Riding the bus with my mother

There are three lots on my block which recently have had their houses demolished.

Two of the lots are nearing the end of construction on their new houses, and the third has, so far, sat empty for a while.

Just about every morning, around 7:30, workers arrive and get to making noise on this, that, or the other part of construction for the two houses.

I have noticed a certain inattention to caution regarding trash and scraps, and so have been quite careful not ever to walk over by either of the houses, as there is an ever-changing blanket of glass, nails, wood pieces, and other sharp objects on the ground by them both.

Today, in an effort to dodge some potholes, my mother drove directly in front of these two houses…

A few hours, a free concert, and almost five hundred dollars later, she had two new rear tires on her car, out of necessity, not desire.

You see, she was picking me up to go to an opera performance, thus her being on my street in the first place.

She had dropped me off to allow me to go use the bathroom and to pick up our tickets at will-call, and gone to park her car, only to discover that the tire pressure, whose warning light had signaled on our way to the performance, was decreasing at an alarming pace, and so needed to be handled immediately.

She told me to leave her ticket at will-call for her, and that she would join me when she could, and then took her car to the one place she found open on a Sunday to handle such issues as her current tire predicament (which, fortunately, was only about a mile away from where we were).

At intermission, she joined me at our seats, her having sat at the back for the first part, due to her having arrived late.

She informed me that she had made it to the performance by asking a woman to drop her off, since it was only about a mile away from where she had had to bring her car.

We laughed at the slight absurdity of it all, and discussed how to get back to the car after the performance ended.

Yes, it was close, but the place would close only half an hour after the performance ended, and my mom wasn’t in running shoes (nor was I).

So, I offered the idea of my spare bus card.

At first, she aimed to find someone we knew after the performance ended, so as to ask for a ride.

Then, she considered Uber (but I was opposed for the cost of it, and the fact that my account isn’t set up properly anymore for here [remember how I lived in Japan]), before reconsidering just asking someone else from the performance whom we didn’t know.

We were running short on time, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking for help, when I had means to handle the situation myself – I’m always rather like that… if I can do it myself, even if it is more difficult, I typically still will handle it myself, so that I only ask for help when I truly need it.

So, I looked up the bus route options, and started walking to the bus stop, which was enough encouragement for my mom to give up her idea and go with mine.

I knew her main opposition was simply the same as most people’s in Houston – most people do not use the busses here, unless they financially have no other means of getting around, making the bulk of bus patronage poor laborers, cleaners, minimum wage people in rough situations, and homeless people…, and that can be an uncomfortable, and almost dangerous-feeling experience for those who do not belong to those groups of individuals…, and it can somewhat easily create a feeling of being somewhere dirty, at times…, so no one wants to ride the busses in Houston…, not really, anyway.

I, myself, struggle with it, despite the fact that I use the busses here… I want to promote public transit as much as possible, but I also prefer feeling safe and clean than the opposite, you know?

Nonetheless, it was our most logical option today (in my head, anyway), so we went for the bus.

Another lady coming from a similar downtown performance also joined us in waiting for the bus, and it was quite cool to me to see another ‘normal’ person, so to speak, taking the bus.

My mom, while waiting, mentioned how she had never ridden the bus here, and that she was a bit excited for it.

I smiled and was glad, and told her how it all worked, and that it was mostly just like any other public transit she had ridden elsewhere (except in Vienna, which has one of the best public transit systems ever, and in all aspects of it).

While riding, she asked about how to signal for our stop, and I explained her two options, however, another woman clicked for our stop first.

I told my mom that she could push the tape anyway, just to have the experience and to know what it’s like, pushing the tape on our busses, and she replied coolly and smiling, “I’m touching enough.”

We had seen a whole range of riders come aboard, including all of the stereotypes, smells and all, but also a few other ‘normal’-esque individuals.

Nonetheless, I understood entirely why she had no interest in touching anything more than was necessary at this point.

When we exited the bus, I rushed off in one direction on my predetermined path to the car place, while covering my gaze to the right hand side, and ignoring my mom’s questioning as to why I was going that particular direction, knowing that she would follow me because of my quick pace.

