Monday, February 28, 2011

Traveling tales of the I-40

I've been on Interstate 40 for about 350 miles now and it has brought me to Albuquerque, NM, the land of my youth. I lived in Albuquerque through many of my teenage years, which were filled with desperation, poverty, drug addiction and eventually some success. That is a story that could be a blog all on its own though, so today I will focus on the time I said goodbye to Albuquerque as my residence for good. 
I was 18 years old and (finally) finished with high school after a long struggle. I was newly out of the closet and ready to see the world. I had my sights set on a coast, either one as long as it was attached to a giant city with bright lights where I could find my fame and fortune. After a late-night coffee shop discussion with my bff it was decided that the two of us would take on San Francisco.
We had a grand total of roughly $700, an old, red Pontiac, Sunfire with about three million miles already clocked, some clothes and other personal items, and great hopes. We didn't know anyone in San Francisco, but I have always been pretty good at making friends and we were sure that we would be fine. So, we hit the road. 
The first day was totally uneventful, we cruised through Arizona, stopping once to take pictures with the world's largest jackrabbit. The stereo was broken and only played tapes, of which we had exactly two, Madonna (the best of) and The Beastie Boys (Ill Communication).We drove until it was impossible to keep going, and then we slept at a rest stop. 
Day two was when the real adventure began. We drove through the seemingly endless desert-scape of Nevada. That night as we were crossing over the Sierra Nevada mountain rage it started to snow. The roads are very narrow, curvy and  dark. The snow felt magical, and since San Francisco doesn't get snow we felt like it was one last taste. All the way up the road we were alone on the highway, and we speculated about whether the highway was secretly closed and we were about to plow into a snowbank around the next blind curve. On the way back down we were very tired and in need of a place to pull over to sleep for the night. Suddenly a semi-truck pulled up behind us and started speeding up. It felt like he was about four centimeters away from the bumper of the Sunfire, so, naturally, we sped up. Then the truck sped up more, and we had no choice but to speed up again. The truck didn't back off a millimeter, but continued to gain speed. There were plenty of pull-outs that we could utilize to pull over and let the truck pass but they weren't marked by signs, and it was snowing, and we were going 85mph around mountain curves with no guardrail on the side that immediately plummeted into what we were sure was about to be our rocky grave. We continued in that terrifying fashion for about twenty minutes, which felt more like seven hours since my life was flashing before my eyes with every slippery turn. Finally, we sped up to 95mph and took the first turn off we saw and the truck screamed past picking up even more speed. With all the adrenaline coursing through our veins we were no longer sleepy and decided to push on. 
According to the map we figured we would be in San Francisco on day three. On the morning of day three we were overwhelmed with joy. We were almost there! We followed the map carefully, and crossed the border of California where we exuberantly honked the horn. We were entering the promised land. Then we crossed the Nevada border, confused. Then back to California, YAY! Back to Nevada? California! Nevada? Why wasn't this on the map? We should have been going southwest towards San Francisco, but we couldn't seem to get out of Nevada for longer than a few miles. The map said we were crossing through the right towns. Suddenly the highway veered off and left us on a narrow road that led us to a small town. The houses were all very cute and obviously intentionally built, but there were no people, anywhere. There were giant stalks, the size of sunflowers in August, covered with purple flowers as far as the eye could see and a delicious, delicate smell wafting through the car unlike any smell I had ever experienced. The bird song was deafeningly loud and unlike any song I had ever heard from birds, pleasant, but strange. A three legged dog darted in front of the car and we swerved to avoid it. After that narrow miss, the highway suddenly reappeared and the smell drifted away, the birds returned to normal and the highway picked back up again. All told, the unexplainable detour took about 9 hours, but used very little gasoline. 
We finally crossed into California, and this time we stayed there. YAY! We were about an hour away from San Francisco, but it was very late and we had been driving for what felt like days without sleep. We couldn't stand Madonna for one more second and we were at each others throats. It was clearly time to stop. There was an exit that only led back onto the on-ramp but had a small pull-out where a trucker was parked for the night. We stopped there, put the seats down and draped a blanket over the windshield to block out the light. We said our goodnights, and were just settling in when we heard a pickup truck pull in and stop behind us. My bff sat bolt upright and pulled the windshield cover off. There were three guys who are best described as back-woods creeps, carrying crow bars and sneaking up to the car. When they saw that there were people in the car they jumped back into the truck and peeled out.
All exhaustion that we had been feeling was immediately extinguished and we also peeled out of there and returned to the freeway. It was mutually decided that we would just go to San Francisco. 
Before we left Albuquerque we got some advice about San Francisco from people that we (at the time) thought were very worldly, and therefore should be trusted. Here are some of the highlights. 
*You can sleep on the beach, so try to find the beach first thing.
         -North Beach is a good one to camp in.
*If you find yourself in the "Mission District" RUN!
*Parking is easy, as long as you stay in the residential areas
*There are glitter, sparkle, fairy queens everywhere you look. 
There was more, but those were the pieces that were immediately disappointing. 
So, we drove into San Francisco and followed the signs to North Beach. Inexplicably, the signs stopped and we didn't seem to be at the ocean. I asked a guy on the sidewalk where North Beach was and he pointed the way. Again, we followed his directions and still, no ocean. The strip clubs and Italian restaurants were plentiful, but the Pacific Ocean was elusive. We felt like it was a big enough body of water that we wouldn't have missed it, but there was no sign of it. Somehow we figured out that maybe North Beach was the name of a neighborhood rather than the name of an actual beach. There was a pretty blonde girl standing in a doorway, and I decided we should confirm our suspicions with her. She told us that North Beach was in fact the name of a neighborhood and that we couldn't actually camp on any beaches within San Francisco city limits, but that we could camp at Stinson Beach and she would gladly show us the way in exchange for a ride. We put her in the backseat and drove across Golden Gate Bridge. 
At this point we had been actively driving for approximately twenty-two hours since the last time we slept. There was a great amount of delirium, mixed with adrenaline, frustration and deep seated joy. The blonde girl was from Sweden and immediately started flirting with my bff, aka, the flamingly gay boy in the passenger seat. She was running her fingers through his hair and tickling his ears with her fingertips, but on the window side as to hide it form my view. About an hour passed before we finally got to the turn-off. The blonde got dropped off and gave us directions the rest of the way to Stinson Beach, saying it was just over the hill. 
We started up the hill, hoping it was close because we were almost out of gas, and the exhaustion was returning with great conviction. Two miles or so up the road we slowed down because something was in the road. Turns out it was a raccoon that had recently been hit by a car and was desperately trying to peel its mid-section off of the road surface. Another raccoon was standing on the shoulder seemingly trying to offer encouragement to his very injured friend. We watched this scene, unable to look away, for far too long. I finally swerved around it and continued up the road. We both started crying, giant, tears laced with exhaustion and grief for the poor raccoon. After driving ten or fifteen miles we started to worry about the dwindling gas supply, and wanted to turn around, but having just recovered from the raccoon situation we were not in a hurry to turn around and risk seeing that the raccoon didn't make it after all. At some point we realized that we had no choice, and turned around. We drove all the way back down with no further raccoon sightings. We were almost to the gas station when a deer wandered into the road. I stopped as fast a possible and ended up gently tapping it, it looked at me with giant, angry, eyes and then trotted off. When I pulled into the gas station I drove past the pumps, put the car in park and we cried ourselves to sleep. 
Eventually everything worked out, and I found great happiness and success in San Francisco, though I still can't listen to that Madonna album.

