The creative writing, observations, experiences, and opinions, on life, and the world around him, by Kiril Kundurazieff; taking one step at a time on the Journey of Discovery, and Enlightenment, that every individual must take from the cradle to the grave.
Submitted to Outlook, at the Houston Chronicle, 9/13/13, but not published
In response to the article “Helping Mass Transit, Bicycles Work Together” (Houston Chronicle Print Ed.), AKA "Bike-bus syncing an uphill climb, but getting there" online (9/10/13), by Dug Begley, I write from the perspective of a life-long bicycle commuter and user of mass transit who has never driven a car. I moved to Houston, exactly 1 year ago, after living my first 52 years in southern California.
For a person who comes from a region where 6 connected counties each have mass transit, there are 4 long distance commuter rail routes, and Los Angeles has a half dozen somewhat lengthy, urban/suburban, (Some even part subway), local routes, and I could use any combination of this to travel upwards of 50 to 180 miles, in almost any direction (for commuting, or even to take a few mile bike ride somewhere), to say that the transit situation, here, came as a shock, would be putting it mildly. Plus, there are some bus systems that, for years, have had bike racks designed for 3!
Not that I don’t mind riding my bike 14 miles, from the nearest bus stop, to visit the USS Texas and the San Jacinto Monument, or visit any number of other places in Harris County, by bike, after taking a bus as far as the system allows.
Where I come from there are bike trails that run anywhere from 20 to 46 miles and that’s just 3 major river trails, plus the residential Mountains to the Sea Trail, in Orange County, and one, in combo with a few short miles on the street, will get a cyclist from the beach in Huntington Beach to the base of Big Bear mountain, east of San Bernardino, after an 80 mile ride; the existence of extensive mass allows anyone who cares to take advantage of it, access to bike trails and the ability to exercise and also commuter to and from work.
I call myself the Cycling Dude (and the Mad Houstonian); I am the guy you may have seen pedaling around town wearing a yellow and black “3 feet please” Jersey and, after having rode the length of Westheimer and Memorial, as well as continually familiarizing myself with Metro Transit, I am not afraid of anything this city, or county, has to offer.
Bicyclists looking just to exercise or a bike commuter looking to exercise and get to and from work, are only limited by their curiosity, imagination, stamina and determination. You can use bike routes and bike trails to commute and you can use the existing trail system alongside the existing transit system, to do both if you truly want to do so. Don’t be intimidated. Find ways, time permitting, to be active in the support of improving the situation, from better sidewalks and streets, to improved and increased transit and bike trail options, including better, more detailed, maps about the bike trails and bike routes.
According to the US Census, several years ago, a half million people throughout the United States commute to work by bicycle. There are studies that show that bicycles offer the strongest potential for reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics bicycles are second only to cars as a preferred form of transportation.
One can learn about a federal financial incentive for commuting by bicycles in the Federal Bicycle Commuter Benefit Act, effective Jan. 1, 2009, from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Houston, Harris County and areas beyond can do better by the bicyclist as well as those who must rely on mass transit, but it’s up to us to encourage them to find the will, the ways and the means to do so.
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?
...Well, except for the allergic reactions to the "contrast" used in the 3 CT Scans I just had.
It has been almost 3 months since my Brachy Therapy surgeries for the Uveal Melanoma in my right eye.
On Saturday I had CT Scans done on my pancreas and my abdomen. When I got home and took my shoes off I saw my left foot had turned dark red, from the foot to halfway up my ankle. The Right leg was not as much affected.
The discoloring had lessoned considerably by the time of my next CT Scan, on my chest, on Tuesday. I told the technicians of the issue and when they saw my legs they said I had an allergic reaction, they gave me something in me, by IV, to help prevent a reaction and I had the 2nd scan.
I went home and went to bed, but after midnight I awoke with this terrible itch all over my body, and I spent the next few hours scratching as feverishly as one might do to a lottery scratcher ticket.