When we were walking into the driveway of the car place, I slowed and dropped my hand, turning toward my mom and informing her of how I had been avoiding any sort of interaction with the man who had been urinating in the trash can that was next to the bus stop.

No, I had not been certain of that being his task, but it looked to be enough so, and I had no interest in discovering anything further on the matter, and so I blocked it from my view, and headed off with the intention of getting away as soon as was possible.

It is funny to me a bit – perhaps ironic – that my mom has told me so much since I’ve moved back to Houston (from Japan) that I need to be careful here, and that it is not like Japan, and yet she does not herself seem to understand how to be careful when in Houston.

She asked why I hadn’t gone the other way around the block, and I, at first, didn’t understand why she was asking – was it not obvious?

And, of course, it wasn’t obvious, I realized… she had no idea the type of hangout that the area was, nor that more people tended to hang out over by that underpass all along its length, and that it was a better idea for us to avoid it altogether, always.

So, while being a bit nervous at my mother’s lack of understanding as to how to be safe in Downtown Houston, I also was consoled in my own ability to be safe here – without realizing it, I had developed my own appropriate way to keep myself safe here in Houston – that’s part of why I tend not to go out at night.

I typically ride my bicycle or scooter, or even take the bus or walk for getting around anywhere near me, and none of those is a very good idea at night…., so I usually just don’t go.

I had begun to think it was merely because of my anti-social emotional side lately, and my dislike for drunk people, but this had me recall that it is more than just an aversion for stupid people that keeps me in most nights. πŸ˜›

Anyway, my mom picked up her car and was bummed about having to spend the money, as was I, but we were grateful for the bit of time we had been able to spend letting my mom experience a Houston Metro bus, and that, at the very least, the concert itself had been free.

But this did remind me of that time we drove way up north to a special spring to get some free, natural spring sulfurous water straight from the source – the city had it posted that anyone could come have water from it, so long as the sun is up – and then drive back home an hour and a half, during which time my mom commented, “Well, that was the most expensive free water I’ve ever gotten,” referring to the gasoline cost and the tolls crossed for the journey. πŸ˜›

It’s been a bit of a joke of ours ever since then.

And so, today’s performance, one could say, was the most expensive free concert we’ve ever attended. πŸ˜›

(Actually, my mom did say that… haha… I’d forgotten that it wasn’t just something I’d thought, but that seems actually said aloud. πŸ˜‚)

Post-a-day 2019

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Story-time

Staring at the ceiling, slumped backward over the sofa cushion that had been knocked onto the floor at some unknown time in the evening, Ch—- inhales sharply, and releases in a heavy sigh…, “Man…, I wanna do something!” he declares.

“Like what?” responds C—, only half interested in his little brother’s response.

“I don’ know…. just something….”

M—- chuckles from his spot in a chair across the room, resuming his tossing of a Hacky Sack into the air over and over again with the same hand, having abandoned actually standing and kicking it around in the air half an hour earlier… Ch—- always says this.

“It’s not like we can actually go anywhere, anyway, Ch—,” M— reminds him, “seeing as how it’s already nine o’clock and all, and your parents have gone to bed.”

Ch—- is silent for a moment, reflecting, ignoring M—‘s comment.

“I wanna go swimming,” Ch—- says, “That’s what I wanna do: go swimming.

Let’s go swimming, you guys!”

“In which pool exactly?… None are open and, in case you forgot, we don’t have a pool,” C— calmly reminds him.

Silence.

M— speaks up, “Swimming actually would be pretty nice right now.. zI could totally go for a swim.”

Baffled, C— regards him, eyebrows scrunched together, raised.

What?” asks M—, defensively, “I’m just saying I’m not against the idea.”

“Again, where would we be doing this swimming? Nowhere is open.”

“Too bad we don’t live near the ocean – the beach is always open!” Ch— chimes in, somewhat passively.

Silence…

C— turns to look at M—, then slowly tilts his head to one side, eyebrows raised…

M— regards C—, questioning at first, and then raises his eyebrows in recognition, drops the sides of his lips, and raises a shoulder, as if to say, ‘Why not?’

“Whadda you say?” asks C— to M—.

Ch— sits up suddenly, looking back and forth between the two older boys, jaw dropping in disbelief.

M—- smiles.

“Let’s do this,” declares C—-.

