10,000 Words: 7264-8260
I bought all this podcast equipment a few months ago but haven’t had the time to start a podcast. I’m hoping, once I leave my hideous day job, I’ll be able to start podcasting somewhat seriously. I want to do two podcasts, actually. A straight “on being an indie publisher” podcast (and I’ve scripted several shows already), and then a ranting Nacho podcast. As I slowly move towards 10,000 words, I’m really liking the idea of Nacho-casting because, ugh. I’ve exhausted my writing ability just about now.
In the early 90s, I got a little microcassette recorder so I could be more like Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. On my long drives between DC and my college in Elkins, WV, I’d chatter away and fill tape after tape. All pre-Great Society ranting. Essentially another version of hypergraphia: I couldn’t write while I was driving, so I rambled on to myself for four hours as I drove (what I discovered a few years ago) was the long way round to my college, avoiding highways and taking the scenic route.
I don’t regret taking the longer (and incorrect) way to college. It was a lovely trip, with vast amounts of time spent all along on the backroads of America. You see the strangest things when you’re out there driving through old America. I’d stop and spend time at dumb tourist spots (like the smallest church in the lower 48 states), or the source of the Potomac River.
I fell so in love with that journey that, after college, in the late 90s, I wanted to start a blog and a travel book series that was all about visiting roadside Americana haunts. Roadsideamerica.com existed then, but I wanted to do it my way. Put my voice on it, and also see if it was something that I could potentially market. Could I make a living travelling and writing about travel?
This scheme got pretty involved. I coerced two friends to be my travel companions and, armed with my microcassette reporter and endless notepads, we explored Amish country in Pennsylvania, we travelled to Columbus, OH to see Crate City and the country’s oldest traffic light, to Flemington, NJ to see the crash site of the Hindenburg, and to Northlandz, the largest model railroad in the country.
The roadtrips were awesome. We stayed in skeevy motels and went into seedy, smoke-filled taverns. My friends, at the time, lacked all imagination and individuality, but that was okay. They liked driving, and one was okay at making webpages at a time when having a webpage was difficult and content management software was nonexistent (or useless and annoying). I even managed to write a few articles about our trips, and I started putting together a proposal to try and raise money. Could my two friends and I really make a living driving out to see stupid shit in farm country? Maybe.
I really got into the road trips. I picked up a copy of Drive, They Said and, in the evenings, on dirty blankets at filthy hotels, I’d read from its pages and write driving poetry of my own.
Everything fell apart, of course. My asshole friends robbed me (literally) and then ended the friendship, calling me an asshole for various things I’ve never really understood. I became crushed by debt (student loans and, what they didn’t cover of college, went onto several maxed out credit cards). Sitting around and trying to get money for travel adventures seemed a fool’s game. I was working as a caterer at the time, and doing freelance writing for a business journal. I also had a job at a bookstore and for a small non-profit group dedicated to exposing the danger of pesticide use (duh). To this job roster, I added a job as a wires editor for an Associated Press company. And that, unlike my other jobs, was a real job. A proper nine-to-fiver with one week of vacation each year and the requirement that I work every day including holidays. The wires went out to AP’s head office every day at 10am and 3pm. Christmas morning, New Years… There I was. Sometimes all alone in the office getting my job done like a good little trained monkey. I eventually got fired for that job – sadly not because I murdered the boss – and then I launched into the job I just resigned from a month ago.
I look back at all of my little schemes and I’m a little miffed. Because you know what? I could have made that irreverent Americana idea work. I could have pulled off half of my schemes with ease. The only thing I was missing was money and reliable fucking people. I can’t tell you how many opportunities were lost because my friends at the time were horrible, mean cunts. Sad. I hope everyone who’s let me down has suffered. I know where they all live and, each week, I check the obits for their names. I peruse alumni magazines and haunt alumni forums. Whenever someone who let me down dies or suffers terribly in some way, it’s a great thing. I laugh and laugh and laugh. It’s getting better now that we’re all getting older and bad shit is starting to happen to everybody. I’m now at that point in my life where it’s acceptable to start showing up at funerals even if I’ve been out of the picture for 20 years. So I’ll do that the next time someone who betrayed me dies and maybe I’ll do a little dance at the back of the crowd, where only the priest will be able to see me.