Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2012-09-21

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 7: Layover in Bay Area, CA and Tips to Survive Returning to Your Hometown

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.


Castro Valley, CA and Berkeley, CA

[Hey so I stopped blogging my road trip redux after I crossed into the CA border arriving at my mom’s place in the Bay Area and I’ve been wanting to get back to memorializing the amazing epic journey. It doesn’t take a degree in psych to know that I stopped at California because suddenly it got emotionally difficult! My home state had a lot of baggage for me to unpack, but the trip was really healing on so many fronts so anyway, here the journey continues…]

In planning my trip I had budgeted the day after Thanksgiving to hang out with my mom and Grandmother and soak up a little bit of the Bay Area. I was ready to stop driving so intensely and excited to have a “destination” for more than a couple of hours.

It’s worth noting that I was miserable growing up and thus unable to appreciate or notice much of the beauty around me. I really love visiting the Bay now. Part of the impetus for this trip was to get to spend some time in California.

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View from Dolores Park in San Francisco. Why I only went to DP once in my entire time living in California I’ll never know.

Thanksgiving dinner was great, even if consumed late, and Mom was visibly overjoyed to wake up to find me, Grandmother and Macy in the guest bed (which comes down as a Murphy Bed on the wall of her quilting room which is also known as the “cat library”*). Mom adopted Bella, a rescue who literally walked into her classroom one day, inspired by Macy’s cuteness and charm. Macy truly is an ambassador for her breed and muppet dogs everywhere. Bella and Macy sort of got along, though it was clear that Bella was used to being the Queen of the Mountain and Macy was a charming interloper.

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A family portrait with Bella and Macy featured. Macy LOVES Grandmother.

Spunky came by and the four of us went to a local breakfast place. She and I have been friends for almost 14 years and she knows my family better than any of my friends. It’s nice to have that. Spunky’s straight and suburban-dwelling. Grandmother asked later “How are you and Spunky such good friends?” Spunky’s the sister I never had and we make up in emotional similarities what we lack in basic life commonalities. We’ve known each other through so much.

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Me and Spunky.

We went to Doug’s Place, a well-known omelet destination in Castro Valley. Their pancakes are great. I randomly saw someone I recognized from high school at the restaurant but I didn’t say hi. He and I were very close when we were sixteen/seventeen and had the weirdest falling out. We lost touch while we were still in high school. So how weird is it to awkwardly catch-up this much later? This is totally the kind of thing that happens when you are the prodigal daughter returning to your smallish suburban hometown.

I’m not one of those people who has a lot of lingering friends from that time in my life. I’m in touch with about 5 people out of my graduating class of 400 and I feel really great about it. I sincerely love Facebook for the opportunity to peep in on and chat with folks about their awesome kids or whatever.

I really struggled with whether or not to say hello to this high school dude. If I had been alone or circumstances were different I might have gone up to him–nobody ever died of awkward. But I was also trying to focus on my precious few hours with my mom and Spunky (I was slated to visit Grandmother again a couple days later when she returned to Palm Springs).

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Spunky with Bella.

Even though high school dude and I didn’t acknowledge each other, it was kind of cool to see this person, that they had a family (a really cute kid) and were in town for Thanksgiving, too. It was enough to see one another from across a restaurant. Why chat and make vague promises of facebook reconnect? Anyway, my hair and features are pretty different than they were in high school but probably he still recognized me.

Oh, home town discomfort you are so real. Being in Castro Valley was itchy like a scab! Where you grow up is loaded, especially if you didn’t have a great or happy adolescence. After Spunky left to go home, I was riding in the backseat of the car with my mom and Grandmother and seeing the Castro Valley suburban streets from the backseat was super triggering. Like I was a grumpy middle/high schooler again and I just needed a dose of my own present reality to snap out of it.

But see, I love my family and I want to see them! And I also love myself and I want to take exceptionally wonderful care of myself! So how do I go home and not get into a crazy spiral triggered by a really rotten adolescence?

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Self-care tips from the wall of Jonah.

