South Nashville Blues

The title is a song by Steve Earle, an alt.country musician, about his self-destructive days. Don't ask me where South Nashville is, I'm new here myself.

Driving in Nashville

Saturday I got my first taste of Nashville roads. Only Dad could tell me otherwise, but I think this is what driving in Boston must be like. Not the drivers, no, everyone's pretty polite, but the roads... oh man, the roads.

Nothing, let me repeat, nothing here is laid out in a grid.

I think it must date back to pioneer days, when you were glad there was a road at all, regardless of how twisty it might be; nor did you care that the folks in the next town (two miles away) named that road Nashville Avenue whereas you called it Nashville Pike. It was under you, it led somewhere, that was enough.

I wish they had paid a little more attention.

There is a river—well, perhaps it is a lake, I can't tell—that meanders through Metro Nashville. At one point, three bridges cross it to link the old downtown with Madison, Inglewood and Gallatin. There is a fourth, mythical bridge, but I have never been on it. This is not because I have not tried. This is because I do not yet know the secret onramp (or handshake) that would get me to it. It would link me, hanging out as I do in Madison, with the towns south of Nashville. I have been in those towns. I have just never gotten there the direct way. Perhaps, in the future, I will construct a raft at a narrows and float my car across.

Saturday, I drove a lot.

Things I've learned

I also learned, here at the Madison Library (where I got a visitor's card) that if you set a copier at 73% reduction to legal-size paper, you can photocopy two facing pages in a phone book and save yourself a lot of transcribing. I copied the pages for employment agencies, computer-related items, and coffee shops. I was also looking for a Tennessee equivalent of MichiganWorks! down here, but I don't think there is one.

By the way, repeatedly typing "Tennessee" is more fatiguing than you might think.

Water is cheaper if you buy it in gallons from Wal-Mart.

Cash is still king. I have a cashier's check from my CharterOne account (they have no branches in TN; I made sure to ask). However, cashing one can require paying 5% or more as a fee. I wish I had thought of that Saturday morning, when I could have opened an account and deposited it for free. As it is, I will have to wait for Monday morning.

Things I've done

Looked for a replacement for 4th Coast Cafe. (A reason for much of the driving.) I am specifically looking for Internet access, as well as that half-emo/Goth, half-undergrad, half-biker bar atmosphere of the Coast. I didn't find it, but I could have entered one cafe that looks like a particularly scuzzy bar and watched A Flock of Seagulls last night.

Oddly, I turned it down.

Laundry. Especially the jeans I wore when changing my oil.

I finally retraced my steps to Gallatin today. Not quite intentionally: I was looking for a place to rotate my tires. The back ones are original and have much tread on them; of course, on a front-wheel drive car, they are only there to keep the gas tank off the macadam. My front tires, the second front set, are severely worn. I was thrilled to find a small store in a corner of a massive parking lot that was being heavily remodeled (thus, I would neither scare off nor displace any customers). I asked the construction workers for, and got, permission to change my tires there. Aside from numerous caterpillars, it went great, and I now have lots of tread on the front, where all the accelerating, braking and steering is done.

Did I mention that I was thrilled? Well, I am.

I read the Remo Williams book Ian lent me (whoops, it came with accidentally) and have read more essays by Jorge Luis Borges. Going between the two is a bit odd.

I have been thinking out getting one of those styrofoam coolers and keeping food in it, but I think, with no place to keep it but the car, that it would be a bit quixotic. The air is cool up here (I think my tires showed overinflation because they were at proper pressure in Kalamazoo, and I do think my elevation here is much higher) but the sun is Kalamazoo summer intense. I sincerely hope that, when summer really arrives, that I will have not only an apartment, or a room, but an air conditioner.

Darn, the library is closing. Well, I am off to that scuzzy coffee bar. Perhaps I can sweet-talk the barista into letting me use the address on applications. Perhaps I will simply do that anyway, heh. Dinner will be light tonight but I have gas and fresh tread. So: good enough.

I've become far too used to watching out for cops: driving with expired tags, as I was, sleeping in parking lots. It's not a huge deprivation, sleeping like that, nor is it that I have too much to do or too much time on my hands; it's the between times, times when you'd go downstairs and see who is on AIM or Yahoo chat, or write an email, or phone someone, or go visit that you really realize what you left behind.

(There are about twice the number of employment agencies in Nashville as Kalamazoo. Wish me luck. If you stop by Wal-Mart, look me up. Oh, and do consider frequenting their stores: they are, however unintentionally, sponsoring this move of mine, heh heh heh.)

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