“Te. Mi. Xoch.”
The people walking by me, they do not make eye contact. I am repeating this one word, and repeating it pretty loudly now, too – over and over and over – but these people are pros. They know the rules for downtown Houston. When someone is out on the street and they are shouting nonsense, you pretend you don’t notice.
That’s the rule.
I’m being dismissed as a crazy homeless person.
This is not a new experience for me.
“Temixoch” is an ancient Aztec word. It means “flowery dream.” In case you’re wondering, I do not know ancient Aztec. I stole the word from a book by Paul Devereux called The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia.
Well, not stole. Borrowed? Lifted? Learned?
“Temixoch!” There is this one little patch of new concrete here and I am walking in little circles around it. Making laps, sort of. I have some colored chalk in my pocket, only I can’t draw anything with all these people walking across my concrete canvas.
A very round black man – bearded, wearing an AIDS Foundation Houston t-shirt – steps up to me and he says, “Katy? Everything alright?”
I do not recognize this man. I nod yes anyway and then he walks away.
Right below this spot where I’m standing is an old elevator shaft. According to Harry, it used to be a freight elevator. Originally, this freight elevator would pop right up out of metal hatches in the sidewalk.
And the building was a hotel back in the day, and the guests would pull up in their cars and there would be the freight elevator with a bellboy and their suitcases on it. Waiting for them. At the curb.
“Temixoch. Temixoch!” I am hunched over with blue chalk in my hand and I am staring at the sidewalk, thinking. A toddler walks by me and he reaches out to try and touch the chalk. The way he reaches out with his finger is so gentle and so careful and it is cute, really, but his mother slaps his hand she says, “Leave that woman alone.”
The toddler is young so he does not know the rules for downtown Houston. When someone is out on the street and they are shouting nonsense, you pretend you don’t notice.
That’s the rule.
Years ago when I was homeless, I pried open the hatch for the old freight elevator and I climbed down inside. I climbed down through a pickup truck that was wedged into the shaft vertically. I climbed down and I found an old storage closet.
Sometimes I would sleep there and I named it “Temixoch,” which means “flowery dream.” And even later on, when I was not homeless anymore, I would sleep there from time to time. When Dana and I got into a fight or when I maybe just needed to get away and clear my head, I’d climb down into Temixoch for a day or for two.
Some of my Nick Cave CDs might still be down there.
But I can’t go to Temixoch anymore because some Skanska bastards came and they tore out the metal hatches. They concreted over the opening so I can’t even tell where it used to be.
“Here… lies… Temixoch!”
I am locked out. They concreted over my flowery dream and now I can never go back there, just like I can’t go back to 3400 Montrose or go back to when Dana still loved me.
It is mid-afternoon in downtown Houston in early June. It is ninety-four degrees out here and I am sweating through my t-shirt.
“Skan… ska… Skanska.”
I will go home for now but I will come back again when it is dark and I will bring my colored chalk with me and maybe a jackhammer, too.
If I can find a jackhammer…
I really want those Nick Cave CDs back.
***** END OF SERIES 5 *****
After being a member of Lamb's Navy and living in New York, I have learned that a large percentage of the homeless have gotten in touch with their "inter animal". They truly understand the concept "It's a puppy eat puppy world"ReplyDelete
“Leave that woman alone.” That’s the rule!
The people all gathered 'round
And they gazed in wide wonder
At the woman they had found
The policeman spoke up
Said "leave this one alone"
He could tell right away
That I was bad to the bone
CONCEPT Bad to the Bone
I could handle everything but the lack of showers. The showering thing got me. I always struck deals with security guards to let me use the showers in the buildings they guarded at night.Delete
As I read this, I have a stomach virus. So, if you manage to achieve this time traveling with your past-future speak, Cloud Atlas style, please take me with you to a time when things weren't rocketing from my orifices. Sorry for the graphic imagery.ReplyDelete
If I understand time travel correctly (and I'm sure "Doctor Who" would not lead me stray), if I could time travel, going back into my own time stream would be disasterous because of the padadoxes.Delete
(Actually, I've read quite a bit of physics, and that's probably not scientific so much as a way to keep the show from being about 15 concurrent Doctors all trying to keep Rose from getting sucked into that alternate universe).
