I'm sure at some point this will change, but so far in my two weeks in Houston I haven't read the Chronicle once. Occasionally I'll hear someone make a reference to a local news story and I'll just sort of stare blankly as if I cannot imagine how they came by this information. Honestly, someone could tell me that the Normans razed Pearland and my only response would be to ask where Pearland is and if that's where I need to go to get a key to my office.
None of this is interesting. What is interesting is that while I thus far refuse to read about or even acknowledge Houston as a city that exists outside of the range of my computer's speakers, I cannot stop myself from reading the North Platte Bulletin, the second paper from a city of 20,000 that I haven't lived in since 1998. I'm going to want to know things like this:
A dude with a secret Wheaties-based bait caught the biggest fish of his life? Someone should tell the Normans.
Weird Things About Houston - It Rains When There Aren't Clouds
It seems to do this at least once per day. It's very confusing, and there's not much to be done about it other than wait it out. Which would be fine if this oddly sunny rain was just a sprinkle or a light mist, but so far it's always been a really angry downpour, sometimes even with equally rare cloudless thunder. I don't understand how anyone is able to play Ultimate Frisbee here (or, to be honest, anywhere).
Maybe there are clouds, just clouds that are undetectable to man and our silly science. I mean, there must be, right? For the thunder?
Unfortunately, during North Platte's summer "Omnibus" program, I did not take the class on meteorology. My friend Ryan took the meteorology class and to this day he can show off by using words like cumulus and nimbus. He nods while watching television weather reports. In the morning, he peers out the window at the sky and says things like, "That might be trouble" or "Ah, yes, I see..." He would be able to explain these axion-like clouds and make a poster demonstrating their altitude relative to the other cloud types.
I took the class on ancient Egypt. That's why I can whittle a sphinx out of a bar of soap and make a sugarcube pyramid. You've probably been meaning to ask me where I learned to do that. Now you know.
A Review of My Apartment Building
It's good, I think, but I wish they had told me the location of the trash bins so I didn't have to peer through my blinds hoping to spot a neighbor carrying a white Hefty bag. Because if I ever see such a neighbor I'm going to have to quickly grab my own white Hefty bag and follow them to wherever the trash bins are. Then I'll have to pretend like it's just a coincidence that I'm going to the trash bins at the same time. This will require me to make casual, walking-to-the-trash-bin conversation.
Neighbor: Hey, did you just move in?
Me: Yes, sir.
Neighbor: Cool, cool. How's it going?
Me: I know where the trash bin is.
Neighbor: Great, so you won't mind giving the password to the minotaur then?
Neighbor: Awesome, I'm having a barbeque later.
Also, I'm sort of curious about how the UPS/USPS/FedEx people are getting through the gate. Do they all have keys? And, if so, is that complicated with all of the other buildings they have to go into? Does the minotaur let them in? I think about this as I wait for someone to take out their trash.
Furthermore, I find the choice of having sparkly, stenciled art on one of the building walls to undermine the otherwise self-conscious industrial-age penal features--exposed brick, cement floors, iron gate--which make the rest of the building a modern day workhouse with, ultimately, the gate holding us in rather than them out. These nods to an industrial-penal system acknowledges us, the tenant/prisoners, as holders of disciplinary careers who will continue to propagate the system which punishes us unawares.
Or at least that's what the building would say if someone hadn't spray painted a sparkly dragonfly on the wall.
I call him Henry.
I Am Currently Waiting
For a couch delivery and am subsequently very late to a party being thrown by a professor for all of the new TAs going through teacher training. This is very disconcerting, but I told the people delivering the couch that I'd be here at a certain time and damnit I'm not a quitter. That certain time was a while ago, but they assure me they're coming. This is never a fun conversation:
Guy: Where are you? We're coming from the 45.
Me: Oh, take that to the 10 then the second exit.
Guy: The 610?
Me: I don't think so.
Me: What? Is there a 610?
Guy: There's a 610 somewhere.
But now they just called and said they should be here in 10 minutes. Of course, they said they'd be here in 10 minutes an hour ago, but what can I do? I'll tell you what I can do. I can just sit here and put my nervous energy into typing rather than wondering at what point I'll be too late to actually go to said professor's house and enjoy one of the two different types of sparkling water he had. This conversation is more fun than the other conversation:
Professor: And I'll have two different types of sparkling water.
Me: [takes notes]
Things I might say if I ever get to the professor's house:
1. "The Professor's House is my favorite Willa Cather novel."
