Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 6: Words

The road seems to fade in and out of focus.

I can’t get the article out of my head.

Why was it sent?

I thought they were an ally. Now, I am not so sure.

Is this what I should expect from now on?

To believe that someone has my back only to be disappointed later when uncertainty fills a silent void of communication.

The tires rumble on the highway as the road seems to pull me forward, in and out of focus.

*          *           *          *          *

My first pit stop is in Santa Fe.

I usually fill up the tank before I leave town, but this time, I just wanted to be on the road. I wanted to hear the voices of Night Vale and of Ira Glass. I wanted to focus on something other than looming questions before me.

Above the gas station convenience store, a sign reads: “Blimpie’s Is Now Open Inside.” I assume the name for the shop came from the sandwiches resembling a blimp. I guess it’s no weirder than a sandwich shop being named after anything else.

It just highlights the strangeness of words and names, like pit stop.

I assume that it is a racing term relating to stopping at a “pit” for refueling and tire checks, but my only real knowledge of racing comes from Pixar’s attempt to sell toys via anthropomorphic vehicles.

I don’t remember “pits” in the movies.

Maybe, there were.

*          *          *          *          *

Traveling means bathroom awkwardness.

It is the only part of traveling that I hate.

Which bathroom will I receive the least amount of stares and whispers?

Since my latest session of laser has made shaving difficult, I head to the men’s bathroom as I button up my shirt to try and hide what’s underneath.

Above the urinal, a “health center” vending machine hangs covered in graffiti. Through the black sharpie scrawls, I see the promise of “barely there bikini” and “exotic” condoms. Each description is more ridiculous than the last.

I dart out of the bathroom, hoping to not be seen.

There’s still many hours ahead.

*          *          *          *          *

I pass another billboard proclaiming the premiere shooting location.

In bold letters, it’s advertised as if this is a good thing.

What kind of a country continues to allow mass shootings again and again and again? Columbine wasn’t enough. Pulse wasn’t enough. (Insert name here) wasn’t enough.

What will be enough?

*          *          *          *          *

The tires rumble on the road, jostling memories loose.

I spent my whole childhood worried I was not manly enough, I was too effeminate, I was too nerdy, I was too weak, I would never fit in . . .

The last one still fits, but it’s funny how things change.

*          *          *          *          *

I see the text message flash before my eyes.


It feels like the last thing that I need.

I need an ally.

An advocate.

*          *          *          *          *

When the sign warns that the Focus on the Family headquarters is up ahead, I cannot help but know that they use the term in a very specific way.

Family to this conservative group means Christian, and it does not mean LGBTQ+.

I’ve begun to notice a trend.

Whenever an organization has “family” in its title, it almost always refers to a very specific type of family.

A family that excludes me.


Trans Version of Tony Robins, Delivered

When I saw the Reddit post, I first thought, “Yes! I hope someone has done this. Something uplifting in the vain of some kind of uplifting YouTube imagery. Something inspiring.

Then, I read the post.

It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

This is what it was asking for: “Would someone please share a happy experience from their transition journey to help us remember that there can be light at the end of this fucked up tunnel?”

I wanted a something, something else, something uplifting for me, to give me hope. But, it gave me an idea. An idea I bring to fruition here:


Be Yourself.

For whatever reason, you are here.

You have reached to this point in your journey.

And, you have a decision to make.  

Do you continue on the same path? The same path that has brought you to this moment. The same path that you have always known. The same path that could lead to your future.

Or, do you do something different?

Do you finally start living?

Do you want to?

Do you have the courage? The strength? The fortitude?

Commitment? Hope? Fear?

How do you know?

Have you reached inside yourself to see what you truly want?

Likely, because you are now here.

At this moment.

And, honestly, if I know you, like I think I know you,

You have been here.

You have looked down the path in front of you, and it scared you, filled you with dread, and hopelessness.

You started to see your dreams swirling around you.

