Wednesday, October 31, 2012

trick or treating is alive and well in our neighborhood, apparently, but we went over to another neighborhood because we'd been invited over there. trick or treating was alive and well in that neighborhood too: whole families came around; a lot of times the mothers dressed up and got candy too. when we stopped and gave away candy at the house of a friend, seemed we gave as much away to adults as to kids. people in the street everywhere. it was a beautiful night, cool, stars out, not too cold or wet. there was a festive atmosphere, parties at many of the houses, a lot of drinking going on. the police were pulling people over.

somewhere in there we came to this enormous house, pillars on the outside, taking up two lots at least, and going back a ways. my friend knew the owner, who had bought it from a famous swindler. this guy had embezzled 77 million from his company, and got caught, went to jail in 2006 on a 25 year sentence, but was already 37, and likely to be in jail for much of his life. he was pretty well known around town and of course they had to sell all these old cars and such to raise some of the 77 mil he owed when they finally caught up with him. he left three young kids, guess he told them, good luck, i'll be in jail for a while. folks admire him actually for somehow piling up 77 million before they caught up with him.

the house is big, wide open in the middle, an enormous and beautiful railing around the top dominates it; it has two pools, and a recquetball court, and enormous pillars. the guy was unexpectedly generous about letting us in, and the kids, in their costumes, got a bit of a better tour than we did, but only because we were shy. i left feeling like i'd seen one of the great sites of town.

some of the more suburban neighborhoods, out on the edge, apparently don't do so well. kids do "trunk or treat" events that are sponsored by churches and civic organizations, and this spares them from having to go around to neighbors who may not be home, or who may not appreciate the custom. in fact there is some suspicion of the custom in general. it may be that nobody has ever really found a razor blade, or a needle, in a piece of candy, or an apple, but in any case the idea of letting your kids accept any old candy from any neighbor has gone out of style in some places; not in our neighborhood. we're one of those neighborhoods that import kids, because it's known to have good candy per house ratio, lots of houses, lots of lights, good trick or treating.

but i believe we bought three bags of candy and only successfully gave away two; in addition of course our boys hauled in a couple of sacks, so there's no doubt, there will be a bit of candy around the house for a while. and this of course is a problem, but not a huge problem, it'll be old and stale soon enough, and the parents will have to take depletion measures and if those aren't good enough the older brothers will come home for thanksgiving and finsih it off. by then only the sour stuff will remain but that's ok with the older boys anyway.

came home and a lady, her husband and two kids came to the door. i gave the kids fistfuls of candy. the lady didn't want candy. she was carrying a huge obama sign though, and had an entirely black outfit. she was dressed up, but didn't want candy. she was protecting the obama sign, apparently. lots of vandalism, and drunkenness, on a night like this. you can have an obama sign, you just kind of have to watch out in this world. and if you don't have a video camera, forget it. i'm not participating in that kind of stuff, though of course i'll vote. you have to make your own relationship with the world. your house, the neighborhood, the traffic, the dangerous corners: it's life as we know it. go to bed, kids, enough sugar.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a new story:


enjoy! comments welcome as usual...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

one of my favorite pictures of all time; I'm not sure who took it. I believe that I took it from google images at one point and made pop-art out of it. it is of the sutliff bridge, that washed away back in 2008 or so, that was a lonely old rickety bridge that i'd walk across with my daughter on sunday mornings. now it could be that sutliff, a town with only two streets (swine drive and madison avenue) was actually a lively town, as it had one bar i believe, and was way out in the middle of nowhere on the cedar river. but on sunday mornings, it was generally very quiet. my daughter, who was about two or three in these days (we're talking early eighties) would want to get out of the car and walk the bridge, and we often did. we'd peer between the wood slats on the bridge and the river would often be rushing quite quickly below. i was a little afraid, frankly, afraid that the wood wouldn't hold up, or that she'd figure out some way to get over the rails on the sides. or that, once at one side or the other, we'd slip down the riverbanks. but it never happened; we'd throw little pebbles for a while, then we'd continue the twenty-mile (or so) drive down to iowa city.

