Friday, July 27, 2007

Pt. 1 : NH, MA, NY, PA, OH, MI

i was going to try to drive to michigan from nh in one fell swoop, but at 3 pm, when i was sitting at the lee travel center whatever on the pike with four states to go, i realized i'd have to aim for cleveland instead. cleveland is where my sister is living with her fiance, or was living, since he's moving to indiana soon for his new job and she's moving back to boston for her year-long gig before joining him in indiana and forcing us all to go to indiana on purpose. say what you will, but it's klan country. makes the 5 years my sister spent living in upstate new york seem like a paradise (but the kind with snowmobile and motorcycle accidents).

i got in late, but my sister and aaron (the fiance/soon-to-be-brother-in-law/future klansman?) were wide awake, watching that show where that funny/basic-cable-handsome guy does crappy jobs, gets hurt, and then gets to stop doing the job and be on tv while his temporary co-workers return to the daily grind of collecting moose semen or taste testing kitty litter or whatever. and i know it's called "dirty jobs," but how funny would that be?

aaron's house is huge because cleveland is kinda shit-- really, his landlord should probably be paying him-- so i got my own room with my own bathroom.
however, the bathroom looked like this.

where to begin? the jaunty angle of the toilet? the space-saving hover-tank? the fact i had to patch two pictures together to capture it in its entirety? the not-pictured sink that's not large enough to bathe a spider, let alone hold my toiletry arsenal, namely the provigil i would need to get me through the next morning's drive to saginaw since the airless nature of that guest room would wake me up every half-hour with nightmares of being buried live?

long story short, i "slept" for 6 hours next to that "bathroom" before leaving at dawn for michigan to have "fun." and that's only in quotes because i didn't really have fun until i had a nap, because i was so tired the world was in slow motion and i hadn't the strength to fight gravity's pull on my eyelids or even my head, which kept finding flat surfaces to lean against, even if those surfaces were for eating or coated in baby vomit.

and i later found out that the cops in ohio are supposed to be merciless when you speed, but i didn't really find this to be the case. i just found there to be tons and tons of summer road work, which meant lane closures, which meant being stuck in a single-file death march where you couldn't speed if you tried (and many did. right at my bumper, as i gave the proper car-length of space to the guy in front of me going 45. awesome.)

i'd also like to give a shout out to the travelganza center that was either right at the edge of NY or right at the start of PA on 90, the one where you have to walk on a bridge over the interstate to get your chicken selects. kind of beautiful, in a soul crushing way. and it was there i hatched my plan to eat only mcdonald's for dinner on those days when i was dinning alone, like a week-long supersize me except not really a week and limited to 3 piece chicken selects. if you've ever driven for several hours by yourself, then you'll understand the depths one goes to for self-amusement. besides, the "supersize me but not" challenge was far less painful than my "find the craziest person on christian radio" challenge, which i had to give up on after about 5 hours when i heard a woman call in to a jesus radio show to praise god for ridding her church of the heathen yoga classes that had been taking place there. downward dog? downward devil! that's when i realized the christian challenge thing wasn't exactly a challenge. and i hadn't even made it the central time zone.

to me, michigan is a lot like new hampshire, if only because they could give a shit about your highway safety (NH – no seat belt law, MI – 70 mph all the way, baby [save for road work, which is 90% of your drive, but still, you'll drive so close to the paving materials you'll be choking on fumes for days, so no worries, the danger is still real). also, both states love themselves some guns. few of my friends don't know about my favorite business in newport, nh, which bears the following sign: "STONE EAGLE – FINE ARTWORK, FRAMING, FIREARMS." i've never had the guts to go inside, because, well, they have firearms, and they probably don't have a sense of humor. in MI, i saw three billboards that read "GUNS GALORE!" i passed my beloved cabellas, the hunting superstore chain that many east coast people have never had the good fortune to experience.

