Road Trip: 1,822 miles (Houston, TX)


Note to self: driving 21+ hours across two days is a really stupid idea. I’m not in my twenties anymore. Also, driving INTO hurricane strength weather is equally inadvisable. In spite of all these boneheaded decisions, I made it into Houston safe and sound.

I’ll get to the other states later, but when I crossed the border into Texas two things greeted me. One was a smoothly paved highway with fast speed limits. The other was an enrapturing sunset. The sky was massive with painted hues streaked across it. When the sun was underneath the horizon, dark clouds came across the sky like someone pulling a curtain over the day. It was magnificent. I laughed and smiled while driving (and swerved a bit too).

Just as quickly as Texas showed its beauty, it gave me a taste of its bite. Highways split into multiple exits at the drop of a hat and every turn felt like a last minute hairpin. One axiom of Houston life became readily apparent.

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Road Trip: 409 miles (Falls Church, VA)


Leaving Virginia appears to be more difficult than I had anticipated. My plans for Nashville and Memphis fell through in a spectacular last-minute fashion which had me scrambling for a Plan B. Now I find myself staying in the “Old Dominion” state a bit longer while I reroute my entire road trip.

The upside is that I’m in familiar stomping grounds. I spent roughly a year here in 2013, working a government project, and have many fond memories of the place. It’ll be nice to see some old faces and hit the great restaurants that litter the area. Even as I write this I’m picturing one of my favorite Lebanese dishes which is a stone’s throw from where I’m staying. My mouth is watering at the thought. [click to continue…]


Road Trip: 359 miles (Fredericksburg, VA)


The next leg of my journey was only an hour north of Richmond and yet it felt like a completely different planet. Yes, it’s the suburbs and a much smaller place (28K vs. 214K), but that’s not what set it apart. Just look at the photo above. Rustling trees. Absolute quiet. This is a world away.

The city was a welcomed distraction from the burnout of dwelling on heavy questions, but the quiet up here is exactly what I needed. Sitting on this deck I watched nature paint pictures in the sky and enjoyed a refreshing adult beverage while editing my good friend’s short story. This kind of calm atmosphere is what I have to find when I reach the end of my road trip. It doesn’t mean I’m moving to the sticks, only that having an easily accessible moment of Zen calmed my mind unlike anything else.

Finding my real trigger points—the things that affect me mind, body, and soul—has been an unexpected benefit of this endeavor. I can’t wait to see what else I discover. [click to continue…]


7 Essential Books for Writers on the Road


When you’re couch surfin’ and road trippin’ you need to pack light, but what does a writer with a fondness for paperbacks do in such a situation? One main goal during my travels is to pound out words every day. Using that as my sole criteria, I chose only the physical books that would help me on my quest. Everything else was relegated to the Land of Kindle.

These assorted tomes have been essential resources for me as I’ve developed my writing. One book would help with the realities of the business while another would give me insight into story structure. Some were needed when writer’s block felt like concrete and a couple reminded me about the joy of the craft. I’ve recommend all these books to anyone looking to expand their skills with the written word because they’ve been invaluable to me over the years. [click to continue…]


Road Trip: 303 miles (Richmond, VA)


As they say, the best laid plans often go awry, and mine have been no exception. My road trip started off much later than expected and driving for 4 1/2 hours isn’t as easy as it used to be, especially at night. The highway up to Virginia was often a dark corridor of massive trees crowding the road and leaving little leeway for tired mistakes. A couple of times the taillights ahead of me would disappear around a corner and it felt like I was flying through inky blackness at 90 mph toward places that didn’t exist on this world. Yeah, these are the thoughts that pop into my head on long journeys.

Luckily, I made it up in one piece (thank you, Red Bull & King-sized Twix) and reached my first stop – Richmond, VA. A very good friend of mine lives here and has offered me a place to stay for a while. I’ve known this guy for almost ten years and barely get to see him, but whenever we bump into each other it’s like we were hanging out just yesterday. That’s a rare friend.

Now that this endeavor has started in earnest, I thought it best to cover what I have and what I want to accomplish. [click to continue…]

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Couch Surfin’ USA


If you’ve kept up with this blog then you know I’ve made several changes in my life (after it kicked me in the balls) such as a move toward more quiet days for self-reflection and leaving the city of Charlotte for good (with no clear path ahead).

Now we’re reaching the end of August and it scares the shit out of me. I didn’t know where I was headed a month ago and little has changed since. When I talked to my friends about this almost everyone was quick to praise the freedoms of the open road with no constraints. I honestly think people are in love with the “idea” of the journey, but have no clue what it actually entails. Shit, I have no concept of its realities either yet I’m smart enough to know it’s not going to be an idealized recreation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road where I find myself while traveling the American landscape.

