This is a guitar rack I built for instruments. This piece again was made from scrap wood at the Factory. It holds my guitars quite nicely in my room. It’s a whole lot better than the three separate stands I had before.
I just joined The Factory in Collingswood, and this is the first piece that I made there. I showed up the day after I joined and decided to make a box out of scrap woods they had lying around. My only real goal was to get back into using the saws without losing a finger. I also wanted to try out a technique that brings out the grain of a wood by burning it. That also (kinda) worked.
Miles Driven: 4,272.4
Songs Written: 2
Nights spent in a van: Too many
It feels good to be home, and I hope the feeling of urgency that I have right now lasts me a while. The direction I want myself to go has never been clearer to me. I’ve never had so much time to myself to reflect and think, and I’m certainly glad I had the chance. It was extremely lonely at times, and absolutely fantastic at others. This trip has turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I learned 1,000 things along the way, and you won’t be able to find most of them in a book. Some things you just have to see for yourself.
Until next time,
I found what I was looking for out here: perspective, humility, and motivation.
Let’s go back since I’ve skipped a few days…
After Nashville I headed south to Atlanta where I spent two nights. One I spent at a friend’s, the other with my Aunt who was on a business trip. Both parties had a lot of good advice to offer me. My aunt had a very simple goal of leaving the world just a little better then she found it, which I liked.
After Atlanta I headed out to New Orleans, but first I made a few interesting stops. On my drive I went to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and toured the museum and the city for just $10. The center is housed in a federal city which includes the EPA, the Navy Seals, the National Oceanographic Office, NASA and many others. There are more than 5,000 federal, private, and military employees who share the city. In NASA’s corner, they strap rockets to 30-story tall stands and test them. Behind the biggest stand they have cleared a huge area of trees and dug a lake, as my tour guide said, “So they don’t set the world on fire.” All these cool toys reminded me of why I had pursued engineering in the first place, and rekindled my motivation for that area.
After Stennis, I spent a really strange night half in my car, and half at a Hampton Inn. It was eye opening to experience absolute poverty and excess luxury all in one night. It realized how easily my life could go either way, and that I have the power to choose.
The next day I arrived in New Orleans. It is a city alive with art and music and history. I visited countless art galleries in the charming French Quarter. I saw many fantastic street performers – big brass bands that jammed in the streets. I went to the National WWII museum which is absolutely a must-see. It is easily the most thorough, creative, and raw museums I have ever been to. I spent a great drunken night with some locals and a fantastic blues band, and slept more or less happily in my car. I got some perspective from sleeping in my car – now I understand why homeless people drink.
Just eight hours from Austin, I thought I had learned all my lessons, and I considered turning back to celebrate two important Birthdays I would miss on the 27th and 28th. My gut told me otherwise, and I headed west, across the swamps of Louisiana, and into the plains of Texas.
After one night in a Motel, I arrived in Austin. It’s a really cool place – young and full of energy – and yet it lacked something. Maybe it was History. It seemed like at any time, the Colorado River could sweep the whole town away and a new version could be built anywhere along the river and no one would remember the old Austin. Maybe it was the non-existent pretty women. Maybe it was roots. Most of the people there were just on loan from other places they still called home. Maybe it just wasn’t my home. I spent a terrible, magical, humble night outside, and in the morning, I knew I couldn’t stay. I had to go home and start my life.
So, I have spent the last 3 days covering the 1,561 miles from Austin to Baltimore, where I am crashing tonight at my Brother’s. Tomorrow’s 2 hour drive will be the shortest and longest of my life.
I can’t wait to be home.
I went to the Mercy Lounge Saturday night in Nashville where I saw The Vespers and Guilty Pleasures. The Guilty Pleasures show turned out to be a lot more fun. They’re a killer 80’s tribute band. It was great to see so many middle aged people sloshed and enjoying the soundtrack of their youth.
