Song

Since 14 June, I have driven almost 5,000 miles, stayed in ten cities, and been physically present in nineteen states plus the District of Columbia. Since 1 August of last year, you could add five more states and five Canadian provinces to that list. And now I am in Seattle. So close to being right back where I started.


Today’s my birthday but I don’t have any good birthday musings–or any musings at all, really. And because it’s my birthday, I don’t really feel like wringing any ideas out of my mind. I’m okay with a brief entry today.


Langston Hughes wrote that, “Song is a strong thing,” and I think about that a lot.

Advertisements

Meet Me

I once had a fortune cookie that said “You will step on the soil of many countries.” I really liked it and kept it, it’s still pinned to the bulletin board in my childhood bedroom. I haven’t left the country this week but boy have I been many places.

Since last we spoke, I have passed through twelve states. From Maryland to Missouri via West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. From there to Oklahoma via Arkansas. And from there to Arizona via Texas and New Mexico. It’s been a lot. But there have definitely been some wonderful bits along the way.

When I went to St Louis, I drove across the Mississippi River and saw the Arch from the bridge… and that was sufficient for me. The arch was pretty much the only thing I was aware of for the city, and it wasn’t really a landmark that I was committed to seeing more than, you know, just seeing. I’d much more recommend Forest Park, the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, as an attraction to see in the city. I was only there for one full day and I saw the park and the botanical gardens and was more than satisfied. Love a good botanical gardens.

Of course, the main thing was to have friends to see there, they made the stop delightful rather than just pleasant. Knowing people and building community with them– even if it’s only for the briefest of visits– it just felt validating to make new friends. Maybe validating isn’t quite the right word but anyway. Definitely want to visit again. Compare: Oklahoma City, where I saw no one and did nothing other than sleep and was meh about the whole thing.

The beautiful drives, though. For the most part, I actually avoided a lot of the really boring bits (Oklahoma through north Texas and Ohio through Illinois notwithstanding). I always set my navigation to avoid tolls on principle (though the principle is to not pay tolls, rather than tolls are necessarily bad). What that means is that I often enjoy some routes that are a little more endearing than the major interstates. Driving through the tip of the Appalachians and across pretty much all of the Ozarks, for example, was pretty superb. And I did play spectator (as best I could while paying attention to the road) to some incredible lightning the night I drove into Oklahoma City.

And now here I am, back in Arizona at my sister’s. Obviously, a major highlight is seeing her precious kits in person again.

 

They really are twenty times cuter in person, as hard to believe as that is. I just really love cats and I’m so happy that I know people with cats that I can visit. Cats have definitely been one of the highlights of the summer so far.

I have no musings and no further updates for this week. Job applications continue to be sent out and continue to be rejected (though I remain grateful for a formal rejection instead of institutional ghosting). It’s kinda looking grim. But hey, I made cool new friends this week and I think that will buoy me for a good long while.

Still aimless, jobless, and technically homeless but what are you going to do. Here’s hoping progress on those fronts comes sooner rather than later.

Needable

Before we do anything this week, to avoid my sister’s ire, here are cats. Because cats are very needable.

 

This week, I’ve been in Pittsburgh visiting a friend. It’s been a lovely visit and I’m exceedingly grateful for the hospitality. It’s definitely a city, not sure that it’s really my scene. Some really cool architecture in some neighborhoods. Loved the botanical gardens and I’ll be going to museum-ville today so that should be good. You know I love a good museum day.

All in all, other than getting lost in Cleveland (which only worsened an already not-great opinion of the city and Ohio in general), a decent start to my current stint of unemployed nothingness. Been fairly productive with a few things that have required productivity. I was a little lax my final week or two in Glen Arbor but I’ve mostly made up for that, I hope. Still waiting to hear if I’ve gotten a second interview…. prospects are looking dimmer every day but who knows. It would be an amazing opportunity if I got the job.

A few thoughts for today. It’s not entirely accurate to say that all of my worldly possessions are currently crammed into my little Prius C, but it’s not entirely inaccurate either. Yes, I have plenty of things at my parents’ houses, but everything that I actually live with is coming with me on all my adventures this summer. It’s an odd feeling.

My mother has frequently ribbed me, more or less playfully, for being a minimalist. And while it is true to some extent, I also feel like it’s largely been a product of my circumstances. I’ve lived, for at least a year, on three different continents in the past three or four years. Having many possessions simply isn’t that feasible. It still feels weird to own some actual furniture, such as it is, because it almost feels superfluous to my needs. It isn’t, not by a long shot, but it sometimes feels like overkill to own, you know, a single chair or a laundry drying rack or mattress. Though, let me be very clear, I really love my mattress.

