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Bad choices made, constantly

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Leaving Cleveland

Leaving Cleveland at dawn to come back here

A creepy dark blue and bloody sky leads me home

Black Sabbath as loud as daytime

A perfect hour or so with them

The drive grows much more quiet after that

Arriving here wondering

What was the right decision?

When will the next one of these decisions be made?

I hate this fucking place so much

But obviously I love it even more

There is nothing but everything ever here really

After however many stops and go’s

I can stop here again for now

I never feel settled anywhere

I can’t help it that I never want to sit still

It’s boring like a rock

Almost way past 4:00 AM now, every movie you have ever seen plays in my head this late at night. I am on my way to being this forever. Thinking about people and grinding my teeth reading their crap. Their attention getting devices, the men and women, all the same use the same techniques, like you somehow need to care about their problems. I can’t get behind this shit. I like a one on one deal, but these people shooting black flares into the sky with a silver gun are out of my eyesight. I don’t even look at them now. I’m not going to give that urine soaked beggar a nickel, and I’m not going to hop on the thousand wadded tissues bandwagon you helm. Get it together without us, you can do it. In the end it’s the only way. Don’t push things. They push their shit on you, their blogs and their bands and their articles and their poetry and their ideas and their opinions. Remember back when we would all go down to the beach at night and sit around a fire and talk about The Doors. Now we get news snippets about whoever got a new puppy, or pushed out a fifth child. A three second reading of the great and significant ideas of a lonely fool you haven’t seen in thirteen years. I need to get it all out of my head before I drive myself crazy with it. I get dizzy reading it all and then even dizzier when I invent what I know will exist and does. Arriving here. Meeting all of those women I spent time with. Brief five-hour interview and vibe sessions. None of them anywhere close to what I need. You spend all of this time with them and realize not only are they all crazy but you are not well either.  There’s no reason to still be doing this bullshit at however old I get before I go to bed at night. Eight trillion lonely crazy women knocking on my door while I knock on theirs trying to figure out the secret knock. I end up being an asshole nine times out of ten. Well, just because I’m funny doesn’t mean I’m a nice guy.

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Flagstaff, AZ to Amarillo, TX

January 16, 2012 (Amarillo, TX)

 

I was thinking about it once I got into Texas today and maybe because I made the joke before. I always imagine when you get to Texas some guy just comes up and says “Welcome to Texas, faggot” and then punches you in the face. I was totally ready to throw Texas under the bus. When you think of Texas you think of George Bush and steak and the Dallas Cowboys and tumbleweeds and white people and long stretches of highway and giving retarded people the death penalty. Well, I’ve only been to this area of Texas (Amarillo) about four times now and granted it’s just that little piece up top I like it here. I forgot that people don’t actually come up to you and say “Welcome to Texas, faggot” and then punch you in the face.

 

I held the elevator door at the hotel for an older gentleman and he obliged by engaging me in a little small talk in the elevator that didn’t feel forced, like he was just naturally a nice guy. I went to a restaurant to grab some takeout and a guy in the bar started talking to me about football, which was on the television, and then about my drive across country, and our jobs. He even offered me a beer. There was nothing creepy or weird about the whole thing, just a guy sitting there shooting the shit with me. We both checked out the natural redhead that walked in, but didn’t make any kind of eye contact like “aww yeah” or anything. But I saw him checking her out. Not sure what she was doing with a guy that looked like Barney Rubble in a salmon Izod shirt with a goatee, but hey I’m just passing through town anyway.  So far my experience in Texas has been great.

 

I’ve obviously spent a long day driving today if I’m talking about different small talk conversations I had. That leaving early plan this morning worked out great. I was on the highway by 7:15 AM. The highway was amazing at this hour, the sun wasn’t fully up and there was a picturesque cloud pattern all over the sky. I made it to a small place called Santa Rosa in New Mexico. It is one of these towns that Rt 66 slices in half. There is very little going on, but a good amount of motels and shitty fast food and old diners to keep boring people like me interested. Well, I stopped and took a number of pictures of old signs and that kind of thing. I had been driving for over seven hours. I decided to cancel my hotel reservation in Santa Rosa and drive through another two plus hours to Amarillo. I’m glad I did all of that driving, even if it was on about two hours of sleep. I did drink three Starbucks drinks throughout the day each with four shots of espresso in them and I’m still awake here.

 

The drive through New Mexico is long. It’s obviously one of the more beautiful states you can see in this area. I went through a number of Indian reservations, stopping at a gas station at one and buying a couple of bottles of soda in glass. I went outside and realized I had no opener. The woman behind the counter went and opened a new one for me and I sat there fumbling with it, two other women came and watched me. I was briefly paralyzed with fear that maybe I was using the bottle opener wrong. I mean really, there is only one way to use one. For whatever reason though, this one didn’t work. It was evident when you inspected it closely that the gap between the okay why am I explaining this. We went and got another one and I opened my bottle and was on my way. Holy shit Mexican orange soda (made with cane sugar) is fucking intense.

