Category Archives: Fayetteville

though the sky is blue

Because I’d been boiling myself off and on on the landing and baking in the sun, I turned the AC to 70. Because my AC and heat had to be completely replaced, given that it was from 1976, the new unit is incredibly powerful; its loud sound is relaxing. Güino decided to slumber in my office chair. He’s wandered the landing and the lower floor today several times. Instead of bothering him, I rolled him a foot away and pulled my red rocking chair up to the desk. It felt like I needed to write a couple of hundred words. A few thousand words later, all of it expunged from me in a single burst, I sat looking at the prism hanging outside through the slats of the window blinds. My metal front door is over 170 degrees again. I thought of all the energy reaching us from our nearest star, the sun. We only receive a sliver of its output. It provides enough energy in the form of light to power the entire world – if we’d let it. I think the same is true for each of us. Most of us have the gift of massive kinetic and potential energy inside us. It’s in our nature. Somehow, we allow our lesser forces to override our natural tendency toward power and movement. In my case, I’ve been busy. Being busy or productive isn’t always the best use of my time. It negates introspection and examining the things I’ve said and done with sufficient scrutiny. Life flicks by on lightning skates. It’s easy to live superficially, and sometimes this ease lulls us into thinking it is the preferable way. It’s not. A moment of thought, especially one of gratitude or appreciation, becomes twice as memorable when considered after the fact. Those thousands of words that poured effortlessly from my fingers as I sat here in the zone? They are some of the best words I’ve ever written. I feel it in my bones, the ones that now creak a little as they realize how long I’ve abused them.

Here:

though the sky is blue, you look to the ground out of caution
caution saves, but it also reduces
though the world is a palette of individuals, you seek understanding by viewing them through your own filter
though the world shall never spin according to your whim, you waste your
allotted moments by wishing it not to be so
the pond will fill if you hurl enough stones into it, though it will take years
your life will fill if you stop looking toward what lies behind you and spend your hours subtracting and adding according to your desires
the sky is blue, just for you
and for me
if we but let it be

X
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Return Of The Ugly Fence

Return Of The Ugly Fence

My pet dinosaur Redactyl sits looking out the suddenly barren fence line in the background. I know he will have a lot to say about it. He’s stuck staring at a lifeless, dilapidated scene now. Color once brightened his perspective.

I’m conflicted. I spent countless hours meticulously assembling the decorations for the longest fence where I live.

Nothing is permanent.

It was great fun, finding pieces and creative ways to use things that aren’t intended to be used in the way I chose.

It was also a lot of work. Work that put me in the zone and challenged me to keep going.

I heard nothing but delight from everyone about how much color and character it added to this ugly apartment complex and the area. Friends drove by or over to see it. Several people posted pictures of it on social media without me realizing it until much later. That made me smile.

This is precisely the kind of place that needs and needed color and something wild and different. Otherwise, it’s just a plot of land and a container that many find temporary.

Two days ago, in a blaze of adrenaline, I began to take the tiles, metal pieces, and assorted decorations off. It led to my shorts’ pockets being so heavy they were about to fall off, which led to the dreaded keys-in-the-dumpster incident. Hundreds of screws, washers, tiles, and assorted pieces. I wasn’t mad, but the disappointment grew as I looked at the fence. But seeing it this morning in the dim light made it dreadfully plain and lifeless. Nothing is permanent; I kept telling myself. But in the back of my mind, I wondered about minds so small they have to complain. 1% of me negatively reacted, given how much work and cleanup I’ve put into this place. We’re supposed to do that sort of thing without expectations.

On the other hand, I put in a proportional amount of work apart from the countless hours I spent brightening up the place. Most of my neighbors don’t do their share to keep the place better than they found it. It’s disappointing that someone took the time to complain they weren’t happy. Some people aren’t happy no matter what – and unfortunately, some take delight in ruining other people’s happiness. The problem with such people is that they will never be satisfied; they thrive on such effort. They are dramavores.

I will redirect my urge to color and brighten to something else in small places and wherever I roam. I’ve left dozens of decorations and pieces all over.

When people ask, “Oh my god, X, what happened to your art project on the fence?” I’m going to shrug and attribute it to the impermanence of everything. For a few weeks, it was something to behold. The entropy resulting from complaining took its price.

Now, as I look out onto the fence I repaired out of my pocket and with my labor, I see an ugly board fence, looking out onto a dismal parking lot. I think it traps us rather than keeps others out, especially now that an expensive home is being built on the small lot between us and the trail cut-through from Gregg.

