now, telling you about my yesterday, and hoping you can learn from my mistakes. I was talking to Luke on the phone the other night when I was looking for a cheap place to stay in Mississippi. He asked me if I'd ever wished I'd paid more for a place once I got there and found it sub-standard. I said, "No, of course not." Sometimes I wished the coffee was better, and once there wasn't a phone in my room, but I'd never wished that I'd paid more and stayed in a better place. Until now. So the lesson to learn is: Always pay more than 25 dollars! 25 dollars, ok. Less than that, bad.
Tuesday, June 1
I didn't get out of the driveway as early as I'd liked, but that's one of the nice things about traveling alone: there's no one to complain that we aren't running on schedule. I stopped at Taco Bell to grab lunch, tacos and a mountain dew, and I was off. It felt like ages before I was in Charlotte, but things went pretty quickly after that.
On my way to Atlanta, a car passed me and I turned and smiled at the driver. He was cute and he smiled back. We passed each other a couple more times sharing coy glances. I was feeling fairly silly and flirty. and hungry. I ate a banana. On one pass by my car, he had written on a piece of paper "ATLANTA?" asking me my destination. I shrugged my shoulders and when we passed again, I had had written "HOUSTON" which got raised eyebrows. Yes, I had a long way to go. I showed him my phone, and he scrawled his number on a piece of paper, so I called and chatted with him for a while. We caught up on each other's lives and discussed school, concerts, traveling, and web design. It was a fun distraction, and useful, too. Kyle, who lives in Atlanta, told me the best way through the city and where to watch out for speed traps. Who says it's hard to meet new people? I got digits at 75 miles an hour!
There isn't anything else worth mentioning about yesterday's trip. I drove 11 or 12 hours with two stops for gas ($39 total). 680 miles. I've ended up in Meridian, Mississippi at a motel for 25 bucks a night. 25. That's bargain-hunting for ya.
Today I'm stopping in Baton Rouge for lunch with Monica who is taking practice MCAT exam. Then I'm seeing Harlan in Houston this evening. He called me this morning to tell me that he wrestled in banana pudding last night. What will the week hold for me?
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