The trunk of my car

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smells like beer.

It used to smell like chicken when I brought home extra lunch food from Fear Factor. And something else in between but I just can’t remember what.

You see, as part of “move-on” month, I decided it would be an awesome idea to save all of our recyclables and make some money back from them. As a midwestern, nerdy, little girl, I always wanted to bring my cans and bottles to the states that paid you to recycle — and California gives you the most money back.

Now that I live here I realize that first, they charge you that CRV when you buy the item, so it’s not actually paying you to recycle but more-so making you pay if you don’t recycle, and second, it’s a big pain.

I suppose if we had a recycle bin that might help, or a can crusher, or a garage, but we don’t, so step 1 – I spent a week collecting glass and plastic in the corner of our kitchen. Ok, environmental friends look away… actually it took me about 5 minutes to walk around the apartment and fill two bags with stuff I could bring in… and then that was the weekend/week of roommate bonding, so there were a few added champagne bottles and beer cans in my stash, which brings me to the next, and most important problem:

I CAN’T FIND THE RECYCLE CENTER.

I’m sure your first thought is, “Michelle, I know you’re geographically challenged, but really? You can’t find the recycle center?” The answer is yes. I can’t. First I went to Albertson’s where my roommates thought they’d seen one. Nope.

And not just a regular nope. A nope, I was walking around with three bags full of what can only be described as party remnants in the parking lot and in the store. Then my bag broke and a bottle flew to the ground. That wasn’t embarrassing at all.

So I returned to my car and threw everything in my trunk, because what else could I do? That was all last Saturday. Today I took matters into my computer. I googled the recycle centers and found two near my bank, which I also needed to visit (hopefully not for the last time). Found them, wrote down directions and put the address in my phone.

Then drove around for 30 minutes on the same street looking for them.

My phone just kept telling me I was 1 little minute away going south, then one minute away going north, then south again, then north. Then I gave up. I guess it’s my fault for trying something SOOO difficult, like finding an address for a recycle center. Though, in the eyes of whoever is up there, planning my life today, it was fitting that I was unsuccessful. Today resulted in two failed attempts at jobs, getting lost 3 times, gettings yelled at by a fellow driver, spending money I didn’t plan on or want to, and buying weird gum.

And now that my car has had beer cans, which were not as empty as I thought, in the trunk, my car smells like a bar. I don’t even drink beer.

Oh, well. At least I did my laundry yesterday and this morning I got my endorphins.

thoughts from my car, wishing it was a motorcycle

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I think I’m going to the gym at the wrong time of day. Lately it has been taking me over an hour to get there, granted it’s still rare for me to arrive without at least one wrong turn, but still it used to take me less than 30 minutes when we were waking up in the dark to go, however, it now takes me 25 minutes to get home, so I’m thinking that between 8-10 is the worst time to be on those roads, oh well, I have nothing else to do so I’m not tremendously concerned with my time, but I get really hungry when I’m driving so far! Not to mention the game I play with my parking pass, since I had to pay for one minute last week, I’m making sure to leave with ten minutes to spare, but still no fun to rush out of there instead of enjoying the hot tub or steam room – just another reason why after November 11th, we have to find a closer gym.

Anyway, as I’m hanging out in traffic trying not to get distracted by Ryan Seacrest and Rosie O’Donnell’s discussion about Oprah and tequila (very funny segment on his show this morning), I instead got distracted by the motorcyclists swerving through the traffic. You see, in California, motorcyclists get to drive in between cars, which scares the crap out of me as a driver, but also really makes me want to learn to ride one.

Ok, not really. I’d probably die the first time I rode solo, plus making wrong turns would be ten times as risky! But, I bet those cyclers always make it to the gym on time.