First of all, that version of America doesn’t exist anymore. Second, I’m not able to live off 10 bucks a week working random odd jobs. The cost of “finding oneself” has gone up drastically due to inflation and cynicism. Third, I’m not palling around with beat poets trading cosmic revelations in an extended creative vision quest. This will be me, myself, and I, in a car for long periods of time hoping to avoid toll roads and overeager State Troopers.

As vague as my future may be there are some things that I can count on. [click to continue…]


OneDrive, Windows 10, & Ultrabooks Don’t Mix


Let me start by saying I like Windows 10. The new OS has a clean interface, a much better Start Menu than either 7 or 8.1, and snappier overall performance. I really wanted to love the upgrade and I did, for a little while, until I slammed my head right into the OneDrive issue.

OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) is a cloud storage service provided by Microsoft. It works well in Windows 7 and is integrated directly into the File Explorer in Windows 8.1. You get 15 GB free to start and can either accumulate more space through referrals or purchase more space through a subscription. It’s a solid addition to any cloud storage strategy (I also use Dropbox and CrashPlan).

Since OneDrive has become a key player in my writing workflow I can’t live without it, which is why Windows 10 changing the fundamental behavior of the service forced me to roll back to 8.1. Here’s a brief rundown for those unfamiliar with the Windows 10 debacle and how I tried to work around it. [click to continue…]


Next Stop: Unknown


Rarely have I fallen in love with a place or city.  I’ve visited several parts of the world and thoroughly enjoyed many of them, but the head over heels reaction that you read about in travel blogs and see in movies has completely eluded me.  Too many questions cloud my mind to allow any sense of euphoria to take hold – What’s the cost of living? Is the job market good? Do I enjoy it only because I’m a tourist?

The one thing I know with 100% certainty is that I’m done with Charlotte, NC.  It may be an amazing place for some, but I’m burned out by its superficial friendliness and the swarm of bad memories lurking around every corner.  Too many personal and professional failures.  I want this new chapter in my life to start fresh without the baggage of my past.

So I do what any writer does when confronted with a dilemma, I put words to paper and figure it out on a blank page.  Hopefully—through the combination of my online noodling and the hive mind of the Internet—recommendations, advice, or warnings will find themselves in the comments section of this post. [click to continue…]


Life Kicked Me in the Balls


I used to love climbing up corporate ladders grabbing rung after rung.  The thrill of the chase and the joy of achievement were enough to keep me satisfied.  Brass rings, accolades… whatever you wanted to call them, I snagged those puppies on my race toward the capitalistic nirvana known as the American Dream.

For the longest time I thought this was the proper order of things.  Build financial security to rely upon later in life while enjoying the perks of being a traveling consultant, then fully immersing into my creative endeavors, once I was “comfortable” enough.  Of course, like any other pipe dream, reality had a different path in mind for me. [click to continue…]


Quiet Days


I miss the peace of of my younger days, not from a misguided sense of nostalgia, but because they were the times before the Internet when being hyper-connected meant having a beeper and quarters in your pocket for the payphone.  Self-reflection wasn’t a luxury, it was an everyday exercise.  I’d spend days lost in books and nights sitting on the trunk of my car staring into the night sky pondering the random bullshit that inhabited my mind.  Sometimes, if I was lucky, I would be a blank slate and absorb the kind of silence that only comes from darkness.

Those quiet days made up a majority of my early life.  I didn’t jump into mainstream living till much farther along my timeline.  They called me a late bloomer.  I wish I had appreciated the gift that slowness gave me, living without the pressures of the outside world or its frantic pace.  [click to continue…]


A Tweet, a Train, & Ksenia Anske

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The name Ksenia Anske first came across my Twitter feed in playful banter with other authors I adore.  They would banter back and I was intrigued.  With a quick click I checked out her profile, scanning to see if it was worth following.  I go through this checklist-in-my-head with all my potential Twitter follows: 1) do they post interesting thoughts or links? 2) are they only an advertisement for whatever “thing” they’re selling? 3) do they re-tweet others and support the community? 4) would they add or detract from my Internet experience?

May seem excessive for most, but I prefer to curate my list of follows no matter what social media I’m using.  It’s not a numbers game for me, it’s all about quality and creativity.  So I ended up following her and enjoying a stream of writing tweets, threats of violence to other writers for not writing, and proclamations of insane word counts (i.e. 2k+ a day, everyday).  Then I saw a photo of a train and truly fell down the rabbit hole. [click to continue…]