Day 301: Learn to Drive, Lara

by Lara.

While heading up to New Hampshire to spend an evening with my parents a funny thing happened. I drove to New York instead. This image shows how very wrong that was: New Hampshire is labeled, and New York is the gray blob to the left of Massachusetts. I realize most of you would know this, but I wanted to reiterate it for myself.

I did not actually make it to New York, or even to Connecticut. But I did double the time of my drive up here.

The problem was that I sidetracked to grab something and attempted to take an "alternative route." This “alternative route” to NH doubles as the beginning of the standard route to NY so I just stopped reading passing signs, and drove like I always do. About an hour past where I was supposed to turn off the highway, a light bulb went off and a lot of cussing went on. To add insult to injury, backtracking to my NH route I had to pass right by my house, which I had left three hours before.

This got me to thinking about habits, and how they die hard, and what the expression “die hard” really means and whether Bruce Willis ever had this line of thought. But this type of associative and meandering thinking is what gets me in trouble. I have always admired Claire for the intensely intentional way that she lives her life because I am very “fly by the seat of my pants” (another phrase I would LOVE to know the origins of) and sometimes do not really pay much attention to what is going on and so do things like drive to the wrong state. I am concerned that I could be this out of it while driving quickly, but more on that later.

Once I stopped my private, but not quiet, verbal session of self-flagellation, I was able to focus on how amazing it is that we can be so settled into one perspective of the world that we stop questioning our perceptions of that world. I had decided I was on the right highway, so my little pea brain never wondered why I was passing towns entirely out of the way of my destination. I was shocked by myself, and felt quite stupid when I had to call my parents and explain my whereabouts.

But this is simply a stupid mistake—yet another addition to the ever-growing library of Lara is Not All That Bright anecdotes that entertain/annoy the masses, and Claire in particular. What I found worrisome, however, was that if I am able to do this while speeding down a highway, looking out for policeman, and making self-declared-GENIUS-level retorts to NPR commentators, what else can I choose to ignore? I had a set view of what was happening today, so I ignored LITERAL sign after sign to the contrary. Sadly, when things contradict a larger world view—an opinion about someone, an idea of a situation, a preference for white chocolate—the signs look less like neon and are decidedly harder to read. I have such a formed view of the world, and while I like to think I am constantly reassessing it, this afternoon jaunt to ANOTHER STATE made me wonder.

But now that I am in the right state, I can appreciate it. There is currently a winter carnival in Newport, NH, the oldest Winter Carnival in the U.S.’ history, at a whopping 91 years old. My town sounds like a beacon of culture, doesn’t it? Tell that to “Nana,” proprietor of “Nana’s House” and purveyor of “souvenirs, knick knacks and stuff.” In still more news about the lovely Lara home, we are anticipating TWO FEET of snow up here. Take that, Puxatawny Phil.


Jonathan said...

good thoughts re: worldview

also, if i recall correctly, 'to fly by the seat of one's pants' originated in aviation, where it meant to fly without using instrumentation.

this is not to be confused with 'fly-by-night', which means 'shady'. though i imagine many 'fly-by-night' organizations also 'fly by the seat of their pants'.

Anonymous said...

i severely doubt that, at 91 years old, that is the oldest winter carnival. someone is lying to you.

Anonymous said...

that was me. claire.

Anonymous said...

no, I'M claire!!

Lara said...


Allie said...

I have not-so-bright moments, too, Lara. More that average people do. These so-called average people don't believe the stories until they've been around me a couple of days. Then they understand.

For example, I've [unintentionally] super glued my eyelids shut*. If you or anyone you encounter should do this, the emergency room will simply tell you that the super glue solvent can NOT be used on eyes, and the petroleum jelly must be used to break the bond down.

*I was not aware that the nozzle of super glue should be cleaned with a needle or small nail before every use. This prevents blockages, which can that cause the glue to squirt in directions other than the one intended- like an eye.

(Side note: my word verification for this comment [wevuhdg] was actually quite difficult. I had to stare at it at least 15 seconds before determining the correct order of the last three or four letters... and then it wasn't even right. What's with these COMPLEX word verifications? Couldn't they just have 5 letters instead of "kjjfqvmz"?)

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