Aesthetics Travel

Day 600 and High Season

A lot of folks seem to be coming through Montana over the next two weeks. Maybe it’s the nature of high season that people flock to Montana at the end of the summer?

But it’s been quite fun to have all kinds of friends, mutuals and acquaintances reach out to make plans. Visibility on Twitter has played a large role in this, as anyone passing through Montana might be inclined to grab a meal or a drink if they scroll their local mutuals. I like to think I am top of mind because I am a good hang but it’s probably because I’m just quite visible.

All these tourists has got a bit of a “center of the universe” feel to it. It’s like a mountain summer town version of Manhattan during fashion week. Or Los Angeles during the Oscars. I’ve got to say it feels like I’m Monaco and it’s F1 racing season. Every city of note has an event that brings all of the jet set to their hometown.

I’m usually mixed on doing too much social activity but I’ve been feeling like socializing more. I’ve even been eating out with much more frequency. And what’s amazing about it is that in the past I didn’t want to do more than a couple events a month. But this end of summer in Montana thing has me looking forward to more deck cocktails, eating cold cherries on the marble kitchen slab, going to pubs and ale houses, and maybe even a few steak houses too.


Day 581 and Lost

I still can’t locate a few basics that are part of my every day routine. My razor is AWOL, the box with my night time cosmetics routine hasn’t been located, and I’m not entirely sure where most of my tee-shirts are located. I don’t think they are lost but they sure aren’t found yet.

I keep making amazing progress on adjusting to the new house and unpacking, only to find that I’ve actually got no idea where something crucial might be located. My ambition to get into a routine? It’s bumping up against the reality that I’m still basically lost.

And in my case I got literally lost on the drive back from the airport. I had full on meltdown as my phone wouldn’t connect to the CarPlay and some urgently late California driver cut me off which forced me onto a right turn only lane. This ended up putting me on a highway for an additional 20 miles of transportation. I found myself lost and hollering into the phone “I have no idea where I am” as I couldn’t get myself turned around or in roads I recognized.

Emotional Work Travel

Day 576 and A New Chapter

I don’t live in Colorado anymore. I’m not really sure I felt like I lived there at all right now. I feel as if the last two years were just a Covid blip attempting to do the impossible; to go home.

By home I mean I left Manhattan for Colorado. Back to the city where I was raised. Boulder was a city where most of my childhood and firsts happened. My first dog. My first period. Where I met my first love. And where then I had my first heartbreak. Where I had so many silly little personal accomplishments that make up a childhood. All of those life milestones happened in Colorado.

When the world turned inside out during Covid, I wanted some sense of safety and certainty and recognition. You can’t really go home though. Being back felt like an interlude. Like a break where I was vacationing from real life. Convalescent after one too many curveballs. Which is a surreal way to feel about a town that raised you. But it just never quite stuck.

I’m driving through Montana as I write this. My mother and her husband are helping Alex and I move up to Bozeman. I’ve got about a hundred miles till we hit town. We are driving alongside the Yellowstone River on I-90. And I suddenly feel like I am home.


Day 573 and Great American Road Trip

I am about to set off on one of the great American pastimes. The drive from Boulder to Bozeman is not very long, only about 9 and a half hours, but it is a majestic drive that covers badlands and soaring mountains all along the Eisenhower interstate system.

The I-25 to I-80 route is one of the gems of the mountain west. It has corporate industrial hellholes, the haunting poverty of our reservations, and the entrance to Yellowstone Park. It’s as good a route as any to explore where we are as a country. Even when gas prices are high. Actually scratch that. Especially when gas prices are high.

We’ve done this drive a few times in both directions. We’ve got a routine for it. Heck we even have a specific McDonalds we stop at on the route. But we’ve never done it with friends and family. It’s generally been a simple married couple drive. There is less drama when it’s a duo and much more time for introspection. It’s either you driving or you recovering from the drive.

