Our adventure resumes in the heart of New Mexico, a couple hours from Albuquerque. There were fluffy gray clouds in the sky which provided amazing backdrops for photos, even with my pathetic cell phone cam. I’ll never forgive New York for manhandling my iPod away from me (but I probably will forgive it anyway because New York is kind of like that friend you have that keeps fucking up but is so adorable, interesting, and endlessly entertaining that you just can’t stay mad at them). Also, the above pic was taken at a town called Zyzax, which sounds like an alien planet from Star Wars.
Despite menacing storminess, I didn’t get rained on much.
Okay, I should probably make two admissions right off the bat. One, I didn’t really travel through the Deep South, just Oklahoma, which is decidedly Southern culture-wise (but is kind of the Midwest), and Texas, which is decidedly it’s own bizarro gun-infested cowboy hat thing. Still, it’s probably a similar experience to driving through the actual South. I got some weird stares from some fairly conservative elderly Oklahomans, probably because I look like this most days. Minus the sneer, usually.
Two, I am clearly terrible at updating my blog once a day. I’ve just sort of gotten into the habit of directly experiencing my adventures and updating when I feel ready to, which is of course how it’s supposed to be done. I mean, I feel like I’ve turned into one of those people over the last year or two, the kind that must digitize their entire life experience onto their cell phone for no particular reason. It’s almost as if everyone’s new hobby isn’t collecting stamps or rocks anymore—it’s collecting experiences. We want to catalog every notable instance of our lives and have them all in front of us pigeonholed so we can say, “There. I am experienced now.” Ergo, I’ve been trying to just road trip and not think so much in terms of, “Should I do this so I can blog about it?”
Anyway, I have been taking a lot of pictures though. The last time I updated, I was in Indiana. I am now in Arizona. The trip really began once I reached Missouri. Indiana is mostly cornfields and nothing else.
So, frustratingly, I had basically finished this entry yesterday and was about to post it when my computer had a total spaz attack and replaced my entire new blog entry, one with some lovely bits of writing if I do say so myself, with a lowercase “m,” as if to say, “Mmm, Teegan, I love completely fucking up your evening, your pain is delicious!”
Luckily, I had Luther Garcia, my stuffed walrus, to drink with.
He’s the best friend a transgender dyke girl could ever have. Don’t let his mohawk intimidate you—he’s a lover, not a fighter, if it wasn’t painfully obvious, what with the heart permanently cemented to his hands.
Anyway, after a good night’s rest, here I am, in a motel room in rural Indiana, driving back to the west coast after thoroughly and delightfully overdoing it in New York. I meant to stay a weekend, and I ended up there for a week. These things happen. These things happen to good people. One of the nights before I left, my friends Jeff and Lois had a candelight backyard cocktail party, and we ordered this fabulous abomination:
This whole New York experience has been so much fun. I planned on spending a weekend in New York and ended up staying an extra week. It was worth it.
I’ll be sad to leave town tomorrow.
This is our train stop in Astoria. I actually had a chance to leave the car at Jeff’s and take a ride on the subway to Manhattan for fondue, which was one of those things I’d never tried before and would probably be significantly better than the kangaroo meat experience, which just left me with all sorts of conflicting feelings and mental images of Winnie the Pooh’s Kanga and Roo meeting me in a dark alley somewhere with submachine guns.
People in New York are kamikaze lemmings who really have no regard for their own personal safety or the mental health of the drivers that surround them.
That’s really the first thing you need to know. Secondly, drivers in New York are sociopathic scumbags with profound anger management issues. I used to think Los Angeles drivers were the worst, and then I thought maybe San Francisco drivers were a close contender.
Nothing could have prepared me for the total absolute clusterfuck that are the streets of New York. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you are in—if you grew up driving pretty much anywhere else in the country, you are not prepared to drive in the Big Apple.
There are crosswalks and pedestrian stop-go signs that tell you when to walk across them. These are both ignored. Some of the crosswalks actually have buttons attached to the lights that theoretically are supposed to trigger the lights to let you walk across the street. I’m pretty sure these are never pressed, ever. I’m almost entirely certain that if you were to press such a button, a large neon sign would appear that said “TOURIST RIGHT HERE FUCK THIS GUY” alongside an arrow pointing at you.
People walk across the street at random. They will walk in front of your car if you hesitate slightly to find parking on the side of the road. They will run up right next to the side of your vehicle as you pass by in order to get to their destination 1.2 seconds faster than they would have otherwise.
Driving is worse. Driving in New York is a fever dream nightmare that you can’t escape from (well, parking outside the city and taking the train instead would probably help). People will cut you off at the first sign of weakness. Show weakness, and bad things will happen. You will be honked at if you go two miles per hour below the speed limit. Other cars will refuse to let you in, no matter what. In order to be let in, you have to be a total bonafide douchebag too and honk furiously like a cranky toddler and force your way in. This process is required to get anywhere in a finite amount of time.