I’ve learned through trial and error in my twelve years living on the East Coast a lot of coping mechanisms about how to have a good time going back to the Bay Area. I start with myself, I bring the version of myself that is most authentic and don’t get bogged down in acting like I’m still 16 like I used to do when I came home. I have a lot of things that help me stay connected with who I am now, like staying in touch with friends through my phone, journaling and reading. I also rarely sleep in Castro Valley, opting instead to stay with friends in Oakland or San Francisco. That helps the most, really.

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San Francisco view from my Prius.

A year and a half ago I was going through some serious emotional work and I actually made an important boundary to not go to Castro Valley at all and instead met my mom for yoga and dinner in the city a couple of times. It was great to see her on neutral ground and avoid the hometown land mine altogether.

Another thing I do is I don’t engage in diet talk. I’m far more practiced now, but my family (like many others) loves to talk about their bodies from a not Health at Every Size/All Bodies are Good Bodies perspective and it can be really hard for me to hear. It used to be so hard for me to work around that. I have a lot of compassion for it now and I am pretty good at detaching from it and not engaging. When people talk about their bodies it isn’t about me and I don’t let it be about me. I also don’t let people talk about my body on anything other than my terms. And I will say my family is really understanding about my politics and my mom is definitely much more embracing of the HAES approach than she ever was, which makes the diet talk stuff much less of an issue for me than it ever used to be.

I also find it a lot easier when I can bring a pal home with me but that’s not always possible. Going into this trip I set myself up for success by scheduling a 2 hour catch-up over tea with my dear friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, both because I wanted to hang out with her and also because I knew the break would be good.

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LLPS is such a hardcore babe!!!

No sooner was I having uncomfortable flash-backs to my youth in the back of my mom’s car then I was able to slip into my own Prius and go visit Leah. She met me on the street of her Berkeley neighborhood wearing a slutty apron. I met a bunch of her neighbors and housemates and we went over to her friend Jonah’s room to watch them make candles. Yes, Jonah is a chandler.

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It was incredibly soothing! Jonah makes anti-zionist candles for Jewish rituals. At the time (just after Thanksgiving) they were making candles to fulfill orders, many were tiny collections of menorah candles for Hanukkah. I got to ask Jonah a lot of questions about the process and being in their environment with the warm smell of wax and all of the nettles drying along the wall was like being in a fairytale.

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Nettles drying above us! Reason #203 why the Bay is awesome is being able to harvest Nettles and make your own tea. I love Nettles tea.

LLPS and I got to have one of our power catch-ups on the bed while watching the candles happen. She took me to her house and showed me her tiny magical garden shack in the backyard, which was so much more incredible than I ever imagined from her descriptions over the phone.

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We hugged goodbye and I got back into the Prius and headed back to my mom’s house.

Mom’s BFF was over and we got to watch photos from her summer and some photos of her husband’s memorial service. I couldn’t afford to fly out to attend and was so grateful to get to see pictures from it and spend some time with Linda having grief community.

One of the things that sucks about living across the country from my family is that I rarely can take my family’s hand-me-down furniture. I wanted my mom’s clear glass dining table so bad! But mom saw an opportunity to give me the Kitchen Aid mixer that she rarely used and I gleefully accepted it!

Growing-up my ex-step-dad was notoriously selfish. Like, remarkably, irrationally selfish. Picture a 50-something year old man acting like a 4 year old. Mom and I weren’t allowed to use the Kitchen Aid and I’ve always wanted one. Mom got one not long after they divorced and she knew I would appreciate it like no one else could. So the Kitchen Aid (which, by the way, I totally use at least once a week) got nestled safely into my trunk. I always thought I’d have to wait until I got married or something to get a Kitchen Aid.

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Grandmother had to wear mom’s sweatshirts because it was “so cold” in the Bay Area. Which, compared to Palm Springs, it totally was.

I also raided my mom’s Lesbian Tea Basket** for a sampler of teas for the road, including a lovely hibiscus and some mint.

In the morning I said my goodbyes to Grandmother, Mom and her wife. I was leaving Macy in their care while I headed into San Francisco to go to a meeting I had scheduled into my trip right between visiting my mom and my dad. (I’m in a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics, which I joined as a result of an alcoholic boo but has helped me heal a lot of family stuff I didn’t expect.) I loved the idea of going into the city even for a couple of hours and was bummed I wouldn’t see my friends but didn’t have time on the road trip.

