Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I keep wondering at what age a person is supposed to give up on youth. I don’t mean that young at heart feeling. I also don’t mean that notion that you’re invincible. What I mean is simply, youth. I suppose more fairly, the trappings of youth.

There was a time when my hips were curvy, my butt was round, my boobs were small and my hair was brown. I loved that time. I loved wearing low cut jeans and tight tops and I dyed my hair for fun. When it was blonde, that was my favorite.

And I would go out dancing. And I didn’t care if I got drunk. And there were plenty more times that I didn’t than when I did. And I was a good dancer. And I could move well. And I was good at having sex. And sex was fun. And it was with someone different a lot of the time. And I was usually sober.

So when I look back on those times why do I see it all compartmentalized into this little box of memories that I feel some morbid obligation to let go of now that I am not in the youth anymore?

Now I have extra weight on my hips. Now I can’t get low rise jeans to look right under my muffin top. Now I have a saggy butt. Now my boobs are two cup sizes bigger. Now all my tops are tight by accident. Now I dye my hair to cover the gray.

I still love to dance. And drink. And I still dance pretty well. I think. I haven’t been to a club in about six years. Young people go to clubs. Or single people. Or hot people. I am none of those things. Not in youth. Cute perhaps, especially every six weeks after the dye job. Not single. And my husband hates to dance.

He can though. He just doesn’t like to do it. Because he has the same issue as me. He misses not caring. He misses youth. And we have sex. And it’s fun. But it isn’t new. It isn’t different people. Well maybe for him. I never know which personality might show up on any given day.

Sucks to be Matt.

And I am overly influenced by what I see and what I read and what I listen to and what I feel and what I experience.

And I’m okay with that but I feel tired and cranky a lot. And I really dislike being tired. Or cranky. I guess what I see and read and hear is exhausted and grouchy.

Sucks to be me.

And every six weeks when I dye my hair I sigh because it is such a bullshit waste of time. In six more weeks I have to do it again. And I do because I miss youth. I miss a wrinkle free face. I miss fresh clean slates. I miss perky bum cheeks and hands with smooth skin.

Mine and my husband’s. But he’s still cute. But youth has left us both. Replaced by experience. Replaced by some kind of wisdom. And nothing is surprising like you don’t like artichokes. And nothing is awful like subscribing to different religious philosophies.

So do I just give up on caring about the loss of youth and embrace the gray, the sag, the elastic waist jeans, simply because I’m too tired to give a crap different?

I like to look good. Would I look any less good with a full head of gray hair and boobs that point in different directions? Would the world notice or only me? Aren’t I the one who matters? My positive self image should be the important part of the equation. Right?

So I still get dinner out at restaurants. And I still work out. And I still have sex. And I still laugh at comedy. And cry at tragedy. Sometimes.

And kiss Matt before we go to sleep. And put on make up to go to the grocery store. And I still try on cute outfits. And they don’t fit over my hips. And they make my butt look funny.

But I’m not ready to wear elastic waist jeans. Yet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Don’ts and Do’s

I titled this blog post what I did today because I fully intended to do a quickie prosy type write up on all the things I do and don’t miss about Boston after being in Arizona for a couple weeks now, but as I sit and look at the windows I have open at the bottom status bar of my monitor I feel the title is appropriate for a completely different ranting babble instead.

And that babble is: what the fuck is with all of the options for joining and why in the hell do I need or want to join them?

This of course comes as a direct result of being inundated of late by whisperings of the newest social media site Google+. Apparently it’s hot, so hot in fact that you have to get an invite from someone who’s already a member in order to join. Well whoopee doo.

At least that was my first reaction. Now I’m not so sure.

Am I special enough to have been sent an invitation to beta test this site? No, not so much. Probably because I don’t have a Gmail account. Which is also why, after inquiring of one of my teammates as to getting an invite, I still haven’t sent her anything. Because, just like joining yet another social networking site (read: portal of time suckage) I really honestly do not need yet another email to monitor too.

I have a plethora of emails already -- 2 company related, 1 personal and 1 strictly for my writing life -- not to mention that there’s Facebook mail too. If I have to add another email account, another social networking site (read: portal of time suckage) to learn and explore, is it likely that I’ll ever actually do anything else with my life?

The short answer of course is no.

The long answer isn’t as simple as a two letter word.

Social media, as everyone knows these days, is the place to be if you want to gain any exposure to any kind of market for anything. Attorneys have their own twitter following, you can ‘Like’ anything from coffee to celebrities on Facebook and let’s not discount the fact that I never would have known that July 15th had been ‘National bitch slap an idiot day’ had I not gotten the notification of the mass invite on that very same site.

I have a company page on FB and twitter. I have personal accounts on both as well. I have 3 blogs. I belong to countless other silly portals of stupidity all over the internet (I’m looking at you HUBPages and eZine). Hell, I think my MySpace page is even still floating around out there. But I think this whole idea of Google+ was literally just the straw that broke my keyboard’s back this morning.

If I don’t join early, like I did with Facebook, I won’t get the super shiny user name that I want and then 2 years from now when FB fades away like MySpace did I’ll be on the tail end of the new technology wave. I’ll be the equivalent of the virtual dinosaur.

“What do you mean you don’t have a Google+ account? I mean, how is that even possible? Don’t you write books and try to sell them? How are you still only promoting yourself with these archaic means like twitter when you could be on Google+?!!!?”

And then the second I join that it will be ‘Join the newest social media site Strawberry Fields! Everybody’s doing it!’ And so on, and so on until eventually I’m the only one streaking naked through the quad up to the gymnasium.

So where or when does it end? Again, the short answer is, it doesn’t. And that’s what makes me question the validity of joining this new social media site (read: portal of time suckage) in the first place.

But again that also forces me to repeat the question -- when then will I have time to do something with my life? The something that forces me to join all the “networking” sites in the first place? If I never actually find the time to write anything to sell it to someone, then what good is knowing all the someone’s going to do? No matter how many times I post status updates that I’m working on the book, trying to find an editor or rewriting my query all that does is take time away from dong the things I just said I was doing.

Catch-22 much?

You have to join to keep in front of the public but the public can suck so much of your time that you have nothing to publicize.

It stinks.

So for now I guess I’m going to keep my profile off of Google+ and simply keep on keeping on in the manner I’ve been going. I’m pretty sure that someday when I get a publisher / agent / editor who enforces a deadline they will thank me for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Garden of the Sun

School started up again last week.  Hooray.  Can you feel my enthusiasm?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying it in a broad sense and it’s definitely helping with my composition, thesis, outline, reading, etc.  What’s killing me about doing it is two fold – 1) that’s a pretty significant amount of extra debt I’m taking on there and 2) I don’t have time to work.

The thing is, every single novel I read has a little blurb in the back about the Author and all of them (yes, seriously all of them) say ‘so-and-so big semi-famous author person got their degree at this college you’ve never heard of before’.  I want a degree from a college no one has ever heard of so a whole bunch of people can read my book and skip right over the author blurb and never see it!

