Category Archives: on the road

Messages

I love mom e-mails. They kind of always sound a little ridiculous. I don’t know what it is. I’ve been trying analyze this for years. Just their choice of words and/or tone is weird maybe. They always sound different from e-mails you get from anyone else. Case in point, the last one my mom sent to me:

Oh my dear!  I am so happy that your wishes are coming true as you head to Alabama. We will miss you greatly but know that this is what you want to do and we are behind you all the way! The next 2 months will be filled with excitement and anticipation! Hope your weekend was fun and that THING 1 and 2 were a hit!

Mom, why do you do stuff like randomly capitalize the word “thing?”

I also love this song: Messages by Xavier Rudd

Oh, the lyrics. They really make me cry life tears 50% of the time I listen to the album. It’s a good Sunday night album.

So, hold nice and close
Once you get to your soul
So that when it is cold
You won’t feel so alone
‘Cause the roads that you take
May just crack and break
With the changes you will confront

With each gift that you share
You may heal and repair
With each choice you make
You may help someone’s day
Well, I know you are strong
May your journey be long
And now I wish you the best of luck
Well, I know you are strong
May your journey be long
And now I wish you the best of luck

Also, please care about the environment. Thanks.

I’m so teary lately anyway. The outrageousness of Halloweekend has made me realize how much I’m going to miss everyone for real. Like there have been a few times when I’ve just looked around at my friends doing what we always do and I just feel sadness and the ache of missing them already. The journey of life is bittersweet.

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
– Jack Kerouac, On The Road

Even though I love everyone to death, Halloweekend has been outrageously crazy and I’m kind of ready to get off this ride. Excerpt from one of my drunk tweets:

Oh Lord. Halloweekend. We are all going to die.

At Mike’s party on Friday night, we crossed the event horizon of insanity/debauchery never to return apparently. I thought I was too hungover to drink last night. I was wrong. Yes, I was still mad hungover and didn’t really want to drink but it happened. I thought we had all pulled ourselves together by the time we met up again at my house last night. Not true. Two parties with a bar adventure in between and we were all back to Friday night where the craziest shit was going down. At least Desi and I are naturally synched up so that only one of us is obliterated at a time and we take care of each other. Thank God, because if it weren’t this way, we’d be completely non-functioning wastes of life.

There’s been drama, there’s been fun, there’s been the surrealness of being sandwiched between Boba Fett and a dude dressed like a sexy woman while you back that ass up as the stereo blasts some Juvenile.

I mean, we went hard. It’s not even over yet. There’s still a small gathering happening at the Cage tomorrow night. Honestly, I can never get enough Halloween though. It’s truly one of the best holidays.

Apparently, Matt referred to me as “the whore in the other room” on Friday night however. That was nice of him. Glad to see he’s healthily/maturely moving on three months later. I know it shouldn’t have broken my heart that that’s how he thinks of me because I’m more or less over it in every way but it still sucks to know that there’s so much hate directed toward me from someone I used to love and who used to supposedly love me. I also know it’s not true at all. I was only ever the most monogamous/faithful/loyal/dedicated/loving/non-slutty girlfriend a person can have. It still stung really bad to know that he called me that and I guess I’ll never know why.

I think that guys will never really understand the level of disaster the situation with Matt was and I can never really fully throw out a disclaimer about why I’m so hostile towards them. I don’t believe in nice guys because my ex is the type of person to call you a whore three months after you broke up when it was entirely his fault and semi-unfaithfulness that caused you to end it.

I guess that’s essentially it. It’s hard to believe that a nice/decent/good guy is actually that when the guy you thought was that nice/decent/good guy in reality is a shady bastard who calls you a whore and that interferes with my assessment of all men.

I’m definitely ready to get out of here. Heartwrenching or not, it’s time to move on.

I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that I’m going to be living on Mobile Bay and basically the Gulf of Mexico. My connection with bodies of water is one of the most solid/consistent things in my life. My whole body is itching to go. The Gulf of Mexico and I have some kind of magnetism now. Water is also helping me feel less upset about leaving and the inevitable disconnection that comes with long-distance friendships. But when I think about the fact that ultimately New Orleans is my goal and that we’ll all be connected someday by Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, I feel more at ease about it. I like the idea of being able to look at the Mississippi River water and knowing that some of that came from Pittsburgh. And even farther up, some of it came from Potter county where my mom works so I’m connected to everyone that’s important.