I went to my meeting, walked briefly through the Castro and took a quick detour in the Mission to grab a burrito before I left town. I also stopped at Multi-Kulti for a pair of sunglasses and some cheap fake eyelashes. My pal Alix Izen saw my twitter check-in and texted me to meet me for my quick burrito, which was a fortuitous and awesome catch-up.

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I got back on the road, crossed the Bay Bridge and headed to my dad’s house in Merced.

Next up! I visit Merced, CA for the first time in a decade and drive through some crazy fog!

*Let us not forget that my mom is also a Lesbian.
**I’m sure I mentioned this on my webseries before, but my mom putting all of her teas in a basket on top of the fridge was the original Lesbian Tea Basket and the namesake for my own LTB and starting the LTB web series.

2012-04-11

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 6: Salt Lake City to Bay Area, CA

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.


To Castro Valley, CA from Salt Lake City, UT via Interstate 80–through Utah, Nevada and Northern California.

I left Salt Lake City at 9AM on Thanksgiving. I didn’t realize until the night before that my Thanksgiving day journey was going to be a twelve hour drive. There’s a big difference between ten and twelve hours in the car.

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Stunning view from the parking lot of the Salt Lake City La Quinta.

When initially planning my trip I was planning to stop just Northwest of Sacramento for the holiday as one of my BFFs lives up there and we love spending Thanksgiving together.*

In a twist of fate Spunky was going to be in the Bay Area but my mom was hosting Thanksgiving at her house. And my beloved grandmother was going to be there, up from Palm Springs! My mom rarely hosts big holidays—she was a single mom and I’m an only child—and while she’s married now it’s not like there’s a big kerfuffle of family around. She often spends holidays with her best friend Linda or with my Aunt and cousins in Southern California. Linda’s husband, Peter, who has been in my life since I was 14, almost twenty years, passed away in a sudden boat accident at the end of August. After their loss, Mom offered to host Linda’s family (daughters, husbands, grandkids) at her house.

I was really sad that I couldn’t afford to fly out for the memorial service earlier in November. So the twist of fate that helped me be able to go to my mom’s for Thanksgiving was a wonderful opportunity to hug family friends in this tender time.

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In planning the details of the trip I never updated my estimated travel time from Salt Lake City to Spunky’s house to SLC to my mom’s house (another two hours). OOPS. So twelve hours in the car it was, and leaving at 9AM was way later than I wanted to start but I was so wiped the night before I needed to just let myself decompress and sleep. Lest we forget that my goal of driving solo across the country in five days was ambitious.

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I only lamented the lack of a human passenger on this trip a few times, and SLC was one of them. I drove past the Great Salt Lake and with a mind on hustling through my twelve hour drive without dawdling, I wished someone had been shotgun to read to me from my AAA guide books.

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My view of the lake.

As an aside, I am a huge fan of Sister Wives and have always wanted to do more than sleep in SLC, so it is a goal of mine to go back for a couple of days and poke around a little more. All the snowy mountains in the distance were beautiful!

After the Great Salt Lake I hit the Salt Flats. I had no idea what I was driving through until Macy and I stopped at a rest area and read a sign that told us about it. We took a little walk to the edge of the Salt Flats and poked my little boot into it.

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The next part of our journey brought us across the Utah/Nevada border. I stopped for gas, knowing from previous experience driving across the country that Nevada is extremely desolate with not a ton of consistent cell phone service or frequent gas stations. This oasis was exciting, there were casinos on one side of the block and the other side of the block were Utah pawn shops.

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It occurred to me in a moment of panic that the fact that it was Thanksgiving might mean I had no access to food on the road. What if all the fast food places in Nevada were closed for the holiday? I bought a lunchable at a gas station and threw it in my road cooler.

The high desert in Nevada is gorgeous. I saw a lot of mountains in the distance. Tried to get photos of them. Lamented that I hadn’t downloaded the audio book of Kerouac’s On the Road before I left. Started Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer instead. Started taking photos of Macy on the roof of my car because the scenery around her was so stunning. I felt like I could see forever, which is something I miss a lot living in the city.

