I live in a small apartment block at the base of of a mountain, about ten minutes away from my job when the traffic is good and thirty when not. It’s one on a strip of rental properties abutting a nicer middle-class neighborhood. We’re surrounded by high-rise efficiency apartments for nursing students and employees of the local hospital, former mansion houses converted into duplexes and randomly-shaped garrets, homes transformed into professional businesses with yard signs and kempt yards. Our building was a project for a returning World War II veteran and carpenter. His son is my landlord. He owns a local architectural salvage business–you may have seen his reality television show. My rent pays for 600 square feet, running water, and a lawn mowed twice a month as needed, not cable TV.
Below the building is the worst intersection in town. The cross street was designed after the interstate was built to allow easy access from the highway to the hospital in the valley beyond. It curves across the straight access street like an opened hairpin. The traffic lights across the hairpin aren’t any help: even with all the directional signs, it’s hard to tell which lights direct the turn lane and which lights give drivers clearance to drive up the mountain. There’s one accident a month down there. Good thing the hospital’s so close.
I am one of the older tenants in the building. Only the two units on the end have been in the building longer than I have, and I haven’t met either of them. My neighbors on the near side are hospital workers and new tenants, occupying units that have been revolving doors since I moved in. I rarely see any of them.
We get no visitors, not even Girl Scouts selling cookies. A mayorial candidate left two notes on my door last year, wanting to meet me in person to talk to me about the issues. I think if he had seen my car, he wouldn’t have stopped to say hi. I leave detailed notes for food delivery and still get phone calls from lost pizza deliverers in one of the high-rises, searching for my unit number. I send packages to work or to the boypet.
The only way we know we’re a part of any community is the flyer bundle we get every week from the strip mall on the other side of the interstate. Walk down one side of the hairpin, through the worst intersection in town, up the other side of the hairpin, under the overpass, and dodge cars from the offramp to reach the shopping arena. It is a curious mixture of high-end food and clothing and home accessories and dollar stores and cheap lunches and workout gyms and tanning salons and tax preparers and, at one time, the only gaming store in town. The low-end stores advertise in the flyer bundle.
When I leave for work in the morning, the gloaming is still and pastel yet alive with sound. Nurses walk their yorkshire terriers and springer spaniels. Schoolchildren gather at the neighborhood bus stop. I think they’ve started a hubcap collection on one of the rocks on the high-rise property. I park in a shared alley behind my building and the high-rise. Driving out of it in the morning is a cautious game of bumper ball: tightly-packed cars, parallel parking on the thin neighborhood streets. The fastest way to work takes me away from the interstate on the artery road, a four-lane highway that eventually forms a circle around the entire Roanoke valley. It’s a jumble of luxury car dealerships and fast food restaurants. Here is the valley’s only strip club, across the street from a doggie day spa and an audiovisual consulting firm whose parking lot is always empty. Every morning I see BMWs and Audis and Hummers line up at the McDonald’s. This is a rest area for the rich, connecting the richest places in town with the commercial districts downtown. The poor only live here.
My drive to work is an unbroken chain of restaurants and shopping malls. Two home improvement centers sit on opposite sides of the street with parking lots high on the bluffs. A picket line of discount sheds and rentable trucks glower at each other from each domain. There’s construction noise from a luxury gated community on a deforested hill that has been promised to open next spring since before I moved back to the area. Another interstate exit dumps traffic out next to the shopping mall proper. Another mile of commuter traffic past more eateries and specialty stores and I turn off at my route to work. The traffic vanishes. Hidden in the winding hills are some of the richest neighborhoods in the valley, marked only by miles of private road. Out in the open, however, are the gasoline trucks feeding the steelworks and the well-to-do temp agencies.
I feel like a pilgrim in richville.
I’m trying to be more active on LJ. Yesterday I turned 28. Where, exactly, did the time go?
I do have to say that if anyone asked me if I’d be feeling this good even a week ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet here I am…in Blacksburg. I can’t describe it. I feel like the past two years, I’ve been trying to build a bridge across a river and just now realized that wait a second, I could have just flown across.
I’m also pretty close to hitting my six month mark in therapy. There are times I want to contact random people and just tell them about it, like I want to introduce others to the person I have become. I wonder if religious conversion is like this.
Instead of finding Jesus, I found a dream about a cliff face.
I have a fear of falling. I remember having a serious of intense, sometimes lucid dreams where I fell from the sky. Then the portent: a dream where I clung to a lofty cliff, terrified to climb higher and too afraid to let go.
Some part of my subconscious told me it was okay to let go, and I did so. I hovered. I could feel the sun above me, and felt myself rising toward it.
I imagine some people see that as a religious calling. I kept thinking of that dream in situations where I could not let go of things and chose to end or resolve those situations.
I wish I could give a good writer’s round-off and say that I had such a dream this morning, but no. Sleep was intense and peaceful. Whatever you’ve got for me, 2011, I can take it.
I like reading Swords and Dorkery on my breaks at work, and, encouraged by a fellow librarian gamer, decided to finally start my own blog.
Chiefly ill, in cataloging terms, comes from a catalog record’s 260 field, describing the physical characteristics of items. Graphic novels are often described as “chiefly illustrated,” abbreviated as chiefly ill. Not only am I a cataloger, I order and catalog many graphic novels, and handling them through my job has definitely affected my personal tastes and appraisal of the genre.
So what do I plan on writing here? For starters, I’m hoping to start a Dark Heresy campaign in March. I also enjoy playing Elder Dragon Highlander and a FLGS wants to start a local league based on the rules created by Armada Games–I want to put some match writeups here. And I have a wealth of knowledge about graphic novels and libraries to share, from acquisitions to marketing. My current status as a cataloger also factors in, as my profession is fixin’ to get ready to adopt a brand-new rule set.
I am also chiefly ill in another sense. This blog is also a road to recovery for a long time acute depressive.