Tag Archives: Relocation

City in the Fields

There was a flash fiction challenge yesterday from Opinionated Man of which I had not participated. I had already posted yesterday’s flash, which was for another Reddit contest (did not win/no honorable mention). That’s not to say I’m upset about it. I didn’t want to leave people on here hanging.  The WordPress challenge seemed a little more like a Saturday write anyway. If people have read my blog for any length of time, they know I’ve spoke about my town slightly in my stories. In 1,000 words or less, I shall condense that.

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Urbanites often clamor for the countryside, a respite from the “noise” and “pollution” of a metropolitan backdrop. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence especially if it’s compared to concrete. Plenty of green dots the landscape of my city, even if it’s mold. Perhaps the agricultural nature of the outer limits appeal, waving arms of wheat and corn in a Summer’s gust? The ears certainly make for better conversation anyway.

Crumbling corners and mended roads, all drizzled in chocolaty-tar sauce like a sundae stretch for miles under questionable skies. Built once with pride, brick buildings burn from apathy’s children leaving only work for the crewmen to raze. Holes, like pulled teeth, pit a once wealthy dirt. An asphalt crown is the new order of business.

Hulking and oppressive, the courthouse stands idle with all of its faded glory. Since when had you last felt alive? Bluebottle cars fly around your rotten carcass of petty justice. Your delusions of grandeur are transparent! Your mightiness is moot!

…and the floods. O, the floods! Have you come to visit us with fervor of Zelus? Have your waters ran through our hair enough? Can you not stand the sight of our houses as much as I? There would be no blame in that. Bring it to us so that we may bathe in a pool of our mistakes.

Time has come and time has passed, leaving nothing but old values as new ideas spread across a nation. Angry and afraid, a retirement community is proclaimed. Leave it as it once was, so we remember it fondly. A sepulcher for the nostalgic. There is no need to share; it is ours!

A generation took that to heart, and a generation made a new start off on coasts and in between. “They will be back!” Was the mantra of the day which fizzled to a murmur on the lips of the selfish. The world is not as it once was. Haughtiness becomes highlighted in hindsight.

Ghosts of people past still haunt the streets in which I ride. Past the schools. Past the homes. Past the shops I’ve seen too many times to remember. Pictures on the gelatin of my eyes. Translucent and faded they post bills of their likeness where I’ve been before. Up on the hill, down by the river, out by the freeway, or around the corner, I cannot live them down. The city will not let me live them down.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Another dream to write down before it fades away in the events of the day. It seems this time I moved to Los Angeles. Why my mind chose that location is a mystery. Maybe it’s because of my online friend who lives there, even though I never saw her in the dream. There certainly hasn’t been a time I’ve wanted to go there. Sorry, Angelenos, I know many Ohioans romanticize about your city. Maybe it’s to your relief I never caught the bug? There’s at least two sides to every story. I’d probably be regarded as a tourist.

Anyway, I had the impression I was only staying for a couple of weeks but realized I had moved everything I owned on to a moving van. The first day was quite a sublime chaos, adventure at its most accessible. However, coming to grips with the permanent nature of such was a little terrifying. The house hunting. Finding employment. The roommates. Not knowing who to call for help. My scant few resources didn’t allow for an easy renege on such a hasty decision. My parents, old and tired, couldn’t send much in the way of anything. I was on my own.

I ended up in an apartment with two roommates. They both looked the same: thin, Caucasian, brown hair, blue eyes, fade cut with horn rimmed glasses, red and white flannel shirts and blue jeans. The one I greeted and shook his hand in typical fashion, but the other was different. He was quite polite, but wouldn’t shake my hand. After the declination he said, “maybe at a later date.” As he said this, he held up his hand which was emaciated and gnarled. This was all done in such polished manner, I got the impression he was embarrassed about it. It didn’t have anything to do with me.

My alarm woke me up before I could go much further, but dreams like this are so distinct that I’d like to believe there’s more to what my mind is trying to express (not forecast, mind you). It’s as if there’s something troubling it, and was talking it out through my sleep. I’ll have to come back to this post later on and see if I can make more sense of it.

