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My road trip so far

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

My last day at my job was August 18, and the very next morning, I left Minneapolis for a 6,000-mile road trip. I’m two weeks in, and am having such a good time I’ve decided to never get a job again. I will buy a camper and live in KOAs around the country until the day I die, as long as that day comes before my savings account dries up (so… less than a year).

Then again, I would like to see Foxy graduate high school. So I will stay alive and get a job — BUT ONLY FOR THE DOG. As soon as she’s out of the house, I’ll feel free to spiral into squalor and financial ruin. It’s my life.

Speaking of Foxy, she and I are basically conjoined twins these days. We spend every waking minute together (and also every sleeping minute). I fear I’m setting her up for some serious heartbreak whenever it happens that I have to, I don’t know, run to the grocery store or something — but until that day comes, we’re a package deal, and she’s a happy dog. Even if she’s perfected the art of looking sad.

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So far, I’ve found myself in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, and Colorado. Today, I point the steering wheel toward Bend, Oregon, and then eastern Washington. I’ve been staying with friends and family so far, but in the coming weeks I’ve booked a few Airbnbs. I’ve used Airbnb before, but always for an empty apartment. These next few stays, I’ll be renting a guest room in an inhabited house — one of which is on, no joke, Killannie Street. KILL ANNIE STREET. Listening to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” to pump myself up.

Besides hiking in the mountains and seeing the Dixie Chicks in Denver (favorite concert of my life), of course the best thing about this trip has been catching up with some of my favorite people in some of my favorite places. Every stop, someone has asked me, “So, what’s next for you?” and my inclination is always to blurt out, “Move next door to you!” And it’s never an empty statement. I truly want to live next door to everyone I love (preferably aligned in a wheel with me as the hub) (don’t worry, I’ll situate you next to people you’ll like).

In all seriousness, plans are coming together for the fall. I’ve lined up a way to make some money (it’s not selling drugs), and other than employment, I’m not making any major changes right away. I’m not finished with Minneapolis, and am even excited to get back there.

Until then, hello from the road!

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The last days

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

When I think of my last days in Colorado, I will think of the temperature – days in the high 90s, the brutal sun beating down on the Mile High City, and me, applying SPF 100 like my life depended on it (which it kind of did). The air conditioner in my Subaru struggled, no longer strong enough to stand up to the heat. On the lucky days in which I made it to the mountains, I experienced Colorado’s iconic summer smell: pine needles in dry dirt.

And then I will think of the rain – the afternoon thunderstorms that you can set the clock by, raging storms that swelled the rivers and flooded my normal walking paths. Of course, this didn’t stop me from walking, although June was a Fitbit feast or famine (35K steps at the highest, 3K at the lowest – a day in which I brought shame to my family).

I will remember moving out of my house, everything in cardboard boxes and plastic bins, stuffed into the largest truck I’ve ever driven – and then the solo cross-country trip in which I got 6 miles to the gallon and took 16 hours to make it 900 miles. I unloaded everything into a storage unit, and flew back to Denver – because I wasn’t finished with Colorado yet.

I will think of Starbucks breakfasts and Chipotle lunches, just because I didn’t have a kitchen anymore.

I will remember my nephew’s faces when we all stayed up way too late playing games that made them laugh uncontrollably. And I will remember rubbing lotion into the 4-year old’s skinny, espresso-colored calves, and him telling me for the tenth time, “I saw a antelope! Outside! I saw it!”

I will think of my final appointment with my beloved and trusted counselor who, when discussing all of the changes I’m going through, reminded me, “Don’t put too much stock in anything you’re thinking or feeling right now,” which made me laugh, because doesn’t she know who I am?! But it secretly felt like permission granted. And when I said, “When I move to Minnesota, no matter what, I just can’t stop hoping,” she shook her finger at me and said in a hushed, urgent voice, “Don’t you dare.”

I will remember the entire year before these last days, a year in which life felt like it was closing in, like I was trapped and constrained, like toothpaste in a tube. And the day I decided to say yes to this opportunity placed in front of me, the day I decided to move to Minnesota, it was like the cap fell off and life squeezed loose.

