The World is Really Wild at Heart and Weird on Top, Lula Thought

I’m sitting in a cracked leather booth somewhere in the desert of west Texas.
I squint through the blinds and a faded sign tells me that I’m at Papa’s Pantry in Van Horn.
There are three ceiling fans in Papa’s Pantry.
They’re lazy, just like the tongue of the waitress who brings me my iced tea.
Wait, aren’t I still in Los Angeles?
Who are these two guys sitting behind me with cowboy hats?
Typically such a scene would mean I wandered onto a movie set.
But there are no lights and cameras in Papa’s Pantry.
I take a deep breathe and let out a slow exhale. Somebody has finally released the nozzle and let all the air out.
It feels good.
It feels terrifying.

I slept in Lourdsburg, New Mexico last night. A railroad town, a border town. Not a ghost walked the lone sidewalk. I drove down the main drag to one cheap motel after another. Neglected and outdated signs guiding the way. They all looked the same. Midnight and stucco. Cream and rot. Somewhere in the dark, I spotted a florescent beacon that told me that was where I was to sleep.

It takes a lot to work up my nerves, but I felt I’d seen my room before. In a movie where cops discover the body of a young woman lying on the floor. I checked underneath the bed but turned up only black beetles and locusts. The room had a distinct smell, one I couldn’t quite explain. It would be easy to say it smelled musty, but it didn’t. It smelled frightening. Like sex and death. And I longed for someone to be here with me. Dangerous, macabre motels should not be experienced alone but with cheap liquor and someone else to feel the scratch of polyester comforters on bare skin.

Horny and melancholic, I set out on the main road to find picture-worthy landmarks to add to my epic road journal that will mean only something to me. Everything was desolate and forgotten. The motel pool hadn’t seen water in years and what was left of the nearby gas station boasted $1.85 unleaded. The only signs of life were the humming of the crickets and the rhythm of the freight train. I took a few pictures in case they’d be needed as evidence when my bludgeoned body was found shoved in a dumpster around back.

My room was sweltering. I stripped down to my underwear and texted a former lover that he should be there. I drifted off to sleep but was awoken at 4AM to my TV turning on. I glanced sideways at the nightstand and noticed that the remote was still sitting there. I calmly turned off the television but told myself I should be more concerned that the TV turned itself on. I’d occasionally opened one eye to to see if a shadowy figure was standing over me and fell back into the uneasy sleep only a motel room like that could bring.

At 9:45AM a wake up call that I didn’t ask for. I was hesitant to pick it up. I expected to hear on the other end a crackly voice asking where Billy was and that if I didn’t put Billy on the phone right now, the crackly voice was going to come down to my room with a shotgun.
I let it ring and ring and decided it was time to go.

As I packed my car, an old John Wayne western on in the background, a gentleman with 4 teeth in his mouth introduced himself to me. His name was Ron and, “Yep, I am the owner of this here place.”

“Well, Ron. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Where you headed?” he asked.

“Austin, from Los Angeles. Doing some soul searching, I guess. I don’t know. You live here in Lourdsburg for long?”

“Grew up in Oklahoma, then spent some time at the casinos in Vegas, then bought this place. Now it’s my home. See, I live directly above you.”

He pointed to door above room 104. I could see through the opening that his room had the same bedding and artwork as mine. A Native American woman in pastel tones.

He wished me a safe trip and I told him that if I ever find myself in Lourdsburg again, I will stop by.

I got back in the car. Another leg. Another journey through the heart of the American Southwest. Another day of questioning. Another day of listening to “This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)” on repeat.

I followed the barrelling freight train through the desert and hoped I could muster up the same energy.

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  • Reply Damian August 31, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    If you have any more "verge of recreating shower scene from Psycho" posts, I'd like to read them.

    Very cool. Especially for somebody looking to do the same – taking my shit elsewhere, not being stabbed in a shower.

  • Reply Stephanie August 31, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    i'm such a chicken wouldve been up all night. youre pretty brave.

  • Reply Damian August 31, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    California being in the dumps doesn't change the idea of me wanting to go elsewhere. Any suggestions?

  • Reply Wes August 31, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    those are the kind of places where i joke about a horror film starting while secretly freaking myself out as i double check there is no one behind the sofa.

    once its in your head its hard to get out.

