Category Archives: Personal

An Excursion in Little Rock, North

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Note to casual readers: this post is longer than the explanation for the finale to “Lost,” so embark only if sufficiently interested; otherwise, watch baseball or golf until anything suddenly seems interesting – and then come back to this.

To start, I’d like to say that I don’t feel ill at ease in North Little Rock. Despite its problems, the area near the Wyndham Hotel and the Riverside Trail is simply spectacular with its weirdly-mixed juxtaposition of contrasts. Now that I’m an old codger, I can appreciate the dynamic. For the record, though, I think all towns with extra geographical points are unimaginative: North Toledo, for example, has none of the charm of the actual Toledo. “North” Little Rock implies that it is simply another place North of Little Rock wherein the settlers couldn’t be bothered to devise another interesting place name for the area where they were going put down roots and live their entire lives.

I was up and out of the hotel room fully dressed in less than 5 minutes this morning. I knew that sleep was going to be an unlikely and impatient visitor last night and if truth be told my walk would have started at 2 a.m. had my wife not been with me to disapprove of such a plan. Now that I’m walking and discovering things at strange hours, I find myself anticipating the pleasure of these moments as much as any activity I might engage in later in the day, where the normal people of my day feel more comfortable.

As soon as I stepped out the side of the hotel, the white expanse of the bridge in front of me caught my eye. Although it may sound like I’m inventing details, there was also a Batmobile, complete with insignias parked alongside Riverside Drive. Later, I insisted that my wife look out the window to see it, lest she would once again roll her eyes and assume I was fabricating such a detail for my own amusement. Turning the corner near the main entrance, I noted a large NLR police SUV parked under the canopy. I resisted the urge to see if the driver door was unlocked, lest I become the unwilling passenger, plus handcuffs.

A man dressed in what appeared to be 6 layers of clothing sped past me on a bicycle. Despite his legs being covered in multiple layers, he was flying down the street. The very next person I saw was a solitary man waiting near a bus stop sign, adjacent to an empty parking lot. I went wide to the left so as to not startle the man, who I assumed was waiting to go to work. As I reached the next cross street a couple of hundred feet away, he repaid my consideration by shouting something incomprehensible into the early morning darkness. I looked to see who he was shouting at, but no one else was around. He shouted again, even louder. The words sounded the same as the first shout, although the words still eluded me. Toward Main Street I went, laughing, wondering what that man’s story might be about. I heard him shout a couple of more times before his voice was lost to the empty city streets.

As two buses passed me, running along the trolley route, I looked up and laughed, as I couldn’t help but imagine that the crosswalk silhouettes of a human figure, the ones used to convey ‘safe to cross’ or ‘danger,’ were running in pantomime, as if screaming and fleeing the scene.

Main Street at this hour was a long dual succession of double-globed streetlights, each of them conveying a gauzy white light. The street is so wide and the sidewalks so ornate that walking them absent other people once again gave me pause. With so many historic places along this route, all of it seemed perfectly preserved in the amber of early morning magic.

As I passed Capeo Ristorante, a large orange cat jumped from inside the ornate metal trash holder near the street, it’s morning breakfast within interrupted by my passing. Once out of the trash, the cat ran only a few feet away and sat, looking at me. His ears seemed as large as a rabbit’s, high and large above his head. The ears bent toward me as I wished him well.

As I passed the storefront of Ozark Escape I wondered what I might do if I had peered inside to see someone forgotten and trapped inside, a participant in the last escape scenario from last night. Sadly, there were no moving shadows within. It seemed incongruous to me to have such a business on the historic strip of Main Street in North Little Rock. But what do I know? Our last election proved to me that no one knows anything and even when they do, no one listens.

Without pronouncement or fanfare, the globed street lights ended and I was suddenly walking up an inclined overpass, a long arc of pavement reaching above the commercial industrial district below. The lighting seemed to evoke all the romance of a county jail or a dimly-lit back alley. As I reached the opposite side of the long overpass I realized that the mass of machinery below reminded me of a James Cameron Terminator sequel. The air seemed full of two possibilities: hope or dismal despair. Reaching the end of the concrete railing, I passed someone who looked like DJ Khaled. As big as he was, his body language indicated that he was way more concerned about me than I would ever be around him. I realized in that moment that I was dressed entirely in black, even wearing a black jacket, black shoes, black socks, and black shirt. Honestly, a white man wandering around in the dark dressed in all black does sound like the clichéd beginning of just about every crime novel ever written, or a Johnny Cash hipster revival in Oakland.

At the corner of Main and 13th, the ambiance took an Olympic dive. The large brick building opposite of me looked exactly like Hannibal Lecter’s first home. In front of the building, a large green rectangular sign indicated, “Waste Collection Facility This Way.” In my mind, I thought, “Of course it is.” As I crossed to take another direction, a police car stopped and waited for me to cross. Again, my overactive imagination dared me to take off running, as if running away from the police. Studies have shown that getting tased is much more effective than Folgers in one’s cup in the morning.

A few minutes later, I looked down and saw that I was high above a wide train switching yard, full of parallel silver rails below me. It was mesmerizing. Something my grandpa once told me came to mind. He had mentioned to me that such yards were godsends to those riding the rails to get back home. Switch yards with so many accesses points always were an indicator that wherever you were, that another train was undoubtedly headed towards the hearth you called home. I’m not sure how many times my grandpa hopped a train because I was young when he shared those stories, often against the backdrop of harsh summer sun or as the sun faded, leaving the explosive sound of insects to buzz and hum around us. Several years ago, when I visited my hometown of Brinkley, I ran several miles to stand above single set of train tracks below, the ones which ran under highway 49, close to its intersection with Highway 70. I ran all that way just to try to conjure that feeling of those stories my grandpa shared with me.  It was staggering to me to picture myself with the necessity and freedom to jump on a moving train. Those are the kind of memories which will fade into oblivion.

After the switching yard, I looked down and to the left and got to watch as another police SUV moved slowly along, its searchlight zig-zagging across the dirt and gravel. I look up at the road my feet are traveling and see another SUV parked at the intersection. It was at that precise moment I realized that I was coming up on the downtown police substation. The long canopy carport containing a dozen silent and waiting police cruisers convinced me of it. Never one to be silent for long, my inner monologue thought it would be humorous to pound on the door and demand to confess to someone that I was indeed guilty of some public crime – perhaps that of using mayo on french fries.

