Saturday, May 31, 2008

Arizona is Weird

After sleeping in a little bit and Luna finally finding a place to relieve herself, we left Albuquerque and headed onto Flagstaff. We decided to take the scenic route to leave New Mexico and enter Arizona, so we passed through pretty areas and pueblos on the Zuni and Navajo reservations. We came across the Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves, and although Mom and I were both interested in exploring these, there was a $9 fee for each person and pets weren't allowed on the trails. Definitely not worth leaving Luna in the car to howl for an hour.

Arizona cracked me up. It was one of the most ridiculous states I've ever been in, thanks in particular to several businesses and their advertisements. For example, one hair salon's sign said "HAIR SALON" and right below it was "VAYA CON DIOS," which leads me to this a warning that you'll need God after getting your hair done here? There was another hair salon several blocks away:

"Hair Salon: Hairlapenos"

Next we came across Stewarts Petrified Wood. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves... except to add that Luna howled at the man and the brontosaurus.

And finally, I leave you with the sign that best indicated Arizona's ridiculousness. It was at a rest stop, along with two hippies panhandling.If you're having difficulties reading the smaller sign, it says "Poisonous snakes and insects inhabit the area."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Traveling - Day 1

Today started yesterday when I woke up for work. I packed and cleaned all night last night, and we finally left around 8 am this morning. With the car all packed up and Luna nestled in right behind the front seats, we were off. Since I hadn't slept all night, Mom drove for the first several hours while I rested. We switched back and forth several times throughout the day, as we had to stop for Luna to pee, drink water and walk around. I'm pretty exhausted, so this post is going to be short. New Mexico is pretty, and I love that the speed limit is 75 mph. The "Made My Day" award goes to El Pinto, a spectacular restaurant here in Albuquerque. I got my sopapillas! Honorable Mention is extended to David Sedaris for his Live at Carnegie Hall CD. My mother and I both loved it.

Here are several pictures from today's adventure.

Luna seeks, to no avail, a place to pee in the rocky, pebbly, dirt-y lands of New Mexico.

A church or schoolhouse or something. Now available to squatters and other illegal tenants.

Scenery of some mountains outside of Albuquerque

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hump Day

Oregon is looming ahead in the not-so-distant future. If everything goes according to our revised travel plan, I'll be arriving on Tuesday. Then I'm off to Vancouver on Friday morning for the wedding, and back to Eugene on Sunday. I have vowed not to get in my car for the entire next week after that.

This morning I realized that it's just plain stupid of me to think I can get everything done that I need to tomorrow before 5 pm, in order to nap until midnight then start a drive to Flagstaff. Also, my poor mother, who is accompanying me on this trek, would be forced to semisleep in the car. So we are now just driving to Albuquerque the first day. This lengthens the time of the trip, but relieves a lot of pressure and stress. Plus we'll have more time to enjoy New Mexico, because the leg from Albuquerque to Flagstaff isn't very long at all. She's a superfan of this idea.

Today was my last day at work. It was a lovely day of bittersweet (and just plain sad) farewells, as I hugged and said goodbye to the residents and my coworkers. I have really been lucky to work at a place where there is always someone to go to with a problem, whether it be professional or personal. Grace (where I worked) has been the backdrop to a lot of major life changes and events for me, and it will always be a part of my life and memories. I have found some very close friends, role models, and sages there, and I'm thankful for that.

I got to visit with Abbie tonight, and we had a typical evening of discussion and laughter. Neither of us are great at saying goodbye and prefer to act like it's not a finite situation. So we just said "see ya later" and parted ways. Copied below is a poem she gave me:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~

On Sunday my mother hosted a going away party for me (thanks Mom!!). A lot of family members and friends came. It was wonderful to have most of the people I love in one place. Of course, all of our hearts had a vacancy as my dad was not there. I'm going to visit his spot tomorrow, and I'm sure this will be really difficult as I say goodbye to his resting place. Luckily I have a lifetime of memories to cling to. I've been thinking/dreaming about him a lot lately, and as difficult as this is, I still have him in my life. I'd rather have that than just a fog of a memory.