The three jump up, and each rushes to grab a few items, including the keys, use a bathroom, eat a quick snack before moving silently and stealthily toward the minivan that is parked in the driveway – their mother’s minivan and the only vehicle C— has started driving since getting his license recently.

An hour later, the trio find themselves on the Galveston beach, Ch— frolicking gaily in the sand at the water’s edge, while the other two take another hit on their unsophisticated and uncaring palates.

Ch— and M— share a drink or two, but they forbid C— from drinking – he is still driving them home later, and even the stupidity of the youth has its limits when dealing with genuinely smart and somewhat self-aware teenage boys.

By three a.m., they are careening back toward Houston, searching for a gas station with a vacuum to clean out C— and Ch—‘s mom’s minivan – it is filled with sand, though no one quite remembers when or how it all got in there – the haze of the fun was kind of in the way for them.

Eventually, they find it, and somehow manage to clean the minivan up really well, returning it to its nighttime place in the driveway.

Finally back home, the boys head silently into the back of the house, and lapse into total unconsciousness in the form of sleep.

It is five a.m.

At seven, their mom wakes up, and heads off to work, leaving the boys to their usual sleeping in routine, unconcerned.

When, after a week, no parent has mentioned anything, the boys begin to believe fully that they actually away with it.

And, somehow, they did

Post-a-day 2019

Family (and Chuck)

My uncle is a big hunter.

He even went to Africa to do the super expensive hunting, where you pay a boatload of money that goes to preservation of the land and animals as a whole, in exchange for killing an animal they permit you to hunt (due to numbers being high enough in the particular species).

He takes hunting trips to various places throughout the year, and has for decades.

Certain parts of his house (they are rather contained to one room, though rugs are upstairs, too) are a testament to the fact that he hunts somewhat often and often quite successfully.

Keeping that in mind, consider the following text message exchange that happened between him and me today:

H: Adam gave me a Chuck Norris fact book, and my mom wanted me to share this one with you, because, she thought that, perhaps, you would like to update your vocabulary:

Chuck Norris doesn’t go hunting. The word β€˜hunting’ implies a possibility of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.

Uncle: LMAO!!!!!

H: πŸ˜‚

……….

Fabulous, right? πŸ˜›

Haha

Post-a-day 2019

Dorks

My brother asked me if I was doing a carry-on bag for our trip.

I told him that I was, and he said that he was hoping/planning to do the same for the whole trip (with an exclamation point at the end!).

That was in text messages.

Talking over the phone a little while later, after our tickets (one set of them, anyway) were booked, we discussed the bags again, and the matter of bringing only a carry-on bag plus a purse.

‘My biggest concern right now is really what watch I’m gonna bring,’ he says to me.

‘I know what watch I’m bringing!’ I counter, and my mom laughs behind me, knowing full well what my brother must have just said, and laughing at him for it (not at my comment alone).

I only currently wear the watch this same brother gave to me several months ago.

It is awesome, and I wear it lovingly and with pride at the company, at my brother for finding and supporting it, and a little at myself for wearing it.

eone Bradley Compass Graphite

My brother knows this, and so does my mother, so we all got my teasing joke of a comment, and, once I told my brother that Mom was laughing, we all laughed at his dilemma.

My brother has an entire collection of watches, each one different from the rest, and all of them stellar quality and style…, and I would guess that they add up to around a hundred thousand dollars altogether…

He typically travels with three watches as a minimum – a casual chic, a sport, and a work watch that doubles as formal.

Sometimes, I believe, he brings something like seven, when it’s a longer trip, and he’ll have varied activities in which to participate and events to attend.

I always bring my one watch, and simply remove it whenever I do sport.

(The moment this company comes out with a sports-safe version of their watches, however, I am totally likely to have two watches, and quite suddenly so…. until that time, however, I have just the one.)

We absolutely love my brother’s love of watches, and I laud him for and value his efforts in creating watches with an awesome private watch company that has begun to make watches for him and to use him and his sports to create advertising for their watches…. frankly, he has done what we all dream to do, by turning a dorky passion into something that not only allows him to pursue his passion but to be encouraged in it and to be paid through it, all while always having a wonderful time with it all.