a year or so ago there was a photo-storage crash and i lost virtually everything i'd stored for showing; the site, fotopic, disappeared in thin air with no warning. slowly i started putting things on imageshack, which appears to be more stable, a better place for having them since, for the web, you don't really need them to be perfect. flickr is the one for the large-bundle photos, but flickr only allows a certain amount before you have to pay. like i say, slowly i've been putting pictures back on imageshack; that's how i ran into this one. it may be a slow process. my mission is to restore, first, a page on my father's photography, a page on my own, some pop art, a page for some of my calendar photos. i'm not sure exactly how this will work. i'm deliberating. many of the photos ended up somewhat randomly, taken from my computer and put in a dropbox folder. this at least means i have access to some of the old photos. as i get them on imageshack, i'll show. a kind of pop art retrospective. i'm really proud of some of the stuff i did for siuc; i'm not sure how much of it still lives back in the old blogs; the system remains, even if everything else is just a memory. as i let go of that, the old cesl system, it remains for me to gather up, and put in my own places, that which was valuable to me. an siuc retrospective, which might include the train-man stuff of carbondale, might also be nice. collecting and presenting my memories is what i'm talking here.

pictures like the above really present a kind of problem, because, on the one hand, i'm attached to them, they mean something to me, i've invested a bit into the memory. on the other hand, it's not mine; and, the bridge itself is gone; there's no way to go get the same picture myself. so i found the site on google images, and, it's from 2008; the author doesn't even list who actually took it. maybe i should forget it, consider it one of those things that i can't do anything about. this also, i'm mulling over.

a facebook friend is young, and has traveled maybe seventy countries; he's really racking them up. so he was about to go to bangladesh, and he said to his friends, what should i do, where should i go? naturally his friends came up with kind of party-side suggestions. he was only going to be there for a day or two, before he went off to bhutan, another notch on his stick. but he wakes up in the morning and writes in to facebook: help! there's an elephant right outside my window! the friends, needless to say, had mixed reactions.

it's cold in lubbock, cold and clear, no sign of an impending hurricane in these parts. we all await the election and whatever happens on the east coast. actually, for such a large city, it's somewhat overboard on the halloween-decoration thing, and i'm not sure that late shoppers like us will even find costumes, let alone pumpkins, or those things we should have pulled in a month or so ago but, in our own frazzled way, have been unable to do up until now. towns like this are pulling out the thanksgiving and christmas decoration, and you have to load up now, because if you don't, you're just out of luck.

and so we go hurtling into the great holiday season. halloween, saints day, souls day, day of the dead, sadie hawkins, election day, you name it, they're all in a row, and they're coming right up. the best weather in the year, no matter where you live. and i'm grateful; i've made it to another one.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

a good fourteen blocks south of us, our busy road opened its intersection, flint and thirty-fourth, making flint slightly busier or more desirable for those coming from further south, particularly on a bicycle. so i was coming back from the school the other morning and pulling into my driveway, and a woman on a bicycle flagged me down; she was being followed by a friendly dog who wouldn't leave her alone, and she was now but one block from the big corner, flint and nineteenth, which i've come to refer to as the nightmare on nineteenth.

we took the dog, and, eventually, working together with her and her husband, gave it back to her later, for her to find its owner, or find another. when we called the animal control, they admitted that it was basically better that way, keep him out of their hands, save his life. someone would take him; he was a friendly border collie whose owner had put an orange collar on her but no tags.

we've always been in the animal saving business, but now it turns out that a notorious cat house was on our very street, about two blocks away, and was cleaned out what about a month ago. i heard something about this, but couldn't quite place it until today when i ran into this article. a warning about letting the animals get out of hand, while one's human mind becomes more feeble and becomes enslaved to their care. do you think they had to kill all 30? i wouldn't put it past them, and, i might, if in their shoes, do the same anyway. it's always easy to put down the animal control people, but, unless you're in the business of animal control, it's hard to know exactly what would be better than what they're doing.

i've been going through old websites, cleaning up, putting new information up, etc. it will be a long process. i may bring back some of what pop art did for me, back in the pop art era, much of it destroyed by server failure but rescued on my dropbox in the sky. it means, i can pick out what's good. it might look better, now after what, a few years, or it might look worse. first page i'll revive is that of my dad's photography. you can see how this is a rather empty display now that the server crashed;; by the way, nobody ever figured out what happened to that fotopic site; thousands were depending on it, and it disappeared into thin air. such is life and vapor, they make a big deal out of this halloween stuff, but enough of reality is easy-come, easy-go, on to the next world. here's to another puppy, a friendly lad. shared a toy, there, for a little while.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

over on the lubbock site i call it "bane of my existence" but here, below, it's just a series of six pictures of the corner of flint and nineteenth, a corner that plays a major role in my life. that is because i often see people cut off here, or almost killed, and once i was almost killed, came about eight or ten feet from it though that's a kind of generous interpretation of "almost". it's the frequency of incidents that disturbs me, the general tendency of cars coming out of the university to not see us footwalkers or bike-peddlers, who are like ants in the glare of the sun overhead of a ten-lane road that otherwise might be shaded at least enough to see something.