I have wanted, for a long time, to join the ranks of the college ed-u-ma-cated.  Don’t ask me why because I’m not really sure how to answer that.  All I know is that I want to be wicked smaht.  Because it isn’t like people ask an almost 40 year old where they went to school.  That kind of stuff just doesn’t come up in casual conversation anymore like it did when I was 26.

Because what people ask an almost 40 year old is ‘what do you do’.  And maybe the problem is I can’t seem to wrap my head around saying I’m a writer without something to back it up.  I haven’t accepted it yet.  I don’t have enough experience, or haven’t really gotten paid to do it so it just doesn’t count.  In my head I mean, you don’t have to tell me how it does count because the other side of me knows you’re completely right.

I practiced this past weekend in fact.  We went to see my sister and ended up at the local dive bar where she and her friends hang out sometimes.  A lovely gentleman from Italy, with a thick accent and the most fantastic brown leather shoes I’ve ever seen in my life simply posed the question ‘so what do you do?’

It surprised me actually that we’d met all these people all night and that was the first time someone even asked that question.  I said I was a writer.  Of novels.  But that I also wrote a blog.  Oh and I’m a painter too.

Like I had to throw in that last bit so it would sound like I make money and pay my bills or something.  As if being a writer isn’t a legitimate enough profession that I can just own it?

Apparently I couldn’t.

So I thought a lot about that incident.  I know that he probably doesn’t remember it happening, and no one else who was there has any recollection of my bumbling, stammering, attempt at trying to decide what it is I do for a living.  The conclusion I came to is that, in order to feel more like a writer, I have got to stop doing things that don’t at all relate to being a writer.

Which really won’t be easy to do considering I have a company, people who want to hire me to do faux and a whole bunch of teammates that rely on my other endeavors as my day job (if you will).

So then I thought about it some more.  If I’m going to stay in school, which I intend to do because that shiny, useless in the real world but important to me degree is only about a year and a half away, why can’t I just write part time and place a little focus on the other stuff part time as well?  Why beat myself up over not writing full time when I’m not going to be writing full time anyway because of school right? 


One of the big reasons Matt & I moved to the Valley of the Sun was to kick back and relax, to enjoy life, take in the beauty of the little things, and leave the hectic chaos of the northeast pace 3100 miles behind us.  If I get here and immediately start stressing out over old habits how can I accomplish that goal?  You’re right, I can’t.  So this past weekend, I made up my mind to pour a cup of coffee, go sit out in my patio chair and drink it all in.  Then I made a few mental shifts…

  • I’m staying a part time student, not fast tracking to full time, because a year and a half is a perfectly reasonable amount of time to complete a degree without having a heart attack before it’s even in my hand. 
  • I will give it my best effort but I’m not going so far above and beyond anymore that I may as well be the Instructor of the class. 
  • I’m going to be happy with any grade I get as long as it’s above a 3.5 GPA; even if it isn’t the A I’m striving for no one is going to care so why should I? 
  • I’m going to see the clock as having plenty of time, the sun as having plenty of hours to shine and my brain as having plenty of capacity to store it all. 
  • If I start getting stressed I’ll do something different like write a blog post or workout.  Walking away is sometimes the best solution of all.
  • I’ll do a few projects related to paint, take on some jobs painting (especially for existing clients and those people who I already discussed projects with!) and keep the company open, but I’m not actively pursuing it as a full time thing anymore.
And anytime someone asks I’m simply going to state ‘I’m a novelist’.

Because I am.

(As a side note, I started doing the iPod song title/blog post title thingie I mentioned the other day.  If you don’t know Emily Elbert, the gal behind the title today, I totally suggest getting out and checking her out, she’s pretty sensational!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Simply Irresistible

I must confess a secret -- my life is pretty lame. I don’t go on pre-paid trips to exotic locations, don’t get hammered in bars and have paparazzi follow me home, I don’t shield my face from the millions of screaming throngs outside my balcony and I don’t need a bodyguard to follow me around everywhere.

But I do live on the edge.

That's right.  You want proof you say?

Oh I’ll wear white sweats and a Clorox-esque white hoodie to an Italian restaurant. Don’t even dare me because I’ll do it. I’ll also smile at random strangers when walking down the street. And you know how I know that makes me an adrenaline junkie? I won’t even look away after they give me that ‘who the fuck are you and why are you looking at me with that idiotic look on your face’ look.

You want even more danger?  I’ll refer to Facebook in everyday conversation and will totally spell thingz that end in an ‘s’ with a ‘z’.

Yeah that’s right, you better watch out because I’m just crazy.

So it probably should have come as no surprise that the most exciting thing I’d done to date since arriving in Arizona was drinking too many beers mid afternoon.  While at the lake.  While still on vacation.

Such a party animal, I’m surprised Hollywood didn’t come knocking down my door years ago! Clearly there was an excellent made for TV, Lifetime movie script just waiting to be pulled out of my life. Or more. They probably could have gotten an entire mini-series of “drama” out of the history of my life.

Note the air quotes.  And the sarcasm.

The real issue for me in having had little to no adventures or experiences to speak of in the last ten years is I have no clue how to apply all the crap I used to do that technically could be counted as edgier to my current writing. And then the real kicker is that the more of these blog posts I write the more I really realize that I kind of don’t want to write fiction, pretty much I just want to write some kind of snarky as hell memoir about how awesome I am.

Or something like that. I can be flexible on the snarky part.

The basic rule I’ve been seeing when it comes to blogging for exposure is that you have to do it every day. Okay, that sounds great an all but this is the part where you circle back around to the beginning and review the “my life is a lame ass sleep-fest” portion of today’s post. And I can’t possibly be expected to do something earth shattering every day just so I can write about it, right?

Something tells me that’s going to get pretty expensive after a while.  Not to mention tiring.

I also shouldn’t have to reveal all of my past, let’s just call them adventures, in order to entertain the masses (read: the 30 people who currently read my blog) right? I mean shouldn’t some things in the past simply remain there forever?

Then that brings us back to this post. And a little nagging itch tells me that if I recycle this ‘I don’t know what to say so I’ll just tell you in approximately 700 words of circular prose how much I really don’t have to talk about’ concept day after day, that 30 person readership is pretty likely to tumble. Quickly.

So what in the hell is a girl to do? Should I kill off my other two blogs (the Company blog and the Greenie one) and combine all that stuff here instead of keeping my business/eco/bipolar-schitzo lives separated?

Okay, never mind. Seeing how it reads, I think that question’s clearly rhetorical.

Maybe I could create some kind of month long writing prompt of my own. Like one of those chain mail things where you’re forced to turn on your iPod and write down the first 20 songs so everyone can laugh at your recoculous taste in music. Only instead of just writing out the list I’ll use the song title as a writing prompt and the first thing that comes to mind when I see the song title -- poetry, fiction, non-fiction, random psycho babble -- is what I write and post.

