Friday, November 7, 2008

A Ramblin' Man

Dallas, Texas. As I write these words, I am in the hotel Schneider uses in Dallas, Texas – my favorite city in my favorite state. The city where I spent nine years of my life, some of the best years of my life.

Our truck is in the shop for routine maintenance. Hopefully they will also do the front end alignment on the truck that we've been trying to have done for a month at about four or five Schneider maintenance shops. It's been frustrating.

Even if we didn't have to get the truck worked on, we would have shut down here. We have been running so hard the past 10 days and more that we both were pushing the limit of the hours we could drive every day for a while. And we were tired.

We delivered to Fort Worth yesterday and then came back to Dallas to put the truck in the shop. Got to the hotel mid-afternoon. We had talked about going out to do something (maybe go up to the place where the inspiration for “Belle of the Monday Night Ball” was born). But we didn't. We've just been hanging out in the room catching up on rest.

And, now, I'm writing this.

Just the facts, sir. As you know, if you've read this blog any time at all, I live in the minute details of my life, and write about those details. For me, there is no shortcut to the end of something, no cut to the chase, no bottom line I can spit out in one sentence or less. In telling something – anything – the details are what make the telling complete, whole, and without the details, in my mind, all you have is an incomplete husk.

This proclivity to detail has frustrated many of the people I love most in my life, most notably my Mama and Charlotte, who are both bottom-line, “quit beating around the bush and say it”, “just give me the basics”, “don't bore me with details” kinds of people.

For several years in my teens, I was so mired in details in my journals that I recorded my life in microscopic perspective. I didn't record trips to the bathroom, but it was not far short of that. It was copious and took tons of time, but I enjoyed it. I don't journal in quite that much detail these days, but it's nice to be able to go back 30 years to almost any date (in those days, I wrote every day, usually more than once a day), and be able to tell what I read that day, what school was like. My memories are in those details, and most of it would be forgotten, buried in the graveyard where old recollections gather for all of us. So, much as I've wished at various times I was a “ just the facts, sir” kind of person, I'm glad for it most of the time.

Living in the details was essential to me when I was a stockbroker, and it's also helpful as a writer.

Terry is also a details guy, so our conversations are hardly ever short. And we both understand that in telling something, the only way to get to the end is the long way. Which helps us keep from killing each other.

Living history. The election went pretty much as I have felt it would go for several months. I was hoping John McCain would be able to surprise the polls and the nation, and win in the end, but it was not to be.

As much as I wanted McCain to win, and as much as I have different views about the role of government than Barak Obama, as much as it concerns me to have Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, I am glad to be living in this unique moment of American history. I am proud that we have come to a place when a Barak Obama could compete in a national election, and win.

There is no question that Obama is a gifted speaker, inspiring on a level that hasn't been seen at least since Ronald Reagan (the measure of much that is best in my own mind). He is someone who will change the course of history, and someone who will be remembered long after much else is forgotten.

I hope that over the next few years, the Republican party will find what it has lost – actually, what is has thrown away. Republicans got exactly what they deserved. In many ways, it will be hard for the Democrats to make a bigger mess of things than the President and Congress have managed to do over the last 8 years. They will have to work extra shifts, stay up late into the night.

I have no doubt they will try.

Great music and good music. Recently, in one of our middle-of-the-night-out-West conversations, Terry and I were talking about music, and he told me about a piece of music he heard years ago at a critical point in his life. I had never heard of it, so we looked it up on the computer, and I downloaded it. We listened to it.

I won't waste words trying to describe it, but will only say it is one of the most moving and beautiful experiences I've ever had with music. Written by Polish composer, Henryk Gorecki, it's his Third Symphony, the version with Dawn Upshaw providing the vocals. Here's a link to the Wikipedia article: Gorecki's Third Symphony. And a link to the Amazon page where you can preview it if you are interested: Gorecki's Third With Dawn Upshaw.

Now, to the good music: over the past several months, listening to XM channels I hadn't listened to much before, I've discovered quite a bit of music I've liked, and have bought quite a bit of it. Of all the music I've heard that was new to me, I've enjoyed the latest album by the group Three Doors Down as much as any. Their self-titled CD is fantastic.

I thought they were a brand new group, but when I read about them, I discovered they've been around for several years. If their earlier music is as good as this latest release, I'll be buying more of their music.

Another new (to me) CD that I absolutely love is by a singer from Wales, Aimee Ann Duffy, known simply as “Duffy”. Her first CD, Rockferry , is superb.

Travels. The last time I wrote, we were on our way to Pennsylvania. From there, we got a load going to Los Angeles. Then we got to go up the Pacific coast through northern California and Oregon into Seattle, Washington. And then we got the load we delivered yesterday to Fort Worth.

That last load finally took us once more to the place I'd rather be than anywhere besides Texas (or in Georgia visiting my family), Montana. We didn't run into any bad weather, so it was a great drive. We have been running more out west since we started teaming again in August than we did last year, and we have loved it.

I have written a little bit before about drivers in different parts of the country. It is amazing that people who live in certain places have similar driving habits.

We had to go through downtown Los Angeles last week when we went to pick the load going to Seattle. It was rush hour. Thousands of cars jammed on to the road. Traffic moved slowly, but it was easier driving in LA in rush hour than most places with much less traffic. People in California know how to drive better than anywhere else I've ever seen. They know how to drive around big trucks. They are consistently the best about slowing down to let us change lanes if we need to.

The worst place to drive in a truck, by far, is on I-95 in south Florida, anywhere below Fort Pierce. Those people are crazy! I'd rather drive in New York City than down there.

The northeast comes in a close second to south Florida for jerks and idiots on the road.

And Pennsylvania wins the prize easily for drivers that don't know how to merge on a freeway. They will typically pull out on the entrance ramp, slow down to about 25 miles per hour, suddenly look surprised to see other cars on the road, and then stop completely. Or, if they are feeling brave, they will slow down to 25 miles per hour, and then pull into oncoming traffic that is doing about 65. They might get up to about 40, but not before they've almost caused accidents. It's quite frustrating driving in Pennsylvania.

But the people are nice.

I suppose that's enough detail for now.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .


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