Journal of Life and Driving

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The City That Truly Never Sleeps

            Well, I think I can finally shout “hallelujah!” My trip is almost over as I sit at 35,000 feet about sea level somewhere in the clouds above Denver.  New York really was nothing like what I thought it would be. My concept of NY was that people were going to be a little bit more like Californians. I really have only traveled though the southern states and a fair amount of South America. Now that my first trip to the east coast has come to an end, it is time to reflect.

            People are absolutely nuts in New York. Absolutely berserks. They will walk through you as if you never were there. They put their cold-blooded and impassive faces on and walk. Correction--I mean sprint. Their walking pace is faster than most kids could run the mile at my college. They will walk in front of any semi, bus, fire truck, taxi, bicyclist, or elderly woman in order to shave a second off of their ETA. New Yorkers are a different breed.

            I walked in to a Brooklyn bagel shop the other day and ordered a simple egg and ham bagel sandwich. I also asked for a medium coffee, no sugar, room for cream. Simple. NO. The man behind the exotic cream cheese case started talking to me at approximately the speed of light. I understood zero words that this man vomited up to me. I stood there completely dumbfounded. I just said “huh?” with a stupid look on my face. My mouth was probably open with a little bit of drool coming out. I ended up with a bagel without ham and with salt and pepper instead. I also received no medium coffee. Whoops.

            My morning continued as I moved on from Bergen Bagels in Brooklyn to my itinerary in Manhattan. This requires taking the subway of course. In my short visit to New York, I managed to collect knowledge about the subway system. I knew it well enough that I wouldn’t manage to take large detours without knowing it. I quickly got used to the harsh acceleration and braking as if there were a fifteen-year-old pimply-faced teenage, soon-to-be-legal, driver at the helm. I kind of got used to the mind-numbing and ear-shattering screeches emanating deep from within the tunnels when a train goes around a bend. I also managed to get used to the odd smells that always seemed to be down in those subway stations. The bit that was hardest to get a grip on was understanding what the subway conductor was announcing over the intercom system. I swear they were purposefully just mumbling. How is anyone supposed to know where they are if the conductor is mumbling? These mumbles led to my ultimate demise more than once. 

Miraculously, I managed to get through all of NY without ever sitting in a taxi. I am somewhat disappointed in that. I wanted to at least have the thrill of it maybe being on Cash Cab! Alas, I have no chance if I don’t even hale a taxi. Side note: Watching people hale taxis is something that I could spend a large amount of my time doing. Watching someone hale a taxi and the taxi either: a) pays no attention to them, b) stops, then doesn’t like what their destination is and drives away, or c) picks them up and every car behind them for the next three blocks lays on their horn because they are losing precious daylight due to this inconvenience.

Now, for the juicy car bits of New York. If you are one who likes the oh-so-classy Mercedes S-class, this is the place for you. There is an S550 on nearly every corner in Manhattan. If there isn’t an S-class, there certainly will be a 7 series BMW. Money is the culture in New York. Almost all of the diplomatic cars in New York are big German V8s. These deep V8 bellows make for a very harmonious environment. However, this is only true if you can manage to drown out the sirens, screams, honks, yells, and all of the other racket. I saw quite a few Porsche Panameras, Porsche Cayennes, Porsche Carreras, one Rolls, and one Bentley. For the most part, I don’t think people want to drive around their nice cars in the city, mostly for the fear or dents and dings. They reservedly own their SUVs in order to go out the Hamptons on the weekends, I think.

Words cannot explain how happy I am to finally be getting back to my car after the long two weeks. I am going to try and explain anyway. I am more excited than a baboon with a bug-ridden partner. I am more excited than a thirteen-year-old Jewish boy on his bar mitzvah. I am more excited than Tom Cruise on Oprah’s bouncy couch. I look more excited than a small child clutching his privates because he has to pee and is running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off. Yes, I am that excited. It will be nice to finally be driving through those windy mountain roads. I will heed caution this evening however. It was -3 degrees Fahrenheit last night. The ground will have copious amount of black ice.

Finally I am sitting in my living room in front of the fireplace and Christmas tree putting the final finishing touches on this post. So if there is a lapse in timeline in my writing, that is why. 

I wish you all a very merry Christmas! Now, I am going to go enjoy some of this beautiful white powder that was bestowed upon me in the darkness of last night! Auf Wiedersehen!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Preposterous People

I am on my way to the beloved city of New York right now. I sit in the arctic-like clutches of the San Francisco International Airport at terminal A11. I swear, it is about 35 degrees where I am sitting. I need a nice Snuggy, or someone to cuddle with would suffice. 