In my head, though? I can’t look at the fence without imagining it filled with color.

As places like that should be.

I’ll put up a single tile in the middle of the fence at some point, one which will read:

“…Site of recent memory’s largest personal art project. It’s gone, but color remains if you seek it. X”

Love, X
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The Inertia of Moments

The train horn sounded in the distance. A curtain of insects chirped and announced their presence. The surprisingly cool air enveloped me as I sat on the landing, my cat uncharacteristically sitting next to me so that I could scramble his ears with my fingers. A cup of coffee set precariously on the landing rail in front of me. Below me, a neighbor coughed as he sat in the chair facing the shadows and the dark parking lot. In front of him were the remains and carcass of the failed air conditioning that had been replaced. As the train passed, its horn was replaced by the sound of industrial trash trucks doing their daily rounds. You would think the urban sounds would be a distraction. They’re not. Though I sat motionless, already dressed for work, I wanted another minute or another hour or another day to remain there. Thinking, but motionless. I looked up into the clear sky and watched stars twinkle. My inertia of the moment was almost insurmountable.

Color.
Magic.
The universe inside the bottle lights reminded me.

X
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For Sale: Redneck Gazebo. Spiders Included

The drug shed in the back corner of the area I’ve painstakingly cleared… A tenant, long gone to greener pastures, put it there. The years have not been kind to it. Once I found used syringes inside it, the impetus toward disposal only increased.

I gave people more than enough time to lock it, haul it away, or 4th-of-July the thing. (I carefully worded that due to FB’s ridiculous interpretation of jokes.)

This week, I accelerated the process of taking a few hundred screws out, fighting off an army of spiders, and compressing the supports and metal for disposal. I hope the neighbor doesn’t notice that the back of his pickup is full of discarded metal; or, if he does, that he can’t determine w-h-i-c-h butthead might have placed it there.

Reaching this point, I realized that I’ve managed to get to the level of ‘redneck gazebo.’ I’ll sell it as is for $5.67. Spiders included. At least the snakes have abandoned it.

If no offers are forthcoming, I’ll attempt to remove the top of it. It’s very heavy and though I’ve sprayed it repeatedly, the spiders seem to have gained superpowers by ingesting the professional-grade insecticides I’ve sprayed on them. I’m pretty sure one of the spiders was actually smoking a cigarette.

If you’re wondering if the chest in the picture holds anything valuable, the answer is ‘no.’ There were things of value in there. But the weather and people of dubious reputation ruined everything. This shed is an excellent example of entropy. And inattentive landlords.

I don’t know what day the urge to potentially crush myself under the rest will strike me. So act fast. I hope you like spiders.

X
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Firefly Tuesday

If you climb a tree way before the sun rises, sometimes a magical moment happens. The dormant fireflies that believed their night of intermittent luminescence was finished… they will take flight as the jostling and vibration startles them into motion – especially if you shake your cell phone to cause it to flash. For anyone who has never thought of this or carefully ascended a tree in the dark, it’s one of those childhood moments that never fails to delight. And if it does ever fail to cause my lips to curl upward in a smile, I will climb to the very top with abandon and launch myself to the bottom.

The images from yesterday, the ones that reached back billions of years, they were beautiful. But there are things hidden in plain sight all around you. Sometimes you just have to look or be willing to do something different to see them. Close your eyes for a moment and then open them. There will be something fascinating around you. If you want there to be.

PS It’s pointless to caution me to be careful. Such advice is practical, but at my age I’ve learned that even the most cautious and careful people don’t have to look far to be besieged with calamity. The universe is not a fair place.

Love, X

Going

I got a surprise when I came home today. A friend put a butterfly brooch out for Larkma, my resident sprite/fairy. It took me a while to know who it was. She can “out” herself if she wishes to. Doing so means that she willingly encourages this never-ending project I have going. I am even more tickled that more than one person in the last week has told me to keep on going with the art. (And also that people have taken the time to leave art offerings and whatnots to add to my wild collection.) Whether it is art is purely subjective.

As I stood out by the Gregg Street fence adding more tile patterns this afternoon, two Latino males were waiting at the light. The driver honked. As I turned, he gave me a big thumbs up. When I walked back into the parking lot, two neighbors at the end went out of their way to enthusiastically tell me that they love the color and jumble of it all. “Are they paying you?” one of them asked. I said, “No, but I didn’t ask for permission, either.” The other said, “It’s crazy and beautiful. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

I said a prayer for them both because neither has any idea how far I might go with this.