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Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

What does one do when Canada camps out on your front stoop?

A) Shovel the stoop in hopes a snow caterpillar (i.e. drift) arrives.

B) Perform a nude interpretive dance of “O, Canada”.

C) Throw boiling hot water into the wind with the intent of having your flesh seared.

D) Play chicken with the plow truck.

E) Wet the street down to make an impromptu ice rink… for cars.

The answer is F) you stay inside and make sure the pipes don’t burst.

The Fields are no stranger to winter weather. There have been multiple times where temperatures have reached -23.3° C (-10° F) or less in my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. This is where someone chimes in “well, here’s it’s (lesser temperature) every winter!” We all know that person.

You know what? Good for you! Do you want a cookie? If I’m grumbling about -24° C weather (with a hearty -38° C wind chill), I’m not all that interested in your location right now. I’m more interested in busting up that snow drift at the end of my driveway, courtesy of the street department, to get to my mailbox. Better yet, I’m trying to think of places that I could do a nude interpretive dance of “O, Canada” without receiving a blue ribbon in frostbite or hypothermia. As I type, I hear another plow truck. The shovel just hit something very crunchy. I think he might have broken up more of my curb. 😐

All of this can be used for good though. If I ever get out of here, which could simply mean my house right now, I know that relocating further North is out of the question. I’m through with Winter. I can’t be shut up more than 24 hours in my house or I start to feel all weird. It’s that kind of weird you get when you buy a completely inappropriate gift for someone and no one else finds the humour in it. I should be doing something right now. Adventure! At the very least, things at the office. OK, so maybe it’s just things at the office but still. There’s a potential for adventure. I’ll leave my office door open for that.

Maybe I could be a beach bum in some Caribbean island, and spend the rest of my days scaring children and making people give me pocket change by following them around talking gibberish? I’d make a little hut out of corrugated metal and share it with a coconut named Nigel, who would always correct me by saying “‘Sir’ Nigel, if you please.” I’d also scavenge a small radio that would play hokey lite rock where I would sing out of key to Jimmy Buffet and Christoper Cross. Yeah, that’s the life right there.

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Hey! That’s not county fair!

A few months ago, I vowed a trip to the county fair to get a fresh batch of pictures. As fate would have it, I completely forgot it existed while it was here. That’s a little disheartening, but I can surely show the pictures I collected a few years back. There’s always next year, too. It’s not like this is its last hurrah… or yeehaw, as the case may be.

When I moved back from Charlotte, NC almost four years ago, I was bitter. Shocking, I know. While I still have my moments of frustration, the house has provided enough distraction to avoid sitting in self-destruct mode for days on end. That’s progress I think.

In an acerbic mood, I took it upon myself to document all the instances I saw the Confederate flag here in Hooterville. The county fair was rife with them.

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Confederate Flag on faux mink.

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Window sticker selection.

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This space cliché not only likes the Confederate flag, but it likes to smoke pot while admiring it.

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It would be downright blasphemy if it weren’t sold as a belt buckle.

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There is a saying in marketing. “If the people want Cheetos, then they shall have orange fingers.” I can’t help but think this is a similar situation.

“Why, Nate,” I hear you say, “weren’t you just living in a Southern state?” To that I would say yes, however, it’s not the flag I’m concerned about. It’s the dim Yankees that display it on their possessions. Listen up, Ohioans. You were part of the Union. Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman hailed from your state. To any Southerner with a shred of pride, you will always be a God Damn Yankee. They’re not going to be fast friends with you, and carpetbaggers are greeted with a weary eye. They do not want you! I know this first hand.

The other reason I went to the fair is to witness all of the “that’s probably not a great idea” moments.

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I love the smell of jingoism in the morning. It smells like “mission accomplished”!

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This was the walkway to all of the insanely disgusting fried food vendors. Want a whole block of fried cheese? We can do that.

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Say hello to “Buck,” the animatronic deer head. Its concept is like that of “Billy Bass,” but only to promote the virtues of this “mountain man” meat vendor. I don’t know… seems legit.

