wZandria - Keep Up With Me
Age 23 * Richmond, VA * full-time college student * part-time call center * love to read and write * skeptic * quiet * thinker * independent * VISIT MY PHOTO WEBSITE


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wSunday, September 29, 2002

Yesterday Grandpa was transferred out of the hospital and into a rehabilitation center, so this will be in my last weekend in San Bernardino (yaaayy, I’ll finally get to unpack!). Monday we’ll be leaving for Cathy’s house in Lancaster. What am I happiest about leaving behind? The stupid stickers that visitors have to wear when visiting Loma Linda University Medical Center. Every time you go in the front lobby you have to sign this sheet with your name, time-in, and destination (which unit of the hospital your guest is in). Then you peel off a rectangular-shaped sticker and affix it to wherever on your person that you prefer (a different color depending on what day of the week it is). Okay fine, but this is why I think the ritual is stupid: they don’t check the destination you write down in any kind of system or patient list, neither do they check the name you write down for yourself – you simply sign the sheet, take your sticker, and go on your merry way. So you could write down Adolf Hitler, Barbra Streisand, heck – even Snotty Tissue or Dirty Blanket. So I ask: what is the purpose in even making us wear these retarded stickers that don’t even stay stuck most of the time anyway?

Another interesting thing about the hospital: it's run by Seventh-Day Adventists. I'm not sure how their religious beliefs differ from other religions, but I have found out two things about them. 1) Their holy day is Saturday rather than Sunday, and this usually begins starting Friday afternoon. The gift shop in the hospital lobby is open every day until 5pm, except Friday when it closes at 3pm, and closed on Saturday (and yes, it is open on Sunday). 2) Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarians. They don't serve any kind of meat to any of the patients in the hospital, or offer it in the cafeteria. They do have a fully-loaded salad bar, and meatless pizza and sandwiches (made from tofu and "textured vegetable protein," known as TVP for short).

Here’s a "West Coast vs. East Coast" observation. In Richmond, when giving someone directions or even just referring to getting on an interstate to reach a desired destination, you would normally say "Take 95 North to 64 West, then blah-blah-blah." In California, they refer to an interstate with the word "the" in front of it. For instance, "I was on the 405 today and the traffic was horrendous." Or "I’m taking the 215 to Barstow."

Yesterday I was driving with Cathy (on "THE" 10!), and I saw a very strange-looking VW Bug. Not one of the new ones, but an older one. Apparently the remodeled vehicle is what is referred to as a "Baja Bug." The difference is that the owner removes the back portion of the car, exposing the engine (a VW Bug’s engine is in the trunk section, rather than being in the front like a normal car), and all four wheels are jacked-up so that it rides higher off the ground. Quite retro…

posted by Zandria at 12:19 AM

wWednesday, September 25, 2002

I’ve read a few interesting articles recently on the web, two of them by a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle that I enjoy. He has a distinctive writing style (big words and lots of run-on sentences), but he’s really smart and is able to get his opinions through in a concise and straightforward way. One recent article was about that reality show on MTV called "Sorority Life;" the other one was about owning stock in McDonald’s and how they’re not doing so well right now, and how maybe we should question ourselves with how we earn stock money from companies that have questionable ethics. The columnists’ name is Mark Morford, and I’ll probably be including quite a few links to his work. I usually find them not only entertaining but also informative.

posted by Zandria at 1:44 AM

wTuesday, September 24, 2002

Since I finally finished updating all my trip notes last night, I’ll briefly recap my last five days here so that I’ll be up-to-date and not talking about the past anymore. :) There really hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary yet, I’m here with my aunt and Nana, with my grandpa still in the hospital. He’s doing better, out of the ICU and into a regular hospital ward, and we’re looking to have him out of there and into a convalescent home in Lancaster (where my aunt lives, about 70 miles from here) hopefully by the end of this week or early next week.