Today I drive to Minneapolis, for real and for good this time. I’ve sold my house in Denver, and am in the process of buying a new one – but until everything is final, Foxy is staying with my dad in Colorado. Even though it’s temporary, leaving my dog is the hardest thing for me. I anticipate crying all the way to Nebraska.

The days to come are sure to be filled with newness, novelty, and fresh perspective. I am excited, and ready for the change. But as exciting as the first days are, I never want to forget the last days either. Because they’ve been pretty damn rich.

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Trading for cantaloupe

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

So, on Saturday –

Wait. Let me back up. I’m currently in Nashville. I drove here.

I was in Minneapolis last week, flew back to Denver Friday night, loaded up the car, and headed east first thing on Saturday morning. A quick stop over at my mom’s house in Kansas City on Saturday night, and another in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon (to see one of my dearest friends, THE Juliette Genteman), and by last night, I was pulling into the driveway of Brandon and Miranda – or as I like to call them, Mirbranda. Everything about this trip has been tops.

Back to Saturday. In the middle of Kansas, I took a detour and wound up at Mushroom Rock State Park – probably the tiniest state park I’ve ever seen (5 acres), and the strangest phenomenon: gigantic alien rocks standing inexplicably in the middle of farmland, an agricultural Stonehenge.

mushroom

Foxy and I jumped out to snap a few pictures, and – oh. This is where I show you the vehicle I was driving.

car

Nice and loud, right? It attracts a lot of attention. So I wasn’t surprised when a woman approached me. “You’re from Colorado?” she asked. “I’m heading there tomorrow. Anything I just gotta see?”

She looked to be about 65, maybe a little older. She was driving a little white pickup with Florida plates, the topper on the back packed to the brim with her things. Her spunk was all too clear, as I soon learned that she was en route to Wyoming to work on a ranch for a few months – much to the worry of her children.

“But you know, I just tell them, you’re only old once!” And she laughed with her entire body.

I asked her to take a picture of Foxy and me in front of the rocks, and she was happy to oblige, calling for the dog’s attention: “Roxy! Roxy!” I didn’t bother to correct her.

As I was leaving, I pulled out a box of bars and offered them to her. Her eyes wide, she immediately raised both of her hands, fingers spread, and aimed her palms at me: “Oh, nooooo, I couldn’t possibly accept!” I told her that it was okay, that I work for the company, and that part of what I do is give stuff away. I opened the box and showed her all of the different flavors, and said, “Please take them!”

She thought about it for a second, and then said, “Well, do you like cantaloupe?”

And before I knew it, she reached into the bed of her pickup and pulled out half a melon, covered in foil.

“Oh, that’s okay –” I started, but she cut me off. “No, take it! Fresh from the farmer’s market this morning.” And with that, I traded a box of bars for half a cantaloupe – because don’t you want to live in a world where melon is currency?

I opened the car door and Foxy jumped in, the lady calling after her, “Bye, Rocky!” And then she turned to me and said, “Remember – don’t talk to strangers. We never met.” I smiled and laughed and said, “I won’t tell if you won’t tell,” as I buckled up and got ready to leave.

When I started to pull away, I noticed her next to the car waving her arms. I stopped and rolled down the window. She trotted up alongside to say, “Don’t forget a spoon.” And she handed me a plastic spoon, because maybe I’d want to eat the cantaloupe out of my lap while flying down the interstate.

I never caught her name.

Twitchy

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

I am the girl who balances her checkbook. Makes her bed every day. Drives the speed limit. Plans in advance. Goes to bed at a decent hour. Projects ahead so the future will never take her by surprise. Always has a responsible amount of gas in the tank of her car.

This is what’s known as “foreshadowing.”

On Monday, while driving west from Kansas City to Denver after being gone for 10 days, Foxy riding shotgun and both of us desperate to get home to the Shotgun, my mind anywhere but present, I ran out of gas. Subaruthless just sputtered and gave up, right there on I-70.

Subaruthless

Western Kansas was unseasonably warm that day, inching toward 80 degrees. And when the air conditioner died, so did the manic vim, vigor, and verve I’d been running on for a week and a half. I was spent.

