Ah, the holiday season has arrived. It’s a time to rest, to take joy in life, to be thankful for the wonderful bounties bestowed upon us, and to be with family. It’s that last one that always gets you in the end. I love my family. I do, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the cheese in Wisconsin. (This is primarily due to the fact that I cannot STAND cheese and won’t put it anywhere near my mouth unless it has either pizza or Christina Milian underneath it. Damn, she’s fine.) What I don’t love is visiting them.

I say “visiting them” because they simply won’t visit us, by and large. They all live in South Carolina, and few of them have come to see us, and even fewer have made more than one trip. Dallas is just “too far” for them, although they all secretly want US to come see THEM at every opportunity. OK, so maybe it’s not such a secret, since “When are you coming to South Carolina?” is hardly a subtle question. Seeing how the road goes both ways, and the distance is the same no matter which end you start from, it seems patently unfair to always make us to the lion’s share of the traveling, especially since we’ve got The Hellbats to consider when traveling. But since the family is resistant to traveling so far to come see us, it’s up to us to go see them. We made a plan, saved some pennies, and decided to drive since flying is expensive as hell, and we’d have to rent a car anyway upon arrival because our families are scattered throughout the state.

I don’t know how many of you have ever traveled long distances with small children, but if you haven’t, you really should. It’s one of life’s little experiences that everyone should partake in, if only so you can nod appreciatively when parents start complaining about how much it can suck. And my kids have it MADE, people. We have a dual screen DVD player, a ton of movies, a plug-in cooler for their juice boxes, Sirius satellite radio so they can listen to their devil music Radio Disney, and all the games/toys/whatever they might want to keep them occupied during the long trip. They even have cupholders! Do you think I had cupholders when I went on longs trips as a kid? Sure, I had cupholders, but most people just called them “hands”. But even with all that, kids will be kids, and kids will complain. Every decision was second-guessed. “Dad, if we didn’t make that pit stop, we’d be in South Carolina faster.” “Next time, we’re taking an airplane, Dad. We’d be there by now.” “I wanna drive all night the next time we drive, so we’ll get there sooner.” Do you know how gosh-darned annoying that shit is? Neither one of them has a lick of money, and they’re gonna tell ME how to spend MINE? I think not. And if I here “He’s touching me” or “He took my [whatever toy] from me” again, I might have to stab myself in the temple with an unsharpened #2 pencil. Kids are the devil.

I discovered one good thing about driving a long distance, though, especially if you suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (I don’t suffer from mine – I enjoy it): ADD medication. I haven’t had the opportunity to make this drive since being medicated, and I assumed that taking a Concerta would seriously help me focus and stay alert while on the road. After all, that’s what it does for me at work. When I’m working, and the Concerta is kicking in, I enter a zone that I like to call the Concerta Flow. Having ADD is a lot like trying to select a particular card out of a deck, while blindfolded, and in a stiff wind. Oh, and some of the cards are in a darkened room in another building altogether. The meds help you find that card immediately, and use the hell out of it. The Concerta Flow is the state of mind I enter once I’ve selected the thing I’m going to focus on, and I begin my task. When I’ve entered the Flow, I lose the ability to focus on other things, like conversations or people or flying monkeys or anything unrelated to the task at hand, which makes it interesting when my focus is needed elsewhere. And I discovered that, when driving, once I enter the Flow, I can only focus on one thing: driving. Specifically, license plates. When we finally left town at 4:20 (original departure time: 2pm) after stopping for gas, a DC power cord for the DVD player, and an assload of Dallas road construction, I was locked in. I saw nothing but license plates, and I tore ass from Dallas to Shreveport, where my family’s cries for unnecessary things like ‘dinner’ finally broke through the medically-induced barrier, plus we had to buy 4YO a jacket because he thoughtfully took his off and left it at the house before we departed. Thanks, son.

DWW took over from Shreveport to Monroe, but I had Concerta flowing through me and I could not be denied. I drove like a maniac until we finally arrived in Jackson, MS, a spot we deemed “Somewhat acceptable” out of the available places to stop. When you’re an interracial couple driving through the Deep South, it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings, and to make good decisions for your own benefit and safety. Jackson is a big town, and along Interstate 20, it’s the best stop for us to make, on the whole. I don’t know what we’d run into in Meridian, MS, and I’m not in a big hurry to find out. So, at midnight, we hit Jackson, and rested. 400 miles down, 550 more to go. More to follow.