Monday, December 25, 2006

Twilight zone

Texas really does feel like the twilight zone sometimes. Some gems...

(1) Not only does the town feel it needs TWO super Wal-Marts, but it seems to think it's a good idea to build the second one right NEXT to the old Wal-Mart that has just closed. Heaven forbid they at least reuse the old building.

(2) My family is so supportive of all of my endeavors, they insist on coming along with me in my tagging efforts...even after I explain to my grandmother that it's hard to be covert or plan a quick getaway pushing an old woman in a wheelchair.

(3) Somehow, half of the town has decided it is no longer dry. Now you'll find the latest in Vegas-designed liquor stores taking up residence on the good side of town. Evidently, the other side of town wasn't even allowed to vote. Huh?

(4) They built a new arena for calf roping and made sure the big stadium got astroturf. Too bad they couldn't inject some money into the town's infrastructure, since half the city had no access to water this past week.

(5) I've discovered why I'm comfortable in all neighborhoods, particularly those that others deem "bad". I grew up in the country ghetto. No bones about it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Deep fried

Well, I'm home again and blogging from the Lonestar state. These past two days have been trying in terms of traveling, but seriously, I expect nothing less. My flight on American was oversold yesterday morning (no shocker there), so I gave up my seat for a $400 travel voucher and the promise I would make it to San Angelo last night. This meant that I trolled the terminals of BWI from 8:00 am until my new flight departed at 3:20 pm. It meant that, instead of catching early morning zzzs on a plane, I found a quiet corner of the floor and turned my laptop bag into a pillow.

13 hours later I finally touched down in San Angelo, TX. It's amazing how quickly you remember you never fit in in a certain place and never will. I never felt right for this town and still don't. It's funny how old habits do kick in though. Waiting in line* for the puddle jumper to San Angelo, everyone was friendly again and talking to each other. We were all up in eachother's business trying to figure out why each was headed to this desolate town. Maybe we all just bonded because we were a band of refugees being forced to return to the scene of the crime.

This morning we** headed out to pick up my brother for the Austin. For all of you nonTexans, this jaunt was roughly 8 hours roundtrip, not helped by the fact that my mom prides herself on driving 5 miles UNDER the speed limit. Gotta love her.

Tomorrow is a new day with different Texas experiences. I'll be glad to be in one place and travelling.

*Also overheard while waiting was a story that (I swear) involved the phrase, "when grandma killed the pig."
**Mom, Grandma, Me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Perpetual Motion

Even before I start typing this bloody posts I anticipate the collective groans from anyone who bothers to read it. Yes, I took the train today. Yes, I'm going to write about the fucking journey.

Really, you all should just blame this on the fact that I'm a research geek. I feel the need to explain myself so just leave me alone. As I mentioned in my previous post, I started thumbing through a friend's copy of Symbols of Judaism when I decided to photograph the Jewish cemetery. The geek in me keeps reading because I dig learning new things. Enlightenment came when I stumbled across the mezuzah. Evidently the mezuzah represents the idea of "setting into motion". The book goes on to talk about the process of traveling and the way is everything. We are closer to what we seek when we are on our way there, blah, blah. Yes! I'm not crazy in my pursuit of the journey. It validates a nomadic existence. I couldn't stop thinking about this today as I sat on the train. Thinking about the philosophy behind travel and how it allows growth, etc. Anyway, this is so rambling and random. Maybe I'm just sitting here trying to justify the gypsy lifestyle I want to lead...well, gypsy with a home base.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Special K

I was tagged by Amanda and feel obliged to respond* since it's book-related.

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people.

"I set the hook. But as the rod bends hard, I know before I see it that this is no chub: this is one of Paul's Lahontan pets. It's not a leaping fish, but makes several strong runs."