You realized that if you stayed where you were you would lose, never to see again, your dreams.

So, you spoke a truth.

Maybe, finally to yourself, aloud, to others, to a friend, a lover.

To someone.

Maybe, you took that first step to rightness, breaking free.

The cloak of wrongness clinging a little less tightly.

And, now, you decide again or maybe for the first time.

You decide.


You decide if you will be yourself.

Your true self.

The self you really are, the self you either hid from or embraced.

The self that you were afraid would cause you to lose everything.

To lose loved ones.

To lose relationships.


But, regardless of if you have realized it or not, you won’t lose everything. You may not even lose anything, but you certainly won’t lose everything.

And, you can do this.

You know who you are.

No one can take that away from you.

You are you.

Be You.

Be Yourself.


Asktransgender Subreddit Post: Wanted, trans version of Tony Robins to blow sunshine up my ass.


I had always been under the impression that you stand up for what you believe in, you show empathy to those less fortunate than yourself, and you do the right thing even if you are standing alone. I had thought I was raised to believe and live by these principles and values, but maybe, I was wrong.

All I know is that as a person who values the diverse landscape of the human experience, I cannot stand idly by and watch hatred rise in this country that I always thought would be my home.

My very core of who I am prevents me from allowing a government to attack the freedoms I hold dear. I will not remain silent as a government threatens the freedom of religion with a “Muslim Ban”. I will not remain silent as facts are decried as “fake news”. I will not remain silent as the Justice Department works to undo civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans. I will not remain silent as public lands are opened up to oil and gas companies, climate change is censured, and the Clean Water Act is gutted.

Those are, unfortunately, only a small fraction of the things I will not remain silent on. Because, amazingly enough, this list doesn’t take into account the rise of bigotry and other Neo-Nazi sentiments. It does not take into account the oligarchic administration that emphasizes loyalty to a figurehead in place of loyalty to the Constitution and rule of law. It does not take into account the widespread attempt to legitimize lies and white supremacy.

Rhetoric spewed forth by entities like Alex Jones’s Infowars and Steve Bannon’s Breitbart and others are an affront to truth, justice, and democracy. When did honesty get replaced by deceit and conspiracy theories? When did our basic human values become perverted in such a way that America was so easily duped by a conman? When did the fear of the unknown and unfamiliar overtake decency, kindness, and love?

At the end of the day, you have to live with your decisions. You have to wake up, look at yourself in the mirror, and know you will be able to sleep at night. It is not always an easy thing to do. I know I have struggled with doing what is right, at times, because the right thing to do was too hard to accept or too difficult to understand or too scary to contemplate. What is right is rarely easy.

Now, I don’t know what you believe, or even if you have read this far, but I do believe this. I believe that “arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. I believe that how we act and what we say speaks volumes, which reverberate beyond our singular life. I believe we are all inherently good, but somewhere along the way, we lose sight of what really matters.

So, I will not apologize for standing up for what is right. I will not apologize for speaking out against racism or sexism or any of the many other ideals currently embraced by too many Americans. I will only say that I will continue to try to be the best version of myself everyday that I can.

God, your conscience, or whatever else guides you and your life decisions have led you to here, to this moment. To a moment where you have to decide if you are okay with what is going on. To a moment where you can either do something or continue in silence.

Enough is enough. Because, I am no longer willing to subject myself to people who claim their love by trying to break me down or want me to hide who I am. I am no longer willing to subject myself to the company of others who approve of and go along with the moral collapse of this country and its values.

No one should have to live in this rising climate of fear. Fear of reporting assault and being deported. Fear of serving this country and being told you are unworthy because of your identity. Fear of going to sleep and wondering if it will be your turn next.

Do understand that the threats to our way of life and our democracy are very real and the actions being taken now will have lasting consequences. How we respond to today will, one way or another, reveal the very depths of our character.

