Tag Archives: cars

A Night Drive in Late August

After everyone else has gone to sleep, when the house is quiet, the dishes are washed and all I can hear is the kitchen clock ticking and the ceiling fan, this is the time for the night drive. Instead of turning out the last light and brushing the teeth for bed, I put on my flip flops and grab the keys.

A night drive must not be taken too early in the evening. It should be no earlier than 10:30 and no later than sunrise. If it goes later than sunrise, it is no longer a night drive, is it? Night drives are best on clear nights. Something about being able to see the stars makes the road seem more free. There’s more space for the night soul to roam.

I pull out of the driveway and hear the garage door creak shut. I roll down the windows and turn off the radio. On night drives, I prefer only the sound of the crickets and the cicadas and the frogs from the forest and the wind rustling through the leaves. Sometimes I like to sing to myself too, but nature sounds more beautiful.

I pass through the nearly empty streets of my quiet suburban town, my old high school, the Wal-Mart I used to frequent, the soccer fields I played on. I leave the city’s center and am now on purely residential roads, the country byways between spacious housing developments. Trees line the road and my car goes up and down over the gentle hills, rolling past Chisolm creek and over the railroad tracks. Outside the sky looks purple and the air is perfect as it comes through the windows. It’s cool and smells like trees and soil.

I roll up to a stop sign and stop there for a good while. There’s no one else around. There’s no rush. I sit in perfect silence and listen to the outside. It’s an entire world. I want to get out and leave the car on the side of the road and lay down and watch the stars circle around overhead and listen to the forest soundtrack forever. I don’t think anything has sounded quite as beautiful as this. It’s a little heartbreaking.

But I stay in the car and drive a little longer, singing an Eagles song, going up and down on the road that moves on the hills and in between the trees on a night drive in late August.

“Take it to the limit, take it to the limit, one more time.” 


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On the Moon and Under the Sea: Egypt’s White Desert

Yellow sand. Blue Sky. White Chalk. Colors.

When last with you, I chronicled my brush with food poisoning that was the result of a bacteria-rich egg sandwich. So weak was I on Thursday, November 3, 2011, that I could barely load episodes of Parks and Recreation as I lay curled on my bed in a fetal position, choking down mugs of vegetable broth.

At any rate, when I awoke the next day at the ripe hour of 7:30 am with only a dull pain in my empty stomach, my last retching completed at 1: 30 am in the morning, I decided I was well enough to go on an off-road-camping-desert-expedition-exploration-adventure centered around the desperate hunt for the remains of mythological sea creatures. Even though we didn’t find the Snorkoloptus, the excursion was still amazing, especially after the desert madness set in.

4 companions, 4 wheels, 4 days-worth of body filth, 4 different camping locations, and a whole lot of mutual annoyance while rambling through the beautiful, ethereal shapes of the White Desert made for a trip that I hope to rub in the faces of my great-grandchildren as we’re floating above a wasted earth in our spher0ships. “Before we destroyed the earth, kids, there was a lot of cool stuff there, like the White Desert in Egypt, something you’ll never get to see. We also ate peanut butter instead of this space paste. And no one was ever sad.”

Located in western Egypt, the White Desert is known for its beautiful sculptures carved by the wind, sand, and rain out of the chalk formed from the remnants of the sea creature skeletons, since the entire area used to be at the bottom of the ocean. As we tumbled around the desert, off and occasionally on-roading in the jeep, we saw breathtaking cliffs, moon-like landscapes, rolling sand dunes, mystical oases, and occasional groups of leathery European tourists, by far the least attractive things in the desert.

The colors themselves deserve an entire blogpost. Nay, an entire blog. Each sunset and sunrise was a feast for the eyes, a palette of ever changing shades that would make a MAC eyeshadow case blush. And at night, our world was lit up by the milky rays of a waxing moon as we tried to run away from our moon shadows and one of us wouldn’t stop singing that song by Cat Stevens. As I look back now on our last night there, I can see myself, a tiny figure, lying in a valley surrounded by forlorn, other-worldly cliffs, the moon illuminating the earth in its pale light while the ghosts of extinct sea creatures float over me. It was the closest I’ll ever get to time, space, and deep ocean travel.

Note: I remembered to charge my battery and bring my camera, but I forgot to put my charged battery back into my camera. Therefore, all pictures are compliments of a friend who was on the trip. See his flickr site here.

