Life on wheelz.

From the archives. August 2014. Who wants to illustrate this?


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I missed the express bus to Philadelphia last week and was rescheduled on a later, longer bus. Under normal conditions (ie. no sinus pressure and plenty of snacks), a Greyhound bus ride is one of my favorite pastimes. How often do you find yourself locked inside a mobile freezer with an incredible array of strangers for 5+ hours? Not very, unless you’re traveling cross-country, or a masochist. It’s a great opportunity for people-watching and, as misery loves company, there is often a sense of community aboard.

The other night was hell, however, and I leave here a log of my SMS’ as proof (edited for context).

At 5pm, I am abusing my sudafed and thinking about Walter White.

We make a pit stop in Shady Rock, Nowhere. I pay four dollars for a slice of “New York Style” Sbarro pizza. The bus smells like cheeseburgers and cigarettes.

Someone help me.

There is a 4-month old child at the back of the bus. I know that he was born two months early because I am a professional eavesdropper. Earlier, a woman in a pink wife-beater, carrying a Wendy’s XL Frostie, commented on his “biiiiiiig eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyes!!!” for 10+ minutes.

At 9:30, we are just entering Harrisburg and I beg the lord to have mercy upon my soul.

I have to pee but I’m afraid of being left here. Our driver has used the loudspeaker to deliver the same speech at each stop. He informs us that he is not our “nice uncle,” and that he has nine nieces and nephews and a third grand-baby on the way. I will spend the rest of this ride trying to figure out how this information is relevant to his leaving us at rest-stops.

Someone has stolen the empty seat I was about to take. Life is pain and all hope has left my bones.

I’ve decided to deal with it. I am practicing zen.

My sudafed has finally kicked in, so I am awake. I learn that my seatmate is afraid of tunnels. She drinks water or whiskey to get through them. I try to distract her with questions. Our last tunnel, in her words, is a “double whammy.”

She gets off in Norristown. She is the only passenger to deboard. I like her and I know all of her daughters’ college majors, but I can’t help being angry.

It is midnight. Most people have fallen asleep. It now smells like breath and the driver keeps turning the headlights off as we pass Boathouse Row.

But the worst is over because I SEE MY CITAY. I’M IN MY CITAY.

I wait through nine taxis and one crackhead for my ride to arrive. Shwizz, Bliv and I drive to Lorenzo’s for a slice of pizza. They are bigger than I remember. A man approaches Shwizz’s window, asks for her number, and tells her that he has two pet fish and an anaconda he’d like to show her. I think this is a very poor pick-up line. We, as always, take Lincoln Drive home and Bliv acts like she’s in NASCAR, so I grip the door handle and try not to pass out.

Dusk, Darkness, & Daylight in La Manga

La Manga Salinas

Las salinas: where the flamingos live. It smells sulphuric and, in some parts, looks like snow. I felt at peace here. I also wished for an ancient man to saunter out of the abandoned saltworks — to no avail.

Mar Menor de Noche

El Mar Menor:  “Large pond.” “Small sea.” “Lagoon.” At its deepest, it doesn’t surpass seven meters. It’s warm, concerningly so, like bath water, and determined to remain beautiful despite the buckets of sunscreen floating through her.

La Managa Watermelon

Playa Paraíso: Equal parts Spaniard & Brit and so humid that you will be wet whether you are in or outside of the water.

Top 6.5 Reasons Why August is Madrid’s Best Month

In few words: it is the city I never knew I needed.

In more: This month is hands down Spain’s best kept secret and these are the reasons why:

  1. There are actually seats on the metro. That means that you can easily escape both unsavory body odors and screaming infants.
  2. Grocery shopping is no longer a fight against stressed-out parents, guiris, and self-righteous abuelos*. It is a luxurious experience, in which one can ponder lemons and compare pastas without being pushed.
    *I love my elders, but they cut in line all the time.
  3. Temperatures are way more comfortable than they were in July. Think: going from suffocating in Satan’s armpit, to dancing nude on the tippy-top of Jesus’ index finger.
  4. Lavapies and La Latina have street parties. That means that you may see any combination of the following: full-on suckling pigs roasting next to the post-office, men dressed like lady chulapas and dancing chotis, a gypsy selling melons from a wheelbarrow with the following invitation: “wow, I have huge melons here,” and more.
  5. The sunsets are sexy as fuck. Sunrises, though? No idea. Never seen one.
  6. People seem calmer and more open. As in city-wide blackouts or massive snowstorms, there is a sense of implicit community between those who have stayed behind.  –> 6.5. On the flipside, though, some people have just gone completely mad. Yesterday the supermarket security guy was frisking a man and, upon pulling a bottle of rosé out of his pants, began a very intense interrogation which consisted of just one question: “you’re hungry for wine, are you? hungry for WINE?” I dont’ know if this is a positive thing, but you won’t want for people-watching at any time in Madrid.
mercado de las cebada
An empty Mercado de la Cebada, August 2019.

America, Part 6, Day 2

New York City’s immensity is never more apparent than when navigating the thousand-lane road from JFK to Philadelphia, PA on a Saturday afternoon. Twenty-eight years of knowing the Northeast and I’m still shocked to find out that this airport is not, in fact, just across the road from Newark.

“Shit is entrenched,” says Scott.

Once passed the Holland tunnel and ten minutes of marveling at man’s ambition, the road is ours.

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It’s good to be back.

At Heathrow, the Brits were on their best behavior, gifting smiles and biscuits.

At JFK, the line-master instructed:

“If ya customs form ain’t finished, get outta the line. Ya wasting peoples time.”

Any other welcome would have been a lie.