That was the last time I was on Interstate 40, and now I find myself once again, In Albuquerque en route to San Francisco. I hope for better luck this time!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Viva La Revolution!

The boyfriend discusses starting a revolution approximately
I'm like, then start one, and he's all "you can't just start one it takes planning" 
Apparently in order to start a revolution one needs to talk to their girlfriend ad nauseum about all the reasons the government is fucked up right now, and all of the brilliant plans to fix it, without ever doing anything more about it. Knowing that, it's hard to believe that there aren't more revolutions going on, or maybe there are millions.

I like talking about the state of the country and the problems/solutions that would fix everything for about 4 hours a year, tops. After that it feels like I am bringing giant piles of negativity into my life for no reason. 
I get it, the country is not run ideally, and there are about eleventy million things that one would change if they were in power. Ever notice the people who want things to change the most have never been in any kind of position involving bureaucratic  power? 

I used to be way more activist-y and idealistic, but over the years it has become clear to me that the only power I have over change is the power to change my own underwear whenever I want. When I first realized that great power I changed my panties four, five times a day. Then I realized the great responsibility that comes with such power... I had to wash my laundry pretty much constantly. Other than the small personal changes that I can do all by myself without organizing great herds of people, I am not interested in change. 
Mundane, mediocre, denial-based happiness is way more my speed. I'm happy here, just like the rest of Americans who would rather have their affordable priced home decor items from Walmart than to carry a giant gun and risk my life for future generations. I'm probably a selfish asshole, but I have inexpensive home decor to make me feel better. 

