"I'm spinning round the room in awe" ryan adams

Monday, April 04, 2005

Roadtrip to Virginia and Jay loves Chicago

“Don’t bother to pack your bags, or your map.
You won’t need them where we’re going.
We’re going where the wind is blowing,
Not knowing where we’re going to stay.” – weezer

Exactly. I’m back in my own room, oddly enough in the same state that I was not too many days ago. Not geographical state, though that is still that same, but mental state. I have blankets and pillows on the floor; my bag still packed; my flip flops tossed haphazardly; and stickers, cds, and postcards from the weekend on my unmade bed. Weekends like this make me dread Mondays when my real, new world, happens when the sun rises. Weekends like this make me adore my friends and reaffirm that I love music and being on the road and traveling. Weekends like this is what life is all about.

I haven’t laughed as hard I have this weekend in a really long time. We laughed so hard that it hurt and we laughed so hard that we cried. We laughed so hard that people stared, but we didn’t care.

Through a course of events, last minute it was decided that Judy, Angela, Anna, Nate, Jay, Dave, and I would hop into a van and drive over 400 miles to a show: visiting six states (NY, NJ, DE, MD, WV, VA), singing many songs (Gavin DeGraw, Honestly, Better Than Ezra, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Lloyd Dobler Effect, The Killers, Chicago, Weezer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Will Smith, Gin Blossoms, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Omnisoul, Maroon 5), and not using mapquest at all.

I set my alarm earlier for when I normally have to wake up for work, and only hit the snooze once, as opposed to five times – road trips and fun make me leap out bed, weekdays do not! The girls picked me up around 9 in our gold ghetto fabulous van and we went on our merry way to Newark, with a caffeine stop en route. It’s April so it should be nice out, but it was pouring rain. I refused to submit myself to the dreary weather, so I wore flip flops (once they are busted out, they don’t leave till the fall) and sunglasses. We made good time despite the torrential rain, passing several accidents, and only one bathroom break. We talked nonstop about the upcoming fun to be had and catching up on the past week. We also decided that if we get pulled over for speeding, we could tell the fuzz that we were an all girl acapella group because we sing so well with the stereo.

In Newark, we stopped by the record store and stocked up on music. I bought the new Better Than Ezra Greatest Hits CD and Amos Lee’s label debut. He’s a Philly boy who has been getting great press lately. Check him out. Even though he does like to fuck with me outside of the Tin Angel, he is still an incredible musician. Rob didn’t recognize me when I walked in – I didn’t give them any warning. It was so wonderful to spend some time in the record store. I still walk behind the counter and root through everything – though I didn’t pick up my mail. It’s ok, just another reason to go back. I told them NYC stories and they brought me up to date on the store. Nate and Jay met up with us and we strolled to the 5 & 10 to pick up sheet protectors and play in the toy aisle. We jammed ourselves in our ghetto fabulous van and headed south to Frederick, MD to pick up Dave.

Jay (that’s two mentions! Jay officially stated that he wanted to make the title of my blog and a lot of mentions because my blog is world famous) read my Jane magazine on I95 because he wanted to check out the 35 ways women could be better in bed and how Brittany Murphy broke her nose three times. Before we reached Dave’s we stopped at an Arby’s. While sitting down and enjoying roast beef sandwiches and fries (just a chocolate shake for me), Jay enlightened us with his reasoning on the chain’s name. Roast Beef -> R-B -> aRBy’s. It makes perfect sense and we didn’t think of that! Nate just assumed Mr. Rockefeller Arby had founded the chain. We plastered the van with signs then picked up Dave and hit up the Wawa. Oh my Wawa, how I love and miss thee!! I got my usual for lunch (or dinner…or late night dinner, depending on the time): Wawa iced tea, 20 oz dark roast coffee with vanilla creamer and three blue sugars, and a cheese & vegetable shortie sandwich. Fabulous, onwards to VA!

