Friday, January 30, 2009

Down, Down to Bradentown

Went down to Bradenton for a late Christmas. It was pretty cool. I got a GPS system, which anyone who has ever driven with me or asked me for directions will be eternally grateful for.

We were only there for a few days, but I found I slipped quite easily into the world of retirement. Waking up early, perhaps taking a nap at 2 or 3. And yeah, might as well pull the car up at 7 PM. I ain't going anywhere at night anyway. Whoa, is it 10:00 already? No wonder I'm so sleepy. What am I, Hugh Hefner staying up til the crack of dawn?

When I wasn't busy sleeping or being brought along on Bataan Death Marches through the gazillion antique/fabric/thrift stores the area has to offer, I found this cool little nature trail/park.

The trail was in an area that I explored quite a bit when I lived in Bradenton. See, there was this crazy guy who lived out in the woods there named Crazy Nathan. There was a game in high school to see how far you could drive down his scary driveway in the deep, dark woods before he ran out of his house shooting at you.

Nathan was a source of endless fascination to a group of my friends. Why did he live out there? What did he do? Was his house all Texas Chain Saw Massacre looking on the inside?

We were fairly obsessed with the guy. We made up Team Nate stickers that we'd paste all over town, which were mistaken for a satanic cult. We spent time in the woods trying to find a back way to his house so we could...well, I don't really know. Spy on him, I guess. The woods had a sprawling network of trails, so you could spend a whole day out there walking around freaking yourself out, wondering what would happen if Nate or his murderous family caught you out there.

So when I found out that the scary-ass Nate Woods had been turned into a nature trail, I was all over that stuff.

The trail is actually to the south of Nate Woods, an area which wasn't as scary, but it was still pretty strange to be walking these once-impenetrable trails that are now paved and full of families and old people walking dogs.

This is sort of what the old trails looked like

Hernando DeSoto landed somewhere around here, looking for gold and Indians to torture.

This is a horseshoe crab, the most useless and ugly animal ever created.

Mangroves are awesome. Whenever I get a whiff of brackish salt water and see mangroves, two memories come rushing up.
A) I'm going fishing or
B) I'll bet somebody stashed some old Penthouse magazines around here somewhere.

Banyan trees are awesome, too. You know they're saying, "We are going to eat you."

So yeah, the trail was pretty awesome. I got there late so I didn't get to explore the whole thing, and it didn't really replicate the fear and terror I once felt in those woods since I wasn't constantly looking over my shoulder to see if a rampaging lunatic was after me, but maybe that's OK.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Freezing in Florida

Two observations:

1) Living in a house built before the invention of insulation is no fun when the temperatures get in the 20s.

2) Every time we get ice or frost in Florida somebody's got to say, "and of course nobody knows how to drive in that."

Well of course we fucking don't! We live in Florida! How the hell should we know how to drive through ice? Do we laugh at drivers in Wisconsin who can't dodge the revenuers while driving through alligator infested swamps?

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Wife Ain't Buyin' It

"Did that bathtub refinisher ever show up?"

"She just left. Actually, she looked sort of like Angelina Jolie."

"Really? So how long does that stuff have to set before we can take a shower?"

"Kind of strange - she wore a bikini. I thought it was a little unprofessional, but I guess you get a lot of water splashed on you and all."

"Uh-huh. So when can I take a -"

"She also had me take my shirt off to measure water displacement. Very scientific. She also said with my facial structure I should really think of growing a little mustache."

"Uh-huh. Did she happen to mention when can I take a shower?"

"Well, by that point there wasn't a lot of talking going on, if you know what I mean."

"Just tell me when we can use the shower."

"24 hours. But she did sort of look like Angelina Jolie."


"Well...she had dark hair."

"Yeah, I think this call is breaking up."

"What? I don't hear anything. Hello? Hello?"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Workin' Man

I've been working at the library for 10 years. This week I was honored in a rather over-the-top ceremony, pictures of which I am sure will surface on the web at some point.

Ten years. That beats my old work record by seven years. I started thinking about all the other jobs I had before my buddy Ira put me on the righteous path of librarianship. Let's see, excluding mowing yards and babysitting, I've been a ...

Stock Boy
Delivery Driver
Bag Boy
Prep Cook
Yard Maintenance Worker
Photo Technician (sounds a lot cooler than it really was)
Offset Copier Operator
Record Store Clerk
And probably a lot more that I can't remember

I actually had some semi-professional stuff in there. I was a staff writer for the University of Florida for 3 years, and edited/wrote for at least two failed magazines that I can recall.

One of the awesome parts about most of those jobs was how you could find a substitute to work your shift.

"Hey, where's Mike?"
"He took the day off - his friend Ed's washing dishes for him tonight."

You know you're pretty far down on the totem pole when you can just give another dude your job for a day and nobody even notices.

Another awesome thing was waking up in the morning knowing that was the day I was quitting. There's just something so liberating about taking that first step outside your now ex-job that's so satisfying that even the realization that you don't have any money can't quell.

I never had any real dramatic quitting scenes, but remembering telling some mustached assistant manager no while taking off my apron still makes me happy.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Ownership Society Can Suck It

Man, do I miss getting indignant about some apartment problem and bitching to the landlord.

"Oh, he's fixing that shit. I don't care if it is six in the morning, I'm calling that slumlord right goddamn now. Expecting us to live like this - I hope he's not expecting my rent check this month. I don't care if I have to call 8 On Your Side, the newspaper and the mayor, this shit's getting fixed. I know it's just the refrigerator light bulb, but that shit's dangerous!"

Now that I'm a homeowner who probably had something to do with that whole financial meltdown, I have to fix that stuff myself, which isn't as much fun.

For the past month or so I'd hear this weird popping sound when I stepped out of the bathtub. I also noticed that the caulk around the tub kept cracking.

When I notice something like that, my first response is to ignore it and hope it goes away while at the same time freaking out, thinking of the worst possible scenario then multiplying it by a factor of ten or so.

I became convinced that the subfloor was rotten. So much so that I could swear I could feel the bathtub moving under my feet, just knowing that soon I'd find myself crashing through the floor. It made me sort of dizzy.

So I finally got it checked it out. Turned out I was right. The subfloor had turned into a mushy paste. So we're redoing the bathroom.

Here's a picture of where the bathtub used to be. If you squint hard enough, you can see the radon, toxic mold and asbestos fumes creeping out, getting ready to kill us in our sleep.

Oh yeah, the plumbers also found a bone down there. They said it wasn't human, but I think they wanted to keep working without having to wait around for an exorcism.

I'm pretty sure these haunted bones have something to do with the cap gun and shirt I found stuffed up in the wall when replacing the floors. I also found a ton of oak leaves up in there, which I guess was an olde tyme insulation method if they couldn't find gasoline to douse our Thomas Edison wiring with.

The good news is that they're going to be finished ahead of schedule, so that soon I can take a shower in my own haunted bathroom without worrying about falling down that little gateway to hell the plumbers exposed.