You know, that’s actually not a half bad idea. Think I'll start today…

Friday, July 15, 2011

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Capsizes

Now anyone who knows me knows I’m more of the hotel type of girl.  I mean, its not that I don’t love a good campfire, some toasted wieners and s’mores, or seeing a billion stars at night, but that is all followed up by sleeping in a tent in the middle of the nothingness with no toilet, no shower and no mattress when you’re camping. 

Not to mention, I thought bears were scary?  Out here they have snakes and scorpions.  And you may wave me off but we saw and heard both of those creatures in the course of the weekend. 

We got in by way of the “Road of Insanity”, as I pegged it before even driving it but after riding on it, aptly so.  There was a sheer cliff on one side and it was a single lane with turns so tight it looked like we were going to careen off the side of the mountain.  Oh yeah and it’s a two lane road.  Thankfully we didn’t have to back up to let trucks hauling boats pass us because we would have been screwed.

Everyone else had pretty much shown up Thursday night so most set up was done already.  All that was left to do was crack a beer, look around, hug my sister who I hadn’t seen in what felt like eons and blow up our air mattress.

So here’s another side note…when you go to Target to get a camping lantern and turn around to see the rechargeable air mattress pump with the nozzle you think will work in your air mattress, the one you’re taking with you to the middle of nowhere with no electricity, don’t walk by it saying ‘oh but Wendy said someone will have a pump.’

Buy the damn thing because if you don’t you’ll be left stealing electricity from the Coke machine plug at midnight then walking back through the unfamiliar landscape carrying an inflated air mattress after the camera just got your face recorded for all of posterity.

But they didn’t come and kick us out so we were safe.  And we weren’t the only members of the group who had to use it so at least that was slightly comforting.  That night I peed in the desert because the walk to the crusty bathrooms was too far and I couldn’t find it anyway.  I tried to sleep but everyone was up until all hours chatting and laughing and the temperature in Wendy’s tent was so hot I tossed more than snored.

Woke up about in the morning and got coffee.  Matt and I picked up a Box o’ Joe from Dunkin Donuts (one of 2 we’ve already discovered out here hooray!).  I actually texted my aunt during that experience because we went in to buy it and that thing holds about 3 pots of coffee.  The girl poured a half a pot in and said ‘I’m gonna have to brew more.’

You know you’ve left Boston when Dunkin donuts actually runs out of coffee!  It took all my physical body not to drop my jaw in amazement at the statement.

Saturday afternoon all but 3 of us went out on the boat, I was starting to feel like the lack of shade might be a problem even with the 70spf sunscreen.  And it was a good thing we all hung back.  A couple 12 year old girls in a foot paddle boat went right over in front of our little patch of beach.  The friend of ours who was there had not even gotten the words ‘should we throw them a line’ out of his mouth before we saw the thing start to flip over. 

They were okay and everyone got back to shore but before they put the boat back in we all noticed it was kind of missing the plug for the front.  After dumping the overflowing hull we watched & shook our heads as they paddled back out, right into oncoming waves.  There’s something to be said for logic.  Sadly they didn’t really seem to have any but once they turned the corner of the jetty back toward their own campsite that was pretty much no longer our problem.

By the end of the day on Saturday the heat, sun and beers got the best of me and while literally everyone else (about 10 of our group) tried the high pressure sales pitch to go back out on the boat, I pled peer pressure and plunked my butt down in a seat unmoving.  I was happy to be alone for as long as they were gone, I was cranky and whiny and no one needed me bringing down their good time.  The breeze picked up a little and I was able to nap.  Everyone got back and we cooked dinner on the portable propane grill then we all sat around in the dark yakking for the second night in a row -- absolutely no campfires were allowed because it had been so dry.

We watched as a pretty lightning intense thunderstorm rolled through and the rain actually cooled it off significantly.  I still felt crappy so with a nice stiff breeze and lightning in the distance I dragged my Debbie Downer ass to bed at like .  Matt followed shortly after and I woke up the next morning totally refreshed.  We had breakfast hot dogs and noted that almost all food and beer was consumed.  A successful weekend was had by all!

With one last boat trip planned I got myself into a seat and enjoyed the breeze, the water and the insanely cool scenery, which pictures and words just couldn’t begin to describe.  Everyone swam but me.  I like to ease in and diving off the side of the boat was not in my future (like I said, indoor girl).  We headed back and finished packing up the campsite (This is where I got photos of the baby scorpion hiding out on the side of Wendy’s tent bag.  Yikes.).

As we went to go we started the caravan out the back way which I dubbed “Road of Moderate Insanity” since it wasn’t much better than the way in but admittedly a bit wider most of the way down.  Wendy and friends were in 2 off-road appropriate vehicles which got them down the mountain pretty quick.  We lost sight of them and as we were on our own ambled slowly to the bottom.  Chalk up another reason to get a truck!

But as we got to the huge “Man” Damn at the end of Roosevelt Lake we saw that our super cool friends had pulled off to wait and make sure we made it down safely.  Yea for super cool friends! 

Going that way took some extra time getting home but it was just the final extension of the end of a three week road trip for Matt and I and we couldn’t have been happier to get the chance to see all kinds of new scenery from the car.  With the little red ant population traveling back with us in the trunk, and potential for scorpion sightings, we dropped our stuff on the balcony and started up the washing machine right away.

As we put away the leftover food and plunked down on the sofa with a smile on our faces from such a fun weekend full of laughs and good times, finally ready to actually start settling into our new home, I thought ‘I think I’m gonna like it here…’

Thursday, July 14, 2011

If those from Boston are Townies Those from Phoenix must be…

Sunbaked.  That’s my thoughts on the front office management type people anyway.  Hey man I get it, one of the reasons I moved here was to kick back & chill a little bit.  But then I didn’t make a whole bunch of promises and then not live up to them.  Suffice to say it took us 3 days, including our first day here, and multiple reminders from both of us to get a new lock put on our front door.

And you know what?  STILL only one of the 2 keys he handed us works.

But whatever, at least one does and we’re pretty much together all the time right now anyway.  There are 3 Home Depots in a 10 mile radius, I’ll go cut a new key later.

So instead of freaking out about the key thing we decided to freak out about the moving truck.  But that was only after we realized that even central air will just not cut it when you’ve got a 40 yard walk from the back of the truck, over hot sand/rocks and up 16 steps to your back door with all your worldly possessions having to come in that way.

Our first order of business was to drop off the trailer so I waited and typed up most of the proceeding story while Matt was gone doing that.  You know, because someone had to be here to guard all our crap since we couldn’t lock the door.  He got back & at about we headed out to unpack.

We had both turned the color of a beet, drank about 12 gallons of water each and proceeded to overheat by oh about .  And that was after multiple breaks.  We called it for the afternoon, decided to start unpacking some stuff and also decided we should set up the sofa and the other bed just in case we couldn’t get to Ikea until the following day for our king bed.

Times & dates are a bit fuzzy now but I’m pretty sure the Dish Network guy showed up a half hour early and got out before Matt went to return the trailer and Matt got in touch with the cable company to find that they had shown up a day early to install our internet connection.  They rescheduled for Sunday.