Equality was a founding doctrine of America. And, while we may have not always followed the path of equality for every person on American soil, we have continued to, slowly but surely, make things better. But, things don’t just get better by themselves. Action is needed.

Resistance is not futile. Resistance is required. Resistance is hope.

Conversations with People Who (Verb) Me






In the midst of so much angst and hate and misgivings and doubt, how can one even possibly attempt to write about what is going on?

Where does one even start?

A loosely connected stream of conscious rant through things said and words meant and thoughts expanding and horizons possible?


Because, how am I supposed to respond when a coworker asks, “You ever go back to Oklahoma? Do they accept you? Or, are you just kind of a guest?”

How do I respond? When it was said completely out of nowhere as I sit at a round plastic table eating my “Women’s Health” blend of trail mix in the former cafeteria space, now staff lounge. Perhaps, I could have taken the guidance of the third episode of “Conversations with People Who Hate Me,” and began a dialogue. A dialogue to emphasize I am a real person. I am not something that is not to be believed in. I exist.

Because, how am I supposed to ignore the results of Facebook stalking my mom’s post and finding that she shared the following gem from my 7th/8th grade history and government teacher:

“So (redacted school district) is mulling over a name change for Robert E. Lee elementary because of Lee’s participation in the Civil War. Kind of silly don’t you think considering that Lee was a well respected leader before, during, and after the war.  He played a large roll in continuing education at college level serving as president of Washington and Lee University and raising it to one of leading colleges in the South after the war.  This whole movement to try and erase black marks in history is ignorant. Without the Civil War and the loyalty of all who fought in it, how much longer would slavery have lasted?  Changing names and removing monuments memorializing those involved will not erase that history.  It will not repair any of the damage of that era.  It changes nothing about how people feel today.  Those things need to remain in place to remind us that we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. What is next, blowing up Mount Rushmore because those presidents or their families held slaves?  The radical Muslim groups have tried this without success.  History does not change because memorials are removed.  History serves the purpose of creating CHANGE.  Hopefully, positive change.  For me, there is nothing positive about trying to change what happened in the past by trying to erase the evidence.”

And, I post this here, not with her permission, since I am not Facebook friends with her (or any of my family members for that matter), but due to a lack of privacy settings on her account, this post was made public for the world to see. So, I call dibs.

And, I do try to have a difficult conversation and follow the advice from my new podcast addiction.

I begin like this.

“Seriously? You are okay with monuments of the Confederacy?” (Perhaps, not the most diplomatic opening ever, but it is a start.)

“I liked what (redacted teacher’s name) said”

“Really? What part?”

“Can we argue tomorrow. I am having trouble sleeping and this will make it worse..”

“Sure. We can discuss this radical Christian traitor later.”

Again, not my most crowning moment of civil discussion, but the line “The radical Muslim groups have tried this without success” just bothers me to no end. So, the next day and before I get into the car to go see Brigsby Bear, I bring it up again.

“And, you still agree with the post you shared?”

“I see both sides. Yes I agree.”

“Really? How?”

“I thought the post was very clear”

“I am not sure what the argument in the post is. It is poorly written, difficult to follow, and just overall convoluted with a pinch of Islamaphobia.”

I don’t get another reply, and I can’t decide if I want one or not. Aside from the “both sides” argument ringing like a comment from the racist former host of Celebrity Apprentice, I don’t know what I want from this exchange.

Maybe, I just want to understand.

I just want to understand the different point of view that just seems outside of my realm of understanding.

It’s like on Twitter when someone from the #MAGA crowd posts a photoshopped picture of Democrats admitting 45 is president. I guess I just don’t understand the point. Just because something is the way it is doesn’t make it good or right or worth defending or worth arguing about. Posting a picture that simply states 45 is president doesn’t prove anything other than verifying, yes, while unbelievable, 45 is actually president.

But, just because he is president, that doesn’t mean he has good policies or high morals or is worthy of the office of president. Because, it is becoming clearer and clearer that he is sorely missing the mark.