Over this past weekend San Bernardino hosted their annual "Rt. 66 Festival," where all these people with vintage cars drive in from all over and cruise a special street blocked off to allow only special registered cars in. Then fans can line up and watch all they want, and believe me, there were TONS of these cars around (flashy, bright colors, some painted with racing stripes, all beautifully kept-up). I’ve never seen so many at one time! I’ve heard they’re more prevalent here on the West Coast because the weather doesn’t lend itself to rusting as badly as in the East. We didn’t actually go and stand on that street or anything, but there were plenty of them cruising the roads around here…and believe me, there were some crazy ones. An old friend of my aunt Cathy’s had driven his car in, a bright blue 1967 Dodge Charger.

On Saturday I met a 22-year-old nurse who was working in the ICU, named Tawnyee (pronounced Tawny), who used to date the lead singer of Alien Ant Farm. She’s from the San Bernardino area but went to college in Pittsburgh for four years, and went with them once when they opened for Papa Roach at a club in Virginia Beach (our conversation started when she asked where I was from, apparently I have more of an accent then I thought I do). She was pretty nice, but I haven’t really been going out of my way to make friends here since I won’t be in this particular area for too much longer. Sunday afternoon Cathy and I drove to her home in Lancaster since she hadn’t been home for a few weeks and I hadn’t been there at all yet. We got to hang out for a few hours with her husband (Jeff) and a friend of hers (Rebecca) who is staying at their house for a while. Jeff and Cathy are just finishing up some home renovations: an addition of a master bedroom, bath, and den and re-tiling of the existing hallway and kitchen. Things are still kind of a mess right now, but it’ll look really good once everything is finished up.

The past few days have been pretty low-key. We’re able to see the smoke in the distance from the huge fire that’s raging right now in the Angeles National Forest. This afternoon we went shopping and then stuffed ourselves for dinner at the Olive Garden.

posted by Zandria at 11:07 PM


Wednesday, 9/18/02

**ALREADY IN PACIFIC TIME. I didn’t realize this until last night when I got into my room and looked at the clock. I was confused because it was already showing an hour earlier than the clock in my car, until I remembered that Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time and that they must be in pacific time already. In one way this sucks because I was planning on gaining that extra hour this afternoon once I reach California, but oh well.

6:30am Is this considered early enough? It gives me enough time to take a shower and eat my complimentary free breakfast in the lobby before I get on the road. The lobby of the Sleep Inn displays a large map of how exactly to get to the exit to the Grand Canyon, prominently displayed beside the lobby desk (I’m supposing this is to eliminate at least some of the inquiries to the desk staff that they must endlessly have to deal with).

7:50am Leave Flagstaff, en route to Grand Canyon, 75 miles away. I’m figuring at this point that the drive will take me about an hour and a half, since the road is a single lane and I’m apt to get stuck behind some slow people (it’s inevitable). Ponderosa pines line both sides of the road for the first 20 or so miles, very beautiful and stately-looking trees. (And no, I’ll freely admit that I’m not a tree expert, there were signs on the roadside eluding to what they were.) I’m out of cell-phone range pretty quickly, but I don’t really mind because it just adds to the feeling of somewhat-weirdness because I’m off to visit a natural landmark by myself. I never felt weird at all making a cross-country drive, but visiting the Grand Canyon just seems like something that’s normally shared with other people. It’s not a bad feeling though, it’s nice in a way making a decision about a place that I’ve always wanted to see and going there just because I can.

8:30am As I predicted, I soon get caught behind a vehicle going exactly the speed limit (55mph). For the next 20 minutes or so I’m staring at the back end of a black Lexus SUV with Florida plates, a "Go Jeb!" sticker plastered on the bumper. The landscape goes from trees to mainly flatland, dotted with ramshackle old houses and the occasional abandoned dead car (some with the hoods still up!), and covered with a fine orange dust.

8:55am Still traveling along at a pretty decent pace, considering. I reach an intersection where some road work is going on and have to wait about 5 minutes for a pilot car to lead the way around, but no big deal. The roadworker directing traffic is a Native-American woman, complete with long black hair.