this other cool stuff is in the vicinity: the flint garage, a wall with a decorating bowl on it, a little park. it's a pretty area, and the road goes directly into a pretty neighborhood. but, of the three or four blocks i have to go to get wherever i'm going, i take my life into my hands here, look both ways at all times, pray for the best. and the heck of it is, there are lots of bikers and foot-walkers who are in equal danger. it's amazing. one person pointed out: you could avoid it altogether. yes, i suppose. i haven't figured out how though. it looms in the way as the main intersection to get through.

down nineteenth a ways is a hospital, and up the texas tech parkway a ways north, maybe three blocks, is another hospital, and these two are major hospitals, important to the whole wide area, so they have a lot of traffic. we hear a lot of ambulences on nineteenth, so many that i often think of the stories of people turning on the sirens just to get through traffic better. but on a ten-lane road you don't need sirens to make up a drama, i'm sure their sirens are legitimate, and for the most part people pull over and let them go do their things. it adds a little drama to the neighborhood. it's a kind of song, it drifts over the trees on this side, gets louder and softer again after they shoot past flint.

no good reason yet why people would speed up flint so early in the morning, you're talking seven am, eight am, that kind of thing. my working theory is that people who work the early morning shift are just as likely to be late for work as any of the rest of us, we just hear it more, because at that time, there is actually less traffic, and the real loud ones kind of stand out. lately i've been noticing that, since i don't play much music, it irritates me more, but that will come, i can't be too impatient there. i don't actually mind the city. it's kind of like living in iowa city: it's a rural state, a rural mind-set, a big old land, country music all over the radio, folks are real friendly, and the city aspect of it is just an ironic twist to an otherwise gardenish place. the alleys run through even this upscale neighborhood, and have cacti, pepper plants, weeds, high fences, lots of privacy. you get these bike riders and packs of joggers at all hours enjoying the ambience. The stubby texas oaks drop legions of acorns that crackle under your feet and you know they'd like to have some company out here on the texas plain. people remind you though, that all trees are imported.

up in north-central oklahoma a massive duststorm whipped through and denied everyone visibility, reminded them of the 1930's when such things were more common. it's been dry, i guess; it's always dry. my friend says it's actually drier here than in oklahoma, drier here than in austin or down in the big cities of the state - dallas, houston, san antonio - drier here than just about anywhere. but not quite. our grass is doing ok; it has rained. the radio boasts of being "red dirt rebels" playing texas music. it's good old hard country, country rock. they aren't the rebels though. they're the system. texas is the kind of place where rebel is built right into the system so that, the texas flag for example, that's a kind of rebel, against the feds, against the big ones, but it's the system too. these big trucks, they're the system. bush country, that's the system. there's plenty of gas, but a shortage of water; plenty of land, but also plenty of people on it, all living all over the place and trying to keep extracting a living off the "system." it can't last forever.

it's home for now though; i'm digging in, helping my little guys come to terms with their environment, helping them grow up medium-city texans, wranglers, texas proud. i don't know how i feel about that, but we're here, it's what they've got, and i've slipped myself in the side door of a university where folks come and go and treat me a little like an anachronism, they get out of my way. they're a bit surprised i'm still on a bicycle. from their trucks and buses, they try not to run me over; i've been lucky so far. the weather is stunning, always blue skies, beautiful fresh breeze (apparently called a 'zephyr' - sometimes we call it a 'headwind') - i puff and puff, chug and chug. i look all ways at all times on flint and nineteenth. but then, i'm back in the wonderland of interesting houses on one side, beautiful university on the other. pictures coming, i promise.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

i've taken to riding my bicycle very slowly, so as to be more predictable and harmless out there in the great world of traffic, but even so, at the corner of flint and nineteenth, bane of my existence, i almost got smashed the other day by a young guy in a small car flying through the redlight. he wasn't just late on a yellow, he plain hadn't seen it, and was going way too fast, and almost popped me. another bicyclist was behind me and gave me a classic look as i'd just avoided demise by maybe eight feet. the kid looked guiltily at me as he'd stopped there, about eight feet in front of me, where he'd screeched to a halt in the middle of the intersection.