The excerpt is from a book entitled My Story As Told By Water by David James Duncan. I wanted to cheat and use something that is likely on my bookshelf at home. Hell, wanted to cheat and use a different line from what is a beautiful book. You see, I'm at work and surrounded by only the geekiest titles. I could have also chosen to excerpt something from The Eternal Frontier by Tim Flannery, The Environmental Dictionary by Kemp, Trout, Trout, Trout: A Fish Chant by Sayre (children's book), or Trout and Salmon of North America by Tomelleri. Even my bag has a less than salacious reading selection. I've got the latest copy of Bust magazine, the Lonely Planet guide to San Francisco, and a research book entitled Symbols of Judaism**. Blog worthy? Doubtful.

That said, ignore the excerpt listed above and pick up a novel or My Story As Told By Water by David James Duncan. The man is truly a visionary and poet. Never before has the writing of anyone actually made me want to fish like his words do. Despite the titles on my desk, I don't even like fish. Duncan makes it a religious experience.

"I saw that, at a certain time of year, the rhythm of the river becomes impossible for these creatures to resist; that the mere act of swimming, mere caress of cold water, becomes a long slow copulation; that their entire upstream journey is an arduous act of sex. The dip in the gravel, nest of eggs, spraying of milt, was just the culmination of that weeks-long act. I looked again at the mountains veeing down toward the water. The gravel beneath us was made of fragments of those mountains, the current flowing past made of their melted snow. The brown trout I held was making love to the mountains and snow."

*I also only respond to tags from special people because most of you know how anti-meme I am.
**From my visit to the Jewish cemetary.

(photo by Dan)

Go look at Dan's photos. Maybe I'll blog about something interesting later.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It was an uneventful weekend with not much to add. I spent a lot of time trying to edit a proposal and instead wound up staring at the computer screen. I can definitely sense myself mentally preparing to be back in Texas. Two years. That's how long it's been since I've gone back. I miss my family terribly and am excited to see them again. I'm also a little afraid. Being back in San Angelo means acknowledging that everyone is getting older, that family will look more frail. I also start to wonder about who I may run into...old faces I might see. Many faces I don't want to see. The sentimental part of me has been mulling over getting together for lunch with a couple of old friends. One lunch to catch up...make myself feel better for not having settled. Another lunch to put the final nail in a coffin that should have sealed years ago. I'm honestly not sure this is a good idea, and the rational side of me realizes that my time in SA is so brief that I need to focus. Luckily, Scarlet has tasked me with capturing my hometown on film, so that gives me a focus (in addition to family) and will keep me away from dangerous lunches.

Let the countdown begin...11 days!

Monday, December 04, 2006


I'm a curious girl with a fascination for other cultures and finding out what makes people tick...even geeky enough to love research. That said, my curiousity was piqued a few weeks ago when a friend told me I could never be buried in a Jewish cemetery because of my tattoos. So, following up on last week's visit to a cemetery in Fairfax, I decided to visit two old Jewish cemeteries in Alexandria.

The Agudas Achim Cemetery was down a dirt path that was lined with trees, their canopy forming an arch. I was very aware* of the nature surrounding me as I made my way into the cemetery. A squirrel stalked my progression by running alongside me through the trees, and I would swear a beaver ran by once I entered the cemetery. Immediately, I was struck by the simplicity and uniformity of the headstones as compared to more ostentacious ones in different cemeteries. The stones piled on the markers took me back to my time in Germany, and while a quick google search turned up several different explanations for the symbolism of placing stones, I believe it a truly beautiful practice whatever the reasoning.

About 100 yards down the road is the Home of Peace Cemetery, thought to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Alexandria. Home of Peace gave me new thoughts to mull over and questions to research. There was an overwhelming sense of family and connectedness present in this cemetery. Family plots were typically demarcated with a low brick perimeter and a large family headstone or obelisk. Smaller markers were within the plot for each family member. I know being buried next to your loved ones is fairly common, but the manor in which it was done at Home of Peace seemed especially binding**. While google didn't shed a lot of light into this particular style of burial, I did learn quite a bit about bereavement in Judaism in the process.

*I also start thinking a lot about zombies when in a cemetery. Weird...yes.
**I can't think of the word I really mean to use here. The use of binding in this context is meant to infer being bound together by a common thread.