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.

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