I’m pretty much traumatized. There is no politeness on New York streets. There is only pain and suffering and the smells of pungent falafel. The only thing I’m taking away from the experience is how to be a better asshole on the road. I honestly had no idea my car or my reflexes were this good before New York, nor was I aware my road rage could reach this level of frothing, bitter psychosis. I’ve been engineered by the city to be a better, angrier driver.
I’m better, fitter, meaner. I’m a machine. I’m a New York driver.
Going out to a fundraiser event for a queer bookstore in NYC. Rocking out.
I’m really sorry about the delay. I know I’ve been rather good at doing daily updates through most of last week, and when I finally got to New York, I flopped on that. Things have been so busy and crazy and fast-paced, that I simply haven’t had the energy or downtime to post anything new. Coupled with the fact that my iPod, which happens to be my single half-decent camera (not to mention my sole music playing device in my car, which is also the only thing standing in the way between me and boredom-induced Kubrickian insanity during my long seven-hour road slogs), has gone missing. I haven’t had many pictures to show, nor have I improved my mood beyond achey frustration when considering a new blog entry.
Still, I do have to report my continuing existence, lest anyone call the National Guard (better make that the President—I’m a very important person). So, hi. Also, I took some low-res photos with my decidedly shittier cell phone cam. Let’s do this.
I drove into NY through Pennsylvania, and can I just say upstate Pennsylvania is ridiculously gorgeous? I actually took tons of photos of Pennsylvania and all of the absolutely serene autumnal landscapes I passed by, but of course those photos are now sitting in some New York scumbag criminal’s glove box. The above photo was my only shot from my cell cam.
When I finally got to New York, in the evening, my Google Maps app seriously dropped the ball. Google Maps has been doing rather exceptional for a version of the app that apparently has some of its features still in beta testing. It got me out of the Mad Max apocalyptic wastelands of the western U.S. deserts alive without being mercilessly shot at the city limits of Beverly Hills, Nevada. So far, so good.
The last two days could best be described with the word cornfields. Okay, maybe I’m being slightly undescriptive, or at the very least poorly descriptive, because there was much more than that.
It’s just when you see cornfields for the majority of your driving trip, and you spend five or six hours in the car seeing nothing but corn and asphalt for hundreds of miles, two things happen. One, you wonder what the hell America is doing with so much corn (outlandish conspiracy theories begin to form), and two, it simply burns into your retina the image of corn so indelibly, your brain short circuits and corn becomes all you associate with America. America is corn. We have more heads of corn than we have heads of people.
My fifth day started out in Missouri, or as I like to call it, Mizzurah, because I am a tourist trying to pretend I’m Midwestern. Columbia is a delightful town, and I am glad I had a brief chance to explore the downtown area. It’s home to a big university, and it happens to be a liberal oasis in the Midwest. Even marijuana is decriminalized.
There were so many classic Midwesterny houses all over the place. I mean, this house is Missouri, am I right? Sometimes I felt like I was back in colonial times.
I drove a hell of a lot today. More than I should have. I decided, optimistically, that ten hours would be doable, and this is after spending a similar amount of time, each of the last several days, gradually deforming my poor spine to the curvature of my car seat. I think I’m going to have to take it a bit easier from here on out.
Halfway through the east-side of Kansas, I stopped for a meal at A&W, which ended up being a rather poor decision (except for the root beer, which is the best liquid substance ever except for possibly Fernet-Branca). About ten minutes after eating the hamburger, I began to get cramping, heartburn, and nausea. I sat in my car seat gripping the wheel, grimacing, trying to focus between fits of indigestion and cursing silently. I mean, it’s not like there was any salads for fifty miles in any direction. I had no choice but to eat terrible fast food, unless I wanted to subsist on Corn Nuts and lint for a few more hours.
I remembered after several miles of pain that I had a generic brand version of Maalox in my bag. If you’re not familiar, it’s a mysterious white milky goop that’s vaguely mint flavored and has a mysterious, disturbing numbing effect on your lips. I guess the colloquial term is “milk of magnesia.” In any case, it’s pretty much the only thing that helps my tummy when it decides to self-destruct. I started to feel better as I got off the off-ramp to Topeka.
And then I took a left turn onto CRAZY STREET.
*generic crazy music begins to play in the background*
I honestly didn’t do all that much the other day. I mean, I did drive from Colorado to Kansas, but compared to the last few days before that, this could almost be considered a lazy break. After traversing five or six states over the last few days, I think I deserved a bit of a rest. One state is plenty fine.
I spent the first half of the day waking up slowly in beautiful, temperate, semi-muggy-but-not-uncomfortably-so Denver. I wasted a couple hours at the aforementioned flowery hippie joint known as the Gypsy House.
Yes, they have hookah, Yes, they have fresh Mediterranean food. Yes, they have amazing breakfast burritos, not to mention wonderful lattes, couch seating, and free WiFi. Why did I ever leave? I could have just camped in the corner permanently, at least until I started to smell.
My friend Rachael and I, hanging out in front of some cool bricks.