9:10am So yeeeeaaahhhh…I foolishly thought (okay, hopefully thought) that would be the extent of the road work, but…no. Ten minutes later I hit standstill traffic (keeping in mind that I’m traveling on a road that has only one lane going in each direction). I don’t know it at the time, but what’s happening is that they’re repaving the road up ahead – a distance of SIX MILES (I know because I looked at my odometer later as I passed) – so one entire lane has to wait while the other one goes sloooooowwly by. I was sitting in that same spot for – yes, get this – over 45 minutes. But I made the most of it. After about 10 minutes of sitting there in my seat with my foot on the brake and the engine running, I finally gave up, shut the car off, and rolled down the windows and opened the sunroof. Other people were getting out of their cars and stretching, so I poked my head out of the sunroof to get a better view and take a few pictures. Soon enough I was pulling myself out of the sunroof and sitting on the roof of my car, legs dangling inside while I waited for everyone to get moving again. Yeah I know, pretty cheesy, but it was fun and provided a break from the monotony – I ended up staying up there for about 20 minutes in all.

10:15am Arrive at main entrance to the Grand Canyon. It looks like I’m the only person around with only one person in the car…and get this: you pay an entry fee to get in there by the car, not per person. So since I was in a private vehicle, I had to pay the $20 entry fee along with the car in front of me that had six people. Not fair! But it wasn’t like I was about to turn around and drive all the way back since I’d come so far, so I collected my receipt and map and continued on my merry way.
10:30am Park and walk around, take pictures, help other people out when they ask for me to take pictures of them with the Canyon in the background (what is it? Just because I’m here by myself do I look bored or something, like I’m dying to be of help to everybody else?). Quite an experience though, of course it was absolutely breathtaking and wonderful, definitely worth sitting in some traffic for. I mean, how often in your life do you end up just happening to spend the night so close to a national landmark? Might as well take advantage of the opportunity. I’d like to go back sometime and actually go on a hike or something, but if I were planning on doing that I’d definitely take someone else along with me.

12:35pm Back in Flagstaff. I hit some more traffic on the way back, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it was getting there initially. As I drive through town to hook up with I-17 that will take me towards Phoenix, I pass this place called "Ms. Brown’s Hamburger Bar." It reminds me of some typical high-school hangout place like something from "Saved By the Bell," with all the teenagers milling around outside.
1:00pm I-17 towards Phoenix is the most hilly road that I’ve been on so far on my trip. It’s straight up and then straight back down, with warning signs for rigs and any vehicles towing trailers to check their brakes before trying to get down the mountain. They were required by speed limit signs to go about 15mph slower then everyone else too (60 as opposed to 75). Ever careened down a mountain with your cruise control set at 84mph? J My poor little Civic was struggling going up some of the inclines I must admit, it was so bad and the inclines came up so gradually that at times I was almost afraid something was wrong with my car. But I would just downshift and hold steady, and soon enough everything would level out and I would get power again.

2:30pm Reach Phoenix exits and get on I-10, which is my final interstate, and will take me to my destination of San Bernardino. Well, San Bernardino is actually just my temporary destination (my grandpa is in the hospital there and I’ll be staying in a hotel with my aunt Cathy and Nana until we see how things go with his condition and whether he can possibly be moved somewhere else in the near future). But at least it means the end of the road for now. I turn on the air conditioning in my car for the first time since I started, even traveling as fast as I am it’s unbearably hot (I guess Phoenix really IS as hot as everyone always says it is, huh?). Everywhere else that I’ve been so far it’s been okay to just roll the windows down and go from there. This is also the first time I’ve noticed aaaallll the radio stations in Spanish…I swear there’s at least as many of them as there are radio stations in English.

4:55pm Cross the border from Arizona into California. There’s an inspection station right before you get there, in my lane there’s this dude who looks at me with boredom and asks where I’m coming from (hello, Virginia plates on my car…) and whether I have any fruit or plants with me (do canned peaches count?). I tell him that I don’t have either so I am waved on my way (great inspection, huh? I mean, I wasn’t lying, but I very well could have been).

7:15pm Cruise into San Bernardino County and meet up with my relatives. I’ve made it! All in all it wasn’t bad, it went by faster then I thought it would, but I’m still excited that I can wake up the next morning and not have to worry about getting on the road and driving for 8-10 hours. Total mileage at this point (including my detours out of the way to Charleston and the Grand Canyon): 3100 miles.

posted by Zandria at 2:35 AM

wMonday, September 23, 2002

Tuesday, 9/17/02

9:40am Leave Amarillo, TX

9:53am Sign: "Severe Crosswinds". This is no joke, Texas definitely lives up to its reputation of an extremely flat state. As I drove along the wind was so strong that I had to struggle to keep the car on the road at times (especially when traveling along at I-40 speeds).

