Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baby girl, I'm a blur...

Days 4-6- Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis

So today was the day when I realized I was traveling across country, often alone, for 8 weeks. It happened as I walked through Loring Park in Minneapolis, a charming, if entirely anonymous city. How much will I miss not being egged on by a better half? How much will I miss because I'm not quite ready to stick myself too far out in these new places?

But then I found a sculpture garden. And like that, I found peace.

I left Chicago on Saturday morning after reading for a few hours in Wicker Park. I'm not so sure about Chicago. I think I may need more visits with friends to really understand the magic. In the meantime, I'm glad I've been there...not in a hurry to get back.

I spend Saturday evening through this morning in Milwaukee with the one and only Katie Brandes. She is ever a hoot. We participated in the worlds largest music festival, Summerfest where we enjoyed Our Lady Peace (yessss), wandered the streets of Milwaukee's Third Ward, read the hours away on the beaches of Lake Michigan, grad partied it up...it was a good time. It is such good news that she will be moving to NYC in a few weeks...mostly for her sanity.

Today, her pal Joe and she took me up to Madison to wander around UW and the town. It is lovely...extremely cute...a little Burlington-esque despite being much larger. I think it might just be too small and too far upper midwest to warrant an application, though the vibe was excellent.

Henceforth, I moved on to the Twin Cities to take in UM. The most attractive campus of the 3 Big 10 schools I've visited this week, but I think I'm least attracted to the city. Uptown is a hoot, and I give them props for their value of public art. But it is too sterile of a city with not enough of a vibe. And even farther up and west.

But as I said, I found a very nice peace wandering the sculpture garden at dusk, looking at the skyline and continuing to clarify my goals to the future. Tomorrow marks a huge push west...as far as I can make it, and likely an end to regular beds and showers at least for a week or two. It'll be a cool change to get out of the city hopping pattern. We'll see how it goes when things get more rural.

It won't be until I get back around to Austin in 4 weeks that I return to a familiar place, although many old faces will be popping up along the way, which brings great comfort and excitement. In the meantime, the many new places and faces have been great, and I look forward to meeting many more.

Next time you will hear from me will likely be from Portland next week...crazy.

Be well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

but i will never be lonely along the way

Days 1-3
1,309 miles
Avg speed: 58
Avg fuel economy: 30.8 mpg

Ballston Spa--Washington, DC--Columbus, OH--Chicago, IL

So here I am. In my itty bitty, if fashionably appointed Chicago hotel room. Weeks of "planning", countless pairs of excitedly soiled slacks, and no shortage of questioning.

If the first three days are any indication of the 7 weeks to come, I am in for a wonderfully whirlwind adventure.

I scrawled the following in a composition notebook (100% recycled, obviously) in DC on Friday evening:

If we were all looking for summer, I've found it, and it is hiding in downtown DC. I arrived at 3:30 today to a somewhat muggy 90 degree sun and proceeded to frolic downtown with Mlle. Payne (who was only slightly late for class).

The drive was blissfully free of nuisances, save for a gentleman who nearly planted his AstroVan into a jersey barrier...in Jersey...at about 90 miles per hour 3 car lengths ahead of me and my car (hereon referred to by her name, Veronica, Ronni for short, also Christy said with a strong Mexican accent).

I had suspected that my time in downtown DC would be spent strolling the sites and bangin' off a few pics, but in a move providing even more bliss than the drive, I have found a Pret a Manger on I street, icy cold with AC in which to enjoy a sandwich (granny smith apple, cheddar, arugula, mayo) a lemondate and some A-grade people watching. Reading, writing and watching the world pass in front of me seems as worth a project as retreading steps I have taken many times and will take many times again in due course.

Though I hesitate to romanticize the lives of the suited people that pass me as they leave work and board the metro at Farragut Wst, I cannot help but wonder what that life is like. It could be me, it indeed is many of my friends...Morena could walk by right now were she not on a mental vacation. I admire them, feel for them and in a way fantasize about that high-powered existence.

However I must say that I disapprove of both pleated pants and khaki-colored Levis skinny jeans as office wear.

Regardless, my disdain for professionalism aside, I'm into the energy of Downtown DC. It is a well tailored energy, an energy that stems from big minds doing big things...I dig it.

