I’m Driving, Jack!!

Like what I did there? A little shout out to Titanic. 😀

Anyhow, this past week was kind of a “whoosh” of learning. I spent the first two days reviewing various safety information with the rest of my class as they prepared to test for their CDL permits. I–having already gotten my permit–didn’t really have to be in class, but I figured I could always learn something else.

On the third day, I was put with an instructor and a more advanced student to go driving on real roads in Indianapolis! It seemed so sudden and yet, that is what I came to school for, right? So, I spent part of that trip watching the other student drive and listening to our instructor’s coaching until it was my turn in the driver’s seat. Then, I adjusted my seat, steering wheel and mirrors so I could reach pedals and shifter. It felt mostly like a really big car.

Once I was set up, my instructor coached me through what gear to start in, how to shift and where to turn next. It definitely takes some getting used to because there’s a trailer behind that needs to be considered when turning and the shifting uses a double clutch technique which is a bit different from the single clutching in a car. Remembering which gear the truck is in and using the switch on the shifter to go from the bottom group of gears to the top are new things, too. All things considered, my first drive went pretty well.

The fourth morning, I drove with the same instructor and two other students. I was a bit more settled that time and my shifting started getting a bit smoother. That afternoon, I started backing. Backing is definitely more of a challenge for me than moving forward. The instructor said I did good for my first try, but I was feeling rather out of my depth when class was over that day.

Friday, I drove with a different instructor a some more advanced students. That time I started learning how to downshift. Apparently, that’s something important to know for the CDL test along with so many other things I have to not think too much about at risk of getting overwhelmed. (Yeah, the syntax of that last sentence should give you a little idea of the subject, lol) Anyhow, after driving a couple of times that day, I gave backing another go. I started getting a bit more of what I need to look for at each step figured out, but it was still a bit overwhelming.

By Friday evening, I was ready for a reboot. My husband was at the yard (that’s what companies call the big parking lots where their drivers park their tractors and trailers) that afternoon getting his tractor looked at, so we were able to spend the evening together. Then, because he didn’t need to head off to get his next load until early Sunday, we spent Saturday together, too. We even got to spend some time together with our daughter, which hasn’t happened in more than a year.

It was definitely an enlightening week. I believe by tomorrow morning I will be ready to jump in again and continue this journey forward learning as I go. I hope you all have a great week and keep learning wherever you are in life, too.

Until next time, stay safe out there 🙂

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Travel time

So, Saturday I drove from Mississippi to Indianapolis where I’ll be participating in truck driving school. The first seven or so hours were nice. The sun shown most of the time with a few bouts of drizzle here and there. I listened to satellite radio here and there. Shout out to the Message and Jeff & Larry’s Comedy. Talked on the phone a bit. Enjoyed lunch at a beautiful rest stop outside Nashville where I took some time to walk under the trees.

Then, I went through Louisville, KY where the clouds let loose with what was apparently a mix of a cold front and tropical depression Gordon. My husband wanted me to be able to avoid the tole on I65, so he proceeded to guide me by phone through Saturday traffic. It went fairly well until he forgot I was supposed to take 265 and not 264. So, that was an adventure in a construction zone, in the rain. Thank God it was only a couple exits up to where I could turn around and go back to my correct exit. Unfortunately, the rain continued for the last 2 hours of the trip.

I arrived safely, got checked in at the dorms and brought my stuff in through the drizzle. In my attempt to move quickly and avoid getting drenched, I found I had left my phone charger and a few other things in my vehicle which necessitated a second trip. So, yeah. More wet.

Sunday, I dealt with some not unexpected anxiety issues. Big changes have tended to trigger various degrees of physical and mental challenges for me for much of my life as I’ve battled what was eventually diagnosed as panic disorder and depression.

Anyhow, after my mind and body settled down a bit, I spent part of the morning at the church I attended when I lived here. In the afternoon, I visited with a friend and then with my daughter before heading back to the dorm to prepare for my first week of truck driving classes.

All in all, it was a productive and enjoyable weekend.

Until next time readers, stay safe out there ☺️

Next Chapter

Hello again Readers!