We headed back out to the truck about 8:00 that night after the sun went down and managed to unload a bit more.  Beat and crispy we fell into our bed (a real one at least) at about .  We decided shifts of then would likely get the truck empty by the evening of the 4th.  With the truck due back on the 5th we kind of didn’t really have a choice anyway.

The next day we did our morning shift then headed out to Ikea, set to be back before the internet install, and acquired our splurge purchase, something we’d been saving up for since deciding to move -- the king sized bed.

If you know Ikea then you know everything is flat packed in boxes ready to be assembled at home.  Well one of the boxes for the bed weighed 163 pounds.  It said so right on the box.  Picture that, in heat, up those stairs between the two of us already run ragged.  I laughed at the thought & Matt determined he’d open the box and bring it up piecemeal.

But that was before whisperings of dust storms, monsoons, haboobs.  We flick over to the local weather channel and see the enormous cloud coming right for us and both get that shot of ‘like HELL I’m sleeping in a double when we have a king in the truck!’ adrenaline and by some miracle become super heroes to carry all parts of the bed up the stairs.  Then we get to the mattress and feel the 40mph gusts, find out they could be up to 70 and decide we don’t want to sail away.

Defeated for the evening we close up the truck with our new mattress inside and Matt starts putting the frame together while I start unpacking.

Now let me tell you a little bit about this dust storm they call a haboob.  First of all, the name makes me giggle.  Secondly, the weatherman on TV was calling it epic.  Finally, apparently after all was said and done the thing was a mile high and even native Phoenicians were having a hard time recalling ever having seen something so massive.  And we were here to witness it.  Of course we were.  I keep warning everyone here to expect the 1000 year snow storm this winter.  You’re welcome Phoenix.

It came right over our complex.  We were sitting with bated breath.  We watched the lightning in the distance and I even snapped pictures of the cloud.  Then it got here and we were like ‘that’s it?’.  We never even had a flicker on our satellite dish, never lost power and the thing just looked like a thick fog outside.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have wanted to be walking or driving in the thing and I actually could taste the dust that crept in through teeny crevices, but overall it was nothing compared to a nor’easter that dumps 24” of snow in mere hours.  At least the dust goes away after 20 minutes and other than a car wash you don’t have to really do anything about it.

The next day we finished all the truck unloading, we dropped the thing on the 5th right on the dot of on time and proceeded to begin unpacking.

Then we pulled out the luggage and packed up again because on Friday night we were heading up to Apache Lake to go camping with my sister and a whole bunch of her friends.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And On the Fifth Day God Created Mountains

Really, really, REALLY tall mountains. The kind of mountains that have scenic vistas placed at the top of them so people in cars can pull off and enjoy the view. The kind of mountains that a 16’ box truck towing a trailer with a car on top of it tends to find just a teensy bit challenging.

We came down out of Albuquerque and essentially hit the valley floor until we reached a spot just outside of Flagstaff in Arizona.

(As a side note, we did make it to the welcome center but I was suffering from some serious elevation shifts and felt pretty crappy for many miles past that. Plus the most exciting thing we saw was the sign warning us that poisonous creatures were afoot, like scorpions and rattle snakes.)

I started looking at the clock because it was approaching 2:00 and I was pretty sure the front office of our new complex closed at 5:00. We were supposed to be there to sign the lease, get keys, etc and I did not want to miss it because like hell I was staying in another hotel that night! It seemed like a good idea to call and just let them know we were running a little behind schedule. The person I spoke with said not to worry at all because they didn’t even close until 6:00 and we’d have no trouble making it on time.

That was comforting to hear and I suddenly wished we had stopped on that corner in Winslow, Arizona. We watched the pine trees whizz by the truck and as we came down the mountain out of Flagstaff, I pointed at I-17 north and said “How glad are we that we aren’t on that side huh?”

Of course as everyone knows, it’s as soon as you say it out loud that you jinx yourself. We get to the bottom and suddenly spot where our road goes. Right up and over the next mountain range. And that thing ain’t short by any means. We look at each other and take a deep breath as Matt gets into the ‘slower vehicles move right’ lane. We started out okay, going about 55 or so but with every half mile we lost about 5 mph.

I finally suggested he flick on his hazards when an 85 year old on a Vespa scooter passed us like we were standing still.

It was about 99 degrees but we had to turn off the AC and open the windows just for the extra power. The truck finally capped off at about 25mph and that was only because Matt would “gun” it here and there to at least get us a teeny bit further.

All the while he kept a firm eye on that slowly climbing temperature gauge and mumbled repeatedly something about the benefits of having a diesel engine as opposed to the bleeping bleep bleep gas engine this stupid bleeping truck had. Or something close to that anyway. He might have used a few more bleeps than that come to think of it.

After what felt like an hour…oh wait, it actually was about an hour…it looked as if we were going to turn the corner and finally start heading back downhill again. We held our breath, this time for real, because we both knew that if we saw another ridge to climb around that turn we were going to have to abandon the truck on the side of the road and hitchhike all the way to Phoenix.  And we weren't both going to fit on a scooter.

With the turbo power of the 20mph engine speed, heading up to about 26 when Matt jammed the gas, I was totally pinned to the back of the seat when we rounded that corner. Oh yeah, that thing had some real super power baby!

We both exhaled the words ‘Oh thank God!’ as soon as we rounded to see the slope start to point downward. The super bad ass truck regained her appropriate temperature in record time and so did we. The temperature outside seemed to be climbing much quicker than we anticipated and on went the AC. For the next bunch of miles I just kept my eye on the time because that mountain had eaten up quite a bit of ours and we were later than I hoped to get into town.

I had my camera in hand, ready to take pictures of the ‘Phoenix City Limits’ sign and as soon as we came around a bend at the Black Canyon exit I saw my first signs of civilization and immediately started cheering yea! I decided to see what was on the radio; maybe I’d locate a good station or two before we even got into town.

That’s when I discovered 93.3 KDKB. And it suddenly hit me, we had left the land of W’s and entered the land of K’s. The station was kind of the Boston version of Mike FM, but with rock & classic rock, because we heard some stuff that even I had never heard before (and AAF used to play some seriously off the wall tunes!). Within a half hour they played the Foo Fighters. I knew all would be well in my world. Of course it was their first single (‘Rope’) off the new album, not the new release (‘Walk’) but hey, at least if was from the new album.

Plus the station was just distracting enough that I didn’t notice we pulled up in front of the new apartment complex at 5:30. We drove a block or two down and parked in the Safeway lot then in 110 degree weather, walked back to the leasing office.

Welcome to Phoenix!

Now I don’t want to say mean stuff about anyone directly but as far as ease of move in goes this has probably been one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. Totally not at all what was expected considering the level of service back & forth in email before we even left Massachusetts.