At Skinny J’s restaurant, I stopped and took a picture of the overhead neon marquee sign. Despite how suspicious it might look, I entered the recess of the main door from the street and leaned in, cupping my hands and resting my face against the painted glass. Inside, tables and chairs stood guard, waiting for occupants. I imagined that just 8 or 9 hours earlier I had sat along the side wall, eating and laughing with good people. For a fleeting instant, I could once again taste the pungency of the fried green tomato sandwich I had chosen. The overlap of my memory and looking at the dark and empty restaurant this morning created a delightful sensation of deja vu.

I turned and made a long pass around the horrendous Verizon Arena structure. The building looks like what an alien invader would leave after being driven away from this world, much like Verizon and AT&T did to Alltel’s loyal staff back in the day. I imagined that I could simultaneously hear the millions of conversations, concerts, and activities that had occurred in that place. Most people undoubtedly drive past it without much consideration, their minds preoccupied with other ideas and demands – and probably a few daydreams about throwing a deserving co-worker through the window once they’ve arrived to work. Looking at the NR Bank tower sign, the one digitally indicating the time in 3-foot numbers, I wondered how much agony that timestamp might cause. I could only picture some poor soul looking at it each day. “9:53 a.m.,” it would indicate upon the first glance. An hour later, it would indicate, “9:54 a.m.,” and in bright large numbers, too. Hour after hour, day after day. I think I would be shooting out the bulbs of that bank’s sign within a week.

Passing the Verizon behemoth, I watched as a man wrangled a portapotty next to a new drive-through restaurant being built there. He noticed me as I watched and he waved, probably glad to be distracted. I was hoping he’d knock over the portable toilet just to amuse me. Next to the new building, I noted that a branch of my bank was on the corner. It occurred to me that it seemed reasonable to get some cash from the ATM around the back. It seemed particularly wise to do this, as nothing seems safer than using an ATM card, on foot, in the dark, in a strange place. So I took some cash out for the day, as I loudly recited my PIN. (I’m just kidding about the PIN part. The rest is true.)

As I stopped to take a picture of the ascending trolley car tracks as they ran next to the on-ramp, I looked toward the distant bridge and in the direction of my hotel. I noticed a man dressed in green dart across the sidewalk, stop, and lean over and drop something near the bushes. At this point, he was directly across from the US Bank pavilion. Having seen “The Wire,” I assumed that something loosely described as “illegal” was probably going on. I crossed the street and as I walked, I tried to look with the corner of my eye toward where the man had been crouched. He seemed to have frozen there, perhaps in response to my presence. I turned away just for a second and when I looked back, he was gone, vanished, doing his own “fastest gun in the West” impression. I assumed he was crouched or hiding behind the bushes, probably on the side closet to the pavilion near the riverside. Invisibility didn’t seem like a reasonable explanation.

It was then that I noticed the large turtle sculpture there. My curiosity got the best of me, even overpowering my desire to avoid being bludgeoned to death a few paces from my hotel. I decided to make another pass around the block. It seemed likely that the man in question wasn’t concealing his favorite literary works in those bushes – nor a sack lunch for later consumption. Coming around the block again, I took a chance to walk by the turtle and the bushes again. A large bus waiting opposite the corner pawn shop gave me the excuse of having a witness. I quickly walked by and snapped a picture of the turtle and it was then I noticed what looked like a duffel bag behind it, in the gap of the bushes. It dawned on me that the man wasn’t a criminal, at least not in an interesting way: he was probably homeless and had devised an incredibly clever way to sleep right out in the middle of everything. You’d need to pass by very close or from the other direction, where shadows ruled one’s vision.

Without much thought as to safety or appropriateness, I took out my wallet and the two $20 bills I had just taken from the ATM by the arena. I placed them on the ground in the grass. I picked up a crushed water bottle lying on the edge of the road and placed it on top of the bills. “Mister,” I hollered. “Sorry to startle you. I left you something to do with as you want to. I hope you have a great day – I won’t say anything about you. Peace.”

As I stood up, my phone rang. Although I wasn’t listening to music during any part of my walk, I had headphones on. The ringer startled me, at full volume inside the headphones. It couldn’t have sounded off at a more inopportune time. Later, I discovered that it was my wife, who had called and texted repeatedly. As I had been gone walking a long time this morning, she had begun to allow her imagination to run wild, probably already to the point where I had been abducted by foreign mercenaries.

As I walked away, it occurred to me that if the man didn’t exit his hiding spot to retrieve the money, I was either going to have to go get it myself or leave it, knowing that the unexpected money on the side of the road was going to improve someone’s morning.

I stopped nearby at the corner of the Wyndham, where I was staying. I watched as the man emerged from the middle of the bushes and picked up the $40. He looked my direction and waved his arm high above his head. I don’t think he said anything. I raised my own arm and waved back without interrupting the silence. I’d like to think there was something magical about that moment, even if it was just a simple acknowledgment. What a strange and brutal urban landscape the man had chosen. No doubt, though, that he had chosen wisely.

As for my wife’s concern, she had every reason to be a little worried. Not for my safety, though, but rather for my humanity. In the midst of all this wonder and steel artifices, people were still just people. For me, I was prepared for anything, as long as it gifted me with a story.

Later, when I sat with my wife to eat breakfast, she jokingly told another co-worker about my penchant for giving everything away. It’s important that you understand that I had not shared any of my early morning adventures with her at that point. She didn’t know that I had given the homeless man my ATM gift this morning. As trite as it sounds, North Little Rock had reached inside me a little bit and as always, I changed imperceptibly because of it, even in the most mundane of circumstances.

I thought that it might be incredibly fitting to be remembered with a complaint, one which accused me of being a minimalist and wanting to give everything away, even my last dollar, the one which would have otherwise gone to the tip jar of the reticent man preparing omelets or to the waitress as a tip. My wife didn’t know that I had given a stranger $40, just because he might need it and because it would fuel my imagination for another long set of days.

 

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Later, before going to go eat lunch with my favorite cousin, I wandered some of the same sites, to ‘see’ them with a daylight perspective. In the midst of the bushes behind the sculpted tortoise, I found blankets and detritus from lives lived on the outside. Warm weather will soon turn to cold. I hope that the gentleman I surprised this morning finds a place of rest as the air turns lethal. Standing there, in the daylight, looking at the makeshift home, it was my greater wish that he might remember that not all people are to be measured by one’s expectations.