In other news, the boyfriend and I were called back to Austin with a gimmick that promised us fame and fortune, we were let down and we are back in the vortex. We may never get out, though the plan is to leave tomorrow morning. 
Texas is BIG y'all, that's why people spend their whole lives here, it's not Texas pride, it's lack of will to spend three days in a car and still be in the same state they started in.

I did a short Google search on Texas and found out that there are plans to put a giant, bamboo reinforced, helium filled banana in the sky that would only be visible from Texas. It will be 300m long. That is fucking brilliant.

If I do get behind the revolution it would only be to insure that the giant banana over Texas actually happens.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Green is the new Poor.

A few weeks ago the boyfriend and I went through a documentary phase where we only wanted to watch true stories of people trying to live their lives. One such documentary that we found was called "No Impact Man" 

The movie was entertaining, and the consistent break downs by the wife were more than a little delightful. I'm sure that this project speaks to the bulk of middle to upper middle class white families living in the United States, but I don't think it has the broad spectrum that No Impact Man hoped it would. 

I look at the way poor people live in the United States and see the same things happening. The electricity gets shut off and the residents have to do without, but in the case of poor people they can't go out to the farmer's market and get hand dipped candles by the dozen.
Laundromats are expensive, and often less affluent people do their laundry in the bathtub and hang their clothes to dry. No Impact Man reacted as if he had found the holy grail when he discovered that option. 

The wife is most concerned with having to give up her reality television, shopping,  and Starbucks coffee addictions, but in order to make it through a year without, she goes on a shopping spree the day before and spends nearly $10,000.00. It seems to me that ten thousand dollars worth of designer clothing will get her through twelve months.

I appreciate what No Impact Man and his cohorts are trying to do, I appreciate that somebody is trying to raise awareness about how much Americans consume and throw away. I don't however think that he deserved all of the fame and fortune that giving up meat, toilet paper and electricity for a year graced him with.
There are people who do that every single day as a way of life, and don't get to end it at the close of a year with the promise of a huge paycheck.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Brand New Toy!

I am about 27 days away from turning 30. 

When I was a kid 30 seemed older, not just because I was small and everyone over aged 16 seemed really old, but because they were doing way more grown-uppy things, like having careers and multiple babies. Even the desperately poor people seemed to have it more together, but maybe that is the skewed understanding that comes from being a tiny human. 
I don't feel ready for the responsibility of being 30, even if 30 is the new 12. Is 30 the new 12? It seems like the math works out that way if 40 is the new 20. 
Anyway, two of my favorite people decided (in their infinite grown-uppy wisdom) to soften the blow by getting me an early gift. 
I didn't know that such a thing existed (maybe I am ready to be 30) but there is a new fangled device that allows one to have internet access wherever one finds oneself. I am the proud new owner of just such a device. It comes in the form (in this case) of a small laptop and connects using 3G. 

In short, IT IS AWESOME.

Thank you to the two of you that helped soften the 30 year old blow. 

In other news, I have been spending the last couple days at Starbucks in Marble Falls, leeching the free internet they offer. There is a very cute girl who works there and she has been making eyes at me all week. I have made some eyes at her to, but most of the eyes are coming from her side of the counter. I love knowing that someone is checking me out, it makes me try harder to look cute. In fact I came up with an incredible outfit this morning so that she could see me in it and she wasn't there this morning. Then it got really hot and I changed into a new thing that was not nearly as great, when I went back inside, she was working. That's probably why it's best not to plan for these things. 
She summoned up all her courage (finally) and talked to me this evening. She's adorable and I like the feeling of intimidating someone with my beauty. 

Tomorrow is (probably) the day the boyfriend and I pack it in and leave Marble Falls for the trek through more of small-town Texas. 
Today was awesome!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dig up the clams.

