Monday, September 15, 2014

It's just one of those things

On the way from Purdue University to Columbus very early Saturday morning, I looked down at my phone for a reason I don't remember and almost immediately heard a loud noise and felt the car jolt. When I looked up, Eli was maneuvering his Jeep to the right side of the road. I thought a tire had blown.

We got out and saw that the wheel well and under body had been knocked loose and was resting on the front right tire. There was steam.

E: You know what happened, right?

A: What do you mean?

E: We hit a deer. It jumped under the car at the last minute.

A: Oh my god, is it still under there?

We both looked. It wasn't.

I continue to be thankful that I didn't see the impact, and that the scene wasn't a bloody one.

Eli called AAA. After two unfortunate interactions with customer service representatives (one pinned us in Cincinnati and connected us with a tow truck in West Chester even though we were in Springfield, and the other hung up on us), the third representative identified a tow truck seven miles away and estimated he would be there in 40 minutes. Feel free to do that math. We did. 

I got out of the car to call my dad. My dad answered the phone, "I'll be right there," thinking we were at the front door of my parents' house ready to be let in. It was nearly 2AM, two hours into my dad's 60th birthday. I explained that we were actually 40 miles away sitting on I-70 E. Then, he offered to come pick us up. What a guy.

The tow truck arrived around 2:40AM. The tow truck man opened with: "Is that your mess back there?"

Then, he hoisted the Jeep up onto the truck, and struggled with one of the securing cables until we felt it snap. The tow truck lurched forward. When he got back in the cab, the man explained that, because the cable broke, he had to secure the Jeep in a way he was "less comfortable" with. In my mind's eye, I saw the Jeep flying off the back of the truck, or worse, the truck dragging a half-connected, flailing Jeep at 50mph, sparks flying. I disconnected from that potential problem immediately in an effort to remain calm. 

The man started driving and told us he was going to "take it easy" on the way to the auto repair shop. We rode in silence until about half way through the five mile drive, when the tow truck man pulled over without warning on the side of a completely dark, deserted street to "check the security of the connection."

A: (whispered) Is he about to kill us?

E: I think so.

I wish I could properly explain how creepy this drive was, and how long each mile felt. I don't believe that anyone lives in Springfield, Ohio. I didn't see a single person besides Eli and the tow truck man on the entire trip into town, and a black cat crossed the street in front of us...twice. The tow truck man gave a guided tour of Springfield's abandoned warehouses until, mercifully, we arrived at the shop where my dad and brother were waiting.

We left Eli's jeep in Springfield and finally got to my parents' house around 4:15AM. 

My dad's refrain throughout this three hour ordeal was, "it's just one of those things." 

When the tow truck man wasn't creeping me the eff out, he told us about a job he did last week wherein the person he was towing didn't have anyone to come get him. I'm not sure if the tow truck man ended up giving him a lift home or what, but I sure did feel thankful for all of the support in my life. Eli's Jeep may not be okay, but we are. 

What's more, we're super fortunate to have a network of people we can rely on to pick us up in Springfield in the middle of the night. As annoying as the whole thing was (poor deer, poor Jeep), I came out of it feeling lucky. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Deep Creek Lake 2014

Back to school for one week and already I needed a vacation!

But seriously, last week did not go as well as I had hoped. I felt very disorganized and stressed, and much of what happened felt like some karmic payback I wasn't sure I deserved. My internship got off to a rocky start, and my return to the classroom was less than inspiring. The truth is, sometimes life is just like that. I'm sure everything will fall into place. 

Needless to say, I was really glad to visit Deep Creek Lake in Oakland, MD for the holiday weekend. Monica's family owns a house on the lake and getting the gang together for (basically) boating and Flip Cup has become a summer tradition. We played cards and, as in years past, we watched tons of really terrible television (the Game Show Network's Idiotest and several installments of Lifetime's " 17" series including Missing at 17 and Stalked at 17) as well as favorite childhood films, exclusively on VHS. 

I don't remember tubing as a child, but it's kind of violent as an adult. Sure, there's an adrenaline rush, but mostly it's a lot of water in your face and flipping off an inner tube while holding on to your bathing suit bottoms for dear life. I felt like I was laugh-drooling the entire time. Riding in the front of the speed boat was just as exhilarating and far less painful. Plus, there was an extra element of fear and excitement because only four of us (and by us I mean, not me) got our boating licenses online like 12 hours before. We were definitely qualified to use the rented boat to pull people on ropes at high speeds. (Just kidding-- all the boat drivers were super skilled and cautious, even if they were very newly qualified). There was also a near flooding of the pontoon boat which, even though I wasn't there, sounded super traumatic. Pontoonami 2014: never forget. 