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October Surprise

Every once in a while, I walk somewhere new, where I’m not sure in which direction the roads might run – or if the road continues at all. There’s something about the unexpected that makes an otherwise uneventful walk a tad better. Because I found a new combination of places this morning, I walked much further than I intended. But because I encountered no one, I walked the roads as if I owned them. In a sense, when I’m the only one on them, I suppose that I do. At one point, I smelled the faint odor of tobacco and thought I could discern the orange glow of a cigarette, but I couldn’t be certain. I waved to the dark place containing the tip of the glowing cigarette and continued on. It amuses me to think that whoever was standing there was startled by the idea that I might be able to see him or her in the dark. Yes, it’s not smart to wander unfamiliar roads before the sun rises to greet me – but it is the only way I can be the sole owner for a brief moment.

I could see the horses to my left shortly after I started walking. The bright moon above gave their silhouettes a pronounced presence against the slight hill they were standing on. It seemed like I could walk up and reach out across the brush and touch them. On the way back, I stopped to approach the gate near the road. The white horse with dark flanks turned and came up to the fence. Unwisely, I reached out my hand, expecting the horse to eat at least two of my fingers. Instead, it pushed its head down across the gate and rubbed the side of my hand and arm. He stood, patiently, as I rubbed the side of his head with one hand, then two. I agree that it’s unwise to do this before 5 a.m. but in my defense, I think that we parted as friends. Although that horse may indeed bite me the next time I reach out my hand, I will be able to recall a surreal October morning when he dropped his guard and said hello.

In one spot, near a wide, open creek bed, I passed an imposing manor. Much of its profile was lit by arcing security lights. They might have been bragging lights, too, given the scope and intricacy of the house they were illuminating. The house was enormous, with a rolling yard and a gate which cost more than a new kidney. Oddly, though, the towering iron gates were wide open, as if they were an invitation to me to come inside and have a grilled cheese sandwich. The house seemed like it would have been a better fit in the countryside of England. Against the driveway, there was a small street sign. It probably said, “Don’t even think about it.” I took a picture of it but all I have to prove it is a large white blob, as its reflective surfaced rebelled from being captured in a picture.

As I turned from the apex of my walk, I discovered that I had been walking up a very long hill, imperceptibly taking me toward a rise I couldn’t see as I walked. Off in the distance, I could see a tower with its blinking warning light. The wind, already blowing with some force, escalated and began to whip at me at that elevation. It was a beautiful sight, looking toward the distant skyline and feeling the wind’s invitation to take flight and disappear into the night. Like most things, the view differed drastically coming from the opposite direction.

The full moon was a couple of nights ago, so the moon above wasn’t full, but it certainly shone brightly. The sky was intermittently broken by swaths of cotton ball and gauzy clouds. All the details of the early morning were starkly illuminated by strong shadows.

While I was admiring the sky, a dog materialized from either Hell or the dark shadows of the treeline along the road. He lunged and barked viciously. The only reason I didn’t get bit was because I jumped toward him, ready to stick my hand down his throat and yank his innards out through his mouth. He retreated for a moment. I elegantly turned and ran. Being an adult, though, I planned my vengeance. Before heading back toward the spot of the dog’s assault, I snapped a large branch off of one of the trees lining the road. I pulled off the little limbs and twigs of the stick as I walked back. As I neared the house where the canine resided, I readied my stick. Again, instead of barking in advance, the dog waited and I almost missed his silhouette by the edge of the road. As he jumped out to chase me, I stopped, raising the stick above me. I was going to show that dog what a headful of stars looked like. I’m not sure what changed the dog’s mind, though, because he continued to angrily bark as he ran past me and across a wide expanse of yard behind me. I put the stick in the driveway where the dog had originally emerged, as a gift to the owner.

Since the roads were desolate, I decided to go shirtless. Not since I was on the cover of “Least Likely” magazine have I wandered the streets in such a state. The breeze was simply too pleasant and I decided that if I did accidentally encounter someone on the roads at that hour, they would be too startled to object. I walked mile after mile, feeling the air on me and the trees rustling their approval.

As tired as I was, I stood near my car, feeling the wind howl around me. Someone watching me might have been concerned for my mental health. Unlike that hypothetical observer, though, I’ll remember this morning for a long time, perhaps forever, and most likely for reasons which might seem inconsequential to you. It was the perfect October morning, before the encroaching cold, before the bonfires on Friday evenings, and in advance of the hordes of costumes scampering around the streets.

I wish you could have been there, given that I don’t possess the words to convey the sublime pleasure of the morning. I could almost see the glittery magic dust in the air as I sighed and got in my car, returning to own version of normalcy and daily duties.

In my mind, though, I’m still standing on that unknown road, at the top of an immense hill, as the wind prepares to give me wings.

The Morning of Shoes

I walked down the middle of Pleasant Street this morning. It lived up to its name for once. There was a single shoe in the exact middle of the road. It wouldn’t have surprised me to find an unattached foot in it but it turned out to have a pair of sunglasses inside. I tossed it to the sidewalk, hoping that no one with sun allergies was wandering the metropolis sans shoe. I know it’s not safe or smart to walk in the road, especially when every fifth car is probably being navigated by someone smelling of the fumes of a Corona or Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I’ve often mentioned how liberating it is to own the road and the slumbering town around it. It is a sensation that I already know that I’ll miss when infirmity eventually robs me of my ability to walk the abandoned nighttime roads.

Seeing the high school from every angle certainly amplified the size of the place compared to when I crawled the halls there. It is much more majestic in the deep night, each light inside highlighting a plaque, a shadowy doorway, or polished surface. It was the embodiment of an empty world awaiting its inhabitants, both timeless and anticipatory. It is a haunted place, its souls imprinted there from the thousands of students and faculty who’ve resided within, concentric lives centered upon a collective of buildings with a single purpose.

Walking around business 71, I couldn’t help but intercept a group of young people exiting an eatery. One of the young men had a mostly finished bottle of beer in his hand. He raised it in salute and then turned to laugh with his other friends. I couldn’t imagine drinking at 5 a.m. and still be laughing. It’s a sure sign of old age when a cup of coffee and a comfortable chair defeats the call of the wild and youth. Although they wouldn’t understand the joke, I wanted to yell, “Get off my lawn!” in mock humor.

As I passed McDonald’s, I had the momentary urge to run inside and order 15 breakfast sandwiches and eat them all, without even bothering to take the paper off the outside first. The aroma was momentarily maddening, like when you visit a pizzeria and get your first sniff of the yeasty crust, certain that you will literally die before getting a bite of it. After a moment though, the siren call of the aroma changed and soured in my head to one of cloying grease in a pan of cooling water.