What was the question? Oh, I hope you feel better!
So many memories, so many dreams... concreted over. It seems to be the way of life.ReplyDelete
And there are layers to it. I mean, I go around mourning the loss of old stuff and suddenly, the new stuff that's been around me during the mourning goes away, too.Delete
It has been years since I ran around DT Houston...I never thought of jarring them open, but always wondered what was inside, I wonder if they left the truck?ReplyDelete
Probably not. There is probably someone driving around in that truck right this moment, listening to my Nick Cave CD.Delete
I was going into that place for more than 10 years. I should have claimed ownership under the theory of adverse possession.
I enjoyed your post today. For two reasons. One, it reminded me of when I too was homeless and spent time living in a taxi office sleeping on a chair, and 2. when you said, "When someone is out on the street and they are shouting nonsense, you pretend you don’t notice." THAT, with my demented mind made me think of Rick Perry. Ya have to think about that one if ya catch my drift Katy.ReplyDelete
Everyone should have to be homeless and fend for themselves for a year. Except my kids, I mean. My kids should not have to live like that. But everyone else. Especially Rick Perry.Delete
Not sure why these things always end up being about some kind of shaft or another.ReplyDelete
You could have gone with the flowery imagery but went with the shaft... Hmm.Delete
People muttering, speaking or yelling nonsense to themselves used to be conspicuous. Now we all just assume they're talking on a cellphone or have bluetooth.ReplyDelete
I read an article this week in which the head of Google says that by 2030, you will be able to download the internet directly into your brain. We will all be thinking online. So things could be worse. You could be in a situation where your brain gets hacked.Delete
Katy. I've never really understood how to see destroying usable buildings for a new and improved shit box as improvement. To concrete over an elevator shaft is to cut off a building's air re-circulation--something akin to sticking your finger in one nostril. You can still breath as long as you open your mouth and don't plug the other nasal ventricle, but your diminished capacities will eliminate most sports and sporty sex.ReplyDelete
Buildings are living things until killed by us. Fuck Griffith Texas, Skanksters and Walmart too!
PS- any new buggies?
No new bugs. However, all the rain here has resulted in puddles full of tadpoles everywhere, so we are currently watching the life cycle of a couple thousand tadpoles. The Anders Educational Museum is in full effect!Delete
Our memories have this great way of tricking us into thinking the past was better than it actually was. Aren't flowery dreams portable? Perhaps another Temixoch can be made? Some might say that some memories are better concreted over anyway. It preserves them so they'll be untainted.ReplyDelete
Like my ex, who is much better under 6 feet of concrete than she ever actually was in my life. Oh, and ignore that knocking sound. It goes away after about an hour.
I believe that's why everybody looks back on college with so much nostalgia- it's this compact little period of your life that you can never go back to.Delete
These earlier periods seem to be built up even more if I don't have any film or other record of them. It seems like once I see my old hairstyle and weight and teeth, etc, the old days lose a little of their glow.
Several years ago I took my Labrador retriever to a spot on the river where she liked to play fetch, tossed out a stick for her to chase in the current, and watched her die. As she swam toward the floating stick she kept making this odd yelping noise, then she went under. And stayed there. I dove in to get my dog and immediately felt the electric current. The closer I got to where she went under the worse it got. I ended up climbing up on a concrete platform near a bridge pylon, but could still see my dog under the water.ReplyDelete
After cursing out the receptionist at the water department (I got my utility buildings mixed up in my rage) I got someone from the electric department to come out and shut down the power at a Geological Survey shed that pumped water up to their testing station. They said the pump must have shorted out, electrifying the surrounding water. Had I touched the dog it would have arced off and killed me, too.
