Burbank, CA

Destination Unknown

End of July 2019

It rained yesterday morning. I know, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but in Los Angeles it is always something cherished. By others. Not particularly by me. Yesterday though I enjoyed the rain to another level. I did not need a break from the heat, I did not need to have clouds in the sky covering up the sun. I need the sun. It is an actual necessity for someone like me who thrives when the sun is shining. Nevertheless, when Leo woke up and it was time for our morning walk, despite the few drops of rain, we left the house and we walked in the rain (just like in that book my brother gifted me a long time ago The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein). Something told me to bring with me my iPod so we walked in the rain, while listening to the songs that accompanied me in my road trip, and it was phenomenal. Epiphanies started happening at every step. The dog too seemed happier. It was spectacular. The plants and the trees all around us were releasing their scent all over, and the typical ozone smell was cleaning the air. It felt like we were going for a natural cleanse for our senses, Leo was clearly smelling the air, the grass, the flowers, the tree trunks, but he wasn’t forcing his stops on me. He did not need to linger on specific spots for long, because it was all around him, all around me, and how can you not weep when perfect mother nature is embracing us creatures in such a smooth way? Indeed.

Once again –because it happened before, I could feel my cells cheering at the sounds filling up my skull through my ears. One minute I was in Burbank, the other I was in Santa Cruz, sitting by the dog beach, enjoying the Pacific. Then I was back in Seattle. I closed my eyes and recalled the moments. Goose bumps. Then again that song that I never thought I could like. I feel 17 again and I can’t help but go back in time and back to Boston, where 17 was the way I was feeling basically every other day. The dog and I danced through the streets of the Burbank hills, and there was almost no one around: who would go for a walk in the rain? So the few people we were encountering on our path were making eye contact, and we would smile at them, acknowledging we were on the same page. We were happy to be alive and we had to celebrate it. Can you tell how much I’ve changed? I think I can.

A walk that lasted an hour and a little more, that felt too short at the end, but it lasted an eternity that felt amazing. Time is a construction of men, yes. Because in these moments there is only a “now” that you can’t really quantify. I started thinking deeply, I recalled teachings from the past, from when in high school we were studying philosophy, or even geography in elementary school. History back then was a burden: I could never remember dates. What I cared for was the way the story was told, and not a lot of teachers were good story tellers at the time. But I felt lucky. Oh if I felt lucky. All these subjects that in other places in the world are not even considered part of your academic curriculum, where I am from, they are taught to you. Mandatorily. Who would teach Epic in school? Yeah, no, you fools, not the adjective to say “dude, that was epic”. No. Epic, like literature, those long narrative poems that talk about heroes from the past and their story. It’s a middle school subject for us. Middle school. Let that sink in. Or at least it was. I really wish it still is. Italian peeps, is it still taught as school? I should ask my aunts Rita and Gloria, they would know. Oh goodlordwhatishappeningtome? I have tears streaming down my face thinking about how lucky I was. I am. I swear I always thought it was a curse to be born in a place where I could not be a rockstar by the age of 16 like Billie Eilish, but then… this? I’m sorry, it’s priceless. I had such an education (basically free in my home country) that I am so mad I can only now appreciate at such a deep level. Silly goose.

I’ve spent the first days in L.A. catching up with the episodes of tv-shows I had on my watch list. I binged those and then I thought “what about all those books you got and thought you could read while road tripping?” so I brought my box of books from the car, inside, and I started binging on these instead. Being able to get all the references without having to read the footnotes –as I already know about this or that philosopher, this or that historical character, this or that rhetorical figure, this or that episode in history, is making me feel dumb. Why am I only now realizing this? Where have I been these past 20 years? Was I even being part of this world? Oblivious. That’s the only word I can think of, but rain or not rain, road trip or not, I feel different now. I’ve always been an observer, but I have never felt the connection. I knew it was there, but I felt distant. Explained why I always felt like there was something missing in me. I could not belong. I could not relate to most of the people around me. No matter how many books I read, no matter the Divine Matrix, the “being all and one with the whole”, the “coming from the same source, the Big Bang, and we’re one”, I got it, but I wasn’t feeling it in my body. And I am not saying that all of a sudden I am now in touch with everything. Hell no. But even sensing a little bit of what it feels to be one and everything was magical. And I am glad that, to share it with me, there was another magical creature: a perfect beautiful dog. (God spelled backwards, I know).

If you haven’t read them yet, take some time to read these books. They may or may not help you, but I need to leave them here as they are now part of this journey I started as a houseless person. I can’t share photos of beautiful places because I am stuck in just one for now, but I can share music and literature: how about that? Find my Spotify playlist as well, if you want to feel young inside, as these are the songs that are currently played on the radios (mostly pop … I know, I know). If you do follow my suggestion though, let me know what you think, k? Cheers for now.

Find the books on Amazon by clicking on each image.

A book a day, for now we have:

Suggested by my friend Silvia

Wife of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (who designed the cover)

Stumbled into this by chance. Worth reading.

Gifted by Aunt Gloria 🙂 .In Italian.

Got it in Boston never had the chance to finish it. Done.

My Road Trip Playlist

Los Angeles, CA

Destination Unknown

July 2019

I haven’t gone missing, I’m just back in Los Angeles, CA. It always takes me a little while to process this kind of things so I did not blog last week, while trying to feel comfortable again, leaving my “nomadic” situation. I’m still houseless, I’m just not constantly driving and seeing things. And that’s the worst part of it. Everything looks so familiar now in this conglomerate of cities: the freeways, the landscape, the habits… the people. To be honest, seeing familiar faces helped me realize that I missed this place, but most of all I miss who I was while striving for survival in this area of the world. It made me stronger and I like it. I say “I was” because I am sure something within me has changed while on the road, although it may not be that obvious. I’ve seen so much beauty in the past month, the past weeks I’ve spent in a car, that my eyes are now longing for more, more, and I can’t wait to find it… around me.

I don’t know how many people are reading or will read this, but for what it’s worth, I want to leave a note, if only for myself to read back in the future. I was at that Starbucks at Barnes and Noble in St. George, UT on July 8th, and I sat on a chair where there was a book left alone, no one was reading it. At first it captured my attention because I remember I read “subconscious mind” from afar, then I got closer. I grabbed it and read through the cover and the back: I don’t know if it was because I was tired, or because I was receptive for other stimuli coming from all around me (people sitting, reading, talking) but, rather than being focused on that book, I left it there and I still can’t remember what I did read at all. I do recall only those two words, I must have been really disconnected because the only reminiscence of that moment is something like “I’ll check it out on line” but then I did not. Just like when I get an idea, instead of writing it down I believe I will remember it, and then I punctually forget it. Anyway, long story short, when I reached my friend’s house in the Los Angeles area and she showed me where I would sleep for a couple of days, on the nightstand she left a book she thought I may like: The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy, was lying on that table waiting for me. She did not know anything about that other book that apparently passed unnoticed to me, and it wasn’t the exact book I saw that day in Utah, but it is somehow related to it. I felt like a message was sent to me saying “read something about this topic” and I couldn’t ignore it again. So I started reading this book and I eventually understood why I had to. I always believed in the great phenomenon our brain is, our mind to be specific, why I wanted to study it –my psychology and psychoanalysis background, and the neurosciences; I just needed someone (or something) to remind me of that. It is not to talk about superpowers, or some weird paranormal activities and pseudoscience, but whatever you feed your brain will fuel your thoughts and everything attached to them, referring to both food and words, and that is just the truth.

That book, or the message it wanted to send at least, found a way to get to me. I think the one that I found in Utah was actually Subliminal, by Leonard Mlodinow because doing a quick web search, the cover looks familiar, but who knows. Still, the point of all this was to remember that, at this temporary stopover I have to take, I need to feed my mind properly in order to thrive. Harder said than done but I can try.