When we embark on this road trip this weekend, it’s going to involve a truck, several internet friends and my mother. It’s going to be a bit of a larger cast. In my fantasy version of events, it has all of the makings of a modern day Chevy Chase vehicle.

The kind of comedy that all Americans appreciate as a part of their birthright is the indignity and joy of the open road. When you add in vacations it’s a hoot. But a move? It’s a bit more pioneering in your mind. You see yourself in the fabric of life, narrative manifesting itself as intimate drama. Right before you step in piss at a gas station bathroom.

I frankly cannot wait for this glorious adventure. I am confident we will have pratfalls. I hope we do not have any actual calamity. At least not one that cannot be solved with a bit of wit, a truck and one’s parents. But expectations are just premeditated disappointment, so who knows where the road will take us. That is the magic of the great American road trip.


Day 555 and Recovery

First off, today is a great number. I love this palindrome thing for me. It remains a surprise (at least to me) that I continue to hit these daily writing milestones but here I am just continuing this habit. I doubt I’ll stop anytime soon.

It’s always fun to have a “I did it” moment on a day where I’d rather not be writing. I’m jetlagged today after flying in from Heathrow last night. I did most of the transition just right but I still have a bit of that lingering sense of recovery one always has after travel.

I am always so hungry when I am jetlagged. I try not to eat at funny hours when adjusting for time zones but it’s not always possible. I’ve eaten at all the proper meal times this transit and it’s left me feeling massively over fed in addition to being hungry. Some of my body chemistry is clearly off.

I’m excited to be done with any planned travel for the foreseeable future. I’ve got my move to Montana in August but that’s not “travel” so much as it is a major life transition. Sure, it is an 8 hour drive from Boulder but at least I’m not getting on an airplane. I’d like to be done with the “back to travel” portion of my pandemic experience as it’s just not a ton of fun to fly anymore.

I’ll wrap it up here as I’d like to go to bed and see where day 556 takes me. But here at the end of 555 I am feeling good about this experiment and life in general.


Day 554 and Creature Comforts

You’d be surprised at what you can tolerate so long as you’ve got the little luxuries in life. I think I stole that quote from a Vin Diesel movie Pitch Black. And I’ve found it to be quite accurate. Travel is the sort of experience where misery can be overcome by a decent pillow and room service.

I am emerging from some time on the Ionian Sea that happens to be on the wrong side of some of modernity. And let me tell you my appreciation for capitalism has been rekindled a thousand fold.

I did a layover in Heathrow overnight and I’ve simply never been more relieved to be in a decent business hotel. I must have looked a wreck as I got upgraded into a king suite with a soaking tub. And I just say I feel much more human after an hour in the bathtub, a night of sleep with multiple decent pillows and room service.

A good long soak and a full English breakfast has done much to improve my overall spirits. And my general condition of itchiness has gone by the wayside. The blue bags under my eyes are merely visible as opposed to horrifying.

I’ve got another leg of the journey ahead of me but I’ll be in business class and that’s a luxury of the sort that I very much crave at the moment. A flat lay, endless hydration and a bunch of saved Netflix shows is a creature comfort of the highest order. If the empire is going to decay I’ve got to savor every last moment of little luxuries before they are gone.

Politics Travel

Day 551 and Enjoy The Decline

I didn’t celebrate Independence Day yesterday. At least not in any meaningful sense. Typically I like to watch Roland Emmerich’s classic film Independence Day and cheer on American exceptionalism with explosions and hamburgers.

Instead I’m abroad and trapped in a small Airbnb that has me tethered to the nearest air conditioner. Pollution and climate change isn’t very good for enjoying time outside. 100 degree heat and a lack of EPA pollution standards are not a great combination so best of luck to my friends in Texas.

Nothing breeds appreciation for capitalism quite like spending time somewhere it hasn’t existed for long. Even at the end of the empire, American capitalism is so effective, our living standards still eclipse eastern block countries and other experiments in strongman style socialism. There is a reason people want to come to America and it’s not because we make it easy on immigrants or offer a strong social safety net.