Love, X
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Creekside In The Dark

I was up early enough to greet the vampires. Even at 2:00 a.m. the traffic was surprising. I worked a couple of hours. All I could think about was sticking my feet in the creek after the rain rolled in and surprised us all. Though the sun has not wiped the sleep from its eyes yet, I came down to the creek and precariously made my way across the water dam to the other side. I rolled my pants legs up and I have to say, the water was as refreshing as I imagined it would be. I walked down far enough so that there was almost no light striking across me… Just a few slivers from a distance street lamp fighting their way through the massive tree limbs lining the trail. Droplets still accumulating on the limbs above me are falling across me. Between the waterfall and the background curtain of insects, I cannot think of any complaints. I wish I could sit here for 5 or 6 hours.
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Dead Trees Everywhere!

I made another “dead” tree project. This one is made from ten different trees. I drilled holes for each branch and limb and then painted them one by one. The color is more vivid than it appears in my poor photo attempt. It’s not quite finished because it doesn’t have any nests in it. Of course.

I’m not too concerned about the birds pooping on it. The neighbors? That is possible.

Instead of using a bucket, I used a nice cooking stock pot, filled with quikrete, just to make it unwieldy to carry around.

I put it to the right of my tile art on the front fence.

It didn’t occur to me that it’s pride month when I made this one.

Doing these trees make me picture doing an entire grove of them. If I visit your house and your big stock pots are missing, just pretend you don’t know where they went, okay? Besides, imagine what it would sound like if you called the police to report, “X stole my pot.”

X
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Ugly Men

As I entered the inconvenience store, I noted that the line was long. I couldn’t help but notice that the two older gentlemen in front of me were mocking the cashier. He supported orange hair, along with eyebrows and mustache to match. He also had a purple heart died in the back. The level of scorn spewing from the two guys made me cringe. When it was my turn to pay, I enthusiastically complimented him on his hair and apologized on behalf of all the assholes like the two gentlemen who preceded me. Their ugliness on display far exceeds any perceived ridiculousness on the part of the happy cashier.

X
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They Are High And Happy

They Are High And Happy

I craved a diet soda. More accurately, I wanted the pound of small crushed ice that would accompany it. Entering the inconvenience store, I noted that the bananas did not look like they’d been there for six weeks, so I grabbed one. The clerk, one I’ve spoken to before, is one I think of as “Mr. Mumbles” in my head. He sounds like my dad talking after drinking a bottle of Old Charter.

“It’s crackhead central here,” he said, pointing to the multiple people crowded around the ‘entertainment’ row of casino-like machines nestled in a line in the front. These machines cause a lot of consternation for people. Some stores have run into trouble legally because of the way they are actually used versus how they supposedly work. In Monroe years ago, a small store where my mom lived made a fortune using them illegally as casino substitutes. It’s easy to do. I’m not saying this particular store operates that way. I’ll leave my observations aside. People are going to gamble and stores will find a way to provide an outlet. Vice invariably equals profit.

“I wondered why it was so busy in the parking lot,” I replied. (When I drove up, there was an inordinate number of vehicles even for 1:30 a.m. A couple of them looked like the ‘after’ picture from an insurance claim.)

“They got their government money. So, they are going to spend it. They’re high and they’re happy.” He didn’t say it out of spite, although he did go on to add a few comments. His opinions were based on his experiences, so it’s a fine line calling him out.

I didn’t know how to appropriately reply because it wasn’t in me to judge them. Or him, for saying what obviously was true. “I’m glad to have a job,” I told him. He mumbled something I couldn’t possibly understand. I nodded. I left him there, as he kept a careful eye on the various people inside the store.

As for drugs, a river of drugs runs through Fayetteville. Most places are like that, even if you don’t see the river flowing. There are people you know who use them, people who would surprise you. I can literally go next door if I were inclined and buy a pharmacy of them. If people behave, I don’t care what they do. They are going to do it anyway.

For the people who swim in that river, I don’t despise them. I’m glad I don’t.

If they are indeed high, I do hope they are happy.

I’ll take my half-dose of Lexapro and drink my cup of coffee now, as well as eat the banana I bought. Even though a couple of hours have elapsed since I saw the clerk, I know he is still eyeing the patrons of his store, waiting for the inevitable brouhaha that always erupts. My laundry is about done drying. It’s interesting going down to the laundry dungeon so early. I put it in to wash and took a walk, owning the quiet streets, my ears filled with joyous music to propel my steps.

Love, X