I think, however, that Boston may still win.

At this point, I figured it was time to begin my trek to SW to see the Red Sox-Nationals game with Payne-trayne, Sarah and Ray-Ray. It was a good time. There were more sox fans in Nationals stadium than would fit in Fenway at capacity. Just goes to show you, your town can never truly elevate beyond a rancid backwater in the glory of Red Sox Nation.

After a drink in Spring Break '97 paradise on the waterfront and a quick nights sleep, I moved on to Columbus.

So I don't gush in the ensuing lines, I will get this out of the way now. I love the Roese family. Unabashedly and shamelessly.

Anywho, I arrived after another brief 7 hour jaunt at Casa del Roese, where I was prepared a lovely homegrilled dinner and was taken on a lovely tour (in a hailstorm) of Ohio State.

Some delirious television watching and several glasses of Pink Lemonade (ingredients: Lemon, Water, Sugar, Pink) later, we crashed, we awoke, we took Bailey to the Tiki Pool in fabulous Lancaster, and I returned to Columbus under sunny skies for an iced Chai and an extended walk around Short North. I could do it. I could get my M.Ed. at OSU and not be unhappy. And save a lot of money. And get like the best degree I could get. Food for thought. Extremely serious thought. I want to buy a condo...and travel...and enjoy my life. Is Harvard really worth putting those things off for 10 years? We'll see.

So another whirlwind lap landed me 8 hours later, in Chi-town...the windy city...the second city...the not-mistake by the lake...Chicago. Besides frying in my car because I hit it at rush hour, I have enjoyed my brief evening in Chicago (thank goodness I put Can't Tell Me Nothing by Kanye on early enough to listen to it entirely through 3 times before I hit traffic...that would have been sad). This city has a baller energy. Its New York...but not as self-consciously large and annoying. I did the waterfront, I took in Taste of Chicago (delicious...not terribly cost effective...but I found beer), and took approximately 200 pictures at dusk on Navy Pier. Tomorrow I will hit Michigan Avenue, take a look at UI-Chicago and go explore some cool fringe neighborhoods.

For now I am content that my hotel has free wireless and chilled filtered water on every floor. And it was $104. Ballin...shot-callin.

I just so love the city. It is easy to remember why I hate the suburbs every minute of every day, but damn I love coming into a city...cities of any size from Columbus to Chicago, and remembering what is so magical. The mountains and rural areas live...breathe...sing their own song...one I know I could never live in but adore visiting. The city screams, wails, beats drums, pounds pavement, spits in your face and kicks you in the shins. And then it buys you drinks and makes you feel oh so good. I need to get back.

As for now, I am exhausted. But feeling great. I was apprehensive about my first solo night, but am so content with my wanderings. And so excited for what is to come.

Pics tomorrow? Maybe. On to Milwaukee after lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

show me what you got little mama

Updated itinerary...

6/24- DC
25- Columbus
26- Chicago
27-29- Wisconsin
30-7/5- Montana via Black Hills, SD
7/5-7/8- Portland
7/8-7/12- NorCal, Yosemite
7/12-7/14- San Fran
7/15- Morro Bay
7/15-7/19- LA
7/19-23- Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion, SLC, Arches
7/23-7/26- Denver and environs
7/26-7/30- Santa Fe, Austin, San Antonio
7/30-8/2- New Orleans
8/3-8/5- Savannah, DC
8/6-8/11- NYC


can't tell me nothing

In a nutshell, my time at home...brother learned how to mow the lawn, semi-drunken cookie making at 1am, and my Grandparents' 50th Anniversary spectacular.

Having moved someplace with more interest, excitement and cultural alertness in its little finger, it is easy to forget the virtues and timelessness of home. Family that have been there forever, and friends that have been there a hell of a long time, too. Friends that you can pick up conversation with after months of not speaking...like you saw them yesterday.

It's an extremely fortunate existence I live...despite how hard it can be choosing animal figurines at HomeGoods, etc...