In addition to Hearts, a card game I am super good at-- ask anyone, I was formally introduced to Tinder, which is as amusing as it is frightening. Most of the dating websites and all of the dating apps have been invented since I've been in a relationship, so I often feel like online dating experiences are unrelatable and references about the Internet dating struggle are lost on me. It was fun to swipe left and right and see who my friends matched with, but I was mostly grossed out by the things people are willing to say and send to complete strangers. Like, if you're trying to send me a picture of your private parts, I'm not trying to know you in real or Internet life. If I were sincerely interested in meeting someone on Tinder, I would feel frustrated by all the bozos I'd have to sift through to get to one normal dude. Anyway, I digress. 

As I expected, it was really fun to laugh, drink beers, and cuddle with friends I don't get to see as often as I'd like.

On my drive home yesterday, I was thinking about my time at Deep Creek and all of my friends' amazing(ly different) personalities and their many admirable qualities. I've been thinking a lot lately about the type of person I want to be; it's thrilling to realize that this is within my control to a certain extent. For example, I want to be a person who is regularly in touch with her grandparents. I called my grandma on the drive home and caught up with her for a few miles. I called my grandpa too, but I didn't reach him. Hopefully that means he was out and about talking to people and enjoying himself. 

I think this week will be better. 

Cheers to that. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Texas: The Woodlands, Austin

I'm flying home today. I just got dropped of at DFW by an Uber driver named Million (as in dollars) and I'm waiting to board. I'm sort of glad to be headed home, but definitely sad too. I contracted a pretty mean stomach bug right before Austin, so I'm excited about my own space and my own bed. School starts Monday (what!?) and I've got some things to do between now and then. Returns to reality. Yadda yadda ya. 


Yeah, I don't know. 

We stayed in a hotel by a Walmart and a gas station. Once we exhausted all our spot had to offer, which was pretty quickly, we took an Uber to a mall with a movie theater and saw The Hundred Foot Journey. It was a really beautiful movie (set in France and filled with food porn) but it was kind of silly too. We did have fun with the film afterwards, though. I don't think I'm giving anything away here by telling you that several times during the movie actors take LIFE-CHANGING BITES of sauces and omelettes and other foods that forever alter their perspective on the entire world. We talked a lot about how hard it would be to pack all of that meaning into one bite and practiced at pretty much every meal afterwards. Hilarious movie star bites = probably the greatest gift Helen Mirren's ever given me. 

But, what I really want to talk about is this painting. 

A fan talked security into bringing this beautiful painting of a whale back to the green room for the band to sign and return to her, along with an equally beautiful painting of a fox for the boys to keep. I am so impressed and inspired by the artwork WALK THE MOON's fans create on the regular. The drawings and paintings and knit goods and video art and just...all of it. I think it's so neat that people are inspired to make stuff when they listed to E's music, and I love reading fans' letters and getting a sense of how they understand WTM's work and what it's meant to them. Hats off to you, makers. I think you guys are so great. 


I was most excited to visit Austin. Years ago, when Eli and I were still in the friend zone, he sent me a text about how much I would love Austin. He must have been at SXSW with some band or another, and I remember thinking: Yes. I will go there someday. 

So, right before we got to Austin, my stomach started freaking out. I'm not sure if I ate something funky or if I caught a plain old bug, but either way, my experience of Austin was unfortunately and heavily influenced by how crappy I felt for the majority of the visit. Feeling stomach sick on a tour bus is the absolute worst-- you can trust me on that. 

Even still, when I felt like eating things, I was rewarded. We had some dope barbecue at Lamberts and some fresh, blackened seafood at Turf N' Surf Po-Boy. I could definitely eat my way through Austin, and I hope I get the chance to someday. 

Yesterday was a day off, so we explored a bit. One of our Uber drivers recommended, completely unprompted, that we visit a free, BYOPaint graffiti park. I mean, we were getting dropped off downtown seeking coffee and shopping, but something about us made him suspect we were packing spray paint and looking for a creative outlet. The park made me think of my little brother and it sounded really cool so we decided to check it out. It did not disappoint. Here's E's panorama of Hope Outdoor Gallery

We made it all the way to the top because we're super young and not at all scared of precarious, dusty climbing situations.

The above picture is important because of the three kids on the wall (also, timely and interesting commentary on our world: APD #DONTSHOOT). I noticed the kids at the graffiti park, supervised by a mom, and an hour or so later I noticed them again at Barton Springs Pool

That's right-- Eli and I had the same day as three 9-12 year old boys and their mom. 

Barton Springs Pool is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees. It was much colder for us because we went Nightswimming (a definite REM reference), but it was wonderful anyway. The air was much warmer than the water which was backwards to my brain, but definitely refreshing. 

Also, an Uber driver (a different one from the graffiti park guy) told us we should plan to watch the bats fly out from underneath some bridge that night ("8:45pm, like clockwork!"). Although we didn't make it to the suggested bridge, we saw a lot of bats flying above as we were swimming in the pool. Apparently, Austin has a lot of bats. 

