My Life, Chapter XI

(Because adding Roman numerals gives it a certain gravitas).


I: Being A Baby In Brook Hill. II: The Florence Avenue Blues. III: Birch Crest Family House. IV: The Town Home Down Home Experience. V: Livin’ Large on Hyde Park. VI: Off To The Pines. VII: Over The Bluff. VIII: Getting “Royal” on Beatties Ford. IX: The Estes Park Avalanche. X: Duke-in’ in Dern Durham. XI: Back to the QC, A Cozy Spot. XII: Marrying and “Cary-ing.

Ha! I really could use that as a template for my life memoir, at least as it has gone. Each of those titles represents a relocation for me, to all of my non-university residences held for at least six months. I had to specify those criteria, because if not then things become confusing and difficult to sort.

So, the last two chapters have yet to be written, of course, but they have begun. Chapter ten was brought to a rather abrupt end as the truck bearing my furniture, nearly popping a tire, eased onto the freeway and slight sloshes of rain blew in as if off of an ocean. The hour was 12:30 AM, and both I and the driver, my always hard-working uncle, were famished

“Ok, let’s stop here,” he said as we scrambled out and walked hopefully up to a small-town Wendy’s in a truck stop-type area. But, it was a no-go.

Then, as tired as he was, he said “ok we’re gonna try one more fast-food joint, then it’s the Waffle House. They’re always open!”

And with that, he reluctantly eased into the McDonald’s drive-through line, where I acquired my first Big Mac in many years. I agreed with his assessment that their burgers just don’t hold a candle to really any other establishment, despite the fact that their fries are actually superior.

A hair-raising cruise into the Queen City, with the last miles being seen through a fog of daydreams according to my uncle, found me, by 3:30 in the morning back at the Hyde Park residence of Chapter Five. Because he basically maintains a bachelor pad in there, the room was warm and the covers a bit dusty. But by that point, nothing else mattered but sweet sweet sleep. While I wouldn’t say I had done nearly the amount of work he had hoisting all of my (former) furniture and cleaning all of the detritus of years spent in a place by someone more concentrated on other things than, well ok keeping spotless?, I had taken out tons of trash and helped the morning mover with my tables. So numbness spread mercifully across me, and I sank into hilarious dreams with contents I of course can not recall in any great detail.

And so here we go. With that cliff-hanger ending, I plunge into the area unknown with little idea of what to expect next. Right now though, I am sitting in (Chapter Eleven), at a desk with the kind of writing chair I had during (Chapter Eight) and feeling the inspiration flow through me again. Thus far I have eaten at the delicious House of Prayer cafeteria, a church located on Beatties Ford that is the only restaurant I know serving what I call “REAL” baked macaroni and cheese. I have also enjoyed chatting with my cousin for only the second time all year, and luxuriating in the expansiveness of this place. I am definitely feeling the love, and comfort as I have a nice room to myself as well.

So do enjoy as my story continues to unfold with unforeseen plot twists, and probably the climax. (Wait, maybe not yet on that last, because the end usually follows that in rapid succession). But, you get my drift. More pages and chapters coming soon!

On Furry Friends

As my transition enters its final phases, I’ve sat out on this little thing we call a porch and pondered the meaning of life, often while reading a good book or otherwise occupied. As I’ve done so, someone apparently decided he (or she, who really knows?) would like to meet me and I guess maybe feel a bit less alone.

I think you can see my new companion here, blind folks, it’s a cat apparently with his head missing (this is why they will never hire me as a photographer)

Anyhow, this has been happening all week. At first, he would saunter up to me and just brush against my legs, then bounce off to other parts of the porch. Then, he began stopping and sometimes sitting at either of my feet. In the last couple of days, he has attempted to put his paws on my legs, as if asking to be helped into my lap. But then I get the sense he knows he is probably not clean enough to do this, so he will retract the paws and likely sadly slink away.

I can’t help wondering if he was also a victim of this apartment complex’s rapid rent increase, in that maybe someone threw him out? Maybe they, as am I, moved in with some other family member who wouldn’t allow pets and had to make a wrenching choice. I say this, because I would find it surprising to be so rapidly addressed, and apparently trusted, by a stray with little experience dealing with humanity. That cat acted as if it were quite close to someone, in fact. Something of a reminder that these kinds of policy shifts can effect other lifeforms as well.

If I were staying here though, I might actually consider keeping him, knowing that I would have to take him to the vet and have all of that stuff checked and get him cleaned up real good. As it is, I hope maybe someone does find him soon and take care of him.

I don’t know what’s in their minds, of course, but I have always felt like animals have a deep connection to me that forms as soon as I am seen. They have played some role in nearly every major era of my life, as I would guess is the case for most.