 

At one point today I realized I could probably make it to the Cadillac Ranch, which is here in Amarillo, before the sun went down. I was racing the light as I watched it in my rear-view mirror disappear into the ground hundreds of miles behind me. I made it to the place just as it was dusk though. A van full of young guys that looked like a hardcore band was emptying out. I noticed one of the guys had a Red Sox hat and the license plate was Massachusetts. I walked with one of them chatting about music and mutual people we knew; they were from Worcester and blah blah blah. I have to say it was pretty surreal. The dude I met took some pictures of me with my phone but I must have forgotten to tell him “don’t make me look fat(ter)” so I deleted them. The ground around the cars is littered with spray paint cans. I wonder how many layers of paint there truly are. At first you notice the litter when walking up to it. If it were anywhere else it might bother you, but this place is literally right off of the interstate (I-40 which I’ll spend a total of 1500 miles on) and it’s just dirt, it’s not a field, it’s just acres of dirt.

Driving through some desolate area I came upon a roadside monument and I thought of how awful and lonely it would be to die on one of these highways. Nobody drives by for hours you could just be dying for hours and not getting to say goodbye to anyone. At least you’d get to see the amazing sky before you went. Maybe you had a nice Mexican dinner earlier. They have pretty good Mexican food out here (obviously).

Los Angeles, CA to Flagstaff, AZ

January 14, 2012 (Flagstaff, AZ)

Early on into this trip this morning I was thinking about different times I’ve lied to women about music or food or something to impress them. The most memorable one was in the early 90’s when being a “music person” didn’t mean anything; everyone was a music person in the 90’s. I was working at a small record store in New Hampshire in this beach resort area that was like a less good (wait, better?) version of the Jersey Shore. Next to the store was a small coffee shop. There was a girl my age that worked part time there and often we would kill the day chatting about life and music. She knew quite a bit about music, which is always a good thing. I considered myself and still consider myself to have a good knowledge of hardcore, punk rock, metal and stuff related to those genres. There are always holes in someone’s taste of knowledge though. She mentioned she loved The Repalcements and held up a copy of “Let it Be” asking me if I agreed it was a classic.

“Of course, what are you shitting me?” I replied

I had never heard the album in my life. I immediately grabbed a copy that night and listened to it over and over just in case she “tested me” on it at some point. A short time later she stopped working there and evidently stole money from the coffee shop to support a drug habit. It was nice of her to introduce me to that album which is obviously a classic I will tell any woman in the future.  I can’t remember what this has to do with this trip.

Another time I lied to a woman to impress her was every single time I’ve ever talked to a woman in my entire life.

Saying goodbye always sucks, even if it’s temporary. Last night was laid back. I went with one friend to a restaurant that is basically one of these chain bakery/restaurants that old people go to. My friend had wanted to go to one before he moved (he is also leaving LA). For my last meal in Los Angeles, really? It turned out to be just what I expected. Gross. I barely ate it. He enjoyed his meal but I enjoyed the scenery in the restaurant. Some observations: Every customer had some sort of problem walking. Limping. Crutches. A hunchbacked woman. Some woman was wearing these weird winter gloves that looked out of place with short sleeves indoors on someone that isn’t playing drums. There was a guy that looked like he was probably in some horrible rock band in the 70’s. He even had like a vest and frosted hair. Him and his date sat on the same side in their booth. She was older than she wanted us to think she was. I wasn’t fooled. Obviously he was 57.

We said our farewells and then I shot to the other side or some other side, I don’t really understand valleys, of the valley and met “the girls”. We went for food and of course I didn’t think twice of ordering a meal forty minutes after another meal. Come on, I barely ate the first one. I’ll miss all of these people and Los Angeles.

This part of the drive is easily the best and thankfully I had bright blue daylight to make it even easier. Eventually this will turn grey and ugly and I’ll be back home.  I’ve never been happier.

January 15, 2012 (Flagstaff, AZ)

It’s 5:00 AM. I can’t really sleep in this area of the country because of the altitude and just sleeping on an actual bed at this point is hard. I think I slept a total of two hours last night. I slept three or four the night before, and drove a little more than seven hours. I may just leave here soon for the next stop. It’s still dark here and, well sleeping is boring when there is so much to see out here. Everything here is standing still so it’s not like I’m going to miss anything. If I leave this early I can drive in daylight for the majority of the day though. Fuck this?

Leaving California

January 13, 2012 (Los Angeles, CA)

 

Since August 4th 2009 I’ve been pretty much living out of a suitcase. I’ve not slept on a bed more than twenty times during this period. I have no idea where to say I live, but I’ve seen quite a bit now, met quite a few people and for the most part been completely fine with this lifestyle. Why would I want to sit around and watch nothing go by?

 

This trip out here, out west, felt like a vacation from the get go. Arriving with no job and a job prospect here was fine at first and then I just kind of forgot to be responsible. Aside from a half dozen resumes sent out this is pretty much what I did for two months here: went to restaurants: by myself, with friends or with dates. I went to Disneyland. I saw some famous people, none of them white (!). I almost had a girlfriend. I saw The Cure. I saw one sunset at the ocean while surfers mingled out in the golden water.  I went back to Boston for ten days.

 

It’s time to go back to work and be responsible again, so I’m out of here. For now.

 

Trying to prepare for this drive. I’ve become much better at it now. Everything I own has been shipped or is on it’s way back to Boston so my car will be relatively empty. Having a car packed with things is a surefire way to stress me out and have me peaking out of the window of my hotel every five minutes.

 

You turn yourself into something out there in the middle of nowhere. Nothing like it in the world; black sky with holes in it so the light from the other galaxy can peek through. You wonder who is over there feeling as alone as you out there. It feels intense. It’s hard to raise your hands to the sky when you can’t feel them anymore.

