JUNE 2004
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Wow. Sedona is unbelievable! The colors here are really intense: blue sky, red rocks, white clouds. Everything is really beautiful. There are also lots (lots!) of tourists here, which I can't really complain about since (ahem) I kind of am one myself. And everyone here is a transplant: so far I haven't met anyone who is actually from Sedona (or even Arizona for that matter -- what's with this place?). Today we went on an off-road jeep tour, which was bumpy but fun. Tomorrow: Grand Canyon!

Sunday, June 27, 2004
Winter camp for big personalities. Yesterday we took a ride over to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and studio. I had been to the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park, Illinois, and I have been inside other homes designed by Wright, but this one was really amazing. It's in the middle of the desert with nothing around it for a few miles, which is kind of cool in and of itself. But then you look at the campus, and all of the stone and concerete buildings, and all of the desert plants around it, and the sculptures, and the sky, and the dust, and the rocks and it looks like it wasn't created by a person at all, but rather formed out of the earth as part of the natural order of things. The lines of the whole place fit like a proper extension of the environment. It's beautiful, and even if you don't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright, or architecture, or anything at all, it's still worth seeing. We did the short, one-hour tour, but next time I'm here, I'm taking the massive three-hour one.

Today? Driving to Sedona!

Friday, June 25, 2004
You know what? Phoenix is really freakin' hot! I don't mean like 95 degrees hot, either. It's seriously 110 here. I don't care how dry it is -- it's hot. Everyone is telling me that I need to drink a lot of water, so I am. Today I probably had seven or eight gallons. I don't feel like I need all that water, though. In fact, I've had to pee all day. At some points I had to pee so bad that it felt like my back teeth were floating. Tomorrow I will probably limit my fluid intake to four or five gallons and see how that goes.

A selection of things I have done on my trip so far: listen to a Mariachi band, spend an hour in an inner tube on one of those lazy river things, fall asleep before 9 pm (local time), stare at the hills around the city, sign autographs, convince at least a dozen people that I'm not a college student, watch a real live auctioneer at a real live auction, and eat a grilled cheese sandwich (American cheese on white bread, just like mom used to make).

Wednesday, June 23, 2004
I am leaving tomorrow morning for the great southwest! Actually, I don't know how great it is. Okay, the hot southwest. I'm heading to Phoenix, Sedona, and Vegas (baby), and the forecast for all of those cities for the entire time I'll be there is around 100 each day. Apparently, it's dry heat. I have no idea how that makes it less hot (doesn't it just make things less sticky?), but that's what everyone's been telling me. In any case, updates when I get the opportunity, hopefully with pics from my swanky new phone if I can get my wireless web to work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
We got a new mailman! I know, I know: that's not news. But it really is news, because he's like 25 and really cute! I didn't even think they made mailmen 25 and cute. All of the mailmen I've ever seen are either old and gray or women with sensible haircuts. But our new mailman isn't! Very cool.

No, I am not going to hit on our new mailman. Come on.

In other news about new things, I got a new cell phone, and it has a built-in camera and takes video and when people call, you can see their picture! If you set it up to do that, I mean. Anyway, it's cute and little and fun and shiny, and after years of having clunky, unsexy cell phones, I finally feel like I have a cool one. It's cooler than yours, that's for damn sure. And, my friend down the street just bought the same exact one, so we've been having a little too much fun figuring out all the features and making our phones do cool stuff. ("Check it out! I can make a mouse pop up when you call!") New toys kick ass.

Sunday, June 20, 2004
So my neighbors' dog has been barking all night, every night, for the past two or three weeks. It's a big dog, it barks loudly (very loudly), and it never seems to get tired. But recently, I figured out that it was spending a lot of time barking at me, because it would sit in the window opposite my house and look in on me as I was doing stuff around the house. So tonight I came up with an idea that's plain fucking genius, if I don't say so myself. I took a big piece of posterboard and some duct tape, and I covered the outside of the window of my neighbors' house. That way, the dog can't look out at me. And you know what? The barking has stopped!

Now, of course, I could have just taped over my window, or stopped moving around, or shut off all my lights, or anything similar that wouldn't have been so intrusive on my neighbors' house. But you know what? They can fucking kiss my ass. Their stupid fucking dog has been annoying the crap out of me for the past year (as has been well documented, you might recall, right here in this very space), and I've made this clear to them. Close your blinds, I've suggested. Put a muzzle on it, I've suggested. Train the fucker, I've suggested. Give it to someone who lives a million miles away, I've suggested. So far, they have taken none of my suggestions, nor have they come up with any of their own. The dog still barks. This is my solution. They can go fuck themselves. Quietly, please.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Tonight I made Jell-o shots for some friends who work in an office in town. I'm not sure if I'm a good friend or a bad influence.

Monday, June 14, 2004
So a few years ago on this site, I wrote a really really awful Dylan Thomas rip-off of a poem about bad Chinese buffet restaurants. How awful? I can't even begin to explain. It was bad. (It's buried in the archives if you are totally bored and feel like poking around.) Anyway, I completely forgot about this poem, as I damn well should have, but a food writer in Macon, Georgia actually found it and wanted to use a line from it in his latest review, which was about a Chinese restaurant. He's the Food Dude (I know), and you can read the review here. The lesson learned from all of this? Even if you write a really bad poem, someone will think it's good, and maybe someone will want to quote you.

Other random thoughts for today: I almost bought a shirt that said, "I kissed Pharrell." Also, you know what tv show I really miss? Pop-up Video.

