Sunday, June 29, 2008

Walking thoughts...

I'm trying to walk three to five mornings a week. I like to cover at least three to five miles a walk. It's a little challenging getting in much distance in my nice, little neighborhood, but it can be done. So far I've not found the perfect route, so I tend to do a new route or variation on a previous route theme with each walk. Maybe I just bore myself too easily. I map my walks on, what else, (a great and free utility for plotting walks and keeping up with one's workouts).

Sometimes I walk with my friend/neighbor/ex-coworker. She's nursing some back problems so doesn't (can't) walk as far as I do. I usually keep walking after walking her back to her place. Some days, I walk all alone and that's fine. The neighborhood's pretty safe and I know where I'm going and keep an eye out for possible trouble--plus I carry my big stick brought back from Spain. I also walk the busy roads but on stagnant summer mornings, those exhaust fumes create potential choking scenarios, in my mind anyway.

Walking allows time to observe and to think. In Spain, walking the last 120 KMs or so of the Camino de Santiago, I thought about many things and I observed much of my environment. Fellow pilgrims were kindly and respectful and supportive, throwing "Buen Camino" to each person trudging on foot, bike of horse. In Durham I find that I continue to gain an appreciation for nature--the way a flowering weed finds its way through a crack in a sidewalk, the bunny sitting statue like as I stride by, the beaver (or was it a woodchuck) shuffling back to Ellerbee Creek. What I don't appreciate in Durham, more so than in Spain, are people. My fellow citizens and their trash that accumulates nearly every step along my way.

I've seen syringes and condoms, woofers and tweeters, smashed ripped (off) CDs of Jay-Z and someone who didn't merit a Sharpie-written ID, underwear of all stripes, and the ever present parade of fast food discards. I've wondered if a trash impact fee could be assessed restaurateurs with a majority carry/take out business. Of course, how do you keep private enterprises from passing any such fees on to the consumer in the price of the items consumed? If there were a way to extract a fee for clean-up of their trash, without the consumer ultimately paying it, that would be ideal. Perhaps there could be a fast food brigade that helps clean up Durham one weekend (or two) a year?

While walking these are the kinds of thoughts I have. There is a service I utilize to remind myself of my ideas: I set up a free account and saved the number. When I'm out and want to remember something later, I just Jott myself. In essence, I leave myself a voicemail but, this is the part I love, Jott transcribes it and emails my message to me (or to anyone I want to Jott). Given the huffing and puffing from my 3.5-ish MPH walking, it's not always as perfect as it is poetic.

Because I'm walking before Durham One Call answers the phone (919-560-1200), I'm often Jotting things to report--gang tags/graffiti, overgrown areas, the place I assumed to be a whorehouse that apparently really is a legitimate "Pleasure Tour" operator. When I check my email, I can just copy my Jotts right over to the Durham One Call report form. I'm sure the folks there see my email as the latest complaint from Miss Thrope.

The Durham One Call folks. Gosh, they seem friendly.

Lately, the bikers I've seen during my walk and during my commute around town and to the Park and back are not wearing helmets. Sure, the "pro" bikers are wearing high-tech head protection, along with those awfully unnecessary spandex racing jerseys, but these are apparently leisure bikers, and possibly those taking it up to save a few bucks on gas. Not only are they riding without helmets, they tend to ride the wrong way on a street, on sidewalks and look rather unaccustomed to handling a bike, especially amid vehicular traffic. Even advertisements are showing the "Then Came Bronson (on a Schwinn)" look. In the Brier Creek sales magazine, a happy hetero couple stand astride their bikes gazing appreciatively at one of the many Brier Creek area developments. They have no helmets anywhere. If you've ever found yourself around Brier Creek, I'd think you'd want to wear a helmet. It just seems irresponsible on the part of the Brier Creek marketers.

Bikers with no helmets
She looks real at home with that bike and those sandals!

Near the end of my 3.5-mile walk Friday, a white GMC Suburban gas guzzler rumbled by on Murray. Emblazoned across the top of the windshield, in rather large white letters: "REDNECK WOMAN." Of course, I had to look. The driver's window was down and, in fact, she appeared to personify a redneck woman. Chuckling, I wondered why she felt compelled to advertise such a fact. Are redneck women in demand or so rare that they need to advertise? Did she think it wasn't obvious? Is the billboard not actually redundant?

