I have a new desk. Well not really: I have an old desk a friend found, and he just carted off the big folding table I’d borrowed from him and replaced it with this desk so I decided to set up my iMac again and basically test out the desk. It’s a cheap thing of fake wood and some real wood parts, in that “Mission” style (open slats on the side) and in what I think they call “oak” or “cherry” — I can never remember. Anyway it suits me fine so far. It came with a fold-out keyboard tray but he dropped it taking it too his car in the Goodwill parking lot and one of the hinges popped out so I finally managed to get the screws sort of jammed back in. I don’t need the keyboard tray anyway. It feels flimsy, but it has some pretty fake-wrought-iron handles so I’m leaving it on as decor.
I’ve been trying to get this apartment in more livable shape. It’s build up such a lot of dust over the covid years and I’ve been frankly too sick (old age or long covid or both or something else, who knows) to deal with it, but I’m dealing with it now, slowly. I finally bought a nightstand I liked and put it together. That took me an entire weekend, that’s the shape I’ve been in. I also have a kitchen cart and baker’s rack waiting to be assembled for the kitchen and front room. Like I said–slowly. And while I was in my bedroom one day the flimsy tinfoil curtain “rod” finally gave way and sort of floated down with the crappy sheer curtains I’d hung up there, so I decided to finally get a proper curtain rod and hang up the curtains I’d bought ages ago. Of course I’ll need help there too–my friend was going to but he’s older than me and frankly I don’t want to put him out any more. I’m thinking of offering beer and pizza to someone at work if they’ll do it for me (and put together the baker’s rack and kitchen cart, hey why not). I’m also thinking of hiring a cleaner to give this place a thorough cleaning, as much as possible, and I’m trying to get rid of stuff I no longer want, and some day maybe I won’t hate it here so much.
I managed to drive down to Miami again in October. It was a semi-successful trip. I was not in as great shape as I had hoped to be, and even though I had gotten the new glasses in May (?) they weren’t as great on the road as I had hoped. That’s probably due to the cataracts. Anyway, I tried starting out early, hoping to make it in two days instead of three, but it was not to be. First, there were high winds across the Blue Ridge, which were terrifying, so I had trouble getting up to speed. The drive through Virginia after that was fine, but then I got into North Carolina. Just outside Rocky Mount everything slowed to a crawl. It was inching forward bit by bit, so I let the first detour go by, but then I finally got the state highway website loaded up, and found out that it was a vehicle fire blocking all lanes. Well, fortunately I had one of those state trooper u-turn places next to me and I took it and went back to the exit with the detour, and was taken on a merry winding trip through Rocky Mount, and finally got back on I-95 with no trouble, but all my extra time was lost. So it was time to find a hotel.
I got off in Fayetteville and found a Kentucky Fried Chicken (none of my meals on the road were very good this time). Or was it a Bojangles… disappointing chicken, anyway. There were also some hotels on that road, and I ended up getting a room at the one which was a few dollars cheaper than the other one next to it. I should have taken the more expensive one. I get in the lobby and there’s this skinny Black woman hanging around the coffee machine. She looked elderly and also was probably homeless and on something, from the way the clerk treated her. (Basically telling her she couldn’t get any coffee because she obviously lied about being a guest there.) I thought that was kind of rude, just let the woman drink your crappy coffee with depression powdered creamer you racist. (The clerk was white, I forgot to add.) But the woman went off, and I was tired. Even when I found out they demanded a $50 deposit on top of the $90 something bucks I’d already paid. Then they insisted I take a second floor room, which meant I’d have to haul my osteoporotic ass up the stairs. I tried to get a ground floor room but she said, looking at me significantly, “it would be better if you took the upstairs.” I was too tired to fight so I had to go along with whatever racist classist bullshit this was.
So I dragged myself up the steps to the room. It looked fine, but was stuffy. So I turned on the a/c (it wasn’t hot weather but it was stuffy and too warm in the room). Not a minute later I thought I was going to pass out. I didn’t smell anything, so I don’t know if it was just me being too tired or what. I shut the a/c off and opened the door until the place aired out a bit and I my dizziness passed. Then I went to lie on one of the beds (it was a double bed room which you will see in a minute was a very good thing) in my sweaty clothes and try to rest a bit and watch the tv. So. I’m lying there, and slowly realizing something is wrong. There was a smell. A very familiar smell. Like boxwood hedges after a rain in summer. Or like a well-used cat litter box. Yes, the bed smelled like pee. I leaned down and gave it a thorough sniff just to make sure. It was dry, the bed had been made, but it smelled like not too long ago someone had soaked it in piss.
Well I hurled myself off the bed and tore off my clothes, which along with smelling like sweaty me also smelled of an unknown person or pet’s pee, and went and took a shower. I also made sure to smell the other bed as closely as I could to ascertain it did not at least smell like pee. And no, I did not call the front desk. At this point all I wanted to do was have my night’s rest and get out in the morning. Maybe that was unwise, because I think they thought I peed the bed. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the $50 deposit back. In the morning, I dragged myself and my suitcase clumsily down the stairs, and some younger people were packing up their motorcycles preparing to leave. One of them, a nice young woman, helped me haul the suitcase the rest of the way to my car. I would much rather have stayed in a room next to the motorcycle gang than up in my piss eyrie. Anyway, North Carolina got off on a bad foot with me.
I got back on the road and the rest of the day’s trip was uneventful. I would have enjoyed it more, maybe, if I hadn’t been so worried about getting to Miami sooner than I had last time. Unlike the year before, a hurricane hadn’t recently come through so the Low Country was a lot dryer. I didn’t stop at South of the Border this time, having had my fill of Deep South racism already. Autumn colors were pretty. The road traffic was not as alarming this time. And I *did* make it to Florida on this second leg, but only to Yulee. My hotel experience was much nicer. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and the room was clean and free of pee smell. There was a KFC in walking distance (I was too tired to drive for food) but they didn’t have any grilled chicken left. So I got regular chicken. It was edible, if not great.
When I got back on the road, I impulsively decided that I’d get off in Jacksonville and find US-1 and take that down. By this time I’d reconciled myself to being late again, and I didn’t want to deal with the I-95 bridges over the St. John’s River. Well it turns out the US-1 bridge over that river was also rather alarming, and I had a fun experience with a gas station bathroom which was apparently in a crime-ridden neighborhood so I had to give the cashier my car keys before she would give me my bathroom keys. (The only crime I have experienced on any of my road trips was the crime of that hotel in Fayetteville putting me in the peepee room.) But I made it through Jacksonville eventually, and got all the way to Titusville before I decided to get back on I-95. Last year tourism was still down because of covid but this time I’d gotten rather stuck in St. Augustine, and the old-fashioned hotels and so on on US-1 there are charming but I didn’t want to just dawdle.
In Titusville I had some Burger King, which I ate in the car in the parking lot. The glamorous life of the traveler. I was at least in Florida, and warm again. Then I got on the road. The weather was fine — it was amazing all that week actually, not meltingly hot (the year before it hit the 90s in Miami) and breezy, a little bit rainy but I didn’t get caught in any flooding storms. Finally I hit the giant traffic jam that is I-95 in the tri-county area, and knew I was almost there.
To be continued…