I'm cleaning...packing...Veronica is all gassed up and ready to go...8 or so weeks seeing an America I largely have never really seen. This time tomorrow I will be on my way to a Nationals-Sox game in DC...this time next week I will be at Glacier National Park...in two weeks Portland...three Yosemite, four Colorado, five Texas...it's astonishing. And much of it solo...simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. 

It's startling to realize that aside from Cape Cod...Disney World...and of course Cleveland...I've had the chance to do so little traveling. I'm fortunate for what I've had, and ready to be changed by what I soon will.

Am I an East Coast boy? Is Boston my destiny? Is cheese in Wisconsin better than Vermont? Will I need that many shirts?

The big questions. Stay tuned for answers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the circle only has one side

So what if Vermont becomes my second or even third favorite state after this journey? These are the tough questions that I am facing every waking hour as I ramp up towards this adventure.

My life is difficult.

That being said, this is so the summer to travel. I've been easily finding accommodations for next to nothing. We are talking $16 hotel rooms at places that look like I probably won't have ANYTHING stolen from me. It's madness!

Hot tub o'clock.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

another stolen hour

I purchased a number of entertaining road trip supplies this evening, including emergency antifreeze, emergency oil, emergency jumper cables, an emergency maglite, emergency (root) beer, emergency pants, etc...

In more interesting news (not really)...behold! An itinerary!

T June 23- Depart Ballston Spa
T 6/23- S 6/27- Six Flags, DC, Columbus (Roese Family, OSU)
S 6/27- M 6/29- Milwaukee (Brandes!?, Summerfest)
M 6/29- S 7/4- Madison (Visit UWisc), Minneapolis (Visit UMN), the Dakotas, Montana (Jakeums!)
Su 7/5- Sa 7/11- Seattle to San Francisco (Portland, etc...)
Su 7/12- W 7/15- California Stuff
W 7/15- Su 7/19- LALA Land (USC, fun, etc...)
Su 7/19- LA to Vegas
M 7/20- Sa 7/25- Vegas to Denver via AZ and UT
Su 7/26- Sa 8/1- Denver to (Buy Art, Visit UT, Eat Queso) New Orleans (ambitious) 
Su 8/2- NOLA to NC (Good people, UNC)
T 8/4- NC to DC
W 8/5- DC to NYC...NYC through the weekend

Okay, so hardly revolutionary, exact or necessarily sane, but I'ma make it happen.

It was brooding out today, and I am always brooding so I got on with today quite well. I'm thinking about really eliminating most of the clothes that I bring...I mean plaid is plaid. And jeans are jeans. They both hide stains well...I don't smell that bad...

Whatever. I'm just getting stoked.

Monday, June 15, 2009

when the moon fell in love with the sun all was golden in the sky

From my parents cabin, Lake George, NY. 6/12/09.

Rarely would you find me admitting to liking Panic at the Disco.* But the fact of the matter is that when Pretty. Odd. came out last Summer, I regularly found myself sneaking out on evening drives into Newton in the Mini to enjoy this interestingly crafted critically designated knock-off of sgt. peppers lonely hearts club band.

Fast-forward one year. Ten months in an amazing job that I sucked at. 15 pounds heavier. A shade less happy, but more than a shade more optimistic. Down a Mini, up a Mazda. Sunburned lips (really annoying).

And in Ballston Spa.

I was not ghostriding the whip (I was, in fact, humanriding aka driving the whip) in Saratoga Springs today when my favorite track from the aforementioned album came thundering through my mediocre Bose speakers.

And quite suddenly I was certain I was going to puke. I'm really spending 10 weeks away from the greater Boston metro area...and away from any working responsibilities. What the hell was I thinking? I've never felt comfortable and at home in a place away from Boston, and thusly stayed every summer during college (save for stupid 05). Do I simply miss the geographic entity? Do I miss what it represents? Am I attached to Boston or the idea of Boston? What Boston means in terms of the last five years?

I embrace this opportunity. I will meet new people. Strangers. I will not eat Wendy's every day. I will venture off the beaten path. I will not be emo (all the time). I will dance. Everywhere.

Its my chance to figure out what comfort is and where comfort lies. And to find out what hating work and not being able to live without work means.

t-7 days to take off.

*note of importance: i don't and never have liked Panic! at the Disco. Just Panic at the Disco.