Friday

Now that I have a car, I can avoid one of my least favorite activities: waiting at bus stops. Let me clarify and make a distinction here: DC had good busing (terrific metro trains and commuter trains too). When you are in the most dense parts of DC, many people of all ages and professions and clothing designs are taking buses, and really, nobody notices any one person for very long. But as you get further out of town and into the suburbs, people mostly drive cars, and if you’re standing next to the road under a sign with a picture of a bus on it, people tend to stare at you as they speed by. They can't stare at you for long, of course. They have to look back at the road at some point. But when one driver after another, or one car load after another stares at you like that, it becomes one long stare -- by a whole county. Standing at those ‘less urban’ bus stops, I would get little panic attacks or anxiety or super heated embarrassment or something like that. It’s like standing on a stage. Those suburban roads have just as much automobile traffic during rush hour as any urban road. Sitting or standing at a bus stop fifteen twenty thirty minutes - however long - maybe I had just missed a bus and didn’t realize it - so I'm standing there forever, or traffic was very heavy and the bus was delayed - and I'm there forever - sitting there, standing there, pacing there for that long next to a very very busy road is unnerving. It shouldn’t matter, but it was one of my weird quirks. I’m self conscious. All these eyes on me freak me out. I get overly self conscious. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what to do about it. It is just a special and unique ingredient in my particular brand of paranoia.

I remember one night when I lived back in Norfolk, Virginia. I was frequently broke as hell around that time. My car had just died or something, so it was buses for me. It was pretty cold around the time. In my commute I had to take three different buses to get home. It took two and half hours, sometimes three. At one bus stop, I had to wait half an hour for the next bus. There’s no other way to describe it: That shit sucked. Anyway - that particular night, I was waiting for my last bus, my half hour wait for that last leg of the trip home. It had been a busy day at the particular shit job I had - a call center. Well, I was pretty miserable, and I jammed my hands way into my pockets to warm them. One pocket had a hole in it and my fingers poked through into the lining of my jacket. I felt something there in the lining. I grabbed it and pulled it out. It was a half a joint. I said fu u uck yeah. I walked into the middle of the parking lot next to the bus stop and smoked it. It was dark and nobody was around. I smoked it down until it almost burned my finger tips, and then I went back to the bus stop and sat down and waited for the bus, a little less miserably.

I can’t imagine waiting on a bus down here in Florida - in the middle of the day - in 100 degree, highly humid heat with cars crawling by emitting hot exhaust fumes. I feel so sorry for people sitting there, and a lot of the time it’s elderly people or moms with little kids or babies. It’s rough.

As I drive by people walking next to the road or waiting at bus stops, I wonder if they are going through the same mental process as I went through, ignoring all the other life problems and pondering the same thing I always did: “Are all the people in these cars staring at me?”

Wednesday

A recent local news item: A woman was found dead in a chair in her front yard.

Did she know she was going to die? That was the first question that occurred to me. [Why?] How long was her body there after she died? Was it a calm feeling that came over her that afternoon while she worked in her kitchen - she knew she was going to die, and that was just fine. She felt a feeling she’d never felt before - she somehow knew she’d die, and she calmly carried a chair outside and sat in it and then just died? Here I am, come pick me up, I’m dead, take me away. I had a fine life, beautiful children, and now it’s my time. Maybe some people drove by her. Maybe they knew she was dead. Her neighbors and friends drove by and waved at her one last time, beeped their horns. Is this a bad way to die?

Friday

. . . the library annex . . . sleepin

Wednesday

I haven’t owned a car in five years, so, this car I just bought, I’m driving it all over the place. I drive to little beach towns and go swimming, and then I find the town’s little library and stand there in the reference section - seeing what they have: maps, local interest, local history, newspapers and so on. I stand there in my flip flops, a little ocean water still dripping off me. The librarians in these small beach town libraries don’t seem to mind if you're a little wet. Just don't drip on the books. I hang around a little while, but I’m eager to get back to driving.