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The day wore on, stopping occasionally in desolate towns for gas or a stretch. I ended up finding a McDonalds and immediately regretted eating it. I listened to Liz Phair’s “Go West” a lot, a song I heard with new ears on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway when I was in the midst of the grief/emotional crash times of last September and fantasized about hitting the road and disappearing for a few weeks. (The little nuggets of inspiration to go on this trip were all very tiny but persistent.)

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Nevada is a huge state and I was near the border of California as the sun started to slip slowly toward the horizon. I followed some signs on the outskirts of Reno for a Starbucks and was super delighted to find one open in a strip mall. Inside was a flamboyant boy who was excited to learn I was from Brooklyn. When I see that glimmer in folks’ eyes when I’m far away from home I encourage them. “It’s a lot cheaper than you think to live in Brooklyn. I pay $875** a month for half of a 2 bedroom. The Starbucks are always hiring. I throw a queer dance party called Rebel Cupcake. If you feel like you want to come to New York you totally should. Look me up.”

Anyway, seeing this young queer was the highlight of my trip that day. I just love seeing queer folks on the road.

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I started down the Sierra Nevada after I got through Reno and this was my second great OOPS of the day, timing-wise. Had I realized how treacherous that drive was going to be I would have gotten a motel room and called it a night. In fact I almost stopped a couple of times to do just that but couldn’t find an easy spot to do that while traveling down this huge mountain range.

Recall this was the end of November. The Sierras are mountains about three hours from where I grew up that I got to go camping and hiking in with my girl scout troops and sometimes we would be adventurous and go cold camping. Sometimes in college my sorority or women’s honor society would take a weekend trip and we would go rent a cabin in Tahoe or Reno and experience the joys of Nevada gambling and snowpack. None of these occasions required me to drive or put chains on a car.

I have lived on the East Coast for 11 Winters now (does this past year count as a Winter?). We don’t really have chain requirements here. Sometimes you get special snow tires for the winter but not me. I just review tips for snow driving before the season starts. (Another benefit to AAA membership—this road trip/car magazine that is really practical and interesting.) I have driven through a lot of scary snow storms on all of the local highways between Philadelphia and New York City. I don’t prefer to drive in the snow but that’s my life now.

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Macy, DJ and snack distributor.

However, I’ve never driven through steep, dark and twisty mountains like the Sierra Nevada while a rain/ice storm starts. Chains were not required but had the temperature been just a bit colder they would have. Of course, it was dusk so the risk of deer was real and a doe darted out in front of a car a bit in front of me. I was white knuckled and terrified.

This did not stop me from enjoying the last bits of daylight. Man, the mountains were beautiful. I stopped at a lookout area to pee in the woods (not even a single restroom along the highway during this stretch) and really appreciated the grace and glory of the trees, the waning light, the crisp air. It was the wilderness of my youth and I loved it.

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Earlier in the day.

I went about 30-40 MPH the whole time, sometimes slower. This is on Route 80, where cars were just speeding right by me, all self-assured about their driving in the slippery downslope of the Sierras. You do you, cars. I’ll do me.

I pulled off to go to the bathroom again (the whole stretch of mountains was probably close to two hours of drive time) but couldn’t find somewhere, so I just took a break and walked Macy in a closed for Thanksgiving grocery store parking lot. It helped me regroup, and it helped to smell the pine trees.

We hit the road again and I was so thankful to find we were finally in the foothills (near where Spunky lives) and Sacramento was imminent.

There is something about the smell in the air in Sacramento that just smells like home to me. I lived in Davis, CA, just 20 minutes from Sac, for four years during undergrad and I had so much fun (and depression, but that’s a larger story). College was a meaningful time for me and it was exciting to be there.

I always love driving through Davis, even if it’s just to get a quick cup of coffee or something. I stopped for gas on Mace Road. I wished it was still light and I wasn’t running late for Thanksgiving dinner (Mom was making me a plate) so I could have gotten a photo of Macy on a statue of a cow or on the UC Davis sign or in front of Thoreau or Regan Hall or something. One of these days I’ll bring Macy out for Picnic Day (the largest student-run event in the country—I was Vice Chair my senior year) or something.