I began my trip to SFO in the most stressful way possible. I finished taking my physics final (I really must commend Dr. Brown on making yet another impossible test) at around two and left immediately afterwards. I spent my morning scampering around my house, hurtling over things in order to try and pack my bags. I don't think a single piece of clothing is properly folded in my suitcase. Good thing it is out of my sight and some baggage handler is throwing it around out on the tarmac. I didn't have a lot of time and ended up leaving some food in the fridge--that certainly won't be a whole lot of fun to come home to in a month. Whoops. I slapped together a couple of almond butter and jelly sandwiches, snatched a Cliff Bar, and shook my box of Wheat Thins to make sure there were a couple in there and high-tailed it out of there. I hopped in Otis and pulled out of my apartment with my wheels spinning. I opened my moonroof, rolled down my windows, popped in a CD of Michael Bublé's Christmas album, and drove. The sun was shining bright and the road was empty. I hunkered down and tapped into my Mario Andretti persona. I gripped the steering wheel and ate up the miles.

Before I know it I am driving through Salinas. They have a Macy's for whatever reason. Next, Gilroy. It is a little boring there without the garlic festival, I must admit. Soon after Gilroy I hit bumper to bumper traffic. So I start looking around for something to do and start playing with all the knobs and buttons in my car. I start twisting the moon roof dial and my volume button on my stereo and just genuinely start doing nothing productive with my life. I'm in traffic. What do you want me to do, sit there and be bored and get angry? I was dancing around and listening to my music and just having the time of my life. I love traffic. I might change my opinion of that when I move out of SLO and into the real world--like here in the Bay Area. Otis and I build our relationship even more when we are in traffic. We get to just hang out with each other and build that bond.

Ya, we have bonded nicely.

I get into Cupertino and start seeing some pretty cool cars. I see the signs for Silicon Valley and know that I am in the right area. All around me people is Mercedes S-classes are driving like they have jumper cables attached to their nipples. I seriously don't know who taught them it is all right to drive that fast on the freeway. I quickly get over the unsettling fact that people just always haul ass here in California. I keep my speedo up around 75 and just cruise through the San Jose area. I keep an eye on my navigation app on my phone, which has a little ball that changes color depending on how bad traffic is. The ball is green when trafic is light and red when it is bumper to bumper. The ball is slowly going from green to yellow to orange to soon deep deep red. That deep red that Santa has on his suit. The deep red that those pretentious Porsche owners paint their brake calipers. 

I find myself sitting in traffic again. Not so bad. Sitting in front of me is a brand new Porsche 911 Carrera S. Beautiful graphite color. The gentle pur that this car makes will make any guy start to have delusions of grandeur--I certainly did. Sitting next to me is the brand new Audi A7. Does life get any better? Here I sit in my 14 year old Audi feeling some sort of loose connection to this guy next o me because he drives an Audi as well. I must have been high. We dont have anything in common. In the lane next to me and up a few cars is a second generation D3 Audi A8L. The understated curves and subtleties in its lines are impressive. The understated class and charm is mind-numbing. Of course there is that guy who is driving on the side of the road in his supped-up Infinity GX35. "Dude, sick Magnaflow exhaust. Now wait in traffic like the rest of us," I wanted to somehow say to him. I would have told him that if I was able to seize control of his mind like some sort of magician. Alas, I am no magician and I was only sitting in traffic being overly creative about everything. The next clown to join the circus is some gangster who is driving his S63 AMG. Man, I need to start doing what he is doing. I need to get a college degree like him and slave away behind a desk so that I can drive a cool car like him. He at least waited like the rest of us animals in traffic without revving his monstrous V8. Good man, gangster. Good man.

Quick Google search of "graphite 911 Carrera S" came up with this. Whoops.

continuing on...

I finally get into the Long term parking garage, which is littered with high-performance cars. S5, S6, 550i, A6, M3, M5. That was just in the one aisle that I parking in. I wish I had the hours it would take to go peruse the parking garage. 

I always forget that I don't live in a place conducive to exotic, high-end cars. San Luis is a little city nestled on the coast of central California where there are way too many college students, way too many young budding professionals who haven't made it out of there yet, and a moderte amount of elderly people who don't understand us young folk. None of these people can afford nice, fast, clean cars. They are mostly Hondas and old run-down German cars that daddy bought his innocent little college child. 