Heading back to my car, my feet demanded that I walk another long circuit, this time around the circumference of Murphy Park, a beautiful place transformed by the recent modernization of its features. As I was watching the geese and the ducklings circling around them near one of the central fountains, I didn’t notice the form seated on one of the trailside benches. He was seated, motionless, a hoodie covering his head against the chilly air. Had he screamed “Boo!” as I approached, I would have undoubtedly needed a new pair of underwear. I said “Guten morgen” instead of “Hello,” and he didn’t reply, move or give any sign that he saw me – or indeed that he was even alive at all. I’ll admit I looked back at least twice as I moved away from him. For all I know, he was the grim reaper, having lost his scythe. I saw no reason to invite any trouble, despite that fact that trouble has me on speed-dial.

Peering into the library from a distance, it occurred to me that I’m a terrible criminal. I’d rather break into the library and sit among the million books than magically appear in a bank vault. At the heart of the matter is the insufficient number of minutes allotted in life. No matter how pronounced my greed to consume even 1% of all the books, life’s stop sign will reach me before I can fulfill such a desire. Even though I love libraries, I still dislike hoarding books myself. I have a very few at home, nestled in a box, ones with names like “Night of the Avenging Blowfish” and titles in Spanish. The best books live a little each day in my mind, memories of other worlds and people. They are far safer there, virtually comforting me.

If you find another solitary shoe in the road in Springdale, pick it up and drive by the park and library. Toss the shoe into the bushes. Just don’t make eye contact with the faceless void of anyone wearing a hoodie.

An Anecdote and Some Thoughts

 

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This morning, I walked on the Elm Springs side of town. Because a social media friend reminded me of him yesterday, I listened to Ludovico Einaudi, a neglected Italian pianist and musical friend I discovered 3-4 years ago. I walked westward for a while and when I looped back, I cut through along Oak Grove road. There’s a beautiful white-planked country church about halfway down the road, and I wanted to see it in the mysterious hours of the morning. Along 48th Street, the next streetlight in front of me went out, probably on a timer, and everything turned to black. Until Macadoodles way ahead, the entire swath was empty – and mine. To my right was the huge expanse of undeveloped land next to the interstate. To my left, more empty land. I turned down my music and stood in the middle of the road in this darkness, watching the bullets of traffic hurl along the interstate, each one undoubtedly destination-focused. After a minute of observation, I turned Ludovico up and continued along the urban sprawl. Even though I had meandered much longer than I intended, I walked across the interminable Wal-Mart perimeter, going down the road which warned, “Street Closed” by way of traffic barriers. I ignored them and walked along the dead end avenue. It ends abruptly fairly close to the interstate as it travels parallel to it. Dawn and I had visited this terminus shortly after the road was constructed; it still has an other-worldly feeling to it in the dark of night. Coming back, I watched the silhouette of a Wal-Mart worker as he used a jabber to collect the never-ending trash from around the store. Even though I was just a dim outline to him, he waved toward me and I responded by waving both arms above my head for no reason whatsoever.
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If you ever feel life is too short, ask a friend who is “taking a break from social media” about his or her reasons. The explanation will be so tediously long that you’ll beg for the sweet release of death.
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“The hurricane became disorganized and weakened, then wandered off course and disappeared” would be an ideal way to describe a typical day where I work.
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Grammar is the comfortable refuge of anyone choosing to write ideas as if everything is “bcc.”
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Also, as the frequency with which a person uses “bcc” increases, so does the likelihood that you should NEVER take this person to an amusement park or with you as you try a new restaurant.
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It’s either comical or tragic to realize that the highlights of your life could be used exclusively as a blooper reel for a documentary on the human condition.
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Never start a fight with someone who has one twitchy eye.

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Minimalism isn’t about taking things away. It’s about posting pictures of exotic living rooms you’d never want to be in, at least judging by 90% of all minimalism websites.

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Part of my healthier eating plan includes potatoes. Potatoes are the bath towels of Xmas gifts. You love them if they are disguised as french fries or buried in sour cream but otherwise, meh. But I love them unconditionally, even in raw chunks. Sliced and roasted though, potatoes are the platform which propels this simple food into the realm of ‘gourmet.’ I’ve eaten so many potatoes in the last few months that I thought I was buying marijuana, as they have names that vegetables shouldn’t have: Yukon gold, Russet Burbank, Duke of York, Kennebec, and… Laura. And then I see news stories like this one, which make me an amateur in spud consumption by comparison: Man Eats Only Potatoes For a Year.

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It’s strange to confirm what I’ve known for a long time: it’s a waste to feel impressed with most people, as they are literally ‘winging it’ about much of what they seem to know and certainly for the decisions they make. We have so much self-doubt only because we know the gaps in our minds and life, while those same chasms in other lives are mostly invisible to us. These sort of revelations also tend to trigger disillusionment toward those we hope might help us live happier lives. There are many people out there to learn from – but beware, as the number of delusional ‘one-answer’ folks tend to shout the loudest from the highest podium.

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I’ve had this crazy idea for years that radio stations should intersperse songs with fascinating bits of trivia or news, very short in length – and not just about music, but about the world, arts, history, and people. I think it would be a spectacular thing that would lessen the monotony of over-the-air radio and get people to talk about different things again. For example, after a Beiber song, we should hear a short anecdote about how to apologize.

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A wise man once said, “To do two things at once is to do neither.” I can see that you agree with this idea; yet, you’re probably reading this, making coffee, and juggling live otters as you nod your head. Isn’t it amazing how we know these simple things and spend our entire lives fighting their application?

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From The Book of Platitudes, Chapter 5, Verse 2: “Thou shalt not assume the role of superior, even when circumstances apparently warrant it.”

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Contradictory Law of Argumentation: As you get older, you inevitably realize that almost all arguments are pointless and stop participating. Logically, then, at some point, only those who haven’t learned anything are the ones still arguing.

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I love you all, but…: expecting people to stop putting their feet on the dash while in the car is pure fantasy. We can’t even get people to stop drinking and driving – much less waving guns in the air from road rage.