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Here we have the local Republican headquarters shilling for more votes. Dead center, we see young Republican feathers. I didn’t think Republicans would be the ones supporting tribal representation.

This is all part and parcel of why I left town in the first place. I’ve met many on my travels that tell me, “you’ll find this anywhere.” To that I say, “you can also find a way around it elsewhere.” It’s the truth, too. The area’s too small to circumvent an attitude of which I loathe to watch. I see it everyday, and wish for higher standards of behavior. I know I won’t get it, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

At the end of the day, though, where else could you see something this majestic?

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I now have a strong urge to play Megadeth.

All pictures © 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Junior High Dance on Main Street

In an effort to avoid being holed up in my abode on a Friday night, I decided to attend a local event in town. There’s an annual party in downtown Hooterville involving a makeshift stage, a couple of cover bands, a smattering of food carts, and lots of cheap beer. These elements are vaguely familiar to the county fair, including the people.

Being there was alcohol involved, a block of Main Street had to be fenced off like a playpen. All of the adults were now children, and couldn’t wander past the gate with their beverage. It vaguely reminded me of K. Jean King’s Celebratory Gunfire: Why You Can’t Drink in the Park. There’s plenty of distrust and control, admittedly with some reasonable concern. Idiots ruin it for the rest of us.

I found the event unimpressive. Shocking, I’m sure, for those who frequently read my blog entries. There’s still a valid reason though: it reminded me of the junior high dances I attended. Everyone was clustered in familiar circles, there were several people in attendance I didn’t care to see, the music was mediocre at best, and it left me wondering what exactly was I expecting.

During a long, sobering march to pick up cigarettes (in and of itself a complicated struggle) I had plenty of time to think what the Devil was I trying to accomplish. I was trying to accomplish something. I know in my gut when I set out to find an experience, even if it had little  definition at the time. There was no time like the present to figure it out.

As it seems to me, I’m looking for: like-minded people, vivacity in community, and a fresh start. When corralled into these three categories, I can easily extrapolate them to other facets of my life. Explaining them in more detail, I’ll discuss each item with a bullet. I’m very business oriented, you see, and businessmen like bullet points (pew! pew!). I also get a sick pleasure out of seeing someone shoot me with finger pistols. It’s only second to referring to oneself in the third person.

  • Like-minded People: Sure, the phrase has probably been worn out by now. I’m not terribly sure how else to reword it though. “Logging in to the right hot spot” perhaps? Regardless, the fact that I don’t feel a connection with the general population is worrisome. I grew up here. I had many similar experiences as the rest of these people. Why, then, do I not bond with them in such ways as other communities do? I’ve watched resonance happen in Greenwich Village, Austin, TX, and in other parts of the country. It’s different here. The feel is totally different. People work together differently. There’s no other way to describe it.
  • Vivacity in Community: Whether it is my perception through years of buildup or genuinely observed, there is a complete and utter lack of energy in this area. It feels very tired. Everyone is simply there. They could be replaced with cardboard cutouts, and the atmosphere wouldn’t change. The crowd is a nonentity. I find this troubling, as we’re allowed to have personality. No one seems willing to take it out of the box. Why is that?!
  • A Fresh Start: From personal experience, this is not taken as seriously as it should. A few years ago, I spoke with a medical technician from New York who relocated to Hooterville on a job offer. She said, “it’s strange here; the majority of people I’ve met never lived anywhere else in their entire lives!” People like me often get accused of being too familiar with a place. We’re labeled as malcontents and told “familiarity breeds contempt.” For a population that has had no desire to leave its place of origin, that may very well be the only lens available.  What about all of those ghosts (read: bad memories) piling up over the years? What about all of the bad blood? What about the freedom of anonymity? This counts for much more in happiness than people are willing to give it.

Ultimately, I think I’ve worn out my welcome around here. I’m like the annoying relative that doesn’t know when to wrap up his affairs and “head back home.” What’s concerning is that I don’t have a home, not in a metaphorical sense anyway. For many years, I thought I knew my home if I saw it. Now that I’m older, I’m starting to question my instincts.