Many generations ago there was a Native American tribe living off the coast of San Francisco. They periodically went to a clam bed that was there and dug up the biggest clams, it was a tradition passed on from generation to generation. At some point conservationists came by and saw what they were doing, and realizing that there were almost no other clam beds along the pacific coast the wanted to conserve this one. They encouraged the Native American tribe to stop digging the clams so that they might be saved. The tribe ensured the scientists that the clams were there because they were being dug up. The clams were there because the humans were there, as was told by their elders. This idea was completely illogical to the scientists and they quickly made laws forbidding people to dig up the clams. The tribe moved away, having had their main livelihood taken from them and within two years the clam bed was gone, there is no trace of it. 
It turns out, once science caught up, that the tribe was right. The clams' survival depended on humans taking away the bigger ones and having their bed dug up and re-molded every so often. Without human intervention the California coast was not inhabitable for them. 
I started thinking about the use of the word clam as another word for money and realized that this story works for that kind of clam too. Money is a human construct, we believe that it is valuable because we have assigned value to it. It (very literally) is here because we are here. All of the conservationists want to make sure that it continues to be here, and in order to insure that it is encourage the humans not to use it. We are supposed to "save for a rainy day", "invest in our future" understand that "a penny saved is a penny earned", the list could go on forever.  Meanwhile we are not supposed to have a lovely clam dinner, because we want our children to see the clam beds. I say; Dig up the clams, there will be more as long as we need them. They are here because we are here.

In other news I went to the liquor store yesterday to acquire beer for my day of fishing. Which, by the way was a little less traumatic than the last fishing trip as the boyfriend caught two fish that had a death wish and therefore died on scene. At the liquor store there was an overly helpful woman working there. She was white, about 40, tall, gaunt and dressed in a sweatshirt and tight jeans with her hair a high ponytail. She took my credit card and looked at it twice and said "Your name isn't really Tucker is it?" (legal name still on all legal documents) to which I responded with my classic "Yeah, Tucker Jackson Davis, I'm pretty sure my parents were expecting a boy." She laughed and pointed to her name tag. It said Natica. "I'm pretty sure my parents expected me to be black, imagine their surprise".  

A nice little picture of the boyfriend fishing, at Inks Lake Texas.


Until next time, I am back on the open road, spending the weekend in Marble Falls Texas, en route westward.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dallas, Television, and a Ball.

So, I went to Dallas. It's so strange to step into someone else's reality for two weeks. I always feel like I'm ready, like I know that it's going to be strange but I also know that I won't lose touch with myself. 

I am usually wrong. 

In Dallas I have my brother, his wife and their 3 daughters age 10, 2 and 14 months. They have a big house with a pool in the back yard, and a middle class lifestyle. My brother and I often remark about how foreign it feels to him that he has a middle class life in a big house in a suburban subdivision. We came from very little, so it's still strange when one of us jumps class. My brother has always been my ultimate hero, the guy who could do no wrong, a rugged, moody, pile of perfection, and he basically still is. 

The theme of their house is television. There is a giant flatscreen in almost all of the rooms and at least one of them is always on. Sometimes it's being watched, but mostly it is used for background noise and a little adult company for my stay-at-home sister in law. I haven't really been around television much in the last decade. I watch some shows online, but I haven't owned a tv in over 5 years and haven't been an avid watcher since I was 10. 
There are so many messages about self-hatred being flung out at a constant rate. You are not thin enough, your boobs are too small, you penis is too flaccid, not enough hair, too much hair, too poor, terrible job,  not enough education, not muscular enough, and on and on and on. 
The people who I know that are constantly surrounded by tv don't actively notice. It's as if they already know that they are not good enough and they watch television because they would rather not think about it for the moment. It is a vicious cycle and it's entirely aimed at getting money.
It's very frustrating that most American's are involved in a thing that takes away all of their self worth to replace it with random images, mediocre plot lines and more fear than you can shake a stick at.

I've been home for 5 days now. I have attempted to go on a diet, cut my hair, change my clothes, and generally hide from the world. I am not used to the constant barrage of commercial media, and I got blind sided. I had a full breakdown last night because the boyfriend wanted to but butter on the orzo. Butter makes you fatter you know, and fat people are lazy slobs that don't have any friends or anyone to love them. If you want to be loved for who you are, you cannot eat butter. 

I think I'm back in control of my own self again, the volume of the commercial messages is fading.

In other news I have a fantastic new friend in Austin and she is doing this cool thing that I get to be a part of, and, same friend is putting on a formal winter ball. I spent all week working on my dress and it's nearly finished now. Pictures will happen after the affair. I'm going to a ball! I feel like a fairy tale princess. 

That about does it for me.
Join me next time, when I Zia Sophia take on the open road.