Because we were the poor kids we were, our first four kitties came from a cat that had been stolen from my grandma’s neighborhood and transported clear across town. Named Tiger because she looked a lot like one, she gave birth to Ginger, Salt, Pepper, and Cheetah. The first three were seasonings, and the last was just fast! Ginger was the only one to survive that rough and tumble existence for any length of time, living with us until we left that house and began our next chapter in a town home around my teen-age years.

We’d had a dog then named Shannon, but because she hadn’t really been trained and lived out back, I didn’t get to develop any kind of relationship with her. I was afraid of dogs actually, until 2004 when I ventured to Spain and met a shaggy Old English Sheepdog whose only desire was to lick one to death and try to knock them over with his bulk. Then in 05, my cousin acquired a terrier to whom I became very close, cementing my belief that I was far more a dog person than a cat person. I mean dogs understand so much more, it seems. My sister’s little dog got close to me during my brief time in PineBluff in 2012, and now my fiance’s dog enjoys having me around. She seems to know the rule that she should only stop by to say hi when the lady has gotten up to do something else, m which amuses me.

But I am sometimes reminded that cats, aloofness for which they are known and all, can be just as intelligent and friendly. I guess really their personalities can vary as much as any person’s, right? This is what we humans can forget, that these animals do have feelings and probably even realize when they have been neglected. If my story above is true and that one was tossed out by someone, I wish they could have managed to at least turn it in to some sort of agency. I know there are shelters that are set up to handle such things. I also know, of course, that if someone is under stress about all other elements of their life, like where they will eat or stay, this just might not occur to them.

So that’s just a bit of the strangeness that represents the beginning of my summer. I actually hope it’s not a bad omen, as I’ve heard before that cats can be drawn to people when they have some kind of serious condition of which they may not even be aware. But in the end, its presence has had a calming effect during a tumultuous time of my life. In any event, he gives me something other than grad school to write about.

A Farewell to Dern Durham

That’s a phrase jokingly applied to this area by some, because of the way it sounds when you actually pronounce the city’s name. I’ve heard some foreigners call it “Dur-ham” stressing each part of the word. When I was a kid, I thought it was Durm, because that’s how we all said it. I’ve seen the Bull City’s image improve, having recently become known nationally for its foodie culture but still sadly seeing more violence than one might like. But then again, that’s probably the case for any fast-growing urban area, right?

1540 (plus or minus, don’t break out the calculator on me! Haha). Buy the time I depart this apartment on June 24 in the year of our Lord 2017, that will be nearly the number of days I will have resided herein. Outside of my time in Charlotte, I probably have not remained for so long in one place; not even Southern Pines as I lived there prior to college for only just over three years. So naturally this wonderful local community, in which I found a place to be a regular (granted it’s a chain but still,) met neighbors who always took care of me, and even found ways to be entertained while going to work has come to feel like home.

Of course, life does and will continue to change, and I very much welcome this as it forces me to grow. The coming change will represent a middle transition, as I’ve taken to calling it, between the last vestiges of bachelorhood and marital bliss, the latter now set to begin in January/February. During this period, I will reside with my cousin and his wife back in the Queen City, relocating there for the first time in almost eight years. I am actually excited about this, primarily because I am attending Queens University of Charlotte online anyway and being closer to that facility will help me as I conduct research for the Capstone, their term for the Master’s project. What that research will be has yet to be determined, but I have some ideas.

That excitement is tinged a bit though by the fact that I am essentially being forced into this move, due to the apartment issues I have chronicled in two previous entries. I am fortunate enough to have somewhere to go at least, but I know some who are going to really be struggling. So one of my new advocacy challenges will be trying to learn about affordable housing, how it can be saved (yeah right in this society) or at least kept remotely in check. I won’t forget about y’all!

The cumulative stress of this pending life shift is causing sleep to be near nonexistent, as I have been since Sunday operating on fumes. I had already decided a couple of weeks ago that this would be the last week with my current employer.
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Which I am now glad about as I can use that in-between time to recover a bit from this horrible insomnia and to try and make progress on the practice research project we are now doing in my current class. I also plan to start making inquiries about ways to generate income once I relocate, mainly by visiting the university’s career center. Hey, I’m paying for that service so why not!

And, not much else. The typical thing is happening as I get ready to leave the community; I am meeting all sorts of fascinating individuals whom I would have enjoyed talking to if they had dared to speak earlier. But this is ok I guess, it is paradoxically a sign that the time to move on has very definitely come. I guess only time will tell what awaits around the bend.

I know I hadn’t posted as often as I would like (the goal is once a week), but not surprisingly as classes gear up the posts fall off. But I know I already have a couple of fun pieces that should be coming up, including a trip to a new destination that I will tell you about after it occurs. More later.