I’m actually crazy. This is proof. A sane person would feel connected to people in 2011 because we have cell phones and the internet. A crazy person gets all 1894 about it. Pittsburgh is only a steamboat trip away!

This blurb from Wiki is cool:

The use of steamboats on major US rivers soon followed Fulton’s success. In 1811 the first in a continuous (still in commercial passenger operation as of 2007) line of river steamboats left the dock at Pittsburgh to steam down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans.

I was obsessed with steamboat history for awhile. You can blame alt-country for that, I’m sure. But yeah, got books out of the library about it and everything. I was a steamboat expert for two weeks.

I also love houseboats. And speed boats. And tug boats. And fishing boats. And life boats. And pontoon boats. And kayaks. And canoes. And gondolas. And all other boats. Those are just the first ones that come to mind.

But sailboats most of all. Intense love for sailboats. My ancestors must have been pirates or vikings or fish or something. I’m most at peace on/in the water. It’s the most universal thing ever when you think about it. First of all, the earth is 70% water. Secondly, the water comes from everywhere and goes everywhere via the evaporation and rain cycle. And the molecules get all broken up then put back together. The atoms just move all over. I also like that hydrogen bonds are super weak unless there are a lot of hydrogen bonds going on from a lot of molecules being together. That’s so universal. One person alone is nothing. But a million people together is unbreakable. We need each other. Together, we have a high specific heat.

Putting the physics/chemistry aside (why am I such a nerd and only think in terms of science?), the water is also carried all over via gravity and waves and currents. It’s humbling to think about the power and magnitude of it but also comforting because of the connection to all things that it makes me feel.

I definitely cry my face off at the end of Big Fish every time. And kind of all the way through. The “I was drying out” line in the bathtub scene makes my heart explode. It’s not even really 100% sadness tears because of the death thing. Mostly life tears actually. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who loves the mix of good/bad in life so intensely that they cry about it. Not really happy or sad tears. Just love/existence/humanity tears.

Anyway, it’s obviously my favorite movie. And probably influenced me way too much when I was considering applying to nursing school in Alabama. I hope someone proposes to me someday by fake catching a catfish with an engagement ring (more proof that I’m Imaginationland crazy). Or actually catching a catfish with an engagement ring. That seems risky though. He could just pretend.

And take me to the river when I die. Preferably, I would like to die in the river surrounded by all the people I’ve ever known but that’s obviously way too whimsical to be real life and only happens at the end of Big Fish and not even really happens. It just happens in the story that Billy Crudup tells to Albert Finney while he dies in the hospital. Y’all can just cremate me and toss me in the river with some kind of short ceremonial celebration of life. Be drinking whiskey too, of course.

Wow, I think I just planned my funeral. These blogs get out of control. I go in with no organization or idea about what I’m going to write whatsoever and this is what comes out.

Relevant: If I Die Young by The Band Perry

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The Purity Of The Road

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!
– Albert Einstein

Or in this case, the beautiful land of central Pennsylvania.

Penn State football is always a family affair. It’s nice to know that reliably, no matter what game you go to, there will be an assortment of relatives there.

The most perfect thing you can experience is life when you’re sitting in a fold-up chair outside Beaver Stadium on a gorgeous sunny warm October day with a Yuengling in one hand and a slice of your mom’s famous tailgating sandwich in the other, surrounded by your immediate family along with cousins, aunts, and uncles.

I cannot emphasize this enough: a simple life is the best life.

Money and power are so overrated. All I want for the rest of my existence is to be able to drive over Pennsylvania mountains and end up at Beaver Stadium to watch Penn State win a football game.

If we were Catholic and if JoePa was mortal, he would probably be adopted as our family’s new patron saint once he died.

Usually I only get to go to one game per year. Two if I’m outrageously lucky. This year, however, I got to go to three. And now I’m hooked. As with all addictions, the more you do it, the more you need it.

As I’ve probably said before, the drive from Pittsburgh to State College is both spectacular and soothing. I get all happy and dreamy.

If this was Imaginationland where everything was possible, I’d have financial backers who would pay me to travel across the USA and write a New York Times bestseller called “The Definitive Guide to Alt-Country and the Road.” I would go to amazing shows, interact with the very essence of America, and also impart my roadtrip wisdom to eager young wanderers.

