Category Archives: Fayetteville

Last Morning

I left a homemade bottle light on the huge deck at the Airbnb house. In the deep dark of the valley, it shone like a beacon, looking down on the valley floor where the pond rests. Erika and I left my last Jackie cup up near the ridiculously distant game room/building. I took a picture of the very first part of the driveway. Words can’t describe how steep, serpentine and long it is. Attempting to walk up it is a cardiac stress test even for the fittest. Don’t forget to ask Erika how much she enjoyed the attempt. 🙂 The house is beautiful, especially at night. But if towering windows and isolation give you the heebiejeebies, you would have to sleep in one of the closets here. All of the bedrooms on different levels have uncovered sliding glass doors with a deck that defines description of size. If you’re a fan of light, the huge living area is flooded during the day. The last picture is of camera- shy Erika’s silhouette.

Airbnb Modesty Test

Modesty test. Erika found a mid-century Airbnb house on the fringe of Fayetteville. 12 acres, encompassing an entire deep valley, complete with a meandering stream. It’s an aging, gargantuan beauty, a multi-level labyrinth. Lots of eccentricities. Towering glass, no shades or curtains. The light-flooded interior recedes to the enveloping darkness in the valley at sunset. I’m certain the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, although just on the fringe of the city, would run some people’s imagination into weird quarters. I climbed onto the apex of the roof, with a long view of the sloping property, stream, and emerald pond on the opposite side. I felt like I was 12. The master bedroom and accompanying bathroom is not for the timid soul.  If you bathe or shower, if any wandering soul were to jaunt down the long serpentine driveway to the house, they could easily see what God gave you. When I showered, it evoked a laugh. I felt like Chris Farley in his infamous Chippendale dancer skit with Patrick Swayze. I’ll leave it to you to capriciously decide which character I felt like.

I used one picture of Erika from a bird’s eye perspective after I descended from the roof. As always, she’s reluctant to let people see her the way I do. Her hair was illuminated like soft fire in several of the pictures I took surreptitiously. She reluctantly stood next to me and let me take a picture of her with a backward view of the valley and pond below.

The sun finally made its way above the towering valley ridge. Everything is backlit with it and amber orange bloom.

I would describe it as beautiful, but it’s a fragile cliché compared to being present and witnessing it.

Love, X

Random Saturday…

I thought the job of Cat Sitter was something else entirely. Erika took the picture. It’s one of the best pictures of her cat Acorn I’ve seen.

The second picture is of Güino frolicking in the snow. I let him play quite a while yesterday.

The third picture is Güino taking a rest in the cat castle after a hard day’s play.

This morning, I stood on the landing watching the moon. I heard arguing and shouting approaching. Even though it was 3:30 in the morning, two people were staggering down the sidewalk after a night’s festivities. Their conversation was so nonsensical that it reminded me of a presidential debate. They finally made it past and their voices faded. Güino was sitting at my feet. I could have sworn that even he shook his head in disapproval.

Even though it was cold and windy, I had to take a walk. This is a coffee and beer place next to the trail. The colors are stunning.

This is a picture heading back to my apartments. There’s color everywhere if you know where to look. We all need more of it in the winter.

Love, X


Driving to work on the abandoned snow-covered roads this morning was beautiful. An urban landscape. The drive was easier than yesterday, when each of us looked out and hoped that the weather would show us mercy. I stopped, exiting my vehicle. The crisp echo of my feet on the accumulated snow reminded me of tiny packing bubbles. The sound was louder than the footsteps of an inebriated teenager attempting to quietly enter the house without waking anyone. I wanted to let the cold embrace me and take a long walk. I’m sure I looked a little odd, walking fast on the road. For a moment though, the road, perhaps for a mile in  either direction, had only me on top of it. I returned to my car, and drove to work, resenting that I couldn’t pass an hour exuberantly walking the solitary streets. Though I’m doing my relentless paces here, I’m still out there, looking up at the luminescence that only snow can bring to 2:00 a.m. When you’re young, those kind of moments seem preposterous. And when you’re older, you just accept them as the rare though mundane moments that they are.

PS Each of us probably nicknames our neighbors. Erika and I nicknamed one of ours Shirtless Dad. If you’re guessing he acquired the moniker because he does indeed walk about shirtless, you would be right. And no, he definitely is not Brad Pitt. Late yesterday afternoon, when I walked back over to my apartment for a moment, I saw that he was going to check his mail. He remembered to take his postal key, but forgot his shirt. It tickled me so much that I called Erika on Alexa. That’s what prompted her to go sit on the landing barefoot and take a video. She didn’t capture his lunacy. That was another small and stupid moment that tickled me. You take your moments where you can find them.

Love, X

3 a.m. Laugh

I woke up this morning and grabbed my phone from the counter at the Airbnb. I was trying to surreptitiously gather my things and not awaken Erika. And then I saw this text. It caught me off guard, like a chinchilla in my underwear in the dark. I started laughing and tried to do it quietly. Which led to a coughing fit. Thanks Zach; no, I didn’t put snow back on your windshield. I wish I had thought of it though. I would have built an igloo on top of your truck.

Cube Walk On A Fake Spring/Winter Day

I rendered my walk goal as a cube root, expressed in miles. Think of it as a GED test for an exceptionally warm winter Tuesday afternoon. (I did the base number wrong on purpose, just to make the math not be even.) 70° in January? Mother nature must have had a glass of wine.

