The Road Trip and Meeting the Music City

In the time leading up to my drive from Plano to Nashville, my dad and I overhauled my lovely car. It’s a 1996 Toyota Avalon and is the car that I’ve been driving since I turned 16. It’s had its fair share of issues over the years, but a few years back we paid a lot of money to get a new engine put into it and since then it’s been a monster.

My dad and I rotated the tires, put on new brake pads and brake rotors (which miraculously fixed the unnerving shimmy that the car has always had when braking!), and covered my deteriorating leather seats with some seat covers that don’t quite clash enough with the rest of the interior to be considered tacky.

We then scoured the nine hells for an adapter that will turn my cigarette lighter into two cigarette lighters. The plan was to charge both my phone and my mp3 player at the same time and be able to broadcast one of them through an FM transmitter so that I could listen to musics. It didn’t work as planned, however, due to my mp3 player being a relatively senile piece of technology. His battery is all but gone which means that his screen is all but gone, meaning that trying to play music is a really interesting/frustrating experience that doesn’t really work at all.

So, the drive.

I awoke at 5:50 am on Tuesday morning, showered and shaved, and ate some breakfast. I had all of my stuff together and bid my parents goodbye as I set my complicated tangle of in-car technology into motion. I set the GPS on my phone and took off into the sunrise.

I listened to UNT’s 88.1 (a radio station that plays excellent jazz, punctuated with awkward DJs-in-training) until the signal went out, and when it did, it did so in an almost apocalyptic fashion. I caught glimpses of an old jazz recording mixed with a signal of some guy who called in to a station to talk about how Perry and Obama are different and yet the same. Eventually a third signal broke in with a shredding guitar and I quickly switched off of 88.1, fearing I’d trigger an earthquake.

With my mp3 player out of commission, my partner on the drive became an audiobook that I downloaded the night before. It’s Horns by Joe Hill, who changed his name so that you wouldn’t know (and thus judge him) on who his father is, but I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s Stephen King. And while some things are certainly similar (King’s stories mostly take place in Maine whereas Horns is in New Hampshire. Hardly a radical change), a lot of things are different. Due partly to the wonderful narrator, I quickly fell under the story’s spell and listened to about 4 hours of the audiobook on my drive.

It got to the point near the end of my trip that I was talking aloud to the main character. I felt like an old woman speaking to the soap operas on her television as I drove along stretching my back, laughing as old Iggy does something dumb. Silly Ig!

Though the drive was long and slightly painful, that audiobook made it go by much quicker and in a way I can’t wait for the drive back so I can fall further into the story. Yeah, I know, I’m an English major dork, but I haven’t much had an opportunity to really fall into an audiobook before in the way that I can fall into reading books, so it was an interesting experience. I made a point to pick a novel that I knew wouldn’t be overly complicated in sentence structure and have plenty of action, thus making it easier to follow along with.

I made a stop just past Texarkana and filled up on gas, then made it to Little Rock before I stopped for lunch. My car was getting an alarmingly high amount of miles per gallon, especially considering its age (fifteen years! It can almost see an R-rated movie!), and near the end I actually calculated it. It got an average of 29.58 miles per gallon. Not bad at all.

I listened to a few albums, talked on the phone with my parents and the ex, and drove along marveling at how parts of the country still see rain and have green plants. Kudos to my phone, which at one point was charging, tracking my movements with its GPS while verbally telling me where to go, attached to my headset via Bluetooth, and playing the audiobook through the transmitter to my car stereo. Technology these days!

Arkansas was scenic and largely devoid of major cities, and Memphis was far cooler-looking than I’d expected. It was relatively overcast during my drive and seemed to gravitate right around 90 degrees. For a day that officially marked this summer as the hottest ever in Texas’s recorded history, 90 degrees sounded, and felt, great.

I got to Nashville after missing an exit and pulled up to Brit’s aunt’s house at around 6 pm. She had graciously saved some of their meal for me for dinner and I ate while Brit and I talked about things. We then watched a movie, Cypher, which was quite good despite some very peculiar missing plot points (such as what are these spy organizations doing? I felt as if they purposefully left that information out so as to make it more funny and weird, in a way like something the Coen brothers would do, but in the end I wasn’t so sure about that).

Then Brit took me to a bar called 5Spot which had live music and cheap local draft beer. We drank a few and marveled at how there was really no place to sit, and after a bumping-into and some comments about both the beer on tap and the British guy that was trying to bum a light and looked alarmingly like Edward Cullen, we had struck up a conversation with a trio of girls roughly our age.

They had a friend show up and we talked about all sorts of things, our “We’re from Texas” story making for a good conversation starter. It was even more effective to tell how I’d spent ten hours driving that very afternoon. We eventually went to a different bar, 3 Crow Bar, and from there went our separate ways. I slept very well that night.

We woke up today and hung around the house until about noon, when we went downtown and walked along Broadway, where the tourists hang. Some of it felt much like Fort Worth with the whole embracing the cowboy thing, but there was also (obviously) a lot of country music stuff mixed in. We ate lunch at the brewhouse the girls from the previous night worked at and quite enjoyed our food.

Then we drove over to Grimey’s, a really cool record store. It felt like a mix between Good Records and Waterloo but in a much smaller space, meaning it was one of those local places where there is merchandise literally everywhere you look (I’m looking at you, Recycled). We perused the aisles for a bit before briefly stepping into Fork’s Drum Closet. Fork’s is a 5-star drum shop (the highest rating, meaning that it’s wall-to-wall drum stuff and a very exciting place) that was always advertised in the back of Modern Drummer when I had a subscription. Until this morning I’d forgotten it was in Nashville, and rediscovering this was very exciting. I walked around in a dream for a bit until realizing we had very little time to drive down to Smyrna, where my interview was.

We rushed down there (safely) and, thanks to Brit’s mad driving skillz, we still somehow made it 8 minutes early. I’d gotten changed in the car, which is always a very fun thing to do, and went in for the interview for an administrative assistant/HR position with a direct marketing (sales) company specializing in selling AT&T Uverse to people.

Their office was very nondescript, one wall painted a bright purple. A wall mirror leaned against the wall with seemingly no intention to ever hang on it. A TV was on, showing Ellen talking with that guy who isn’t the kid and isn’t Charlie Sheen from Two and a Half Men. A piece of paper on the wall informed me that the HR lady was gone for the day and that I should take a seat, because Lauren would soon be with me.

After a bit of a wait, I went into her similarly nondescript and purple-walled office, where we talked. Things went well and I gave good answers, and then we said bye and I left with the knowledge that I’d find out my fate on that particular position by the end of the day next Monday.

Back with Brit, we drove to Antioch with the intention to buy a new charger for his ailing netbook, but no luck was to be found. We then hit up a Trader Joe’s in Green Hills (a rich area) and got the ingredients to make baked ziti with vodka sauce and spicy italian sausage. After taking a few wrong exits and cursing the world, we found our way back to the house and watched an assortment of music videos while eating our delicious dinner.

Tomorrow morning is the interview I’m quite excited for, and I’m confident it will go well. Nashville is a cool city and has similar vibes to Denton in that I feel like, without asking or overhearing as much, everyone in this city is a musician or great appreciator of music. It gives a city a certain artistic feel, and since Nashville’s moniker is the Music City and it’s on its way to moving away from its close ties with country music, that feel makes a lot of sense.

Stay tuned.

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~ by Jon C. Forisha on September 14, 2011.

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