On routines and their impending lack

I have a pretty set routine, most days. Wake up early, breakfast, go to work, work, come home, relax/do something fun/do other work.

Shaking up this routine always spurs an intensely creative period. It just happened when I moved from my old apartment to a new house. For about a week, I had a nonstop outpouring of writing. I will be moving to a house-sit house for the summer in June, and am sure it will happen again.

I can’t wait for the several weeks on the road – no routine, no familiarity but my own company. If I were a songwriter I might write an album’s worth of songs. If I were a novelist I might write the first few chapters of my next work. Since I’m neither of these, I’ll settle for writing a few new good dances and essays, and maybe rekindling my dormant love of my Canon DSLR:

Here’s to unpredictability, and rechargeable camera batteries.

My movie soundtrack

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 Me and Grampa, about 6 months before he died.

My grandfather wanted to be a cowboy, like he saw in the old Western films. In some ways he was almost there: he was ornery, had a southern drawl, and the kind of stupid courage that makes people speak loudly about things they don’t understand. He was a writer and a musician in his spare time, and is a major source of inspiration for me in both of these pursuits. He is also the reason I came to New Mexico.

It is sometimes hard to drive through the regal landscapes of New Mexico without feeling like I’m in one of his Western movies. Dynamic rapid sky, impartial reclining mountains with their jagged elbows, and tufted-roadside-desert grasses have been known to take me entirely out of myself.

Especially when I have the right song on.

My grandfather also had a flair for the dramatic. So I know he’ll get me when I say that my coming to New Mexico felt like fulfilling his lost dream. It seems to make sense in a grand story arc between his life and mine. Almost cinematic. And as my road trip will be starting soon, I wonder what kind of movie it would make. Adventure? Romantic comedy? Avant-garde experimental piece? Family film? (Probably.) Thriller? (I hope not.)

What is your favorite soundtrack for the car? What makes you feel like you’re not only going somewhere, but you’re having an epic time doing it?


Your responses have been amazing. One week and two posts deep, and I’m already finding myself filling in the map of my future travels with people to meet, places to stay, and dances to call at. I had hoped this would happen, but it is another thing entirely to see one’s vision start to materialize.

I’m filling in the dots on the map. And I hope it keeps filling. I’m already overflowing to know that there is such generosity in the extended networks of the communities I am a part of.

Thank you. I am grateful.


Will I get lonely, driving across country by myself?

What are the common elements of community in America?

Does my AAA membership apply nation-wide?

Should I trust strangers who offer to help?

What is the best road snack?

Paper map, or smart phone?

Back roads or interstate?

What is the perfect level of humidity?

How long does it take for my air conditioner fluid to run out?

Is there even such a thing as air conditioner fluid?

Will I get sick of my own company?

Is it safe to camp in a tent by myself?

Podcasts, music, audio books, or silence?

Will I get a left-arm-only sunburn?

Can you sunburn through a car window?

How many showers a week is a reasonable amount?

How do I find healthy eating options on the road?

What kind of gluten-free, vegetarian meal can I get a roadside diner?

How annoying can I possibly be to a good southern cooking joint?

What are the different “flavors” of contra dance around the country?

Hurricane season and New Orleans: worth it?

In which states is it illegal to talk on the phone while driving?

Sunrise or sunset?




Preparation Stage 1: Simplicity

I’m going through this phase, partly inspired by my upcoming roadtrip and partly inspired by the testimony of simplicity in the Quaker tradition. It is my get-rid-of-everything phase. The bottom line is, anything I would like to bring across the country with me either needs to fit in my teeny tiny Hyundai, or I need to pay to have a shipped.

I’m not a fan of the latter option. And while I don’t own much, I do own more than I have space for.

Bed: selling. Bed frame: keeping. Clothes: mostly keeping. Books: certainly keeping.

You may notice a problem.

Other considerations:

  • Get a map?
  • How about a car jack and jumper cables?
  • Food for along the way
  • Striking a balance between taking a meandering route and still being realistic about how long I want to extend this trip.
  • Finding contra dances to call at, and communities to teach singing workshops in.
  • Hurricane season – worth bothering with?

As I simplify, simplify, simplify, I look forward to those first few solitary hours of open road, heading east on I-40 through the Sandias, past Tucumcari, past Amarillo. I can’t decide if I will laugh or cry. Probably both.