When I got up at 5am, in prep for yesterday’s doctor appointments, I took a war shower, after the shower I no longer felt the urge to scratch, but I went to my appointments with some sort of watery blisters all over my arms above the wrist and at the elbows, as well as on both heels.
When the docs saw this the consensus was, "Well it appears we will have to do an MRI or something else to check you next time, won't we?"
Well, duh, hee, hee!
They gave me medications to take for a couple of days and told me to stay home and relax a few days to see what happens. So far the meds are working and the issue is clearing up, though the blisters, including the big ones on my heels, have all popped and the skin peeled.
The good news about the tests is all positive. They found nothing cancerous, but there were a couple of tiny nodules in the chest that were nothing to worry about, and will check me again in several months. My eye surgeon found my right eye was doing fine except for a little build-up of pressure for which he gave me a new drop for a month, and gave me instructions for gradually reducing the other one. I will see him again in a month.
As much as I liked the piece there was one detail, about a particular location, that was missing. I knew it was missing because I had visited the place in February.
So, I wrote an essay and submitted it to the Outlook letters section (accepts letters of up to 600 words) and sent it in.
When I opened up the Saturday paper I saw something that made my day. My essay had been published!
My very first published piece of work in Houston, my new home city! I feel like I have been officially welcomed to H-Town.
It began this way:
As a writer, walker and bicyclist, looking to explore every
nook and cranny of my new home city I enjoyed the article in the June 26th
Houston Chronicle, on offbeat places to visit, by Claudia Feldman.
However, there was a bit of important information missing
from her mention of Eclectic Menagerie Park. It is understandable, however;
even I almost missed it when I visited the place a few months back.
What's the point of having a plot of land filled with
creative statues and the only way anyone would know they shouldn't step onto
the unfenced property is if they just so happen to walk past one single,
solitary, tiny white, no trespassing, sign on a pole? Just because there is no
real parking (right-of-way issues it seems) and no sign with the name of the
park, or who owns it, if private, is no reason to expect anyone to
automatically deduce that this is no ordinary park.
The whole essay, for those who can't read the image above, is here. I hope you read it and let me know what you think.
The first published response to the piece is priceless!
While today is Pee on Earth Day, and Peaches 'n' Cream Day, I will not whip out my Willie and pee anywhere but where I am supposed to, despite everything not exactly being all peaches and cream in the world.
For me, today, June 21, 2013, is the first day of the rest of my life.
A week after my Mid-April eye cancer surgery I chose to venture forth into unknown territory instead of staying at home. After taking part in a self-guided tour of 4 buildings in downtown Houston, seeing how the loft and penthouse crowd lives, and checking out the oldest continuously in use building in Houston, still in its original site (since before the civil war) I found myself sitting at a high-class bar in a fancy hotel restaurant, eating $5 mini-bites of breaded catfish, washed down by a Corpse Reviver #2, before a $35, 3-course meal lead off by a shrimp dish. In May I attended a pet blogging and social media conference, while also writing a daily 100 word story.
While it will be a year before I know if my cancer is in remission, and I continue follow-up check-ups and treatment in between, I am determined to move forward with my life.
I don’t want to just “settle” for the type of work I did in the past, though 17 years of retail would hold me in good stead. I believe I can do better and different, possibly related to my talent as a writer. I have a lot to learn on this journey and attending Blog Paws was just the beginning.
In the months I’ve been in Houston I’ve been thinking of ways to reach out and connect with the cycling community, the cat loving community, the writing and poetry communities, and even the journalism community here. There are a lot of cat related shelters, rescues and organizations but, as far as I can tell, no cat bloggers other than my friend in Spring, TX. There is a thriving poetry community here, with several open mic venues that I’d like to check out and perform in, just as I did in California.
With all the magazines in town and the newspaper, with its many community weeklies, I wonder if there are freelance and stringer opportunities for me to explore. I also have ten years of my material to mine for potential publishing opportunities.
Even as I consider all of this I still have to stabilize my living situation here by the end of September, at least. Dreams don’t pay the rent, or pay for Nikita’s medical and food bills…unless they come true.
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