As for the traveling part, my poor Sienna needs to be fixed so I can’t really ask for much more from her. Not to sound too crazy or more than what I already am, but lately I was really talking to her nicely, petting the steering wheel saying “one more Sienna, one more and then I’ll let you rest” for our last miles, and I can hear now all those weird noises, that squeaking sound when I turn it on; I just have to be thankful it lasted long enough to take me back to this part of California without leaving me stranded. With September approaching I need to figure a few things out. People are back from their summer vacations and the whole employment mess is back in the game. My wandering around is not over, I may just have not enough places to see or visit, but I won’t stop researching and moving around. I currently have no fixed destination once again, and I am open to possibilities, as always. I may not be traveling by car, but I am definitely going somewhere soon. Just hang in there and you’ll find out.

Santa Barbara, CA

Destination Unknown

June 14, 2019

Driving North along the Pacific Highway I feel defeated and upset. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I could do what I’ve done, I’ve seen precious places I always thought I would never see, and most of all I added an amazing experience and stories I can tell to whomever wants me to tell them. I keep on feeling nothing whenever someone gets surprised and asks: you did this alone? You’re such a brave woman. I am not. It’s just who I am. Courage has nothing to do with what I’ve done and what I’m doing. I believe that, when you have nothing left to lose, whatever you do is just fine. You couldn’t have done otherwise, so what’s the big deal? But then this is just because in this very moment this is how I feel. An hour from now I may be staring at myself at a restroom’s mirror in a remote gas station in Southern California, thinking: you did it. You road tripped with poor Sienna falling into pieces but you did it, and now you’re back.

I am back. Back to square one, and I can automatically feel the weight of the world dragging me down again. What’s the next step now? Where did my freedom go? I need to sit and listen to what the ocean has to say. Before reaching Los Angeles, I stop at Dana Point and let the waves calm me down for a couple of minutes on a gloomy morning. I let my mind go and I can hear the ocean speak. He said “just be patient you’ll make it through. It has all be given to you because you can handle it, you only have to hang in there and wait.” I told him I am tired of waiting. I told him I can’t take it anymore and I told him I want to go home. He said “this is home now, you’ll see”. I wasn’t talking about home in Italy. He wasn’t talking about home in California. We understood each other so perfectly. And I kept going.

I wasn’t ready to drive through my beloved city. I took an alternate route and went all the way North to Calabasas where a friend lives with her family. I’ll stay with them for just a few days before seeing LeoBear again. I’ll take care of the pup for a little while again, and hopefully my mind will go back to be working properly. I need that consistency I tried to build up during the Spring and during my boxing challenge, and now I kind of miss it.

On Sunday we drive up to Santa Barbara. Of course I take the chance to visit some more of this beautiful California, and I can’t miss the opportunity to see my Pacific whenever I can. Santa Barbara is a small town compared to what I was expecting. A typical beach town with the pier, but if you look around, what you can see is more than pretty. Mountains surround you from the South, East and North, while your West wing opens up to the ocean. And it’s magical. The only flaw is seeing those offshore oil drilling platforms in the distance, but there’s nothing I can really do about it so I’ll pretend I didn’t see, and enjoy the rest.

I’m afraid of what is expecting me in a month or so. I know I am cherishing my aloneness more than anything, despite those few moments I wish I could share with someone else. Traveling alone has solidified even more my independence and my “relative” freedom, so anything that crosses my boundaries makes me feel uncomfortable, as if I’m trapped in a cage. All I can do is just wait. Always. Wait. Patiently. Until I’m free and alone again. But until then, how do I cope with the “in between”?

San Diego, CA

Destination Unknown

June 11, 2019

I’ve recently been told “sometimes you can be a really caring person and sometimes you just act like a dick.” I can’t see what is wrong with that, considering 1. if I had to be affected by everything people think of me, (as it used to happen on a very deep level in the past) I’d have to kill myself for not pleasing everyone every time; 2. depending on the situation, I react to stimuli and that is what, to you, is something “bad”. Can you always be caring? Can you always be a bitch? No. I alternate. And sorry not sorry, but that’s fine with me. Nature alternates. Sunny and rainy days. Deserted lands and florid areas.

I fit in the land around me. I fit in California apparently, as nothing stays the same driving from one point to the other, from one city to the other, and it just reminds me of me. I approach San Diego and I feel drawn to UCSD, University of California San Diego, so I find a parking spot close to the Library and I spend a couple of hours in the architecturally beautiful library after a quick run around the campus: if I could I would say rejuvenating but I still look old and tired so I’ll say “reinvigorating”. It feels nice to be in the academic environment again. One day I will find out why I always feel good, comfortable and safe when spending time in schools.

When I wake up on June 11th I take my time because the weather is gloomy and I can’t find a spot downtown that is really inspiring. I decide to drive through the city, I cross the bridge to Coronado Island and I stop at a local cafe where I get a chai latte after a while, and I just chill observing people around me. Not like a psycho, or maybe just like a psycho, but I just enjoy noticing what is going on around me, picturing different scenarios for those people who are sitting there, in silence, looking at their phones in a remote cafe in the middle of Ocean Beach. There is also a corner called Dog Beach, where I see all these people taking their dogs for a stroll, and that warms my day a little. I end up taking a couple of photos of the skyline from Centennial Park, and I feel a little accomplished.

I spend the afternoon at a park downtown where three dogs come greet me and their human approaches me too. We start talking and we eventually spend hours just sharing anecdotes about our lives, and the stories of those three rescue pups just amaze me. I end up in his apartment, taking care of the three dogs while he goes out for a business meeting. How crazy does this sound? I know, but I guess that’s just me. My friend Jordan calls me while I’m in that apartment –where I could see the city from high above the building– concerned about what I just told him: stranger, dogs, his apartment. He calls me an idiot and I have to stop trusting people so easily. He may be right. But what am I actually doing has nothing to do with people, I am just spending time with dogs. When he gets back, I say bye and leave, feeling a little confused for what just happened: have I really spent a couple of hours waiting for a stranger to get back home while looking after his dogs? Yes. With Jordan’s words echoing in my head and all, I just start driving until I’m tired and pull over for the night. I feel brainwashed. San Diego is too close to Los Angeles. I need to find somewhere else to go before ending up in my City of Angels again, and I am not ready yet.

SoCal, Salton Sea, Dunes

Destination Unknown

July 10, 2019

This post should also be called “when you were craving for the cherry on the top, and you eventually end up crying for disaster”. Welcome. It’s the beginning of the end, and it is not a pleasant one. Oh gawd! Another rant? Well well, not really. No. I am just going to report objectively about something I was expecting to be amazing. But why the disappointment? Because I do too believe, at times, what people say. The way they advertise, the way they sell themselves, and their mother, if they could.

The Death Valley was magical and at least I have that to remember as part of the last few miles of this itinerary. I was so close to Los Angeles though, that I pushed forward and thought: one more beauty, one more. So, after waking up in Ridgecrest, no earthquakes whatsoever, I kept driving South. I passed through the border of the Joshua Tree National Park where I’ve been a couple of times already, so I did not have to go through it deeply this time. I could still see those pretty and typical trees all around me while approaching the Coachella Valley. Who would have thought I could say “I’ve been to Coachella?” Yeah, because, who cares if I went to Coachella festival or to Coachella valley? I can already picture the conversation in my head <<oh yeah, and then I’ve been to Coachella! -Oh, really, how did you like it? -oh, it was amazing. Hot. But you know, it’s Coachella, always so much fun. Beautiful. -oh, yeah, I totally agree.>> Bla bla. Done. But I was talking about the land, the trees, the sand blowing in your face, the heat burning your skin, and all the desert beauty surrounding you. Character B was talking about parties, parties, money, parties, more money, more parties, oh and music (and drugs, but that’s another story), but that almost comes last nowadays. Who’s playing at Coachella this year? Who cares, I already have my outfits ready. Something like that. Shake head. Multiple times.

