Saturday, June 7, 2008

Moving Journal Update... The Graceful Landing

I think it fair at this point to continue journaling until at least one of the following conditions is met:

* Memorable, share-worthy events stop happening
* People stop reading and everyone asks to be taken off the list
* I die

Because none of the above conditions have been met, I will continue to write. Please note though, that if your interest lay only in cross-country driving journals... then read no more. The following fare will bore you beyond lecture and bring tears more than yellow onions, mixed with lemons, being squirt in your eye in a hundred and twenty degree room.... with salt. I know, it sounds pretty bad.... we just wanted to warn you. And by 'we,' I mean I.

The Graceful Landing...
It is important to know at this point in the journey all national travel has stopped and I'm now driving around Lafayette, IN with a 14' U-Haul with a Jeep in tow. So, the economy is Loving me, especially OPEC and BP. For some reason, I chose BP. The only reasons I can give you are:

* I like the green and yellow flower logo
* I used them in FL
* They are well lit
* They are well kept

Oh sure... you may be wondering... "But Andrew? Where are your gasoline purchasing ethics? Why would you choose an international corporate entity peddling Gas to locals? Think Global. Act Local! Are you mad?"
Yes. I am mad. Mad mad mad. I payed those gas bills. I have yet to look fear directly in the face and calculate the total spent on gasoline. Check this box if you think I should total it up:
| |

The Apartment...
So, I found my apartment online via Craig's List. Graig's List. Where the online subsection of humanity still pulses with all the unbridled oddities and peculiarities as we were meant to have. Some sections, you keep away from your children. Some sections, you keep away from your parents. Other sections, you probably don't know about... like the joke section. If you need a good joke, look on Craig's List (This e-mail offers no warranty or guarantee on the quality of any joke found on Craig's List, heretoforeafter known as CL).
My new apartment is of the following address:
(You understand of course I had to remove this privacy reasons)

This apartment is beautiful. I have 12' ceiling. A marble fireplace with a 10'x10' mirror above both in my bedroom. The apartment has 4 doors: The front and back door are both keyed. The side door opens up to one of my porches. The fourth door opens to a 2 foot drop. The back door opens up to my second porch. Some downsides are: the carpet floors in all non-wet areas, no washer / dryer or dishwasher. However, the price for such a fine feast: less than $600/mo.

Would You be My Neighbor?...
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine
Could you be mine

So the landlord and I finish up signing the lease. He used to work 10 years for the FBI, in surveillance. He of course thought it very funny to make the joke about his being a professional stalker. I laughed in politeness. Fear, of course, punched my aorta and ripples of anxious ice shot through my veins. I believe my ability to read a human is good. I decided long ago my skills in this area were strong enough to trust them. I trust Mike. He made a funny. I know this because he laughed. I trust Mike because of his actions. Upon our first meeting he drive me around Lafayette pointing out places of interest: BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles), The Hope Apartments (a halfway house for recovering addicts... right across the street from my place. And "No, we've never had any crime at this location. There's nothing to worry about."), the auto insurance building, the land his friend bought and renovated into a thriving business area. Mike puts great pride in his renovation of this property and mentions the thanks he's received from local home owners and the local constabulary. The apartment is quirky, bizarre, unique, fun, spacious with great possibility. I'm already picking out paint chips. So, after signing the lease and walking out to view my new street...
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Would you be mine
Could you be mine

The lady and I sit together, peaceful, on the fender of the vehicle transport. The street is quiet. The apartment is completed. Tomorrow, the carpets will be cleaned to strip away the cigarette and wet-dog smell. I sigh, content. I'm taking the sights and smells and feeling minute fibers and tendons relaxing into place after many hard days of work culminate in many jobs done and some of them well. I have a friend at my side and we look at each other and nod approvingly. The air around Tippencanoe Street is sprinkled lovingly with the unmistakable and unforgettable smell of a pig farm. Just then I look to my right side and see sitting at the other shoulder is my friend, and yours, Murphy's Law. A black car pulls up to the front of the beautiful 1870's era duplex. Music thumps regularly and distractingly into the air and into the brain. Murphy's Law chuckles as he bows out from the scene. His eye cocked in irritatingly in that manner that says oh so sickly... "I told you so."

