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White Noise and Leeches

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Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the illusion of a flawless family road trip. The four or five faces grinning from ear to ear as they're all shoved into a car the size of a box of crackers. Yeah, I really wanna go on a road trip now.

I mean originally the idea of the road trip seemed interesting. You're with a group of people, forced to get cozy with them in a car and setting off for the land beyond. At first it even seems exciting.

"Let's go!" My dad barked at my sister and I. It was six am. That's in the morning by the way. Yep, it was super exciting. I was squished in the backseat between a car door on my right side and my sister's white pillow on my other. A box of CDs lay at my feet. I had all my stuff (composed of two books, iPod, and my phone) tucked in the giant pocket behind the front passenger seat also known as the infamous "shotgun" seat.

There seemed to be more room in my incoming coffin than in that seat. Oh well. I sucked in and thought thin. And we were off.

So road trips are really one big fat lie. You don't wear that grin all through the trip, you end up fighting with your car mates a day or two in, and you definitely have to make do with certain situations, especially if you forget certain items. For example, I forgot my toothbrush once when I went to yearbook camp two years ago and I went without brushing my teeth for three days. Talk about rude awakenings.

This time I only forgot my phone charger. I've had to piggyback off of the rest of my family, sucking the juice out of their phone cords like a blood sucking parasite. Yep I am a phone leech. They didn't really mind. I know my sister wasn't happy the first time I borrowed her cord. Again on road trips you tend to fight with people a few days in.

Like this morning I fought with her about sharing the sink. I mean I know that personal hygiene for some people is more than optional, but sharing is caring.

And speaking of sharing, my mother decided to bring a antediluvian cd boom box so it could play her 1990's Jeff fox worthy cassette tapes. My sister and I plugged our headphones into our more familiar iPods and cranked the volume. Only between songs was I able to hear the somewhat muffled voice of the famous entertainer. "If you crawl up a water tower with a bucket of paint to defend a girl's honor...(the audience laughs)...then you're a redneck." I looked out the window. My mom wasn't laughing. Although I did hear her once say to my dad, "that's us" when fox worthy said something else that qualifies you for being a redneck.

If anyone's been a pain in the neck so far it's my sister. All car ride long she sleeps, leaning on either me or my dad with her giant white pillow. And then in the hotel rooms the bed shakes with her tossing and turning. In the mornings she wakes up, apparently exhausted. Yeah no duh, sleeping is hard work, you should go take a nap. You've had a long hard day. Sheesh.

"If you're grandma yells to you 'come and look at this before I flush the toilet'...you're a redneck." The radio buzzed, white noise. Why was I on this road trip again?

Oh right, my future. I was going college visiting to be exact. We had driven through Nebraska and into Iowa for three different college visits. I had met with two professors, both shrewd and at first looming in their credentials. But I related to them very well. They were in their element, I just let myself walk in. Yeah I'm an element leech.

It's easy to talk to someone if you know what they like. For instance both of the professors I talked to were in the English departments of those colleges. What else was I to talk about? The weather? But I found it extremely easy to talk to them. Once I dropped names like Austen, and Shakespeare, and Baum into my speech they exploded like bombs and I stood there watching the professors as fireworks showered sparks above their heads. Bravo. Good impression. But one interview I had with another family. Showering any fireworks about myself seemed awkward. So I sat, hands folded in that pitiful gray chair, looking like it was transported from a 70's movie.

My mom had just decided to extend the road trip a few days longer so she could go see Mount Rushmore. Apparently she's got this thing for Mount Rushmore. She's been wanting to see it for a while. So finally we're going. And I'm stuck with my sister in the backseat. This time she put the pillow in the trunk so I don't have to feel so anorexic.

The one perk about college visits is the stuff you get on them. I'm writing this wearing one college's shades over my eyes, looking of course, snazzy. I also got two t shirts from two different colleges and a cookie from one of them. Sweet. It definitely makes the walking in the hot sun, hearing facts that you know you won't remember, worth it. Well kind of. Personally I would want to get paid for taking the tour, I mean the college may or may not get the money I may/may not have so wouldn't it make sense to kind of compensate for my loss? Then again I'm sure the college paid a fortune for the myriad amount of papers I hold in my hands as I walk around on their campus. Do I really need all these adds saying "we want you...r money?" I think not.

I mean afterwards or sometimes before depending on the visit, you get to sit with a college admissions rep and discuss money. How fun. I try not to drool sitting there listening to their droll talk. Who wants to listen to: "and we have one of the most successful sports teams in the country."

Really college visiting is a formal way of bragging. The college brags about themselves and you brag to either the professors or the rep about yourself. It's an all out bragging war. Typically I lose as the college tries to sway me over and I have to nod and smile and say: "that's so cool!" They aren't too swayed by my bragging. After all, I'm just a number. I walk in I walk around I walk out. The usual. And typically it's boring when you don't get to see what you really want to see, your department, the school's museum, or the top floor of the dorms. You just get to see the typical, stale, boring college visit tour stuff.

But what really sweetens the ennui of the college visit are the pens. I don't know how they do it, but every single pen I get from a college seems to last me months and the ink never smears nor does the pen leak. Writing with it makes me feel like my hand is waltzing. I mean I'm a writer so pens are kind of a necessary thing. If it wasn't so deadly i would inject myself with ink every day to illustrate how much I use it to express my thoughts. Then again, I'd probably turn blue. And then I'd really look like a leech.

If there's one thing on this road trip we won't run out of it's pens. Although I only have three from three different colleges, I think they'll last a long time. And probably one day colleges will make them indestructible. They're almost that way now. The pen is mightier than the sword they say. Might be time to expand my arsenal. I still have more colleges to visit. My trip has only begun.



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