But, I need a night away from it all, the news, the fear, the overwhelming sense of dread.

And, maybe, that is why I was totally enamored with Brigsby Bear.

Because it was a weird movie, but I loved it. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a long long time. And, I left the theater in a hazy fog of wonder. And, I felt ready to say what I needed to say, write what I needed to write, which brings me back almost full circle to this.

Why do I find my middle school social studies teacher’s post problematic?

Really? Robert E. Lee was a respected general? I wonder if the Union, or rather America at the time agreed with that, considering the fact that he was leading the war against America. Given the fact that he was a military traitor, leading a war against his own country in order to sustain slavery, it seems unlikely that he was well-respected.

But, I am not a history major, or even much of a history buff for that matter. So maybe, we should go with his own words. Since he was opposed to Confederate statues seeing how they “keep open the sores of war”.

Also, it is “role” not “roll”. If you are wanting to make a precise argument, check your homophones. Words matter. As far as I know, my former teacher is not an elected official but missing a homophone is in line with 45’s attempt to heel the nation.

And, what does this line even mean? “Without the Civil War and the loyalty of all who fought in it, how much longer would slavery have lasted?” Whose loyalty? Also, what? If all citizens had stayed loyal to the Union and stood against white supremacy then, would the Civil War even occurred? Unlikely.

And, the argument to remove Confederate statues has never been about removing and rewriting history. Instead, Confederate monuments were built to remind a subjugated people that while they were “free” they were not equal and must be reminded of their place.

And, to return to the great, what will happen next argument. “What is next, blowing up Mount Rushmore because those presidents or their families held slaves?” Just, ugh. Those individuals on Mount Rushmore actually contributed to the founding and success of this country, not its breaking and needless loss of life.

And, what is she even talking about her? “The radical Muslim groups have tried this without success.” Tried what? Who are these groups? Why do we have to attach “Muslim” as a descriptor? Because for historians keeping track, a radical Christian group took up arms against their countrymen and murdered for the sake of maintaining the inhumane institution of slavery. If you’re looking for a synonym for this group, go with Confederacy.

And, finally, no one is trying to erase history. Or, make people forget by removing these oppressive monuments. But, not everything deserves a monument. Just ask Germany when you look for the monuments dedicated to Hitler.

And to make a complete full circle, I really don’t know what my coworker meant by his questions.

But, I do know that this post got away from me.

I blame Brigsby Bear.


“Robert E. Lee Opposed Confederate Monuments”

“Baltimore’s Confederate Monument Was Never About ‘History and Culture’”

Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 5: Traffic

On the road, you can be moving along at a quick pace, say seventy-five miles per hour only to suddenly come to a slow standstill.

A standstill of five minutes that becomes ten that becomes fifteen that suddenly picks up again. It’s as if nothing happened. A path becomes clear. A dispersal of vehicles suddenly projecting forward to their destinations.

Only to come to a slow standstill five minutes later or an hour later or several hours. The pattern repeats endless until the destination is reached.

*          *          *          *          *

Another standstill.

In Pueblo, Colorado, the line of cars stretches endlessly before and behind me. At a snail’s pace, I creep forward in the line of cars.

Construction zone.

Time creeps forward as boredom sets in and exponentially grows.

Eventually, I approach the overpass, concrete barriers on either side create two stagnant lines of traffic. One northbound. One southbound.

And, northbound, there is no movement. My car sits unmoving as the southbound cars sporadically pass by, heading to their destinations.

Nothing moves northbound.

Time creeps forward.

Ahead of me, people begin to exit their cars and walk along the road between the cement barriers and the stopped vehicles.

Enough is enough.

I pull over to the shoulder of the road and maneuver around the caution cones. Approaching the exit ramp from the highway, I finally see the cause of my northward delay. An RV has stalled on the under-construction-bridge. Because of the concrete barriers, no one can move.