It will be better to live in America for another fifty years or so than nearly anywhere else. Even with all our problems and bullshit, America at its worst is better than most of the planet. Entropy is a bitch though so you may you may as well enjoy the decline as eventually our lack of infrastructure and crumbling institutional capacity will destroy us.

Eventually “the crumbles” and the “Jankening” will eat away at our quality of life lead over the rest of the world. And let me tell you having been reminded of how much it sucks to live without the comforts of modernity, life this life to the fullest while you can. You are not going to enjoy the average lifestyle of a Balkan or Baltic state.

Which might be optimistic given some of the reactionary types striving to be the next Victor Orban. So might I recommend going out to eat at some fine fast casual restaurant and then making a Target run for things you don’t need. It won’t be around forever.


Day 549 and Rekt Travel

One more institutional bit of trust has frayed and snapped for me. I don’t trust travel any longer. Maybe I trust the big airlines and well traveled routes but off the beaten path travel isn’t for me any longer.

Someone didn’t fully understand my limits and I found myself struggling in a situation well beyond my physical means. The trust was so broken I don’t know how to even begin putting back the pieces from it. I’m exhausted yes, but the worst part is the fear I feel from being put in a bad situation and seeing just how incapable I was of fixing it myself. I’m not independent anymore. And I’m scared and angry about it.

I envy people who can have a situation change and have it’s impacts be immaterial on their day. Oh it’s inconvenient if the travel estimates were three times longer than planned. Oh it’s annoying that there is no air conditioning. Oh it’s frustrating that all these minor details are annoyances for you and intense health risks for me.

I fear I’ll come out of this experience paranoid and much much sadder. I feel stupid I couldn’t protect myself. I feel gullible that I let someone else handle the details. People tease me that I prepare for travel so aggressively. That it’s eccentric and odd and a sign of being a crazy woman.

But when the consequences are so expensive; a thousand dollars gone in a hotel scam, a fortune in gas, an extra thousand to weekend hour doctors to stabilize. I think it’s sensible to be extremely prepared. Nothing black pills you faster than being sick. I tried to act like I could be a normal person and just got rekt.

Aesthetics Travel

Day 548 and Shame

I’ve got a pit in my stomach. My throat has the constricted feeling of embarrassment that gets trapped in your gullet. I failed and lost money on something stupid. I tried to do a pleasant vacation sort of choice over a long weekend. A “nearby” Riviera town was supposedly within driving distance. I thought what could go wrong. Let’s go to the Ionian Sea! I briefly thought I could enjoy something like a regular person.

I said yes as everyone was so excited by the fresh air and the beaches. It will be healthy and fun! I was worried it would be without the basics I need to keep standing upright but I wanted to try anyway. Consistent air conditioning is really important to keeping the rest of my bodily system’s functioning. It’s a very Marie Antoinette need, but once my spine swells it can go very wrong very fast. Summers are hard for me.

My system begins to cascade within a pretty short window. About half a day. Eight hours without being able to lay flat for a break ended up fucking me up badly in this case. The “oh it’s close, just a three hour drive” ended up being a ten hour ordeal over badly maintained roads. I was sick to my stomach and in pain as we took hairpin turns and popped over potholes. I was in so much pain it was over a 10. It was “lose consciousness” levels of pain as my body knew I shouldn’t be awake for it. I was afraid it would get so bad I’d need a hospital. Instead I settled for opioids. Keeping out of the hospital was probably wise.

I hate needing those kind of drugs. The “your pain is a 10” drugs push me off the plane of reality by a few ecliptic degrees, and suddenly I can tolerate the pain and discomfort again. I understand how addicts get made now. It’s not real comfort. It’s synthetic but most people can’t tell just by watching. The fake relief looks real.