Of course we gabbed nonstop while eating and trucking down the road. We decided that 7 passenger vans were meant mostly for kids, and not 7 adults – it was a tight squeeze! In Arby’s we joked about ice breakers at summer camps, so I said that we should all say fun facts about each other. We couldn’t think of any then, but they would come later. We passed a Swift truck lot and I had to call Aurora to tell her our discovery. Aw! Swift trucks! A whole breeding ground of them on the way to an LDE show and LDE is the reason for the whole Swift truck phenomenon (Feb 15, 2003). The scenery was oddly scenic though desolate. Most of the time we pondered what the locals did for fun. Apparently they don’t eat since there are no food stops on the highway we were on. They also don’t refuel or pee. Speaking of the highway, Dave brought a map. Like a paper map! That you unfold! Who uses maps?!?! I am a fan of randmcnalley.com as opposed to mapquest, but I have never gone anywhere where I actually chose my route via a paper map! I mean sure, I pick them up at rest stops to shove in my glove compartment in case of an emergency, and I probably have a map of every state east of the Mississippi, but I have never unfolded them.

I think we were on route 81 South. We busted out the old LDE gem, “Ecstasy Sold Here”, which was released in 2001. Words can’t even describe this album. Words can’t even describe the cover and inside art. For pete’s sake, Phil is wearing leather and snakeskin pants in the pictures. None of us from the old school LDE crowd really listened to the cd – we have critiqued it, but never really listened to it for fun. Of course we had to listen to it from start to finish and its amazing the progression. A totally different band. I equated it to growing up, ESH is like their pre-pubescent period, their fun carefree time while trying to be who they wanted to be. Late 2002 to early 2004 was their puberty, where they are growing into their positions and developing themselves. And now mid to late 2004 to now they are almost adult like and in the next few months they will emerge into a beautiful butterfly. HA! We all nearly died during “Coconut Telegraph”, “Rabies”, and “I’m Back”. The whole CD is classic. After that we put in The Killers. We got into a discussion about where The Killers were from – so we figured since it was after 2pm, it was safe to call the band. Apparently the rest of the band feels neglected since Phil and Chris usually field our calls, so I called Johnny since he always picks up when I call. Of course it can’t be a serious conversation. He puts me on speaker, though I can’t hear what the background chatter was. We asked the band if they knew if The Killers were domestic…or if they were from abroad. Did they have their green card? Are they immigrants? Did they come to Ellis Island? Are they on a working visa? Are they illegal immigrants? Inquiring minds need to know! In the meantime, Rusty calls me (yes, he is in the same van as the band), so I switch over and he says that The Killers were called Carbondale before. NOOOOOO!! The Killers do not have a KEYTAR! Keytars should not exist. Nate starts playing air keytar and Jay discovers that The Killers are from Las Vegas via his internet cell phone. So much for LDE’s musical knowledge!

Judy, Angela, and Anna contributed baked goods to the road trip. As the cookie container was passed from front to back, Jay was denied the cookie container as it passed over him. It was really funny at the time and was jotted down in my notebook, so I had to add it to the blog. It was time for another bathroom and caffeine break, so we found a Sheetz. Of course Wawa is better, but Sheetz is doable in a crunch. This Sheetz also had a gift store, full of wonderful crappy southern trinkets. The guys played some sort of casino game and I bought two stickers and a silver chain to adorn our rearview mirror of our ghetto fabulous gold van. The stickers said “CS” on them, which is what we call Center Stage for short, so it was perfect. Later, while looking at the sticker, I realized that CS to them meant “confederate states”. The silver chain said “bling bling” on it and had a huge crown charm on it – perfect to ride in style through WV and into VA!