But we got here and the agent handling our file was off that day. Her fill in person was pretend friendly (which makes me want to shake a person, I’d rather you were just a straight up biotch so I wouldn’t feel the fakeness oozing out of you). It took over an hour to get us our keys because they “couldn’t find them”. Then we were handed a key to the model apartment for the night because our carpets hadn’t been shampooed yet. Then we were told they had been but they could still be a little wet or look strange because its Berber which takes a long time to bounce back (read: we were forced to sit & wait "for keys" while they raced over to the apartment to quick shampoo because they totally forgot).

Finally after about an hour and a half we were thanking everyone and leaving when we suddenly asked each other if either of us had gotten the gate pass card. Nope.

Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.

Finally someone was leaving for the night and opened the door. Yeah we never got the pass card for the gate and considering it’s almost 7:30 now I think we’ll need that by the time we get back here with the truck. Oh, haha, how silly of us! Sure come on in.

Five minutes later we have all correct stuff, get back to the truck about 10 minutes after that, get through the gate, park the truck, drop the car and head over to our apartment with the air mattress, food & luggage in the backseat. We were so ready to just crash so we could get up the next morning to get on with the unpacking cavalcade.

We approach our front door to discover the front light is burned out. Mental note is taken to alert the management of that safety issue and with arms full of stuff we test the knob to find the apartment is unlocked. We unload the entire car, trunk and all, and are thankful that we’d disassembled the plastic shelves then tossed them in the trunk because on the wet carpet they were the perfect base for the computer and stuff.

By then it was after 8:00 and we were tired and starving. There was a quickie fast food place in our future so we went to lock up the front door.

Neither key fits. Not that they were just tight or anything. They don’t even go into the lock. Now I’m effing furious because I just spent 5 days on the road to move to this city and after having to wait for an hour for those keys (read: shampooing the carpet) you’d think someone might have tested them before handing them off and closing the front office until 10:00 the next morning.

We load everything back into the car, ready to go to a hotel and I suddenly realize the door does lock from the inside. We take our stuff, hit Jack in the Box and come back to once again unload the car into the apartment. We sit down and eat. We pump up the air mattress. We proceed to crash out, ready to unpack the truck the next day and deal with the held hostage in our own apartment, key situation then.

We have no idea they’re predicting close to record high temperatures for the 2nd…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Husband Drove Through Texas and All I Got Was this Lousy Landscape

We wasted little time in Oklahoma!’s fine Motel of Sin before getting to the front desk to check out and I asked about the wildfires in New Mexico, if the front desk girl had heard of road closures or anything. She told me that was pretty far away and that they usually don’t get that kind of news footage ‘all the way out here’. Um, okay. I asked if I could get online somewhere and she pointed at the computer in the front lobby.

Better than nothing, I knew my sister had sent some links on the fire in Los Alamos as it was a little closer to I-40 than I would have liked (about 80 miles). I opened my email to get to her message and saw that I had 67 new messages.

Oh brother. That first week of internet access in Phoenix was going to trap me in front of the computer and never before had I so badly wanted a smart phone just to keep up with the influx.

With the wildfire info in hand (that we were good to go), and Matt waiting in the parking lot for me to check out ten minutes prior, I pounded pavement right past the tasty smelling Danish cart and hopped into my perch above the traffic.

With half of Oklahoma! And a corner of Texas to go before reaching New Mexico, we both remarked that maybe we’d be lucky enough to catch a tornado touch down. Somewhere like 2 miles away on the horizon and heading either north or east. Something I could get on film but that we would actually live through it to post pictures of later.

After O!KC we promptly entered dry and desoland. If it hadn’t been for the huge sign (the 'everything in Texas is bigger' adage rang oh so true) it would have been barely perceptible that we’d even crossed into another state.

Country music interspersed with They Might Be Giants and the Foo Fighters got us to the Texas state line. I was all too happy to put all of those way too excited exclamation points behind us where they belonged. In Oklahoma!

And as we crept into Texas it suddenly occurred to us both that there was a reason all those early settlers stopped before attempting to cross it. No offense to anyone from that area but man is it ever flat, hot and crappy. Maybe every fifth house was still occupied, not the other way around like in many of the other states on our journey, and there was so much rusted out crap along the Interstate that it looked like a big drawn out trash heap.

I remember that Dallas was a pretty cool city and have heard amazing things about Austin so my radar was up to see what the rest of the state had to offer. I think I took about 10 pictures the whole time and they’re all of abandoned stuff along old Route 66, or flat, brown nothingness.

Then suddenly in the distance we saw a huge yellow sign straddling the entire highway. It was the welcome to New Mexico sign!

My nerves were pretty calm by this point but I got a little stomach flip -- we’d just entered the state where we would spend the last night in a hotel before we were home! We stopped at the welcome center and saw a sign for free coffee if we signed the guestbook. With about another 200+ miles to go before reaching Albuquerque that was a no brainer.

We chatted with the gals behind the desk for a few and grabbed a couple free guides to the awesomeness of the state, then headed around the counter toward the coffee. We stopped to check out every map for a minute and at the end of the counter there was a full map of the country.

My eyes went to where we were and slowly traveled back over our route to where we had come from. I thought the tears were behind me in O!KC but apparently all it took was seeing the word ‘Boston’ in tiny letters on a simple piece of paper.  I was just happy to still be wearing my sunglasses.

What a wussy. A slightly homesick wussy. But a much warmer wussy, one who was trying to look forward, not back.

In the spirit of forward motion we grabbed our coffee and headed outside to sit on something other than the truck seats for a couple minutes. I regained my composure, finished the shot of fuel and we were off.

The road for a while was similar to Texas and I kept asking where the silly mountains were. Didn’t we have to do something with the Rockies? Like climb up and over them perhaps? As if scripted the terrain began to shift, rock took on a reddish glow and mesas started to appear.

We skirted an insanely huge weather system that put down a bunch of lightning and raindrops about 2-3” around. Some rain hit the truck and I watched as a bolt actually sparked a fire way off in the distance. The rain put it out almost immediately and I said a little thank you to the powers that be; the folks in that area didn’t need any more fires to battle.

With more to look at the miles sailed by and with a weather system like that to marvel over, our spirits were really high. My dad even commented on how much calmer I sounded on my check in with him that night. He was right. I was mostly comfortable in the truck and loving the weather and wide open spaces. Not to mention the mountains.

As if they were gone one minute and there the next they suddenly started to rise in front of us and we were just happy to have something beautiful to see after so many miles of barren wasteland. Houses became more prevalent and cuteness started to appear on the sides of overpasses.

We had arrived in Al-ba-Q-Q.

There was no smoke or fire from the road, our hotel was super simple to find and check in was a breeze. With tons of truck parking (pull through spots this time!) and daylight still available we walked to the front of the hotel after dropping our bags to see the most amazing sunset on the entire journey. Words wouldn’t do it justice. Pictures didn’t even do it justice!

We settled in and flicked on Burn Notice, fully happy and feeling the least sketched out the entire trip. Both of us slept well and got ready for the last leg of the journey the next morning.