10:00am Pass a stinky cattle farm called "Quality Beef Producers." Can smell it for a while before you actually get to it.

10:45am Cross the state line from Texas into New Mexico. First 75mph speed limit sign (yaaayyy…going along my merry way even faster!) I’m also passing people and I’m only doing 80mph (at this point) in a 75mph zone. Do they just not speed as much out here or maybe they’re just used to it?


11:30am The sky is a gorgeous clear blue with fluffy clouds and no humidity. I’m going up and down all these mountains on the way to Albuquerque – I can tell because my ears are popping. I notice that the clouds are in front of me on the horizon instead of having to look up at them or over trees (it’s easy to see farther than in the East because there aren’t trees around and everything is basically rocks and mountains). It’s really pretty though, at least to me.

12:00pm Just an observation of how many tons of billboards dot the landscape (an easy thing to notice when you stay on interstates so long on a cross-country drive). It’s helpful for tourists I suppose, with all the advertisements for food and hotels and the next souvenir shop. But is that all that we want anymore? The "authentic" experience created by an industry only worried about making money?

12:45pm Sign: "Gusty Winds May Exist"…reeeeaaallllyyyy?

1:00pm Enter Albuquerque. The intertwining freeways are done in colors of beige and torquoise.

1:08pm Stop for lunch at Subway and call Aunt Cathy to let her know where I am, and mention to her that I’m planning to stop in Flagstaff, AZ overnight before continuing on my way. She recommends that I stop and make a detour to the Grand Canyon since it’s only about an hour out of my way. I hadn’t thought of that before and didn’t know that the Grand Canyon was so close, but decide it’s a great idea. J

3:25pm Stop for gas in Gallup, NM and check out the souvenirs at this place called "Shush Yaz Trading Co." It wasn’t a normal souvenir shop with cheap trinkets and postcards, but I didn’t know that before I walked in. Everything was so beautiful and exotic-looking, and there were signs displayed that said certain things were made by area Navajo Indians, but because of this it was also (of course) expensive – there was colorful pottery, handmade torquoise jewelry (and this stuff was absolutely gorgeous, most of it costing hundreds of dollars), art, and woven rugs. It definitely makes the cheap places seem insignificant and petty, but unfortunately there aren’t many people who can afford to just walk in to a store like that and take our pick of what we like (including myself, I walked out empty-handed).

4:05pm Just a random happy traveling moment: I’m traveling in a single lane through one of many work zones, going 45mph, listening to my audiobook and eating sliced peaches from a can with a poptop lid, as I hold the can with my driving hand and eat with a "spork." Can it get any better than this?

4:15pm Cross the state line from New Mexico into Arizona, also known as "The Grand Canyon State."

6:30pm After a bit of trouble, I finally find a good, safe place to stop for the night in Flagstaff (another Sleep Inn). Most of the places I passed were either expensive, or had rooms that were accessible from the outside (rather than having to enter through the lobby). I grabbed dinner and went to bed early, since I was planning to get up at 6:30 in order to leave at a decent time for the Grand Canyon trip and rendezvous with my relatives hopefully by early the next afternoon.

posted by Zandria at 12:44 AM


Monday, 9/16/02

10:00am Leave Olive Branch, Mississippi

10:02am Cross state line from Mississippi into Tennessee

10:30am Cross state line from Tennessee into Arkansas

10:37am Finally rendezvous with I-40W and feel that I am making headway since I’ll be on this road from here until California. There are mostly rigs on this portion of I-40 from what I can tell, and open fields stretch into infinity on both sides of the road. (The entire time I’m in the state of Arkansas I don’t pass through – or even close to – even one large town or city.)

2:35pm Cross state line from Arkansas into Oklahoma. State sign reads "Oklahoma – Discover The Excellence." I’m again curious why they happened to decide on this particular phrase? What’s so excellent about Oklahoma?

