Roadtrips, USA

This past weekend, my wife, son and I drove from where we live in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina, to Nashville Tennessee.  We had both been wanting to go since we moved down here last year, and neither of us had even been to Tennessee, and so we decided to go.

One of the things, that we’ve both noticed when driving around the country on various road trips, is the difference in culture is sometimes observable from the highway.  It’s apparent in what you can see immediately off of the highway, as well as the billboards that line the high way north and south, east and west.

In Massachusetts, where I’m from originally, the billboards are kind of boring.  You might see an ad for the local radio station, or depending on where you are, you may see one for a celebrity doing a show at Mohegan Sun Casino.  There isn’t much beyond that.

Down south however, there are three very distinct categories of billboards, and sometimes they’re very close to each other.  The three categories are strip club/porn shop billboards, gun billboards, and Jesus billboards.  The reason these are funny isn’t that they’re particularly funny topics in general, but the way they’re done.

First there are the strip club/porn shop billboards.  These are funny, because often times they’re trying to allude to more than they seem to be allowed to say.  We passed a sign that literally said “Sexy Stuff, Exit 390” (I don’t know the real exit number).  We also saw one that said “lingerie, adult DVDs, and vibes.”  I’ll be honest, neither of us would have guessed that if they couldn’t put the word ‘vibrator,’ that they could put the word ‘vibe.’  Would have been great to see “lingerie, adult DVDs and dilds,” but I’m guessing that there is some kind of weird double standard on that.  Or perhaps it would be that not enough letters or syllables were removed.

The second category are the gun billboards, and typically these I don’t notice as much, but my wife pointed out a few really interesting ones, including one claiming to have “machine gun rentals,” which I think regardless of your stance on the right to own guns, this is some weird wording.

Lastly are the Jesus billboards, some of these are really simple and reasonable “Jesus is the answer” types billboards, which honestly, you may disagree with the premise, but I still think it’s inoffensive by itself.  But there are other billboards which seem to be much more odd.  Lots of ones that seem like answers to questions unasked, like “…And you think God doesn’t work in mysterious ways!” Along with a small evolutionary chart with a red circle and slash through it.  WTF?

Anyway, the big thing that I find interesting about these billboards, isn’t them as standalone signs, but their proximity to each other.  If you were an alien, driving through a highway in the south, you would think that Jesus must have been obsessed with strippers, porn, and guns.  There are numerous spots in which your visual landscape, while sitting still, consists of all three elements, and it’s bizarre.  Especially when you see signs from miles away, off in the woods, elevated above the treeline, declaring that Pilots, or Loves, or any other big soft-fonted truck stop company has “Unleaded $2.49/Diesel $2.94.”

Last thing that I want to mention, and that is that one of the “Adult Stores” (because they don’t call themselves porn shops.  That’s like the ‘gentleman’s club’ of porn shops.) that we passed, was a drive-thru.  I must say, I’m really intrigued to how it that works.  “Um, yes.  I’ll have a number four, and a tube of the warming gel.  —*whispers* What do you want honey?— Oh, and a number twelve with a can of whipped cream.  And um… Super size it.”  Notice I didn’t make the obvious joke of one of the menu items being sixty nine, because I have standards, and honestly how big would their menu have to be outside the building to have that many items?

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all about what I saw along the highway all weekend.  What’s the craziest billboard you’ve ever seen? Tell me in the comments.

Empty House

Hi Everyone,

Sorry that I’ve been slacking hen it comes to posts the last week.  It’s been an absolutely crazy week, and I’ll give you a quick catch-up, and then get to the point of this post.

My son turned one!  My son’s birthday was this past weekend, and in addition to spending time with both my wife’s family, and my family, we also had a big birthday party for him at the zoo.  It was a great weekend, and I’m so glad that his birthday happens to fall right as the weather starts turning for the better.

(Last week, I decided that I would get him a comic for his birthday, and that maybe I’d get him one for every big event or whatever, and then when I was there, I found a comic that happened to come out on the week of his birthday called Super Sons Issue #3—probably should have gone with something Wolverine based since his name is Logan, but I was thinking that he’s a ‘Super Son.’  Quickly after I left the comic store I thought that I should just start collecting that particular comic for him and realized I needed to go get issues 1 and 2.  Anyway, this might sound cheesy but, the truth is that whatever he grows into as a little person, I want to be there with him, and so if in a few years he thinks this is stupid, I’ll transition to whatever he prefers, but I’m gonna still planning little things like this and trips, and other things that I would love to participate in if he is down for it.  Sorry for this whole aside, but it will fill in some of the backstory that you’ll want later.)

