Saturday, May 9, 2009

On Yesterday

Today, I have spent two decades on this rock that we all call home. Continuing with that analogy, it is a shame that so many roommates share this home and not only do most of them never even find time to see all the various rooms of the home, but our time as roommates is spent bickering. Either way, today is my twentieth birthday.

For my birthday, I am practicing the same reasoning behind a Fat Tuesday celebration. Being fully aware that you are going to spend the following time without a certain something, you indulge in it to get your fill ahead of time. Because of not having a laptop for the first part of this second endeavor, I will not be staying with hosts from CouchSurfing as much and so a day where I just sit back on a couch with newfound friends and smoke during episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer intertwined with time spent dismembering creatures aboard the Ishimura, a floating intergalactic vessel (or rather, playing Dead Space on the XBOX360). I will be here for the next week or so though, to attend a party at the house of the Denton hosts that invited me to stay with them previously. It seems all of them are moving out of their house locally known as the Bordello (which is Spanish for "male whorehouse"), and I offered to clean the Black Lagoon (otherwise known as their clogged bathtub; a shower where you expect Jeff Goldblum to rise out of the murky water behind you and smile before he takes you under to his underwater chambers) to thank them for letting me stay last time, and as an incentive for getting a place to stay this time as I pass through.

I'm not sure why I associate Jeff Goldblum with stalking you from his watery lair in the Bordello Black Lagoon, but the thought of it just seems frightening; an alternative being Willem Dafoe. Nobody really wants to find him lurking in their clogged bathtub, I would assume.

But no more of the randomness, for I have a day to tell of-

I left about three from College Station and headed towards Dallas; though I don't usually concern myself with time, Alex was throwing a bit of a party for my birthday and so time became a concern. However, there was one other initial concern that remained on my mind since I left directly from College Station. It seems the Kodiak managed to obtain an arrest warrant while he lived in College Station (calm down, dearies, it was only for an outstanding traffic violation; a traffic violation so remarkable that all the witness just sat around in awe and said "Outstanding!" in unison as if they were a heavenly choir) and since I had been pulled over by an officer of the law twice before, I knew that if I was pulled over in College Station that I would be postponing my current venture by about a week or so as I spent time in a county jail.

In order to possibly avoid any trouble, I tried to find some other activity so that I could use it as an alibi to tell an officer if I encountered one. I chose sitting on the rail of a small bridge and reading an issue of Rolling Stone (remember the one with Bob Dylan on the cover from the last blog? I am loving all this continuity in everything now) because that is something that doesn't look conspicuous at all. I mean, why read Rolling Stone in the comfort of your own home when you can read it on a bridge on the outside of town and be surrounded by blistering heat and traffic? Yeah, I was sure a cop would believe that reasoning.

Fortunately, my first ride of the day came before the flashing lights and sirens did. He was going to a graduation party in Tyler and the route he was taking would get me about an hour and a half closer to Dallas, so I rode with him. This is so terrible, I can't remember his name, but he had a dog in the backseat of his truck named Avery. I suppose the dog must've had more of a personality worth remembering the name associated with it.

Not really, he was a decent man, I suppose. He challenged and defied his appointed stereotype and I really loved that. He had a Southern accent and loved country music and was generally a country boy all around; and yet mentioned how he hated Fox News and how he studies different religions to keep an open mind about everything. Also, he turned me on to a newfound country singer that I actually like a little; Eric Church. He reminds me of the old country singers, singing about something that most people that listen can relate to and he has a certain Southern charm that just bleeds out through his music.

He dropped me off in Buffalo, and so I got near an on-ramp and started again, even more worried now about the time now. I tried to put it all out of my mind, and just so I didn't get hassled (even though I was out of Brazos County and didn't need to worry about the warrant), I still tried to keep an activity going. I started grooving to my trusty old iPod, and let the time pass as it happened. Eventually, I started singing a little which wouldn't have been a problem if I wasn't listening to "Pretty Fly For A White Guy" when I started.

