2014 WILL be better

Our hotel in Slidell, LA. The dog decided she'd like to travel by suitcase.

Our hotel in Slidell, LA. The dog decided she’d like to travel by suitcase.

Oh goodness, 2013’s final present to me was the honest-to-god flu. One of the few bright moments between coughing up a lung and coughing up a  lung has been finding Rohto(ロート) eyedrops in American drugstores. Mint eyedrops in my tired eyes while sick and road tripping across the country? YES SIR. Or wait, maybe they’ve been around for a while in the U.S. and I just never noticed. When I searched in English, this popped up first:

Urban Dictionary, rohto:

Gods [sic] true gift to stoners. The best eye drops on the market

I see. Well…. yes, I can see that (no pun intended).

Anyway, so yes My sister and I roadtripped from near Philly, PA (my hometown) to Houston, TX over the course of three days. It’s about a 24 hour drive, but I broke it up into more like 10-8-5. (With stops, since I basically needed a hot beverage constantly and was drinking about a liter of water an hour, it was more like 13-10-7.) What did I learn from this road trip, other than that cruise control + the flu + stretches of monotonous landscape in Mississippi and Alabama = road hypnosis?

1. Apple maps can still suck it. We followed a highway sign in rural Tennessee to try to go to a Starbucks, because I desperately needed a hot drink and wanted decent (enough) tea. But, typically, the ‘Bux was nowhere to be found once we highway-exited. So I asked Maps. After it tried to turn me onto a dirt trail, I almost chucked the phone out of the car. We kept driving, trying to find a place along the winding road to pull over, and wound up easing into the gravel lot of a dilapidated and unsteady-looking nondenominational church with black crosses in the windows and its own wooden-stand “salon” in the front yard. It was across from a burnt out barn, nonetheless. No lights but our headlights. It would have been a lovely setting for a horror movie, and my sister was legitimately spooked. After that I used Google maps to guide us back to the real Starbucks location, and actually even got a free tea at the lovely new building. Guess it wasn’t -that- rural.

2. People in rural Alabama don’t know what to make of me: I’m not that weird. I’m really, really, not, right? I did have a fresh haircut, so the sides are shaved. I got confirmation throughout this roadtrip that I look like a lesbian (an adorable academic dyke, I’m hoping!), by people for whom this is not a good thing. The car’s low-fuel light was on, so we stopped at the first no-name gas station we could find in a small town. I was paying cash for gas, so I went in to get a coffee (hot beverages!) and pre-pay for my gas. When I entered the shop, everyone inside stopped what they were doing, comedy-sketch style, and sized me up. I gave them a goofy grin and moved to nonchalantly pour myself a coffee while being stared at so intently I was sure I was going to drop something or trip. I smiled big at the good ol’ boy standing to my right, who wasn’t trying at all to hide the look of incredulity and disapproval on his face.

What? Just the short hair? I don’t even merit that kind of attention in Japan, people. (Although… Japanese folks are probably trying harder to hide the stares, eh?)

Similar experience in rural Georgia.

3. New Orleans on New Year’s Eve is exactly how I imagined it. (Enough said). Watch out for flying Mardi Gras beads and unsteady drunks! People watching at its best and worst all at once.

But.. my sister and I found the best live broadcast in rural Louisiana, transmitting from a dive seafood shack. The DJ just did not care that he was singing and talking over the songs, and heckling the customers. S. and I were absolutely crying with laughter. Bonus points for the FEMA trailer jokes.

4. The mountains of Tennessee and Virginia are beautiful. We saw some views that really took my breath away. Blue Ridge Mountains, you are a sight. Mountains meeting bright blue water, and the road running around and through it all, taking the ache out of my lungs and throat for a few minutes. Everything blue and grey and black and white and vivid. And the cold, dark waters of the Louisiana swamps, with trees popping out here and there in the middle of the water- the bridge from Slidell, LA to NOLA…. yeah.

5. Subway has sriracha sauce as an option for their subs now. What’s a vegetarian / health foodie to do for lunch on a road trip, when she’s got two dogs that can’t be left in the car and is trying to bust tail to make good time? Subway! It’s pretty much the only option. So I got my veggie sub, and truth be told, the sriracha sauce was a bit overwhelming on it. But the spiciness was, um, welcome cold medicine.

J wants to go to court and finalize our divorce next week. I was “meditating” this evening (and generally feeling lonely), when I realized that rather than sitting with my eyes closed, doing my meditation-thing, I was staring into space sadly. I told him I had a dream that he fell in love with me again and asked me to re-marry him. He is refusing to engage when I say things like that, and really I don’t even want that dream to come true but… I also want to stop doing things like staying out all night making out with a guy in my parents’ car while visiting them for Christmas. Yeah, I did that. Day after Christmas. The guy gave me the flu.

I thought I couldn’t wait to get back to being home alone, to my routine. The routine is good, and a certain amount of alone time is also good. This is the first night I’ve been alone though in three weeks and it feels weird in a bad way. But I’m -making- myself do it, because the nonstop parade of guy distractions isn’t the healthiest thing either.


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