(I’ll be updating as much as I can about my trip across country the next week or so)

A Trip Up the Coast of California (2009)

(September 2009)
It had been so hot in Los Angeles that a brief trip up the coast to San Francisco for a couple of days seemed in order. It’s hot here all the time in LA, people here are different, they’re used to it. I was living here for a month and a half I guess? I like it here, I’m getting used to it, but it’s tight and stuffy here. People are tight and stuffy, the roads are real wide but somehow stuffy, people crowd them and breathe down your neck for you to get out of their way. Coming from Boston where it’s pretty much the exact same vibe aside from people having bad accents (like me apparently!) and shittier roads. I grew tired of New England road trips. My whole life from when I started driving at 17 to maybe a year before I left was spent on gorgeous orange and sun soaked golden tree lined roads in the fall to bright green summer jaunts up to Southern Maine/New Hampshire or upstate New York. After doing these hundreds of times where I could practically drive these roads with a blindfold on I grew tired of them, but more importantly grew tired of my life back there. I lost any spark for anything whether it was going to shows, playing music or just plain going out. The last few months spent there I spent some quality time with good friends going to shows and being out and about in social settings. I obviously miss this aspect of living in New England and family and friends, everything else though, not-so-much.

G and I had just started dating, but knew each other for quite some time. She lived in San Francisco and I lived in Los Angeles and came down for the week. I had some plans for the us to see some outdoor places with my visiting friends from New England. We didn’t do all of that on the day we hung out but did have a great day outdoors and indoors with them and they all got along which was nice as I had wanted her to meet some of my friends from back home. This was also one of those instances where you want to show off your new girlfriend and hope your friends like  her. They all got along great and we had a nice couple of days with them exploring Los Angeles from the coast to atop hills overlooking the orange specs below.


We checked out of the hotel in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning to drive my car back to my house. G was going to follow me there and then I would get in her car for the drive up to San Francisco. I get in my car and it won’t start. When I moved out here I had the same problem. My starter and alternator were dead and I paid $650 to have them fixed. We waited in the bright hot sun for the tow truck driver to arrive.  Sun tired and slightly burned from the previous day the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the sun aggravated by more car issues. The night before swerving around like her twelve thousand mile long smile through canyons high above Los Angeles my brakes were continuing their squeak that had started a few days prior. Turns out my battery was dead, like forever dead. Ugh. Brakes, rotors, battery and labor here I am $855 poorer. Great. I avoided thinking about this for the majority of the trip as it would have made things shittier than they needed to be.

We started on Highway 101 which brushes against the ocean and snakes back inland here and there. Our first stop was a non-event in Santa Barbara, a quick lunch and we were back on our way. A nice little area I had sped through before, and for the most part sped through this time as we weren’t sight seeing. I did see a Mission that I plan on going back to some time soon to take pictures of. A bit south of San Luis Obispo (near Pismo Beach) we stopped at a pier G had been to before and took some pictures of sea lions and pelicans. The area was drenched in fog and was noticeably colder than any place I had been since I moved out to California. The pier and fishing boats made me feel like I was in New England again. The air here was particularly heavy on me. The fog at dusk , the chill in the air and that always welcome sound of an ocean sounding like an ocean is like no other sensation. We walked on the damp pier for a while. This was the first week we were spending a good amount of time together so only fond memories were being created. Any other emotion I could have felt would have been false; this was nothing but romantic in every way possible. I got some good footage of the sea lions on video, and then things “got racist” so we stopped. Long story.


With no place booked for Wednesday, just on Thursday and Friday in SF I successfully booked us a place in San Luis Obispo up the road a brief fifteen miles or so via the iPhone. The fact that you can do this kind of thing on a little hand held device and check it out and make sure it’s clean/safe, etc. is great, but there was always something about gambling with your evening by stopping at some random motel and paying for a chance. No such luck this time though. We make our way to the room and notice the bathroom sink is covered in ants. Ouch. I go down and talk to the manager and we are upgraded to a suite at no extra cost which is basically just a wider room with a stove, a couple of comfortable chairs, a working remote control (unlike the room in LA) and a bathroom that is two rooms. Nothing great really, but a step up from a bathroom full of ants.

San Luis Obispo, or SLO had failed us briefly and then redeemed itself but after that the thumbs would continue to keep pointing further down. A trip to the Madonna Inn to eat dinner at a restaurant that closes at 10:00 PM according to their website proved to be a waste of time. They are doing major construction in the area, with exits leading you to nowhere and not telling you where detours lead you…a mess for the most part. To top it off we get there a little after 9:00 to be told that they now close at 9:00 even though the doors are open and lights are all on. The gum chewing woman at the counter is not really interested in us and is doing math out loud while we stand there. The inside of the restaurant is all types of gaudy, like an Italian grandmother from the 70’s exploded all over the inside of a diner at Liberace’s birthday party type gaudy. But awesome. I made my way down to the ladies room and had G take my picture inside and then went into the men’s room and took a shit in the urinal just to show them how I felt about their letting me down. Not really, but I would have and will if it happens next time!