Anyway, I am finding myself on all types of transportation in these quick twenty-four hours. I have never ridden a train or a subway. In about 6 hours I will have done both of those. I will have also riden in a car, bus, plane, and on a bike. Go me. Oh, I also walked all the way across the SFO airport because I was getting antsy and got off at the wrong bus stop 4 terminals too early. If you have been to SFO, you know the scale of my error. I walked from terminal one all the way to the international terminal. My knees hate me and are now refusing to take commands any longer. Seems like I will be crawling onto my flight. At least the frigid air around me is acting like a nice ice pack. I really dont understand how this weather doesn't seem to be affecting more people. Maybe I am just another one of those sensitive young gays. I am acting like I am fine, but if there are any scrupulous flyers in here, they will notice I am typing with purple hands and blue lips. 

I hope I can ride in a taxi in NY. I have never ridden in a taxi before. This is just a week full of firsts for me. I am also looking forward to reading The Hobbit on my flight. This really will be a great part of this trip. 

May all of you have a tire-smoke filled holiday season. Raise hell! Wait, don't, this isn't the season for that. Instead, go find baby Jesus. He is hiding in Bethlehem or something. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Red Light Green Light

I hardly have time to even think some days, yet I still yearn to sit behind the wheel of my car and drive. Driving is one thing in life that will make me happy--without fail. Bombed a final? Go drive. Just broke up with your boyfriend? Go drive. Just ate a huge meal and are uncomfortably full? Wait 30 minutes then drive. 

The point is that driving is one of the most cathartic things that exists in my life. I can pour my emotions into the road--I can go out, find an empty road, and push the limit of my heart's desires. I can leave all of my problems behind me. 

I was a fortunate enough kid to have my first car be an Audi. I will concede, it took A LOT of convincing on my part with my dad. Every adult told me that I would regret buying a german luxury car as my first car, but I said fuck it. I threw my heart and soul into researching every little article ever posted about Audi's. I admit, I can be annoying to talk to about Audis sometimes because I know too much about them. All of this time that I poured into research and talking to car dealers and mechanics really paid off. I ended up buying a 1998 Audi A4 2.8 Avant Quattro Sport line. I just wanted to sound pretentious there. His name is Otis--he's my baby. 

Otis has more than handled himself when necessary--I lived in Tahoe growing up so snow was something to think about. He may only have 4.3"of clearance, but that certainly hasn't prevented him from plowing through some things that a Range Rover would even shy away from. Granted, a Range Rover would be too afraid of getting a little snow on its mud flaps. Pssh. So aristocratic. 

The relationship I have developed with Otis is one that is deeper than most. I feel weird admitting that I have a relationship with my car, but hey, it's true. Otis has become my therapist, my friend, and even my foe--rarely (the oil pan cracking certainly annoyed me). When something goes wrong in life, Otis is there to keep me rolling along. He is my rock. A fast rock. Like those mysterious rocks that slide across the desert sand. You heard of those? Apparently scientists dont know why they do that.

I have sobbed more than I care to admit behind the wheel of my car. I have smiled bigger that my face should have allowed behind the wheel of my car. I have been Mr. Grumpy-Pants behind the wheel of my car. I have also taken on the role of Cher behind the wheel of my car. I am an A-lister singer when it comes to singing in my car and no one will tell me otherwise. My moves are better than Jagger's when I am behind the wheel of my car. My mind is free to be what it wants behind the wheel of my car. 

Otis is my safe place.

Say what you want. I've been told that I am extremely first-world and materialistic because I find enjoyment in cars. The simple fact is that my passion for cars permeates the "first-world" label. My passion for cars is something that transcends wealth. It is the simple enjoyment of how people are so dependent on cars, yet they are so careless about their choices. It's like choosing a nice home or a nice bed; People are particular about those choices because they spend so much time there. The average person spends something like 3 months of their life at stop lights. Damnit, I better spend those three months in a comfortable seat that has the amenities that I want. 

The pleasure of driving is almost comparable to the pleasure of a nicely-sized orgasm. However, driving lasts longer. The thrill I get from driving is something that will never fade. I always get that giddy little school girl feeling in my heart when I sit behind the wheel of a car. It could be a Geo Metro or a Zonda R for all I care. I like driving. For whatever reason I also enjoy slipping underneath Otis's bonnet and tinkering with his parts. (heh heh. innuendo?) Otis likes it when I give him a belly rub. He purs when I do.Anyway, what provides more of a bonding moment between two people than getting under the hood of your car and getting up to your elbows in grease? My brother and I have spent many evenings underneath our cars ratcheting and tinkering away. Luckily he is a great mechanic and can correct any silly mistake I make. For the record--I hate being dirty other than around cars. Yuck! 

Well, I figure I should actually go study my physics now considering it is finals week. One final left and then I'm off to New York! WOOHOO!

May all of your holiday wishes come true.

Signing off.