DALLAS, TX - Arrived in Dallas and had a trainer assigned to me the following day. Unfortunately, her truck is in the shop until Tuesday. Damn. Stuck again.
The new trainer is the best one yet. She is a collector of second hand make-up bags, which she uses for every purpose imaginable. The brown bag holds pliers and screwdrivers, the leopard print one is for phone chargers and accessories, the black one is for fuses and other mechanical items. Her truck is craftily rigged with shelves and storage spaces attached by bungee cords and clips, equipped with everything you could ever need on the road. We get along incredibly well so far. She says that after we hit the road on Tuesday, I'll be done with my training before I know it. But I've heard that before, so I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime, I am stuck in Texas, which I am convinced is its own special level of hell. I mean, really. Half the state smells like sulphur. The Dallas terminal is the biggest that Werner has, and the only one that has a hotel onsite. It is one of the crappiest lodging places I've ever stayed in, run down and dirty. All the buildings here form a gated, fenced-in compound - the fences to protect us from what is genuinely a shady area. Food delivery guys hand us pizzas and bags of Chinese over the barbed wire and take money through the fence as we make jokes about being in jail. Outside the wires, toothless prostitutes and their pimps circle the truck stop and hide in the tall grass of abandoned lots. The wind blowing across these plains is strong, hot, damp, relentless. It puts out cigarettes and steals words from lips, takes my resolve away, leaves a layer of sticky dust on my skin.
A reader recently left a comment asking me whether I miss the cerebral side of my past life, which is an interesting enough question to earn a public response.
In a way, I feel like what I'm doing now is more "cerebral" than what I was doing before. My most recent job had me writing mindless, middling news stories centered around mindless, middling towns. The job title of news reporter connotes thought and analysis, but the job I had was so dumbed down that a trained monkey could do it: go to boring city council meeting, write crap story. Lather, rinse, repeat.
These days, I write feverishly into the night. I see and hear more things than I have a chance to write down in the course of a day. My mind is on fire with ideas and observations. Some days (when on the road, of course, not sitting around hellish hotel rooms), the need to write overpowers the need to sleep. The paper journal I brought with me is almost out of clean pages. Most of this writing does not make it to the blog because it's part of something larger, and I won't share it until the larger project takes on a more cohesive shape.
The biggest challenge is to keep this big picture in mind. The main reason I am out here is to write about it, but it's easy - too easy - to lose myself in the small things, the highs and lows of each passing day. But as long as the pen is moving across the page, I remember why I'm here.