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“Your god is a TV channel, one filled with word static and droplets of fear. Mine is the one granting us complete autonomy of this universe, to understand it or not, improve it or don’t, and to stop squandering every opportunity to move forward.” – John The Catalyst

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A Road By Another Name

Last week, I discovered that South Hewitt Springs road is the same one as a county road by a number which escapes me. It seemed blindingly obvious once I walked off of it onto Parsons Road. Due to a condition I refer to as “being old,” I hadn’t made the connection coming from the other direction. There are times when I set off walking not sure where I’m going or that the road I’m following comes out somewhere recognizable. Dawn has joked that I’m going to end up on a milk carton; this would be doubly amusing given my aversion to drinking milk. It would be triply hilarious if I accidentally wander inside a cow pasture and get tenderized by the hooves of a herd of dairy cattle.

As I cut through Parsons Road, a very elderly man was inching his way from an outbuilding back to his house. While he wasn’t 100 years old, he walked as if he personally had carried the last 3 generations on his back. I guessed that he was 90+, which means he has 40-something years on me. I wondered how many miles I might traverse before my body gives out. Life already feels long to me. To look back after 40 more years is going to look like an infinite encyclopedia, its pages laid carefully end-to-end, without end, so to speak.

I’d like to think in 10 more years, I will have walked every street, lane, avenue, and road in the city of Springdale. It seems more likely as I continue to discover places which have been previously hidden in plain sight.

PS: When I got home, I used a map to find the house of the elderly man on an aerial overlay and then used this to find the owners on actDataScout. (DataScout superimposes an overlay with the owner’s names and property limits directly in your browser. It is a powerful tool.) You might be thinking that this leads to more questions than answers. In this case, you would be correct. After my eavesdropping incident earlier in the week, I didn’t resist my curiosity this time. The problem with knowing a little, though, is that I always want to know more.

Below, I’ll put a sample screenshot of what you can see if you use the mentioned website. Before you have a privacy-induced nervous breakdown, please stop and remember that this information is already publicly available, without charge. I’ve written about it before but sometimes people think I’m exaggerating or have omitted some crucial step.

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Wasps, And Wasps Behind Walls

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On the way home today, I followed my instincts and pulled over somewhere I had not yet walked, a place not aligned with pruned trails nor convenient walking. I left my car parked in a place better suited for vertigo-afflicted mountain goats and started walking. Most of the road was built without regard for humans; vehicles were the intended possessor of the asphalt strips I chose today. I knew that off in the distance as I reached an affluent area, the sidewalks would magically appear. It’s strange that it is more likely that roads will have sidewalks in the very neighborhoods where people seldom use them and yet, among those who are in need, they are absent like one’s written family tree at a reunion. I decided that if a vehicle didn’t wish to move slightly over as I walked, that I would fling myself into the thorny underbrush in deference to their overwhelming mass.

As I reached the immaculately-maintained area of the Cleverly Hillbillies, I heard voices tinged with venom. Two voices went from indistinct to perfect diction after about twenty steps. It was apparent that they were sitting in the unseen backyard of their property, oblivious to the world outside. The neighborhood is one of those with an elaborate stone and brick wall, one reaching 8 or 9 feet high. I think that perhaps those two people arguing beyond the great stone wall near the Italian-villa neighborhood would be embarrassed to know that I could hear the intimate and complex shadings of their traded barbs. It seems as if this million-dollar wall somehow had failed to provide the promised happiness they sought when they were younger. I shouldn’t judge because I can’t know for certain that this type of argument isn’t routine and that the verbal daggers I was hearing were imaginary. My experience tells me, however, that this verbal duel was both routine and viciously new. I wish they would sell their mansion and argue on a beach. At the least, the sand in their feet would overlook a new perspective, even if they still turned toward one another to punch each other verbally.

I briefly considered yelling, “Shut up! You’re rich but you sound like my neighbors, the ones who can’t even afford a trip to Bethel Heights.” I very much wanted to match faces to the disembodied voices wafting from over the tall wall. I took a golf pencil from my pocket and made a small “X” on the gray stone of the nearest vertical column holding the immense structure vertical. I did so because it occurred to me that I could then return and use the address on the other side to discern names, then faces, then details of their lives. Being modern people, I had no doubt that much of the superficial nature of their lives would reveal itself to me. While they might have their privacy settings on social media locked to prevent unwanted eyes, they had forgotten that beyond their high wall, the one purportedly providing security and distance from the world, had also made them drop their guard against people walking the street beyond it. I was able to hear them in their most intimate moment, teeth bared in anger at one another. As soon as this idea of discovery struck me, I abandoned it, knowing that the mystery of the unhappy lives on the other side was more compelling to me than knowing their stories. I left them behind, their voices still crescendoing and ebbing in turn.

It seems absurd to know that a couple of people of decent wealth took time out in the middle of their day on Tuesday to rant at one another, doesn’t it? Not that Wednesday is the ideal day for such a thing, either. It occurs to me that I should send them a postcard to let them know that I hope their marriage survives. Would such a card help or hinder this effort?

So, I walked on, alone, in the middle of the day, the sun watching me as I made my progress along the new territory. The sidewalk was lined on both sides with beautifully-coiffed trees, their overhead limbs creating an austere canopy above me as I moved. It was strange to enjoy the tranquility of these trees, knowing that the residents behind the security wall paid a monthly reminder to keep it so elegant. I wondered, “Who owns it? He who pays for it or he who enjoys it?”

Before I turned to make my way back, a red wasp emerged from the recesses of a green trash container on the edge of the road. It flew directly toward me; had I not been looking directly at it, I’m sure I would now have a bright red stinger emerging from the tip of my nose. As it was, I reacted with grace. I’m kidding. I shrieked involuntarily and flailed around as if someone had just thrown a cupful of spiders into my knickers. I’m certain my idiocy was apparent as I writhed around to fight off the ongoing approach of the wasp as it buzzed around my head. I ran away from the red demon and kept walking.

Like most delicious stories of vengeance, however, this ended badly for the miscreant wasp. While it had forgotten me, I had not forgotten him. As I approached the scene of the initial (and unreported attack), I watched the confines of the green container closely. I crept up from the rear with my hat upraised. As I peered on the far side, I could see that the wasp was about to launch after me again. I swatted and scored a direct hit on the bastard, knocking him to the ground. Since I couldn’t Mike Tyson his ear, and not only because wasps don’t have ears), I jumped and reduced the wasp to particles. Victory was mine. It didn’t occur to me until much later that it could have ended badly had there been more than one wasp at the container. The aura of vengeance was therefore reduced by the uncertainty that the wasp I killed in revenge might have been an innocent bystander at the same container. I hope the owners of the trash receptacle were watching me from their windows. Perhaps if so, they are at this very moment writing a story regarding the ridiculous of a grown man waging war via his hat with flying insects.

