Get your kicks on Route 66

I drove 2,761 miles from Miami to Los Angeles, without incident or injury or infraction. But that fun fact doesn’t matter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, because they still made me take a written test to get my driver’s license.

ROADTRIP

I arrived at the DMV and took my seat next to a seventeen year old with a uni-brow as wide as his braces-filled smile and a woman who was the spitting image of Rihanna, complete with a serious case of bitchy resting face and a pair of oversize Chanel sunglasses.

Who knows? Maybe it was her. The DMV is the universal equalizer in that everyone, no matter who they are, waits.

While I waited, I read through the driver’s handbook. Well, more like flipped through it in disgust, like it was a magazine recovered from the office of that dentist that killed Cecil the lion.

Page after page of diagrams and traffic signs, but zero information on what to do when the asphalt starts to melt while you’re driving through the desert under an unforgiving sun. There was also nothing in there about how to pee on the side of the road when you’re in a two-hour traffic jam under a torrential downpour. And absolutely no information on the legality of driving without pants as long as you have sensible underwear on.

So, I jotted down some sample test questions in the hopes that the DMV would consider including these in the next issue of the California Driving Handbook. They are as follow:

  1. Who should have ultimate control of the car radio?
    1. The Driver
    2. The Passenger
    3. None of the above because you have satellite radio and the mountains will block the signal
  2. When changing lanes…
    1. Don’t
    2. If you do, you’ll die
    3. Close your eyes and wish for the best
  3. The best way to learn how to drive in the state of California is to…
    1. Rent a Toyota Yaris and floor it to 30 mph on the 405 Freeway
    2. Drive from Huntington Beach to San Francisco up the Pacific Coast Highway
    3. Park your car in front of a wall and stare at said wall for two hours
  4. Upon hearing that a bridge has collapsed and has caused the shutdown of all east- and west-bound traffic on I-10, you should…
    1. Cry just enough to release some tension
    2. Join the Mexican family for dinner, who have set up a folding table and chairs in the middle of the Interstate
    3. Relieve yourself inside your car by carefully aiming your urine into the dog’s portable food bowl
    4. Make a 14-point turn and drive in the wrong direction on the shoulder of I-10 until you are able to cut across three lanes of stalled traffic and a muddy median.

Before I got any further in my DMV brainstorm, my number was called. I took my test and passed with flying colors despite my lack of interest in the subject matter. A huge accomplishment that the 37-year-old-me got to rub in the face of the 15-year-old-me who failed the written test 3 times back in Florida.

Instead of gloating all the way to the photo backdrop, I wish I would’ve paid attention to what I looked like before I posed. In California, they don’t immediately give you your license, but I did take a peak of the photo…and it’s a doozy. Until it arrives in the mail, you’ll just have to take my word for it with this very accurate recreation:

FullSizeRender

And if you’ve ever wondered what you’ll see when driving cross country, these are a few of my favorites:

Five days of gratitude: People, places and things

I had to take a momentary pause from the five days of gratitude challenge because I was in France at the secret wedding of my ex-girlfriend.

We had an awkward moment when she suggested we do it one more time, “for old times’ sake,” but I declined because I didn’t want to ruin my makeup.

I did however agree to be her maid of honor just to irk her new husband. I made sure to wink at him throughout the entire ceremony. Afterwards, him, George Clooney and I drank cheap scotch and smoked expensive cigars (which I brought) and laughed the whole thing off.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos, but this is basically what the ceremony looked like:

From PinkertonPhoto.com
From PinkertonPhoto.com

Anyway, I don’t think my hiatus was a big deal because the rules of the challenge do not specify that the five days have to be in consecutive order. So, without further ado, my three most wonderful things I’m grateful for today are:

People. I’m thankful for smart people that are working to fix, help, improve the lives of other people. I’m thankful for people with special needs that teach me to be patient, kind and humble. I’m thankful for mean people whose actions remind me of the need to be more empathetic to compensate for their lack of humanity. I’m thankful for the people who drive well, for the people that sing in the car and for the people that are brave enough to say good morning to me, even when I’m wearing sunglasses indoors.

