Saturday, February 08, 2014

i think i'm going to write a story about black ice, but i haven't quite got the story line yet, and don't really know if i'm right with the facts either. wikipedia admits that black ice is any ice you can't see, and even admits that the term is used widely, used at sea for deadly ice that can kill people in a boat, etc. so there's no sense getting proprietary about the language itself, what do i know? but i have this memory of people in minnesota telling me, or maybe it was chicago, that black ice is a certain kind of ice, only happens when it's really cold, like ten or twenty below. so then, if you hear people down here in texas talking about it, and using the term for anything you can't see, you know they're overusing the term.

as far as ice that you can't see, that can start right around the freezing point, and yes, texas has plenty of that. today i went out to water, as we've had a sudden spell of about fifty degree weather and you can actually see how dry it is, and the hose was frozen, and i almost broke the hose, the pressure made it leak. so on the road these little droplets of water freeze, down in the cracks of the asphalt, and you can't see it and this can be very dangerous. but it seems to me that in minnesota, what they were saying was that at ten or twenty below, the asphalt itself starts to freeze, and that's a whole different level of danger, a different kind of ice. and they said it was particularly deadly on the interstate on a morning commute, say you're going seventy or something.

now the idea that the most dangerous thing in the world is a kind of ice that you can't see, is a pretty powerful metaphor for life itself, very useful in a story, but like i say, i haven't worked out those details yet. and don't know if i want to work on that minnesota vs. texas angle in any case, i'll keep you posted. i've been working on the novel a lot these days, and i'm kind of at a break with the haiku, i have about 850 now, maybe only about 820 publishable because i'm becoming less tolerant of repeaters, etc. the haiku has been moving along at a pretty good clip but there are certain places - kentucky, new hampshire, hawaii, d.c., that kind of defy my easy creative juices, i'm just kind of stuck. in the novel there are dozens of unresolved issues, if you're an author, you owe it to the reader to tie up loose ends, don't put stuff in there if there isn't a reason. i'm new to the novel business, haven't quite got the hang of it yet. you'll be the first to know, the day i finish.

went out to the jam on thursday night, but it was cold night, maybe ten or twenty, not too bad, but cold by texas standards. almost nobody was there, but one guy who was there, let his dog out to pee, and the dog took off and didn't come back. it was a friendly dog too, it had let me pet him, but it somehow didn't feel the need to stick around, that, or because it had to find some actual grass to pee in, just kept running and not finding any. drove around a little looking for it, fruitlessly. heard a story later, the following day, about a dog getting hit on one of our main streets, which is called indiana. this particular street, you often have lines of cars, three abreast, at about forty. this was a bad situation for the dog, apparently.

the city is a vast grid of blocks that keep stretching out onto the texas plain to the south and to the west, and to the southwest, until now it goes all the way out to 118th street and west two or three alphabets, which would be from avenue a to avenue x & avenue z which is actually university, then from akron avenue through flint where we live, and all the way out to utica and wayne, where the dog was lost, and then slide, and then beyond slide avenue it starts again and you have streets like chicago, milwaukee and out that way. there are hundreds of blocks and these people's dogs just get loose and tear around the city. we occasionally see loose dogs down by the parks where people bring their dog to romp, they think it will obey, then it doesn't. and off it goes. this is what happened to my friend. somebody could have picked it up, he said. he was hoping it wouldn't freeze to death. its name was 'friday' - good name, i told him, almost nobody has an argument with friday, the general concept is pretty agreeable. but the dog was gone, and our calls went unheeded.

it's late afternoon here, a gentle sun coming through the windows, and a break from the bitter cold spell that has gripped the area for about a week. maybe the hose will thaw, and i'll water, but most likely, we'll go to a chinese new year celebration and have some chinese food. it's year of the horse and i'm a horse, i have no idea what that means, except that apparently it's lucky, and our friends will invite us, which is lucky already. my feeling is, and i take my younger son on a lot of this stuff, if a kid wants to get out there, and see the world, that's what i'm here for. the older son has taken to minecraft and staying in, he doesn't care for the social whirl, and we indulge him, because he does ok in school and actually has some friends. also, because my wife is the same way, given the choice, she won't go out. life is tough enough, she's tired, she'd rather stay in and rest.

the image of the dog getting hit on indiana remains lodged in my brain, but hey, it's life in the city, this city is twice the size it used to be, and probably that's happening a lot. people have a lot less control of their dogs than they think they do, and then, on the drivers' side, sometimes things happen and you just can't do much about it. another family, here in lubbock, swerved to avoid a dog, and ended up in a fatal wreck that killed grownups and left kids on this earth without parents. you try not to let this stuff happen, but then, sometimes you wonder, the best way to avoid it is just to stay home on a weekend.

late at night, on my walk, which i love, cold weather or warm, i'm there, generally, and there are a lot of helicopters above, this being the kind of hospital neighborhood where the medivacs take off and land, and have to fly relatively low in order to maneuver around to the direction they want. we also hear a lot of ambulances, especially late at night, they seem to come from all directions sometimes and i can see them down the long streets, as the sound has already made it pretty clear where they are and where they're going. down about three streets is indiana, and they like that one, it's wide and people can pull over and let them go by. i'm from a much smaller town so after a while it seems incredibly busy to me, like the million people in this area are just having crisis after crisis, and i guess that's true in a kind of general way. but it also makes me grateful to finish, come home, crawl into a warm bed, see another day. to think, i used to spend whole seasons standing at the side of interstates, hoping someone would stop.


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