PS: I wanted to use the marker in my pocket to draw a tiny outline of the wasp’s body on the pavement, as a warning to other wasps. While amusing, I had my doubts the owners of the driveway would see the humor in such a thing.

 

 

Don’t Hate Me Because You Missed Out on Wisteria Lane – Again

Dawn and I used a portion of our vacation time to spend some time of quiet reflection at some of the best cabins in the 4-state region:  Wisteria Lane Lodging. The owners don’t compensate for me being so laudatory, although PepsiCo does pay me to not talk about their products. I love the cabins at Wisteria. For someone who enjoys the internet, it is quite relaxing to have no phone, no internet, and no mundane concerns while being surrounded by deep woods.

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The above picture doesn’t do the porch justice. The porch overlooks the bottom of the valley as a creek winds below. It spans the entire valley-side of the cabin and is wide enough to keep the weather at bay. With a porch swing, it’s almost perfect. Unlike other places, you can use the grill during any weather, except perhaps a tornado.

For reasons of national security, Dawn wouldn’t let me participate in the next picture, citing “overwhelming historical untrustworthiness” and something else she mumbled as she pointed the camera at herself and the taser at me as I attempted an approach to be immortalized in her picture.

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P.S. I didn’t get many pictures of Dawn, both due to her subtle “no” and “you had better not” hand motions, very similar to the one people might use to indicate an impromptu throat slitting. In addition, she displayed an allergy to what I would call “clothes.” It’s not like she cavorted or pranced around sans clothing, but she insisted on wearing the clothes that no one except spouses and emergency medical technicians get to see us wearing. (Also known as “comfy clothes” in some circles.)

We were staying at Cabin #4, which is the definition of privacy and seclusion. We could have practiced yodeling at all hours and no one would have noticed.

The picture below is an example of several I took, after Dawn’s insistent editing skills of redaction imposed themselves on my beautiful pictures. She says this picture captures her essence like none other I’ve ever taken of her.

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The next picture is of me, wearing an ensemble from the 2016 Versace Collection. It looks like I am sniffing paint, which is ridiculous. Everyone knows the only way to sniff paint is to use a paper bag. (Although I’ve been told I look stupid because I put my entire head inside the bag and then spray the can directly into my face.)

Because Dawn and I wanted to do something different with our visitor’s stones, I maximized our effort by using a primer coat on each of the stones. It’s much easier than it looks and made a huge difference in the result.

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Note to all sane people and children under 30 years of age: I was only kidding about sniffing paint. If you’d still like to see me with my head shoved into a paper bag, however, send me $20 and I’ll make your dream a reality.

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Dawn loved the fact that I finally got around to doing our visitor stones differently. Instead of just doing one, we did 6. The last one is one I made, to be the head of the long snake of rocks. It’s several feet long. I cleaned them and primed them the day we arrived. We went out on the long porch the next morning as the mist rose from below, scattered our paints and brushes, and laughed as we drank coffee, the cool air enveloping us. The head stone says “Time flies” in Spanish, with the year in Roman numerals.

The only potential downside is that future visitors might be envious of the scope of our stones for this visit. If they attempt to surpass my effort though, they should be warned: I will return and do 100 the next time. Just kidding – I’d probably stop at 30 or 40.

Dawn snapped this next one of me as I prepared to work my magic in the culinary portion of the evening. She claims that I’m prone to “weird hands” in these poses, although she uses a more endearing moniker for the pose.

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Not to brag or anything, but Dawn was happy with all the meals I made, even when I made things that started with the warning, “I’m not sure if this will be edible or thrown at miscreants on the sidewalk.” We didn’t take any pictures of our prepared food, out of respect for the privacy of the food that perished for our survival. Dawn took pictures of the fridge, as she couldn’t believe the variety of food we bought.

We resembled religious fanatics at the SunFest grocery store on Holiday Island, preparing our larders for the end of the world. We were like Noah-Of-The-Grocery as we stuffed two of everything in inventory into our cart. I felt like a pack mule pushing around our spoils as we headed to the register.

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Saturday morning, I got out early and marched the roads around Wisteria Lane. Even the downhill portions of the road were, in fact, uphill. I know this sounds impossible, but when you get to be my age, the impossible supplants both the unlikely and improbable when it’s least convenient. I saw some interesting things and had some great thoughts running around in the middle of the wild. As the roads were dry and dusty, I also had the grace of good luck, as I met no one on the roads during my entire trek.

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The above picture is to prove that all roads were paradoxically uphill. The sunlight comes a little later to the deep valleys where the cabins at Wisteria Lane are situated. It was worth the hiking to see it from a few different angles.

As for the next picture, I apologize for the weird HDR-esque quality. I tried using the filters on my phone until a prompt popped up and asked, “Are you high?” It was actually much darker than is evidenced by this picture. I loved the accidental result so much that I couldn’t bring myself to edit it out. In the distance, someone is clearing an immense amount of brush and trees. It was so tempting to venture out through there and stand in the middle of it. It would have been easy to imagine I had traveled back in time had I done so. Except I couldn’t be certain that sound of shotguns wouldn’t chase me back out.

People in those parts don’t subscribe to “Tomfoolery Quarterly, so it seemed safer to admire the torn earth from a distance.

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For fun, one of the projects I finally completed was making the “Blair Witch” stick symbols and hanging them from the canopy of trees. I bought some twine in Eureka Springs. While at the cabin, I meandered around the basin amidst the invisible snakes and collected a nice pile of hearty tree falls and snapped off relatively straight portions of their limbs. I then used the twine to tie the sticks together in the infamous “stick man” pattern. Dawn was very much interested in how my project might turn out, but she, of course, wanted nothing to with the process, preferring to remain high above on the cabin-length covered porch of our cabin. Even I eagerly found new discoveries in the trees, Dawn only offered commentary, leaving all the progress to me.

Not that anyone who knows me is going to worry about my views about witchcraft, voodoo, or omens, but in case you do, don’t worry about it. Not only because all such beliefs are both stupid and entertaining, but because my efforts were geared toward a good laugh. The idea of making several of these and placing them around someone’s house was amusing to me, especially if they are prone to being supersticious.

