Sunday, May 01, 2005

Cherchez la Femme

number twenty-three

On the road to Laredo and eventually my new home in Monterrey. 1,003 words.

[AT LARGE]—I guess I figured it like this: if I was going to leave town and country, friends and family, then I had better get somewhere. The design of my leaving had always been to meander around the landscape, seeing this and that, and finally end up at the border when Sunshine was able to meet me and carry me away to my new life. But striking out of Kentucky I started noticing that there was a flaw in this plan. It had worked out pretty well for Sunshine and her dad, who had taken a full week to travel from Kentucky to Laredo, and split up when Sunshine had crossed the border. They had spent quality time looking out at America, and their enjoyment was infectious enough to warrant our burglary of their plan. But I had a growing sense, as we headed down I-64 through Lexington and Louisville and across the Tennessee border, that this wasn’t working out so well for me. I was pinned between the extraordinary effort it took to leave Greensboro, and the far greater effort it took to endure the last eight months estranged from Sunshine. Between points A and B, it was decidedly hard to concentrate on the driving.

Still, I was hurting, and called off the first day’s ride by the time we were advancing on Nashville. In Kentucky, I had already altered our route to miss New Orleans and much of the southern area I had seen numerous times before. Still later, we had slimmed the trip again to take us in a straighter line directly trough Texas. Mom was surprised that I wanted to stop after driving barely five hours, but was happy to comply. So we pulled into a sleazy as hell Comfort Inn we had chosen out of a coupon book based on the criteria that it was right off the highway. At this creepy motel all was deserted until about seven, and then there were people hanging out in the parking lot all evening. We made sure that the computer, ratchet set, and other important things were out of the car, which we parked in a spot optimal for quick getaway. None of the vending machines worked (the only one with a cord that made it all the way to the wall had a handwritten note that said “Please NOT Use This Machine Because it is Broken Please. Okay, --Management), and while I was on the phone with Sunshine, two people slouched by and asked me where to “find the stuff around here.” By the time I was going to bed, mom and I were in agreement that we were changing the plans from “meandering around the landscape”, to “getting close to the point B”, and then staying in one location for as long as possible. This would cut down on the traveling aspect of our border run, but it would concentrate the vacation part.

At first we thought that Austin might be a good destination, but after getting on the road by ten the next morning—both alive!—we decided that San Antonio would be better since mom had really loved the day that she had spent there, and I had never been. We crossed into Arkansas by early afternoon, and Texas by five. We got gas in Dallas, and were approaching Austin by nine-thirty. We stopped at a rest area swarming with loud trucks and birds where the bathroom had no roof. At some point, we had decided that we owed ourselves a stay in a comfy-type hotel. The creepy Nashville motel had us jumpy enough to lose any discretion we might have had, so we ended up staying in the Capital Marriott Austin for a night, and heading out at noon the next day (mom said that as much as the place cost, we would be hanging out until checkout).

Austin is only ninety minutes form San Antonio, and if we had known that in Dallas, we would have pushed on through in that one day. But I am glad we did it the way we did, because we got to drive around in Austin for a while, and see famous Austin landmarks. We got to San Antonio right around two, with plenty of time and daylight to: get totally lost, find ourselves, then find a La Quinta, check in, and do a little wandering around the architectural marvels of San Antonio (including the Alamo), all in the first day.

Hey, I fell in love with San Antonio. We stayed there for three days, and it was diverting and nifty enough to keep my mind off the fact that this was a numbingly long time to wait between leaving someplace, and arriving someplace else. The idea was to view this as a vacation (even though what I was doing is relocating), and we did all the right things: shopping, museum, IMAX. Mostly, we walked around the downtown, and it was really enjoyable. I was longing for me and Friday to get to Laredo together, and to see Sunshine for the first time in three months, but I also had a great time in San Antonio.

The last little leg of our trip started Friday at noon, eight hours after we had struck out for Kentucky the previous week. Laredo was a pretty quick two and a half hours down the road, and we got there in plenty of time for me to get really bored and antsy before Sunshine called me at six thirty, or so.

And that was it, sort of. We spent the night in the Holiday Inn in Laredo, where all the food is meat, and the décor is ‘seventy-five; and then we left about one this afternoon. After a week of putting it off, mom and I said so long,; and then I hopped in the van to the border as she headed on back down the road we come in on.

And that was the last of all the leaving.

Photo credits, from left: the Author, el Joy, the Author, el Joy.

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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