Honestly, one of the things I've been most upset about is the thought of leaving my two family dogs, Katy and Lexie, behind...particularly Katy. She's a very sensitive soul, and my heart is breaking at the thought of leaving her and taking her best friend (Luna, my dog) with me. I have to take them to the vet to be boarded tomorrow, and I'm sure I'm going to make a big, emotional Steel Magnolias worthy scene. My mom and I had a long discussion about it last night, and although I do feel better, I still feel pretty terrible about it. I just didn't realize how attached I'd become to them in my time at home.

Well now that I'm in tears, I'd better just head to bed before I think about it too much. I've got a lot to accomplish before 5 pm tomorrow, and a good rest is the best way to approach The List [of things to do before I leave]. Next time you hear from me, I'll be snacking on sopapillas in New Mexico!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Song

The time to pack up and leave is rapidly approaching. I seem to be doing a lot of "lasts." I just had my last Friday at work yesterday. My last drunken Friday evening in Dallas with the best good friends. Today we are getting ready for the going away party here tomorrow, as well as me getting moving stuff done. It's a pretty busy day, and I'm feeling the need for a red bull here in a few. Last night was an immense amount of fun. We rocked the margaritas.

Sirius radio is having a Memorial Day Rock Block weekend, where they're playing several songs by the same artist in a row. I love this. I used to love rock blocks on KZPS, and this is very similar. On the way to Dallas last night, they played "World at Large" by Modest Mouse. This is one of my faves by MM, and I was really focusing on the lyrics. I found them to be very pertinent and understanding to my current situation. They are copied below.

Ice-age heat wave, can't complain.
If the world's at large, why should I remain?
Walked away to another plan.
Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand.
I move on to another day,
to a whole new town with a whole new way.
Went to the porch to have a thought.
Got to the door and again, I couldn't stop.
You don't know where and you don't know when.
But you still got your words and you got your friends.
Walk along to another day.
Work a little harder, work another way.

Well uh-uh baby I ain't got no plan.
We'll float on maybe would you understand?
Gonna float on maybe would you understand?
Well float on maybe would you understand?

The days get shorter and the nights get cold.
I like the autumn but this place is getting old.
I pack up my belongings and I head for the coast.
It might not be a lot but I feel like I'm making the most.
The days get longer and the nights smell green.
I guess it's not surprising but it's spring and I should leave.

I like songs about drifters - books about the same.
They both seem to make me feel a little less insane.
Walked on off to another spot.
I still haven't gotten anywhere that I want.
Did I want love? Did I need to know?
Why does it always feel like I'm caught in an undertow?

The moths beat themselves to death against the lights.
Adding their breeze to the summer nights.
Outside, water like air was great.
I didn't know what I had that day.
Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn't understand.

I know that starting over is not what life's about.
But my thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud.

I like this because it address this innate desire to pick up and leave, all the while knowing that doing so won't solve your problems. I know all of the personality defects I have (and want to change) aren't going to magically get left behind as I travel through the Mojave desert to Oregon. I've still got baggage. I'll still lose my stuff. I'll still be late everywhere I go. Nothing is really going to change. But like I said one time, I feel like I'm going nowhere, and I'd like to go somewhere to do it. And while that's not entirely true (feeling like I'm going nowhere), I did finally realize life doesn't happen to you. Yes, there are plenty of things that occur in one's lifetime they don't necessarily have control over. But life doesn't just happen. Being alive isn't about living in a passive voice. Sometimes you just gotta reach out, grab what you want to do, and make it happen. And that's what I'm trying to do.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On a Deadline

I think it's widely accepted that moving, in general, is a huge hassle. No one (at least no one sane) really looks forward to packing your goods, transporting those goods, and then unpacking them upon arrival at your new destination. Hardly anyone loves searching for a place to live. These are headaches that come along with the most mundane moves, whether it be to college after high school all the way up to moving cross-country. This is normal.