4:00pm Elissa calls me after she gets off work (it’s an hour later in Virginia) and we talk for about 20 minutes. When I tell her that I’m in Oklahoma she makes the observation that it’s weird to hear me say that I’m in so-and-so state at that particular time. Well believe me sis, it’s even harder for me to fathom it sometimes, that I’m passing all these towns that I’ve only HEARD of before (even though I’m not really "seeing" them since most of what I see is from the interstate). I’ve used my cell phone already more on this trip than probably what I’d use in an entire month. I’m not usually one for talking on the phone a lot, as my friends and family know. But right now it’s keeping me entertained, along with the audiobook that Deniece checked out for me at the library in Charleston and that I’ll be mailing back to her once I reach my destination.

5:43pm Yukon, Oklahoma water tower reads: "You’ll (heart) Yukon – Home of Garth Brooks."

5:46pm Sign: "Cherokee Restaurant." This is a 24-hour restaurant offering buffalo burgers…yummy…there is a picture of a big burger with buffalo horns sprouting from the top.

5:55pm Sign: "Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Convicts." (!) Can you imagine? Remind me to stop picking up random hitchhikers…

7:00pm I don’t think I’ll ever forget again that the sun sets in the west. As it lowers it’s directly under my sun visor and extremely annoying. I guess I didn’t notice it last night since it was raining cats and dogs around this time. Very rough going…

7:35pm Cross state line from Oklahoma into Texas

7:50pm Wow, what a difference a clean windshield makes! The rain washed all the junk off last night but now I can finally see again. My first time washing the windshield at a gas station. I even listen to a little bit of country music when I get back on the road…seems appropriate given that I’m in the state of Texas! But not TOOO much…after a few songs I’m back to my audiobook since there aren’t any other good radio stations to be found.

9:30pm Stop in Amarillo, TX for the night at a Sleep Inn. Get drive through food at this fast food place called Grandy’s. They sell what looks like soul food, lots of chicken dishes. I order a meal that comes with fried okra, corn, green beans, seasoned rice, and a roll and take it back to my hotel room to eat. Pretty good (and interesting choices for a fast-food place), I’d definitely go there again.

posted by Zandria at 12:41 AM



10:45am Departed Charleston

12:30pm I pass this old, decrepit bus that gushes thick, black exhaust from the tailpipe. The back window reads www.southernsquartet.com. I’m guessing their popularity must not be much to speak of?

1:20pm I cross the state line from South Carolina into Georgia, and stop for a short stretch-break at the Georgia welcome center. I’d never seen anything like this before, but apparently you can buy souvenir t-shirts from machines that both look and operate like soda machines (offering a variety of sizes), and appropriately enough are called "Tee in a Tube."

1:32pm Back in the car, I receive a call from my friend Chris, who was on his lunch break from First Union. We’d promised to get in touch at that time because normally I’d be there right along with him, working on a Sunday. I’ll miss our lunches but really can’t say that I’ll be missing First Union all that much while I’m away…
4:43pm Cross the state line from Georgia into Alabama. (And yes, mom, per my inquiry from earlier, there IS a sign that lets you know of the time change.)


3:45pm A brief stop at the Alabama visitor’s center. There is a big monument out front that reads "Alabama – We Dare Defend Our Rights." I wonder briefly what this is about, but I’m not interested enough to ask the welcome center desk attendant inside.

5:08pm Get on US-78, which is my only real mistake of the trip so far. I could have followed the AAA directions and went directly from I-26 from Charleston which would have taken me right to I-40 (which is the interstate I take pretty much the entire way cross-country, or at least 1500+ miles worth). Getting on US-78 saves me about 40 miles in the long run, but adds time since a good portion of it goes right through towns and winds all around (and yes, this includes traffic lights and some single lanes with slow vehicles that are impossible to pass). At times I begin to wonder if I will ever get back to "civilization." The cars that I pass all seem to have strictly Alabama license plates – go figure, any other smart person from out of state would’ve stayed on the main roads (except for me I guess, but give me a break – after all, it WAS my first time doing this by myself).

6:08pm My thoughts are pretty much going like this: "I have to get out of Alabama!" I’m passing homemade signs that urge you to pull over and buy their "Natural Honey!" and "Natural Sorghum!" (I’ve heard of sorghum but must admit that I have absolutely no idea what it is.)