It’s been quite a while since I last posted here. Since that time I’ve spent time as a student, a restaurant cashier, a day baker and a hairstylist. My time as a student lasted only a semester because I haven’t had the means to continue pursuing my Business Admin degree thus far. The restaurant cashier position was one I gladly gave up for the day baker position. Unfortunately, many of the day baker duties were beginning to cause serious stress on the joints of my hands, which have already been through many years of doing hair. Moving with my husband’s job found me back in the salon, still hoping for a door to open for a library job–which I finished training for 6 years ago–or for the chance to go back to school and finish my Business Admin degree. Neither of these is currently happening. So, seeing how 1) retirement age keeps coming closer, 2) I hardly ever get to see my husband, 3) the debts are still hovering at “you’ll pay them off when your dead” level and 4) my Third Culture Kid antsy-ness has me feeling never quite home, I’ve decided to earn my Commercial Driver’s License and drive team with my husband.

‘What’s a Third Culture Kid (TCK)?’, you may ask. Well, it’s a term I became familiar with only recently as I was chatting with a therapist. She told me I might want to look it up because many of the things I’ve struggled with in life might stem from that. I’m glad I took her advice as I believe it was another important stepping stone in my life journey.

Basically, a TCK is a person who grew up in one or more cultures that were not his/her parents’ culture. A great example is the new movie Crazy Rich Asians which features actors/actresses who were born to parents from places like Singapore and raised in places such as England or Australia. For me, it means being an Air Force brat born in North Dakota to parents from New Jersey and then living in Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Taiwan and North Carolina, all before fifth grade.

One of the hallmarks of many TCKs is their tendency to not quite know where ‘home’ is. To not have a ready answer when someone asks “Where are you from?”. I’ve personally struggled with this one from the first time I went to a public school that wasn’t on a military base. All those kids who had never been out of the county or state they were born in. What was that like? I thought they had weird accents and they thought I did. Many of them had the same friends since birth and most since kindergarten. My friends were only my parents and three siblings because the others I had known had likely moved to other places as well. I thought everyone was my friend before then because all of us kids knew we’d be leaving each other behind and making new friends sooner or later. Most of the kids in my new class hadn’t had to make new friends since the first day of kindergarten because they were all still there.

From what I’ve read here and there on the internet, many of us TCKs have had to meet loss and grieving at a very young age with parents who understandably weren’t really aware of our struggles or how to help us because they grew up in one place and left friends behind as adults. I had no idea until recently how to frame the pain and fear I’ve dealt with even into my adult life. I knew I had lost a lot along the way, but I hadn’t thought of it as a journey of grief. I thought that was for people who had often dealt with death as one of my former classmates did. But, losing relationships through death or insurmountable distance are still both losing relationships. And finding new friends to fill the roles in our lives that those people did is hard either way.

So, here I am, beginning a new adventure. Something I seem to have become pretty good at as I now enter middle-age. This time, we’re going to try to keep home base where it is in Mississippi as we traverse the country in a big truck….with me driving, too…yeah, this is should be a good one.

Until next time readers,

Stay safe out there 🙂

New York, New York

Heading into the city after crossing the GW

Long ago I told my New Jersey native cousin that I wanted to go to New York city. She quickly informed me that I didn’t really. Of course, the New York city I was thinking of visiting included Time Square, the flat iron building, 5th Avenue, Central Park and the Waldorf. Like so many Americans, I had become enamored of the idea that the city was beautiful and had to be experienced by all. 

While I have yet to see any of the aforementioned, famous New York city sites, I believe I have now gained some perspective regarding my cousin’s reaction those years ago. This change has come due to the handful of times I have traveled I95 through New York state thus far.

On the George Washington bridge, the GW

From New Jersey, I95 takes us over the George Washington bridge into New York city. The first time I remember going over the bridge was during rush hour. There are actually two tiers to the bridge with tractor trailers allowed only on the top. In spite of two tiers and 3 lanes in each direction, there were vehicles of every sort packed together and nearly running over each other. The term “rush hour” is definitely misleading in that part of New York!

View of New York city from the GW

Admittedly, I did enjoy the view of the city skyline from atop the bridge. I even saw the tiny figure of Lady Liberty way across the water. 