2. "Actually, it's the only one I even sort of liked."
3. "Death Comes to the Archbishop was okay, I guess."
4. "My apartment now has a place to sit down."
5. "Hi, am I too late to come into your party?"
6. "Wasn't there a weird thing with a plane engine in The Professor's House or am I thinking of The Rocketeer?"
7. "I like your drapes."
8. "Where's the 610? Is that better than the 10?"
9. "I'm Adam. No, not that Adam."
10. "Hi, I'm Adam. Yes, that one. The one that was late."
Hmm, that took me 11 minutes to type and based on the fact that I'm still typing this from my Aero bed and not at all drinking sparkling water, I'm thinking something has gone wrong.
Things that probably exist off the 610:
1. The afternoon moon
2. Magical be-couched houses
3. The 1410
4. Trees made of hugs
5. Reverse fountains that suck water out of the air
And the couch is here! Goodbye.
Things I don't think I ever linked to here
Dave Madden's Book Deal - Just awesome. Even if I didn't get to title the book--or should I say, haven't gotten to title the book yet--it's still going to be the first non-fiction book I've purchased since...um...I'm going to keep thinking about it. In the meantime, why don't you all go buy Dave some dirty taxidermy-based gifts. This is the best thing that's happened to taxidermy since that museum in Cleveland opened their animal stars of Hollywood exhibit. Who knew that Mr. Ed was so short?
Zach Schomburg's Scary, No Scary - It's the truth. That last thing I said about Mr. Ed may not have been.
Dave of Dave Madden's Book Deal and I Talk about The Cupboard - It could just be the move, but I feel like we did this eight years ago. Anyway, I never mentioned it here. Good questions with the occasional good answer.
I know, I know
I've neglected you during the move but I promise I'll do better soon. In the meantime, I'm focused on acquiring one (non-inflatable) piece of furniture, not dying in a fiery car accident, and reacquainting myself with the benefits of having a freezer. Here's how I'm doing:
Acquiring one (non-inflatable) piece of furniture - Great! Well, Great! as long as pillows count as furniture. If not, then Bad¡
Not dying in a fiery car accident - The secret so far is to put on one CD that I wouldn't mind having playing while dying in a fiery car accident. Somehow this prevents the fiery car accident from happening but I have no doubt if, say, I put on Saigon Kick's The Lizard, you'd all be reading about the gasoline-carrying semi that overturned on me. Today was Fear of Music. I welcome suggestions.
Reacquainting myself with the benefits of having a freezer - Great! Well, Great! as long as this French Vanilla Ice Cream and Hashbrowns sundae I'm eating out of a Tostinos Party Pizza cone counts. If not, then Delicious!
To-Do List for Wednesday, August 12th
1. Fill bucket with tears
2. Take bucket to the Salvation Army with the drop-off boxes instead of the Goodwill to avoid long conversation about bucket's poor sales potential
3. Feel bad about bucket's poor sales potential
4. Remember I still need a bucket
5. Buy different bucket at Salvation Army because Goodwill has sold out of buckets
6. Fill bucket with water, soap, remaining tears
7. Wonder if I should do something with remaining eggs or if they should just be thrown away
8. Feel bad about eggs/bucket/Nora Ephron's neck
9. Re-recycle twice recycled blog post idea
10. Spend all day inexplicably listening to Neil Diamond over coworker's iTunes
11. Die a little instead of sleep
12. Eat 18 different goodbye meals, none of which I can manage to make take place at McDonald's
13. Again promise to quit blog after move
14. Start re-watching Lost Season One for some reason
15. Lust after two apple pies for $1
16. Kill spider bigger than my fist
17. Look at email inbox and laugh
18. Begin composing email to spider's family
19. Decide this is crazy as spider seems to have come back to life
20. Don't go in bedroom anymore
21. Make 9-egg bucket omelette
Well, not recycled, exactly, but just the best I can come up with while living a life that consists mostly of staring forlornly at unsold furniture and poking the wood filler I used on the apartment's backdoor and wondering when it's going to dry.