6:20pm I pass a sign for some guy named Ken Guin who is running for some office in Alabama. About the same time I pass the sign that says I am about to enter the town of Guin (hmmm….some connection here perhaps? Obviously a guy lucky enough to have the same name as a town MUST also be qualified to run for public office).

6:22pm Enter the town of Winfield. A banner prominently stretched across the town sign reads "Mule Day – September 28"…I don’t mean to make fun of these poor Alabama towns, but are you noticing the same trend that I’m seeing here?

6:30pm I’m freakin’ hungry but don’t dare stop at one of the mom & pop restaurants for dinner. Why oh why isn’t there one of those wonderful chain places when you actually want one? I fish some snacks from my back seat as I drive and decide to forego dinner until I get to "civilization."

6:52pm Cross over the state line from Alabama into Mississippi. Breathe a sigh of relief, but it doesn’t get better right away since I’m still on US-78.

8:35pm Stop for the night in Olive Branch, Mississippi, at a Comfort Inn. Olive Branch is only a few miles from the Tennessee border and is pretty nondescript, but they advertise an Applebee’s from the highway and that’s sounding pretty good about this time.

posted by Zandria at 12:31 AM



Since Deniece, Eric, and I stayed up until 3am the night before talking and catching up on old times we were a little late getting motivated on Saturday morning. But by noon Deniece and I were headed to downtown Charleston, a gorgeous old city with numerous historic landmarks, river views, and a popular outdoor market where locals sell their wares mostly to tourists like myself (located, appropriately enough, on Market Street). We walked around for a few hours and ate lunch – luckily the weather was pretty nice because the heat and humidity there in the summer is known to be a pretty lethal combination. I’d been to Charleston on a day trip last summer with my friend Eddie (the same trip where a group of us went to Myrtle Beach for a week), and we took one of the guided horse buggy tours. The old homes around the downtown area are so exquisite and nicely kept up…it’s an interesting (and also educational) experience, I’d definitely recommend it for anyone visiting that area.

posted by Zandria at 12:22 AM



11:00am Bye-bye, Richmond. I have to stop off at mom’s house before I can actually get on my way – I seem to have this bad habit of leaving my sunglasses at random places. Luckily mom calls from work while I’m still packing to tell me where they are, saving me much hassle and worry since I hadn’t yet noticed they were gone.

1:15pm I pass the exit for Selma, NC (my family will know exactly which exit I’m referring to, for those outside of my family it’s the exit off of I-95 that we take when we go to New Bern to see my grandmother).

2:05pm Lunchtime…and of course my very first stop has to be eventful. I thought a sub sounded good so I stopped at a gas station Blimpie’s. It turns out that Blimpie’s serves Morningstar brand black-bean burgers, which I’ve previously bought from the supermarket and absolutely love. So I loaded it up: wheat bread, lettuce, onions, mustard, pickles, and sliced mushrooms (yes, I know what you’re thinking – pretty weird – but to me it was delicious). I’ve never been to a sub place before that offered sliced mushrooms either, so that was a nice surprise. But when I go to pay, I thought that I had more than just $2 in my wallet, and they didn’t take anything but cash. So to the ATM machine I go, just around the corner in another part of the store. I stick my card in and…there’s no response when I hit the buttons to try and enter my pin. I tried it a few times with no luck, and finally had to get the old guy behind the counter to help me – it took him a few minutes but he finally figured it out. A 5-minute stopped turned into more like 15 minutes, but it was worth it for that sandwich!

2:50pm SOB!!!! No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’ve just crossed into South Carolina from North Carolina, and it’s that wonderful tourist attraction called "South of the Border" – you know, the one with the signs that start about a hundred miles before you actually get there. Too bad the reality of the place isn’t as good as the hype. I didn’t stop there this time because I got to see it last year on my way to Myrtle Beach with some friends…once was definitely enough.

2:55pm I cross a bridge over the "Little Pee Dee River." This reminds me of Elissa because her childhood nickname for me was "Peedree." Don’t try and ask the origin because I have no idea…why does any childhood nickname come about? Angela was called "Jerlerfitts" and Elissa was "Lumbug" (sorry sisters, but if I gave up MY nickname, it’s only fair to embarrass you two as well!).