After exiting and returning to the highway beyond the stopped RV, I continue north, on a nearly empty highway, with miles of stopped cars behind me.

*          *          *          *          *

This is the second Jesus sign I’ve noticed. I don’t remember the words of the last one, but for some reason this sign sticks with me. It reads in large black and bold letters, “Truth, Jesus is the only way”.  

My first thought is not about how ridiculous the sign is. Truth, I muse. Is a story still true if it pulls from the mythologies of the countless religions that come before it?

Unlikely is an understatement. 

Rather, what’s true is that the story of the sign’s messiah is a piecemealed history of countless gods and demigods.

Ah, the power of basic research.

No, my first thought was of the number below the bolded message. Below the message is a number to call for more information.

Yet, that number contains more than ten numbers for a curious person to call.

How’s that supposed to work?  

*          *          *          *          *

Climbing inclines and coasting down valleys, a line of tan army vehicles passes me by, only to be passed by me as I climb the next hill in Colorado Springs.

Jet black smoke plumes from the exhaust tailpipe. A black cloud drifting into the clear, crisp air.

These are machines of death, machines of war.

I don’t know what they are called, nor do I necessarily want to know. But, I can tell where it’s weapon will sit, on the top of the cab, overlooking the terrain. I have seen enough of these vehicles in movies and shows to know how they operate, to know what they do.

Jet black smoke plumes from the exhaust tailpipe. A black cloud drifting into the clear, crisp air.

These are machines of death, machines of war.

How many people see these and feel pride?


I simply feel disgusted.

Jet black smoke plumes from the exhaust tailpipe.

*          *          *          *          *

Through mountain towns filled with ghosts of another life, I drive through Estes Park to arrive at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Settling in at the campsite with friends, the self-proclaimed Women of the Wild, the flames of the campfire rise up to the star-filled sky. Sounds of nature echo through the mountains, meshing with our statements of feminism, hope, change, and the rise of deceits and fears that led to the Brexits and Trumps of the world.

Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 4: Mountains

The farther I pull away from Albuquerque, the more the terrain becomes mountainous. In the distance, mountain peaks appear as hazy blue mounds.

They seem so small, these blue mounds. Yet, with their white snow-capped peaks, they must be of an incredible size.

Towering and imposing the closer you are, but for now, they seem almost painted in the background of the New Mexican landscape.

The road continues north, and the tales of New Crobuzon ramble from my car’s speakers. The road continues.

*          *          *          *          *

Coming to the border of Colorado, the hazy blue mounds sharpen into focus. The blues of the mountains reveal dark green forests hugging the sides of the mountains. From the dark green sides, grey peaks erupt above the tree line.

Within the grey rocky peaks, veins of snow trickle down to the tree line. Like white blood vessels or snowy capillaries, it seems almost impossible that in the ninety-five degree heat, water remains frozen, so near and, yet, so far away.

*          *          *          *          *

I’ve taken this route before, nearly a year ago. But, this time the road, a four lane highway shifts. Two northbound lanes of traffic become one. The one shifts onto the southbound highway.

It wasn’t like this before. It was an easy six hour drive the last time I drove to Denver. Yet, now, the road slows, crawls forward.

The views are simply breathtaking and beautiful, and at a slower pace, I can revel in the natural beauty of the mountainous terrain.

The crawl of traffic begins to pick up, and I finally see the reason for the crawl. Covering the northbound lanes of the highway are large white and tan boulders covering the road. Chunks of rocks with jagged edges block any passage through the northbound lanes.

After another mile or so, the flow of traffic returns to normal. Two northbound lanes flow at a rapid pace.

The road continues.

*          *          *          *          *

A lone windmill stands in a seemingly endless field. And, I remember the windmill on my grandparents’ old homestead. Near their lung-shaped pond, their silver windmill stood pumping well water into a stock tank, which would allow the grazing cattle to drink and when filled, would overflow into the catfish pond.

My brother and I spent weekends and summer days at the fishing hole. Casting out hope for a large bass or a catfish dinner.