During this beautiful and energetic walk, I was imagining the most brilliant mathematics teacher. The hair would be in a mess, socks unmatched, and their communication ability equivalent to a horse tapping out Morse code. They probably know everything in the world about math. People looking at them and listening to them would be so distracted by their presentation that they would erroneously conclude that they couldn’t possibly be intelligent.

Which leads me to point out that people can have a surprisingly vast knowledge about something. But those around them don’t appreciate it. Or can’t see past whatever visual or auditory filter that’s blocking them.

It’s too bad y’all weren’t walking with me this afternoon. One of you could have carried the six pieces of chalk I exhausted on the various surfaces around me. We could have shared the music too. It was divine.

Even now I have to double check that it’s not spring. 

I climbed a pretty good-sized tree too. But the thicket that scratched and pulled at me that I traversed was much more interesting.

Pretty damn good day.

More than I have a right to ask for, but one for which I’m grateful.

Love, X

Squirrel Lemon Moment

I descended to the trail with a bag of surprises, hopeful one of the squirrels of the local squadron by the creek would come down from the trees. 42° struck me as wildly warm. The sunlight was diaphanous as it penetrated the fluffy clouds. As soon as I poured the surprise onto the transformer the squirrel made two heroic and timed leaps from way up into the tree onto the surface. I stepped back so it could feast. It didn’t disappoint me. The squirrel stuffed its face ferociously. In less than 2 minutes, it had consumed and/or packed its mouth with every last morsel.

Why it made me happy? I don’t know. When I last lived in Springdale, I wasn’t nice to the squirrels because they destroyed everything. I think I’ve exceeded my karma for them in the last couple of years. I leave peanuts and food out for them and if they chew things they’re not supposed to, I replace them or fix them. As I walked away, the squirrel nimbly ascended back to the treetops. I finished my break and went back to work.

What Do You See?

Though it was cold and blustery after work, I walked alongside the store and around the back. I walked too fast down the steep concrete culvert. The leaves slipped under my feet and reminded me that I couldn’t fly. Had I fallen into the dirty water, I would have laughed. It wouldn’t have affected my day. My victory was that I resisted jumping from the lip of the culvert to the cart; I wanted to.

Although the picture contains garbage, it was a moment of beauty for me. A single bird flew to the broken fence and hollered toward me. I took out my phone to take a picture. The bird flew above me and away.

I don’t blame anyone for seeing only garbage. That’s where the observer in us filters what we see. The blue of the discarded shopping cart sitting derelict in the water was much more vibrant than it appeared.

The day started with sublimated subduedness for me. I’m not accustomed to that.

The 21st is the shortest day of the year for us.

I look out the window, past my cat atop the cat castle, and see the purplish-hued prism swinging in the wind. Behind it, the sun already sliding below the horizon.

Eyes to see, ears to hear, fingers to touch.

It’s more than many get.

Love, X

Lemon Moment of Xmas

When I went to the square, I got there early. There was only one street musician setting up to play. I dropped some money in his case and asked him if I could sing Feliz Navidad with him.  “Hell yes, you can!” And so it came to pass as he played his guitar artfully, he sang the bilingual version while I accompanied him purely in Spanish. None of my co-workers, both current and past, had yet arrived.

Sometimes, getting there early makes all the difference.

For reasons I can’t explain, I think I will always remember standing there near the inside corner of the Fayetteville square on a weird, warm December evening. Singing.

And waiting for friends.

If that’s not Christmas, I don’t know what is.

Love, X


The apartment near me is now empty! Even though it is not libel or slander to state the truth, I’ll refrain from commentary about the previous tenant(s). It’s a relief, even though I know the next tenant(s) could easily surpass that tenant’s curriculum vitae. It still surprises me when stress is relieved, one that is almost subliminal. It’s not that the person was a particular threat per se, other than the one incident when I thought I would have to summon the Bobby Dean demons. It was the unknown of what such a tenant invites, who they attract, and who they have in their circle.

Even though most people won’t understand it, I got triggered AF for a while. I’m not normally prone to that kind of unease. Not just for myself but also for everyone else. I listen to that instinct. My dad, despite his flaws, literally beat that instinct into me.

I love where I live for a lot of reasons. I’ve done more than my share to make it better. It’s an uphill push sometimes, but what isn’t?

I’d like a family of Latinos, someone older, or someone who speaks a different language. Or plays the piano. Someone creative and without the urge to find odd ways to live joyfully. I doubt those checkboxes can be found on most applications for a lease. Plus, no one asked me, even though I am certain I could do a fantastic job of weeding out the crazies. Not just because I identify with the crazies but because my interview questions would be a hell of a lot more interesting.

Being in apartments brings disadvantages; it also brings opportunities, too. People surprise me, especially when they turn out to be interesting and people I’d likely not meet otherwise. Some have reminded me that it’s hard to “judge not” based on first impressions or the people they are related to. All of us have outliers in our families, which probably sounds odd coming from a weirdo like me.

It’s akin to humanity bingo.

It’s dumb to be thankful for the absence of a neighbor.

But I am.

I recognize that tingle in the back of my mind: I feel safer now.

I’m a big, big believer in letting people do their thing, no matter what it is. If people want to set their hair on fire inside, that’s wonderful. If they want to blast music, even when it’s not necessarily joyous for me, that’s okay too. My litmus test is, “Is it safe for everyone else?” Otherwise, bring on the clowns.

Some things are not the like others, though.

Love, X