When I finished, I placed them up in the trees, like so…

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I imagine that it would have been hilarious had I fallen and snapped my neck. Imagine the obituary and the endless possibilities of creativity for any headline writer tasked with summing up the cause of my stupidity and demise.

I left the stick figures hanging in the trees. I hope that whoever cleans the cabins doesn’t have a minor nervous breakdown from all of them – or that the next visitor to these great cabins doesn’t notice them until their first morning at the cabins. Mayhem might indeed ensue under either of those scenarios.

I apologize in advance if anyone falls off the porch or gets scared by my bucket list project with the sticks. I’ve been meaning to do this for the last dozen visits, even as I constantly joked about all the vampires roaming the woods near Wisteria Lane.

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Above, I stopped and took a selfie as I cleared the apex of the largest hill. Again, it’s darker than it looks.

Even as I type these words, I miss it already. Some places seem to exist exuberantly outside of time and Wisteria Lane is just such a place. For being so close to home, it is an appreciated privilege for there to be such a place available to me.

Dawn didn’t drown me in the hot tub, push me over the edge of the porch, or hand me the exposed wires of a toaster during this peaceful weekend. I guess I did okay. She’ll let me know, I presume.

If I awaken tomorrow to find a Blair Witch stick figure on my front doorstep, I’ll assume it is the owner of Wisteria Lane starting her own haunting, to repay my capriciousness.

Of Skunks and Autumn

I make friends quite easily, no matter how many legs they have.

This morning, I could hear a visitor approaching from behind as I walked, its claws clicking the pavement in a strange pattern. I assumed it was either small animal or a demure middle-aged woman with poor nail hygiene who decided to walk the dark trails without shoes. (It’s Springdale – you never can be certain.) Despite previous history demonstrating that it’s ill-advised to assume, I was certain it was a small dog, enjoying some early morning freedom after it had tunneled under a fence or chewed a leash loose.

More than once as I walked I could see eyes in the brush or in the clearings ahead. Like humans, most animals scurry away when they detect my presence. I saw no other human beings in the dark as I walked. It’s fun to imagine that there are dozens of them beyond the reach of my vision, either zombies or those suited for jobs such as purchasing clerks, engineers, school administrators, or bank tellers.

The small dog continued to pace behind me. I didn’t want to startle it so I refrained from turning on my phone light. As I walked out of the canopy of trees, lights dimly reached me. I walked a few more paces and stopped to say hello to the dog as it came very close. It was an adult skunk, its thick black and white fur puffed around its face.

Before you say something ‘adulty’ like “It could have rabies,” you are of course correct. Given last year’s election results, however, I’ve abandoned logic for a system I refer to as “winging it.” I had the sensation that the skunk sought some sort of interaction as it too stopped about 3 feet away from me, sitting on the grass next to the trail. For a brief second, the part of my brain dedicated to self-amusement thought it would be fun to lean over and place my headphones on the head of the skunk to determine if he understood music in Spanish and the stylings of Maria Conchita Alonso. It was at that point it occurred to me that the skunk could have rabies. I don’t mind the idea of the painful rabies shots if I were to be bitten, but I make it a point to avoid any avoidable interactions with nurses, long known to be associated with all manner of ill luck and tragedy. (This joke sponsored by National Nurses Week.)

I wished the skunk well and continued walking. The skunk decided to continue to scurry along behind me so I slowed my pace to see how long it might follow me. It ran behind me for at least 200 paces. I finally stopped and tried to take a picture of it. I have a beautiful photo of absolute darkness and shapes devoid of any recognizable structure to show for it. In other words, it looked exactly like 90% of all vacation photos ever taken and most action plans devised by one’s boss.

Since I was walking in another new place, there were a few places where I was able to practice faith in the continuity of things, as I couldn’t see the ground. I walked and tried to use the less-dark places to determine the path. I felt as if I were walking on a literal metaphor for life at that point. Above, the bright stars shone and the leaves rustled. It was my moment and mine alone. It is the last day of summer and I walked mile after mile to pay homage to the approaching cooler days, the kind which demands that you sit at the kitchen table to read a few pages of a good book, only to find yourself 9 hours later, living inside that great book and within your own mind. Summer is a time when extroverts rule the earth, whereas fall belongs to introverts, writers, avid readers and other strange beings.

It was just me. And the skunks. I’m not sure who was getting the better bargain.
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On the way home, I had to wait a few moments as a snarl ensued ahead. Dozens of lights, the kind that always signal that someone is unexpectedly having a bad day, were blinking in synchronized alarm. As I neared the point of interest, I could see a man lying on the ground in the middle of the street as a few of our city’s finest attended to him. It looked like he had either been hit by a vehicle or that he had watched 5 minutes of the national news, both of which tend to result in such a trauma.
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Don’t look at the calendar to confirm Autumn’s arrival. Go outside when it the sun sets and breathe deeply. You can already detect the slightly fetid smell of encroaching decomposition. The acceleration has commenced.

Nasal Spelunkers and Weight Loss

Personal story. My apologies if I fail to express my ideas in a way that doesn’t cause consternation.

This one started with a new oven, all because I wanted one which would accommodate the pans I already possessed as I changed my eating habits. Living near the best produce market in Northwest Arkansas helped motivate me, too.

No, it really began when even stretch-waistband slacks began to scream as I tried to put them on. Shrieks of pain from one’s clothing is a sure sign that your bathroom scale indicating, “One person at a time” is no accidental aberration. As I joked when I made badges of dishonor a few weeks ago, you know you’re getting large when you sit down in the bathtub and the water rises in the toilet.

(Another one of my favorite self-deprecating jokes is that I was so large that it took 2 dogs just to bark at me.)

Luckily, a co-worker of mine was finally ready to stop jawing incessantly about needing to stop looking like the ‘before’ picture in every weight-loss ad. He knew his gut instinct (pun intended) to drop major weight was correct when Goodyear contacted him to rent ad space on his back. So, after months of cajoling and bitching, he agreed to form the now-infamous 2017 Invitational Blubber Loss Challenge with me and one other v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶ friend/participant. The rules were simple: meet monthly goals or face a creative backlash of penalties, ones rooted in public acknowledgments and perhaps embarrassing requirements. I created a Facebook page to post the goings-on and updates as we passed each monthly milestone. Or millstone, as has been the case for one unlucky participant. Here’s the link: 2017 IBLC Facebook page.  This group challenge was the perfect catalyst for me to frame my overwhelming urge to change some things. Today, I challenged my 6-month goal 3 months early – and won.