For example, how to make a 2.5 hour trip when you’re so hungover you want to die.
1) Portable carby/greasy breakfast in little bites over a long period of time
2) Ginger ale
3) Windows down for fresh air
4) Big sunglasses to block the light
5) Coffee for stamina (because passing out does not have the same restorative benefits as sleep) when you’re finally starting to feel recovered
6) Subtle but good music like Ghost

I always say I’m not going to go out the night before a game because it’s critically important that I’m in tip-top shape to get the most enjoyment out of it. That never happens. Saturday morning was rough. But I left at 10 and was back to 100% by 1 when I finally got to the tailgate spot. The walk down College Ave was magically medicinal. Nothing better than being surrounded by a zillion people who love the same thing you do. And the first Yuengling I had upon arrival was magic. Sweet, delicious Yuengling.

Anyway, because I’ve been outrageously productive lately (being single actually is awesome), I think I’m going to start an alt-country blog. Being that I just now realized that basically half of everything (musically speaking) I love falls into the alt-country genre, it’s going to be a little rocky at first. More of a beta project. Very exploratory. I mean, I’ve loved these bands/artists forever, but I’m a novice in terms of how far-reaching the genre really is and what it has to offer. I don’t even know how it started or why it started or who was the first person to coin the term.

Maybe someday I can actually be enough of an expert to write the definitive guide. Gotta win the lotto first. The gas money has to come from somewhere.

Mary went to Park City this weekend. I want to go to Park City someday too.

Steelers won. Thank God.

Every Bump, Rise, And Stretch In It Mystified My Longing

Excerpt from Mary’s most recent e-mail.

And also, there’s a part of the drive to Jackson that is where a forest fire happened in the 70s… and it still looks almost exactly the same as just after the fire. It knocked the wind out of me. Literally. We were just cruising and soaking in the beauty and I was warned we were coming up on the fire part and Sam explained to me how nothing can grow back because there’s such a short period of time that saplings can grow before winter claims them but I wasn’t prepared to see it. It was devastating because it’s haunting to see a mountainside of burnt, dead trees, and then saplings trying to grow that will die in just a few weeks.

On the way back when I saw it, I burst into tears.

You have to come west.

Things That I’m Obsessed With: National Geographic Edition

Disclaimer: You’re about to enter Imaginationland.

So, back in the day when Repptar and I were doing the PQLC thing, I intended on regularly sharing my obsessions in a series titled “Things That I’m Obsessed With” (creative, I know). Unfortunately, since he and I never stuck to anything and the blog died, there were only two such entries. Machu Picchu and Non-Fiction. Well, today I’m bring the series back from the dead.

At work, half the internet is blocked so during my breaks and in between calls, I used to have nothing to do and lose my mind from boredom. This actually turned out to be a wonderful thing because now I read a ton while I’m there and love my life. Unfortunately, I left On The Road at home one day and proceeded to freak out about the pending tedium of my 8 hour shift with nothing to read. So, I regrouped and went to CVS and bought the September 2011 issue of NatGeo. I honestly don’t know why I don’t just subscribe. One issue is like $6. One year of issues is $15. And $15 is one night at the bar or one month of Netflix. I can make some cuts and work it into my budget. One year of National Geographic > one night at the bar.

Anyway, I started religiously reading it every month to avoid homework at school and it became a necessary constant for survival in my life. I’m pretty sure it’s been blowing people’s minds since 1888. Yes, it is that old. Now I only read it sporadically. But it’s like crack in my brain every time. I think my synapses are malfunctioning due to overuse by the time I’m done

This issue is particularly incredible. I knew the minute I saw it on the rack that it was special. Maybe this was what people feel when they experience that whole “love at first site” shebang. It was basically a fireworks explosion of realizing that 75% of the things I’m obsessed with are in this one issue.

CAN WE FLY?

NatGeo, you always think my thoughts. Things That I’m Obsessed With: Flying Edition. I want to fly. I dream about it. I can close my eyes and physically feel how my legs would feel to be kicking off the ground to launch my body into the air. And in terms of personal life flaws, I always fly too close to the sun. I am Icarus. Bike accidents every week. Anyway, the flying article was so awesome that I’m going to devote a whole entry to it on Sunday.