As I watch the windmill to the east turn, I remember when, upon walking out to the pond one day, finding the metal basin riddled with bullet holes. While problematic for the cattle, our immediate concern was for the critters that we had plopped into the tank the day before.

We had spent our previous afternoon catching small bluegills, tadpoles, and infant turtles to watch them swim in the clear well water, freshly pumped into the basin. Fearing for the lives of our captives, we managed to grab all the small aquatic creatures and throw them back into the flooded pond before the stock tank drained.

I try, as my car continues northward, to remember what my grandfather was doing as my brother and I saved the young aquatic lives. I try to remember why the stock tank had been shot with holes. I feel like there was a story to it, but it seems like ages ago. I simply can’t remember.

*          *          *          *          *

A black Dodge Ram passes me, and I notice its decor and affiliations. A Kansas City Chiefs decal decorates the rear of the driver side and passenger side windows. And where a trailer hitch should be, a Confederate flag gleams.

I imagine the driver of this pickup proudly voted for the 45th president.

And, I am sure the individual driving would greatly disapprove of the vagina rocket attached to my vehicle, if they understood the symbolism behind it.

I am sure the driver finds no issues with exploiting Native American culture with the Chiefs decals. Yet, at least, they aren’t Redskins stickers, a mascot term that even Oklahoma has banned at its higher institutions of learning.

The Confederate flag scream white supremacist at me. As cities and towns across the south finally remove statues of Confederate leaders, this Dodge Ram owner celebrates an attempt at a country whose goal was to maintain the enslavement of an entire race of people. As the rest of the world began to denounce slavery and move beyond it, the Confederacy held firm, justifying their morally righteous views with their faith and the Bible.

Echoes from the past, haunt today.

Mountains slowly begin to come into a hazy blue focus again.

And, the road continues.

Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 3: Signs

Its neon lights once illuminated the night skies above my hometown.

Now, it leans against an oversized shed, nearly forgotten.

It wasn’t the original sign that once towered above my grandparents’ diner.

The original sign was faded brown, with the name of the restaurant on all four sides of the towering cube.

I wonder if any fragments of that sign remain.

The restaurant doesn’t.

It burned down a few years ago, but the memories didn’t.

The memories survived, rusted like the green and white sign before me.

Rusted, but still surviving.

*          *          *          *          *

The wind howls, and my car seems to lurch on the road, trying to maintain its course.

I don’t even bother to stifle my yawn.

I pop open another can of Coke, remembering how shocking it was to have a can explode as I drove down from the mountains a few weekends ago. I had set a lukewarm can of Coke in my cupholder, which would allow the AC to cool it down. I approached the cattleguard, and with no notice, my ears started ringing. I looked around panicked to find the source of the ear-splitting noise.

It sounded like a gunshot, but when I finally figured out the source of the explosion of volume, I was surprised to find the metal of my Coke can erupting upwards from the base of the can in violent protrusions of metal. Caramel colored liquid dripped onto the leg of my jeans, and I pulled my car to the side to reorient myself.

Although lukewarm, this can of Coke tonight does not explode.

It just provides the needed caffeine.

*          *          *          *          *

The plot that formerly held my grandparent’s restaurant now holds their building but not their diner. The building’s color almost resembles what once stood there, faded earthen colors, browns and yellows.

It matched the color of the towering wooden and brown sign that marked the old-fashioned burgers and ice cream served there.

A very different color scheme than the one it held after my uncle took irresponsibility of the burger joint.

A wide window now takes up the upstairs and can be seen as I pull up to the original and, at one time, only stoplight in town. Tables and chairs now sit up there, but it once held an arcade. It was once wall-to-wall pinball, Galaga, Yo-Yo Masters, Pac Man, and others.

Now, those bulky games are lost in time.


*          *          *          *          *

I snapped a picture of my margarita to send to a few friends to let them know I had made it my sister’s graduation.