You have no idea what kind of looks you get when you sing 'Give it to me baby, uh-huh, uh-huh' in a faux seductive female voice, certainly not looks of "I'm gonna' give that feller there a ride." so I decided to hold off on the singing for that particular moment.

At first, I thought the on-ramp didn't make much sense for hitchhiking; much less traffic and more likely than not, the people are only driving a shorter distance. After my first day back on the road, I've become the on-ramp's bitch though. Sure, there is less traffic, but that works out to your advantage considering that drivers know that there isn't much traffic either which gives them more reason to pick you up. Nevermind the fact that on most of the on-ramps I was hitchhiking on that first day, people had to slow down to nearly a crawl to get on so I had time to make eye contact with them, which almost always helps.

But after some amount of time, I was picked up by a shorter man in a silver glimmering cowboy hat that drove me to the next town about twenty miles ahead, called Fairfield. There isn't much to say about this ride really, we didn't talk much as he didn't speak much English but he was still a very outgoing man. Also, if there is ever a religion started for his silver glimmering cowboy hat (which I have named Russell; the silver glimmering cowboy hat, that is), somebody please let me know so I can give all glory to it.

Upon entering Fairfield, I saw a stand selling homegrown peaches and thought about that ideal of the lone weary hitchhiker, tired and starved after a day of travel, eating a homegrown peach on the side of the road that he bought from a stand in a small town. I thought that sounded great, so I worked on getting myself tired, starved, and weary while I walked over to buy one.

Only to find out they only sold them in containers of varying capacity, all of which would be too large for me to carry around. She couldn't make an exception, but she offered her smallest container of peaches to me again. That wasn't enough to fix her ruining my dream though; now I was just a hitchhiker that wasn't too weary or tired and maybe a little starved that attempted to buy a homegrown peach but got shut down by the woman running the peach stand.

Well, I headed out to the on-ramp and it wasn't five minutes before a white sport utility vehicle pulled up and offered me a ride to Corsicana, which was about an hour away from Dallas. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I was even going to make the party or just arrive on his doorstep in the early hours of the morning, but obviously I took the ride. You just have to appreciate a ride that is filled with interesting firsts. The first time a newer sport utility vehicle picked me up (probably the newest car I had ever rode in, actually), the first time you rode with somebody who was drinking while driving (because it isn't enough just to drink then drive, you really have to go the distance sometimes), and the first ride to do a third thing. Sorry, that is about all I have on him. He did offer me a meal if I wanted it, and I wouldn't have turned him down but I was concerned about time again.

Corsicana. Ah, Corsicana. I was in there for about another five minutes before my next ride came, and didn't really notice anything too interesting in the five minutes I was there, so we can move on.

Now, there was a worse dilemma coming up. All of my rides at that point had just been taking me one or two towns up the road for the most part; which wasn't a problem up until then but it seems that a town coming up had a prison there and for both it and the next town close to it, there were signs warning people to not pick up hitchhikers in the area because they may be escaped convicts. If I didn't get a straight shot into Dallas with my next ride, I would most likely end up stuck in one of those towns.

Well, count it all joy, my brethren. Not only did it take about five minutes again to get a ride and not only were they outgoing and friendly people and not only did they smoke me out in their car and not only did they invite me back to their place if I didn't already have a party to go to and not only did they drive straight into Dallas and not only did they drive to Good Records which is a great locally owned record store, but they also drove me to where Alex could meet up with me so I didn't have to walk across town to reach him; all of which got me in Dallas in time for the party.

Such a good day to start back on the roads.

Regards from the Kodiak.

Friday, May 8, 2009

To Go Back To Where I Was Would Just Be Wrong, I'm Pressing On

It has been a long time, brothers and sisters. I'll take a little bit to tell you about where I have been between then and now but not too long; today is a beautiful day, and I'm ready to get out and see it.

First, trying to leave Oklahoma City turned out to be a story all by itself; it seemed nearly impossible. I spent most of my first day walking along a toll interstate, blatantly ignoring the large signs that I passed telling me that it was illegal for pedestrians to walk along a toll highway. I really hadn't had much trouble getting a ride in Texas, so I assumed I would have had someone stop soon enough so I wouldn't have to be concerned with the fact that I was illegally walking down the toll road.