3:10pm A temporary slowdown in traffic due to a recent car accident. Looks like a car completely overturned ended up in the median, crushed and spewing smoke. There was someone standing outside the vehicle talking on a cell phone though, so it looked like the passengers were okay.

4:45pm Only half an hour away from Deniece’s house in Charleston, I hit a massive traffic backup. In 30 minutes I manage to go no more than three miles, stuck the entire time behind a black Civic adorned with a glitter sticker on the back window that reads "Cutie Pie." It turns out that a mid-size truck has turned over and there are state policemen directing traffic around food and drink bottles that are littering the road.

6:00pm Successfully arrive at the home of Deniece, her older brother Eric, and Eric’s fiancee Summer. (With just a minimum of trouble on the last leg of the trip, thanks to the wonderful directions I printed from Mapquest.) I’ve known Deniece and Eric ever since I was 11, and it was great getting to catch up with them. Without exaggeration, they are two of the nicest, strongest, most well-rounded people that I have ever met and I wish them all the luck in the world. Thanks for your hospitality, guys.

posted by Zandria at 12:06 AM

wFriday, September 13, 2002

Well it's about that time. Does it seem entirely real yet? Not really. I woke up this morning like any other morning that I'd be getting up and preparing for work, except this time after my shower all my stuff went into bags, not back into the closet. I'm right on schedule surprisingly enough, since I didn't realize until I started loading the car that I hadn't finished packing as much as I should have. And some stuff found it's way back into the closet that I was GOING to take, because once I started carrying everything out I found out how heavy all the stuff together is...and any little bit that I can save on gas will be nice. I'm going to write more later, once I can get to another internet connection, but I'm not entirely sure when that's going to be yet -- hopefully soon, I'm such an internet addict! Wish me luck....

posted by Zandria at 9:48 AM

wSunday, September 08, 2002

The casual observer might say that my bedroom currently resembles a disaster area, but it's actually in a state of what I like to call "organized chaos." Those random piles here and there, around and everywhere? I know exactly what's in them and (hopefully) I'll be able to decide where they'll end up. Most of it is easy: this goes with me, this stuff I want to keep but I can live without for the next few months...that kind of thing. Then there's always the random crap you come across while going through your closet that isn't so easy to categorize. I think my problem is recognizing what I might possibly need one day, but weighing that against the question -- do I really want to store this for god-knows how long just in case? I wouldn't call myself a packrat by any means, but I tend to keep those instruction manuals for the electronics I buy, along with receipts for large purchases I've made, trial-size containers of lotion and shampoo and face wash, that kind of thing. And of course it's not stuff that I would ever miss once it's finally in the trash, it's just the act of making that split-second decision of just GETTING RID OF THE JUNK. Sure, that mini sample of Neutrogena facial cleanser may one day come in handy if I'm going on a short trip and don't want to burden myself with large containers, but who am I kidding? I've had it now for a few years and I've gone on multiple short trips, which has brought me to the realization that when I'm away from home I want to use the same facial cleanser that I use everyday.

Into the trash went the sample bottles, the receipts for the television I bought over a year ago and the camera I bought almost two years ago, and the instruction manuals for my three-year-old television and VCR. I mean, come on now -- am I really not capable of figuring out the on-screen menus if I need to set the time or to record a show that's coming on in five hours when I won't be home? It's liberating really, getting rid of a trasbag full of junk. Now if I could just do the same with my closet and dresser full of clothes...

So I'm leaving in less than a week for California. A friend asked me today how I'm feeling since it's so close to my departure date...nervous? excited? Definitely excited, but surprisingly not nervous. At least not yet. I'm not nervous about going by myself on the longest drive I've ever made (pretty close to 3,000 miles), staying in hotels overnight, dealing with the inevitable traffic jams/delays/construction I'm destined to have to deal with. I'm looking at all that as an adventure, an opportunity I've never had before, and one I'd be a fool to pass up just because I want my car with me...so I guess I'll be contributing to the international fuel fund rather than giving my money to the struggling airline industry. One thing I admit nervousness about may seem like the simplest thing, but that's boredom. What in the world am I going to do to entertain myself during those long stretches of driving? There's only so many cd's one can listen to, after all. I was given the suggestion of audiobooks, but being such a speedreader I don't know how much patience I would have for listening to someone read a book out loud...I still have a few more days to decide on that one though. I'll have my cell phone on me, but seeing how distracted I tend to get when I drive and talk at the same time, that may not be the best idea. So I guess I'll just do what I have to do, and take it one day at a time. Listen to some tunes, (a little bit of) talking on the phone, maybe lose myself in thought and ponder all those small mysteries of life that go mostly un-pondered because we don't take the time in our daily lives for something so seemingly insignificant.