I am finally stressed out about moving cross country. It hasn't really happened yet, but here I am with two weeks left in Texas, and I'm on the verge of having a coronary attack. There's all sorts of obligations, necessary evils, and plenty of fun things I need to do before I leave. I've gotta see all the buddies. This is one of the things I thoroughly enjoy doing. Eating tortas on a Monday night? FUN. Getting sloshed in Denton on a Saturday? FUN. Taking a mini road trip up to Sherman for my last meal (probably ever) at the Blue Door Cafe? FUN. Rangers game? FUN. You get the idea. But you also can probably imagine how all this is keeping my time schedule pretty full.

Then there's work. I've got to tie up loose ends, type up procedures and "how tos" for whoever comes along next. Just general work stress with a more fatalistic deadline.

And of course, the packing. I'm actually not taking much. I'm shipping all of my books, music and movies that I decide to keep (media mail!). I'm going to get rid of a lot of clothing. And we're having a garage sale this weekend to hopefully pawn off things like...oh my toaster oven I've NEVER used, but have had for four years. Hopefully I'll get rid of things AND cash in.

Then I've gotta make sure Luna is up to date on all of her vaccinations, etc. Especially because I'm boarding her the first weekend we're in Oregon (not happy about that one)! I'm also in dire need of a haircut (to be done tonight) and an eyebrow wax. I got my car checked out yesterday. Of course there was a big hassle in that. Then I went to the dentist...and oh by the way -- you've got a cavity! I got that filled yesterday.

The largest and most awful thing I have to deal with is getting rid of my car. Piece. of. Crap. That's it. I'm putting the ad on craigslist today. I don't know if I'm being sentimental, lazy or just plain don't know what to do so I don't deal with it at all. Probably a mixture of all of those. Either way, that neon has got to go.

I am one of the worst procastinaters I know. I also despise obligations. But I guess I'm getting it done. I am, afterall, on a deadline.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Plotting a Journey

A lot has happened since the last post in terms of preparation for leaving. Last night we finalized the journey plan. It will take three nights to get to Eugene.
We'll leave Arlington at midnight on Thursday (or Friday depending on how you look at it) the 29th, and head to Flagstaff, AZ. That will be 14 hours (maybe 16 according to my mom) and 956 miles. So we'll drive until 8 am, stop and eat breakfast, take Luna for a little walk, and then continue on until about 6 pm when we hopefully arrive in Flagstaff. I'm sure we'll be consumed with exhaustion and pass out.

Then we will depart from Flagstaff and head to Bishop, California. This is my first time to ever go anywhere in California, and for some reason I'm pretty excited. We'll also be going through the Mojave Desert, which should be interesting. Estimated travel time for this day is 8.5 hours, traveling 564 miles.

Then we'll criss-cross into Nevada on some smaller highways to head to Bishop, CA. We'll pass through Lake Tahoe, Carson City and Reno. This is supposed to take 7 hours, traveling 398 miles.

The final leg of the trip is from Redding, CA to Eugene, OR. This is supposed to take 5 hours (313 miles). We'll bypass Crater Lake, but maybe if we have time and aren't too tired we can go the long way and see it. We should arrive in Eugene on Monday, and then it's time to explore a bit. I will take Mom to the airport on Wednesday morning in Portland for her flight back to Texas, for what will probably be a somewhat tearful good bye, as she bids farewell to Luna.
We've found hotels along the way that take pets (yay!), and are relatively inexpensive. The first weekend I'm there is the wedding in Vancouver for Kim and Liz. This will be a great way to soften the shock of being relatively alone in a strange city. I'm picking Jess up at the airport in Portland on Thursday. Then on Friday morning we'll take Luna to the pet boarding place and head up to Vancouver! It is sure to be a great wedding. Then I come back Sunday night or Monday morning, and it's time to hit the ground running searching for jobs. That is, of course, if I don't have one by that time.