Moving on to the next little headline there… orphan elephants. I definitely shed some tears over this article. Things That I’m Obsessed With: Elephants Edition. Also, saving stuff… especially orphans. My #1 goal as a nurse/person is going to be to save every kid on the planet from heartbreak and poverty. But, ok… back to the elephants. Elephants are basically humans.

Studies show that structures in the elephant brain are strikingly similar to those in humans. MRI scans of an elephant’s brain suggest a large hippocampus, the component in the mammalian brain linked to memory and an important part of its limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions. The elephant brain has also been shown to possess an abundance of the specialized neurons known as spindle cells, which are thought to be associated with self-awareness, empathy, and social awareness in humans. Elephants have even passed the mirror test of self-recognition, something only humans, and some great apes and dolphins, had been known to do.

I’ve loved them forever. They’re calm… unless you threaten them or their elephant friends/family or their right to live their elephant lives in happiness. Then they’re fierce and scary. Fight for love/happiness, people. You gotta. The world likes to rip it away from you.

Be as beneficent as the sun or the sea, but if your rights as a rational being are trenched on, die on the first inch of your territory.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tangent: Also, obsessed with Ralph Waldo Emerson. His essays are pretty overwhelmingly mind blowing.

Back to elephants (again). They’re family oriented and live in matriarchal societies. And they’re incredibly social. Their communication abilities are off the charts. They’re ridiculously advanced, emotionally speaking. They experience grief, live altruistically, and demonstrate compassion. I feel connected to them. The best parts of myself (the ones that are currently buried) are elephant characteristics. We have a spiritual understanding.

This part of the article made me cry from sadness in the way that perpetual urban violence cycles make me cry (City of God). It kind of seems like a similar problem… experience horrific life altering/disruptive stuff in your formative years –> exhibit unusually violent/brutal behavior.

Between 1992 and 1997, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg Game Reserve in South Africa killed more than 40 rhinoceroses—an unusual level of aggression—and in some cases had attempted to mount them. The young elephants were adolescent males that had witnessed their families being shot in cullings at Kruger National Park—sanctioned killings to keep elephant populations under control. At that time it was common practice for such orphaned elephant babies to be tethered to the bodies of their dead relatives until they could be rounded up for translocation to new territories. Once moved to Pilanesberg, the orphans matured without the support of any adult males. “Young males often follow older, sexually active males around,” says Joyce Poole, “appearing to study what they do. These youngsters had no such role models.”

But this part made me cry from hope.

Another precocious orphan named Irima was just over three years old and still milk dependent when he insinuated himself into a wild group near Voi, the other stockade where orphans are introduced to the wild. After five days the Voi keepers heard a series of frantic, high-pitched elephant trumpets coming from the direction of an electrified fence. “Irima must have told the group that he still needed his milk and orphan family and wanted to go back, so Edo [a former orphan] escorted him home,” Voi’s head keeper, Joseph Sauni, recalls. “The keepers opened the gate, and Edo escorted Irima all the way back to the stockades. Edo drank some water from the well, ate some food, and took off again. Mission accomplished.”

Even fully “repatriated” orphans like Edo will return to the stockades to visit their human family. In December 2008 Emily, a matriarch that had been brought to the Nairobi nursery in 1993, showed up at the Voi stockades one afternoon with her group and a surprise guest. “She’d given birth the day before, about a mile away,” says Sauni. “She led the baby here to show us her newborn. We named her Eve.”

ELEPHANTS = PEOPLE. And people and elephants apparently form family relationships with each other. Read the whole article. It’s amazing. I’m serious. And I kind of want to become the Jane Goodall of elephants. Is it too late? Wait, I think my brain just echoed something…

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
– George Eliot

Elephant in a raincoat:

The biggest (well, only) threat to elephants are people. Environmental destruction and human conflict are the reason that elephants are being orphaned and injured and killed. Elephant populations are rapidly destabilizing. Do your part. Don’t be an asshole. In a global society and as citizens of the earth, we’re all responsible.

Anyway, next article (keep in mind, these things are JUST the front cover highlights alone)… all about the Terra Nova Expedition. This is just the caption in the index : “A century ago Scott lost and Amundsen won–partly because he knew when to turn back.” Profound. Also, how can you not flip immediately to the article after reading that? Things That I’m Obsessed With: Sled Dogs, Sheer Adventure, and Going Into The Wild Edition.

