MAD HOUSTONIAN ALERT!
This is a test of the Emergency Mad Houstonian Preparedness System (EMHPS)!
Repeat: This is a test.
There is discussion among many about just WHO he is and what he hoped to accomplish by fleeing California for the great state of Texas. There is doubt among some that he can make this change of scenery, circumstance and search for a creative future work, especially over the next 3 months, as his funds run low and he still has no job.
Things are so boring, in some bars, that the discussion often revolves around the following: Whose situation is more desperate? That of the woeful, last place, Astros baseball team, or that of the Mad Houstonian?
He HAS managed to stir up a minor bit of controversy, annoying a somewhat cranky local radio personality; that’s a good sign for the Mad Houstonian and his cats, Mr. Nikita and Elvira Mistress of Felinity.
To add to the intrigue questions are even being asked by the local Twitterati:
Me to DanielNCalderon: Hello, thank you for the follow and interest in a Houston newbie who moved here last September.
From Daniel: @KGkundurazieff welcome to #Houston. It's been almost a year. What do you think?
From Kiril: LOL! 140 characters is hardly gonna do 4 a proper answer. I've not been able to explore enough of it, yet, but like it.
This all means that the natives are, ever so slowly, taking notice.
Some say a new voice, especially a pair that purr and hiss, would be a welcome addition to the creative mix that is part of life in Houston.
The Mad Houstonian will attempt to stir up the po…um, respond to those questions…
After months of thinking about it, and some online research, I moved to Houston in September.
Daniel asked me my thoughts as the anniversary comes and goes...
They are as jumbled as the appearance of the newly installed funnel tunnel, on Montrose Ave., looks at first glance, as I wonder if there is a light at the end of this 3 year journey I’ve been on.
Houston is a huge, colorful, complex and fascinating place that I am very far from completely exploring and experiencing. For a person used to the complex interconnected and far-reaching transit system found in southern California, what Houston has to offer leaves a lot to be desired, though Metro seems to be trying to improve and expand.
As a recreational and commuter cyclist the city is a mixed bag; while a new “3 feet please” law has the potential to make navigating the streets safer, Houston is also developing a network of hiking and biking trails covering several hundred miles, in parks and along bayous, that I have barely begun to explore.
As a walker the sidewalks and their condition, or the lack of sidewalks, in some areas, has been frustrating. Narrow streets without sidewalks can be found, all over town, in neighborhoods both rich and poor, old and new; When I take my shopping cart on trips to nearby markets, in my part of the nice Westchase District, I have to walk in the street close to the curb because of the sidewalks.
Oh, before I forget, motorists are nuts, here, as are pedestrians!
About the pedestrians; jaywalking is a religion here, even on the busiest streets during rush hour! Catching the bus, or just to avoid walking a half block to the stoplight, it ain't worth it, people.
It's hard not to get baptised into this religion, but not impossible.
My fellow bicyclists can be a menace, too, I've seen.
I moved here because the cost of living and rent are cheaper than in southern California and that has been a major plus. While the job market is supposed to be great, here, I’ve so far not found a job, despite several positive interviews; I don’t know whether my age (53), or 3 years unemployment, have played a role in this lack of success.
I am a writer, but I have 25 years experience in customer service, 19 in retail, and 11 as a small bookstore manager; I had a job interview by phone, this afternoon, that lasted a half hour, that I believe went well and all I can do is hope the young lady who did the interview thought so, too.
The job is only PT, 20-25 hrs. a week, but...
I want to do something related to my growing and evolving writing efforts but, even though I don’t want to “just settle” for any old job I can’t ignore the fact that I need an income coming in to stay on my feet and keep a roof over the heads of myself and my cats…and very soon.
The dining opportunities I’ve enjoyed have been varied, though few in number (Café Pita+ and the Line & Lariat for fancy dining, checking out the Last Concert Cafe and County Line Bar & Grill as well as regularly haunting Whataburger, James Coney island, Jerry Built and Jones Halal Food for great fast food) and I’ve had several opportunities to attend events, visit monuments and public art installations.