the world went on around us; generally the weather here is stunningly clear and beautiful with lots of steady winds and fresh air, blue sky everywhere, very nice colors though definitely more sparse and gentle than i'm used to. the texas oaks make these wild crunchy acorns and i'm inclined to go in the business of planting them, but i barely have time to tend to my own business, that of teaching here and there and looking out for my own future. i pick up the boys at school every day; they don't mind walking home on a nice day. i don't get enough exercise, or music, and my spiritual life is a bit edgy, but i'm working on these things and looking forward to winter. we have a fire in the fireplace (see picture) and have made it so winter will be right pleasant.

there is nothing one can do about the outright danger of riding a bike day in and day out, except perhaps walk; when i'm four blocks away driving isn't really an option. one of my work sites is more like nine blocks away, but even that's not bad, and i could conceivably walk all ways every day. i don't like the feeling of taking my bike right up to the cliff - the ten-lane road where people don't see anything - and trusting to fate day in and day out. i've seen several other near-accidents. and the heck of it is, when it rains, even an inch or two, the whole place becomes a lake - up to three feet of water in every corner.

the texas voter registration signed us up and sent us each two voter identification cards - why two? = it reminded me a little of illinois in that the subtle implication was that we were to try to use them twice, each. what else could it be? i stared hard at them and still don't know what that was about. i consider myself lucky to even be able to vote, wanting as i do to push that lever down hard, but i also dread the other side of that coin, joining in politically with a state that still executes more people than all other states combined, a state in which more people are killed in the prisons than homicides in entire countries like japan, belgium, etc. seems, when you're on the voter rolls, you agree to abide by the wishes of the majority, and that, to me, makes me party to murder. doesn't sit well.

i devote a lubbock site to issues pertaining to the town and life around here, and it dilutes my writing considerably but it's important to me to keep up a kind of documentary thread of life around here, where i whip out my cell phone and take pictures of this bizarre stuff that i write about, and in some cases distort it or colorize it or whatever, it helps me own it a bit. i'm not sure if you, the reader, really want all this texas stuff but here it is, it helps me, to some degree, adjust. and then, i find out that all this area, the comancheria, was once a wild plain with maybe a single canyon in it, a little hiding place, right here in this area, one i haven't seen yet but soon will. this hiding place is a canyon stretching through the area, known variously as ransom canyon, yellow house canyon, buffalo springs. the comanche would hide here, and met their doom here too. now the comanche are down to maybe 20 or 30 thousand, the language has only a couple hundred native speakers. the buffalo hunters that were responsible for their demise were allied with the "texians" who proudly picked fights with mexicans and comanche alike, and only joined the union reluctantly perhaps as part of a larger fight: having brought on the wrath of mexico city, they had to get washington behind them, though they had what was known as "washington on the brazos" of their own. i cloud over an entire twenty years, of course, but i do it because i've begun to see that texas flag everywhere, and try now to adapt myself to the idea of being a texan (if not, texian). we're all here, now, at this moment, and the steady flow of traffic is testament to the lively economy, the good life being lived by all.

speaking of which, flint street has a number of speeders, even early in the morning, i'm talking seven a.m. or maybe seven thirty. the traffic started to irritate me a while back but i set up a little sitting place in the back room and that's helped a bit; it's away from the noise. car drivers, for the most part, don't see bicyclists but on flint there are wide bike lanes and biking is a bit more common. yes i'm a musician, and haven't been playing enough music, and the sound gets to me, even in the back room, and especially the wild cowboys coming by at seven a.m. or two-thirty when the bars close. the other day, it was homecoming, stunning weather as usual, apparently the red raiders were pounding the west virginia mountaineers, i have no problem with that, reminded me a bit of growing up back in p-a or ohio, but this truck full of rowdy partiers came down the street, the guys drunk in the back of the truck and waving and whooping and all that. i kind of liked it, actually. but it makes you wonder if that's what culture comes to, if that's what it's all about. i raise kids in this world...what is the world i bring them into?

