The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit
by Joanna Cagan, Neil De Mause
Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop + Some People by Danny Hoch
On my vacation I listened to...
More 50 Cent than I thought I could
Joe Budden's Pump It Up
Ludacris' Act the Fool
Beyonce's Crazy In Love
Anything else because these songs are on a four-song rotation
Notes from the Trip That Won’t mean Nothing To You 07.09.03
I. Maryland, you are beautiful. Baltimore, look at all the industrial buildings, ripe for residential playgrounds! I never knew. Except for that a-hole in the Jag. And FedEx Field through the trees. And the Beltway and its traffic patterns. And the little shit in the Jetta. And drawbridges? Come on, dog.
The rap contest is fun, but being that it’s an hour long, being in one hour of DC area traffic is not the coolest thing since successful lawsuits against Big Tobacco. My father is asleep. My brother and I discuss the merits of Olympic Freeze-Tag.
II. Two things I have always wanted to do—set foot in Virginia (preferably on the campus of U. of Virginia but a restaurant just off the interstate will have to do) and make my own city, simply so I can name the streets and make a great radial subway system.
One goal down, one to go.
III. At a rest stop in North Carolina, North Cackalack, NC. Where there is nothing to see but the occasional fam and thickets of pines. And this passing Amish-like woman and her four ultra blonde children. Our AC has decided to lovingly leak onto the carpeting of the passenger side front seat.
“A defect,” my brother says, squeezing out the mat in a dirty cascade next to a white SUV, “we knew that from the last time it got repaired. It might happen again.”
Yeah, but I don’t remember that much fluid, Brother Dulce. The black people have gotten fatter and the white people are rocking crew cuts and tight JC Penney pants. The Asian people ain’t here. And at mile 21 from the South Carolines, I see why Pixel insisted I look out for the South of the Border signs:
Chili Today | Hot Tomale
G-ddamnit I am fiending for a city.
IV. St Petersburg, Florida, in a descriptive list:
*Mobile home parks
+Used car dealerships
+The reddened man walking on the inside shoulder of a boulevard, over a bridge
+Truck parts for sale
+Low-price, low-lying motels, with a coat of southern grime
+Ladies drink Free
+Car audio installed for you
+Kyle, a v. serious Kirby Puckett look with the phone to his ear doing his quick bail-bonding
+We offer to buy ugly homes/ "Never Too Ugly"
+A man with four folding chairs at the end of Rte 19/ 34th Street.
V. No longer caught in expectations, now caught in the rain, watching it fall over a barn, over farmland in southwest Florida. Eating fried chicken and the lightning is close, close enough that one hit leaves a spark outside of our barn.
And the power goes with the flash.
Farther away, in this second rainstorm of the afternoon, lightning strikes ground and I can imagine it coursing through to the earth.
And there is Papa Dulce, cussin’ up a storm.
VI. Night. 4th of July. While Soldati is enjoying the bright lights and communal sweat of the NYC fireworks shows, I am alone, watching these exploding balloons in two towns, one to my distant front, one to my distant left, wishing slightly for the NYC show and the stars and happy faces that are conjured over the East River. But I look up in the waning light and look at the stars sparkling behind a striated sky. I wonder how the Seminole tribes got around, myself.
I hear a rustle in the grasses later, as I am realizing that no amount of repellant will scare off these bird-sized insects. The sound is quiet and it is late and I forget that I am in the country.
Until I see two pairs of bright yellow eyes curiously approaching. At least it wasn’t some Aryan Nation kids all hopped up on Lee Greenwood, Fox News, and fireworks. Just curious dogs with silent steps, bright eyes, that come around all the time.
Of course, I am afraid of dogs.
And I won’t lie, I yelled for my daddy.
VII. There is a lot to say about Papa and Brother Dulce from my personal book of coping. Things like how important it is to remember that there are expectations and reality and the two often do not meet. That sometimes expectations need to be adjusted. That laying blame is generally useless, that it is important to move on and come up with a set of next steps. But I ain’t saying anything.
VIII. And the trip back is long and winding and fraught with f**king morons cutting through traffic, curling in front of you, watching accidents on the other side and backing up seven miles of traffic. But at the end of the day, you’re home. And there ain’t no more bugs.