I really was completely hung up on the 1925 serum run to Nome for awhile. It triggered my Alaska obsession. Read this book. Dogs, adventure, wilderness, and saving kids are maybe my top 4 favorite things in life. The serum run to Nome HAD IT ALL. A little bit heartbreaking in some parts, but still a gripping tale.

Back to the point (why am I so damn tangenty today?), the NatGeo article is an EPIC story of peril, uncertainty, competition, adventure (obviously) and decision making. Read it here. This is how it opens:

September 12—Tuesday. Not much visibility. Nasty breeze from S. -52°C. The dogs clearly affected by the cold. The men, stiff in their frozen clothes, more or less satisfied after a night in the frost … prospect of milder weather doubtful.

And on to the last front cover blurb… Adirondacks: Forever Wild. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Things That I’m Obsessed With: Limitless Nature Edition. It’s more or less about how the Adirondacks were being destroyed by mining, logging, etc. but environmental protection measures saved them and how the utter wild nature of it all has allowed them to bounce back at an insanely fast pace in a madly vigorous way. In a more nuanced sense, it’s also about the delicate balance between use of natural resources/areas and protection of them. Save the environment! It’s really all we have. It’s the foundation of our lives. It’s the most inherent and simple and spiritual part of ourselves. Anyway, the photos in this article are incredible. Case in point:

It’s a gravity as strong as Manhattan’s but the opposite kind–the beckoning of few roads and few people, the pull of a wild region large enough to have an “interior.” Here, the outside world seems to vanish behind enfolding mountains, quarantined away by river, still water, and wetland. Crest one of the High Peaks, and all you see is Adirondacks.

National Geographic has some of the greatest photography of all time. I can’t emphasize that enough. Honestly, if you don’t know how big of a deal it is, you’ve been living under a rock your whole life. Some of the most iconic/groundbreaking images have been published in this magazine. I think I legitimately stop breathing for a quick second at least once in the middle of every issue from one of the photos. Photography is my #1 love when it comes to art forms. Things That I’m Obsessed With: Photography Edition. It’s an amazing mix of interpretation/expression/emotion and real life. The concept of evoking feelings and reactions from something that’s kind of just documentation in a sense is incredible to me. I LOVE LIFE. Real life. The ups and downs and ins and outs. And I love the world. It’s a beautiful/heartbreaking/hopeful/tragic/happy place. You could use all those words to describe existence as well. National Geographic photography covers it all. It seriously takes you away from your current state/location to the point where you can almost imagine that you were in that place or felt that thing that that person was feeling or lived the experience that’s in the photo.

Also in this issue: Murray Fredericks’ Salt Flats series.

Lake Eyre might be the bleakest, most featureless place on Earth—a flat, arid salt sink in Australia with only the horizon to define its 3,700 square miles. Yet I went there 16 times in eight years. Why? To create a series of photographs out of infinite space.

Infinite space FOR REAL. If you’re not totally floored by those, then you’re not human. Those are photos of the real world but they’re so abstract and unreal that you hardly believe it. And seriously, that guy was dedicated. Things That I’m Obsessed With: Other People’s Obsessions Edition. I appreciate when other people understand that sometimes a thing just gets inside of you and never lets you go. I love when people are passionate about things. It fascinates me and makes me want to understand what they feel and why they love whatever it is that they love. Share your obsessions with me. I want to know everything about life. I want to love everything and do everything and never die.

I realize now that this blog entry is way too long and probably sounds ridiculously manic. I told you that you were about to enter Imaginationland. It gets out of hand.

One more article, then I’m done. Machisma. I love the title alone. A feminine twist on machismo because now women have the power. It’s a fascinating investigation into the recent state and societal changes that have led to a huge and rapid decrease in the fertility rate in Brazil and how it’s both a result of the transformation and also reinforces the transformation. Things That I’m Obsessed With: South America, Change, Strength, Feminism, Liberation and Brazilian Soap Operas Edition.

“The fertility rate dropped because women decided they didn’t want more children,” he said. “Brazilian women are tremendously strong. It was just a matter of them deciding, and then having the means to achieve it.”

If nothing else, read the six points in the middle. It’s probably a nice summarization.