my fate gets bandied about in the halls of academia; they don't quite know what to do with me. i was more useful when i could teach esl all day in one place, and didn't have to go between buildings to figure out what would happen next semester. it's a big university, its parts not necessarily even communicating, and would you say that football unites us, brings us together, one single large family? i don't think so. i did, however, notice that at my son's soccer practice, this was the older boy, a wide open sky, a beautiful sunset, kids all out there playing a wide-open game, ball going back and forth, a good game of soccer with less of the pressure brought on by uniforms, scores, referees, parents on the sidelines. it reminded me of the baseball i grew up with, and i thought, if my sons can have this, a lot, or more, or regularly, they begin to experience the good grace of the great outdoors, and the traffic is a little less irritating.

at the school, in fact at every school in the state, they say the texas pledge, an actual pledge to the texas flag and the state itself. which makes one wonder if, growing up in the texas schools, a kid would get his personality veered off in that direction of state patriotism which is so opposite of what i'm used to. the closest i ever even got to the state of illinois was being forced to take these wild ethics tests and then grousing that a state with essentially two governors in jail had no right to tell me anything about ethics. but here, folks are used to this "texas pledge," every day, it becomes part of the scenery, and then, you see these "secede" bumper stickers, and little texas flags everywhere, as if patriotism to a state is somehow a separate thing, a different kind of thing, something you might get into even if you weren't especially patriotic to the big country. i'm not sure about the relationship; it's true of course that for those twelve years, we were our own country. that's a kind of identity marker in itself, and history will document itself. i'll get out there, i promise, and show you what i'm talking about.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

found the music tonight, and it was just in time, as inside my spirit was hungry for something nice. it was an old diner tucked up against what looked like a new highway but it's actually just "the Loop", a very busy road with lots of fast new cars all over the place. this diner had a bunch of old guys who came in, took their time eating, and finally got to playing and by the time they did they had a pretty full room of other old people, some very old but one who, though quite old, was still young enough to dance.

i'd taken my son to soccer practice and now he was having a lemonade and he didn't mind the scene, he knew how happy i was, but he got bored after a while and wanted to go home. i'd have waited, maybe let them get informal and invite folks onstage, but i figured, there will be a time for that. a guy next to me said the lead singer was over ninety, i believed it, but they were still up there, belting out the bluegrass classics, and one guy at one point said he lived only a few blocks away. on the window was a "breakfast" sign and beyond that, you could see the green highway sign for amarillo up there, but i said to the waitress, what'd they do, put a new highway right through your neighborhood, and she said, no, actually, it's been there as long as i remember. which means they're pretty darn used to all that westbound traffic out that one window.

in my class we were talking about dying languages. yiddish, scottish gaelic, and comanche were three that came to mind right away. comanche used to control the whole plain all around these parts, they had horses, and alliances with tribes on either side, and they were a big proud nation, but the buffalo hunters came and wiped out the buffalo, and that upset the delicate balance and caused privation and stress. so they killed the buffalo hunters, but that didn't go over too well, and now they're down to a little nation, centered in anadarko oklahoma, and i've never even met a comanche, but i was struck by a couple of things about their story: one, their language is just like korean, it has a topic, then a verb-last construction, as in: as for me, to the store for bread went. once you've said who the sentence is about, why bother with a subject? my question revolves around how likely it is for a language to change this kind of setup. and then, how likely does that make it that cherokee and korean are related? who knows? how many of these "topicalization" languages are there?

before i give my class all kinds of misinformation, i just point out, hey, i just got here, what do i know about comanche, or y'all, or might could or any of it. up there we were fighting about whether it was ok to say "you guys" or have chief illiniwek on a sweater. we had very few actual native americans around to take offense though they came through in a traveling pow-wow show once and i think once wanted to buy back some of their original land. for the most part, though, they were gone, banished to these parts, it seemed somehow that almsot every native tribe east of the mississippi ended up somewhere in oklahoma or out here somewhere. my students look at me like i'm some kind of guy from outer space, knowing all this stuff, but it's not all that much; if comanche has only a hundred or two native speakers left, how much is there to know? somebody has at least spent some time writing it down, printing a bible in it, finding those native speakers. but hope is running out, and i'm not sure what to do about it. learn comanche, or maybe, learn jerai. jerai (jarai) is a language fromt he highlands of vietnam, also endangered, also presently being saved, or at least worked on, so that it could survive in some form. but if native speakers are spread out, worldwide, what form will that be in? it's hard to say what can save a language in this modern time. i write this in my personal blog because it's a personal thing: there's scottish gaelic, and yiddish, and i've failed, really, to learn either, and i'm getting old, i'm not sure how easy it would be to learn an entire language, really well. in the "embark" stage you have a lot of enthusiasm, and it's really cool, but in these cases it's a lot of work just to be able to talk to a few people. and then what? the language might die anyway.