Places. I’m grateful for places that have taken my breath away, from the Napali Coast to the Amalfi Coast. I’m grateful for the places that broke my heart, like Managua and Havana. I’m grateful for the places that give me hope, like San Francisco and New Orleans. I’m grateful to Miami for welcoming my parents when they were kicked out of their country. And I’m really grateful for the existence of Las Vegas.

Things. I appreciate my musical instruments, as they remind me of all of the different ways I can ruin a good song. I appreciate music in general and the way it makes me feel. I begrudgingly appreciate how it makes me move, especially when I’ve been drinking. I appreciate a quiet spaghetti dinner at home equally as much as a really nice dinner at The Palm. And I appreciate having the money to indulge in either.

I’m also really thankful for YouTube.

Overpacked

When traveling, I try to remember important information about the places I visit. I do this to offer my vast knowledge of American cities to my friends and family. However, after a friend called me up to ask for my advice on a certain vacation spot, I’ve discovered that the information I have amassed over the years is absolutely no good to anyone.

Seriously. Useless.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a sampling for your amusement:

Denver, CO: Traveling to Denver? Great! There’s a mall on 16th Street called…the 16th Street Mall. And the airport has the highest quality public bathroom toilet paper that has ever touched my vagina. Forget about cabs, just rent a really big car. Oh, and everyone is homeless.

Seattle, WA: No one is homeless in Seattle, they look like that on purpose. Make sure you pack plenty of graphic t-shirts, because this place is haven to the excessively cool. Every store has an amazing soundtrack. From the Jimmy Johns to the CB2 to the Starbucks, everywhere you go, your favorite songs mysteriously blare throughout the establishment. Except in Pike Place.

Atlanta, GA: Everything, and I mean everything, is legal in Atlanta. Las Vegas, NV has more restrictions than the capital of the Dirty South.

Washington, D.C.: Visiting the nation’s capital? I hope you’re a gay man, because there’s nothing for straight people to do in this town. Sure, they may go to a museum or two, but really what else is there? This maybe shocking to some lesbians, so let me address them: Ladies, straight people go to museums too.

Boston, MA: Everywhere you go, you end up at the same place. It’s like being inside an M.C. Escher drawing, while on some amazing ‘shrooms. Their “T” is the Cadillac of public transportation, but you haven’t lived until you’ve been a passenger in a cab that drives on the sidewalk. Cabbies will do this for five bucks extra. Oh, and don’t stand next to the statue of John Harvard.

San Francisco, CA: Everyone is too nice. Don’t trust the natives. They are up to something. But, if you haven’t been, you should go, seriously, it’s beautiful. Just don’t talk to people. They are aliens.

Houston, TX: Houston smells in a way that can cause you to contract cancer through your nose. It’s like getting shot-gunned by 30 chain smokers inside an elevator at the Excalibur in Vegas. Yet, the Margarita’s are amazing. Ah-ma-zing.

Maui, HI: Ah. Hawaii. It’s like walking around in a postcard. From the trees, to the weather to the birds, everything is perfect. And it gets really old after a while. “Is that another rainbow? Fuckin’ hell!” It is worth it to endure this torture only to have the world’s best humus at Athens Greek Restaurant in Lahaina.

Jupiter, FL: It’s a beach town very, very far from South Beach. It is also very, very far from New Jersey. Making it the perfect place to hide former witnesses from the Gambino crime family trials. There is one fine dining Italian restaurant where dinner for two costs about $200. A price I gladly paid to be seated by Donatella Versace’s stunt double.

New York, NY: No one famous lives here. Also, no one from New York has ever moved to San Francisco. If it smells like crap, you’re close to where you’re supposed to be. Stay away from the Pig & Whistle. And, most importantly, you will never get tickets from Tickets for the show you want to see.

See what I mean?