We moved!  As you probably know if you’ve been reading my posts for the last month, we are moving from Massachusetts to Raleigh North Carolina.  This week was/is the actual move.  My wife took time off from work, and the tow of us have been working like crazy for a couple days trying to get everything ready.  Yesterday the movers came and loaded up the truck, and we had lots to do then too.  Anyway, last night my best friend Adam and I got in my car and drove from 6:30 P.M. until 5:30 A.M. until we got to a hotel in Raleigh (I didn’t have keys to the house yet).

So here is the point, I dropped off Adam at the airport, and Sarah and her mother are coming but they’re still hours away, and none of our furniture or things (except what was in my car) are here.  I have to make a decision, on whether or not I continue to write after I finish this post (I have some fiction stuff I’d like to work on) or I drive around and find all the different things I’m going to need to know about.  I already found Zaxby’s—which I think is the best fast food fried chicken— a comic book store called Ultimate Comics—where I managed to find Issues 1 & 2 of Super Sons—which I think nearly lives up to it’s name.  Explore or write?  It’s a tough call.

So let me lay the decisions out this way.  I don’t get almost any free time where it’s literally just me.  Which is a great time to write, but it’s also a great time to go walk around the neighborhood, and see what the parks and pools are like.  It’s like the best weather I’ve seen in months so this doesn’t help the “stay in and write” argument.

On the other hand, my novel that I haven’t touched in a few months is about a road trip, and perhaps right after doing one, I should go write about it.  This is what my brain does without Sarah and Logan, it looks at opportunity and turns it into anxiety!

Regardless of what I decide, I hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful weather!  Let me know what you’re doing to enjoy it in the comments!

Moving

I have lived in Massachusetts for the majority of my life.  I’m 32, and other than a year and a half when I lived in Denver, and a couple of years—before my memory—when I lived in New Hampshire, it’s been all Massachusetts.

I’ve moved more than 30 times, although I’ve lost track of the exact number.  Most of those moves have been in the central Massachusetts area (as far East as Waltham, as far South as Uxbridge, and as far West as Worcester—within Massachusetts I haven’t lived much further north than the Mass Pike).

As many of you who read my posts regularly might know, I am not a fan of living here, I’m not a fan of the weather, the constant road-work, or the enthusiasm this state seems to have for fucking everything—”Fall’s the best!” “I love apple picking” “I love sweater weather” “I love pumpkins” “I love the Patriots,” you get it.  And when someone like me isn’t enthusiastic about the never ending parade of stupid shit, they all act like it’s a big fucking deal to descent in opinion.

So, my wife and I finally bit the bullet.  We decided to move away, partly the job market hasn’t been great, and partly it was a good opportunity for us to get better weather and a change of environment.  To be completely honest, Sarah and I love driving around on weekends exploring, and we were starting to run out of things to do here.

We’re moving to North Carolina, not exactly sure where—we’ve narrowed it down to three different apartments and just trying to decide—but somewhere in the Raleigh area. We’re very excited for a change of pace, but also there are the complications.  We’re both a bit nervous, not because of a fear of failure, but it’s a rather big move, and so we’re just jittery.  Telling our friends and family is tough, and while everyone seems to understand our reasoning, it doesn’t make it less painful, or feel less personal.

One thing that I’ve been thinking about is lifestyle change.  I know from experience, that Chinese food, and pizza can be extremely different depending on region—my father-in-law laughs and says “oh yeah, down here they make pizza with dough, and sauce, and cheese” but look at Chicago style vs. New York style vs. Greek style vs. Neapolitan.

I think that by going somewhere with a different culture will do two things, force me out of my comfort zone which will be a good thing, and it will possibly make me—beyond just the eating out aspect—become a little more independent and in control.  To stick with the food example, if I find that I don’t like the food in the area, it will force me to cook more, which will arguably be healthier, but also because I tend to get bored making the same thing, will force me to explore.

Overall, I’m very excited about the move, and I’m definitely going to continue blogging about it, and letting you know about the different challenges to moving to a different region.

What would you worry about most with a move like this?  Is there anything I should consider?