i avoid death, i avoid any controversy, i even avoid crossing flint and nineteenth in the most dangerous side where i'd have to keep looking over my shoulder as i ride through the crosswalk. i avoid saying "columbus day" or "indigenous peoples day" in favor of "public schools are out and I have to find someone to watch my children." this has been going on for what, thirty some years. cars whiz by, what, on their way west, because it's the west side, the south west side, where lubbock is most developed. and then after that you hit new mexico where it gets wide and empty and real sunny and wide, but i haven't been out there, i've barely got out of town in any direction. traffic whizzes by our house also; this traffic is generally northbound, toward the university, sometimes very fast, even in the early morning. and we hear lots of ambulances, going to pick up some motorcycle rider, or going somewhere else we can only imagine. the sun came back; it was cold and windy and dreary for several days, but now it's like summer again, clear blue skies, warm out days. out on the plain, i'm sure the wind is picking up. i've started noticing workers' trucks that say "plains" or "south plains" this or that. texas flags, horse trailers, cacti, old beater cars, wildflowers, indian-nation license plates. the place has some texture, an understory.

if you don't learn new languages, you remain part of the uncaring outside world, the modern world, that one that goes on when cool stuff dies, and becomes shallower and less aware. what do we know, about what's gone, and what we never learned? only what someone tells us. and even then, you've got to take it with a grain of salt. oral history, you might say, it's like an oral contract, not worth the paper it's printed on. or whatever.

but, i carry my cell-phone wherever i go, and i'm getting better at using it, though i still don't turn it on people much, except accidentally. my heroes in this regard are frank jump and this guy who is recreating the odyssey (sp?) by taking his cell phone all over the mediterranean (sp?) taking photos as if they had a cell phone back in the day. frank jump goes around new york, and every other place, and takes photos of old faded billboards and such. they are living documenters who would point out, the people can document now, it's easy, everyone can do it. you just have to have an eye, and get your camera ready.

one of these days, i'm a head to anadarko, and see what happens. that, or maybe new mexico, roswell, or ruidoso, out that way. i'd even be okay with getting out to estacado, an old quaker settlement not thirty miles from here; i haven't even been there. the place is rich with history, understory, i'm kind of studying it. camera in hand. photos coming.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

woke up this morning and took the boys out to play their soccer games out on the far side of town, out beyond the university and the football scene. the wind was whipping across the plain out there, dry and cold and hard, and there was no sun so it was very cold and anyone who wasn't actually playing soccer was getting pretty cold. both boys ran hard and did their best and we came home and made a fire in our fireplace; we weren't sure if it would burn the house down but it hasn't yet and i'm still sitting here enjoying it, and toasting the bottom of my feet. it inspired my wife to go out and buy some furniture for the living room.

meanwhile the oklahoma game got started and was carried out, not more than a mile from here. football is very serious business out here on the plains, and hating oklahoma is kind of like hating the yankees, it comes naturally, apparently, to a lot of people but i suppose if you were from oklahoma hating anything with the name "texas" in it would come just as natural. i don't have the heart to keep telling people that football kills people and should be banished, instead i slowly get won over to their infectious enthusiasm and become a fan of both the raiders, the college team, and the cowboys, a more yankee-like institution that has so much money and power, it should have its own television show. no, i probably will never really "like" the cowboys, though i could see myself saying, go raiders, maybe i've said it already.