My friends call me “the most extroverted introvert” they know, but for whatever amount of social prowess I might possess, the truth is that people, noise, and chaos drain me of my very lifeblood – and right there on the shoulder of the interstate, I realized that the past 10 days had been too much. They’d been good, really good – but they’d been too much.

When I finally arrived back in Denver and stumbled through the door of my house, dragging suitcases, a dog crate, an ice chest, three hardback books, two laptops, and one very squirrely puppy, I could have kissed the hardwood floor. But there’s no rest for the weary; I had errands to run, laundry to run, a dog to run, and a full day of work waiting for me the next day.

Disorganization makes me twitchy, like a spider. And a lot of areas of my life feel disorganized right now, the least of which is the explosion of detritus all over my house or the pile of receipts or the significant amount of sleep debt. Last night, I came home from work and, rather than taking care of the things that needed doing, opted to just twitch for a while instead – which means that today, my house is still a disaster, my calendar is sneaking up on me, I forgot to pack a lunch, and I’m wearing yoga pants at work (although… okay, yoga pants at work are not unusual).

I wish that life was like a gas tank, and that through a simple act of fuel in, our wheels would be guaranteed to keep moving.

Actually, I think that’s just called sleep.

I hope to emerge in a few days. Until then, my earplugs are in and I’m laser beam focused on getting my life back in order. If you know any happy news, please share it – I could use a little oomph in my day.

Soul-stomping

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I recently took my car in for a major repair – one that required taking the engine apart, and then putting it all back together. I knew that it was going to cost a painful amount of money, so when the mechanic called to tell me that the clutch was shot, too, I lowered my forehead to the table. “Uh huh,” I said. “You can fix that, too.” TAKE EVERY DOLLAR, man. It’s all yours.

Later that day when I picked up the car, I asked the mechanic if there was any way I could have known that the clutch was on its way out. He said, “You should have felt it in the pedal.” I shrugged, saying, “It felt normal to me – just the way it always feels.” I settled the bill and headed to the car.

As I drove away from the shop, I was surprised at how different the new clutch felt. It was so easy to press down; my left leg barely had to work. All of a sudden, shifting was no longer a full-body effort – it was a breeze. Everything seemed quieter, easier – and I realized that this wasn’t some fancy luxury, this was just the way that it was supposed to feel.

It’s funny how dysfunction can sneak up on us. We go about our busy lives, from one distraction to the next – and just as long as we keep moving, we don’t have time to notice what might be falling apart right beneath our feet. The growing noise becomes normal. The increasing struggle feels standard. And before we know it, something inside is burned out, worn down, used up.

These days, I’m becoming more and more aware of the beliefs and thought patterns that have made my life feel hard for a really long time. Years? Always? It’s hard to tell. All I know is that the mantras I’ve repeated for so long, framing the way I think about this life and my place in it, have advanced to a point that has made everything feel like a fight.

Just like my stubborn clutch, life has gradually become a soul-stomp. And I just thought that was normal.

Famously hard on myself, I have a habit of self-pressuring to be better, be more, do more. I have pushed myself hard and fast, aspiring toward a place where there is nothing left requiring relief, all the while ignoring the ever-growing trouble inside.

And sometimes, it isn’t until we experience something the way it should be that we realize just how bad off we’ve been.

I’m going through somewhat of a personal renaissance these days, feeling revived and encouraged and all-around refreshed, and through this, I’ve had a taste of what feels right. It makes me sad that I have spent so much of my life fighting against things that were broken to begin with – things that could have been easier, should have been easier. I want to live differently.

So today as I drive my car to work, with each easy push of the clutch I will remind myself that it’s okay to go easy. It’s okay to quit training for the half marathon for the sake of my back. It’s okay to fall a little short of my monthly savings account goal. It’s okay to order the bridesmaid dress in the size that I am, not the size that I want to be. It’s okay to be a beginner at something. It’s okay to not know what’s going to happen – because whatever happens, it’s not worth the soul-stomp.

Crossroads

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I know.  I KNOW.  I haven’t blogged in hundreds of hours.