The radio is different here too. I’m a cliché 24-year-old girl radio listener, so in Chicago my default station was 103.5 Kiss FM, in LA it’s 102.7 KIIS FM, please explain to me why KISS is KIIS here? I do not understand the reason or pronunciation. What I do know is that LA radio is anti-Chicago, well I guess just anti everything except LA. You see, every song that has lyrics about another city is replaced with LA or California, “Pretty girls in Chi-city” no longer Chi-city, and the worst one is Lady Gaga’s You & I, which is an actual true story about NEBRASKA, and you know what, LA, in Chicago, we still listen to the words, NEBRASKA, but for some reason it’s changed to California here, and the worst part is that whoever was in charge of the changed cut sucked. I only paid attention half the time during radio segments at ICB, but I could fix that track so that you don’t here her start “NEB” and suddenly blast CALIFORNIA, boo, LA radio, not cool.

Though, I redeem your radio, LA because every day I hear at least two No Doubt songs, which is both hilarious and awesome, because Tragic Kingdom is probably my favorite album ever, despite the trauma Michael caused me when he put glue all of the cd and broke it in half.

Last radio observation from today’s ride, I heard a commercial for Trader Joe’s frozen spaghetti and meatballs, so I start actually listening because they’re talking health and sale prices, and all the sudden the announcer is talking about giving the meatballs out to trick or treaters. Now, I’m sure the dish is delicious, and I know plenty of people who would be thrilled to get this — both of my brothers included — but is this commercial serious? If anyone has heard it and can help me out that would be fabulous.

Oh, and today on The Chew, Mario Batali gave weight loss tips. What??

(he was right though, calories in < calories out = weight loss)

There’s a Difference.

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I am not a bad driver. Knock on wood as you read this, but I in six years, I have yet to get a ticket or get in an accident. I am a responsible, but understandable driver, I drive above the speed limit enough to keep up with traffic, yet I always use my turn signal and follow most of the rules of the road.

That said, I am TERRIBLE with geography. Which makes me a confused driver. I mean, I could drive to Westwood Tavern from 436 Greenhill with two hands tied around my back and my eyes closed, that’s probably not true, but you get what I’m saying. I’m a confident driver, but only if I know where I’m going, and that is different from being a bad driver.

I have a really hard time understanding where I am and how to get where I’m going. It’s actually pretty embarrassing, especially since half of my brain is filled with sometimes useful but completely unnecessary information about television, health topics, shopping, famous people and most irritatingly, crystal clear memories of things from my past. I could write an entire book explaining why my extreme memory SUCKS, but that’s another story because for geography, I’m lost. Pun intended.

I only went one place today and I managed to get lost three times. I can’t decide if this is because I get easily distracted or because I get emotional by accident. You see, at our new gym parking is only free for 2 hours, you know me, I try to get every minute of my freeness without going over. Well today, I happened to get to the payment guy at 12:21, my ticket said 10:20. I had to pay $1.35 for one minute, which isn’t that much money but it made me minimally frustrated, probably because I went the wrong way exiting the garage and I’m sure I would’ve saved that minute if I knew which way the exit was. Because of this, I didn’t properly direct my SYNC system, a.k.a. Julie, to send me to “new home” and therefore spent 10 minutes going up and east instead of down and west, which I will defend myself saying as soon as I got on the wrong freeway I knew I messed up… I just didn’t know how to fix it. I managed to make two other turn glitches getting back on the right track, even with Julie’s assistance, yet I happened to arrive home in 40 minutes, which is pretty good considering.

This ramble on about driving leaves me with these things to mention:

1) When I’m going somewhere with someone I always ask them to drive. I’m pretty sure Linda, Elizabeth, Danielle and Bridget, among others can vouch for this. It’s not because I’m a bitch people, or that I’m trying to save gas, I always offer to reimburse people, I JUST HATE DRIVING. Getting lost isn’t fun. Also I like observing from the passenger’s seat.

2) I’m curious if geography and telling time are related, cuz I can’t do that either. I mean, I’m 24, I can tell time, but sometimes it takes me a while, especially if the clock is a 3-6-9-12 deal, and don’t even get me started on numberless clocks, that’s pretty much a guess for me. Both of these are super embarrassing because I kinda think of myself as an intelligent person, but there’s something about these two things that just don’t stick with me.