Here's a panorama of the pool taken by E: 

It's about that time-- boarding soon. I'm excited to see my cats. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Florida: Jacksonville, Boca Raton, Jacksonville, St. Augustine

I hopped on the tour bus in Cincinnati after a hometown show and....individual days have felt long but the week has flown by. I've been waking up wondering where I am. You'd think, looking out the window in the morning, that there would be a courtesy "Welcome to Charlotte!" sign or something, but I'm here to tell you that most amphitheaters look the same, and most cities so far have felt the same in terms of heat and humidity. Just trust that my hair looks really, really good. 

Staying up / waking up really late is a fun throwback luxury for me, and I've been taking advantage. Right now we're toward the end of a 12-hour drive from Atlanta to The Woodlands, TX and I'm bouncing along, blogging in the front lounge with Parks & Rec, Rihanna, and conversations about synthesizers in the background. We spent some time in the great state of Florida over the past few days and we'll spend the next few days in the great BIG state of Texas. In an effort to organize my thoughts, I thought I'd group my tour posts by state. So, Texas to follow, hopefully. 


We landed in Jacksonville last Thursday on a day off. We got some lunch and took a very short walk to the Treaty Oak, which E knew about because the band did an acoustic performance underneath it some time ago. (Crazy aside: I just googled "Treaty Oak" to link you all and discovered there's another Treaty Oak in Austin, where we'll be in a few days.) Anyway, this tree is over 200 years old, and it's beautiful. I think it's my second favorite tree-- my favorite tree is on a dirt road to Lime Lake in Michigan where my grandmother owns a cottage. I've loved it since I was a kid. 

After our visit with the mighty tree, we decided to see Guardians of the Galaxy which was, in my opinion, less interesting than the theatre that we saw it in. Sun-Ray Cinema in the historic 5 Points district is special for its retro vibes, food, and beer offerings. We enjoyed a pitcher of local cream ale while watching Chris Pratt be Peter Quill be Andy Dwyer. Then we had some dinner, I took a much-needed hotel shower (better than venue showers by far), and that was pretty much it. It was relaxing and it felt good. 


We hadn't attempted a beach visit in Jacksonville because we thought we'd have easier access in Boca Raton. The next day, we took an Uber to the ocean, had a nice leisurely lunch, and then hit the beach just in time for the heavens to open up. We didn't even get to put our toes in the water before the lifeguard went apeshit on his whistle. I thought we could wait it out-- you know, a short Florida afternoon rain-- but instead we spent about two hours under a bridge watching the sky change from blue to gray to green. The storm was actually really beautiful, and now I have tons of questions about what happens when lightening strikes the surface of the sea. At first, there were several other beach-goers with us underneath the bridge, but by the end, only five of us remained. We became friends with two drifters, and eventually our fun window closed and we had to catch an Uber back to the venue in the rain. I later learned said rain was the heaviest Boca's experienced in 30 years. 


Two things happened between our Boca Raton beach disaster and our drive to St. Augustine overnight. Important backstory: my dad was born in Jacksonville and hasn't been back since he was two. 

1. I learned my dad's address in Jacksonville, where he lived from birth to 2 years.
2. I learned that the band boys had to go back to Jacksonville from St. Augustine for a radio session the next day. 

So, I decided to go on a pilgrimage, with my Turkish Uber driver, to my dad's first home and take photographs for him. It was quite the adventure as my driver and I struggled to understand each other and also where we were going. Although I thought I had successfully explained my purpose, he was confused when I didn't go inside the house on Shirley Ave to visit my parents. He parked across the street in a neighbor's driveway and smoked a cigarette while he waited for me to trespass on a stranger's property and take photographs of the house and street signs. Then he drove me back to the radio station. 

I liked Mehmet. He was really cool, and ours was a fun adventure, even if he thought I was nuts. 

Most importantly, my dad appreciated the photographs. 


After the show in St. Augustine on Saturday night, Eli and I went to the beach for some seafood and a nighttime beach stroll. I had my first oyster shooter (which was delicious!) and then we walked across the street to the beach and straight into the pitch black ocean. It was terrifying and shadowy and beautiful and awesome. I went calf-deep immediately, assuming I was wearing my indestructible Saltwater sandals. It took me twenty minutes of frolicking to realize that instead I was wearing red Italian leather. I have no regrets. 

After Florida we were north of Atlanta for a period of time that barely counts, but I did have time to take this picture of Eli with a well-deserved calzone after a most terrifying Uber ride. I want someone to compile Uber adventures; I'd definitely buy that book. 

We just stopped at a gas station in Louisiana (no welcome sign, had to Google map which state I was in). Two and a half more hours to go. 

Now, I have to go because I'm experiencing some motion sickness, and Blake just said, "I'm a professional vomiter."

Cheers. Until Texas.