What’s been going on, you ask?  Well, this happened.

Whatever dramatic scene you’re envisioning, yes, it was all that and more – although probably more hilarious than you imagine.  Poor Toad.

Another thing is that I mentioned to someone something about Gadhafi being dead, except I pronounced it “Gandalfy.”  I like make believe more than reality, it seems.  I can’t help it.  The Real News is too heavy sometimes.  So when I go to CNN.com, the first thing I check is the Entertainment page – where, yesterday, I learned that the kid from “Jerry Maguire” just turned 21.  And then I promptly died of old age.

In other news, I’m at a crossroads of sorts.  It’s general and yet specific and encompasses a lot of defined areas of my life without being about any one thing in particular.

How do we ever know the right thing to do?  How do we ever know the best decision?  And if we make the wrong choice, is the rest of our life derailed?  (I know that the answer is no, but just humor a girl who often feels the need for hyperbole.)

In her own words: Kodi’s trip to the Northwest

Monday, September 26th, 2011

A week ago Saturday, Annie opened the front door.  I ran through it.  She had my leash out, so I knew we were going somewhere – but instead of walking around the block one time (as far as I can walk), she lifted me into her car.

I like to ride in the car.  I lean against the backseat, and breathe really hard.  I never know where we’re going, but it’s always exciting.

This time, Annie started driving, and she just didn’t stop.  For almost 14 hours, she drove.  I panted the whole time.  Annie thinks I have dragon breath, but I am not a dragon.  I am a dog.

Sometimes, we would stop at a gas station and Annie would lift me out of the car and tell me to pee.  Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn’t.  Annie would talk to me out loud, and say things like, “Toad, you need to pee,” but if I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t, because I am a dog and I do whatever makes sense to me.

The next day, we only drove 7 hours.  When we finally stopped, we were in a city called “Portland,” and the first place we went was a guy named Mike’s house.  Mike is very tall.  I hadn’t eaten any food since Friday because long, unexpected car rides stress me out, so Annie microwaved some white rice for me.  I ate it.

On the days that we were in Portland, Annie took me to an office that she worked from.  The first day, I was nervous because I didn’t know where I was, so I threw up on the floor.  It’s okay, though, because the floor was concrete.  Annie cleaned it up very quickly, and I wagged my tail because I felt better.

Forty-five minutes later, on those same concrete floors, I shat.  It was very un-like me, but in the moment, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  A stranger man discovered it, and went and found Annie and told her what I had done.  Annie cleaned it up as fast as she could and kept saying the words “I’m so sorry” to the people in the office.  I just smiled and wagged my tail, so no one could be very mad at me.

Portland was a wonderful city, because everyone there smelled like interesting things like incense and cigarettes, and they would stop on the street to pet me.  Portland really likes 3-legged dogs, and it’s a good thing, because I only have three legs.

A few nights later, Annie lifted me into the car again, and I started panting.  I panted for three hours until we got to a new city: “Seattle.”  I was so excited to arrive in Seattle, because we stayed at my friend Lisa’s house, and she has a backyard, and I love Lisa because she pets me so much and feeds me cottage cheese.  I was so excited to be at Lisa’s house that I ran all around the house, and even though her floors were made of a thing called “hard wood” and I slipped all over the place, nothing could stop me from running and being happy.

My time in Seattle was so nice, because Annie just worked and patted me on the head.  One night, we went to her friend Keith’s house, and it was very scary because Keith had knocked down walls in his house and was building them up again, and there were wires and tools around.  But Keith gave me a bowl of water and Annie a shot of whiskey, and everyone felt better.

On Friday, Annie didn’t work – she took a thing called a “day off.”  On this day, she went on a walk with Greta.  I couldn’t go, because Annie and Greta like to walk very far, and remember, I can only walk once around the block.  I was sad that they left me behind, so I chewed the wood around the back door of Lisa’s house.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

When Annie came back and saw what I had done, she seemed angry and sad and something called “embarrassed.”  She tried to fix the door for Lisa, and she told Lisa that she would pay for it to be fixed for real.  But no matter what she offered, she still felt sad that I had done this.  I didn’t understand why she was sad.  I just looked at her and wagged my tail, because I like Annie, and I’m happy every day and all of the minutes.