I got back on the road and it was a quick 90 minutes to my mom’s house. I thought about going the back way zigging and zagging through tiny North/East Bay highways but the extra 10 minutes it was going to take me to go on 80 all the way to the end was sort of too awesome to give up. I drove past my birthplace in the North Bay and along Berkeley and across the Bay from San Francisco.

And then I was at my mom’s place in Castro Valley. It was 9:30PM (even with the hour change of time from SLC it took me 13 and 1/2 hours to finish my drive). Some folks were leaving and I got to say goodbye to them on their way out.

And on the inside of the house was my mom, her wife, Linda (who is like an aunt to me), Grandmother and more of Linda’s family. It was wonderful. And I dove right into that green bean casserole like nobody’s business.

Next up! My first day of rest and a quick trip into San Francisco!

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*I learned early on that the best way to plan this epic road trip was to let the plans shake out as they were going to and not force anything. In fact, other than the first three people I was stopping to see, I didn’t make any firm plans regarding arrival dates and gave everyone I was visiting a two or three night range, to be confirmed later. This flexibility proved to be crucial when accounting for road conditions, my whim and where the Goddess was taking me.

**My rent is also a little cheaper now, BTW, and I know folks who pay $500 who live in tinier places or in Queens.

2011-11-30

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 2: Packing

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.

I am a scattered packer. I am also a procrastinator and while I was very on it in terms of preparing to leave I left packing until the day I left. I eased my anxiety by reminding myself if I needed something I could get it on the road and packing the car was going to take exactly as long as it was going to take. I pecked around my house like a hen gathering things to the couch, relying primarily on my reusable grocery bags to separate things. Macy got her own bag. I meant to bring her Macy-friendly carrying bag but I forgot it. Luckily I haven’t needed it yet.

I packed a bag of snacks―crackers, granola bars, lollipops, some tortillas that would go bad at home. Two water bottles, which is a good thing as it is helpful to have a lot of water available for me on the road. I also have a flat of bottled water in the trunk just in case. I enjoy hydration and I know this means I need to stop to go to the restroom every 100 miles.


Sees Little Pops are my favorites.

I packed three warm-weather dresses and three cold-weather dresses (Northern and Southern route realness), a pair of jeans, boots, teggings, socks. Lots of versatility.

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My friend Fae is on the road, too, and for her six month epic trip she is using the Garanimals method of outfits―everything coordinates so she can just mix and match her three skirts, tops, accessories, two pair of shoes, etc…

I have many layering pieces. A hoodie, a shawl, a coat, a sweater for under the coat, a fur collar. I didn’t bring a scarf but picked one up in San Francisco for lighter layering than the fur. These all live in the backseat behind my driver’s seat so I can easily grab something or deposit something if I need to on a rest stop.

I also packed a fancy party dress and a pair of glittery heels. You know, just in case.

Making musical deliberations was serious business. I packed my laptop and the hard drive that hosts most of my music collection so I could periodically update my ipod. I burned discs of artists I needed to have on hand at a moment’s noticed. I loaded my $99 kindle with several audio books in various genres. Just Kids by Patti Smith, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Squirrel Meets Chipmunk by David Sedaris, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. My friend Elisabeth loaned me the David Sedaris box set as well. I have well over 100 hours of stories and music to listen to.

I have found so far that I like to listen to lively funny books at night and the more serious books work for the daytime stretches. I also downloaded Rihanna’s “We Found Love” when I left and I listen to it once an hour. Dance music is helpful for those squirrely moments or when I start to feel a little weary.

Since I was going to be staying with so many friends I decided a good hostess gift would be little Lesbian Tea Baskets. I recorded an LTB episode of the preparation of the tins (it’s on the hard drive I left at home, though), but basically I filled sachets with loose tea, tied them with ribbon and put them in decorative tins with a note from me and Macy thanking folks for their hospitality. I figure even if my hostess doesn’t drink tea, she might have guests at some point that do. And it is consistent with my branding. Basically I really thought my BFF Rachael in Atlanta would be tickled pink and I went with it.

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Macy sort of stuck between luggage and the wall in a La Quinta elevator.

I prepared an overnight bag, so all I would have to do is minimal grabbing of items for my overnight stops. The rest of my clothes and laundry live in another suitcase that stays in my car except for layovers and the occasional “Oh, we’re changing clothes for dinner” unexpected couture moments.