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

I watch the black car stop. A young man walks out. His white t-shirt is 14 sizes too large for his tall, wiry frame. His hair, bleached and short as is the tradition of the gentleman whose name is on this young man's shirt. I say to my girlfriend: "Look. It's Eminem!" He walks to the other side of my duplex. As he nears the other front door, a woman inhabiting the first floor apartment shouts out:
"Who the f*ck that?!"
I figure of course with proclamations such as this there must be someone else in the car. Clearly this is a lover's quarrell so I have to see who the other girl is. All I can see through the tinted window is someone else's hand. I clearly haven't established the validity of this claim at all, in any way. I did not ask the passenger what his/her intentions were with the driver and if they were honorable. Nor did I ask Slim Shady if he was dating either of the other two parties involved. He climbed the few steps to the front door and replied back to the screamer, the agitated proclaimer...
"Shut Up!"

I say to myself... "Hello Neighbors!" And I think to myself... Not more than 10 minutes ago I signed this lease... Damn...
Of course... one can easily imagine the great conversations we'll have.
"Hey Shady! My name is Whitey McCracker. Would you like to come over and start a knitting circle? We could watch Friends while we knit. Oh... I noticed you have a particular slant to your walk, you should sit up straight when you drive. It's better for your posture you know. You don't want scoliosis. Well, I know you have to take off now and take care of business but maybe you'd like to get some double-mocha-grande-frappucinos sometime. They're super delicious."
Please won't you be my neighbor?

As I drove away, wondering if I'd made the right choice about my apartment, some new information about my neighborhood came to light. Somewhere just off Greenbush Ave, I saw shirtless men, about 18-22, fighting each other. One threw an elbow into the other's jaw. An old man watched with a beer in one hand and a nasty dog, on a leash, in the other.

Next time... the BMV and Social Security

With Love and Respect,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Moving... The Next "Alive" Message

Greetings my friends and my family.

So... radio silence was enacted yesterday. Please excuse the delayed transmissions but the signals, upon which the 'interwebs' are built, were a little fuzzy in western Pennsatucky. Penns a tuck y- Pennsatucky (n). The verbal joining of two Commonwealths where both political entities are one of the 50 states creating The United States of America. You would think this verbal joining of names would be our nation's next great move to further unify our sometimes disparate states and political beliefs. In the future, we'll be seeing names like this: Texahomansas, Indinoisigan, New Hampvermaine, The Floridalinas, and Caliwashegon. Of course, after enough media conglomeration and restaurant monopolization throughout The United States, we'll see names get longer still: Texahomansasindinoisiganhampvermainewhyareyoureadingthisfloridalinacaliwashegon. However, because of its political pull and acute abilities in the area of taxation, Massachusetts will always be known as Taxachussets. As an aside, not that this WHOLE e-mail hasn't been one non sequiter after another, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania do share something in common... They are both Commonwealths, as if to be derived for the common wealth of the populace. Kentucky and Virginia are also self-made commonwealths, having passed the ECEs, or the Entry to Commonwealth Exams. It is a four hour test, with four sections including: quantitative reasoning, verbal communication, and obfuscate interstate constructions.

The First full day of driving ended on the Western end of Pennsylvania, in Mercer, PA (not Mercia). That day of driving was bizarre: let's recap...

The Radio- Well, the biggest shock of radio, and perhaps one of the largest shocks of the trip came when listening to the radio. Please, save your applause for my redundancy for later. I was informed by a brash, shoot first ask questions later, voice that we should all petition to have our country start offshore and inland drilling now! This move will surely show the world that we can survive on our own and that investing in alternative energies is a prospect too far off to be concerning ourselves with it now. Dick Gephart and another infamously popular name in American politics are sponsoring this bill and they've even slapped a catchy, patriotic title to it. There are so many catchy, patriotic titles to bills nowadays I forgot what it was called. Whatever happened to more original names for bills like: S-4365.b.98-a or Chloe? In all seriousness, the short-sightedness of these views ruffled my feathers. Perhaps it was my puritan ears that led me to my next scandalous action, but it just had to be done.
I changed the channel.

The Driving- When moving from Massachusetts to... anywhere west, please note the following: Your Drive Will be Up Hill. So, you'll be able to watch gasoline bleed from your gas gage like mustard at a cook-out. However, once you've made it over the I-90 Eastern Peak, you then decide it would be best to take I-80 west... you know, for good measure. You then realize that, Aha! You're now driving over the 2nd highest peak along the ENTIRE breadth of I-80. At that point, I decided to accept my fate with the gas gods. At the next fueling station, I poured 30 gallons of gas onto the pavement, burned 2 crisp hundred dollar bills, and cried from the shredded heart of my financial soul. Oh Gas Gods, may this offering appease you. Amen.
While driving, and as a general rule in Life, I recommend knowing your boundaries, testing your limits. It's a healthy endeavor. It keeps you in check and alters your perception of reality. So... when the vehicle transport says 45 mph MAX. It's only playing with you. It is in fact begging you to challenge your perception of reality. The posted placard is daring you to "Be a Man!" and push your boundaries.
I did.
Downward slopes on hills. The Wind at your back. These things will help propel your 14' U-Haul, with vehicle transport in tow, to a blistering speed. 55mph? No. 60mph? No... 85mph. And might I say... oops.
Do not try this at home, nor on any interstate. The vehicle transport started slowly swishing left and right. This I took as a very bad sign. Of course the speed was also a bad sign. I slowed down and agreed to never do that again.
I didn't.