I’m not a wildly evangelical supporter of minimalism–at least, I wouldn’t consider myself such. I long to settle somewhere long-term where I can nest a little. But there is definitely something to be said for owning only things that are directly useful or have been individually and thoughtfully considered as necessary components to take up space in my very limited car. Even having only been in Michigan for a number of months, the vagaries of packing and the inevitable few purchases ensured that when I left, I had to make some decisions about what I actually wanted to take with me.

Perhaps it’s worth a moment of contemplation. Not that you should get rid of all your other things, but what would you take if you could only travel with what fit in a car? What are your necessary things, whether practical or emotional?

An illustrative example: I’m one of those people who never really intends to own media or media accoutrements, preferring to stick with streaming and a laptop for the time being, at least. However, there are a few essentials that I need to be certain are always accessible so I bring the DVDs with me. The Harry Potter movies, the Lord of the Rings extended movies, and Anastasia. Those are some things that are guaranteed space in my car because they’re necessary even if I don’t need them, per se.

I guess that’s really the question here. Not about the top things that you’d bring with you, but the things that aren’t exactly essential but are distinctly need-able. Your Anastasia DVD, Gudetama mouse pad, or refrigerator magnet from Milford Sound. Your several extra sets of chopsticks, in case you ever have guests and you make East Asian food. Your cool wooden beard comb, in case you ever grow a long beard again.

In research, it’s a thing to say that something is a necessary but not sufficient condition for something to occur. Food, water, shelter–these are necessary for life. But they aren’t quite sufficient, either. We all should have something that isn’t strictly necessary but is essential all the same. I’m glad I have mine, and I’m glad they all fit!

Unnecessaries, Treachery, and Idiocy

There was snow on the ground, several inches, when I returned to Michigan. And in the ensuing days, more snow has accumulated. Because. So temperatures are cold and snowfall is yes; it must be January.

In other news, the earth is still round and the sky is still blue.

I do not have overmuch to share this week, as happens sometimes, and I struggled to come up with anything at all worth writing about. Throughout the day today, I had an odd song stuck in my head, as I often do, and I thought I’d share it with all of you. Not sure it’s actually worth writing about but it’s happening so you know, whatever works.

It isn’t really a song, even, it’s a weird remix of a portion of a newscast that was a little bit viral while I was in Ireland. And it’s really not that funny except I just rewatched the video and I still find it unaccountably hilarious. So here, watch it.

Get ready for it, because I’m gonna bring you three takeaways from that song/broadcast and they’re going to be wildly outsized philosophical musings for something that is barely humorous to most people.


“Don’t make unnecessary journeys.”

I’m not sure how I feel, philosophically, about this line. Because when I was in Korea, I said that sometimes the most important journeys are the ones you didn’t mean to take. Letting your feet run away with you is a great way to experience new things, meet new people, and grow in ways you could not expect. Variety is the spice of life, as I’m fond of saying, and sometimes you should balance out planning and necessity with spontaneity and unnecessaries. Like chocolate. Chocolate for me is often a spontaneous, unnecessary delight.

On the pro side for this quote, though, is the idea that on other occasions, we are not equipped or prepared to make any other journey than the one that we are already on. When we’re tired and just slogging onward through the Dead Marshes, as it were. Muddling along with enough oomph for one journey and that journey alone, no side quests. Wisdom may be knowing how much oomph we do or do not have for unnecessaries.

“Don’t take risks on treacherous roads.”

I am likewise on the fence about this one. When things are looking grim, it’s often best to buckle down and just survive. Whether it’s stress or crises of a more overt sort, getting through it is sometimes the best you can manage. That’s certainly true for literal, actual treacherous roads.

But also, I feel, if you’ve been trying to solve a problem and you haven’t yet met with success, usually what’s needed is another approach. Something you haven’t done before, something that may be more or less ‘risky.’ Hard to say. Wisdom in this lens, I guess, is knowing which kind of road you’re navigating: is it treacherous, brooking no room for risk and error, or merely difficult, in which case risk may be the very thing that helps you break through.

“Their actions are idiotic.”

I don’t really have anything for this line, I just felt like I should probably mention the President’s national broadcast. Nothing to add that hasn’t been said really, just reiterating that it’s idiotic. Here, I suspect wisdom is at once simple and unachievably mysterious: don’t be an idiot.


Anyway. I’m driving to Chicago today, for a non-spontaneous but unnecessary journey that I think may brush the edges of difficult but should mostly just be enjoyable. The roads themselves, given the weather of late, may be a little more treacherous. But I scouted out a little yesterday and they seemed well-cleared already and the forecast is on my side, so I don’t anticipate any shenanigans in that department.

Here’s hoping. May we all have such balanced, three-pronged wisdom.