Stupid Oklahoma.

Seven hours I walked; and what happened after those seven hours (during which I decided not to worry about filling up any water bottles because I assumed too much) isn't much better. An officer of the law came up and turned on his lights and sirens when approaching me. How serious of a threat am I, really? I don't think whatever "kid walking down the road" in police numerical code really calls for lights and sirens. I liken this situation to a health inspector checking that a child's lemonade stand has a permit to operate; at that point, you're really just taking your job way too seriously, calm down.

Either way, considering that a few people I know of might be reading this will be looking for instruction and advice, let this be a moment to stop to talk of our men in blue. From what I have learned, it is going to happen; you'll be pulled over by someone that will more often than not remind you of a Sheriff Rosco Coltrane archetype. Now, this could be seen as an unfavorable situation from a commonly shared perspective, but even moreso for my hitchhiking brethren that are more likely to carry along a little something for their peace pipe with them. But despite any reason you may have, treat the officer with the utmost respect; usually ass-kissing is easily noticeable and frowned upon but in this particular case, lay it on thick. I've been stopped by three cops so far and each time, puckering up just tends to get me out of trouble.

The officer searched me and ran my name in his computer, then had me stand with my hands behind my back as he loaded my backpack and sleeping bag into his trunk. Yeah, because I could wait until the opportune moment and lunge my sleeping bag at him and start running-until five minutes later, when he would've caught up with me in his car. But he ended up giving me a ride to a nearby truck stop that happened to be back in Oklahoma City, at which point I was beginning to play with the possibility of being trapped in this town and after a slightly frustrating day, I determined not to get caught in the wicked little web of Oklahoma City any longer.

That explains why I was stuck there for four more days.

Apparently, no truckers head eastward anymore; "Fuck east, west is the new east" would appear to be the general consensus. The only trucker I could find headed that direction was going to Ohio which would've been a great start on my way to Maryland, so I decided to wait for him to leave. Unfortunately, that took a few days of him trying to find out about the load he was going to be picking up which meant a few days for me making that little slice of Oklahoma City my temporary stomping grounds. Mainly, that just meant spending a few days listening to truckers provide commentary on whatever movie was playing in the lounge; which isn't near as bad as it sounds.

But after a few days, the trucker left and the ride to Ohio had begun. I was dropped off outside of Columbus by about ninety miles and that is when everything started to fall apart in front of me. I did manage to get a ride to a small town outside of Columbus where I spent the night; but after that, I found out something. There is an old addage about people from Southern regions being more outgoing; and the more time I spent in Ohio, the more that honestly seemed to be the case. That waitress that smiles at you as you eat your breakfast in IHOP, the cashier that asks how you are doing with a friendly demeanor as he hands you your change; those little gestures help out immensely with the loneliness of the road but I couldn't get so much as a smile out of anybody where I was. The only person that I was able to get to smile and laugh was the man that gave me a ride to the small town, and he was from Texas moving to Ohio.

Given that, my loneliness on the road had hit me pretty hard when I got there and that alone I could probably handle as I had before, but then I broke one of the basic understandings of hitchhiking. I hitched into a metropolis nearing sunset, knowing that I didn't have any options once I got there of getting out or getting a place to stay. My desire to keep moving had overwhelmed me and left me unprepared for the situation. It was at that point, with the loneliness and paranoia of a night-drenched city all around me that I broke down and worked up a Greyhound ticket back to my hometown temporarily.

At first, I felt ashamed of myself for giving up when it was already one in the morning, and if I could've lasted a few more hours, I would've been fine. But it seems the road is always trying to teach me that no matter where I am, there is an opportunity there to experience and learn more about myself or that place. I think I know somebody that put it much better than that though-

"There is nowhere you can be that isn't where your meant to be, it's easy."

Coming back home offered me a chance to learn more about how far I had come in the last two months, but not in the regional sense necessarily. I am more of a patient person now, I feel like I have obtained some lost spirituality within me, and I am more confident in myself as a human being. Last night, when dealing with an issue that The Clash knew a good deal about, I had my first completely self-confident thought in several years.

"Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine,
I'll be here until the end of time.
So you've got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?"

I had some forbidden fruit that could potentially become a relationship and I thought about resting and resuming a normal life there in my old stomping grounds, but I begin to develop a different opinion after pondering about it a little more. What would happen when I became miserable with every faction of the life society had appointed me, save for the lovely lady by my side potentially? I would want to leave again.

"I lost my Saint Christopher whenever I kissed her..."

I had lived by that line from Tom Waits, waiting for a partner that I matched with well enough that would end my life on the road and bring me back to the aforementioned normal life. I found out last night that I don't even want what I was planning on finding; I have fallen in love with the road and she kisses me kindly. Normal life? Fuck that, I'm everweird and I couldn't be more proud.

"I don't ever want to feel like I did back then..."

There is the newest issue of Rolling Stone on the counter next to me, and I can't help but think that Bob Dylan's kindly smirk on the cover is meant specifically for me; as odd as it sounds.

I've been thinking about the tomato vines as a metaphor for spirituality lately; how the tomato cage helps to make the plant stronger but in doing so, it limits it to only a general means of growth. Denominations are the tomato cages of our spirituality, some need them to remain strong in their lives and in their faith but it patterns their growth after most members of that denomination before them. So what happens to the ones who let their spirituality develop freely and disregard the consequences of doing so?

Well, I'm a tomato vine sprawling across a wooden fence with no particular direction to grow except outward. Sometimes for some vines, nature will grow those tomatoes more ripe than any tool of man ever could. It's a sunny day and I'm looking to stretch out and grow some more.

I'm ready to start again, enough typing, let's get this show on the road.

"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life."

Regards from the Kodiak.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why You Won't Be Seeing Blogs Near As Much For Right Now

Saturday marked a month on the road for me. For the celebration of such an event (and perhaps to drown out the loneliness), my host and I bought a 1.75 litre bottle of vodka to partake of; and by the end of the evening, we had drank most of it together. Perhaps more important to this story is the fact that I rarely drink and the last time I had vodka (or this much alcohol at all) was about two years ago. While my host wasn't too terribly altered because of it, I was committing a genocide of brain cells and as far as the old saying "three sheets to the wind" is concerned, my sheets had up and flew away about three screwdrivers ago. I was nothing to the wind now.

Needless to say, the next morning I awoke and while my brain screamed at the top of its brain-lungs how much it hated me, I got to play the "Guess What I Did Last Night?" game.

I hate that game. Win or lose, you lose.

With the game, you always get your first clue free. My first clue was the shirt I was wearing last night thrown to the floor beside me, and that was enough to get me started. Many thoughts arose at that first clue.

"Why is my shirt not on me?"

That one was determined by feeling my upper body and noticing a very distinguishable lack of shirt there.

"Well, could be worse. At least my pants are-"

Oh, balls.

A quick hand to the lower body revealed that despite me not being able to do common activities when blitzkrieged, shedding of my clothes is apparently one of the activities I can still do just fine under the influence.

But the shirt was more of a clue than it looked. After picking it up to put it back on my body, I felt the distinct feeling of a wet article of clothing. Well, other symptoms of something being wet typically includes a noticeable odor that might help me determine why said item is indeed damp, so I took a sniff.

If there was a smell to fit just the word "awful", I'm pretty sure it was all over my shirt.

"Awful and-"

"Awful annnnnd-"

"Awful and cheese."

My shirt had the scent of awful and cheese.

I hate this game so damn much.

I walked over to a pair of shorts (not the clothing I was wearing last night, mind you, that comes later) and slipped them on. Upon walking into the den, I saw the sight to fit the smell that you would call "awful and cheese".

Bodily fluids can ruin a laptop. And a couch cushion. And a wooden coffee table. And a shirt. And a floor. That should be the first tip listed in any guidebook of any kind; bodily fluids will fuck your shit up.

So my laptop is fried now.

But the game must go on, so I walked into the kitchen and found a smoke-filled room and a small skillet on the stovetop that had what appeared to be a large lump of charcoal, with little bits of yellow still around it.