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My Boring Life part 27: Hit by a Car

These are cars. Something like one of them hit me.

The first thing I thought after the car hit me was that the experience would make a great blog post, not realizing at the time how boring stories about accidental car-human interactions could be.  I found out later on that even thinking about what had happened was incredibly tedious, let alone telling the story to other people. Despite my initial hope, a non-fatal or non-injury car accident seems as normal as snack time at soccer practice.

The whole ordeal felt as uninteresting as a conversation with a drive-thru window employee: I and my colleague were walking in the street along with the rest of Cairo. He asks me how I exercise. I tell him I don’t. The car hits me from behind at a fairly slow pace, ramming roughly into my left side. My colleague accidentally gropes me as he yanks me out of the way. I let off a stream of unsavory speech and pronounce fanatical threats (at the car, not him). And then I descend into the metro station and meet a nice family from Kansas before heading home, right as rain.

Not only is the story itself banal, but it’s difficult for people to comprehend it since oftentimes (as in the two times I’ve told people), there is no shared background with regard to close encounters of the vehicular kind. For example, when you’re telling a story about a time you got a sandwich, there is a ready-made paradigm for understanding the experience. It’s likely your audience has a background in sandwich eating and can ask informed questions like: What kind of sandwich did you get? How much did it cost? Was it good? And then they might make a statement like, “Ooo…that sounds good. I should try that sometime.”

However, when you tell someone you were hit by a car, the same lexicon of understanding just does not exist. Though people want to care, they simply don’t. This is especially true if you weren’t hurt. The first question is “Are you okay?” and if you the answer is yes, then they’ve likely lost what little interest they were feigning in the first place. They might ask, “How did it happen?” but if you’re okay, than it’s probably a boring story anyways and so you’ll get a statement indicating you were slightly in the wrong, like “Be careful!” Also, the idea the person they’re talking to was in such a foreign situation and could have either been maimed or killed only hours earlier is weird and causes uncomfortable thinking about death and the meaning of life. Therefore, for everyone’s sake, it’s best to stick to talking about things people understand, like food, love, and laughter. Car accidents should be discussed only when involving circus animals or family members you thought were dead.

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Look Right Into My Ocular Spheres

5 “lanes,” 40 mph traffic, no respect for crosswalk, hospital on the other side. Impossible? No. 

An update on my daily street-crossing life:

I see you. You’re sitting in your car. You’ve got your buddies with you, all lined up in a pretty little row like pretty little ducklings lurching around in giant metal cages made of steel and glass. I see you too, Mr. Motorbike Delivery Man. I know your kind; you’re the most lawless of all. You believe you can fit anywhere, especially the foot wide corridors between moving cars that young pedestrian lasses like me like to squeeze through.

But let’s all admit the hard truth: I need to cross this street and you’re going to let me do it. It’s something none of us want to think about, but it’s reality. What you all don’t know is that I’ve got a secret weapon, a hidden asset, an invisible advantage, a clandestine tool. And I mean invisible in the figurative sense, since it’s actually as plain as the nose on my face, the arms on my sides, or the goose on my head. I’m talking about my eyes, friends. That’s right: My peepers. My lookey-loos. My soul-windows. My ocular spheres. Too many synonyms? No apologies: the power that lies within my seeing globes deserves an inappropriate amount of description.

With this weapon in face, the crossing begins. My eyes are refrigerators, and the eyes of every driver in Cairo are magnets. My gaze sweeps across the expanse in front of me as I hop down from the curb. My vision pierces the car closest to me. Schlooop! We have made an avatar-like connection. The deepest desires of our hearts are now known to one another: you want me to get out of your way, and I want to live. Paralyzed by the power of ocular bond, you let me pass in front of you. I look to the next car and the connection is made again, equally powerful, and equally effective. Eventually, moving car by car, I reach the other side of the street no worse for the wear, though this cough isn’t getting better.

Discovering this power was the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my entire life, aside from emergency delivering a litter of baby platupuses in a bathtub. After weeks of perfecting the stare, I feel more confident than ever when crossing the street, especially in the height of traffic. Furthermore, I have gained moral ground because the driver, should she hit me, will have my piercing gaze emblazoned on her mind for the rest of her commute home, and that’s gonna spoil dinner.

May I have continued success in this daily activity, because the only other alternative is injury or death.

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