It's possibly this move-ennui that led me to turn into Raymond Carver during a company creative exercise (as opposed to the time I turned into Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a company basketball game). This month's creative exercise involved drawing a character, setting, time period, and plot then taking 15 minutes to write a story about it. This should have been perfect. I mean, I've read stories. I drew:
Just after a fight
Someone has been embarrassed
I don't know, maybe there's something funny there--everyone else did something funny--but instead I spent those 15 orange juice and pastry fueled moments writing the following cheery piece. I then took pictures of what I wrote because I'm taking pictures of everything these days:
If history is any guide, I will now attempt to sell these notebook pages over the Internet before ultimately deciding they aren't really worth $10 and dropping them off at the Goodwill. They will then be sold and worn as a Halloween costume by some graduate student. When asked what he's dressed as, the graduate student will say, "A pretentious, flawed attempt at passe minimalism written by someone wondering whether a co-worker is going to eat that entire cinnamon roll or if he might go halfsies if offered a set of matching coffee and end tables."
When I got the first email, I didn't know if this guy was being aggressive enough in his quest to buy my bike. Then, five minutes later, the second email came. While more aggressive, this still seemed to be sub-optimal in its aggressiveness and clarity. That's when I realized he didn't want a bike, he only wanted to be friends with email@example.com.
That's when I realized he wasn't using verbs because the only verb he knew was "love."
Type of Business
Renter's insurance, baseball bat, patsy, insurance check cashing place
Enough for some Lemon-Lime Gatorade after all of the exhausting defrauding, plus whatever would lure the patsy into destroyed apartment and keep them occupied until the police arrive. Maybe some kind of adorable kitten(?).
Equipment needed (addendum)
Police calling phone, adorable kitten(?)
Sign up for renter's insurance, destroy furniture with bat, frame the patsy, relax with some Lemon-Lime Gatorade, take insurance check to check cashing place, use cash to buy new furniture and get more Gatorade maybe, attend trial of patsy from back bench and cackle menacingly when patsy's spouse begs me to turn myself in for the good of their children
Me - Will need to own their own bat, like Lemon-Lime Gatorade, cackle needs to be menacing but sub-murderous.
The patsy - Spouse, children, love of kittens(?)
Sometime before this weekend
Hard drinking but honest police detective who believes the patsy's story, possibly because of their shared love of kittens(?)/hatred of cackling
Hard drinking but honest police detective falls in love with the patsy's wife just as he unravels this most brilliant insurance fraud, realizes that if the patsy gets out of jail he'll never be able to be with the woman he loves
Equipment needed (addendum)
Hard drinking but honest police detective, cool nickname for criminal mastermind, love
The patsy visits with his wife on Christmas Eve, the kids aren't allowed into the prison, he goes back to his cell, dejected, through the bars he sees his wife get into the hard drinking but previously honest detective's car, somewhere far away Le Flèche Noire drinks Lemon-Lime brandy on his new sofa
Consumed with guilt the hard drinking but again honest detective exonerates the patsy on Christmas day, upon leaving the prison and walking toward his wife and children, the patsy hands the detective the cat he's been raising while working in the prison library, somewhere even farther away Le Flèche Noire fingers his baseball bat while thinking about getting a new sofa
Things I Won't Be Blogging About While Preparing to Move
* My attempts to purchase everything for my new apartment on Amazon.com - I won't talk about this because then I would have to explain to you why my couch is going to be made out of remaindered copies of Tom Wolfe books. Frankly, this is something you should discover for yourself when you come to visit. When you see the Lego Star Destroyer I'm using as a coffee table, just pretend to be impressed and say yes when I offer you an appetizer off the back of a Roomba.
* This Houston-area ax-murder - I know, I know. You all told me, Don't move to Houston, if the heat doesn't kill you the ax-murderers will. Thankfully it was explained to me by former Houston-ites that they actually have "Cool Zones" where you can go to get away from the heat. This does nothing to stop the ax-murderers, of course, but it's a start. Come to think of it, actually, if anything it will just make us easier for the ax-murderers to get us all.
* My going away party - It's this Saturday. If I haven't invited you, it's an oversight and I'm sorry. You're invited. You and it appears the 9 people I still know in Lincoln.
* The great deals on used furniture & dogs currently going on at my apartment - I just like joking about selling Brett so that when someone says, You'd have to pay me to take her I can throw $20 at them and run away laughing. Sadly, Brett will probably just chase me. Then you'll use the $20 to by three-quarters of what I own. I'll then use that $20 to buy 39 copies of I am Charlotte Simmons.
* This Royals season - Oh, god, they're awful. Frankly, I'm going to be glad when the ax-murderer gets me. I hope we get the chance to talk about his job title as we enjoy the chilly air of the Cool Zone. I have questions. Like why is ax-murderer a thing, but if, say, you just going around stabbing people like some random Peterson, you're not a knife-murderer. Instead you're just sort of a jerk. I'm sure he'll have thoughts on this.