Close by was a diner that was all lit up, even the sign that reads “OPEN” was on in the window! We parked and walked up to an empty diner, a woman counting money at the cash register and a locked door. Eh. A trip downtown proved to be even less successful. Fucking downtown. A college. Only places open were loud bars and shittier restaurants. Well, bar/restaurants. We ended up at a shitty 24 hour breakfast chain (although after the preferable one was closed as well!). Horrible food choices were made by both of us and that’s about the extent of it.

We had another errand to run before ending the night, finding some medicine for her. After a creepy drive down a road curiously called “Tank Farm” we found an all night market helmed by this D & D reject named Neil (Limelight by Rush was playing on radio).  He worked the register and had creepy eyes that he couldn’t stop moving. Just one of those talkative people who are nice enough but also sporting a depressing existence so it’s hard to pay them much mind.

We decided to take the rest of the trip on Rt 1 which is quite literally on the coast. The same drive I did a couple of years previous when her and I hung out the first time. It was nice being able to look out the windows and take it all in even if it was foggy for a good chunk of it. We did a few stops along the way to take in some of the breath taking views that are so high up, the wind made you a little nervous you may blow right off the particular cliff you’re standing at. I think I ended up taking three pictures for couples who asked for a scenic picture with them in the foreground. The ocean though…on a clear day it goes on for miles. it looks calm and inviting unlike the jagged gray crazy ocean of say, Northern Maine. I’d like to say I like the Pacific Ocean better than the Atlantic but really, there is no better or worse.


A room screw up in San Francisco resulted in an upgrade to a suite yet again. Perhaps I will start complaining every time I travel so I can upgrade my rooms. It’s usually not much more than an extra room with another TV or just a bigger area. It’s not like suites in real expensive places. I had a great time the day and a half or so I was in the city. The first night though, we hit this delicious ass hamburger joint in The Castro. I didn’t have cash on me when the food was rung up. I walked over to get cash to give the woman, meanwhile G paid part of it and was chatting with the woman. Afterward she told me the woman said “Does he always do this, make you pay for meals like this? I hate when men pull that shit” or something like that. Whoa! Hey lady how about a large order of mind-your-own-business with that good ass cheeseburger? The cheeseburger though, I would have married it.

We took some amazing drives through some beautiful areas I had never seen, off the beaten path areas outside of the city. The fog proved to be a little bit of a hinderance, but to me at the same time added a character and mood to the sky that I hadn’t seen since moving out to this side of the country which has been a barrage of sunlight. We walked around the city last night North Beach, Chinatown mostly, watched a bug scurry around different areas of a counter in this Italian bakery. We were hoping to see a customer discover it. We had really shitty service at an Italian restaurant. We tipped really low at G’s insistence. The food was the one redeeming quality of that. Running out and disappearing into the crowded streets was slightly exhilarating, not like the time I walked out without paying at IHOP a few weeks before leaving Massachusetts, but still fun nonetheless.

Leaving this morning was odd. For a moment I thought I was flying back “home” to Boston, but no this is home now. This area of the country, and of course the area north of me is one of my favorite places to explore and I highly recommend taking the Pacific Coast Highway at least once in your lifetime. By yourself, or with someone it’s a beautiful drive. With the right soundtrack and the right weather it’s even better.                    .

(All pics were taken on this trip)

A Dream and a Journey By Train

So I had this dream last night, I was walking through this series of buildings, this complex if you will. It started with me walking up a balcony in some sort of theatre. A real steep balcony, with soft lights on the stairs, and red velvet at the top; glowing from another series of 4 or 5 lamps of soft light. It was elegant, but dirty at the same time. Contradicting the red velvet on the walls was a dirty, grimy, sticky cement floor. Old dried up soda, and chocolate covered raisins. Cigarette butts, and dank beer smell. There was a group of people sitting in one of the aisles. 5 or 6 people that looked familiar. No faces whatsoever, but they looked real familiar. As I passed them, they started blurting my name out. Right at this moment, I was all of a sudden with a girl with no face, no personality, nothing, just “a girl”. We were rushing by them, and I seemed to feel particularly embarrassed by the whole situation for some reason. We made our way out into this courtyard type are that was real European looking. Lot’s of real old buildings with amazing stones, and windows and doors. The doors. The fucking doors. No, not Jim Morrison and his motley crew of “Doors” Doors I kept opening. Looking in the rooms and hallways for something. One doorway would open to a wall. Another doorway would open to a long hallway with more doors along the walls inside it. There was one door that held the room I always see in my nightmares. A big room with huge ceilings, and a floor that is basically big rusty beams. Real damp, and dark this room. I always end up in this room. Scaling the walls, trying not to “fall in”. This room is huge, probably 20 yards wide by 30 yards long. I opened this door and shut it immediately. The next door I opened there was a man there. There was a stairway that looked exactly like the one in this old apartment building I used to hang out at. Four stories high, old wood banisters. Doorways with apartments you’ll never see. So I open this door, and this tall blonde guy with a Hawaiian shirt on. I pick the guy up by the collar and heave him down the stairs. I run down after him swearing. I throw him down the next stairway. I run down after him, and do it again. I do this until he’s at the bottom, and start kicking him in the stomach over and over. I go back into the courtyard. The alarm clock goes off.

 

——————

 

The best vacations I have taken have all revolved around me seeing a band, usually it was the Grateful Dead. I don’t look like a “hippie”, but I learned years before, when I spent time in the punk rock scene for years, that it had nothing to do with what you looked like. Well, unless you are a punk rocker and you judge everyone who isn’t punk rock. Anyway, I just remembered my first trip by myself twenty or so years ago.

