October 21, 2007

I am a creature of habit.  No, wait.  I have become a creature of habit.  Becoming a creature of habit has been a very rewarding experience for me, because we all know what idle hands are.  I’ve always thought that I’ve been a free spirit, but deep down, I do realize that I am the very type of person that benefits most from a set schedule of events.  The best part of my life thus far, being the hikes that I took, made me realize that I am completely worthless without something to keep me in line.  Yes, to most of you, this would be obvious, but some of us have to learn the hard way. 
Being within my set schedule, I find that, toward the dwindling daylight hours of Sunday, the most relaxing thing for me is to grab a book (or, if glancing upon some of my working-titles of this piece, a notebook and a pen), and walk over to the Ice House to grab a few beers and wind down with a book or a little scratch in my notebook.  This particular evening opened up to my attempt to catch up on a certain sociological assignment, a periodic journal, given in the light of the sociological perspective – which I have neglected for the better part of the school semester.  So, as the day closed, I headed over to get some school work done. 
After about an hour and a few pages worth of journal work, I was joined, at my table, by an older man who apparently had some things to say to me.  To step out of the story for just a minute, I’ve never understood the dynamics of the thought process that rolls across another’s mind when – at the moment they see someone with their nose stuck in a book, or their hand furiously scribbling away on a notepad, or even otherwise trying to look busy and therefore not able to give up their time – that person feels that it is appropriate to sit down and strike up a conversation with someone who is obviously otherwise distracted.   Honestly – sometimes a girl just wants to sit in the backdrop, have a beer, and be left alone.  There have been movies that have tried to point out the contrary, and we all know that movies tell the truth about all that there is to life and being – but here’s the thing:  I haven’t even brushed my hair today.  I am wearing a little league baseball t-shirt that I picked up at a thrift store – it actually has a little league baseball patch on it, and I have no idea who “Voisine,” the apparently “big-boned” (for the very fact that this is a little league shirt – meaning, what – 10 year old boy? – and it fits an adult (and is quite roomy, at that) little boy that played for Plainville is.  I don’t even know where Plainville is – I’m assuming Connecticut.  I am not making any type of eye contact with anything other than my notebook, for a reason.  I don’t even know that I am wearing deoderant, and – chances are, I’m probably not, because it’s Sunday, and I really don’t care all that much.   Honestly, what is wrong with you guys?
So, I’m writing in my journal, and Joe comes up and sits down.  He asks me if I’m writing a letter.  My best response – which, in fact, is truth – is that I am actually working on some school work; trying to catch up on a subject in class.  Joe thinks that is great, and is intrigued.  So follows the question of what I’m studying (English), and if I’m going to be a teacher (No, I just like literature), and then, of course, leads onto the subject of how Houston has officially voted on the expansion of the light rail.  Obviously.  What more could come of that conversation?  Of course, the subject of the light rail expansion was the next logical choice.  What else would there be to talk about?
Joe is the type of man who likes to ramble.  He works around, and then picks a subject that suits him, and then the floodgates open.  As soon as he spoke up of the light rail expansion project, and I gave the slightest hint of recognition to the subject, it was all over with.  I soon became privy to the districts surrounding the light rail that would soon be enveloped into the construction project that is to last until 2010.  At least.  The way Joe sees it, it will never be over.
He’s probably right, too.
Joe spoke of everything that is true of Houston.  The traffic is horrible.  It is a city full of transplants that don’t know where they are going.  The museum district is, really, the only sparkling jewel of the entire city, and it’s being torn apart.  Townhomes and apartments are springing up out of nowhere, on top of each other, with no consideration to the new excess of traffic and gridlock that is to overwhelm the community once the tenents move in.  In fact, the only thing that makes Houston even a bit unique from other large cities – the only thing that, in my opinion, makes Houston great — — that being the lack of zoning laws and regulation — — will be the very thing that tears the city apart.  The great thing about the lack of zoning laws is that you could find the most back-beat, out of ordinary place to grab a cup of coffee, get a good meal, have a beer, or whatever it is you choose in the middle of the neighborhood.  The best thing about this is that it brought weird little shops within a community, and kept the city interesting.  The bad thing about it now is that, being driven by economic trends, there is absolutely nothing to keep yesterday’s best thrift store from being bought and turned into a duplex tomorrow.  That, with the uncertainty of the real estate market right now, has brought a tremendous growth in multi-family units into the city where these cool little shops and venues once existed.  There is no purchasing going on, at this point, other than buying out businesses and creating apartments and townhomes. 
But, really, that’s another story for another time. 
All I really wanted to do was write in my journal. 
Joe continues for a bit longer, but then he’s momentarily distracted by something, and excuses himself for a few minutes. 
At this point, I’m not sure whether to just get up and go home, or to quickly jot down the events in my journal, so that I can later dissect them for my sociology class.  Before I can even make that decision, however, Valentino stops by.  Valentino, from Italy.  That was his exact introduction.  “I’m Valentino, from Italy.”  I think I’m going to start using that.  “Hi, I’m Melissa, from Houston.”  Maybe, “I’m Melissa, and I’m from Texas.”  Or, maybe, but only if I am within the good ole’ US of A, “I’m Melissa, from Amurrrca.”   Yes, I think I’m going with the last one. 
So, Valentino saw that my beer was empty, and would like to buy me another.  I look at him and say “if that’s what you want to do, go ahead.”  He’ll be right back. 
Honestly, I just want to do my homework. 
Valentino gets back, and gives me his card before departing.  He’s an electrician, and if I know anyone that needs any electrical work, then I should pass his card along. 
Okay, Valentino, I’ll pass the word to Joe, too.
Which, of course, Joe comes back up when Valentino hands me the beer and his card.  Then Joe decides to get a beer, and apparently runs into Valentino at the bar and they talk for a while.  It seems, according to Joe, that Valentino is a really nice guy.  Awesome. 
I gulp down my beer as Joe starts in on the freeway system of Houston, and how crowded it is.  Joe, not to be outdone by a woman who is probably about 15-20 years younger than him, starts gulping his beer as well.  As I finish my own, and he excuses himself to get another. 
“Well, Joe, it was nice talking to you, but I’m gonna head on.  You take care of yourself.” 
All I wanted to do was have a couple of beers, and write in my journal. 
At least I crossed off one of my goals for the evening.

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