Tag Archives: USA

50 Days by Bus, Plane, Train and Automobile: What They Took Out of Me, and What I Took Out of Them

whew that was a trip

whew that was a trip

On June 29th, I left sunny San Francisco for a 7 week, 50 day journey that took me to the Atlantic and back again. I returned on August 18th to a city in a drought and covered in fog, and since then I’ve been doing some arriving and making sure my soul has caught up with my body.

Part of that has been reflecting on the journey. I took an entire day last week to read through all the gobbledegook that I’d written while I was traveling and come to some conclusions about what I’d learned and left along the way. It was exhausting, but I think I finally have some answers. This includes, quite possibly, the answer to the very meaning of life.

I present to you my findings in the easy-to-digest, easy-to-skim listicle form. Please enjoy these radical truths that I discovered about me, my country and the world around me while I was chasing after the wind.

1. You should bring an umbrella while you’re traveling. Or at least, if you don’t bring an umbrella, don’t buy one at Walgreens under the threat of impending thunderstorm. You’ll pay too much.

2. Giving yourself ample time to reflect on past experiences and current life situations can be incredibly useful. It can also be dangerous and make you dissatisfied with the status quo.

3. When hiking in the woods alone, you should know when bear hunting season is and dress appropriately.

4. Doing something is not necessarily better than doing nothing, and being busy just to be busy is a waste of time.

5. The world and our society is not fair, but we can make it more fair. We can do something.

6. I am not quite as outgoing as I thought.

7. Relationships make everything worthwhile.

8. College was an incredible experience that will not come again. Instead of lamenting the fact it’s gone forever, I should be thankful for it.

9. The decisions I made in the past that seem stupid now did not seem stupid back then. Most of the time, I made the best decisions I could based on the information that I had about who I was and what the world was like.

10. Never miss the chance to use a public restroom.

11. Bring a pillow for the night bus.

12. Seeing that I do not know the future and have imperfect information on the present, it’s quite possible that the decisions I make now will lead to outcomes I cannot even begin to imagine. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

13. Just because a person is in a position of authority, has written a book, or spoken on a stage does not mean they are to be trusted. In fact, they should be scrutinized even more carefully. The ability to perform is entirely separate from actually having good advice or good things to say.

14. If I had been born looking different than I do, it is very likely my life would be completely different and that is messed up.

15. The virtual world melts away when you stop giving it your attention.

16. Routines serve the incredibly important role of keeping you from making too many decisions in one day. The need to choose a different coffee shop, different attraction, new park, etc. while I was traveling eventually became a burden that I kind of resented.

17. There are some things I can change about myself, and some that I cannot. I should not beat myself up over the ones that I cannot change.

18. Things in New York are expensive, and then even a little bit more expensive than that.

19. The madmen, the tinkerers, the outcasts, the diehards, the weirdos, the misfits – most often these are the ones that make it into the museums.

20. Rules are everywhere. The more people that exist in a city, the more rules there are to govern their interactions. Some you need to listen to, and some absolutely need to be broken.

21. Libraries are incredible havens of A/C and bathrooms.

22. Quiet moments of sudden beauty are the best, like when I stumbled on a garden next to an Episcopalian church or when I watched smoke drift into the evening in North Carolina or when I saw a bear or watched a curtain blow in the breeze next to the harbor in Boston and every time I was like “dang that’s beautiful.”

23. YOLO

24. FOMO (fear of missing out) is for people who have no imagination.

25. Humans are incredibly creative and will surprise you always (like when I saw a dude playing a banjo in a tree in North Carolina.)

26. It’s good to spend time with people who aren’t like you (like when I spent a week scooping ice cream with Baptist retirees in North Carolina – a lot happened in North Carolina apparently.)

27. There is nothing quite as pleasant as sitting outside on a summer evening and drinking a cold beer.

28. Returning to one’s hometown can actually be a good experience. Growing up, it wasn’t cool to think that Edmond or Oklahoma City were interesting or worthwhile. I found that that’s not the case and there is much to see and do there.

29. It’s hard to keep what you saw at the mountaintop with you on the plains. In other words, I’m already forgetting a lot of what I learned and thought while traveling.

30. No baggage. No regrets. No BS. Amen.

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WTF Was I Thinking: Real Quotes from the Ravings of a Traveling Madwoman

imageI wrote a lot during my 50-day travel adventure, sometimes at night debriefing the day I just had, sometimes during the day when I saw something bizarre or thought of an idea that seemed worth writing down. Naturally, all of these notes made perfect sense at the time. That being said, I read through everything yesterday and I wrote some pretty strange crap that sounds more like the ravings of a madwoman than anything else.

At any rate, I’d like to share some of my funnier, more bizarre, and enigmatic clips with you. So here’s some of the mental froth I felt compelled to write down. May it make more sense to you than it does to me.

6.29.2014 – Left San Francisco and flew to Chicago

Go after your dreams. Do the shit you love. Follow your passions. Poop yourself and clean it up. It’s going to be something.