It was more than 110 degrees outside and I was concerned about the car. New noises come out every day and I can feel my SiennaMiller is telling me she is tired as well. One more T, one more. Then I’ll let you rest. Instead of just taking the highway all the way through Salton Sea, after leaving Yucca Valley where I felt I could spend some time because what you see around you is so unusual but typical of this place, I switched to internal roads and drove through Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Coachella and Mecca. Then the real nightmare began. I thought Salton Sea was another natural treasure the Earth and the nature left for us in this divine desert, instead as soon as I approach the area, I notice something is not quite right. Flies start torturing me, and I feel like I am back in the Australian desert, but not in a good way. I ask a few questions to the ranger woman as usual, because I like to know more about the area before adventuring in. I find out Salton Sea is man made: a mistake some engineers from the past did and the whole town of Salton got submerged. They eventually decided to keep the reservoir as a dump place for agricultural waste, so please take a few minutes to consider the toxicity of this area. I can’t believe that something so pretty to see (the colors of the salt water reflected by the hard sun are superior!) is the result of pesticides, fertilizers, and waste dunked into a water basin that has a salt rate almost twice the ocean. I felt disgusted. I kept moving forward as the guide told me there were some characteristic spots I could still visit before reaching my beloved dunes down South, almost at the border with Mexico. Bombay beach: a ghost town. When you think of a ghost town, what comes into your head? Ok, then, forget it. It can’t be fully explained if you don’t experience one in person. Not to be rude, but a ghost town is not only “an abandoned village, town, or city, that usually contains substantial visible remains”; people still live there. How? Eh, go figure. And why do we have to leave so much waste around? All these rotten cars, abandoned stuff. Please stop. Just stop.

All ghost towns in the area… so I drive through them. The guide said, if you fancy, there’s a painted mountain near Niland, CA, it’s called Salvation Mountain and it’s in Slab City. The artist, Leonard Knight wanted to leave a tribute to God so he painted “God Is Love” with biblical references all over the massively painted hills. Everybody loves it, apparently. I was more like: why? You could have celebrated nature, using natural pigments, no cement or other harmful substances, but no. Let’s be praised for slaughtering nature. I’m sorry. The colors are beautiful but it’s a no. Go see it if you like, but to thank God, you could have done something different. I have to leave as fast as I can, and I hit the rock where the Salvation Sign sits, with the back of my car. Nothing too bad, but it hits me like a slap in the face, and I feel like the Universe is telling me to be less negative. Fine. Driving back to civilization (or so I hoped) I see a woman hitchhiking in the middle of the desert going from Slab City to Niland, so I stop and give her a ride.

I didn’t ask for her name, strangely. That’s usually the first thing I would ask, but I asked other questions my mouth was coming out with; she may have been an introvert, as if I decided to keep quiet, she would have probably gone with that too. She says she’s 62 (she looked 90), her body was burned by the sun, I couldn’t see her face clearly as she’s all covered with cloths, not clothes, for what it looks like. Her strong smell and a “sugary” breath, along with her legs covered in bruises and crusts make me think she may have diabetes, but who knows. She has been living in this “city” since 1997, when her ex boyfriend shot her in the head and her son got hit and killed while trying to shield her from further bullets. She told me a couple of other things, but that is the one the stroke me the most. I felt stupid and the bad feeling piled up with the disgust and the dislike I was storing from earlier, so the whole situation got me into an internal momentum that got me sick. Literally.

She has been living in SL for 22 years. Let me tell you right quick what Slab City is. Snowbirds live here. Snowbird is the term to refer to people who stay to warm places in the winter and then they migrate back North. I would say nomad, but go figure. Those who are not snowbirds, are permanent residents of the slabs and they are supported by government programs as they found themselves here because of poverty. Others just want to live off the grid and be left alone. There is no official electricity, no running water, no sewers, no toilets nor trash pickup service, nothing. They use generators and it is basically the epitome of what anarchy would be. But not as I intend it. Anarchy, to me, is something different. I drop her off, she seems like she can’t wait to get off, and I continue my journey that is turning into something I wasn’t ready to experience. And not in a good way.

I need to see something beautiful, something to restore not only my faith in humanity but some general common sense too. Dunes, I’m coming for you. But nope, not yet. All the way to my beloved golden hills of sand, a never ending stretch of cattle farms spreads in front of me, and I can’t help but feeling sick again, outraged. I need to scream, I need to cry, I don’t really know what I need, but this just does not feel right. Why? Why now? Why here? Why this? Why at the end of my journey? I can’t think straight and I need time to free my mind and my emotional sphere from all this build-up. I see the dunes in the distance and I keep driving. Umpteenth disappointment. These dunes are so majestic, spread out and in such an inclement area that you can’t really hike on them unless it’s super early in the morning or at dusk, when the sun is setting and the heat won’t get you killed. Moreover, you can drive through them and there are some viewpoints spots you can park at, I guess because of this “problem” of not being able to “patrol” them and keep visitors safe. This time the Imperial Sand Dunes did not help with changing my internal status, and I have to accept the fact that this “Destination: Unknown” project has been taking a wrong turn. Or maybe it was simply supposed to go this way to teach me something different. Who knows. As for now, I need to go back to civilization and probably back to Los Angeles, sooner than later.

Death Valley, California

Destination Unknown

July 9, 2019

Babe, I’m home. I pictured myself hugging the road sign where it says “Welcome to California” like a Koala hangs tight on his eucalyptus tree, but I could not really find the road sign. Going all the way from Vegas to the Death Valley, you can’t see any welcome sign. Not even Google maps, that always warns you with a blue banner popping up, said anything. Whatever.

The day started so smoothly I could not believe I was simply taking it easy. There was almost no one on the road once I passed the urban area of Las Vegas, and the long string of asphalt in the middle of nothing was a blessing to me. I took the time so stop, take photos, jump in the middle of the road, tell everyone to go f-un themselves and it was just …good. Reaching the Death Valley was like a dream. I even had to let a wild horse pass right in front of me. A white wild horse. Pretty little thing, so precious. For the first time in my life I saw a road runner: funny little creature. So fast, for real. I was imagining something as big as a turkey. Nope. Small and fast. The funniest of them all was the white-ish lizards that were even faster, but they looked like they were running only on two legs. I remember watching a youtube video of these reptiles, where one was escaping from a thousand snakes coming from all the angles and corners: she made it through by the way.