On Saturday morning, Annie put all of her things in her car, and lifted me onto the backseat.  We drove on a magnificent roadway called “I-90,” and when we crossed over Lake Washington on our way out of Seattle, I saw a tear roll down Annie’s cheek.  I think that she must love this city very much, and must have been so sad to leave.

We drove to a place called “Spokane,” and I met a baby friend named Eleanor.  I don’t think that I’ve ever had a baby friend before, but I was very nice to this baby.  She was like a person, but very small.  Also in Spokane, I saw a cat and barked as loud as I could and ran after it as fast as I could.  But I only have three legs, so I did not get very far.

The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of driving and Annie trying to learn all of the words to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.”

I met many people on my trip, and everyone who meets me loves me.  But Annie says that she probably does not want to take me on a trip again.  I don’t understand, because I’m so nice and everyone likes me so much.  But Annie said that having me along was a thing called “stressful.”

Maybe it’s because I threw up inside and shat on the floor and destroyed a home.

But I am just a dog, and I do what makes sense to me.

I’m very happy to be back in Colorado.

And I know that Annie still loves me.

A brief interview

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Hey, Annie.
Oh hey there.

What did you not do last night?
I did not attend a… seminar? a workshop?… called “7 Ways to Choke a Man Unconscious.”

What??!?  Who invited you to such a thing?
My friend Mike.  You know him, you love him.

Well, it’s really too bad that you didn’t go.

I know.

What on earth made you pass up such an incredible opportunity?
Well, I had to go running.

That’s not a very good excuse.

YOU’RE TELLING ME.

I hope you at least made it a good run.
I ran 4.8 miles – I’m starting to train for another half-marathon.

Which one?
I’m signed up for the Seattle Half, which is happening the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Wonderful.
Yep.

[silence]

So… what else did you do this weekend?
Well, I drove very far – 1,300 miles.

That is insanity.
Maybe.

Did you have company?
Yes – my mom was with me on Saturday.  And the Toad was with me the whole time.  Still is, in fact.

Where are you?
I’m in Portland.

With the Toad?
Yes.  She’s a good travel buddy.

I still can’t believe you didn’t go to the choking class.
You and me both.

Truck driver

Monday, July 11th, 2011

After a whirlwind game of “drive to Texas as fast as you can,” I’m back in Colorado today.

A few things of note:
– I drove the world’s nicest Penske truck.  It had a CD player, and an icy cold air conditioner.  It accelerated on the up-hills, and hugged the turns like it wanted to be more than friends.

The only lame thing was that it didn’t have cruise control.  When I asked the man at the rental desk about it, he suggested I “find a broom, snap off the handle, and wedge that son of a bitch to the floor” – the “son of a bitch” being the pedal, obviously.  And I laughed out loud.  Because a grizzly old man saying “son of a bitch” is enough to do me in.  I’m easy that way.

– I made a video – mostly out of boredom, until I realized that making a video was getting boring, too.  So soak up these 76 seconds.

– All of my dad’s stuff was successfully delivered, unloaded, and arranged in his new home.  I am now considering a new career in professional moving.  The industry is surely short on a vixen.

– I had the “Mr. Pink” at Torchy’s.  Fish tacos are the way to my heart.

– And finally, I just thought you would like to know that when I woke up on Sunday morning, I needed to get to church, but my dad had already left. So I drove the Penske. To church. In red heels. ROCKED IT.

Coming up next

Friday, July 8th, 2011

If you’re wondering what I’m doing tomorrow, and then consider that I might be driving 900 miles by myself in a Penske truck from Colorado Springs to Austin, only to turn around and fly back to Denver on Sunday, well.

You would be right.

And if you’re curious as to what the current weather in Austin is, and then suppose that it’s in the triple digits every day, well.

You would be right about that, too.

And if you ask what I might do to keep myself busy on the drive, and then assume that whatever it is, it will probably include talking out loud to myself and making up ditties about the panhandle of Texas, well.

Wouldn’t you like to know.