I’m going to bitch slap you and your homeschool hands, long skirt and top with sleeves of the same pattern, looks home made but probably came from Macy’s. [In reference to someone in front of me at Caribou Coffee who was taking a long time to order]

6.30.2014 – Chicago

I was kind of hoping that my ear excezma medicine would cause a scene at security. I practically ran through there – my toothpaste was over 3 oz. SUCK IT TSA. It’s an act of mild subversion.

7.1.2014 – Evanston, IL

I want to know have you ever raced bird going across Davis street.

My banana is getting browner and browner, but I don’t want to eat it. Not yet. Huge dump in the toilet.

Always the dilemma – should I just go knock on people’s doors?

7.3.2014 – Nashville, TN

We are hitting up the hard core bougie part of Nashville, and it’s just like – get me some of that trashy stuff. (In reference to eating at a place called Jeni’s ice cream in Nashville)

7.4.2014 – Nashville, TN

Happy Freaking Birthday, You Sassy Daughter of an Empire, oh US of America (trying to come up with blog titles for the day)

7.5.2014 – Nashville, TN

Day after 4th of July and I’m like – whoah there is still hot dog in my stomach […] There is no way I’m going to be able to eat biscuits and gravy when it comes time to eat biscuits and gravy but then again, I’ll definitely be able to eat biscuits and gravy when it comes time to eat them, you know?

Did you know that when you write USA over and over again it just ends up looking like you wanted to say sausage but couldn’t quite get it out over the excitement.

7.9.2014 – Marietta, GA

[On this day, Baby Geniuses was playing on television and I felt the need to take a lot of notes about it. Because I took so many, I won’t include them here. I just wanted to make sure you knew that had happened. Also, that Baby Geniuses is an incredible movie.]

Drawing a turd on the paper. [In reference to a doodle I’d drawn that really did just look like a piece of poo.]

7.10.2014 – Marietta, GA

A dystopian future where semen never dies. [Maybe I was thinking about concepts for books?]

7.11.2014 – Marietta, GA

Okay, let’s be real. It’s just you, me, and this $20 bill for McCracken’s tonight.

7.12.2014 – On the way to Asheville, NC

I can’t do this. Yes you can. No I can’t. Yes you can. [In reference to writing a blog post. I was very tired.]

Spartanburg was terrifying. Imagine a beautiful city without any people in it nestled in the blue ridge mountains. That’s what it was. I think I’m officially a city person. I think that’s what it is. It’s just hard to live somewhere where you can’t see everything all set out before you. Lumpy places indeed.

7.15.2014 – Black Mountain, NC

For starters, I went on an 11 mile hike today – partially on purpose and partially on accident, part of which I was scared I was either going to be eaten by a bear or shot by a bear hunter. I looked down and I was wearing a green shirt, black pants and a grey backpack. I looked like the forest. I might as well have been wearing a bear suit.

7.18.2014 – Black Mountain, NC

Forced myself to wake up for dinner so I could go load up on coffee bcause that’s what I live for. I can easily live without alcohol but I think I’d die for a long time without living if I didn’t have any coffee.

OK I’M BACK FROM DINNER. I had four cups of coffee and some broccoli and some banana cream pie pudding stuff that I know is that not that good but I think it’s so good. Why God?

7.20.2014 – Greenville, SC

Everything is drive thru in South Carolina. Even I’m just driving thru.

7.20.2014 – Charlotte, NC

I know I said I wanted to become an actor and all, but I think what I’ve really become is a wi-fi sponge. Thanks, iPad.

7.23.2014 – Washington, D.C.

love that spacefoil

7.26.2014 – On the Megabus to Boston from D.C.

Realized there are outlets up above me
Germans are eating their sandwiches
Internet is cutting out, causing some tension between the father and daughter.
The Germans’ sandwiches smell really good.
Running into traffic
It’s so slow – so do something else – read a book – I don’t want to – then sleep
It really smells like BBQ in this bus
Neck is hurting
Big yawn behind me
Cardigan’s on
Butt is hurting
buttdate: update

8.1.2014 – NYC, NY

Before food and coffee: NOTHING IS POSSIBLE
After food and coffee: I AM INVINCIBLE

New York City is terrifying. People here are out for blood. Everything is anonymous and people live lonely, isolated lives. Here it’s fight to the death, and while some can’t spend money fast enough, others struggle to even survive. Going outside is dangerous because you might get crushed under the weight of all the human souls in the city. In fact, your own soul might get lost. You need to be careful about that sort of thing.

8.4.2014 – NYC, NY

Did that dude just take a dump and then throw the toilet paper out in the trashcan in the living room? Probably not. [Was people watching at a coffee shop.]

8.20.2014 – San Francisco, CA

Within a day of arriving back in San Francisco, I saw what I think were two public sexual acts in Golden Gate Park.

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I’m Back in San Francisco. Guess I Better Find My Jacket.

Found it!

Found it!

50 days and 6,000 miles (ish) later, I’m back in San Francisco and wearing a sweatshirt. I’m not going to try to do one of those here’s-all-the-crap-I-learned-while-I-was-traveling blog posts so don’t get your hopes up. That’ll come later this week.