So, that’s what I brought!

On the day I was leaving I did stop for a mani/pedi at the place around the corner from my house. For $20 I knew it was worth it to get it done and I am prone to snacking on my hang nails during long drives if my nails aren’t kept up.

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My beach sheet has been helpful more than once.

2011-11-29

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 1: Planning

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.

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A previous Lesbian Jack Kerouac adventure in San Francisco.

I have an inspirational calendar above my desk that has stated for November “Open your arms wide and beautiful moments will come to you.”

After a sudden break-up just two weeks before the end of a two month protracted lay-off experience, I decided to embark on an epic journey. My goals for my Gay American Road Trip were to shift my perspective and my energy. I felt very bogged down in sadness and lacking traction in my life, which was very frustrating. Creatively blocked, I hoped new perspective and big skies would clear things and make way for new blank pages in the chapters of my life.

The decision to go on the trip was solidified quickly, just two weeks prior to leaving. Everything fell into place, and with places to stay popping up from friends it didn’t feel nearly as alone as a solo trip might. I also have a very charming and friendly seven year old Shih Tzu dog who loves to nap in the car. It is hard to feel alone when in the company of a canine companion.

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“Macy you can sleep while I drive,” I adulterated classic Melissa Etheridge lyrics as I packed to leave.

I decided to hop out of town right away―literally the day after my last shift at Re/Dress. I was ready for that energy change. Already a difficult nine and a half hour day working retail, adding community sadness and the agita of uncertainty plaguing me and my fellow Shop Girls, I wanted to shed this juju immediately. Since I had a gig go go dancing at Hey Queen on November 19th I knew that my first chance to leave was November 20th. So I did.

The reactions of my friends, advisers and family were similar―overwhelmingly supportive but very concerned for my safety. As a single 32 year old woman traveling through the heartland solo, I need to be vigilant about safety, but strike a balance where safety vigilance did not compromise the feeling of complete and utter freedom the road offers. As a lifelong Girl Scout and devout traveling adventurer I am familiar with both wilderness survival and road survival. I will be offering my safety tips throughout this blog series.

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Getting things in the rearview mirror, somewhere near Reno, Nevada.

I have hit the road before. When I moved across the country at 21 I departed with my college best friend who decided in Minneapolis to take a train back home. So I had already driven halfway across the country by myself and knew what that was like. I’ve driven the two days to Atlanta, GA from Brooklyn and driven back and forth to Michfest several times. I knew my limits and my preferences and I also knew I liked being alone in the car. I definitely would not have gone cross country on a solo road trip if I hadn’t had experience.

Preparing the Car
*Safety tip.* Prior to leaving I did a few crucial things to ensure my car was ready for the road. I have a Toyota Prius, a dream car I bought myself when I was making $80K a year as an attorney in a small firm before I got laid off and tried my hand at living on less than a third of that per year as a part time Shop Girl and part time solo attorney. The solo business has dwindled to about nothing this year and I am looking for a new full-time gig to replace both of those. I have had to scramble like hell to keep making payments on my car but I love it and couldn’t get out of the loan. So why not celebrate all I’ve sacrificed to keep it by taking off on this trip?

I only go to the dealership to get the Prius serviced. They do safety checks every time I go in and I knew I was due for an emissions service (about $200), which would also help with better gas mileage, and when I was there for the service they surprised me with the need for a brake fluid service (another $200). But making sure it was safe for the road was really important to me.

Preparing the Dog
Macy got her shots updated and a fresh rabies vaccine before we left town (the rabies certificate is packed with us). I also treated her preventatively with Frontline for fleas (who knew what she might get exposed to on the road). I bought extra poop bags, brought a full bag of food, some small tupperware to keep a single portion of food in for our overnights, a couple of extra small tupperware for her water needs, some treats and her favorite lamby toy. I also packed a down blanket to put on the seat next to me, which was something she could dig in and also easier to clean off than my interior.

I also researched pet-friendly hotel chains. I knew we would need to spend a couple of nights in hotels and wanted to prepare for Macy’s welcome. Motel 6 is nationwide and La Quinta is located in most of the cities I might need to stop.

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Peaceful La Quinta moment. The one in Ventura had some kind of ambient wave noise and moon you could watch.