Went down to that spot recently, just to see where it had all gone down (the Geological Survey people waded out and brought my dog back to me... very nice of them), but they rebuilt the bridge a few years ago and now those old bridge pylons don't look anything like they did the day my dog was electrocuted.
Might not seem like a 9/11 type event to others, but that morning sticks out in my mind just as vividly as any other tragic event of my lifetime. And the goddam bridge supports should look like they did when it happened.
Here's a complete version of the same sad tale, and I apologize for hijacking your post, Katy. Still pisses me off.. http://squatlo-rant.blogspot.com/2010/06/squatlo-story-number-eleven-sir-this-is.html
Oh my God, that is a horrible story! I'll read the long version but... it's probably going to scar me for life.Delete
I've lived in my little gay communist enclave in Houston for long enough that i sound like an old person when I talk to others: "And this corner right ehre, this used to be Mary's Bar, a landmark gay bar for Montrose. And here was 3400 Montrose, which was built in the fifties and used to house all of the non-profits for the area... And here used to be..."
But there are a lot of places around where big stuff happened in my life, even if most of the original buildings are gone...
Oh snap! I hate it when they take away stuff like that, and you can't go there anymore. Like, say, hitch-hiking across freakin' Afghanistan with two French girls in 1972. Nope, can't go there anymore. Or arriving in Miami from Bolivia with all your presents wrapped and customs waves you through with a smile. Nope, that Temixoch's gone. Feel like riding your motorcycle around northern African like, say, through Libya? Sorry! Wanna drink a delicious demitasse of coffee in Damascus (a lovely place, once). Hate to tell you, but it's gone all Temixoch! I hate it when they take all my favorite Temixoches away like that. Just hate it. REALLY REALLY HATE IT!ReplyDelete
And 8 tracks.Delete
And, apparently, CDs.
There was a little gay communist enclave in Houston? I think there needs to be a lot more and very soon. Sorry for the loss of your old home.ReplyDelete
When I first started hanging out in Houston's Montrose neighborhood, in about 1998, I called it "my gay communist enclave."Delete
I wouldn't call it that anymore. I'm only so nostalgic, though. Anywhere I am is interesting, damn it!
Everybody should have an old storage closet in an abandoned freight elevator that they can hide in (or even live in) when they just can't deal anymore. The world would be a better place.ReplyDelete
I tried to get my boss to say that the clsoet was mine via the doctrine of adverse possession.Delete
Apparently I was not open and notorious enough about it.
I will find a new hidden spot, though!
Believe it or not I only just read this. Somehow I missed it when it came out.ReplyDelete
At 94 degrees frankly I'm surprised you're even alive. Your body proteins should've started being cooked at about 75 degrees. The very, very pale skin probably means your innards are near absolute zero, which is why you survived.
In Houston, it's the humidity that'll get you every time. Plus, even if I'm not in direct sunlight, the heat makes me look like a pice of undercooked meat.
And I guess, in a way, that's exactly what I am, huh?
I'm in the midst of a real bout of writer's block, so there's no telling when the next post will be up. I wrote this weekend, but ti was awful, awful crap.
I write for a living, so writer's block is verboten. When I feel a twinge of it coming on the only thing that'll snap me out of it is cigars, whiskey, and black metal. Preferably Norwegian, circa 1992.Delete
I am listening to High on Fire's new one as I write this. Not black metal, but it is working for me. Sabbath-ian heavy metal, sort of like what Mastodon would have sounded like if they'd smoked more instead of completely losing their way like they did.Delete
Anyway, I realized last weekend that I have written several light anecdotal blog posts in a row. I can't keep doing that. So I scrapped what I had written for last weekend and I'm going to think of something else. Top contender at the moment: A confounding ppiece that no one will like called "How to Build a Horse."
"How to Build a Horse" is one of the best album titles I've ever heard! Bet it's a good "piece" title as well. WRITE, YOU ... WRITE!Delete