While I was on the plane from Denver, stuck in a special non-reclining torture chair, I kept on thinking about what it would be like to touch down in this city and reenter life as I left it, but with some profound differences. In all my imaginings, I saw a beautiful sunset, delicious frozen yogurt and a clear night sky.

I get into town and of course (duh duh duh duh duh) it’s foggy as all hell, I get Indian food instead of froyo because I’m craving hot food after a day of exclusively eating Cliff Bars, and I remember I don’t have a towel so I’ll have to air dry tomorrow morning before I can go to Target to get one. Yippee.

On the bright side (and there is a very bright side), I don’t have to go into a job I don’t care about, I have Indian leftovers for lunch, and I get to wear an outfit that I haven’t already worn 30 times this summer. Yes, there is much to be thankful for, even in the fog.

So goodbye, brick houses and warm summer nights. Goodbye styrofoam and mosquitoes. Goodbye short sleeve shirts and sandals. Hello San Francisco.

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13 Signs I’m Totally Becoming a New Yorker

the donut we chased for

the donut we chased for

New York is changing me. I’m paying more for regular things, getting jaded by the everything that exists here, and being ruder to strangers and kinder to friends.

Just today, I did things I would have thought unfathomable five days ago. Perhaps you want to know what they are? Well you’re in luck, because I outlined them below. You can tell  I’m turning into a New Yorker because:

1. Paid three dollars for a regular cup of coffee (it wasn’t even a pour over), and then an hour later paid another three dollars for another regular cup of coffee at the same place. No free refills.

2. Traveled thirty minutes via subway to see a graveyard, only to find the gate closed and the only entrance very far away. So I turned around to walk in a park for twenty minutes before heading back thirty minutes to where I came from. Essentially I trekked for an hour just to see a clump of trees.

3. Ate dinner, then went on a crazed car ride fifteen minutes through traffic across Brooklyn to eat a donut from a place called Dough before it closed at 9. The donut was actually fairly incredible but I’d never traveled so far or so urgently for dessert. But in New York, no desire is too ridiculous to be satisfied.

4. Paid twice as much to have my laundry washed and folded for me. When the woman tried to charge me two bucks extra, I called her out on it and got my two bucks back like a real New Yorker. Then I bought an ice cream sandwich.

5. Wore a tank top.

6. Took a nap sitting up.  No time to lay down in New York.

7. Successfully gave directions to two different people. Apparently everyone else also just got into town a couple days ago.

8. Searched on Yelp for coffee shops near me and was like, “Really, only 8 places within four blocks? So I’m pretty much in a coffee desert.”

9. Searched on Yelp for ice cream places near me and was like, “Really, only 7 places within a mile? Only 7 different artisan ice cream places? How the heck am I supposed to choose something if there are no options? I need options, people!”

10. Ran through a warehouse district and remarked on how pleasant it was because there were less people there.

11. Thought about going to Manhattan, then realized it was practically a lifetime away and opted to stay in Brooklyn.

12. Thought about trying out half-shirts and buying a hat.

13. Rolled my eyes at vintage stores in Williamsburg. Those are so overplayed.

14. Think I’m so New York.

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I was there in Washington D.C. in July 2014

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. has wide streets and there are many trees. The crepe myrtle is blooming with pink and white flowers. This morning it’s not too hot. In fact, it is perfect. The window is open and when the wind blows I can see the leaves on the tree outside rustle. Then I feel the air on my cheeks and it’s refreshing like water.

The streets of D.C. are straight and laid out in an orderly fashion, a mixture of numbers and letters and state names and other names of governmental significance. They all feel very purposeful. They were built in relation to the capitol and all streets lead there if you go the right way.

If you go the right way and go to the Capitol building, you’ll see lawns. You’ll see green. You’ll see landscaping and trees with little plaques on them to tell you what kind of tree it is. At this time of year, there is usually a group of people taking a picture on the Capitol building steps. In front of them and across the street and down the hill there are men and women wearing slacks and dresses and going to work in large white marble buildings.

There are fountains with muscley old men and long hair riding mythic beasts, and beautiful women riding muscley horses. Turtles spout water forever.

People with maps and phones try to figure out which way to go. Air conditioning units work overtime to pump gigantic museums full of cooled air to accept the huddled masses, refugees from the sun and the oppressive openness of the National Mall. Interns are everywhere, but you can’t see them.

I did pushups on the landing at the National Gallery in the morning, and banged on the doors of the Supreme Court at night. I walked the same blocks as people who have their name printed in the newspaper and have many followers on Twitter. I swam in that fountain, the one with the turtles and the horses and a muscley old man.

I didn’t have any pockets so I shoved coins down my pants to have something to remember the moment by. I took a penny and a quarter. But then I accidentally flushed the penny down the toilet, and without thinking I put the quarter into my purse with all the other coins, so I don’t know which one it was even though I probably still have it.

And somewhere in the National Air and Space Museum, a raw almond rests underneath a display case, accidentally dropped from my hand and then kicked out of sight to rest forever until vacuumed up.

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