The room was a cacophony of voices. A long table for my family took up most of the dining room, but to the left of us held a bachelorette party. By the end of the dinner, my head would be pounding from the noise.

As I send the picture, my screen pops up with a message from my mom saying, “U better not be blogging”. I laugh and grin as I write my responses to her.

“So much blogging.”

“And . . . posted.”

*          *          *          *          *

Along I-40, there isn’t much to look at, and even if there was, I’ve taken this drive so many times that nothing pops out as interesting.

The towering windmills, the signs for the free 72oz. steak, and the numerous intermixed adult toy store and pro-Jesus signs have become commonplace by this point.

Yet, there is one thing that still stands out to me along the ten hour drive.

The trees.

In an empty and nearly barren field of grasses, patches of trees seem to sprout up in the middle of nothing. In any one field, it can be three lone trees together or batches of green too numerous to count. Yet, always, the trees seem lonely in a vast field.

How did these groves of trees thrive in such a barren field?

Why so few?

Why so many?

And, when I finally did it, when I finally came out as transgender, what landscape stretched out to the horizon as I drove down the highway?

For some reason, it bothers me that I don’t remember.

*          *          *          *          *

As I drive through my former town, I remember a piece I wrote for autobiographical writing in college where I called it “Tintown” and described it as located on “Dirtywater Lake”.

The description still rings true.

The small town looks almost exactly the same as when I lived and grew up there. The only difference is an added stoplight for the new grocery store and a McDonald’s. Everything practically stands still in time.


Yet, as I drive over the bridge, I see the beauty of the water. Even though the lake is occasionally closed during the summer for toxic algae blooms, it still looks beautiful, especially now.

The edges of the water raised significantly, lapping at lawns, mere feet from someone’s home.

Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 2: Windmills

I wonder if I could hear a hum of wind and energy if I rolled my window down.

The silent beauty of towering white windmills dot the landscape and are the only attraction on the horizon as a setting sun dances with reds, pinks, and oranges across the sky.

Are these mammoth structures even called windmills, if there is nothing for them to mill?

Is the proper term, wind turbine?

Their solid white blades cut through the air.

I’ve grown used to them on this drive, but every time I rumble down I-40, more seem to pop up into existence.

Yet, I rarely see one being built.

They seem to just suddenly appear, multiplying, as if alive.  

*          *          *          *          *

I pull off the highway at the main Clinton exit.

A sign for the elusive Taco Mayo caught my attention, and I pull into the empty parking lot. It’s difficult to tell if the fast food Mexican joint is open, but I spot an employee leaning against the building sucking on a cigarette.

It must be open.

It was.

I pulled my car around the drive-thru and ordered my old favorite from my college freshman days, the #1, a grilled chicken burrito, spiced tater tots that are known as Potato Locos, and a large Coke.

Upon receiving my meal, I putted over to the nearest gas stations, which was located about a quarter of a mile from the highway.

As I filled up with the cheapest gas option, I noticed how old-fashioned and nostalgic the building was. It was retro. A combination new gas station with an attached Coney Island. The outside of the building was nearly all chrome-plated, reminiscent of an old Chrysler or some other American Graffiti-esque automobile.

On my way back to my car after a quick pitstop inside, I saw a familiar sign for the Route 66 Museum.

The familiar building brought back a flood of memories.

I climbed back into my car to drive away.

*          *          *          *          *

In the dark, the only thing visible aside from the immediate roadway are the blinking red lights atop the white, towering windmills.

There’s something almost alien about how they all flash at once.

A bright red light casting haunting shadows for miles at a split second pace.

The road feels impossibly unending, but the engine rumbles forward.

It is now well-past midnight.

And, yet, the road is still dotted with headlights.

Where are they all headed?

What kind of lives do they lead?

I really need another dose of caffeine.

*          *          *          *          *

It’s funny how different time seems.