Strange Albany Street

[PICTURED: Above, the house where the Indigo Dawn couple resided. Below, the house down the street in
which I lived. It was yellow back then]

News this weekend about the arrest of a couple from Albany Street. Active in local politics, the pair faces charges of rape, kidnapping and assault. The wife getting the more passive accessory charges and the husband the more active charges. She's a grad of Cornell and worked, apparently, as a research assistant at Duke. He seems a self-proclaimed "Rev." together they ran "Indigo Dawn," a spiritual biz for throwing runes, cleansing your chakras and astral projection needs, among such things. Anyway, it's surely scandalous and will do no favors for the county Democratic Party, of which the wife was the third vice chair (seem to be lots of vice chairs) as well as precinct president.

Y'know, when I lived on Albany Street, it was a sweet little neighborhood (between I-85, Guess and Watts-Hillandale proper. But it's still a strange area.

The owner of the place I lived in was a Duke-graduated MD, moving to the Pinehurst area to open a Doc-in-the-box.

I nearly didn't make my appointment to tour the house, as I was feeling feverish. Mentioning this upon my visit, Steve, the good doc, pulled out a Px pad and wrote a Px for some antibiotics (not that he examined me).

He was insistent that I should move in to his 2-bedroom, 2-bath home. I guess he was in a hurry to wrap up that loose end. I told him the price was too steep for one person and that I had no housemate in mind. He was still insistent and offered to only charge me half 'til I found a housemate. I said okay. He left behind lots of furniture in the living room (with lots of knick-knacks). He also left behind his housemate, some guy who was a hairdresser at a shop in the Brightleaf area.

I inquired about this and he said, by long distance phone in Pinehurst, that it was his way of helping me out, 'til I found a housemate of my choosing. He said the guy was cool with it and pretty much kept to himself. I was less cool, but felt stuck.

The arrangement was odd but okay. I pretty much stayed to my half of the house; the guy stayed to his half. We didn't see each other or talk much. But after a few weeks, when I got the phone bill (in my name), the dude had gotten super lonely over the holidays and spent the week I was away with family burning up the phone sex lines. I guess I'm a prude, but after plotting a line graph of his phone calls, I demanded to the owner that this guy go. So he did and I advertised for a replacement.

It was the start of a new year, and the new housemate, Sue, was breaking up from her hubby after realizing she might be gay. I think she thought I'd be some great guide into the community. Oops. I had my own life and dramas to deal with. Sue was okay, 'though...keeping mostly to herself. She was a little more earthy than I was/am/will be.

Now, in perusing property records of Albany Street today, it seems mostly rentals, with owners located elsewhere in town. Back then, we were among the few renters, and some neighbors, I think, resented it.

The older lady across Soverign Street was always complaining. Once she called the cops on me because I parked my car the wrong direction in front of my Soverign St door (to be closer to the house when I returned from my radio shift at 3 AM). I got a "warning" ticket for parking the wrong way and more than a foot from the curb (I measured and it was just a hair over 12"). Another time she called and demanded we remove dog poop from her yard. My dog Ana never got out of the house or fenced yard, but my housemate's two large breed dogs did jump the fence; however, this poop was tiny, like the old lady's miniature poodle dog's, not like two big dogs' poops. She even left a threatening anonymous note, in little old lady handwriting, about having the health department throw us in jail because we let the grass get too tall. A lawnmower did not come with the property, but we borrowed the neighbor's.

We mentioned this odd neighbor behavior to Steve, the owner. He said that when he'd lived in the house he'd briefly dated our neighbor (a single mom of a toddler girl) and they actually caught the old lady peering/peeping in the neighbor's window during a date. The not crazy neighbor confirmed this; she also confirmed that Steve was kind of weird, too.

We'd noticed some elements of odd. Besides the hard-up roomie who came with the house, and lots of Rx pads, the attic offered a trove of stuff including pix of Steve in drag. Of course, it was the '80s and boys will be boys who will be girls.

Yet, suddenly, one spring day, Steve called and evicted us with no notice, no reason. I don't even think we'd bounced any checks to him (ever victims of the trickle down effects of voodoo economics). I considered he might be homophobic and suddenly realized we were lesbians (or in poor Sue's case, a wannabe lesbian). Still, we had to be out by the end of the month. Sue and I went our separate ways. The Albany Street chapter closed.

Years later, in a schadenfreude moment, I discovered that Steve got in all sorts of trouble with the state medical board and police. His addiction to meds discovered, Steve was suspended from practice, then stripped of his license. Then, he tried to kill a male friend of his wife (hmmm...wife...that was new...I guess he married her during our eviction). He got a deal in which he served six months hard time for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor solitication to injure (I didn't realize Prayer for Judgments Continued worked for murder). The deal was structured so he could still reapply for his medical license upon completion of his time, community service and addiction treatment.

Here's the story from the Fayetteville Observer.

As I said, it's a strange area.