 

I bought this book listing every single Grateful Dead show available on tape from 1988-1995 or something like that. I opened it to February 25th 1990, in Oakland, California. I was twenty years old at the time. I was going to take a train from Boston all the way to San Francisco, and meet my best friend at the time, Derek there. He flew. I had never been away from home by myself for a long period of time, so this two week journey to see two Grateful Dead shows would prove to be a stepping stone to what I would still be doing ten years later, and define when I really feel myself. On the road, by myself. Previous to this show, I saw the band in the summer of 1989 and then a “famous” show in New Jersey in October of 1989.

 

So I get on this train in South Boston and I’m immediately feeling elated to be leaving, seeing the band, and seeing parts of the country I had never seen. I was a painfully shy person, but being on a train for four days straight will make even the most timid person a “life of the party”. I think we were maybe two hours into the trip, we stopped in Springfield, Massachusetts. The train was relatively empty, and I was lucky enough to score two seats, so I could sit at the window. In Springfield the train sort of filled up and I see this character walking down the aisle. About five feet tall, cowboy boots, denim jeans, a denim jacket, long black “ZZ Top beard”, and sunglasses (it’s 9:30PM in the dead of winter), a duffel bag in one hand, and a guitar slung around his shoulder. I of course make eye contact with him, and he immediately sits down next to me.

 

“HOW YA DOIN BUDDY, I’M JIM (I can’t remember his name at this point), WHERE YOU GOIN!!?”

 

“Ummmm, San Francisco.”

 

“WELL IT LOOKS LIKE WE’RE TRAVELING TOGETHER, I’M GOING TO DENVER!!!”

 

“Excellent”

 

Yeah, real excellent.

 

So he starts talking and doesn’t shut up about music and traveling. It was interesting, but his voice, and overall demeanor made it a little hard to take him serious. The best part was yet to come though.

 

“YOU LIKE VODKA???”

 

“No, I don’t really drink at all”

 

“WELL IF YA DO, I GOT PLENTY”

 

He opens his jacket and has two fifths in each inside pocket of the jacket, two nips in each breast pocket, opens his duffel bag, and he literally, no joke, had a little bit of clothing, and what looked like 6 more bottles of vodka. I got up and went to the restroom, and he showed up in there.

 

“OH THERE YOU ARE, HEY YOU WANT A SWIG OF THIS OR WHAT????”

 

“No really, I’m all set”

 

So we get to Albany and I know what I have to do. I knew that we would be switching trains in Chicago in the morning, but I really couldn’t deal with him anymore. I got out of the train and went into the station and asked if I could get a room for the night on the train. It would be eighty bucks. I forked down the money and got my upgraded ticket.

 

I went back in and told “Jim” that they fucked up, my ticket stated I was to be in another train. A likely story, as anyone who knows Amtrak, you buy a cheap ticket, you sit wherever the fuck you want. I went to my room, and it was literally about the size of a stall in a restroom…okay the handicapped stall (which begs the question I often ask myself when I perpetually use the handicapped stall, can I get arrested for using this, or get a ticket? I mean it does seem to me the same crime as parking in one of the handicapped spaces, but the room in there is great, you get those railings in case you’re sick, drunk, or handicapped; it’s a whole new world in there. I imagine the women’s room to have a similar affect on me if I was to ever walk in a “good one”[as opposed to the one I was in at Saratoga Springs, New York, which was so dirty I thought I was in the men’s room]). It was tiny nonetheless, enough room to stand, and fold down the bed which was right against the window.

 

Waking up in Ohio the next morning was an absurd feeling. Ohio. Who lives in Ohio? Guided By Voices. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and ummmm…some other people that apparently love corn. So Ohio is pretty boring…on the train at least. I won’t ever just say a state is boring if I haven’t stepped on the soil there. Driving through Nebraska is as boring as watching ice melt, but when you get out and walk around a little, late, in the middle of a chilly, damp night you realize there’s nothing like it in the world. Nebraska.

 

So we arrive in Chicago, where you get to get on the double decker train. Much bigger, much more exciting. I still hadn’t seen “Jim”, but I was aware we was around. I did see him in the middle of the night actually for a couple of minutes at the bar (“why is he buying drinks with all that he has on him?”…I figured it out, he was just making his drinks even stronger, that’s apparently what you do or something when you’re a big drinker. Up the ante a little). The next time I saw him was in Denver where he was getting off. I went up to him and, knowing he was getting off for good and said:

 

“Hey Jim, I was looking for you the past day and a half to see if you wanted to hang out, we were supposed to be traveling together and all that…well, hopefully I’ll run into you again…have a good life”

 

It’s funny, all of the people I met on that first train ride it always ended with “Have a good life” What a strange departing phrase. There was no internet, well, not that I was using anyway, so there was no e-mail exchanging, and I was certainly not going to write anyone letters. I met a lot of great people. The most memorable after “Jim”, were the two old black men from Mississippi who got me drunk and told me stories about segregation, and John Lee Hooker and that kind of stuff. I have an amazing picture of one of the men reading the newspaper at dawn that I will post on here some day when I remember to scan it.

