24 August 2005

Procrasti Nation: Hit the Ground Running and Don’t Look Back

All who know me fairly well know that I am infamous for my procrastination. If there are two subjects I could easily get a doctorate in, they are comic books and procrastination. That’s how good I am. I’m not sure if procrastination can be taught. It might be an inherent ability in select individuals.

The night before my departure I was up until three in the morning, frantically packing for my journey with scarce hours to go before I would depart. What clothes did I need? What would the weather be here and there? Which CDs need to come with? I wished I had an iPod. That’s like having seven hundred CDs in the palm of your hand. I also needed at least a short box of comics, books, and graphic novels. I’ll be gone for at least a month after all.

I made my last minute hotel reservations at the behest of my worrisome mother and printed out my route plans from Mapquest. I would arrive in Arizona in four days. That's 1,010 miles to Metropolis, Illinois, stopping overnight in Morehead, Kentucky and then 188 to my great aunt’s house in Saint Charles, Missouri. Followed by an additional 762 miles to Amarillo, Texas and then 778 more to Sierra Vista, Arizona. That makes for a total of 2,738 miles, not including tooling around town to minor last minute destinations.

After only three hours sleep I pulled my corpse-like body from my bed. I continued to pack, or should I say, over-pack. Another characteristic of mine. I always bring many just-in-case items, just in case I have hours and hours of free time for reading and other such entertainment. I almost never find time for such asides on any trip. I got on the road at about eight that morning after saying good-bye to my grandparents, with my father seeing me off just before he headed to his daily grind. Tons of clothes, more books and comics than I could read if I traveled for six months filled my trunk and back seat. I hit the ground running with about an eighth of a tank of gas, hoping to make it as far as New Jersey, where gas would hopefully be significantly cheaper.

About 30 miles into my estimated 8,000-mile escapade the gaslight came on. Shit. I had only made it to Queens, so I had to stop at the gas station near exit 17 on the Grand Central Parkway. Some luck did befall me. The smokingest girl I'd ever seen was leaning over her sports car. Camaro, Corvette, whatever. I wasn’t looking at the car. I noticed at least eight other guys ogling her as she wiped down her windows. Since I was almost in Jersey I put in only about two gallons of gas, which went in way too quickly. Hesitant I got back into my car and was on my way to find something out there on the highways.

Driving through Pennsylvania was pleasant except for U.S. Interstate 78. No one gets through that interstate unscathed, due to constant construction. Traffic was at a halt for a good while as only one lane was open. Trying to conserve gas and our environment, I opened the moon roof, all the windows, and shucked my shirt. The air conditioning would have to wait until the heat was unbearable, I told myself.

Phlegm and mucus exploded from the back of my throat and maybe my nostrils too. I had been sick for several days. I had a full box of tissues, but managed to sneeze all over the windshield many times before I could grab one and cover my mouth. Upon skirting Harrisburg, the state capitol, I could finally build up some speed in my new automobile. Not much later I crossed the Mason-Dixon line entering Maryland. I sneezed all over the inside of the windshield again. I was driving through history.

Beautiful green mountains and valleys, strewn with foliage formed the West Virginia landscape. From what I gathered it's not the backwards hillbillies and coal soot covered miners as I thought it might be. Maybe that's the New York elitist in me that expected the worst based on movies like Deliverance. Naturely scenery blurred past my windows. At this point the driver window was up. I had forgotten this when I turned my head to sneeze out the window. More gook sprayed splayed on the window next to me. The highway rose and fell like the chest of a sleeping giant. The cruise control strained under the constant barrage of down and then sudden steep upgrades. Losing altitude, my car whizzed downhill at over one hundred miles per hour and I was thrilled. The only times I saw police were at work zones, where I curbed my enthusiastic excess speed.

I was in the left lane, lazily going about my way in my lane when a car from the right lane veered at me. I must have been doing about eighty, which is about the speed limit there. He had been right next to me and for no apparent reason, had come toward me. There was no one in front of him in the right lane. Had he looked he would have seen me in the left lane, just next to him! Breaking, I swerved into the left hand shoulder, slamming my palm on the horn hoping this would indicate that he’d better get the fuck back over. I was scared shitless. The guy moved immediately back into the right lane and then pulled onto the shoulder and stopped. I wonder if he fell asleep at the wheel or if he's just a dumb asshole.

Six-hundred-and-eighty-five miles from Long Island I arrived in Morehead, Kentucky. After thirteen hours of driving while sick I was hungry and exhausted. All I had eaten were sugary snacks from gas stations, like pudding pie and vending machine hot chocolate along with my bag of cough drops. As luck would have it there were about five places to eat in the same parking lot as the Quality Inn I stayed at. Food prices were so cheap, that I felt bad leaving a normal percentage tip, so I tipped the waitress what I think was a lot based on the area.

Dead zone. I was told Morehead could not receive Verizon Wireless signals over the surrounding mountains, so they didn't charge me for my long distance phone calls. On my way back from dinner I saw a skunk walking across the lot. I had never seen one except on TV and maybe in a zoo. I got close, but not too close. I thought it would be cool to get it to spray, but didn't want to stink for days, so I let it be. It is also well known that I am a certified night owl. It wasn’t even late, but I was soon in my bed deep asleep. That’s how tiring a twelve-hour day behind the wheel can be.

PS: Please note: I am writing this as if I'm posting about every day as if I am still on my trip. Hopefully I remember things as they really happened and not as I wish them to have happened. Memory is a very faulty thing you know.

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