Traveling at 6 mph

October 12, 2008 - 3:52pm -- swingbug

While en route to my sister’s house I got caught in the traffic puddle that is Berkeley. Oop, here’s University Avenue. Everybody slam on your brakes and look around. You might see a hippie.

Stuttering along in stop and go traffic makes the mind wander. You’re not traveling physically so you may as well take a mind trip. While looking out at the sloshing bay and regretting the 20 ounce cup of tea I downed on the way, my mind bounced around all over the place. Here’s where it took me.

There was an Old Lady who Lived in a Shoe
The sneaker that’s tapping back and forth between the gas and the brake in this parking lot called Interstate 80 is old and full of holes. Shoe shopping has never been my sport. I did make an effort recently though.

I set out to buy myself a pair of 20-eyed docs. I promised myself I could have them as a reward for crocheting my first real sweater. I’ve been working on it all summer. I did, in fact, finish all the pieces. And then I took a look at them altogether and realized that when constructed they would fit Hagrid’s girlfriend. With growing room. I frogged the sweater and started over. Then I looked at it lying there back at square one and said screw it. I bought the boots anyway.

Let me tell you something though. No one sells Dr. Martens anymore. I walked into three shoe shops of the young, hip variety, in Santa Cruz no less. Stores that would have fit in the category of “grunge” when I was in high school and what my sister would have called “punk.” The heavily pierced girls behind the counter had never heard of them. Berkeley? Nope. Dude.

I feel old.

Well, duh
I’ve got a new mix coming out of the speakers in the car. This is going to sound ridiculous, but at age 30, I just figured out that AC/DC is cool. I know. I blame my misspent youth. I whiled away my high school years listening to Bryan Adams to piss off my parents who were downstairs listening to real rock ‘n roll. I remember hollering down the stairs to my dad telling him to turn that crap down so I could hear myself think. Hey, I outgrew it so leave me alone.

It’s amazing how much you find you are like your parents as time trickles by, though. Driving somewhere with my dad a few years back, a run a good tunes came through the car stereo. “This is a pretty good mix, Dad.”

“It’s my road mix.”

I laughed to myself. I have a mix on my iPod called “Road Mix.” It’s just like the right length to get to Kirkwood.

“I’ll burn you a copy,” he says.

Would it surprise you to know that half the songs in Dad’s mix were already highly-rated in my own music library and a good chunk of them were in my road mix as well? It surprised the hell out of me, though I suppose it shouldn’t have. I grew up listening to my dad strum out “Oh Darling” on his bass so it follows that Abbey Road would end up being my favorite album.

On a recent family vacation, my iPod and my dad’s iPod took turns spinning tunes. Dad and I each spent some time looking at each other’s displays for the title of a given song. I ended up with a running list in my back pocket for the entirety of the trip. When I got home, I took myself and my list to the music store and picked up a used copy of “Who Made Who.” I threw at least one track on my road mix. Ride on, man.

Bumper Cars
I heard that in the average presidential election, only 50% of the eligible population actually gets themselves registered and to the polls. You wouldn’t know it from the mass amount of bumpers I see plastered with star and stripes and candidate names. The debate is going on right here on the freeway. I wonder why it doesn’t follow into the voting booths.

A friend of mine told me that her “Obama” and “No on Prop 8” signs were recently stolen off her lawn. Dude. Bill of rights, first amendment; look it up. Don’t censor your neighbors. Even though I’ll admit that the McCain/Palin signs in my neighborhood make me cringe just a little, I’m thankful that my neighbors actually care. One line quips do little to promote dialog though. If you must participate in clandestine campaigning in the dark of the night, how about we work towards active conversation? You could drop a sign next to your neighbor’s that says, “Hmm, interesting point of view but I disagree in some respects. Here are the key reasons this issue is important to me...” You could follow it up with something like, “I live at 123 Happy Street. Come on over for tea and crumpets tomorrow morning and we’ll talk about this some more.”

I expect you’d have to decrease the font size a little, but imagine lawns up and down the street covered in conversations and complete sentences. The candidates themselves have managed to be reasonably polite this election. It’s the general population that’s getting nasty. We need to work on that.

After 580 split off from the city bound folks (it’s Fleet Week as it turns out – doh!), the traffic cleared and the lanes opened up. From 6 mph to 60. It clears the head too.

I was at my destination in another 10 minutes of empty roads. I pulled my holey sneaker off the gas pedal, switched off the stereo, and left my bumper at the curb.