3) In spite of these things, I’m totally proud of myself for the amount of solo driving I’ve done in the past month, because PEOPLE IT’S BEEN A MONTH SINCE I LEFT. And I’m proud of my little car, I mean yes it’s brand new so it should do it’s job, but I guess I’m just glad we meld so well.

4) And my final two things.

4-a) It’s my half birthday, which is crazy because I feel like I just turned 24, when it’s half over. Then I think, on my birthday I had no idea I’d be sitting in bed writing about my new life in a new city in six months, so I guess a lot did happen. Also, my friend from work kept telling me that “24 was my favorite age,” so Crystal, the world has six months to prove you right.

4-b) Finally, a huge 🙂 to my cousin Chrissy, who made my day yesterday by asking “what’s your address so I can send you some gum.” Thanks for reading, Chrissy! Miss you!

Man it would suck to drive this route backwards!

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I’ve finally arrived and (quasi) settled in to Culver City with my new roommates, but first you probably want to know all about the last day of our trip. And, well if you don’t want to know, then you shouldn’t have clicked to read, sorry, your fault, not mine.

So day three started with my dad and I planning what time he wanted to eat breakfast. See, despite the fact that I am not model-skinny, I really like to workout and a day without it makes me crabby. And I lucked out – our second hotel actually had a room for the three machines, good job, Utah. The hotel was actually really nice, I would recommend Hampton Inn to anyone, nice hotel, actual free breakfast and fitness room and good prices. So we woke up at 5:45, I went to workout and then we met for breakfast in the little kitchen area which was filled with Home Depot employees, the entire trip was filled with Home Depots which was super funny. You don’t expect the orange sign to show up at every rest stop or in the middle of a mountain but there it is for your every day hardware needs.

We drove through the rest of Utah, stopping at a Starbucks where my dad told me everyone was staring at my outfit – sometimes I forget that what I want to be comfortable in looks ridiculous, but oh well, I doubt I’ll see those people anytime soon.

After that we unexpectedly drove through Arizona for 30 minutes and BAM there were cactus and palm trees, 29 minutes later BAM casinos and cheap buffets – entering Nevada!

So we were deciding where to stop in Nevada and my dad wanted to stop in Vegas but at some side restaurant, that wasn’t my plan. Las Vegas is my favorite place on Earth and stopping nearby when I could see the strip would have been a tease. I remembered a little strip mall on LV BLVD with a McDonald’s and Fat Burger and had an inkling we could park there – woo hoo, I was right! $5 parking was fabulous, we walked as fast as possible to New York, New York (my favorite hotel) because we hadn’t stopped to pee in 4 hours, seriously doubt anyone has power walked the strip like that, but it wouldn’t be my dad if he wasn’t walking at a cheetah speed.

Arrived at the hotel, and ate lunch in the little NYC deli and headed to the slots – after about $40 in the wrong machines, my dad found the wheel and won $150! I told him we had to stop playing after he lost the initial $20 so we cashed out, had a funny experience at a Wizard of Oz machine and were on our way back to the car. On the way I made us stop at a photo booth outside M&M world and we had $5 worth of fun and sent my mom the picture, then had the most amazing self-serve soft-serve at the Tasty Di-Lite by the car.

Including gas & food (both of which were necessary), we actually came out ahead – best 2 hours of the trip!

Back on the round for the 4.5 hours remaining, which was a slew of long super fast roads and a few mountains, pretty, but if I had to hear my dad say, “California has mountains, too” one more time I was gonna take a sleeping pill and leave him to talk to himself and Julie (my SYNC system voice) alone.

So here’s the thing – my dad and I made it the whole trip without arguing or yelling – which is crazy considering we are the most stubborn people alive – that was until 30 minutes in LA where he became “travel dad.”

If you’ve never experienced travel dad, you’re lucky, but if you ever plan on being on a trip with him, beware, travel dad likes to blame people, roads, states, computers, weather, insects, pretty much anything on the fact that he’s slightly uncomfortable driving on a foreign highway. Completely understandable, but not a fun person to be sitting with!

