Monday, September 3, 2007

Weekend Roundup

To be honest, the default mode for my life is set at "pretty much uneventful," which is not necessarily a bad thing--I see plenty of drama amongst the Super-Secret Support Group people I hang out with and want none of it--but at times I wind up feeling a bit "restless, irritable, and discontented."

I forget that sometimes Life can be a case of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.

Friday was yet another in a long string of utterly predictable, often boring, typically mind-numbing, frequently frustrating work days, but I managed to get through it without screaming, cursing, seriously fantasizing about a pre-frontal lobotomy, or opening up with automatic weapons fire. Came home, scratched the cat, fed the cat, changed the cat's litter box, scratched the cat some more, had a momentary lapse of reason, tried to scratch the cat's tummy, whereupon I was reminded suddenly that Sid the Cat was not named after Six-Dinner Sid; he was named after Sid Vicious. Thanked the Preparedness Gods that I had Neosporin in the medicine cabinet and spent the evening watching the Survivorman marathon while reading All the Pretty Horses during the commercial breaks. Sid, meanwhile, decided Neosporin is singularly icky-tasting while my chest looked like a good place to nap. At some point we both fell sound asleep.

Saturday was a stunningly beautiful day--deep blue skies, fluffy white clouds, cool temperatures--the kind of day when reasonable people are out and about enjoying the nice weather, so, naturally, I hooked up with Alex, Kevin, and Nick and spent the afternoon in a darkened movie theater watching the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween, which was oodles of fun for an aging horror whore such as myself--in-jokes a-plenty (White Zombie playing on a television in the background), a nicely ironic soundtrack ("Love Hurts," "{Don't Fear} The Reaper," "Only Women Bleed," etc.), and several cameos (ATTN: Cath--Mickey Dolenz alert!). And it's nice that Malcolm McDowell can still find work.

Saturday evening I went to the 11th Hour North Super-Secret Support Group meeting, after which a bunch of us headed over to our current favorite coffee shop, Common Groundz, and sat out front enjoying the cool night air and the Broad St. Impromptu Improvisational Theater--drunken college students attempting to unchain their bikes in a Monty Pythonesque display of ineptitude, drunken hip-hoppers trying to look cool while stumbling into brick walls, drunken cruisers showing off spinners costing more than their vehicles, drunken Club Kids in expensive-yet-disheveled clothing on their way home to wrap up the night with Jagermeister and unprotected sex, the Richmond PD converging on the nearby Hess gas station with five squad cars, a paddy wagon, and what looked for all the world like a SWAT van--yeah, a good time was had by all.

Sunday I decided I (1) needed to do something different while (2) taking advantage of the nice weather, so I grabbed my el cheapo work/combat boots, a GI-style canvas butt pack, a canteen full of water, a box of raisins, and drove southwards to explore Forest Hill Park, described here as "...hav(ing) been neglected for so long it has become beautiful again" and that's a pretty apt description. Once I wandered beyond the parking area and picnic shelters I was in another world, almost Myst-like, with decaying stone structures, paved, gravel, or dirt trails going nowhere in particular, a lake in the process of becoming a marsh, and only the occasional passer-by or trail biker. I followed a rocky, sometimes debris-ridden stream, passed through one long, massive culvert system, then another, and finally wound up on the south bank of the James River wondering why in hell I don't do things like this more often.

I woke up Monday morning with The Fever upon me--Book Fever. My zombie-like moans--"Muuust...haaave...boooooks!"--disturbed the cat, whereupon he graced me with the Kitty Stink-Eye (pat. pend.), m'rowred his little squeaky m'rowr, shifted position, and got on with the serious business of sleeping the day away. I, on the other hand, fired up Ye Olde Intarwebs and began the serious business of poring through my 15-screens-worth of Wish List in order to select the most likely candidates for purchase. My plan was to hike into Carytown, assault the Creatures 'N' Crooks bookstore, and load up on science fiction, mysteries, and horror novels; unfortunately, I hadn't considered they might be closed on Labor Day, something I discovered only when I grabbed their door handle and wrenched my shoulder, much to the amusement of the cute little smoothie-sucking giggly high school girls sitting nearby.

Okay, I thought, I'm a Big Boy, I can improvise, I can show a little adaptability. I'll go to Plan 9 Music, browse around the used DVD bins for a bit, then walk home and drive to Barnes & Noble.

Which I did, but this time instead of taking my usual, mundane, safe, predictable, boring route of Cary St. or Floyd to Nansemond to Grove, I decided to hike back through the residential alleys and see what there was to see.

Lots, as it turned out (and, no, that's not a pun); there's a whole 'nother world out there! Like the pepper garden someone has near Belmont--yellow wax peppers, green jalapeno peppers, red chile peppers, orange habaneros, bell peppers of various colors...who knew? Actually, there's a whole array of near-clandestine gardens in the area between Boulevard and North Thompson, clandestine in that they're not actually part of someone's back yard; they're sandwiched in between fences and the alley proper or growing in whatever otherwise unused strips of land happen to be available. Sunflowers, roses, morning glories, honeysuckle, random vegetables... lawn gnomes, gargoyles, sundials, gazing balls, decaying bird baths... once-ornate gates, dilapidated old brick garages encased in moss and ivy, sun-bleached children's playhouses... and none of them meticulously maintained which, as far as I'm concerned, gives 'em all a particular charm.

Add a light sprinkling of bikini-clad college-age women washing SUVs, elderly men fiddling with pre-Columbian lawn mowers, a few miscellaneous cats, dogs, squirrels, and chipmunks, and you have a perfectly delightful afternoon walk. I almost regretted arriving home so soon, but the Siren-calls of paperback books demanded I leave this green and pleasant land and re-enter the world of crass consumerism, an orgy I've detailed elsewhere.


Cathy VanPatten said...

Love the description of the stroll down the alleys. It really does open up whole new worlds to look at life (or, a city you thought you knew inside and out) from a new perspective.

Hmmm. Micky Dolenz? Cameo in a horror movie? Hmmm.

G. W. Ferguson said...

Yeah, I don't know what to think of that, but, then again, this is the man who had nerve enough to hop up onstage at Woodstock (and get booed off).

In Halloween he's the gunshop owner who sells a .357 magnum to Dr. Loomis/Malcolm McDowell. To my shame, I know this only because I'm a habitual credits-reader; I didn't recognize him at all. Definitely a "WTF?" moment.