One shouldn't attempt making a grilled cheese sandwich when intoxicated. Lesson number two in that same guidebook mentioned before.

Expecting my host to be furious, I found out that he had broke a window in his room from almost tripping and falling through it so suddenly things don't seem so bad.

I had to keep up my travels but I need the money for a new laptop so I will be hitching to Maryland to join a carnival temporarily. I think one of the things I love most about hitching is that we get to say sentences that most people would only say to jest.

I'm going to join the carnival in Maryland; and I'm not jesting.

Regards from the Kodiak.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thoughts On The Road

I figured that while I was sitting in Oklahoma City for a few days, it would be the appropriate time to write an entry that covers more of the emotional side of this lifestyle, especially since as of this Saturday, I have been on the road for one month. While I am not ready to turn around and go back to my former life right now, I am beginning to come to terms with some of the harsher realities of my travels.

The loneliness hit harder while I was here than it has before. I find myself constantly feeling like I am alone even when I am with other people, considering that I am a temporary visitor wherever I go. I'm only getting what I mentioned that I wanted in one of my first entries though, I'm getting single-serving friends. I guess I should've been more careful what I wished for.

The other part of the loneliness is the desire for human contact. Not sexual contact necessarily, but more of having someone hold you and holding them in return. I want to fall asleep in the arms of another again, I never thought I would miss it that much.

I wanted to share that because I know that a lot of tenderfoots are reading this blog to consider taking such a trip for themselves. There is a negative element to living this lifestyle, and I want anybody reading this to know that too. Now, that isn't all there is, but it is something to strongly consider.

I feel like I am on the steps of losing myself to my travels, and this is the point where most would turn around and resume society's ideals of a normal life. It is going to be tough to fight against the urge to go back to it, but I think it will be better for me if I stay along this road and find out where it leads.

This part of the journey is really all about shedding those layers that have developed over the years of your life, the layers that society and the many constructs of it have created to tell you who you are meant to be. It can be a hard process but once you can take off those, you find out who you really are.

By the way, I rolled a die today to determine where I go next, turns out I am headed towards Missouri, my friends and companions. Also, expect a general blog on hitching tips and tricks I've found so far soon.

Regards from the Kodiak.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shun the nonbeliever. Shuuuuuuuuun.

First of all, my apologies for going so long without any form of an update, and it has certainly been the worst time to go without one. I just feel like I dove into a deep end with my travels and I needed the events that happened in Denton to give me a taste of my old life again, I'll explain everything as the entry continues on.

I ended up staying in Denton about a week at the Bordello, where seven different guys (all of them deeply delved into the arts, particularly film and music) lived together. It brought back enough memories of belonging to a group that I felt like I was beginning to miss from being on the road. It timed perfectly with whenever my loneliness began to really set in. I plan to meet up with all of them down the line, but for right now, I had to continue on my way as they continued on theirs.

Over the course of the week, I helped paint a new recording studio and met an array of interesting people while I was there. I had even considered moving there and living for a few months with the rest of the guys in the Bordello, but then wanderlust struck me again and I had to leave.

Leaving their side, a new adventure begins. I have ran out of initial funds and now, things are going to get interesting. So far, it has not been a burden, I asked to wash dishes in a Waffle House in exchange for a meal and I ended up getting one for free from a very gracious waitress. That is the only place where my lack of money has changed my travels thus far.

I initially got a ride into Oklahoma from an older man turning seventy who was going to gamble in a casino. He wasn't much in the way of company, but was playing some really early Elvis that I could get into and enjoy. He eventually reached the end of my road and let me out near the edge of the border, and I started walking and discovered it isn't as easy getting a ride in Oklahoma as it was in Texas. I've always heard that when you travel, you don't only get to experience a new region, you learn to truly appreciate your own; in this regard, that is true.

I reached a resting site and began to prepare to sleep for the night. Luckily, the trash bags in the storage containers made this rustling sound when the wind blew that sounded eerily like someone running in your general direction. Nothing like paranoia and fear to lull you into a gentle calm sleep. I ended up staying awake until early morning then finally got some sleep there. I woke up and got a cup of coffee from the local information center and headed out on my path.