Every little thing in the Death Valley is beautiful. I am so excited and I just cannot believe I made it here. “Hey look Ma, I made it!” to quote one of the songs I keep on hearing of the radio (it’s by Panic! At the Disco, of course), oh and I actually wrote down a list of the most played ones so that I can create a playlist and listen to it (you can too!!) when I am down (or not) to remind myself of that time I took a road trip all over the US (mostly) and a little Canada, all by myself, with a van, sleeping in my car, seizing the day. Bad-ass. I know. I like it too. And bad-ass is exactly how I feel today, capable of doing anything, under a 110F weather. Go me. Except for a blonde moment I had. I could totally see it coming: I pictured myself in that very situation I found myself trapped in, and not even a second after I imagined it, it happened. What is it? Well, after seeing my favorite spots in the Valley, viewpoints, canyons, DUNES… fighter jets flying low and breaking your eardrums (the Death Valley must be one of those areas where they could legally perform supersonic activity just like over the Adriatic Sea in Italy), I saw on the side of the road some small dunes of another color from those I just hiked up. The rangers at the visitor center said that sometimes you can see grey dunes because there is hematite in the area, which is also one of my favorite rock, that I have in a box somewhere in the car right now, probably in the “random objects” box. I also have the “beauty objects” box, the “electric things” box, the “kitchen stuff” box… I mean, can’t you see why I am not scared of earthquakes now? My aunt said “Laura, you’re out of your mind” because I am not afraid of some soil shaking but, see this: I don’t own a house that can fall over my head, I have everything I need and own with me, in a moving metal box that can go anywhere and, unless it’s the Big One that should supposedly break and detach the whole Californian peninsula turning it into a floating island, why worry? But that’s just me. You can be afraid all you want. Anyway, the blonde moment. I went a little too far in my curiosity for spotting the grey sand, and got stuck in it with the front of the car. This is one of those cases when you have to pretend you like humans and ask for help. So I did. I started waving my arms in the air to the cars passing by, and the first car pulling over was of a German couple, the second of a German family. Yes people. Saved by the Germans. May the Germans be blessed. A few others just passed and looked. They did not stop. Not Germans, most probably. They followed my suggestion and pushed the car while I slowly hit the accelerator on reverse. We made it. They made it. I was so thankful that I wish, if there’s a God listening, that their lives could be blessed for a long long time. The cutest were the girls pushing along with father and mother to help me. Sweethearts. Cherry on the top: when I asked what I could give in exchange for their precious help, they all said “nothing, it’s ok, keep going” and then the father added “tell this story. You have something fun to tell” and it was amazing. I promise I would and here I am. By the way, if one day you will ever read this and this message will get to those kind German people who helped a stranded blonde out of the sand, in the Death Valley on July 9th, 2019 please know that you are AWESOME. Thank you from the bottom of my bipolar heart. One day I’ll pay it back, or forward.

To end the day in the most batshit-crazy way for many, I decide to spend the night in Ridgecrest, the town where the big earthquakes of the last couple of days hit because I just want to see. To know. Curiosity killed the cat. But I am wolf. Protected by a bear. Go figure. If I’m still alive tomorrow, we’ll talk more about Ridgecrest, now enjoy some photos of one the most wonderful places I’ve seen so far. Talk to you tomorrow.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Destination Unknown

July 8, 2019

Finally I see you again Sin City, and this time I can do it properly. My first time in Sin City was March 2011. I thought it was much longer, it felt like a whole life before this, instead, only 8 years have passed, but I am a totally different person. Maybe. A little. I mean, definitely older.

Today is my mother’s birthday so, before leaving St. George where I spent the night, changed the oil to SiennaMiller and run a couple more errands, I called her and got myself a cake to celebrate her. She said my hair looked stressed (thanks mom) and I agreed, so I gave myself permission to go to Supercuts (I know right? Laughing so hard, but it was cheap and the girl did a good job!) and got myself a haircut. In Vegas. A sort of tradition I created for myself. The first thing I did for my first time alone in New York in 2010: haircut at Jean Luis David downtown Manhattan. Booyah.

The rest of the day was spent in and out of casinos. Las Vegas has always impressed me for its being absurd, but special in its own way and despite being the only one walking alone along the Strip, the f* given were less than zero. I felt comfortable, I was taking photos, laughing and smiling by myself, singing the songs I could hear around me, visiting every single hotel, and resisting. I was resisting my own curiosity to sit at a table and play. Not now. I can’t afford losing not even 10 bucks, I need to be able to make it at least back to Southern California. If only I could though… how much fun would that be? A lot. So, maybe next time. Maybe soon. May… be.

A lot went through my mind while walking for hours enjoying my stroll, seeing the fake Venice that always reminds me of home, having Ben&Gerry and Starbucks coffee, feeling weird while inside the casinos and you can’t tell if it’s night or day outside, visiting Paris for the first time, yadda yadda, but I don’t want this place to always be an excuse for my mind to go bonkers, so I’ll just stop here for today. Just a quick update before my next stop, and a few photos. Just because.

Utah (part 4), Zion National Park

Destination Unknown

July 7, 2019

I woke up in Kanab, a very very small town in Utah, where I will eventually go back, or so I hope, because there is a place you can only access through a lottery due to its fragility. It is called the Wave, on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Colorado Plateau. This and the one in Australia (although I am sure there are way more all over the world) are the two I want to see. Hopefully one day, soon.

There’s no Starbucks near me, so I need to get round by stopping at a gas station and get a Cliff bar. That’ll do. And it did. Although by the time I got to Zion I was starving. But that’s another story. On my way to Zion National Park, I saw again a sign that captured my attention last night while scanning the road for animals: a deer, a buck, a something from that family. Two on the side of the road, and one actually crossed right in front on me, so I slowed down as fast as I could and let him pass. Sweet little thing. If only everyone else could do it. Anyway, the sign said “Coral Pink Sand Dunes“. Sand dunes? I’m game. I set my gps and I begin my journey to the Coral Pink Dunes. I wonder if they’re really coral pink. Then I remember that today would be my grandma’s birthday, and I once gifted her a pink coral stone before an open heart surgery she had to undergo many years ago after a stroke. I got that stone because the “pedrera”, the woman at the rocks shop, said it was the stone “linked” to the heart, a healing stone. If you believe or not in the therapeutic power of stones I do not really care, because what meant to both me and my grandma, at that time, was the symbol it brought with it. She kept it in her bra right before and after surgery and she was fine. She recovered and lived for years before she passed away in 2015. Time flies.

I do not believe in coincidences anymore. Although it may be just it, this gives me even more willpower to go see them, and they’re beautiful. I did it for grandma. The color is more orangey than pink, but still different than the dunes I’ve been to, so far. In Peru and in Colorado they were golden. In New Mexico they were bright white. Here they are coral pink, and they are as perfect as the others. I love dunes. There’s something magical in the sand. I get there at 7AM on a Sunday morning. There is no one around, what more could I ask for? I hike up reaching the rim and I look around. Once again I can hear nothing, and this deafening silence is something I’ve been cherishing for since my first time in the Mojave desert in 2011. It just can’t be explained. I sit and I sink my hands and my feet in the sand, which is cold where the sun can’t reach, and it’s getting warm little by little with the sun rising up in the sky. It’s been a while since I properly meditated. I do transcendental meditation. I took the class in 2017, my first time in LA, and the story is too long to tell, but even back then, it wasn’t by chance. It was simply meant to be. I do my twenty-minute ritual, I repeat my mantra and the sun kisses my skin without being too hard. If I had to describe the perfection of a moment, it would probably sound like this. No, it definitely would. Yes. I open my eyes and I stand up, sinking deep and falling back on the sand. I laugh, feeling stupid, but at the same time I know no one saw me so… that’s ok. I hike back down, right on time before some guys come with their quad bikes and the buggy. Amateurs. The point of being on the dunes is to hike them!