Last night my friends (Dana, Christy, Teresa, Chris M., Chris E.) took me out for our last Saturday night together for a while. I had a great time, but of course there's that sadness in the background that you can't quite put out of your mind if you stop to think that next Saturday night you won't even be in the same state. I guess that's the trade-off if you decide to do something out of the norm though, there's all this stuff in front of me that I want to experience but I'm leaving so much behind.

And the coundown continues...five more days....

posted by Zandria at 5:21 PM

wThursday, September 05, 2002

WHAT IS A BLOG? Here is the description from blogger.com, which is the free service I signed up with: "A blog is a web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically—like a what's new page or a journal. The content and purposes of blogs varies greatly—from links and commentary about other web sites, to news about a company/person/idea, to diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction."

The term "blog" is short for "web-log." I'd heard the term while surfing the internet, but never specifically checked into them until recently. You can read a good descriptive article about them here. For those interested in history, an article written by a veteran "blogger" (as those who write blogs tend to be called) can be read here. Of course, a veteran of blogging is still relatively new, there were only a handful of blogs in 1998, more so by 2000, and now there are thousands floating around out there in Web Land.

CURIOUS? WANT SOME MORE EXAMPLES? There are blogs written by professional journalists with impressive degrees and resumes, housed on well respected news websites. One of these is called The Juice and can be found on msnbc.com, written by senior entertainment producer Jan Herman. There are blogs written by professional journalists, but housed on their own personal web sites. I came across one of these the other day by accident, and have since bookmarked this site in order to go back to it periodically. This writer, Jennifer Balderama, recently started writing for the Washington Post after a move from San Francisco and keeps up a blog she's named Nonsense Verse. And then, there are all those blogs written by people like you and me, which leads me to...:

WHY AM I DOING THIS? Here it is. I like the idea that anybody can write about absolutely anything that they want: personal rants and raves, experiences that you've gone through, something funny that happens to you on a particular day, maybe a "heads up" about a good show coming up on television...and of course, links to controversial/interesting/disturbing/uplifting articles or web sites that you may stumble upon on the internet. Whatever you want. So basically there are all different types of blogs, but I will be using mine to enter personal updates on what I've been up to, as well as interesting links and articles that I may come across. This will serve not only as a personal record for myself, but a way for friends and family to keep up with my whereabouts.

SO...AGAIN...WHY AM I DOING THIS? I figure since I'll soon be taking a leave of absence from work and leaving my comfort zone of Virginia for a while, this will be a good way for me to keep in touch with not only friends and family that I see often, but people in more distant places that may be interested as well. Not that I'm in any way suggesting that you guys don't have better things to do with your time then to check in with me, but hopefully I'll be able to make this web site interesting enough that you will want to check it out at least once in a while!

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHECK FOR UPDATES? I'm not promising to write every day, but I should be posting something at least a few times a week. Or even a couple of times of a day if the mood happens to strike -- that's the beauty of this format, you can post or not post whenever you get a whim. (Yeah, I know, I'm a dork. Click on the word "whim" if you haven't already and you'll see what I mean. It's just fun for me, I like playing around with this!)

OH YEAH -- ONE MORE THING: You'll probably notice this without me having to point it out, but the newest posts on a blog always appear on the top of the list, and the oldest at the bottom. Also, when this has been going longer, I'll have archives to click on so that the posts can be arranged in some type of order.


posted by Zandria at 6:04 PM

wSunday, September 01, 2002

September 1st...the creation date of my blog and my very first post. DAH-DAH-DAAAAAHHH! :)

posted by Zandria at 3:55 PM