  • Reply Hannah Miet August 31, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    This was quite a spectacular post. It's nice to read a bit of your background story. And you have balls. Soul searching takes balls. Not just the packing up everything and leaving part, but the staring into your own soul part. That's more frightening than sex and death scented motel rooms and Psycho killers.

    Anyway, despite being interesting, this was also wonderful stylistically. If you ever write a book, I'd love to read it.

  • Reply withthejoneses September 1, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I like the photographs, very intimate!

  • Reply Tennyson ee Hemingway September 1, 2009 at 1:42 am

    I love that song. Perfect for driving through the desert.

  • Reply fragileheart September 1, 2009 at 4:02 am

    There is a part of me dying to do this.. right. now. But obviously I'm too scared, or I feel I have too much to lose. Love the red panties 😉

    Also, you're freakin' awesome dude (ette).

  • Reply The_Mandinator September 1, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Lol. I started thinking of that movie, Vacancy.

    Ehh. That movie scared the shit out of me.

    Glad to hear you made it out alive. 🙂

  • Reply Lauren Modery September 1, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Damian- I've lived in NY, L.A., Chicago, Virginia, Maryland, and now Texas. My life in Austin, Texas is near perfect. I can't believe how amazing it is here. You should move to Austin, TX.

    Hannah- Your comment stuck with me all night. You always boost my confidence. Thank you.

    Hemingway- That is my #1 favorite song ever. According to Itunes, I've listened to it over 10,000 times. I want it played at my wedding and funeral.

    Fragileheart- Just go do it. You won't regret it. I promise. It was the best decision of my life (both times).

  • Reply mysterg September 1, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Paul Schrader wrote Taxi Driver whilst living out of his car…and this post kind of reminded me of Notes from the Underground…and the Solomon Burke song 'Fast Train'…

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  • Reply ash.lin. September 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    "Like sex and death" sounds like a great pickup line as well.

  • Reply K-Bird December 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Wow this is a very dramatic and interesting post. I agree, I would not have slept!

  • Reply Missy Copeland December 21, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Lol wow, so brave! haha.
    you should follow me too!

  • Reply wittysaint December 21, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    hi driving with out a plan will always tantalise me when i am a flush with cash and it will lead you to novel expiriences if you are really up to it dont give up.

  • Reply thatgalkiki December 21, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I echo Hannah's post. Well done – and you are MY new hero.


  • Reply pinksundrops December 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Love that you recycled this! So much more of you and how you ended up here : ) .

  • Reply Hipstercrite December 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    K-Bird and Missy- Thanks ! I will have to check out your blogs too!

    Witty- Road trips, I think, are a huge inspiration for a writer. I want to travel more!

    Kiki- I'm going to be following your blog like a crazy girl.

    PinkSunDrops- Thanks! I'm so happy to be here. Hopefully we can meet up again soon!

  • Reply Alan Nicholas Negative December 22, 2009 at 10:16 am

    your blog is excellent, keep it up. thank you for following mine.

  • Reply J2M0A0C9 December 22, 2009 at 10:24 am

    hello friend,

    Im jerick mac of and I am happy to exchange links with you. I have added you on my blogroll (check it here:
    Thanks so much. just email me or place a comment on my blog if you have something to say. Good day!

  • Reply Ivan Toblog (aka IT) December 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I have lived in a number of different places too. Until I changed, they were all alike.

  • Reply Ivan Toblog (aka IT) December 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I have lived in a number of different places too. Until I changed, they were all alike.

  • Reply Freelance Pallbearer December 22, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    "Can I use your head?" said Bobby Peru.

    What a mordant dram-of-whiskey-shot-down-the-lung this is; when your sweat is cold, and each car passing you by is the end of your life. Most of mine were in Oklahoma though, as NM always felt like going home. Anyways, excellent stuff. Don't drive by any car wrecks, Lula has a bad feeling. Best change the radio too.

  • Reply Concord Carpenter December 24, 2009 at 3:36 am

    That was an incredibly well done post… weird, cool, funny, scarey and sexy all in one!

    Well done girl! Look forward to readig more.

  • Reply samsstuff December 29, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Great post! I first saw the mention of this New Mexico border town, saw the photo of the swimming pool & thought of the place my parents stayed in after they got married (in the late 50's), on their way to Arizona. They have photos of themselves standing by the pool in their wedding clothes. It's interesting how places change & stay the same, at the same time. It wasn't my mother's favorite place, even back then.

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