Zion is another spectacle that this Earth and nature gifted us, and it is actually better organized than both Yellowstone and Yosemite, because cars are not allowed on the trail that takes you through the various spots. People have to park in a lot before the trail begins, and you can only ride a shuttle back and forth, making it so much less chaotic and more pleasant than waiting in line in your car for hours. I always wanted to visit Zion. My preference for the Jewish culture may have something to do with it (Zion is a biblical word, in the first five books of the Old Testament –the Torah, in Hebrew, meaning a place of peace and refuge or sanctuary), but being one of the best national parks in the world, it has been on my bucket list for a very long time. The atmosphere is peaceful and the rock formations are typical, beautiful, perfect. I decide to go for a hike at the stop of the Weeping Rock area. The trail I want to hike is closed because of rocks falling, but to me “no” is the new yes, so I ignore the man made block and I start walking up the mountain. Breathless and a little worried some rocks could actually fall over my head, I keep going until I sadly find out why the trail was closed. A massive rock slide was totally blocking the passage and I could not go further. I wanted to reach a point called “hidden canyon” and I just guess it will stay hidden for a while longer, because no one will see it until that slide is fixed. It was still worth the fatigue though, because I could see that part of Zion from way above (although not as high as Angels’ Landing which is the highest point of the canyon), but also because I had to accept the fact that my fear of heights is getting stronger and stronger with time. It bothers me, but I have to accept it, I think it comes with aging. Oh, and it was worth it because that look in the eyes of those few people seeing me coming from the path where the sign said “Stop here. Trail closed. No trespassing” was priceless: a perfect blend of dissent and wonder, dislike and puzzle.

On my way out I stopped in Saint George, another town that offers some amazing views, where I spend the night and I plan on getting my oil change (again!) because the “maintenance required” light turned on last Friday night. I could have stopped somewhere else, or have reached Vegas which is so close, by George is the name of my uncle, the one who has always protected me and helped me, even when I was about to enter the world with my mom almost giving birth to me, in his car, on their way to the hospital. I take this as a way to say that in this town I’ll be safe tonight. Plus the hospital parking lots have always given me shelter these past few weeks, so I feel comfortable there. I find a city viewing point and I go watch the sunset before getting ready to spend the night in town. There is no one around for a few minutes, until a couple of teens comes up the stairs and sees me. I can hear their voices in the distance, although they whisper seeing me there, standing still leaning on the fence, facing the horizon: what is she doing? – I don’t know. What is she doing -alone-? – I don’t know, she’s just standing there. Then I can hear the clicks of the cans they opened, I turn for a second, they’re hugging, they’re kissing. I take a couple of photos of the sunset, and I just think of giving them space. Enjoy it while it lasts, kids. Enjoy it.

Four Corners, Utah (part 3)

Destination Unknown

June 6, 2019

Once again I needed a day to process. And to recover. Mentally. I was expecting the Monument Valley to be breathtakingly beautiful instead what stole my heart once again, was the landscape all around me. And Bryce. But that was almost obvious. Don’t get me wrong, seeing those rock formations is still something amazing, but …there’s a but. Arizona, just like New Mexico, is too underestimated. I don’t like this. I took my time driving back and forth through almost four States today to see as many things as possible because they were all mainly a stone thrown one from the other. Not by chance the area is called Four Corners, because it’s right within the borders of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

Driving and visiting more than one place, together with the emotional atmosphere of Bryce Canyon at sunset, brought up so many memories, so many thoughts, so many reflections. I also had to MarieKondo a few things from my past. After realizing that all the people from the past I got in contact with during this trip, were even too busy to meet, out of town (but then, is it true?), completely ignoring my messages or simply apologizing for not making it, I decided that this was not “sparking any sort of joy” in me, therefore, I need to throw it away (that’s the Marie Kondo technique basically). The only contacts I had throughout my journey were either with people I randomly met, or suggested by mutual friends so we could spend a couple of hours together, or my “Cambridge” friend. So…I guess, enough with the past, bring it on future! What actually made me think about it, was a message from another friend from the past that, to my question: “why don’t you come visit me now that you’re all settled and rich? Lol” he answered “eh, I lost interest in America with time”. Ok, that America word? Imagine while I do the “quote” gesture with my index and middle fingers, folding them down. I wish I could meme this but anyway… the point is, I lost interest in “America” (in quotes) could simply stand for “our friendship” or “you” in general. After all, we haven’t seen for exactly 10 years now, but I must be the only one who does not get affected by time on an emotional level. I could still see you after months, years, centuries, and I would still act as if I saw you yesterday. Eh. Using my typical expression: whatever. I actually asked many friends to come see me, to visit me, because there’s always that excitement of showing them where I live, what I do, even if it’s a crappy studio and I have no career (yet). Nobody ever came. Now that the studio’s gone as well, I guess I’ll stop asking.

From the early morning spent at the Monument Valley, to lunch time at Lake Powell and the Horseshoe Bend, up to chasing the sunset at Bryce, I never stopped for a single second. The emotional state I was in lingered through the evening and the whole Bryce ride was a whole rollercoaster of “fast fast you’ll miss the pink moment”, to “slow slow, stop over here and enjoy the moment”. I took some photos to show you all, but all I wanted to do was to just stare at those vivid colors, with those unexplainable views (I mean, they can be explained it but I can’t explain the way you feel watching them!), while my “being alone feeling” is getting more and more the features of a blessing in moments like this where I can literally do whatever the heck I want because I only have myself to be accountable for. Precious. Just real bliss. I think the photos will speak better than me so here they are. Tomorrow is another day, and something else I have been waiting to visit for so long is Zion National Park, which is right around the corner. See you there.

New Mexico, part 2

Destination Unknown

July 5, 2019

We need to break the habit. That’s the only thing I can think of while standing here, looking all around me in awe, in front of the stupefying scene that opens before me. New Mexico, like Utah, is a gem that goes too often underestimated. I drove through almost infinite red rocks mountains, scrublands, a desert where you can see the highway stretching for miles and miles, but not only that. Mountain peaks, forests, rios and rivers, plus of course, my beloved sand dunes. The variety that New Mexico offers makes me wonder. I am here, almost crying at the beauty I feel so lucky I can witness, and I see people driving by, careless. I feel jealous seeing those who can wake every morning at the sight of these spectacles of nature and I feel bad because, once again, I feel there is something missing that I am not getting quite well enough yet. Then here it comes: they’re so used to it they just live their lives IN IT and, hopefully they’re constantly content about it. I say hopefully, because most of the times I know it’s not. We need to break the habit. That’s the only thing I can think of while standing here, looking all around me in awe, in front of the stupefying scene that opens before me. New Mexico, like Utah, is a gem that goes too often underestimated. But then I think of the way my foreign friends felt seeing where I come from while visiting, in the past. “You can see the Dolomites from your bedroom window?” or “we’ve been driving for not even an hour and I’ve already seen all the beauties you usually see in those pamphlets they give you at the travel center”. “You’re so lucky!” and I would usually go “meh”. I chuckle remembering when a friend from Mount Holyoke told me she grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the feet of the Grand Canyon, and I told her exactly the same things people were saying to me. She would say “it’s somewhere I just grew up in, you see it every day you just get used to it”. And it is true. Sad but true. We get used to the beauty around us to a certain extent that we almost forget about it. We need to take a step back and unlearn what we’ve been seeing for so long because we need to be amazed every single minute by these marvels. Am I right?

I came in through Roswell, woke up in Las Cruces, stopped for lunch in Albuquerque and then slept in Farmington. South to North, New Mexico accompanied me dearly, and I am grateful for what I experienced. Moreover, I had lunch with a wonderful human being, introduced to me by a mutual friend, at a cute and cozy restaurant in Albuquerque who reminded me of all those nice people out there who are part of those “worth saving” in case of an imminent Apocalypse. And considering the earthquakes that are happening in Southern California this week, I guess we’re not even too far from the X hour. Just like me, and apparently all the people I am encountering lately, she was tested by life, she got broken and she fixed back her pieces, so we connected right away. We were meant to meet. While running around the San Juan College campus before getting ready for the night, I was listening to this song, which is always on my randomized playlist, called Annihilation by A Perfect Circle, and it just closed the day reminding me that …it is up to us. Everything. Is. Up to us.