Demography might be my new interest. Mary was right. It’s kind of fascinating. FYI, I’m so proud of my sister for being an awesome/smart/ambitious grad student. Demography is her thing. She’s a nerdy sociologist and loves it. My sentiment towards it was always kind of “Demography? Psh, who cares?” I totally get it now. It’s like the study of populations in the strictest statistical sense but the pursuit of finding unexpected patterns/trends in the data and offering an explanation has to be such a fulfilling line of work. Someone (or some people) realized that soap operas are so nationally critical that they were an influential part of Brazil’s most recent history which will probably become the basis for its future.

Ninety percent of female characters in the average novela have just one child or none, which may have influenced Brazilian women to desire smaller families. The scripts didn’t intentionally encourage low fertility. Early novela writers sought to subtly undermine the dictatorship that ran Brazil until 1985, using story lines that critiqued traditional values and empowered women.

That’s outrageous. I told you Brazilian soap operas were awesome. That’s some deep stuff. They were SUBVERSIVE. So badass.

And I love figures and data and math. It’s like the first and most basic layer of absolutely everything. Concrete/cold materials and evidence on which abstract/emotional concepts are built upon. Kind of like how the chemical/physical science of neurons somehow creates what we know as consciousness which is hardly a scientific/tangible thing at all.

Really, the most important thing I got out of this was a weird  sense of optimism. The article mentions several reasons and societal/cultural pressures as to why these changes and empowerment should not have happened but somehow it was so powerful that it couldn’t be stopped. The women were so invincible that it ust happened. And not necessarily even through overtly fighting for rights or choices or lifestyles, but rather just through living and making decisions and sharing experiences and observations with one another. It was the type of change that just happens. Not without struggle. That’s not what I’m trying to say. But it just happens like some kind of fated force of nature or something.

For demographers working to understand the causes and implications of this startling trend, what’s happened in Brazil since the 1960s provides one of the most compelling case studies on the planet. Brazil spans a vast landmass, with enormous regional differences in geography, race, and culture, yet its population data are by tradition particularly thorough and reliable. Pieces of the Brazilian experience have been mirrored in scores of other countries, including those in which most of the population is Roman Catholic—but no other nation in the world seems to have managed it quite like this.

I’m obviously losing my mind. This is what National Geographic does to me. I can’t quit it though. As the old blues standard goes,

I can’t quit you baby
But I  gotta put you down for a little while

Time to put the National Geographic down for a LONG while.

Also, Led Zeppelin. Probably #3 on the list of music I could listen to all day every day and never hate my life for one single second of it.

Finally, because it wouldn’t be my life without some pivotal folky/acoustic/southern tunes… Song of the day: Trouble Comes Calling by Danny Schmidt. There’s nothing on YouTube. Y’all have to Grooveshark it. Little Grey Sheep is a pretty decent album all around.

Now, I call her Trouble and she calls me Weakness
I call her Trouble and she calls me Weakness
A sweet symbiosis of cause and convenience
Oh, and Trouble keeps calling on me
Oh, now Trouble she keeps calling on me
Oh, now Trouble please keep calling on me

Honorable mentions, 9/23/11:
We All Lose One Another by Jason Collett
The Ballad of Scarlet Town by Johnny and the Moon

The Whole Mad Thing, The Ragged Promised Land

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS IS LIVE ON YOUTUBE THIS YEAR.

I’m currently switching between Big Boi and Cold War Kids. Best day of my life. I don’t want to leave the computer.

However, going home to WNY tonight. Land of drinking on boats. Where people just like to chill. Also, Dropkick Murphys tomorrow.

Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt

We were on the roof of America and all we could do was yell, I guess

In the last few weeks, my quarter-life crisis has manifested itself in peculiar ways. My room is now home to two half-done paintings, a half-done volcano, and a bed that I moved right up against the window so I would feel like I’m camping every night. Also, I’m signing up for Portuguese 1 and Pottery 1 at CCAC. Making pots is usually central to any life crisis I encounter. And I make out with everyone apparently? Bad news bears. Life is bananas right now.

My job is surprisingly pretty great. I have coworkers with normal social skills. I don’t dread every morning that I have to get up and go to my soul sucking place of employment. I get paid way more. Not what I want to do forever, obviously. But I’m pretty happy for now. It’s so easy to be happy when you only work 30 hours a week. Living the dream.

By the way, my family is amazing… I’d say the uncles did a pretty damn good job.

Finally, today’s album.