 

The other guy was an African fellow who was with me from Denver to San Francisco. He didn’t speak very good English, and he had a ton of money. He owned farms, had a big family, and traveled the world from time to time. Sam was his name. When we got to San Francisco, neither of us had been there before so we sort of hung out for a little while, until we got our shit together. I took a good photo of him at the San Francisco train station that I’d also like to put up here. I love meeting new people. I especially love it when I’m traveling though. You can’t really rely on small talk at all. You don’t have to make impressions though either. I like to put on an act from time to time when I meet people traveling. “Yeah, I’m a policeman in Boston” So this first trip was the first of a dozen of these, most of them small ones with friends, but I did three summers where it was two week excursions by myself that were both healthy, and bad for me at the same time. I had this a little on the first trip.

 

The train ride home got tedious. “Shit, Indiana again”

 

For subsequent summers, I will probably not be going on the same type of excursions though. There are no tours to follow around at my age. I am going to go somewhere though.. Either way, I need it again, and it can’t come any fucking sooner. That’s it, I’m going across country again.

 

 

Swimming Pool Lights

Image

November whateverth, 2011

This place, the road, makes it easier at the end of the day

Nowhere to go but nowhere

Just like back home but with more mountains

Less horrible accents

“Nothing a gorgeous sunset can’t fix!”

Eight trillion amazing sunsets a week can’t cure what ails me though

“It’s fake out there” they tell me

I see how fake they are though

Every last one of them

I want to just do this every day

Wake

Drive all day

Report what I see to someone

Sleep for three hours

Wake

Drive all day

Answer to no one

They ask way too many questions

Thankfully I always know to say yes

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This place right here, Las Vegas will leave you depressed, broke, horny, drunk and whatever else shitty feeling you can think of. I arrived here late in the afternoon just in time to take a couple of pictures of palm trees and blank faces. I am here on some high floor in a boring room. Harrahs. The room is big enough to hold a party though. I’m out of here soon. Wandering around hurting my feet and wasting a little money seemed like a good idea at the time. Everyone here is ugly. The men all wear Ed Hardy gear and the women all wear shit that looks like chicks who like dudes in Ed Hardy stuff wear. Late at night, early in the morning like now though. This is when you see the hardcore: Whores looking for one more late night cock, the elderly looking to win yet another three hundred bucks so they can go back home and have forty-six more boring Friday night haddock dinners, and me walking around slightly dazed, tired worn down from a week of driving. I’m full of energy though. I feel like I could sleep off the few gross drinks I had and get back in the car and head right back to Massachusetts.

Walking back to my room a little while ago. A stunningly beautiful black woman catches my eye and smiles at me. I smile back. I am slightly fucked up in the brainwaves but not enough to make bad decisions. It is 4:45 AM. She approaches me

“Hey honey, what are you up to?”

“Nothing really”

“You want to hang out?”

“Do I have to spend money”

“Well of course you need to spend money to have some fun”

“Oh, yeah I’m out of money at this hour sweetheart”

“You have a good night”

“It’s fucking morning” I think to myself. The cheeseburger I just ate fifteen minutes ago is now reminding me of this. I make my way back up to my huge boring room that looks out at a fake Eiffel Tower and pass out. I like black chicks too.

The drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles is filled with douche bags and yellow dry mountains. Everything is yellow, gold and dusty. You see clouds billowing up to the sky, way off in the distance in the desert; someone driving through the middle of nowhere or a bunch of guys burying bodies all at once?

I have arrived in Los Angeles.

Early December 2011:

These late nights coming home

It’s finally quiet outside

Nothing but a few blue TV sliding glass doors

Silhouettes of palm trees

The golden swimming pool lights

What a calm scene to walk by

It lets you know where you are

I don’t even remember what New England is like

I know all the faces

All the voices of everyone I love there

Of every person I cared about

Here though

Everything goes on for miles and miles and miles

Streets, they never curve

You never have to pay attention on the surface streets

Every thought I have here

Is relative to something or someone back east

A million different mystery “hers” I’ll never tell anyone about

A million different roads traveled nobody needs to know I saw

I keep some of these travel stories to myself now

Without the energy or space to create right now

I have to keep it all to myself

I love it here

I love it there

I love the people here

I love the people there

The lights of the swimming pool at night though

They are much more inviting

More inviting than the frozen arms of snow banks everywhere you look

The lights of the swimming pool at night let me know two things

I’m home

I am far from home.

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“What Am I Doing Here?”

note: I haven’t had time to edit or go through this much but wanted to post something as it’s been a while.

“Bon Voyage!!!  Will be rad when we’re in the same time zone!” That is the message (still there) left on the wall of my Myspace page in August of 2009. Written by a girl I would eventually fall in love with. Today is October 17, 2011, a couple of weeks before I (think) I will be leaving here yet again. There won’t be any messages like that on my Facebook page or Myspace wall…or my Friendster this time though.

 

I’ll write more once I get into this trip a little more but anyway, traveling west again. Work didn’t work out as well as I thought it would and I rather enjoy living day to day out of bags. Right. I’m in Rochester, NY a mere 400 or so miles into this 3000 + trip. This is usually the time of the trip I am most energized even though there is the least to see around here. In the daytime, especially when it is overcast, Rochester looks like every JG Ballard story takes place here; a grey faceless city with streets that never end or go anywhere good.

 

So when I arrived last night I wrote:

 

Just before winter’s cruel frozen fingers can turn me all types of white blue gray and black I got out. Not before one brief little storm, a reminder of those six (thousand) months of winter. Wasn’t hard saying goodbye to New England again, was hard saying by to family and one friend I wish came with me. Spending a week out here alone is always a test I’m ready to pass.