I texted my brother about that and he said, “don’t let him yell at you.” Probably in reference to a trip in LA 10 years ago where Michael got super “travel dad”ed. Anyways, I lucked out, I wasn’t driving and Julie was navigating, so I just sat back and realized that for the first time since I decided to move I was actually nervous about this. Probably not what you want to feel sitting with travel dad, but luckily I told him to stop being nervous/crabby and just listen to Julie.

Finally we made it out of traffic and to the apartment where Cynthia was waiting to let us in! Unloading was pretty quick (since all my crap is still on a truck somewhere in the midwest), but it was nice to know we made it. We went to dinner in downtown Culver City, which I have already fallen in love with, and then I drove him to the hotel he was staying at, and during that 20 minute drive I was very glad I didn’t drive any of the 33 hour trip, “passenger dad” is 10x worse than “travel dad.”

He stayed at a super fancy hotel, which made the others seem like a shed in the backyard, and we said goodbye, with, of course, he giving me a $20 – makes him feel better about leaving, that would be called “classic dad.”

We did mention the entire time that this trip kept getting better – from boring Iowa to crappy Nebraska on day 1, to beautiful Colorado and hospitable Utah on day 2, to amazing Vegas and actually reaching palm tree-filled LA, who would ever want to drive the other way, you’d probably land in a snow-filled ditch on the final day, be depressed, freezing and incorrectly dressed.

So now I’m here, living in 70 degree sunshine and figuring out what to do. I was able to get two job leads, so at least that’s something to hope for right now, I deep cleaned the kitchen, organized the fridge, bought an antenna so we get NBC now(!) and have attempted to unpack most of my stuff.

Unfortunately I don’t know what to do today now. Feel free to send suggestions.

Never do this by yourself! Do What? Drive across this country.

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So yesterday was exactly what Nebraska and Iowa are known to be, slightly boring but generally what you assume, and today was the same – but Colorado and Utah are actually interesting!

From the first 5 minutes over the border to “colorful” Colorado, we were entertained by the scenery and gigantic mountains, it really is amazing what other parts of the country look like.

We ended up stopping at a scenic rest stop that was pretty amazing – pictures will be online soon.

There are some funny signs in Colorado, one for Colorado style pizza, which I would love to know about – is it snowy on top and hot on the bottom? Is it uneven in heights?

My FAVORITE sign was: Correction Facility, do not stop for hitch-hikers

Traffic kept switching on us and my dad’s comments made me laugh, first he kept saying, “how are we stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere?” but a few hours later, “where the hell is everyone?”

So we are in Utah now, went to dinner at 7:45 and my dad ordered a beer and was told he couldn’t have one until 8 because it was an election day – so funny, he thought she was kidding.

Overall, 10/10 for Colorado and 9/10 for Utah, just because it’s pretty bare and really the mountains were sub-par to the Rockies.

Last day of the trip tomorrow!!

 

You know you’re in Nebraska when the Top 40 station is playing Gettin’ Jiggy With It

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On the Road! 1st stop – Nebraska!

First day of 11 hour drive = success! Only two more days to go and I’ll be in a brand new city, state, lifestyle – can’t wait. My little Fiesta is doing great.

Of course, we got a little bit of a later start than expected, but then again, was the estimated time of departure really believable to anyone?

Took a little over 11 hours, but we made it – just with super sore legs and a few pit stops.

My dad said, “It’s 93 degrees out and I don’t even have shorts on. It’s supposed to be chilly this time of year.” No dad, you don’t have shorts on because I told you I’m never going in public with Jorts again.

 

Also, note on Nebraska – feel free to go to dinner in your jammies, because everyone else is in them too… but I actually think that’s their dinner clothes – also, don’t go to Applebees, even if you think it’s ok in Nebraska, it’s not.

Tomorrow starts at 5:45! Cuz really there’s nothing else to do in North Platte. And the “fitness center” is in the lobby, that’s even too embarrassing for ME to use!

G’night!!

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