Thursday, January 31, 2008

I keep my visions to myself

I have this vision of myself that's helping me get through the last hectic days at this awful job. I am lying awake in the cabin of a truck, reading poetry by the light of a camping lantern. I'm in the middle of nowhere and it's dark outside, the kind of darkness you only get far from cities, Kerouac's Sad American Night, only a small truck stop's weak neon light competing with the stars. Maybe I am in the desert, and the cool night breeze whispers against my skin through the open truck window. I can hear the highway and it beats along with my own heart. I am reading Bukowski, maybe Ginsberg, alternating between the book and my journal, where I scribble soft night words which scatter into the dust and the stars as soon as they leave my pen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Apples, trees, falling.

These were my dad's reactions, in order, when I told him I had quit my job and was going to trucking school. (Mind you, he knew about the idea and mildly supported it before.)

1. "Well, it sounds like you're in a place of stagnation at the paper, so I support the fact that you're getting out and learning new things. Remaining in motion is the most important thing. Moving and learning are what life is all about. I'm not sure if this is the right direction for you, but I am glad you will be in motion again."

2. "I keep seeing those huge trucks all over New York and they amaze me, especially in Manhattan, where the drivers somehow manage to maneuver them perfectly into tiny alleys. Such level of skill looks almost like circus tricks. If you and your truck ever make it to New York, will you teach me how to do that?"

3. "You know, in all the old books the adventurous young people who want to escape their lives go work on ships and sail the high seas. I suppose this is the modern equivalent, and I support the motivation behind it."

Have I mentioned lately how much my dad rocks?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

First post, all about catching up.

In the winter of 2008, I quit a newspaper reporter job in order to go to trucking school. I plan to spend the next year or so of my life on the road as a long haul truck driver, learning and growing and not doing what I'm told.

Such a lifestyle choice may seem odd for a college educated woman in her mid-20s, but the idea had been bouncing around my head for over a year, ever since I wrote a news a story about a local truck school. With each demotion and blow to my pride delivered by my former employer, I thought, "This sucks. I just want to quit the rat race and become a trucker." Finally, I did just that.

I've been a traveler all my life. I was born in Moscow, Russia; immigrated with my family to Baltimore, MD, at the age of 10; after college moved to Washington, DC, for a job; then to rural North Carolina for a job; then to northern California for another job - the one I left in February, lured by the whispered promises of open roads.

What follows is the entry I wrote in my personal blog about the conversation that started this whole thing. It is dated Jan. 11, 2007.

I am interviewing the president of a trucking school for a business story. I am sitting in the office listening to stories about trucking, about the road, about the hectic schedules that are somehow worth it for seeing the country, about the high numbers of professional people who quit their jobs as teachers and office drones to get behind the wheel of a big rig and leave everything behind in a cloud of dust and exhaust. And I am feeling the familiar wanderlust flooding my system, like a bird forcing its way through my veins, feathers straining thin membrane, something bursting inside.

I have an idea. An idea for a book. I want to drive a truck. For, I don't know, six months to a year? And write about it. A Ted Conover type book, first person immersion journalism with a good dose of social responsibility, fueled by an insatiable need to see everything and peppered with Kerouac quotes and American road-lore, supported by studies of the economic and environmental impacts of this industry, told from a female point of view about a stereotypically male world.

I am completely fucking serious.