Well, the last leg of the drive anyway. The journey decided to prolong itself for days…

Monday, July 11, 2011

And Matt Would Drive 500 Miles, and Then He’d Drive 500 More

We made it to the Mississippi state line fairly quickly, better known as the Mississippi River, and crossed into Arkansas. Now I’d like to point out here that the state motto or tag line or whatever you call it is the “Natural State”. Isn’t that just lovely? Well it was lovely to consider until we reached a spot approximately 200 yards past the river’s edge and saw a crop duster actually spewing something all over a farm field. Something that tasted and smelled pretty vile.

Yeah, natural my ass.

I tried to get a good picture of the duster but only managed to catch it in the air, everything low to the ground came out blurry. Honestly blurry is a good word of the day. My memory of anything in Arkansas after the 10 minutes of traffic we sat in just past the duster is just that, a little blurry.

I’m guessing that’s because in that part of Arkansas along I-40 there’s basically a whole lot of nothing not because of the fumes I inhaled that came out of the back of an airplane. At least that’s what I’d like to believe.

So we drove and drove and continued driving through the very barren landscape that started losing trees and gaining tumbleweeds with every mile. We listened to some music. We chatted about how it was going to be a pretty long day on the road to get to Oklahoma! City.

We hit the Arkansas welcome center and had a quick shot of excitement when Matt had to get out my side of the truck because of the swarm of bees on his side. That should give you a clue of just how exciting this day of driving really was. Yeah. I tried to nap but those seats were so uncomfortable.

I turned off the iPod because, frankly, I was tired of forwarding through every third song because it was Bryan Adams (who Matt detests) or Natalie Merchant (who makes me want to stick a hot poker into my inner ear to dull the pain of her voice) and flicked on some country music.

I started thinking of touring musicians. Suddenly I realized how easy it would be to get road weary, burned out from travel. We were only doing this for 6 days, musicians are in a new town/time zone/state/city just about everyday. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with knowing what time it is or trying to find decent food while traveling. At least they get a bed like bunk to crash out in though. My jealousy and longing for a tour bus shot up about 100% across the heartland of America.

But anyway, speaking of country music…my friend S bet me that within 6 months in Arizona I’d have a country station preset on my radio dial. I firmly and emphatically denied that would ever come to fruition. And here’s why.

By nature, and at my very heart and soul, I’m now and will always be a rocker. This information comes into play as we hit the Maricopa County line in Arizona but you’ll have to wait for that for a couple days. But anyway, country has never been something I was just drawn to listen to in a full time capacity. Give me fast bass drums, give me whaling electric guitar, give me growling singers who don’t wear wide rimmed hats.

Of course that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been a few artists or songs in the more twang ridden genre that haven’t resonated with me over the years. I love me some Reba and frankly every single time I hear Brad Paisley’s “Letter to Me” I actually get a little teary eyed regardless that I personally never went through any of the stuff he sings about in the song. There’s just something so lyrically melancholy about looking back over your own life in a way that if you could give yourself advice at age 17 from what you know now that tugs my heart strings.

But that’s not to say that on the way out here we weren’t slightly limited in our radio selection either and basically had no other choice. Oh we were limited alright. The entire drive across Arkansas and Oklahoma!, plus most if not all of Texas, was limited to either Christian music or country. So, like I said, when in the Midwest do as Midwesterners do.

And I fell in love with Justin Moore’s “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”. In fact we heard it so many times that I gleaned it must be a new release for country radio and I got to know it by the lead in alone. Then I found myself turning it up. We heard it as we were approaching our hotel in Oklahoma! City and I of course got a little teary eyed.

The first couple times you hear a song (well this is true for me anyway) it’s the chorus you pick up on but you don’t really put the lyrics together. This was about my third listen and suddenly the lines “If heaven wasn’t so far away…Then tell him we'd be back in a couple of days. In the rear view mirror we'd all watch 'em wave. Yeah, and losing them wouldn't be so hard to take. If heaven wasn't so far away.” Hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m not saying Boston is heaven, Lord knows if it was I probably wouldn’t have left , but damn if it isn’t so far away and being on the ultimate road trip heading west sure put all those people in my rearview mirror. I just couldn’t take it and turned off the radio.

So that’s the real reason I won’t preset a country station honestly, too many songs that make you cry damn it!

We pulled into our hotel in Oklahoma! City mere moments later and all that teary eyed blubbering was totally replaced by a slight twinge of fear of transients.

Matt found a good spot right near the front office where he’d be able to back up straight if need be but could pull right out if the guy in front of him left before we did in the morning and I went in to check in.

The front desk girl was pleasant and even gave us a room on the first floor so it would be easier to keep an eye on the truck if we wanted to. Red flag #1 which I glazed right over. She gave me keys and my grumbling tummy went to help Matt take all the crap out of the car we’d need to spend the night, though it looked like we were moving in.

Just like the girls on the top floor who spent a lot more time in rooms that weren’t theirs. Come to think of it, they stayed in those rooms for bursts of about 30 minutes. Welcome to the Hooker Hotel Oklahoma! South. We hope you enjoy your stay. Should you need service of any kind don’t call the front desk, just knock 4 times on room number 2222 and oh you’ll get serviced alright.

How do you spell the sound that comes out when you shudder physically at something so sketchy you wish there was time to go find a new place to stay?

My first instinct (as with every hotel) was to go through all the drawers, the Bible, and make sure there was toilet paper and towels. We ordered from a pizza delivery place close by and watched a little cable while I screamed at the computer for not allowing me to get online and post my witty ‘service you’ reference as a status update on Facebook.

Then I promptly crashed out on the bug free and surprisingly comfortable king sized bed, ready to get the heck out of Hookerville at the crack of first light.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Short(er) and Sweet (Tea)

Its funny but after those first two days on the road I honestly started to settle into the truck. It wasn’t exactly comfortable per se but by then I knew just where everything was, had some good music kickin and started to enjoy the journey. I knew that we were about to enter MS and see my MIL who we hadn’t seen for way too long and I was looking forward to spending some time together, even if only for one night.

From Cookeville to MS we just yakked at each other and I marveled at the sight known as kudzu. I guess I always thought Matt was just exaggerating when he said the stuff blanketed trees and grew up and over roadways in the span of one season. But oh no, he was not joking at all. In fact MIL said it can grow up to 18” per day.

Guess that’s why they say don’t lie out tanning in your backyard for too long, you might just be swallowed alive by heart shaped leaves attached to life choking vine. Interested to learn about why kudzu is even in this country and why it just won’t go away? Click here

After the Days Inn debacle we knew better than to try to get the truck down MIL’s street so a few blocks before her CR- (that’s Country Road FYI) we found the closest Walmart and crossed our fingers. At most Walmart’s across the country you’re allowed to park a vehicle overnight. It’s just that those vehicles usually come with the requirement of a different type of license – RV, tractor trailer, tour bus – and our 16’ box truck with a car hitch isn’t exactly what one might refer to as rock ‘n roll.