We stopped at a scenic overpass in VA and gazed at the mountains. Not too long ago, half of us were in Vermont looking at a different set of mountains. We braved the cold and wind, took a few pictures, and then piled back into the van towards Amherst. We put in some Chicago and Jay now hates Chicago, it was before his time (barely even my time haha) – so we were impelled to sing with Peter Cetera very loudly and off key. Almost to our destination, Rusty called offering the band hotel rooms to us – rock on! LDE was getting ready to soundcheck, so we decided to kill time by going to the Food Lion for beer. Oh, I also have to point out that Jay found the Amherst Inn since we had no idea where it was (the fold out map that he had doesn’t point out hotels). It was in my notebook, so I had to write it. If it wasn’t for Jay’s keen observation, we may have been riding around dark VA roads. I check in as the band, make nice with the innkeeper, and rooms 107 and 108 were ours. The boys took the smoking room because it smelled and the girls got the nonsmoking room. We unloaded our crap, sat for a few minutes, then hit the road to find dinner. We heard that there was an Applebee’s, so we tried to find it since they had real food, a bar, and TVs so we could watch the basketball games. No such luck. We all gasped when we saw what looked like city lights, but just ended up being a string of grocery stores, dollar generals, and fast food places. I gave up and called 411. Nate dealt with the directions, but we just gave up and went to T-Bell. Nate and Jay both got $10 meals to last them for the night and the morning. So gross! We got our grub and headed back to the room to eat, watch basketball, and drink before the show. We tried to hurry so we could socialize before the show. Funny, I had my phone in my bag and couldn’t hear it, but when I looked at it I had a ton of missed calls – all from almost every member of LDE…too funny. I had talked to Rusty before heading out and told him that we would bring them beverages. Of course I think ahead and had bought clear booze so that it would easily be disguised as water. Bags packed, on our way to Sweet Briar!

At work I printed out a campus map because far too many times I have wandered around a campus in search for their student centers building. We didn’t need it, we just told the nice security guard that we were with the band (I was on the phone with them just in case we couldn’t get in) and he even pointed us to the right direction. We parked behind the LDE van and busted into Sweet Briar’s Spring Fling. Funny, I almost went to this school, I wonder if I would have liked it. As soon as we walked in, Jay spotted to bar – so we all went there to escape the students since we so didn’t feel like we belonged. Here is Jay’s paragraph that he wrote in my notebook – so again, since it is in my notebook, it must be blogged:

“Jay has an unbelievable knack for observing his surroundings. He spotted the Inn when we first arrived, and then he became the greatest human being to walk the earth. Standing at the stage, he discovered a minibar across the room. He amazes me, and we should all bow down to his excellence.” Um, sure Jay!

Anyways – we went to the minibar, where we were joined by Johnny – who was informed that he couldn’t drink. That is ok, that is why I brought them water – I have to look out for the band! Haha. Doug also tried to come in and talk to us, but he got carded and he didn’t have his ID on him, so they wouldn’t let him though. Funny thing is that he wasn’t going to drink, he just wanted to talk, but also because he is so not close to 21. Oh well. Johnny also took my notebook and wrote stuff in it. Johnny has the coolest guy handwriting ever. I told him if that I wrote like him, I would write all the time. It was like a yearbook entry and he wrote the words love and sweet a lot. Yay for Johnny. Doug and Phil joined us and needed to be hydrated - with the magic water. Phil promised a special surprise if they played a birthday show for me. Does Phil not recall that we met on my birthday and since then I have seen them either on my birthday or within days of? He better watch out, this year I could very well get them into say, Irving Plaza, and he will have to keep true to his birthday promise. I’ll give you a hint - it has to do with an LDE song.