From dehumanization to arms production
For the benefit of the nation or its destruction
Power is power, the law of the land
Those living for death will die by their own hand

Life’s no ordeal if you come to terms
Reject the system dictating the norms
From dehumanization to arms production
To hasten the nation towards its destruction

It’s your choice, your choice
Your choice, your choice
Peace or annihilation.

Texas and New Mexico

Destination Unknown

Can’t really say much about Texas. I drove through the thinnest part of the State, but the views were one of a kind. Yellow and its darker shades started appearing before my eyes. No more green, if not sporadically thanks to bushes and trees. All the colors of sand, burned sand, ochre, sienna, maroon, beige, umber, ok basically brown, were all around me, and I enjoyed it all like a cup of hot chocolate on a freezing winter day. Outside it’s 100 degrees F, but those are details. I woke up in Texas and I started my long trip to New Mexico. Sand dunes await me and I cannot wait. I still have food from the day before so I have breakfast in the car and just drive, drive, drive. I only stop for gas and to give my windshield a wash. Those poor butterflies, and moths, and insects of any kind may rest in peace.

I reach Roswell, NM around noon. What. A. Day. After my favorite scenario of finding myself driving alone through a loooong single road through nothing, enjoy every, single, little, bit, of it, I parade along this town that reminds me of a show I used to watch many years ago, called obviously Roswell. Not the new one, which I haven’t seen yet, but may start once back somewhere with a good connection for my Netflix and Hulu accounts. No. I’m talking about the one where the actress playing Isobel Stevens in Grey’s Anatomy (curtsy, please) a.k.a. Katherine Heigl is playing the part of an alien, but the story is too long so just google it. Being in Roswell was surreal. Aliens are everywhere (real or not it is up to you to —believe), despite the actual UFO incident happened more than 50 miles away from the city. What was super weird is that, at my regular stop at Starbucks, where my restroom breaks are getting more and more expensive, something supernatural actually happened. A guy was sitting at a table and I swear to all the Gods he was my friend from Boston College, Mario. Everything looked like him. Even the shape of his lips which are particularly specific. The way he was dressed, the way he was working on his computer, the way he put his hat on. Every little detail, even the haircut. I secretly snapped a photo and sent it to both Matteo, the other friend from B.C, and to Mario of course. Matteo was shocked as much as I was. He said “you’re in Roswell, paranormal activity is normal”; Mario, typical for his Narcissus-like personality, said: “he’s hot, I want his number.” I had to laugh. Funny story to tell, but that was it. Nothing more. Except for all the movies in my head where I would actually approach him and tell him the whole story of Laura, Matteo and Mario. Whatevs. Roswell. Yes. I had fun looking around, but I was looking forward to getting to my beloved dunes.

White Sands Monument Park was a dream. Gypsum sand dunes are rare and this location is the widest in the whole world. I feel lucky. It is a very hot day so even the rangers suggested to not walk on the trails and just stay where vegetation is still visible, so I did. I found a spot on the top of a dune and I chilled for a couple of hours, enjoying the sand like a dog enjoys grass, rolling and sinking, getting all covered in white sand and sun bathing. A very nice way to spend the Fourth of July, and to honor my current Independence. Thankfully not so many people were around and only later, around sunset, we all gathered at a meeting spot to take the Sunset Stroll with the ranger who explained to us the history and the formation of the the White Sand Dunes. Fascinating. Too bad the military occupied part of the land to turn it into a missile range area to test weapons and other stuff I am not a fan of. But nature will take care of it eventually, I want to believe so. As for now, enjoy these photos and I wish you all could see it person one day, because it is so much worth it.

Arkansas and Oklahoma

Destination Unknown

Leaving Nashville, TN nature gifted me with a spectacular sunset so I decided to go for a quick run down the riverfront of Memphis, right at the border with Arkansas. The river, of course, it’s the Mississippi. A huge river I would say. So huge. I needed that short run, I felt better right after, so I could stay awake before reaching my “destination” for the night: Little Rock, the capital of the State.

I find a place to spend the night and everything works smoothly, except for a couple of bucks I wasted trying to make a car vacuum work in the remotest car wash of the city. It didn’t work. I wake up in the morning and the sun is already burning my skin at 6 AM: I like it, in part, but I always fear the car may overheat and leave me stranded. Reminiscences from the past, I suppose. My usual stopover at the closest Starbucks, but the plan of updating the blog went up in smoke because it was packed. Apparently one of the very few locations in downtown with a drive through… and the poor staff was going crazy. I take a walk on the riverfront and realized the only people awake at 7AM downtown are me and the homeless. I wanted to go to a Library and there were a few, but they opened at 9, or simply closed for the holiday. Bummer. Remembering it’s July 3rd and tomorrow is Independence Day, I add a stop at Whole Foods, buy way too much stuff for two days to make sandwiches, and I’m back on my to the West.

I’m a little bummed I won’t pass through Kansas, as I was a fan of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and that is where Dorothy was from, so I’ll pretend it was Arkansas instead, and I sing the songs while riding my good old car. No red shoes with me unfortunately, and of course “there is no place like home”, just need to figure out where it is. Endless roads in the middle of nowhere, my mind tossing off thoughts like there’s no tomorrow, and I stumble in fictitious conversations I imagine having with people I will either never meet again or not anytime soon, or simply pseudo-philosophical ideas taking place for no reason while trying to stay awake with SiennaMiller –the car, set on cruise.

I think about the fact that I forgot to mention that I saw where John Wayne was born, when I was still driving through Iowa, as well as where the Bridges of Madison County by R.J. Waller was set. Ah, Francesca. Well, now I said it. If you do not know what or whom I am referring to, sweet goodness, google both John Wayne and Waller, for your own sake. This said, my mind was just rambling today. I was thinking about freedom, probably inspired by the “land of the free and the home of the brave” quote in reference to “Happy Birthday America” heard on the radio, but also gender, nature, and … I don’t know. Really, just try to consider every time you’re lost in your thoughts and you find yourself thinking about the sun and the moon when you only started it all with just: “this is such a tasty beverage I just got at Starbucks”. Something like that. In addition to this, while listening to the radio, they always come up with discussions and talks with either hosts or simply reporting news, so all summed up here I am, talking to myself. We are not really free in this world, so no matter how I want to consider this whole “thing” my freedom experience through the U.S., at the end of the day, I am partly free, but not completely, and I must say, it bothers me a little. Ok more than a little. Ok fine, it bothers me a whole lot. Basically I hate it.

Freedom …of choice is what we have, and not even in full, considered the time being. Instead of evolving we’re going backwards, it’s infuriating. I don’t even know how I got to the point of remembering when I was in Massachusetts the first time, and I had this assignment about “Undoing Gender” for my psychoanalysis class. I really worked hard to prove it, I think I made my point back then, but as of right now, it is just impossible to undo the actual gender. Let me explain. English is a language (bullet that I used back then as well, by the way) that is not “gendered” and, in order to refer to something by emphasizing its “gender”, you need to add a word next to it to refer to the masculine or feminine aspect of that “thing” you are trying to explain. The articles and the adjectives do not allow you to understand if a thing is feminine or masculine. Romance languages (and others as well) instead do. So for every word we have its form: if it is masculine or feminine. We know. That’s why, most of the time, I like to play with the words in English and say, for instance: my car, she is my best friend. Because car, in Italian, is feminine. Not only that, but also city, in Italian is feminine, but in English I can put a gender to “it” and play with it. New York to me is a woman, just like Los Angeles, whilst Seattle and Washington are men. Why? I don’t know. Nature in Italian is automatically a woman. I mean, it’s a feminine noun, which eventually translated into Mother Nature to make it a female. Long story short, gender exists. In nature we have genders: we have female, male, sometimes hermaphrodites. The whole animal kingdom is like that. We are animals, so we were genetically born as either one, the other, and less often (but it happens) the third. To this I should also add what I learned at that time in Mount Holyoke, where I got to know about herms, ferms, and merms, making it up to a total of 5 intersexual groups. (Read this if you want to know more about Fausto-Sterling’s article)…but let’s stick to the point because I am getting off track. What I want to say is that, by nature, gender exists, you cannot undo it. If you’re born with a penis your body is the body of a male. What is not “by nature” is the identification of it with your persona. You can be born with a penis, your body is male, but your identity is not. You can still be a female at birth but your identity does not match with the way you look outside, or vice-versa, or anything in between those 5 levels I just mentioned above. BUT you MUST be free to IDENTIFY with whomever and whatever you want. Is this possible in 2019. Not completely. And this sickens me. Also, there was a research about a massive percentage of Americans who are not born “complete” or fully formed in one or the other gender, (again read it here) and they just get fixed right after birth following either a surgeon or a parent’s discretion, causing what will eventually become a real discomfort to the baby while growing up, as she or he is not feeling him or herself in the body that was “fixed” for them; he or she may have psychological problems, and many even commit suicide. This to be added to the fact we are not free. Period.