I am proud to share blood with him, and I love having fun with him around his love of watches (and many other things, too, actually).

At the end of our call, I ask him how the boating went with his friends earlier.

He tells me that he took some pictures, and so he’ll send me something.

After a few moments of flipping through photos, he sends me a wrist shot of the watch his buddy temporarily swapped him for two of his watches…

Seriously, brother?… You went boating, and you took pictures, and the only photo that actually comes out of it all is one of your wrist and a watch, where you really can’t tell that you’re out on a boat in the first place?

But, for him, of course it is. πŸ˜›

And, to be fair, when I saw the photo, while my secondary comment and thought related to the aforementioned concept, my first thought and comment were immediate: “His Carbotech!”

I knew exactly what watch it was, and even I was excited that my brother was getting to wear this watch… πŸ˜›

Post-a-day 2019

Rules

There is a school zone that has been illuminated on my way home from school (which is work) every afternoon so far this week.

The school is clearly not in session, because there is no one visible on the campus, but I also know that schools are just not yet in session again for the year.

However, the flashing lights flash, making the speed limit 20 miles per hour.

And everyone except for me ignores it.

Fortunately, there aren’t too many cars at the time I’m heading home, so they avoid me easily enough.

I on my Vespa putz alone at 20mph, while everyone zips by at their standard 38-40mph (the regular speed limit is 35mph)…

I follow the rules.

Plus, I really would like to steer clear of anything but good things, when it comes to driving and safety.

But yeah… that’s a bit annoying and troublesome, how people handle the school zone…. also that it isn’t turned off while the school is clearly still on break…

Anyway…

Post-a-day 2019

Memories in alcohol

Walking through an absurdly large and diverse (product-wise) Kroger today, I was struck with a sudden and momentary shift back to Japan, as I passed one of the drink aisles….

There was something about its seeming chaotic orderliness, and its crowded feel that took me back to the alcohol aisles in the store near my house in Japan, and, at first, of this one particular store near the train station in a nearby town where I went to help with English stuff…

And the memory was really nice… it was a very good feeling of transportation, and I felt very much at ease, belonging, and comfortable…

Weird to see Japan as such things, but I also totally get it – it is part of me, and certain points of life were stable there that are not stable for me here and now, thus the feeling of stability and comfort from the memory, despite the fact that Japan as a whole was kind of nuts and really hard on me… πŸ™‚

The aisle…

It is definitely more spaced out in the middle than Japan’s comparable aisle, but the setup and feelings were quite the same for me… who’d’a thunk alcohol could be so warm and fuzzy for me? πŸ˜‚

Post-a-day 2019

90Β° into the future

Last week, my only struggle in the motorcycle training course was making a 90Β° turn while looking in the designated direction.

Funnily enough, I was so paranoid about messing up the turn and dropping the bike or something while I was looking left (for a left turn) and couldn’t see directly in front of the bike anymore, that I always ended up cutting over the inner cones… aka I was scared of hitting the outside ‘wall’ of baby cones, that I made the turn even tighter than it needed to be..,

Seriously, Banana?

Apparently so… haha

And so, tomorrow is the final day of the course… I have already passed the knowledge test/exam for the M endorsement on my license (M for motorcycle, even though I own a Vespa, not a motorcycle – a very powerful Vespa, of course), and I have passed the first few stages of the riding portion of the licensing exam, the skills test.

Tomorrow, I have the rest of the skills to learn and to do well, including that 90Β° turn that is genuinely the only skill that has me concerned… everything else is so natural for me, and I have done probably all of it before (we had dirt bikes when I was a kid)… just not a 90Β° turn while looking so far to the side (it makes sense, of course, in terms of safety regarding not having other cars show up out of nowhere, but I always want to watch the road a bit more than they like for the test, even on my bicycle [Yes, I checked how I do the turns on my bicycle this past week, and I do a back-and-forth head turn thing on my sharp turns.]).

Therefore, I am thinking longingly of a set of fabulous 90Β° turns in my near future (tomorrow morning, to be exact), and safe, genius diving for myself.

So, here’s to a wonderful night’s rest, and beautiful day tomorrow, and passing my licensing skills test tomorrow morning: Cheers! πŸ˜‰

Post-a-day 2019