A long, straight road is meditative - a road that drops off the horizon before it bends left or right. Heat from the road bends the light before it reaches my eyes, and the whole scene ahead looks wavy. Sometimes in the early afternoon or late morning, there are barely any cars ahead or behind. Then I’ll see a single car crossing the road way way far ahead. It’s like looking into the future. I’ll be there soon. It gets hypnotic - I get enthralled with the wavering scene so far ahead - I start to think I am already there.

I also drive through strip mall parking lots because that’s what the world has become, that’s what’s here. I drive slowly past the shop entrances and people walk in front of my car slowly. I look in each store as I pass - there are stories in each one. I drive around behind the strip mall. Workers take the trash out and smoke back there. There are homeless camps. Empty food cans, clothes, busted up chairs and bikes and carts. Dishwashers from the restaurants smoke weed back by the dumpsters. They look at me and wonder what I’m doing back there. I don’t know.

Yesterday I drove through some office parks, scoping out some work prospects, going at it a weird way. Instead of browsing Monster or the local paper, I just go to where the work is - the office parks. More people standing outside to smoke. Some people are out for a bit of exercise, a brisk walk with coworkers in their sneakers.

This essay is getting a little ridiculous now, and I’m going to go . . . My brain’s getting soft. Was it ever hard? This is my world lately, though. Just spacing out.

Tuesday

Florida: The water tastes funny.

Monday

I have moved to a perilous, hellish place! An angry agent of god named Alberto is violently churning in the gulf, preparing to chew Florida off of mainland America. I’m going to freakin die!

Nah, actually, it’s just a little rainy here, and I’m still unemployed with only my paranoia to keep me occupied.

Yesterday I read about the Stand Your Ground Law that Florida recently enacted. It basically gives a you the right to shoot somebody dead if they give you a dirty look. I mean: I don’t know gun laws or self defense laws, but apparently, before this law was enacted, you had to at least try to run away from perceived, life threatening danger. Now, however, if somebody is coming at you, and you can convincingly make the argument that the person was going to kill you or commit a felony on you - like really mess you up - you can just stand there and blow them away. You can’t be jailed or sued. It extends the castle doctrine - which itself seemed like a step too far . . . but the castle doctrine lets you smoke somebody if they break into your home. Because surely, if somebody would break into your home, most definitely they would kill you. Lawmakers are certain of that - that a burglar or a trespasser is the exact same type of perp as a murderer or a maimer (‘maimer?’).

The Stand Your Ground Law, however, gives you even more opportunities to zap somebody. You just have to say that you feared for your life, and this thing is portable - you can cap somebody not only at home, but when you’re on the go.

Saturday

This morning I walked outside, and there was smoke in the air. A brush fire had started earlier in the week over by Disney, and I guess it was never fully extinguished. Yesterday, in the evening, it was raging pretty good. The smoke smells like rubber burning - did the fire overtake a tire dealership, I wonder. Florida has a lot of brush fires that they can't put out. They try to contain them.

Is Florida more dangerous than DC? In DC you really only had to worry about crime and traffic. Terrorism too, I guess. If you are aware of your surroundings, and you take it easy on the road, you will do just fine in DC. Florida, however, has a different, amazing tragedy on the news every night. Yesterday a kid almost got tackled off of his horse by a panther. Two weeks ago a lady was hit by lighting while she was carrying her baby across the street. Florida is the state with the most lightning casualties. Florida has a high number of tornados too, but they’re not the killer tornados like the ones out west. There are the hurricanes. The alligators. An alligator clamped down on some guys head this week while he was snorkeling in some lake. Two or three women were killed by alligators this year - an anomaly. There are shark attacks. Florida has six poisonous snakes to worry about. There is an increase in murders in some Florida cities. Orlando, year to date, has already surpassed last year’s year end total for murders. I think they’re calling Jacksonville the new murder capitol. Drownings. Wrecks. A kid was thrown from an airboat and then run over by the boat this week. Florida is the most dangerous state for bicyclists versus automobile accidents. I’m doomed.

Thursday

The TV does not have to be on. Really.