She Just Gets Up And Goes. She Doesn’t Give Any Warning.

And here for the first time in my life I saw my beloved Mississippi River, dry in the summer haze, low water, with its big rank smell that smells like the raw body of America itself because it washes it up.

I love Greenfield. I get my pizza from Conicella’s, I drink at Hough’s, and I take my car to Calfo’s when it needs to be fixed. My house has a porch swing and hardwood floors and my room is the converted attic on the third floor where I can see everything and hear the rain and the sun rises on my face every morning and I have an infinite amount of space for projects and sleeping and spreading out and living. My room is the size of some people’s apartments. It’s 10 minutes from everything. I can walk/bike to Schenley Park.

But I will forever have this consuming preoccupation with the south and with the west and I can’t be entirely content here until I go. Especially now that I’ve been here for way too long investing in something that I thought was worthwhile. “Happiness only real when shared.” I didn’t even have to learn that by trial and error because Chris McCandless was nice enough to figure it out for us. So, that’s why I stayed. But the thought of actually living out my life adventures is ALWAYS in the back of my mind no matter what. Especially now that I came to terms with the fact that there was no future and I would never be entirely happy.

Tangent: Honestly, if you’re lucky enough to have that great thing with a person (and by great, I really mean like once in a lifetime love/companionship/passion/dedication/etc), then by all means go where they go or stay where they stay if that’s what needs to happen. Unfortunately, I don’t think many of us actually ever encounter that in our lives so for the most part, just move along. And ideally, if you do have that great thing, then they’ll go with you or stay with you as much as you do for them.

Drifting back to the point… On The Road is like a sacred religious text to me. I’m seriously only 30 pages in and it’s like the 4th time I’ve read it, but there’s still so much good life shit in there. Some sentences/paragraphs/thoughts kill me in a way that leaves me completely floored because it always seems like my soul has either had that feeling/experience or longs to have it. Case in point:

I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was–I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was half-way across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.

The first time I saw the Mississippi River, I was completely at a loss. It was everything I thought it would be. And it was incredible. And EPIC. And I fell in love with the south. I think they bewitched my sweet tea last time I was there because my only real goal in life is returning as soon as possible. Every plan I make is just another way to go back. Jayber Crow isn’t helping.

I also spent my whole life dreaming about the Pacific Ocean. And the first time I went in, I was in Chile. And it was winter. And the water was cold, as the Pacific Ocean always is. But it was nearly the best day of my life. And I can’t stop thinking about going back to that either.

In general, I have an unexplainable spiritual fixation/connection with bodies of water. This is probably the basis for my obsession with boats. My second life priority, aside from moving south, is buying a sailboat. And living happily ever after on it. On the water in the sunshine.

And then there’s the west.

It should not be denied…that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west. – The American West as Living Space, Wallace Stegner

Into the Wild is my other sacred religious text, in case you haven’t figured that out yet. My spirit is sheer adventure and freedom and and peace and love. I can’t stay in this one spot forever. Mary drove to Utah and had the type of epic roadtrip experience I want to have someday soon. That I’ve been trying to have since I was 17.

As hesitant as I was to get into nursing because it meant giving up my public policy and public health “dreams,” I kind of feel like somehow destiny got involved and now I’m about to get into a career where I will always have a job no matter where I go will always have enough money to make my travels actually happen which is kind of what I wanted more than anything to begin with. I can just pick up and leave. Whenever. Let’s do this, life. At 24, I’m still such a baby with a million years ahead of me. At 90, I want to know with every certainty that I lived madly.

This is the type of idealism that dooms people. Maybe. Even so, “I just want to burn up hard and bright.” And I’m TOTALLY at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.

By the way, all the best music comes from the south. And they play it often and everywhere. Oh, New Orleans. Someday soon.

I could listen to this song forever.

Also relevant… Big River

Pittsburgh will be the place that I return to when my biological clock starts ticking. I’m going to buy a house in Greenfield and have four kids. This is maybe a problem because I think my soulmate probably lives in the swamp or works in a shipyard or spends a billion life hours in the middle of nowhere. Whatever. We’ll make it work.

But until I have to deal with that, get me out of here ASAP. I’m kind of freaking out. I’ve been freaking out for a year and a half. 4 long months until Alabama.

Oh, what would you do if i showed up at your door just ready to go