I started by having Matt drop me off at the door and told him just to circle around the lot. The nice lady at the front door said it should be fine but talk to customer service. The nice man in customer service said it should be fine but he’d talk to his assistant managers. One of them requested my name and phone number. The other said no more than 24 hours. We were good to go!

After his 8th circle (because all those calls and conversations took just a touch longer down south, Sugar) we met back at the front and with the info in hand of exactly where in the lot to go, we made our way to the front, pulled through and proceeded to drop the car off the trailer for the first time in over 48 hours.

As we shoved bags into the backseat on top of the bags already in the back seat and got in we both laughed at how tiny we felt now. The immediate thought that went through my mind was that as soon as we hit Arizona I’m so getting my huge black truck with tires as big as me and the step ladder I’ll need to get behind the wheel of the thing.

Don’t worry, I don’t hate the environment now or anything, it’ll mostly sit in the driveway anyway considering the current state of gas prices.

We got to MIL’s place and had a handful of hours to chill and chat in central air around the kitchen table. At one point (around 9:30) I started to actually drift off in the chair. My body, don’t forget, thought it was still 10:30 after two and a half straight days inside the very rigid backed bucket seat of a box truck.

I locked myself in the guest room for about 15 minutes and did a few sun salutations. I needed to wake up, stretch my very compressed stomach muscles (hello upward dog!) and detox a little of the road food. As a side note, we’re back on our workout routine starting next Monday yippie!

We had a Pizza Hut pizza which pained me to do because I wanted to arrive in AZ with the memory of Bianchi’s still on my taste buds but it was food and had about 2 peppers on it so at least I ate 1/20 of a serving of veggies. Upon the next drift-off I finally declared that regardless of what they did, I was heading for bed.

The next morning MIL had to work anyway so it worked out great. We crashed out and at about 8:30 AM hugged our goodbyes and headed back with fingers crossed that the truck would still be in the lot. A wave out the window at MIL who was heading up the road, a nod at the truck and trailer being right where we left them and a quick 15 minutes to get the car hooked back up and we were back on the road.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Move That Truck!

One might think the second day of driving would be easier.  But one would be just a teeny bit wrong. Not to say that there was as much traffic as the first day, not by a long shot, but we’d planned the trip to have drive times of 8 hours, 10 hours, 8, 10, 10, 8 so there could be a little breathing room.  So any extra traffic kind of shot a big pointy arrow through the heart of our best laid plans. Things worked out a little closer to 12, 12, 8, 11, 11, 10.

Road weary would be an extreme understatement.

The bright side though is that I pretty much could tell you the cleanest rest areas from Boston to Phoenix because with all the water I had to drink to avoid the swelling of extremities from sitting in a pleather bucket seat for a week, I pretty much had to pee every 10 minutes.

As opposed to usual when I only have to pee every 15 of course.

We rolled into the Days Inn Cookeville at about 10:00 PM and upon check in learned there was only one truck spot open. It was all the way at the back of the hotel which was fine because it was right outside our door pretty much. The thing was there was no pull through so no matter what we were going to have to figure out how to back up with the trailer attached to the truck. We both decided that would best happen in the morning after a good short night’s sleep and a big old cup of coffee.

That was one of the best decisions we’d made to date.

It was slightly raining the next morning and the raucous thunderstorm actually woke me up at about 5:00. The construction vehicles that were supposed to be gone to work were still firmly planted in their spots. So we walked out the measurements of the truck and parking lot to see how we could make the turn.

Matt walked the truck and got 44. I walked the lot and got 43. Oh.

With much debate we decided that since we had a lot of room at the end of the lot we could make it even if it was a 600 point turn. Of course a trailer does exactly opposite of what you want it to do. Or rather, a trailer does exactly opposite of what the truck does. With one foot to play with we held our breath and Matt started to make the turn.

You know how traumatic experiences can be blocked in one’s mind and sink deep into the subconscious? Yeah, well the next 30 minutes of my life after that moment are not like that. I remember every detail with such vivid clarity that even now that I’m sitting on my freshly shampooed Berber carpet in Arizona I start to physically shake a little even thinking about it.

There was one moment when I said, through the streaming tears on my cheeks, that clearly we’d be moving into the Cookeville, Tennessee Days Inn for the rest of our lives. On the tight turns the cross bars of the trailer were closer to the step up into the back of the truck than we really wanted but it never touched so we just kept going. And going, and going. Going until I was shaking with fear that the truck was going to get trapped crossways in the lot and then we’d really be stuck.

The 200 foot drop down into the hazardous water river (oh yes it was clearly marked with signs that said as much but I wasn’t exactly in my right mind to be taking photos of the type of stuff I usually would – stuff like that) wasn’t really what I had in mind when we said we could just drop the car off the trailer.

We both lit another cigarette. Until that exact moment we had both managed to get through the move without even a hint of pissing each other off. This was a step that I noted deep inside because every other move prior we’d have already been hating each other. See the thing is we’re both highly logical people its just that sometimes Matt’s logic is just wrong.

And I can say that all I want because this is my blog and there’s no one to tell me it isn’t true (go ahead and try to comment babe and watch as I hit the delete button before anyone gets to read just how very wrong I am).

With my own logic and a caffeine/nicotine/adrenaline induced panic attack firmly under way I paced the parking lot sobbing while Matt got out of the truck for the 800th time to put his hand on his chin in that ‘I just stare at the trailer, but it looks like I’m thinking’ squinty-eyed look on his face.

We both talked out what to do. Okay in all fairness, we both warbled exactly what to do because nothing coherent was coming out of either of our mouths. I think at one point I actually considered suggesting that we could probably pick up and turn the trailer with the car still on it just from the sheer adrenaline coursing through our veins. Luckily in a moment of clarity I did not utter this suggestion out loud.

He got back behind the wheel and said ‘tell me if that trailer cross bar gets any closer to the back of the truck, I have a plan’. Cringing at the thought of all bad things starting with the phrase ‘here, hold my beer for a second and check this out…’ I was just happy we were drinking coffee. I kept my mouth shut and continued to flag him on because that bar couldn’t really have gotten any closer than it already was.

Matt kept putting it in reverse. Then drive. Then reverse. Then drive until he finally got back out and surveyed the front of the truck. Somewhere neither of us had been in about 3 hours since we’d started this catastrophe of a turn around. We both walked up there and looked.

I knew in an instant he had enough room to make the turn. I knew it wouldn’t put the bar any closer. I knew the trailer was going to turn, nothing was going to snap and we were going to actually leave Cookeville, Tennessee.

He got back behind the wheel and I used the finger motion of ‘yup, just keep ‘er commin’ until he had cleared the concrete barrier at the end of the parking spaces. I know it was by some miracle of fate (as if the gods were somehow shining down on us and moved the concrete block at the end of the parking spot) that Matt managed to make the turn.

We were free!

Faster than you could say ‘ see ya’ll later’ we were out and on the road to Mississippi!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Traffic and Pot Holes and Tolls, Oh My!