Thursday, June 10, 2004
I'm back and well-rested and ready to relax all summer. The drive home wasn't too bad; the interstate system, while boring as all hell, is actually really good, and when it's free, it's even better. I don't mind paying a small toll here and there, but the Florida Turnpike is just out of control.

The road itself isn't bad: it's just a stretch of highway that cuts across Florida from the northwest to the southeast. There are plenty of rest stops, and most of them have Starbucks (some even have Cinnabons). But the tolls on the Florida Turnpike are insane. I drove for about 50 miles, and there was a $2.50 toll stop. Fine. I can handle that. Then a few miles later, I had to get a toll ticket, and when I got off the turnpike 150 miles later, my toll was $10.70! For 150 miles! (Fair or unfair? Unfair!)

Why the hell is it so expensive? According to my cousin who lives down there year round, because it can be. There's really no other road to travel on when you're going that route, unless you want to add about 100 miles to your trip. It still seemed excessive, but soon I realized what they were spending all that toll money on: All of the toll collectors had on a little uniform. It wasn't a polo shirt with the turnpike logo embroidered on the upper left, but rather a really awful pale yellow Hawaiian shirt with flamingoes and oranges and little pictures of Florida printed all over it. You know what? A tshirt works just as well, and I wouldn't have to spend my lunch money on shirts that no one likes. Pastel Hawaiian shirts are for overweight frat boys and bored office workers on summer Fridays. As uniforms, they just look stupid. Don't even get me started on the price of gas in Florida.

Other things about my travels:

  • I am totally down with sweet tea. How come no one has this in the northern section of the country?
  • On I-65, there were a lot of trucks moving manufactured houses. It was funny and strange.
  • On the right day, parts of Georgia look like the default deskop image that comes with Windows XP.
  • I saw some women in Tennessee chewing tobacco and spitting. Gross!
  • I passed at least a dozen trucks with trailers full of watermelons on I-75.
  • Little moon-faced kids with severe old-man southern drawls are strangely cute.
  • I don't think I understand the appeal of the Chick-fil-A. I fully understand the appeal of the Waffle House. A chicken sandwich is a chicken sandwich, but hashbrowns with cheese and onions and mushrooms kick ass, especially when they have silly little names for all of the stuff you can put in them.
At any rate, I had a good time, and I am very happy to be home.

Saturday, June 5, 2004
As soon as I crossed the Georgia-Florida border, it stated to rain so hard that the superfast windshield wiper speed couldn't even keep up. I was a little concerned, but then I saw some poor guy on a motorcycle. That had to suck.

Today I did nothing! Well, not nothing, but a lot of little things of no consequence. Let's see: I slept in, I sat out by the pool and read, I got a little sunburned in the places where I forgot to slather some sunscreen, I went into a candy shop mostly so I could smell the homemade chocolate smell (so good!), and I had a really good dinner with some extended family. All in all, very relaxing.

When we got to the restaurant, though, the horse race was starting, and everyone in the place gathered around the bar and cheered on Smarty Jones. Cheered on! A horse! I guess I don't get it -- it's over so fast that it hardly seems significant. Anyway, some people were disappointed, and some clapped, but ultimately I don't really care. I'm more interested in the Stanley Cup game, but I don't think they like hockey all that much in southern Florida. Too bad.

Thursday, June 3, 2004
It took just under 12 hours, but I made it to Georgia! My thoughts on the states I drove through:

Michigan: It's where I live. I'm used to it.

Indiana: Boring, but well-marked detours to avoid construction. Big ups for not making me sit in traffic. Oh, and I did pass a cheap cigarette place called the Butt Hut. I hate to laugh at cigarette humor, but you know. It's funny.

Kentucky: Very pretty, but bad drivers. At one point in Kentucky there was a big gob of blood on my windshield. Where did it come from? I have no clue. At another point, I blazed past an abaondoned Big Wheels in the grass on the median. I kind of wanted to pick it up, but I didn't.

Tennessee: Traffic around Nashville, but lots of fun otherwise. It was mostly all downhill and curvy. Not sure I'm looking forward to driving back through it, as my logic tells me that it will be all uphill.

Georgia: People drive 15 over the speed limit, and I haven't seen any cops. Does Georgia even have cops?

Yeah, and my friend Chris and I did some stuff and I took some pictures. I'm too lazy to figure out which one to post. I'm on vacation! Also, I found out that Chris went to high school with our boy Gavin DeGraw and was even in the school musical with him! Apparently, young Gavin was kind of a jerk. Yeah, so were all of the aspiring rock stars in my high school.

Tomorrow: Heading for Florida! Bring on the heat.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Happy days. Where did my Memorial Day weekend go? Suddenly it's June, and tomorrow morning I leave for my little tour of Atlanta and southern Florida. I rented a supersweet PT Cruiser, and I'm bringing two (two!) bathing suits. Plans include lots of sitting around by the pool reading, seeing the part of my family that I least resemble (physically, anyway), and hanging out with badass Chris, my friend and occasional drinking buddy from college who is exceeding cool despite the fact that he was in a frat. (You're right, Greek readers: I wouldn't call my country a cunt. I would, however, call a fraternity a frat.)

It feels a little strange to head down to Florida and not see my grandmother, who passed away at the end of last summer. This is a picture of her and me from almost 29 years ago. I'm the little one. Anyway, she was really cool, and I'd like to be able to play just a few more rounds of backgammon with her.

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