My life in Oklahoma seems like an entire lifetime ago. Perhaps, in a way, it was.

But even something simpler, like a drive, can feel so different.

A ten hour drive today makes a three hour drive for a field trip to the Route 66 Museum feel like nothing now, but I remember it taking ages then.

I remember appreciating the museum.

It was neat, but we only went because as part of the A.P. English course. We read The Grapes of Wrath. I had dreaded reading the novel, mostly because I had hated The Pearl. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed this outing with Steinbeck.

On the drive on backroads back to my school, I felt unpleasantly full from the double-meat chili cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake.

It’s funny, after over ten years, the memory stands out so vividly. Leaning against the side of the bus. Bored and ready to be back.

The bus was surprisingly silent, most of my classmates were either making out or asleep.

But at the time, I considered myself the lucky one because when a bus of girls drove passed, I was the only one to notice that they flashed us.

Memory Isn’t Dead, Chapter 1: Ghosts

There are a lot of ghosts on this road. Every inch of blacktop highway a memory. Rumbling engines bring these memories to a roaring life or a quiet fading.

*          *          *          *          *

I wonder how many people try the Big Texan 72oz. steak challenge. These signs for it are practically everywhere. Starting east to west, I remember seeing one almost at the Oklahoma/Arkansas border.

It makes you wonder. How many people see that sign and think, yeah, I bet I can finish that meal and not a pay a dime?

Even on my hungriest day, I could never do it.

I bet there’s a lot of wasted food from drivers passing through thinking they can do it. I bet every . . . wait . . . I know every restaurant wastes a lot of food.

And, yet, every night, people still go to bed hungry.

If that isn’t a sign that this country has a sickness, I don’t know what is.

*          *          *          *          *

You can tell a lot about a place from the gas stations you find there. Towers of food. Walls of soda and neon-colored slushies. You can tell a lot. What that is, I don’t know. But, it says a lot.

*          *          *          *          *

Thunder can’t be heard, but lightning illuminates the dark southern sky. It is impossible to see the horizon. Everything dark.

Then, the sky flashes and rolling plains become visible.


The audiobook has been disappointing, but I was kind of expecting it. Perhaps, my disdain for the author’s disparaging Lost comments are hindering my enjoyment.

You may have been disappointed in the ending of Lost, George, but at least the show finished the way it wanted to. Are you even going to finish your series?

I should have downloaded something else to listen to.

*          *          *          *          *

We pulled up to where the water meets the road.

Piles of dirt are visible, appearing as small barren red dirt mountains in the midst of the flooded cove.

There should be a road here. The goal was to build it higher and avoid the possible floods of the future.

The goal failed.

I snap a quick picture for a Facebook post and climb back into the car. My younger sister asleep in the passenger seat after her graduation. My youngest sister watching my actions.

I shut the door and look at the water along the drainage ditch.

I see the ghost of a bobber, jerking and trembling as a small sunfish nibbled at the bait. I see the ghost of my father unhooking my catch, and I gently plop it back into the water, seeing it race away amongst the weeds. I see the ghost of a worm being attached to a hook as I eagerly cast away hoping to catch another, hoping this one will be larger than my 1st grader-sized palm. Within seconds of hitting the water, the bobber runs amongst the weeds again.

With my sisters in the car, I drive away, leaving the ghost of my next catch behind me.

*          *          *          *          *

How does a house become abandoned?

As I cruise down I-40, I wonder this as I pass another collapsing building.

The wooden walls leaning, a roof having disappeared years before. From what remains of the building, it is impossible to determine if it was a house or a barn or, perhaps, something else entirely.

Tall grasses grow from within what’s left of the structure.

What happened here?

When did the people who built this give up on the building?


So much must have happened here, and yet, now, nothing but nature taking back what she once held.

The engine purrs, and the tires rumble.

The voice of Roy Dotrice continues the story of the Seven Kingdoms and the lands beyond.

Yet, the ghosts along the road still remain.