the war rages on about "y'all" and how we northerners just don't get it and how are we supposed to know what anyone means. i brought it on myself by bringing it up and pushing it on my students, but i told everyone about my thinking too, and now i hear it everywhere, of course. it brings out, to me, the biggest differences between north and south, and, i'm not always in the mood to be reminded. the weekend, for example, i'm hanging by the fire, staying in, listening to the game over yonder, warming my feet, staying away from people. the cold, to tell the truth, is welcome to me, it's been a long summer. the hard wind, the bitter cut of it, is somewhat new to me, or at least different, but i can handle that too, i might have to get slightly better clothes. they say that illinois is getting stunning colors about now, and i'm sure iowa the same, but down here, we have this huge sky, and a bunch of scraggly old oaks with a million acorns skittering around on the hard red clay. the trucks make their loud noise, maybe the raiders lost, and i think folks settle in for a night of hard drinking, whether they won or lost. at least that's how it was in all the other plains states, nebraska, iowa, kansas, on footbsll day. it's a cultural thing. life kind of revolves around watching these poor souls crush themselves time after time, in a line, a brutal expression of war and force and sheer power.

allow me to ramble, the cold fall settles in on the plain, i use up a summer's worth of wood as i sit here, and the smell does me good. it's like, there's something you get out of a fire, that you get out of nothing else, not a quaker meeting, not a swim in a lake, not a good sunset. keepers of the flame, i don't know if zoroastrianism is the one, where they basically say, you sit by a fire, that's your religion right there. that's all you need. make sure you do it once in a while. don't stop the kids from poking away at it. it's the most natural thing in the world.

i look forward to grown kids visiting, if at different times. we'll have a new couch, apparently, and hopefully there will be enough wood to make another good fire. i look forward to showing them around the territory, though there's much of it i haven't seen myself. the "depot" area, for example, where the music is, and the theater, i haven't seen it. out the canyon, and the lakes, where people go, haven't been there. actually i'm a little remiss, half of my mail, i don't even get it, because i haven't sent change of address forms. but i did get my texas driver's license, almost flunked the eye test, i'm getting old maybe, but it's official now. i'm a texan, a redstater. what that means, i'm still learning. y'all keep in touch though, i'll let you know.

Friday, October 05, 2012

when i have time i sorely miss my old friends in illinois, my religious community, my workmates, the friends i'd gathered. here, folks are nice, but i just don't know them well enough. it's kind of an urban scene; our house rambles along a busy street, and although we can tune out the noise, it never really quiets down, and certain times of day it's intense. this weekend is game weekend; oklahoma is coming to town. now it's kind of nice hating oklahoma, it's kind of like hating the yankees, they're a kind of traditional enemy, whether you're from iowa, or kansas, or nebraska, or texas.

the weather here is beautiful, clear and cool, with blue skies and a stiff north wind bringing welcome cool canadian air. or maybe it's rockies air, either way, it's cool and sometimes cloudy, but always windy, and i like this. it restores my faith in winter and in a world that was heating up a little too much.

the school in some ways cheers me up too; maybe it's that students have an economy to move into (their being texans and all), so there's some sense of hope. the university has built five buildings in three years; it's adding dorms and cafeterias, mass com school, that kind of stuff, as it goes from 34 000 to 40 000. my last school went from 25 000 to 18 000 while i was there, while all spending for football became a cruel joke as they refused to hire teachers, shut down departments, began to welsh on dentist bills, etc. though i know the system is sick, and that will probably hit this place too, sooner or later, i would have to say, i'm almost at the end, i just want a few more good years. i want to enjoy teaching a while longer. i want to feel that hope of a young person who wants to learn and can.

so i challenged my young people to tell me the truth about "y'all" and i'm hearing a few good stories. they say "y'all" a lot down here; it's y'all this and y'all that. but i kind of like it; it's a lot easier to adjust to than, say, yes ma'am or yes sir. politeness is king, and that's why y'all can be for just one person, because, even if there's only one, if he's important, or he's a visitor, or you like him, or whatever, you use y'all as a familiar and show him your best. i like this. they can call me y'all anytime.

we're one block from campus, maybe two blocks from tailgating, maybe five from the stadium. people will park all over the place. a few styrofoam cups will end up on our yard. it's a city, and it has good weather at night, and things begin to get lively around now when i go to bed. i'll put the seven-year-old to bed upstairs in this old house, and up there you can see the city drive by below, and see the campus out over the trees. he'll fall asleep quickly by the fan even as the city traffic picks up a bit. he's ok with calling his teachers "ma'am" and the "yalls" will be coming soon from all of us. it's a friendly place. we can do it too, we just have to learn.

we're not the first folks to move to texas. apparently lots of people have been doing it.