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Snap Decision

“I don’t know,” he said with resignation. “It looks like I’ve run out of ideas.”  Ben exhaled his cheap tobacco and flicked the butt into a yard in desperate need of mowing. All goes quiet after 10 o’clock at night, and the only action to be seen was a stray tabby trotting down the sidewalk. With a little bit of attention, I-69 could be heard somewhere off in the distance.  Yellow squares of lamp light hung in a random sequence down the street. When combined with the street light, it looked like indecipherable Morse code. It might as well be the S.O.S. for the time being, as everything seemingly lacked rhyme or reason in the past 48 hours.

This area of town was definitely known for its sloth. There were a fair amount of students from the local uni renting property nearby, and they weren’t diligent with chores. They were stereotypically spoiled Americans. Ben wagered their ancestors would have killed to be in that position in their living years. Since they’re not anymore, he later surmised it didn’t matter. George, Ben’s sounding board for the night, had given up on looking presentable for the neighbors a long time ago. That’s a shame. Exercise is exactly what George needed.

Smoothing his naturally curly hair over for the last five minutes, Ben started to grow impatient with himself. “This was happening now for a reason,” he thought. “The move to Texas definitely sparked this whole chain of events, but why did it have to start with such little time left to take care of anything?” He slapped the palm of his hand on the armrest of the rocking chair and crossed his legs the other way as to not let either of them fall asleep.

“It doesn’t sound pleasant,” his audience finally responded. “Though you usually fix things, and it comes out all right in the end.” The stout nature of the respondent allowed for a couple of rocks before he could start his journey to the refrigerator for a beer. “However, I have never seen you like this before. You really must be scared.”

“Oh, not scared,” he huffed, “just struck dumb.” His pride would never admit the slightest bit of fear. “She claims the child’s mine, but who knows? It could be an attempt to keep me from leaving for Dallas. She could also truly be pregnant, but from another guy. There’s no time for a paternity test. If it exists, or is even mine, she knew that I would be very tempted to stick around to raise it. I’m not one known to run from responsibility. One thing is for certain though: I’ve got to leave tomorrow, if I want that job. That’s my ticket out of here, to a better life, the life I’ve worked eight years on a shop floor to get. I don’t want to be a line worker forever, George.”

“Well, then, what’s the next move?” The generous host offered Ben another beer.

“No, thanks. I need to drive.”

“That’s a first.”

“…and to answer your question: I have no idea.”

“…and there’s another.”

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Keeping Up

Over three years ago, I lived in Charlotte, NC. It’s hard to believe I was actually a resident of the Tar Heel state, but that was an attempt to find my “home.” People unlucky enough to be born in a place of which they are ill at ease will understand that statement perfectly. There’s a place for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you start out there.

Since then, living arrangements weren’t all that healthy. I’m back in the fields nowadays, but still hold on to the idea of leaving again. I know I don’t belong here. What disappoints me is family and other residents simply can’t seem to understand that. I’m not even sure they want to respect it. Regardless, during the course of three years, I accumulated a little bit of writing which I posted last week. It wasn’t much; I was in a deep depression for a long time. It’s not much fun to talk about, but it unquestionably affected my work. I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve made efforts these last few months to simply write. With a topic proposed by another aspiring writer, I started writing My City by the Bay. I forced myself to write, to tie loose ends together, and to think creatively. Writing is a job, and takes energy to do but to share a story with someone else makes me happy beyond words. It’s the connectivity I never get in real life. It’s the chance to bond with like-minded people. That seems healthy to me.

Coffeehouse gibberish, or why I should always have a 24-hour waiting period on my work.
© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

On Sunday, I went to a coffee shop nearby and decided to put more ink to paper. It could be called brainstorming, but I wanted a more complete piece. While I did write, and come up with some good ideas, the work itself turned out to be flawed. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t worth my time, but I don’t believe now what I wrote then. The angle of the story put words into other people’s mouths. I have little reason now to believe that was the best way to approach the story.

The new approach will be more genuine and I know I’ll feel 100% better that I was honest with myself. True, the chances these pieces will see a wide audience is slim. That doesn’t mean I should pile together any old set of words. That would make my efforts pointless.

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