 

Almost a week into this or what seems one and not ready to stop at all. The first half of this country is kind of boring. Its all one color and one temperature; I love it just the same but I feel like I know it enough at this point. The trip has been an interesting one so far.  I think I’m making good time; although sometimes you hear people doing this trip in three or four days because they have a second driver. That sounds horrible and awful to me. Most shit people are into doing sounds horrible and awful though.

 

The first couple of days were non-eventful to the point where I barely even listened to music in the car. Rochester, NY and Dayton, OH were the first two cities. After that I met up with an old friend in St. Louis.

 

On the way to seeing Mike I stopped (as usual) in Effingham, IL, which is tucked between Indianapolis and St Louis. There is a Nike outlet store there and I needed more sneakers. The fifty or so pair in my car right now (including ones I bought here in the past and haven’t worn yet) is apparently not enough. I only ended up buying two pair. Before hitting the road I hit this fast food place called “Steak and Shake” which in retrospect is pretty disgusting. Sitting across from me is an elderly woman wearing a Frosty the Snowman sweatshirt. It is November 4th and relatively warm outside, but I am in the middle of the country. She is sitting with who I assume is her son done up in cowboy boots and mustache and accent. The woman is eating a hot dog. The scene is pretty normal for this type of place. There is a little commotion at her table and I look up from my dry burger to witness her vomiting hot dog and what looks like Cream of Wheat from thirty-five years ago into a napkin. I end up finishing my sandwich and hitting the road. I post a condensed version of the events on Facebook and people laugh. I’m not really a funny person I just happen to witness things like this that I can report to people and then they can decide if it’s funny.

 

 

I have known Mike from the Internet for over a decade now from an old journal website we were both on just as long ago, Diaryland. I have been through St. Louis a few times and even stopped, but I never got a tour of the city like Mike gave me. He is a very smart guy, great personality and was a great host. It’s also nice to talk to someone as passionate about baseball as I am. Actually more. Also of note was the fact that the Cardinals just won their 11th World Series a week ago here. I got some pictures of the ballpark, saw some great looking neighborhoods and buildings and ate some good food. I can’t wait to go back there now.

The drive to Oklahoma City the next morning seemed short. Normally driving through Missouri feels like it takes a year. So there I am driving along the morning after staying in a place called Rolla, MO. There is a car pulled over by the side of the road and a person standing outside of it.  As I get closer there is an elderly person bent over vomiting on the ground while the driver of the car stands watching. Good times in this part of the country indeed! What the hell are they eating out here?

 

I was going to see my ex-girlfriend of seven years and her new boyfriend and maybe stay on her couch that used to be in our living room. I ended up opting out of the invitation to stay on the couch for a motel. Seeing her and being in that city was bittersweet. We didn’t really end on a bad note but on the other hand since her and I broke up I haven’t been able to settle down anywhere or with anything. I’ve been semi-homeless since August of 2009. Her boyfriend was very nice and we had a good dinner, hung out at her place for a bit and then I went and checked into a pretty dirty motel nearby. The day before there was an earthquake in Oklahoma City, a small one. Around 11:00 PM I heard a low rumble, like something was being moved above me, this got increasingly louder and more violent until about thirty seconds of the room and ground shaking. I never realized how loud an earthquake would be. Jodie immediately texted me “did you feel that?” The earthquake the day before was smaller and this one ended up doing some small damage from what I saw on the news. So what did I do during that thirty seconds? Did I get under a doorframe like they say? No, I stayed on the bed watching King of Queens until it stopped and opened my door after. A bunch of other doors opening with accents from all over the country figuring out what they just experienced.

 

Leaving Oklahoma City the next morning, destined for another city nobody has heard of I felt an overwhelming sadness over me. This part of the country is real lonely feeling to me. Seeing her having a life in OKC again is great but just reminded me of how much I miss her and the good parts of our relationship at this point. Not to the point where I want to go back or anything, just that my life has kind of gone downhill since then. Taking these trips doesn’t help these types of feelings to come out. I have been listening to a lot of talk radio and podcasts on this trip in place of music to avoid too much thinking. I have to do quite a bit of thinking when I arrive in Los Angeles, why have any cares in the world now? The brief thirty-second relationships I develop on the road by myself are enough to sustain my contentment for fifteen minutes or so; the attractive waitress Bianca at the breakfast place, the guy with the appealing perfect Midwest/southern accent at the gas station, the fat kid at the hotel counter. These are all my friends this week. I haven’t talked to anyone on the phone besides my mother and one other girl from far away. The texts from good friends and comments and the like on Facebook over the week has also been great.

In Amarillo Texas I went to that place where you can order a 72 oz. steak and if you eat it in an hour it’s free. The place is like a playground for white people in Texas. I noticed one thing about Texas. Everyone from Texas looks and sounds like they are from Texas if that makes any sense. My waiter was a young man dressed up as a cowboy with a little mustache coming in and that accent. All the women working there were dressed as cowgirls which as it turns out is kind of attractive. Well, on the attractive women. On the ugly girls it just looked like some bird you would see in Walmart and ignore. I didn’t order the 72 oz steak but I did treat myself to some beer and a more food than I could eat. I watched the last few minutes of the Patriots game (I’ve been wearing a Patriots hat this whole trip). A few guys clapped when they lost. Fuck you guys, you guys live in Texas. Leaving there at dusk was nice. Driving through these flat places as the sun going down, there’s nothing like it. On this particular evening I listened to Explosions in the Sky and some 90’s music to keep me sane for a few more hours.