What is freedom then? I don’t know how I ended up talking about all this, but hopefully you got the point about being free in a society where freedom is not an actual choice, or not in its whole. With these thoughts I drove through Oklahoma and my irascibility grew stronger. I found myself in the middle of nowhere, driving around stooopid people. Where are you all even going on July 3rd? Shouldn’t you all be home getting those stooopid fireworks ready and getting your stooopid BBQs on fire? See? Anger. Anyway, despite the bad mood I stopped in Oklahoma City because the weather was starting to be inclement. A huge storm was coming and I needed to update the blog because I did not do it in the morning. I find another Starbucks downtown and take a rest while writing. Once the sky cleared up a little, I felt like doing something productive in OKC so I look for a riverfront area and I find it: I need to walk. A walk which turned into a run, which turned into a longer walk with no one around me for so long that I had the chance to sing out loud all the songs I had on shuffle on my phone and in my ears. I think only the geese and the crows heard me. Hopefully. I just gave a little show to nature walking back to the car, all sweaty but relieved. Anger was almost all gone. And I think Oklahoma wanted to thank me for stopping by offering a sunset, behind the storm clouds, that I cannot express with words and the photos are simply incapable of showing the truth. With cars and trucks speeding around me, on my left and on my right, I took my time on the highway heading towards Texas enjoying every little second of that big red sun setting, the strong winds and the rain that came right after, with the sky lighten up every other second, and the flash flood warnings buzzing on my phone.

Nashville, TN

Destination Unknown

July 2, 2019

Who knew I would love Nashville so much? Yeah, me neither. I reached the city on July 1st but I needed a rest. My whole body (and soul as well) was aching so I spent the night at an AirBnB, because I am dead tired of filthy and creepy motels. I didn’t even meet the hosts, which is fine with me. I slept in a very comfortable room and the following morning I was ready to visit the city. A.m.a.z.i.n.g. Yes.

Being on the road for so long, relying only on myself and my reactions to things, I am also noticing how my mood changes, and how I wake up in the morning ready (or not) to face both life in general, and people most of all. It could easily be related to the menstrual cycle, as this week I can barely stand myself, not to mention strangers and annoying people who, for whatever reason, never cease to exist. Every little thing could be a spark to set me on fire, I’m irritable and I could kill. Not literally, but it’s better to not step on my foot. This said…

The first scene appearing in front of me downtown Nashville is a horde of individuals of any age, already walking up and down the streets at not even 10AM on a Tuesday morning, carrying musical instruments. Ding. Let’s go see this “Broadway” everyone is telling me about then, instead of wasting time looking for spots where I can capture a good shot of the skyline or so. Oh well. As soon as I see the Honky Tonk in the distance, I start hearing music on the background, as if there was a concert nearby. Getting closer the music gets louder, I can definitely tell that what I am hearing is live music, not something coming out of huge speakers. Welcome to Broadway, Nashville. For those who don’t know, just like me before I got told, a “honky tonk is an establishment that contains at least one rocking stage, cold beverages, and a party that lasts all day, everyday.” Yes, every single day. The streets are packed mostly every day, you can listen to music for free, taking a stroll or drinking at a bar, and usually the people playing are those waiting to see their dream come true. Plus, being the week of Independence Day, they’re assembling a stage right at the center of the street blocking the intersections with the major roads, so I guess there will be some sort of massive party going on either tomorrow or the day after. Too bad I’m going to miss this. No, not really. I can’t “people”, not all these people, all by myself. Not these days.

<<Once upon a time there was a little Italian girl who dreamed to be a rockstar. She used to sing and dance, mimicking Jem and the Holograms and listening to the bands his brother was listening to. Madonna, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey but then Dire Straits, Police and Phil Collins were always playing in her dad’s car. She was one of the very few who had the Cicciobello Rock, a doll with a microphone who could sing and dance (see photo) just like her. She will never be a star and she will never again sing on stages, in front of people, covering pop songs with her friends as a teenager. Then one day she found herself in Nashville, Tennesse, when she was not a girl anymore, and her dreams changed with the time and the places she lived in. Crossing path with all these other people in the music city, she felt their vibes and smiled at them. It was nice to realize there is still someone out there who dares to dream, and they dream big. So she shed tears and wished no one could see. Then, she kept walking.>>

After having absorbed all I could from those vibes pervading the air, took a few shots of the skyline, smiled and sung in silence, recognized a few songs and going all the way down memory lane with Kid Rock and the day I met and hugged him at the U.S.O Christmas event in Aviano, I walked all the way to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, and took my time there, honoring those who made of music their purpose in life. It was sad seeing nobody cared that much. The museum was almost empty, but I was glad I could enjoy it with very few humans around. Nonetheless, obnoxious little girls monopolized the recording booth where you could record yourself singing songs like a rockstar, and the little girl in me snapped, while the adult smiled at them, and she was glad they could have some good memories. (Mofos!) What is certain is that they will never have a career as singers unless they take singing classes. DearLord they were so out of tune. My ears were bleeding, at every “you’re gonna seeee meee roooaarrr oh oh oh oh”. Poor Katy Perry. To frame and conclude my stay in the Music City, I look for a good plant based place to have lunch. I am taking myself to lunch at a restaurant today. I find Vege-licious and at first I think I am going to regret it because why spending money when I could get something at Whole Foods or so? Instead, the place is a cozy little home-based spot, rural and sweet, where the atmosphere is serene and food is really good. The cheesecake too, which was the perfect way to satisfy my sweet tooth after a whole plate of “soul food” I got as main course. If you’re in Nashville, go check it out before they expand. And even after.

Anyway, time for me to move on to the next stop, which I still don’t know what will be. I’m heading west, that’s for sure. If it took me more than three weeks to get here, I am counting it would take me at least the same amount of time to find myself back in California. I guess the final destination, at this point, is Los Angeles, CA. What we don’t know, is my next destination, and the following, and the next one, until the car allows me, and until I’ll be in the City of Angels, once again.

As far as I am concerned, it could take longer, and I am always open to possibilities. I am still on the road, and I am still may destinations to reach which are still not revealed because I’ll picked them every morning by just looking at a map I bought in April. Let’s see where I will be tomorrow, and let’s keep moving from there. Meanwhile, if you’ll ever get the chance, visit the music city because it is soooo much worth it. I did believe too that it was only country music and a bunch of rednecks. It’s not. It’s a cradle of bands, musicians of any kind, trying to find their way to success, and that’s fascinating. Keep dreaming y’all. Because, quoting the Blind Melon, “when you feel your life ain’t worth living, you’ve got to stand up and take a look around, and you look way up to the sky. Yeah, and when your deepest thoughts are broken, keep on dreaming boy, ’cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.”