As of this publication I have stayed twice in La Quintas and I find them super comfortable and affordable. ($52 and $62 with my AAA discount plus taxes and fees in Salt Lake City, UT and Ventura, CA, respectively when booked online at La Quinta’s website.)

Planning the Trip
I had about 17 days to spend on the road―with my next gig in Brooklyn being Rebel Cupcake on December 8th. I did a gas estimate on gasbuddy.com to find out if I could afford the gas―hey estimated $450 for round trip to Palm Springs, CA, where my fabulous Grandmother lives. I looked at the route and plotted some places in between where I could stay and where I wanted to visit.

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I’ll be honest that the “End of the World” episode of Parks and Recreation that aired in the beginning of November was a great inspiration to me in the conception and the plot of this trip. Characters April and Andy take a spontaneous road trip to watch the sunset in the Grand Canyon. I knew that was a spot I wanted to see― have never been there and it is only a few hours east of my Grandmother. I wanted to visit Austin and Atlanta, Southern cities where I have longtime besties and there are handsome Southern butches to give this freshly single Femme a little hope at the start of a long Winter. (Sometimes even just window shopping is like eating a full meal.)

I also have friends who popped up on Facebook and offered places to stay. My dear fried and co-creator Cam lives about halfway from Chicago to my mom’s place in the Bay Area. I have a lot of friends in Chicago I could count on for a place to rest my weary head.

*Safety Tip.* I am a member of AAA and believe that to be an everyday safety need as a single lady driving around in a city full of potholes late at night. If I need a tow not only are three included in my yearly dues, but it comes with a tow person who is vetted by my auto club. Helpful for peace of mind. And for around $55 a year in Brooklyn, it’s a huge value considering all of the discounts and benefits from membership. I’ve had AAA since I first began driving and my mom added me to her membership and it has saved my ass on many occasions.

To plot the route, I started plugging in addresses on AAA’s online Trip Tik planner. As a member I can save trips on their website when I log in and it was helpful to keep updating it as I confirmed with friends and got their addresses. (I found with google I had to keep updating my route from scratch.)

I copied a calendar from my wall (the inspirational one) to use the grid to fill in travel times and how long I wanted to stay each place. I started working forward from my departure date, filling in the daily hours and miles traveled and writing where I would sleep that night. I knew my comfortable daily travel was 840 miles, but I could do 1,000 if I had some rest the next morning. I also am a big fan of leaving at the crack of dawn so as little night driving happens as possible.

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This is what greeted me at dawn in Illinois.

I didn’t intend to reach anywhere specific for Thanksgiving― wanted to take exactly as long as I could safely to get across the country and back. Not setting deadlines was helpful for that. (Had I been accompanied by a willing co-pilot we could have done it in 3 days.) Luckily I was able to make it to California for Thanksgiving, 5 days after setting foot out of my door in Brooklyn, much to the delight of my mother.

After I worked my way out to California on the calendar, I began working my way back from December 8th counting backward the route it would require to get back to Brooklyn. This way I could see exactly how much fudge time I had in the middle of my route to plan my brief layovers and make my plans to see folks.

I planned a time in the mileage for an oil change around 3800 miles when I knew I had a day off from driving.

I had to drop a lot from my itinerary―honestly this trip could have taken me a full month. I wish I could have gone up to the Pacific Northwest to see pals in Portland, Olympia, Seattle and Victoria. I wish I had longer to soak in New Orleans―a town I very desperately want to spend a chunk of time exploring. But that’s the thing about travel and the open road, there is always more to explore. It’s with an abundant spirit I say I know I’ll be back and I will see more.

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Somewhere in central Wyoming.

I also ordered some travel books and maps and a Trip Tik book from my local AAA office. I really haven’t used them much, though they are great to have as back-ups and good driving tips, local speed regulations and whatnot.

*Safety tip.* Other safety items I always have on hand in my car are a flashlight, spare tire, shoes, car manual, cell phone charger.

So that was how I planned the trip. It took several days to plan, but the planning itself was very invigorating. When I’m not on a computer at my Grandmother’s I’ll post a map of my route.

In sum, I plan to be on the road for 7800 miles and 17 days.

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