I had a rare ice and snow storm keep me company for the entire stay. Naturally,The day I left it was sunny and beautiful.
My luck held up on my way to Atlanta as my muffler fell off my car and I came down with a cold. I dragged my muffler about a mile to a gas station, bought some metal ties, jacked up the car and re-attached the muffler. It only cost me $8 and an hour of my life in the hands of a disreputable car jack.
Sometimes I think the Universe just throws dung at you just because it knows you can handle it. Something tells me the Universe is not done.
I will get to Austin.
Yesterday I dove into the real Nashville and was pleased with what I found. The real venues feature a slew of quality bands every night. Some are on their first or second tour, but all of them have their act together. The first night out I unknowingly stumbled into a hardcore Turnstile show at The End. I had an GREAT time. Every band was high energy and super tight, and the crowd was losing their sanity. They played with Superheaven, Freedom, True Love, and Orthodox.
The next night I went to a rock venue called The Stone Fox. A local band called Free Throw opened, who were absolutely fantastic. They were followed by Cayetana, an all-girl punk group from South Philly, and The Sidekicks headlined. It was a good emo-rock show.
The cool part about these venues was that they were small enough that I got to meet any band member I wanted, but was still blown away by the show they put on. I even swapped my own album for Free Throw’s Those days are gone. I got the feeling that venues like these are sort of the ground floor for a lot of groups that take off. Here’s a video of a Turnstile show. This is actually what it was like.
I arrived in Nashville yesterday and gave myself the full tourist experience, which was refreshing after so much driving. Every bar on Broadway had an excellent band, but none of them were filled with Nashvillians. They played the crowd-pleasers, and the crowds were inevitably satiated. I walked from one bar to the next, and they were both playing Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison at the same time, which I found highly amusing.
On a relevant note, I got a haircut which I badly needed. The honors were done by a man named Wayne who has been cutting hair for 52 years. It was a strange experience. First, he sat me down and told me that he remembered cutting my hair (which is impossible) and then called me by my father’s name, which I had not mentioned. I started to speak but he just said, “I know what you want”, so I just shut up and let him do what he does best. The haircut is excellent. Wayne had an air of wizardry about him that I envy in old souls but is sometimes forgotten in our culture which places youth and beauty above all else. I hope one day I can exist as purely and as rightly as Wayne. By a conservative estimate, Wayne has spent 7 years cutting hair.
I spent Saturday in Washington DC. The city and its people are expressive and genuine. I saw a show which included New Boss and Dead Professional. I ate a very large piece of pie (‘The Baltimore Bomb’) from Dangerously Delicious Pies. It was a bitterly cold night, but I enjoyed the show and the city. It seems to be bursting with excitement just to exist. I think I would like to live there.
On Sunday I drove 491 miles and crashed at a motel west of Knoxville. I am stranded in a light snowstorm for which the people of Tennessee are totally unprepared. I will have to wait until tomorrow morning to finish my drive to Nashville, where I will stay for a week before heading to Atlanta.
Here’s a song you must listen to:
Listen to me, and listen good. Jim Croce is the best.
I did a bunch of things Yesterday and Today, but I won’t tell you any of that because what you really need to do right now is listen to Jim Croce and laugh/cry/contemplate life.
Here is my favorite track, but I must insist you listen to his greatest hits to get a good smattering of his imaginative, upbeat, and sometimes gut-wrenching songwriting. Throw a dart at his albums and you will find a song you like.
Today I started my journey to Nashville and Beyond. I let the dashboard slowly swallow the first of many unlistened CDs in my driveway. That first CD became a Frisbee about a minute later.
The second CD was ‘II’ by Boyz II Men. I liked it. Especially “Thank you”, “I’ll make love to you” and “Yesterday”.
One thing I learned today: Delaware is in the south.
One thing I liked: Watching University of Delaware get down with Jefe (Spanish for Chief) at their local bar, the Deer Park Hotel.