More late night ramblings from last night in Flagstaff, AZ:

 

I love that you can sneak in and out of these towns quiet like this. I am almost at the end of this trip and it feels different from all the others. I think because the idea of driving this long of a distance is such a chore and does a number on you after a few days I like it. It feels like I am still working. I still can’t believe I left that quick without a chance. Things started looking up there and then all of a sudden looked grim and horrible in the span of a week.

 

Today’s drive was amazing. Waking up in New Mexico is always nice especially when you arrived there at night. I did some good chunks of driving on Rt 66. It snowed for a good chunk of the drive and I had to get off before I was going to for fear of my safety. There are elk everywhere on these roads and the blinding snow was starting to become a problem. Not necessarily for me since I have driven in that stuff all my life, but who knows if these other people know what they are doing. Most of these interstates are filled with people from somewhere else.

 

Thoughts for the last couple of days: am I making the right decision leaving there again? I honestly feel so comfortable and okay with driving these long distances by myself I could turn this car around the second I get to Los Angeles and drive back and have no problem. Good Lord I miss my friend back home.

 

I have much more to go through, I’ll post later. For now, on to Vegas for my last night of the trip.

 

Missing New England

(Note: While living in Southern California I fell for that tired cliche “I miss the seasons of New England” I would often write little blurbs about the seasons. As with all photos on this blog, I took them.)

“Spring”

I stepped out on the porch with a mouth full of beaches, and a head full of air and water. I made my way down the stairs. The ground felt a tad bit different, the soil was hard, yet it was early spring. I wonder sometimes where these moments of clarity come from. I wondered out loud, but the folks around me didn’t get it. They kick dirt around me, and make certain noises that one doesn’t normally hear. Stabbing motion to my back, yet I don’t even know you. What’s with that anyway? If I had had my real, true escape vehicles, my guitar, my typewriter, I would have created something. Instead, I destroyed. I turned myself into a baby boy. No diaper can hold the crap that comes out of me unfortunately.

“Summer”

I just got in from a day of pinball and coffee. I love the old video games and the pinball machines. I sneak around and spend a quarter here, spend a quarter there. I don’t win no gifts for girls. I ain’t carryin’ around no stinking big stuffed animals. I’m playing, it’s just me. ice cream soda and little kids biting at my ankles with their screams and fangs. I haven’t been down the road in a long time. I haven’t taken this route in so long. I like this route here. I like how this winds around and get’s me to where I think I need to be. Poetry and horrible letters are no longer needed, poetry and flowers and jackets across puddles. Karaoke on Friday night get’s canceled for a random trip to the moon. John Holmes and every teenage weed dealer I’ve ever known driving a station wagon to the ocean for conversation about ecstasy and Mick Jagger lips. Rug burn from sitting on the floor statuesque for far too long through scary movies and rock videos. Park the car by the side of the road, park it across the street so no one sees us. They all start rumors, they all fill themselves with lies about the moon and lies about the way my car runs. The motor runs great, it needs a tune up, it needs to take different drives, silently through beaches and neon lit strips of Elvis Presley videos. Like a man not even with himself anymore. Like a ninja. Like someone in the deep blue sea swimming. I don’t know, sort of like if you took one part reality and one part whatever you feel you need to think you would sort of feel this like this.

“Autumn”

The streets of downtown are covered with sausage wrappers and dried up footsteps. Footsteps soaked in whiskey and bad breath from the night before. Not deep footprints, as the people walking were weak. Looking for some sort of escape from the norm. They wanted a Sunday afternoon of headaches and vomit. They wanted to miss the snow I saw at seven this morning. They wanted to miss the cool brisk air this morning I felt standing on the porch watching the beauty of autumn with bloodless eyeballs. Like a shot in the arm the autumn is. It’s like a wake up call. All the fools come out to celebrate something they don’t really understand in the first place. Maybe catch a glimpse of a woman flying around on a broom or something cool like that. Maybe the front bumper of my car will catch their khakis. Maybe their tan khakis will be stained with blood by the end of the week. Maybe their stomachs will have to be pumped. Maybe this afternoon’s melancholy mood will force them all to see the beauty of a clear eyeball on a Sunday morning. The sky looks so great in the morning when your head is on straight, and there is not a drop of blood in your eyes. Your teeth are clean. The autumn feels good to me right now, cold and sort of lonely. Content. This sort of calm confidence one gets from time to time. This sort of feeling that comes around once a year. You know it. The unknown. Fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen to me this winter? You ask yourself that every year around this time. It’s always a different answer for everyone though.

“Winter”

(the heat in that car would be up so high our wet crunchy salt covered shoes would turn into little ovens covering our feet. Filthy floor mats in my car covered in little puddles with ice cubes in them like little spilled mixed drinks. Remember how many times I had my heart and brain destroyed by whatever haircut in a nice pair of shoes I was carting around New England staring at bare trees and salty sidewalks. Out here in sunny California, we don’t wear shoes in the car man and we say shit like “it’s all good man, don’t worry about it”)

 

 

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