Monday, May 17, 2010

The road to your dreams isn't neatly paved

Two weeks ago, still reeling from whatever virus the lovely ladies of NHRD passed my way, I woke up early in order to drive twelve copies of my new short-story, "Open Skate," to Bennington College. Days before that trip, I had lost three days of valuable reading/writing time when my body rebelled against my mind, leaving me powerless to find matching socks, let alone stay on task with all deadlines. In my delirium, I took comfort in the fact that as long as I mailed my workshop packet out by May 3rd, I'd be fine. On April 30th, I opened up my laptop for the first time in three days to discover that I had misremembered and that the copies of my draft were supposed to arrive on May 3rd.

Shocked at what I believed to be a colossal screw-up on my part, I resolved to drive up to Bennington and hand my work in personally rather than pay an insane shipping and handling fee for over-nighting 300 pages (plus paperclips) to a destination only three-point-five hours away. Paying for gas beat the hell out of a stamp, and I'd get to take a road trip. That's a win, right? What I didn't realize was that not only had I forgotten the due date, I'd forgotten to replace the drivers-side tire on my Ford Taurus after discovering the previous weekend that the steel belt was slightly exposed.

 Two days prior to the ride, I had learned I could fit my head in my Snuggie sleeves. Yeah, that is the perfect mindset one must be in to plan a road trip.

Two hours into the trip, I hear the sound of a zipper being slowly undone, followed by a loud hammering. Realizing that I have not driven into an old Ministry album, I look for a place to pull over. Thankfully, Rte 2 has no small shortage of abandoned, Chainsaw-Massacre-looking auto dealerships. I slide into the parking lot, and discover my tire treads are unraveling. Awesome.

Now changing a tire is really easy. You must remember to place the jack properly on level ground. Do that, you're good. Easy peasy. However, Leatherface's empty lot was built on an incline. So, after I removed my tire, the jack sensed my pride and decided to slip, causing the car's front-left side to kiss the asphalt while I passively watched. Deciding that calling anyone for help would forfeit my Y chromosome, I crawled under the car from the other side and retrieved the jack.

 Me after crawling under the car to retrieve the jack. There's a bug in my eye in this picture.

 After some clever uses of leverage and the old tire, I was able to get the donut on and make my into Vermont only forty-five minutes behind schedule. Covered grease and gravel, the latter I was washing out of my hair for the rest of the week, I headed straight for Bennington. I knew of at least three places in my college's town that repaired tires, and I'd be damned if I risked any more delays. Arriving at Bennington, I was jubilant. Stomping across the campus, filthy and disheveled, I proudly handed over my packet, which was then thrown atop the pile of mailed manuscripts and workshop materials that had just arrived. My tale impressed the Writing Seminar staff so much they suggested I go to the cafeteria and have a meal before getting back on the road to find a tire. Yes, that seemed like a fine idea. Like Beowulf in Hrothgar's hall, I went to get a lunch worthy of my epic journey.


Before I left town, my tire was safely replaced by a man who looked remarkably like Bubbles of the Trailer Park Boys. My quest successful, I returned home to my woman who, after laughing at my plight, promptly left for roller derby practice. Which I suppose was the proper thing to do.