We kept towards the back for the show and apparently caused too much trouble. The sound was good and loud and the stage was deep. Phil climbed on the speaker screen things – I blame the magic water. The bars were shaking, luckily a catastrophe was avoided! Chaos also had in the audience – the college let loose a bunch of small inflated beach balls. We tossed them to each other in good fun and on stage – no one was going to lose an eye. One of the staff girls came over and yelled at Dave for throwing them – and he wasn’t even doing anything! Nate mocked her (not in front of her, none of us were that gutsy), “see this shirt!?!? It says ‘STAFF’! STAFF equals NO FUN!!” It was great. Then she went over to Jay, who was just holding a beach ball and yelled at him for throwing them. He wasn’t though! She told him that they hurt…it’s an inflatable beach ball!! No one is going to lose an eye. So while she was yelling at people, she got pelted from someone else. Oh come on, what did they expect!? Around this time, Phil also invited people up on stage to dance with band. Have I used the word “chaos” yet? Nate jumped up on stage to be Donnie’s girl and did a great “Break Dancin’ Mike” impression (from the Logan House two weekends ago). We were laughing our asses off, it was wonderful. There was near debauchery on stage! On the phone on Sunday Johnny had asked me my thoughts on the new part of the LDE show where they invite people on stage. I told Johnny that I don’t think that’s a good addition for their repertoire. Maybe a few college gigs, depending on the circumstances, and dive bars, not anything to be considered a “new part of the LDE show”!! Just my thoughts, but what do I know. Let’s see…what was played. I had my handy dandy tour notebook with me, but I left it in my bag and didn’t write down the setlist. Song selection included, but was not limited to: A Million Ways, Stranger, In the Water, Highway, Sabrosa, Victim, The Story, Until I’m With You, Land Down Under, Regulate, Two Step, and lastly London – in which the NYC/DE got a shout out for. Still after the over a year and the addition of the new songs, that’s still my favorite LDE song. And judging from the crowd reaction – the audience agrees J. I’m liking Victim, but I’m still evaluating it. The new songs, of any band, I usually find myself watching the rhythm section and the placement of the band, as well as crowd reaction. I’m too much of an observer and way too analytical. Funny, whenever I listen to CDs of bands I know, I can mentally see what each of them are doing at any given moment. Johnny is getting a LOT stronger on stage, playing and presence. We need to see that kid on a wireless bass (a la Dan Lyons style). We sang and danced and had a good old time on the carpet. We were our silly selves because it wasn’t a venue venue, we didn’t know anyone, and it was at a college – so we sung and danced away. We weren’t drunk, just having a good time haha. People stared and we laughed, all in good fun. One of the highlights of the show came as a comment from Jay: “have I told you that they are like my favorite band yet?!” So great. It was a surprisingly fantastic show, they played longer than I anticipated, and regardless whether it is the crappy Logan House, a fair attended college show, or a national venue – LDE still gives it 110% on stage.

After the show we played dodgeball with the beach balls, take that staff girl! I can vouch for the guys, they pelted me with the balls and they didn’t hurt and I didn’t lose an eye. Phil also surprised me with an LDE signed poster – oh how nice. Haha – now I need to find a place to put it since it survived the 11 hour van ride back to NJ. I was also introduced to another Miranda in the crowd Donnie and Johnny joined us on the ground as we talked about getting up and leaving but were too tired to actually do so. Almost 2 am, we called it a night and headed back to the hotel for our own little after party.

The fridge stocked and us in our pajamas, we stayed up till about 4:30 am drinking and talking. Anna turned off the TV because it wasn’t an instrumental tool in our bonding experience. We did a power minute when the clocks changed. Jay, Nate, and I consumed 40’s of Miller High Life. I have never had a forty before, and I wasn’t able to finish it. I am so not thug L. We played basketball with our stolen inflatable balls and Jay and I realized that we don’t have any game. We exchanged fun facts. Nate has 4.5 tattoos. I don’t have my ears pierced. Angela had her ears pierced when she was six months old so that they could tell she was female. 57% of our group wear contacts then switched to glasses at 3 am. We called it a night around 4:30 since we had to be on the road at 11 am. Just as I was falling asleep, Phil calls. I don’t even remember what was said, the next thing I know, the alarm was going off.

The four of the girls took our showers, packed, and got dressed all before the guys barely woke up. Onwards to breakfast! We drove almost an hour before we found anything that could be considered food. Sooo hungry. It was pretty quiet in the van since we were all sleepy, so then I burst into a fit on why don’t these people eat and where do they go to eat?! Nate explained to me that they grow all of their sustenance in their backyards. The van decided that if all else, we’ll just knock on a farm door and hopefully they will feed us. We found a restaurant near U of VA and it was the best damn breakfast ever. So fabulous that it is deserving of its own paragraph.