Delaware, Washington D.C., Virginia

Destination Unknown

June 30, 2019

Apparently, when dealing with me, people easily make mistakes or forget to do things and I have to be the one paying for it. Interesting. I wonder how this happens but I do not want to jump to conclusions and say that I always interface with incompetence as, most of the times, the very same people were nice and accommodating, so it must be me. I create chaos, and the storm last night should have reminded me of that.

Briefly, my pitstop at another Pep Boys in Delaware turned out to be a correction of what someone else has previously done. It could be people in Omaha, NE where they thought I was crazy because they could hear no weird noise, or it could have been back in Colorado Springs, CO. Whatever it was, in here they heard it, they fixed it, and apart for those other few issues we already know about I am good to go back on the road. Most importantly, Steve managed to make me pay zero dollars as, his words “if they didn’t do anything wrong before, she wouldn’t be here to fix it so… you’re good to go”. Thank you! Thank you! Thanks so much.

On my way to the Old Wide West I start to see colors that are dear to me, finally. Golden fields alternate to green flat lands and Maryland offers some cute spectacles around me, while crossing bridges approaching Washington D.C. I already know I am not going to spend the night in the District Capital of the U.S. of A. because, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like it, I just need to figure out where to go to next, as –like it says, my destination is unknown. I just take a quick stroll downtown, I see the White House, the ridiculous amount of security all around it which makes me think “is it just me, or this is insane? Like, for real, stop this madness and send these people home. Standing under a toasting sun in June, for what? For whom? Go home.” I am impressed at the beauty of the architecture in Washington. White buildings replicating the ancient Greek and Roman styles make it look fancy and majestic. You can tell that this kind of buildings show some importance, but I guess it is just a reflection of what these creations can inspire in people watching from below. Quick visit at the Pentagon, just out of curiosity, and of course pictures do not show the typical shape of the building, but what I can say is that it is not a majestic as, for whatever reason, I thought it could be. So off to the West, and I find myself driving through Virginia.

Once again, the landscape helps not falling asleep as it did before instead. More green, more of a mountain like environment, National Forests, losing network coverage, and I decide to spend the night in Roanoke, VA as I could see a massive star from the highway which made me think it was time to rest, until tomorrow. I find out that Roanoke is called the lost colony, because in 1590, at his return to America after fighting for the queen of England, Mr. White found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants, his whole family and friends were all gone. Investigations of the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke have continued for centuries but there is still no answer, only assumptions up to today. Curious story. I wonder why, out of all the other towns I could go to, I felt drawn to this. Mystery. Once again I don’t stay long. The time for a quick coffee at Starbucks, a few lines written down and off I go again. I don’t feel like socializing lately and even the stupidest encounter is annoying.

I have to say though that this last drive has offered some breathtaking moments. The sunset was like one of those you do not see very often, with the sun hiding behind the clouds but still spreading out its colors. In addition to this, fireflies. Just like the night before at Ida’s house I could see the lightning bugs after what seems like forever, this time I could see them lighting the path for me on both sides of the highway, filling up the hills surrounding me and the other travelers. Nature is beautiful, no doubts about it. I’m just so terribly sorry for all the bugs, moths, butterfly that committed suicide hitting the front of my car, and for those animals resting in peace on the side of the road, and it enrages me to think people simply could not hit the breaks harder to avoid killing them. Hopefully it does not happen to me anytime soon. Let them live.

Philadelphia, PA and New Jersey

Destination Unknown

June 29, 2019

I have to tell the truth, today I thought: f*ck the East Coast let’s go back West. A spiraling shitload (pardon my French but it clearly represents the mood) of negativity started surrounding me, and all I can think of is “if only I were back in California”. Yeah, no bueno. Not if you’re literally on the other coast, the other side of a continent, the beginning of the end.

I tried to get in contact with the people I know in Boston, New York and that part of America I already visited. Not it town, busy, busy, not it town, no answer, no answer… Wow. I guess I either picked the wrong time or I may only have to reconsider a few things. Probably the latter. After leaving Niagara Falls, at this point, all I could think of was heading back West. I knew Montreal in Québec was almost a stone thrown from where I was, considering the miles I’ve been driving so far, and my bud Jason would be in town, but going all the way up means I have to necessarily go all the way down later, passing through areas like Boston and NY where apparently there is no one there to greet me. I’ve gone through that road before, I actually road tripped with my mother and my aunt back in 2011 all the way from Mount Holyoke College to Montreal, Boston, and NY so the voice in my head spoke: hell to that, start heading down South so you can eventually turn right and go West. So I did, and I found myself driving for hours and hours before reaching Philadelphia, PA.

There was just one more problem: it’s the week of the Fourth of July and Philadelphia has the whole city engaged and dedicated to this event, but I would find this out only later in the afternoon, after questioning if it is my bad luck or who knows what that gets me into these stupid situations. Since Colorado Springs, my car has been making a weird noise, as you should know considering I spent most of the time at that Auto Station in Omaha, NE where they could not fix the problem. Thinking of what it could be, all things considered, I managed to figure it could be a breaks’ issue so I call Pep Boys to find their closest location in Pennsylvania. I got turned down by at least three locations in the city, where I could always book an appointment on line but when getting there, they would simply not checking me in because they were fully booked. System down or not, that was it. I was done. I was cursing everyone and everything, and probably karma was also making me pay for it, so I stopped. I called my grandma’s cousin in Pennsville, NJ and she told me to stop by their house. I book an appointment for the following morning at a Pep Boys near them, and I called it quits with Philadelphia. Before leaving I think of doing a quick tour while sitting in the car, a sort of individual sightseeing. Yeah? Yeah, no. It was impossible to drive through the city streets. Usually on weekends LA is deserted, or almost. Philly was as packed as a regular day of the week if not more, because I started noticing people were not dressed like as if they were going to work, they were all… tourists. Or being tourists for this Independence Day week festival. This “Celebration of Freedom” was depriving me of my own liberty. Humans waiting in line everywhere, sold out tickets for even the stupidest attraction, when the light was green you still had to wait for floods of individuals crossing, and by the time they were almost all gone the light would turn red again and… oh, the weather: 100 degrees F, it was driving me crazy. I had to think about a way out super fast.

After seeing the main attractions from the outside, taking a few pictures and loading up with anger, disgust, and frustration, I am on my way to Jersey. I think, “Philadelphia you are actually pretty, with all the buildings and these little corners reminding me of Boston, but I chose the wrong time” plus something in me was saying “you’ll get back here soon, now just leave” so I left. And it was the right thing to do. As soon as I parked my car on my cousin Ida’s driveway, a massive storm hit us and the apocalypse was all around us. Ida lives on the shore of the Delaware river, on the Jersey side. Water from the waves, the rain, the wind blowing in circles, and boom: a blackout. A pole fell and that was it. We were left without electricity for the whole night. I thought: wow. I brought a power outage to New Jersey. I bring catastrophes to the places I go to, as my business card. Despite the weather, I had a good quality time with family and I was thankful for that. Ida’s house is exactly how I picture myself living in the future, utopian thinking, with a music room, covered in windows, facing the ocean, where you can enjoy sunrise or sunset, with the sound of the waves cuddling your ears (and your soul) 24/7. She told me stories about her travels, we talked about my grandma, and cooked “pasta e fagioli” from the typical Italian tradition, all framed by a sweet watermelon slice we had while enjoying sunset and fireworks facing Delaware with fireflies all around us. It’s been forever since I’ve seen fireflies. Wow. Just wow. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.