Once we crossed the bridge, we continued on under several cross over bridges that seemed more like mini tunnels. The pollution from so many people and vehicles was obvious in the air and on the soot covered, concrete walls. 

Many of the buildings were 15 stories or more high and I imagined going home to one of those upper story apartments each day. No, thank you.

Exiting the bridge, entering the city

We did pass a good size park area along the way. I would likely spend a lot of time there if I lived nearby.

Some green space amid the concrete and bricks

Although I found it intriguing to actually see “Queens” on a a directional sign and to know I was truly in “the city that never sleeps”, I’m not sure now if I really want to venture farther into “the Big Apple” seeing as how I’m not much for being in huge crowds or breathing lots of carbon pollutants. I guess I’ll just wait and see what comes next. 

Until next time, friends, drive safely out there 🙂 

A Bit of Maine 

Waterville, Maine

 dog walking while waiting for trailer to get loaded and going over the bridge from Maine to New Hampshire

Moose still doesn’t seem to me like it should sound the same when speaking of one animal as when speaking of many. I don’t know if that was a decision made by people in Maine or not, but apparently there are enough of them living there to warrant warning signs along the highway. Unfortunately for me and my touristy self, I didn’t get to see a moose while in the state. I didn’t see a lobster either. I wasn’t wholly disappointed with my visit, though. There were plenty of trees, sunshine and blue skies as we traveled the interstate. 

Didn’t get to see a moose, but saw plenty of these signs along the highway

When we headed off the interstate to the receiver, I was treated to the sights of small town life. Small businesses are more plentiful there than franchises and megastores unless you’re in one of the few large cities in the state. 

Overall, I enjoyed my first visit to the state. I think I’d like to visit again before the end of the month of September because I’ve heard the trees look amazing in their autumn colors. But, after investigating a bit about the snowfall amounts in winter, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be up there after mid October. I’ll just have to wait and see when the company sends us that way again.

Until next time, friends, drive safely 🙂 

Nice Bridge

I know. This blog title sounds like a weird compliment. But, it’s actually the name of a bridge that spans the Potomac River connecting Maryland and Virginia. Its full name is the Harry W. Nice Memorial bridge in honor of the man who was Governor of Maryland when the bridge was built. 

According to the Maryland Transportation Authority website, the bridge opened in December of 1940 and was originally called the Potomac Bridge. It’s 1.7 miles long, two lanes wide and clears 135 feet at its highest point. That’s like 13 stories high! Shiver.

I’ve gone over the bridge a few times thus far. One of those times we spent several hours in traffic approaching the bridge because of an accident on it. Needless to say, that was incredibly frustrating. 

For anyone who wishes to read more about the bridge, check out the Maryland Transportation Authority website. 

Until next time, friends, drive safely 🙂 

Ports of Entry

One new experience for me since I started riding shotgun is going to ports of entry. I hadn’t really considered before what it might be like to visit a place that’s essentially an very wet entrance/exit to these United States. 

My first visit took place several years ago at a port near Corpus Christi, Texas. We had to go through a gate, show our photo identification and be escorted to to where we picked up our load and then back to the gate. 

Recently, we had to deliver a load to the port of Savannah, Georgia. Because of some security changes, we had to have a TWIC escort. Basically, that’s a person with a special security identification that allows them to move freely around the port. More specifically, according to http://www.tsa.gov, “The Transportation Worker Identification Credential, also known as TWIC®, is required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act for workers who need access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime facilities and vessels.”

Our TWIC escort met us at the gate and had to physically be with us the entire time we were inside the gate. She even hung out with us while our trailer was unloaded. We were required to wear safety vests, as well. 

A few days ago, we went to the port of Albany, New York. The procedures were basically like the ones in Savannah except that I didn’t have to get out of the truck and our TWIC escort led us to where we needed to go in his security truck.

Apparently truck drivers who frequent ports for their jobs can apply for their own TWIC cards by paying a fee and submitting to a rigorous background check. They also have to meet specific requirements regarding their criminal history and citizenship status.  

I know we can’t guarantee that everyone crossing our borders or working around them is going to intend only good for our citizens, but it’s good to know someone in our government is working on it. 

Until next time, readers, drive safely out there 🙂