Never mind that it was lunchtime for normal people, it was time for breakfast. Toast, homefries, omelettes, waffles, eggs, sausage, bacon, water, coffee, milk, orange juice, tea – GAME ON! Our waitress had to use two slips to write up our order. During breakfast we recounted our last 24 hours and laughed so hard. It was at the breakfast table that we cried. “No more laughing, it hurts!!” What a wonderful group of people. I think we all got along so well because we all have a bit in common, but we are all so different and have different senses of humor, so we complement each other well. Nate I have known the longest, from high school; Jay and Dave from STN (Sigma Tau Nu) – the TV station; and the girls I met last month through LDE. I haven’t laughed so hard in such a long time and it felt so good. I can’t even remember what all was so funny, just that our sides hurt from laughing and tears were streaming down our cheeks. We were sooooo loud from telling stories and laughing that we were sure that we were going to get kicked out. Instead we gave our waitress a very nice tip. See, us Yankees aren’t that bad after all!

Back on track on the road, we had another fun fact session – this time all skiing or snowboarding related. We decided to take the scenic route home and drove about 40 miles an hour listening to country music through the mountains. I thought my ears were going to explode. The views were fantastic. It felt as though we were on top of the world, and for the weekend – I really felt that I was. We even saw leaping deer! Well, it was leaping to get out of the way of a car, but still. After the scenic route we ended up on some highway in the middle of nowhereland where signs were spelled wrong.

We hit up another Wawa (oh yay for Wawa) for the obligatory bathroom, food, and coffee break. Of course I can’t be taken anywhere without making a mess and I ended up spilling coffee all over myself and the back seat. We drop off Dave and we did the switcheroo. Nate and Jay banished to the back and the girls up front. We were behind schedule, but we booked it as fast as we could despite stupid drivers in the left lane, the rain, and traffic jams. As we were approaching Baltimore, and it was raining (yay Counting Crows), Akiva called from the road. We were heading north from VA and he was heading north from SC and we had thought we may have been driving on the same roads at the same time. We talked for about 40 minutes about recent shows, dessert, religion, and our work lives. By the time we hung up, we were almost to Newark to drop the guys off. Yay for Newark.

Newark also means another Wawa stop! This time a diet coke for caffeine and a cheese and veggie sandwich. I thought of Aurora because this was our Wawa. The girls pile back into the van as Aurora walked into Wawa! I jumped out of the van and we played 120 second catch up. So fabulously wonderful! Aw home. As we were pulling out, we wondered why life can’t be like Wawa. Don’t try to understand, just know that it makes perfect sense.

You would think that after spending 36 hours all together we would run out of things to talk about, but of course we didn’t. We interrupted Anna’s daydream to talk about fetishes and guys. You all think we are sweet and innocent, but oh there is a devious side. Ha! We also wished that guys were like the computerized Wawa sandwich makers where we could pick and chose our ingredients. About an hour was spent with us talking about characteristics and qualities we look for. Take note guys – personality and humor beats looks any day. And to all of my suitors, jot this down – you have to have cool shoes, because if you don’t have cool shoes, nothing else matters. Haha. We all also agreed that tight girl pants aren’t hot on guys. I won’t divulge the girls’ secrets, but my Wawa guy to order isn’t that much taller than me, brown hair, non brown eyes (sorry, it’s been a trend), dirty, artistic, creative, smart, and can’t have a normal job. He has to be like, on the road or in this crazy crazy industry since anyone on the outside just really doesn’t understand. Sorry, I can’t date you if you live next door to me and have a normal 8am-5pm job. You have to not live near me and prefer ripped jeans to pea coats, 4 am is better than 4pm, and can pack your life in a bag and go away for weeks and be fine. The girls and I also agreed that we enjoy a great cup of coffee to beer any day. Now stop wondering what girls talk about for 135 miles.

So sad that the weekend ended, which brings me to the beginning of the entry – where I am sitting on my bed. Throat sore from laughing, eyes red from being awake. Bags are still packed and now seven pages are written in Microsoft word. But of course it is seven pages of a play by play, nothing too analytical. It’s too late at night for that – so all in all, I love the road, music is great, I have awesome friends, and I still have no idea where I even want to be. In life and location, but I am enjoying the ride.