Even during the day, the waiting time for a ride is much longer in Oklahoma. I walked up the highway some, but to no avail. I was in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in sight for another twenty miles. I had a trucker finally pick me up, and haul me right across the state into Oklahoma City. Along the way, he told me about how he just had a good feeling about me when he saw me standing there and that was why he picked me up. Personally, I was getting my groove on with some music at the time so I think he was just digging my moves. He told me all about himself and all sorts of stories about people he had picked up and helped in the past. He offered to take me all the way into Kansas with him and to stay at his house, but I turned him down. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to thank him for his help when we parted ways.

Wherever you are, Coyote, should this message ever cross your way, The Kodiak thanks you for everything.

He told me about his ancestry that was similar to my own and it felt almost like meeting brethren along the highway, which is always welcomed. It seems like this adventure just gets better and better for me.

I'm sleepy. I'm done for tonight.

Regards from Kodiak.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jim Carrey is right. Grr.

I really don't want to write this entry, let me tell you why. I really don't want to admit that a philosophy from a Jim Carrey movie is actually almost completely accurate and leads to a better life, but I must. It turns out that it is true, you can really change your life around with the use of one simple word.


It seems that the more time I spend on the road, the more opportunities I get to say that precious little word, and each opportunity typically leads to a better outcome and reward. It led me to a hotel room paid for by a man that gave me a ride recently, and today, it led me to a chance to explore and discover the religion of Islam.

I was looking for a ride into Dallas (previously, when I stated I was in Dallas, I was actually on the outer limits), and two friendly and very hospitable gentlemen originally from Pakistan picked me up. They had been living in this country for about a year, and along the ride, asked me if I had some free time. I replied that I did and they asked if I would like to see a mosque. They had to catch up on their prayers and needed to stop by, and I was interested so I told them that I would. We arrived there and I went inside and they both were very courteous and asked me to remove my shoes.

I thumbed through the Qur'an while I was there, and I noticed how many of the stories were the same from the Judeo-Christian Bible; Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Moses and his trials of freeing the Israelites, and even Christ himself.

Expect an upcoming blog entry on my thoughts about religion, I don't want to stir up negative emotions tonight.

I'm also going to say that little word to an invitation I got today to spend a few nights with a group of filmmakers and musicians living together in their little slice of Bohemian paradise in Denton. Right now, I'm saying it to a pipe being offered in my direction by some friends of a friend so I suppose this is it for now.

Regards from Kodiak.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two Rides; One Good, One Bad

I had stayed in Austin too long on the day I intended to leave and by the time I was walking down the highway with my thumb to the road, the sun was already setting and it is hard to find someone willing to pick up the Kodiak in the night. I walked several miles and someone pulled over and offered a ride to the next town and I took the offer.

He started asking me about how much money I had on me, and when I pulled out my cell phone to check the time, he asked about that as well in a very obvious manner. He attempted to come off as intimidating so when he finally noticed my laptop bag and asked what I had in there, I answered in a way that I knew would silence his questions.

"I'll tell you what I have on me. I've got a knife in my pocket to protect all my other things with me."

He dropped me off at the next exit after that, at the local gas station.

I walked a little longer and had given up hitching for the night as the clock struck ten that night. I began just walking to find a church to sleep behind until a pickup truck drove up beside me and the driver asked where I was going. I told him Dallas, and he said he was going to the same. He said his wife had just told him that she was considering divorce so he was going to Dallas to see his brother and play a round of golf for the weekend. Along the way, he told me all about his children and I told him about my journey so far.

We reached Lancaster, on the outside of Dallas, and I asked if he would just drop me off at a local motel for the evening. I was about to get out of his truck and he said that he would like to pay for my room for the night. I ended up getting a free room there thanks to him, but also suffered the first casualty along the trip since I left my cell phone in his truck. I'm working on getting another one now, and will have it as soon as possible.

I'm not sure how long I'll be in Dallas. It all depends on where the wind blows me.

Regards from Kodiak.