My love affair with potato chips and “no thought” foods had won the skirmish, battle, and war with alarming decisiveness in my life. I could feel the impending knock at the door, a rap executed with folded skeleton fingers emerging briefly from an ancient black smock. Weight is a much different issue at 50 than it is at 20 – and only partially because we’ve become so adept at the rationalizations which permit us to slowly transform from elliptical in shape to circular. Example: any container with only one opening is in fact just one serving, no matter how large it might be.

Statistics tell me that this recent win against obesity will be short-lived. Almost all weight loss is followed by a sharp walk back up the valley wall. It is almost a certainty that those pounds I divested will come back to visit me. None of us like to admit we’re human with voracious appetites. And bad judgment. We like to ignore the warning light on our dashboards until we see smoke.

But I’ll shake hands with a temporary win. It is enough to sustain me for a while. I pick up four one-gallon jugs of milk, knowing that the heavy weight of these 4 jugs is how much of me I’ve sloughed off in 3 months. It doesn’t seem possible. That I should lose another amount equal to the first is a bit debilitating if I think too long about the implications.

Even as life conspires against me with a buffet of delights I know that I’m not done. Even though my recent success was couched in a competition with others, I’m really at war with myself. Those kinds of wars aren’t won: they stay within us, intermittently coming forth to remind us that nothing remains as it once was.

Part of my own admonition was the prohibition of gyms or workouts. Instead, I decided to move a lot more and to walk more. I didn’t care about FitBits, counting calories, or elegance. There’s too much process in the way we spend most of our lives already. Instead, I focused on working to spend more time in the kitchen and eating differently. I allowed myself to eat things that fall into the forbidden zone on diets, even if I did eat them with considerably less frequency. Much to my surprise, I discovered how much I had missed seeing places right in my own backyard, across town, and in between. I’ve walked hundreds of miles in the last 3 months and learned just as much in those miles as I’ve been rewarded with weight loss.

(Note to self: it is amazing how many people think they aren’t visible to onlookers. Whether you are a nasal Spelunker or secret smoker, chances are that strangers are seeing you, whether they wish to or not. People walking slowly tend to have time to really see what’s around them.)

I apologize to my wife and neighbors as I’ve experimented with exotic spices and foods, some of which may or may not be featured in “Poison Quarterly.” I’ve eaten such a variety of delicious things lately. It’s a lot of work thinking instead of devouring. Even though I’m a vegetarian at heart, it’s a lot more work to even try it seriously.

I don’t want pats on the back. The brutal truth is that I allowed myself to get way too fat. At 250, there’s a lot more going on that simply eating potato chips. To lose 12% of that in 3 months has been worth it and I’m not saying otherwise. But come see again in 3 months, 6 months, or a year. Will I be less than 200 and holding? Or will I be swimming in bacon-filled deliciousness?

I should have never allowed myself to get above 200. It’s easy to look back and slap myself mentally. As with all problems in life, the real meat of the question is, “What do I differently so that it never happens again?” I’m working on that answer.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go cook something which will probably smell like burned pigeons to innocent bystanders. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’d like to thank the Springdale Fire Department in advance for their service if they are called to my house.

521 Place

There was something interesting about this afternoon’s weather. It was cooler than expected with a strong breeze at times. The sky was overcast, adding the perfect touch of faux-Autumn to the mix. My feet felt so light that I was almost detached from them. As I’ve walked more and more, there are days when I’m certain I could walk until nothing except bloody stumps remained. It would not have surprised me to turn and discover a band behind me, merrily playing a tune as I walked. Having said that, it might become a little annoying after a while, though. The band – not the bloody stumps for feet.

I walked along a few roads I hadn’t walked in 20 years, back in another life when I lived in that area of Springdale, in a place I called “521” in my head, in Spanish, for reasons I’ve long forgotten. 521 was the house number but beyond that, I can’t recall the weird reason I recited it in my head like a mantra. In those days, I ran and walked them so much that I knew the average number of steps each required to traverse and the potholes which deceptively hid from view at any speed. To see the disrepair that my former residence is now in was a harsh sight. The best days for that place are long gone, forever. Prosperity was only a brief visitor to that little area and its address was stricken from the record for any future return. Springdale has a lot of surprises up its sleeves but absent a massive gentrification or conversion to public property, these places people still call home will only lean in and fall inward as time marches on. I realize that the way I’m describing it reflects a lot about my privilege in life, but I’m not sure that I can express the declining feeling of these places without an honest expression from my own viewpoint.

I walked under one of the trail’s railroad crossings, being lucky enough to be deafened by the train’s horn blast and the timing of it passing over me as I stopped to feel the vibration building and passing above me. Passing under the overhead rails before stopping, I imagined (as I always do) that the train was going to slowly roll over and derail above me, much in the same way I sometimes stare at the approaching apex of a large bridge I’m driving over and wonder if the road will still be there on the other side. There’s a fancy French phrase to describe looking into the void, “L’appel du vide,” that describes the small urge to jump into the canyon below and even though it’s not an exact fit, it’s similar to the what I’m describing.

At the other end of the lesser-used end of the trail, I stopped to watch a plane thunder off the runway at the airport. It was easy to imagine the pilot peering down on me and the places surrounding me, wondering why I paused to watch him or her as they escaped the clutches of the ground.

At the other end of the lesser-used end of the trail, I stopped to watch a plane thunder off the runway at the airport. It was easy to imagine the pilot peering down on me and the places surrounding me, wondering why I paused to watch him or her as they escaped. Ever since the early 90s when the plane fell out of the sky on me, I have appreciated the tendency of planes to not always stay up there. Turning back to my walk, I marveled at the sheer quantity of empty and colorful beer cans along the wooded and grassy side of the trail. It reminded that people use the trail for different things; for some, it is an access to nature, simply by slithering through breaks in the deteriorated wooden fencing. It was easy to picture the various places in the brush where adolescents could make bad life choices.

I listened to a sociology talk today, in Spanish, one detailing the complexities of those who dare to be themselves, no more and no less. I’m going to paraphrase here. The speaker said several uninteresting things and without warning, said something along the lines of, “It’s part of the loss of religion. Instead of the focus on the power of the mystery and our quest for love, it instead has so often morphed into a litany of certainty, of being right. Of lists of creeds, of fingers pointed toward the things which are wrong. But mostly of being right and of creating boundary spaces between ourselves and others. As individuals, we do the same thing with our own identities.”

Not bad for a slow Tuesday afternoon.