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.


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