Tripblog condensed, Week 1

Day 0, Home: Travel doesn’t mean the same thing to me it means to you, almost for sure. It doesn’t mean adventure. It doesn’t mean enrichment. It means nervousness.

Good Mood

Day 1, Train: I would put the beginning of the trip as the moment I lay down on my couch to sleep the night before departing and realized I had pinkeye. A trip to the mirror confirmed it. I thought: this will not do. I had it a year or so ago and it’s uncomfortable and you really would not want to spend a day on a train with it.


There were some vigamox eye drops left in the medicine cabinet, doubtless expired I thought, but what was I going to do? I had to get some sleep and there was no way to go to the doctor the next day, so I dosed myself and went to bed. They seem to have worked actually but the trip so far has been the kind of thing that might be presaged by a sudden case of pinkeye:

Day 1.5, Train: Basically we ran over someone. Just outside of DC. There was too much of a remove between the passengers and the situation to get very traumatized about it but it instantly turned into a 7-hour delay. Finally we lurched south and I took a benzo (having polished off the tiny airport bottles of rum I smuggled on hours before) and put on my sleep mask and useless neck pillow thingy and got some relatively comfortable sleep. I think I had gritted my teeth into a powder.

My seatmate is a nice enough guy, fairly uninteresting to me as I imagine I am to him. (A while after I dropped into the conversation that I’m “indoorsy” he asked if I had done much backpacking and I refrained from expressing surprise a the verbal form of that common object.)

Day 2: H, with whom I am staying, is already awake. He has given instruction on how to pronounce Chartres and Rampart so as not to be taken for a rube by taxi drivers.


Day 3: New Orleans reminds me of Philadelphia but this can’t be right. It’s near 70 degrees and some knot of rage is getting unworked. My goal for tonight is to consume alcohol while walking down the street. It’s just so stupid that you can’t do this anywhere.

Day 4: I walked down to the stairs down to the Mississippi very early Saturday and watched big ships navigate the curve. I drank several hurricanes walking around on the street, and the moment you do this is the moment it’s impossible to imagine why it’s prohibited everywhere else.

Sunrise over Metairie

Day 5-7 Dallas: Got up and went to Half Price Books, which is in the building that used to house the department store my family started and ran for thirty years or so, where my mother was a switchboard operator when she was a teenager, paging people or whatevs. Odd driving again. The fine motions of the left foot on the clutch particularly getting from zeroth into first gear are still there, but less automated. Funny to drive past the gold-windowed office buildings off Northwest Highway that are so bland but so iconic of Dallas for me.


So back to the Home for Aged Hebrews for lunch and then I watched TMC for a bit with my grandmother, some comic short that I actually found rather funny about this couple that kept trying to win on quiz shows. Now of course I can’t figure out what it was. I’m using search strings like “comic short couple radio Errol Flynn sneeze” and it’s not working.

My grandmother went to the dentist and came back and we went through another box of photos and as god or someone is my witness, I will not, this vacation, look at another photo of a person who was relatively happy and now is dead or someone now very old looking like all the 1970s in one fashion choice or a lovely house torn down to make way for some faux Tuscan monstrosity.

She would pick up a picture of my mother and aunt thirty years ago and say “you know these people” and pick up another of the same and say “you don’t know these people” until I wasn’t sure quite what joke she was making and whether this was enjoyable for her or a little bit of agony. I kept commenting on the places in the background and the time periods and she didn’t have much to say about it.

Dallas 2013

It all made me terribly sad and fortunately I find the dull expanses of north Dallas and Plano soothing.

6 responses to “Tripblog condensed, Week 1”

  1. T-Mo says:

    Smearcase, I never knew about your family ties to Dallas, the department store, etc. Very interesting. I always think of you as a man of indeterminate origin. I know you have a family (you must have a family), and likely you had a childhood in some specific place or places you still identify as ‘home’, but mostly I apprehend you as sui generis and therefore difficult to place. I’m looking forward to more tripblogs and a little more filling in of your background.

  2. FPS says:

    Oh good, then I have achieved the status of rootless cosmopolitan.

    No, shamefully I even grew up somewhere.

  3. Bryan says:

    I love the photos here. And the tension at every turn.

  4. LP says:

    I had no idea your trip began so inauspiciously! I’d have been tempted to go right back home and go to sleep.

    Love this travelogue, and also love imagining what details you’ve left out. There’s something very appealing about this rather skeletal telling of it all…

  5. LP I was direly tempted to go home but there was no way off the damn train.

    Quite a bit is left out, of course, because who wants to read that much. I cut out the parts where I was blissfully content because the other parts are funnier.

  6. Farrell Fawcett says:

    Smearcase! Hurray!

    Three comments:
    First, I want your corduroy jacket. Seriously, can I borrow it sometime?
    Second, this sentence: “It’s near 70 degrees and some knot of rage is getting unworked.” I don’t know exactly what that means but it’s awesome and really funny.
    Three, your description of your grandma and photos is hilarious.

    Can’t wait for more.