The Talking- My thanks to my girlfriend and my dear friend, back in Boston, for speaking with me on the phone. You kept me awake and entertained.

Of Steinbeck-
In Travels with Charlie, Steinbeck wrote about the homogenization of American culture and commerce. He wrote how widespread it was becoming and noted often a particular melancholy about the passing of localized identity and greatness. He wrote this near the end of his Life, published in 1962. If he felt this in the late 50's and early 60's. How he must be rolling in his grave now.

Where's Waldo?...
I am now in Lafayette, IN. I arrive last night after driving through Ohio and Indiana. Ohio, along I-71 and I-70, proved to be a gentle ride, which was nice. As soon as I hit western PA, I could smell in the trees the same humid, sweet smell of Southern Illinois. I wondered how different the two areas were and if they were connected by similar geography and plantology (the study of plants... clearly). Upon entering Ohio, I found the midwest again. Ohio is a more rolling and hilly version of the Midwest. It lay at the last vestiges of the Appalachian Mountains. For its part, Indiana is also more hilly than Illinois... which is decidedly not hilly (until you hit Sourthern Illinois).
Upon driving into Lafayette... everything finally hit me. "Jesus, I gave everything to move out here." It's quite a move. I don't gamble in cards or in most anything else. I do find though that my Life is always an adventure and this one no less than the others. These thoughts brought me close to tears as is appropriate in any Life shift. Even the best change can bring a little sadness. So let that be my motivation to really kick grad school in the balls and rock this chapter of Life.

I'm sure there is more... though I cannot now think of it and you have already read too much.
With Love and Respect,


ps. New York State and Pennsylvania are Beautiful.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

On the Road - Day One

Good Morning Everyone... Here's a little travel update (Skip to the bottom if you're in a rush)

Day 1 (Kind of...)

So the drive started last night... about 4 hours later than I wanted but... this is what happens when I try and do everything myself and then only ask for help at the last minute. To my helpers in the move... thank you. I got started late. Mr. Glidden stopped by the moving van for a last minute chuckle and good bye. We missed the opportunity for a Katamari hug. If only we'd waited for the bars to close... Driving a 14' UHaul with your worldly possessions, all of them, and your Jeep Cherokee in tow is a... SCARY thing to do, especially when starting at night, in rain, through snow and fire-hail and a fleet demons... the tickling demons. After getting on to Interstate 90, I made it to 20 and 4 on the 21 yard line. Their defense was strong so we went for a field goal. And of course our kicker veered to the left and we thought we'd lost the game, until the wind brought it back through the uprights just outside of Springfield, MA. I took this as a sign to pull over. A little after midnight I stopped for the night and got some sleep. I'm not sleeping now though... I'm awake at the computer, the morning after. One of the joys of this trip is experiencing first hand our nation's gas prices. It cost me $100 to fill the tank up yesterday. Hmmm... I don't think you really got the impact. Let's try this. It cost me this many dollars:
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $

That's a lot, especially considering I am now jobless and homeless. I'm about to get on the road but wanted to say that the hotel charged me $100 to stay here last night. Apparently all the rooms were filled. Of course... the parking lot was empty. Oh, and when you're attaching your Jeep Cherokee to a vehicle transport... there is something inherently masculine about crawling underneath your vehicle to make sure the chains are attached properly to your axle (and you have to say 'axle,' instead of 'car,' in order to get a fuller manly effect when retelling the story to your friends).
I'm currently expecting to spend about $700 - $800 in gas on the trip. I'm crying right now... In my wallet I'm crying. I'll be starting a 900 phone line later tonight if you wanna talk geek or animation. In order to offset the gas costs I'm charging a low low rate of $40/min. It's the friends and family rate.

:: The Bottom
We're staying the course. We've got a thousand points of light. This move to a new state supports No New Taxes. The economic downturn will not deter our freedom and liberty. We support our troops and their effort. We support the rights of business and the respect the plight of the working man. 400 Babies!!!!

The End

With Love and Respect,