I’ve never felt tempted to take pain medicine recreationally. It’s usually only when a pain is too big for my reality that I tap out in defeat and take an opioid. It’s when reality crushes my soul as one variable starts to degrade the whole machine. I only use it to stave off collapse. And I was very close to collapse.

What is fucked up is that people like me off the axis of reality. The hazy hyper vibe’d unreal “reality” of encroaching nihilism is bop. Dystopia seems cool and consumable.

But it’s not an adventure for me. Living when sick is a daily dance with the devil who could use any chance encounter to end it all for you. The kind thing might be to stop fighting. But I rarely give up so I must enjoy the sticky Sisyphean crawl towards towards reality and the search for my own dignity.

I’m ashamed because I couldn’t make good decisions in that kind of pain. When the first hotel turned out to be a scam I happily laid down a card to stay till Monday at another hotel. Anything to get me relief. I just needed a safe cold place to heal.

It was a bad decision. The air conditioner didn’t work. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was sleeping in a dark sort of cold room as I couldn’t work up energy to go to the beach or even see the rest of the hotel. Not that it mattered as none of it was air conditioned anyway. I decided to go home after I had built up energy reserves back from sleeping for hours. I couldn’t tell you how long I passed out for but it might have been close to a whole day.

Alas I was again scammed for my efforts. The hotel clerk says no you paid for four days so you cannot get a refund even if you leave early. No refunds ever. No early checkout. No one cares if you are sick. Fuck her but I said hotel California for me. I was sick and needed safety.

I made some efforts to get receipts and documentation. I asked a receipt attesting that they wouldn’t let you cancel for any circumstance and that I was sick but it made no difference. Maybe I can take to the credit card or even the health insurance to show that I crashed. I’ll work it out on the backend.

I often wonder why I need special care. Surely I can try to do regular things like drive to the beach. But I couldn’t. I lost 48 hours to driving and bad air conditioning and pain. I didn’t have the health to stay at the beach. I needed to go back to the city with air conditioning.

I felt so stupid. I tried to fight to hold space that maybe I was a person that could do a vacation. That I was normal. And it was firmly corrected by reality. And then you think this is why I don’t go on vacation. The additional friction makes it a hell. It’s not a joy it’s a visit to hell.

I cut bait quickly this time.I’m ashamed at now much I must firmly maintain the no. No I don’t want to go to the beach. No I don’t have the energy got a full day road-trip. And definitely no on an empty stomach.

I feel like I’m not fun. That being friends with me is joyless because I can’t agree to fun things like a weekend at a beach. I find myself in tears having failed again at trying to do a nice normal fun thing. I ruined the weekend for myself and everyone around me.

Fun with me is being in a dark room. We watch television. Or maybe a movie. We make fun of a plot hole or bad casting. We sleep a lot. If we are at my home we do the chores. We keep up with the farm. There is no reason to turn consumption of recreation into a thing. It just hurts me. No cheap facsimile of an American vacation in a resort in a cheaper country.

That hideous example of colonial expectations of western domestic standards turn out to be required for a disabled woman. Air conditioning and short trips keep me alive. And at quite a cost. Since no one will refund me any of these damned scam hotels. I should have known better. It will probably take me a week or so to recover. And I’m so ashamed.

Aesthetics Travel

Day 547 and Cruel Summer

The cruel summer is the season after silent spring. It’s hot out. Unnaturally and unseasonably so.

And people aren’t really prepared for it. Whole countries haven’t invested in air conditioning yet. I made the mistake of being outside during high noon. I was under shade and there were fans but I let my insides get simmered a bit while I ate lunch.

The exhaustion that overcame me was enough for ten siestas. A dozen forced naps would easily overcome even the most fervent consciousness. I’d simple done too much by existing and eating at the height of the day. What a foolish hubristic nature this mortal has.

What little defense the air conditioner has against the full force of noon will have to be enough. Sleep will find me if I can find an even small restorative space. One I know will disappear the second the key card is lifted from the auto electricity system.