maysan and i (maysan being the friend i was visiting, born and raised in flint, sup) had gone to this exact cabellas in the past, unless there are two cabellas in michigan with iron statues out front of large, angry bears locked in combat. and now that i think about it, i kind of hope there are. either way, cabellas has everything you need to kill stuff, from a camo onesie for your infant so you can babysit and hunt at the same time, to a snack bar that serves the fruit of the kill (boar, elk, illegal alien) to an indoor "mountain" covered with stuffed and mounted wild animals, forever preserved in their unnaturally recreated natural habitat, right down to a flowing stream to quench their ghosts' thirst. so i didn't stop this time, if only because i feared i would pass out on one of the store's camoflague futons and sleep through saginaw altogether, but the sight of those bears, forever pissed at each other, did warm my heart.

also, i recently advised a friend of mine to go when he was in detroit-- he was there for an alcoholics anonymous convention, and it turns out that such conventions aren't really that exciting (talking about hitting bottom tends to kill the party i guess). and wouldn't you know, he and his fellow drunks loved it, and i'm sure that they were the only sober people there, and the only ones not handling weapons.

i got to maysan's house pretty early though, but it wasn't actually her house, just a place she and her family were staying before moving to virginia-- her husband is teaching there this fall (i'd say his name, but name+school+location=internet creepy i think? i dunno). keep in mind that they lived in north carolina last year for a post-doc at duke in the wake of the rape scandal, so if you're at a school that has hired maysan's man for the following semester, brace yourself for crisis mode now. i hope they'll stay at VT, even if visiting them'll become a pain, because i find moving to be hell as a solo entity, and the maysan clan has two small kids, the smallest kid being less than a month old at the time of my visit (and the less-smallest being 2ish, so you know he's got the temperment for long trips and the like).

we caravaned it from the temp-condo to maysan's mother-in-law's house, that being the saginaw destination, and since the front seat of the maysanmobile was full of stuff (while maysan rode with me at the caravan's helm), i'm not sure how they're going to pull off the drive to VA. maybe the toddler'll go on the roof (and i have nothing against him, but maysan's a living, breathing all-you-can-eat buffer and the baby's a multiple-trips-to-the-sneeze bar kind of dude).

anyway, like i said, i was tired, and maysan was in a perma-state of dinner rush, and husband was keeping the toddler from poking my dog in the ribs, but i was really glad to see them. here they are to the right, minus mama/the ground round with feet. mr. dad is probably the one living person who fully understands his son's toddler-ese, not just because it's spoken by a 2 year old, but because it's also a mixture of arabic and english. i learned quickly to respond to anything the kid said with a big smile and a "very good!" which is to say, he spoke toddler-ese, and i spoke retardlish. it should go without saying that kids aren't my strongsuit.

later, maysan and i went to meijer for daipers. meijer is basically michigan walmart, but better, because there are no greeters, the name is vaguely ethnic, and they don't sell no junk. for instance, did you know you could get babies to go with those diapers? maysan saw this li'l cutie and threw him in the cart. hardy har har. after i took this picture tho i had a dream that they were giving babies away like they give away bobble-heads sometimes at baseball games, and i got significantly freaked out. again, not so adept with young ones.

i'm pretty sure the maysan clan are en route to blacksburg as i write this, so i hope it's going well and the toddler's doing ok on the roof rack. oh, and i should also mention that maysan's mother-in-law made some delicious pasta, and let my dog poop in her backyard, and was generally chill despite the fact she had a family of four in her house plus their deadbeat friend and her canine.

oh, how i love michigan. so, by the way, does aaron, the aforementioned almost-brother-in-law/ f'd-toilet-owner/ grandwizard-to-be, as he is from there, went to both college and medical school there, and cares so much about the "maize and blue" that he wants a michigan shrine in the indiana supremacist compound he and my sister are soon to share.

so, when he picks up the item to the right at meijer, and he will should my niece be a feminine child, i will do all i can to learn toddlerese and remind her, despite being dressed like the youngest member of the michigan dance team, that nobody expects or wants her to become a stripper.

by the way, just to clarify, aaron does not hate black people. yet.

next: IN, IL, WI, MN, SD pt 1.

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