While often hot and humid, we have seen a lot of rain, especially lightning and thunder storms, more spectacular in nature, than I was used to where I grew up.
That line in the song about “where the skies are cloudy all day” seems very true for Houston and Harris County.
Here, we have Hurricane Conventions; a day long gathering, at the start of summer, where those few in town, who give a hoot about maybe wanting to be prepared for the next “big one”, come to get a bit of education.
In California the “big one” refers to an earthquake of such magnitude that beachfront property will henceforth be located along the coasts of Arizona and Nevada. In this part of Texas the “big one” refers to a hurricane more powerful than Alicia, which vacationed here in 1983.
Here, it’s hot and humid even when it rains and even hotter and more humid in the summer, during hurricane season. They say we are experiencing drought conditions and maybe we are, but it does rain a lot.
Boy does it ever!
We sometimes get 3 thunderstorms passing through in a single 24 hour period; loud and cranky, with spectacular light shows to match, even if we only get less than an inch of rain out of the show. But, boy what a show! What an adventure, if you find yourself out in it, with or without an umbrella, on foot, on bike, or in a car or truck.
It is more interesting than the worst of what I grew up with in southern California, even if half the sky is clear if the rest is dark clouds and thunder, be prepared for a downpour. The sound of thunder, here, is unlike the wussiness of where I grew up, day or night. At night the thunder and lightning show can be non-stop; Elvira will sometimes hide, while Nikita will sit in the window with an expression on his face akin to saying “DAYAMN!!”
During a day storm the clouds can get so dark you would think it’s 815pm and the sun just went down, except that it is only 10am. On such days, if you are lucky, you will gaze into the sky and see a long, jagged, streak of lightning head from the clouds to the ground. If you are luckier, you won’t be the one the Lord Almighty was aiming for.
Then there is the day you wished you had your camera with you, as you stood at Richmond and Hillcrest, gazing toward the downtown skyline and seeing the most spectacular dark gray mushroom cloud since the 40’s and 50’s, above the city center.
I can’t thank Harris County Health, Ben Taub Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center and various doctors for helping me get through surgeries on both my eyes (one for a malignant melanoma).
As a writer whose talent runs the gamut from poetry, short stories, travelogues, essays and humor, to commentary, reviews (you name it), investigative stories and journalism of all sorts, all of the above and more gives me things to write about. Houston has many open mic venues that I hope to check out and getting an essay published in the Houston Chronicle was a small step in getting noticed for my writing in this creative arts addicted city.
So, is there light at the end of the funnel?
At first glance there may not appear to be any at all but, through all that I’ve experienced since September 2010, I’ve been inspired by books I’ve read, by rediscovery of my faith in God and myself (I wrote an essay, last December, that I’ve not shared only because I was thinking of doing more with it than just posting it on this blog), via my evolving writing life and by the encouragement and advice of friends, old and new, to believe and trust that there is, however tiny it may be and to believe that this tiny sliver of light will expand, becoming ever brighter leading to the future I am meant to live.
I am a writer and while I will no doubt need a day job (if not writing related, then retail if need be), I CAN learn to do more with my writing.
This year I learned a little about chapbooks and e-books and have been reminded that I have a decade worth of material, on 4 blogs that, can be given new life, via other venues, if I learn how to make it happen. I’ve learned that, not only can I be accepted as a guest blogger but, I can, if lucky get my writing published elsewhere, as poetry, short story and other submissions, even freelance opportunities, or something similar, even earning some income from the effort (a 3 month gig to be announced soon).
I plan, sometime in the next month, to celebrate this anniversary by having my first meal at Niko Niko's Greek & American Cafe.
About the Waugh Dr. Bat Colony
A tip of the hat to Houston Chronicle columnist Randy Harvey and the opening of his column, yesterday, for inspiring my own opening. :-D
"QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY! This is a test of the emergency quarterback preparedness system. Repeat: This is a test."
I was a long time fan of his work for the LA Times, going back to 1984!