So we leave Massachusetts at about 11:00 in the morning. It’s a Sunday so we really didn’t think too much of it for the drive down to D.C. Our plan was to spend the night at our friend’s place and do dinner with him, etc. Matt decided that 95 south would be a better choice than trying to go I-84 through Hartford with the car trailer. Because every time we hit a bump the two of us looked in the side mirrors to make sure the trailer was still attached and that Little Car was still on top of it.

Remember the play “The Princess and the Pea” and how even on top of like 100 mattresses she could feel the teeny pea beneath her as she tried to sleep? Yeah, well the smallest pebble was paid attention to underneath those trailer wheels let me tell ya.

Luckily we didn’t have to worry about high speed bumps for very long because as soon as we got outside of Massachusetts we hit traffic. And then we sat in traffic through all of Rhode Island. All of Connecticut. All of New York. New Jersey. Maryland. Pretty much the only place we sailed through was Delaware but seriously, DE would have been the one state in the northeast I wouldn’t have minded to sit in traffic to get through seeing as though at its widest point it’s about 200 feet.

And to get through those 200 feet, the fabulous state of Delaware charged us about $6000 in tolls. That bridge is about 100 feet of the 200 feet of the state and they don’t just charge you to get on the thing, they charge you to get off it too. No wonder there’s so many signs for calling the Samaritans instead of jumping off, after paying the $5500 to get on the bridge you’re cleaned out and have no way to pay the next toll. If only the Samaritans would show up with a fist full of cash, that might help out more than the vocal support.

Somehow we managed to scrape enough change together to get into Virginia’s traffic and after many text messages we pulled onto our friend’s street at about 11:15 PM. Twelve hours on day one was not at all what I had hoped for but we were there and our bellies filled at Roy Rogers meant we were ready to crash.

Our friend and his girlfriend were such troopers and both hung out until we arrived. Not only did we only get to meet her for fourteen seconds but she baked us a whole bag of chocolate chip cookies for the road. How awesome is she?!

And those cookies were gone in a flash and were awesome to accompany the bag full of yummy road treats my mom tossed at us on the way out the door.

We crashed out and the next morning had breakfast with our friend before he had to head out to work and we headed out to make the long journey on to Cookeville, Tennessee.

Luckily there was no traffic to speak of after we got to the other side of the District and we were on the road. But man, let me tell you, getting to Knoxville from Virginia in a 16’ box truck with a car on a trailer is no fun task. At least for the temperature gauge. Those mountains were a challenge to traverse but we somehow made it up and over. And then the road just went on and on…

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When Will I Stop Calling it Home?

And by “it” I mean Boston of course. This was a question I posed to Matt when we had reached some point in Oklahoma, or Arkansas, or Texas, or New Mexico. I can’t be sure. The dates and times are a bit fuzzy. We were driving along and looking out over the incredibly flat, desolate landscape and talking about traffic or some other thing about highways in New England that we won’t miss and I said ‘Back home you’d never see that…I mean, back in Boston.’

My statement was immediately followed up by the question in the title of this blog and his response was ‘It’ll probably take years. Then you’ll call it back east. Then you’ll call it where I came from. But by then you’ll probably be about 75.’

I’m sure he’s right, but for now, as I look around our totally empty apartment in Phoenix with the half falling apart cabinetry and chips out of the bathroom countertops, I can’t help but feel like it isn’t quite ours; it’s like checking into a really expensive hotel for a long term stay.

And that’s okay, I never planned to stay in this apartment forever, we’ll buy a house in a year or two and then I’ll feel more like Phoenix is my home. But for now there are other more important things to discuss. Like how totally “us” this whole entire trip has really been.

So let’s step away from the melancholy for a few minutes shall we?

The journey of course began by saying goodbye to our little elf, George. Those of you who don’t know the story of the bowling elf that lived upstairs from us, he was quite elusive. We never actually caught sight of him but he sure liked to roll for strikes and spares every night. Most days. And even some mornings. Saying goodbye to him wasn’t really going to be all that sad.

On Saturday we picked up the truck at 8:00 AM on the dot. In a deluge. And no, this isn’t an exaggeration of a little light rain where we could maybe still load the truck. I mean rivaling monsoons kind of downpour. So the guy at Anderson Auto showed Matt how to do the hitch for the trailer and I was just glad the seats in the truck were vinyl because Matt was one soggy mess. We dropped the trailer overnight in front of my dad’s house & by the time we got home the neighbors upstairs had moved their cars out of the driveway. Thanks neighbors!

The truck fit like a dream in our driveway and by some miraculous chance there was no issue with getting the thing into it either (normally there would be a car parked 2 feet over the edge of the curb so that turn would have been just a wee bit of an issue). The rain stopped, I finished packing up the kitchen with help from Mum and my WSM and between Matt and Dad, the truck was loaded with everything but our toothbrushes, clothes suitcases and our bed long before anyone was even due to arrive for the party.

Yes, I said party. In some stroke of ‘genius’ I thought it might be a good idea, on the same day we were loading the truck, to have a goodbye party. I headed out to pick up the cold cut and veggie platters and on Saturday afternoon we had a big old bash to say goodbye to everyone and, of course, to celebrate my birthday. Oh right…my birthday!

At about one in the morning on Friday night, as we went to bed in our huge echo chamber of an almost empty apartment, Matt had said ‘Happy birthday!’ and I had literally forgotten. Being wrapped up in my head with this move sure made me forget just about everything else. But seriously, forget my own birthday? Um, so not like me.

(So as a side note, sorry that I very likely missed your birthday, anniversary, bat mitzvah, dog’s christening, anything that didn’t involve Mrs. Egotistical Me for the past couple weeks, and here’s hoping they were all marvelous celebrations!)

The party was a great time and it was awesome to be able to get everyone in the same place at the same time. First time we’ve managed to do that since our wedding, I think. All the super cool people showed up, and the other cool people who couldn’t make it got in touch in their own way. So I must say thank you. Quite sincerely. Just having your energy around us on the way out of town made the journey so much easier.

Sunday morning it was up at 6:30 again and with us not usually crashing until one o’clock most nights, I was starting to get a little loopy. My mom showed up again by about 7:00 or so and with plastic around the mattress, we all got the last of the truck loaded. Mom took Goodwill stuff and dad’s plastic chairs in her car and I followed Matt over to dad’s to put the car onto the trailer so we could hit the road.

Of course we wanted to hit the pavement at 9:00 but there’s a reason we call it the FitzPatrick Goodbye. Dad had a golf tournament but WSM was there, and mum of course. When all was said and done we had the truck pulling away from the curb by about 11:00.

I started crying at approximately 11:00:03.

It’s not that I’m not happy about this new adventure. It’s not that I’m not excited for the opportunities that moving to this part of the country provides us. It’s not that I’m not really, really excited to see the people on the west side of the country that we love and had less chance to spend time with while living in Massachusetts.

It’s just that leaving a place, the only one really, that you know so well can actually cause you to well up when seeing the city of Boston on a map of the country in the New Mexico welcome center. Yeah.

But that’s five days after we left and we sure had our fair share of excitement before getting to that point.