Thank God It’s Back!

In late February my housemates and I were returning from somewhere when all gasped. “Oh my God it’s gone!” The existing McDonald’s franchise had been removed. Gone. As if an alien force had zapped it into electrons. I chatted up a manager at another McDonald’s store to find that the South Madison Street Store was being rebuilt and remodeled and it would be back in mid-May.

Reconstruction seemed ruthlessly efficient. Every time I turned around they were making major progress, rebuilding from the ground up. They opened this morning at 12:01 am. We pondered actually walking down there, but by that time I was dead to the world and so was everyone else.

I wouldn’t be too snobby if I were you. This is a low income neighborhood, and I’d much rather spend money on a salad at Mickey D’s than the alleged brown salad sold at the Kmart. McDonalds might have the only vegetables for miles when Kmart leaves in about a year.

The interior is the sophisticated dark super graphics the chains has been favoring of recent. The footprint of the store seems to be slightly different, a bit wider and longer. The kitchen is much larger, the McCafe hidden behind a wall to quiet the riot. (One of the reasons why I can’t stand Starbucks is the noise of all those expensive coffee making machines. McDonald’s is often worse.) The overall flow was good.

The usual suspects were there, the unemployed (moi), the elderly, blue-collar guys at lunch, kids having French-fry tantrums, coffee drinkers staring out at the traffic. I had my usual – a large drink, two McChicken sandwiches, a side salad with ranch. I treated myself with cookies.

For many people the local McDonald’s is a place to hook onto the Internet, since they offer free WIFI access. I’ve used it before, marching down Madison in the morning cold with my laptop to my office. You see people studying, or poring over reports for work, catching up on email. This McDonald’s is not just a place to eat, it’s an extension of living rooms and our lives.

Darkness at the Heart

The Fortunate Warrior has had a tough year, especially a tough autumn. Many things have gone askew. The world that I imagined has degenerated into a base plain of blight.

For many years I have held Indianapolis in my heart, but only after experiencing Chicago have I realized that Indianapolis is a stage set for visitors. The monuments, the vast buildings, huge facilities, the new construction and the codependent need to be told by outsiders about how good we are means that for people who live here the city is an inadequate place. Schools are warehouses of the young, poor schools for the poor, poorly taught and administered. Public safety is inadequate as crime ravages this place. Transit is not about moving around but about waiting. The city does not like people who move and will not empower those who want to. Transit is for the poor, period. Why do they need to get around? Economic development is all about making the big bigger and not about small businesses which provide employment to many.

Even the lady, Victory, I have sometimes begun to see as a harpy, a sadistic woman who would rather see the dead piled on her steps rather than hold her light up to help us. There is no illumination. The people of this city are fodder for her sacrifice.  To this woman the only good light must be the fire of burning bodies in the night. Perhaps it is time to remove this woman and her tower and use the emptiness to heal us. It might be the only thing left.

So the Fortunate Warrior is in despair, darkness in his heart. I am in a place where I need to ask for help. What I fear is that no one will. Maybe it’s true that it really is up to me after all.

Fog in Pictures

The southside was a ghost-town in the fog earlier in the week.

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Kelly Street looking into the Manual Redskins baseball diamond

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Kelly Street at Pennsylvania, looking north

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Pleasant Run, looking west from the Madison Street bridge

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My Madison Street Office, looking south

A New Walk to Garfield Park Branch Library

I get tired of walking the same way, or with the same people all the time. Since the house no longer has internet access – I have access only through the hotspot on this phone – the Garfield Park branch of the local public library becomes important to the other men in my household as a point of access.

One of the roommates insists on walking through the park, which I consider waving a red flag to police who heavily patrol it. The northern edge is Raymond Street, which makes for a loud walk. The library branch is on the east side of the park on Shelby Street.

My new walk is very much like going to the Kmart on Madison, except turn to the east on Southern Avenue. The neighborhood to the north is full of small bungalows that are almost on the street. Walk across the railroad, the sidewalk disappears and you are in the park. You still have a long walk to Shelby Street, the library on the other side of the tennis courts.

This is a very modest library. Before you go inside check out the garden on the north side. Watered from runoff from the roof, this garden is in great shape considering the dry conditions this summer. Check out the “BOOKS” bike rack.

On the way home we got caught in the rain. I don’t mind this, but wish I would have had a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. I foolishly ran some of the way and my left hip flared up and became painful. All in all it was an excellent walk and a refreshing way of getting to a useful destination.

A Walk in Spring

I had to get out of the house. After three days of rice based dishes, McDonald’s sounded good. But before I did anything I had to put the lining back into my coat. The upstairs roommate took advantage of the absence of the downstairs roommates by turning off the heat.  (He was attending the Festival of Ritual Easter Shaming at his parents house in southern Indiana.) I’m glad I put on an additional blanket. My bed was toasty warm, but when I got up I could not make coffee fast enough.

I have come to walking down Pennsylvania on my journey south. This means I can inspect the burned out house, trying to discern changes (none so far on the corner of Tabor and Union. Tabor t’s with Pennsylvania, the walls of the Manual Redskins baseball diamond  rising on the east side of the street. At the corner of baseball field there is a riot of Spirea, var. “Bridal Veil” in a cascade of vanes with clusters of small white flowers.

I wish I knew more names of the plants I encounter. Pleasant Run Parkway is lined with vast sycamores (no doubt quite dainty when planted 80 years ago) that are now huge, beautiful, dangerous, and diseased, slowly being culled by the city or property owners. This avenue is shared by oaks, and my feet scattered maple helicopters as I pass. There were so many under-canopy shrubs and small trees (river birch, dogwood, forsythia, and others) and in one yard, only feet from the rush of Madison Avenue traffic a rose was blooming, on a shrub that had only begun to leaf.

It was also a day of pedestrians. I encountered a large number of people walking on the street, chatting (in the cold! with no coats!)  or waiting for the bus. Which reminds me – I survived my first IndyGo experience to see friends who could not come to see me. It was a great experience and I don’t understand why more people don’t ride it. But that is a tale for another post.

Another Walk

I’ve had a challenging two weeks as I carefully walk to get a script filled. I’ve had interviews, the first real time interviews I’ve had in years. There was no mention or ritual shaming as I have had in some phone interviews or phone screens about the long duration of my unemployment, or veiled age discrimination. But I have no idea if I got either gig.

I did get a request of writing samples. This always rubs me the wrong way. What are they looking for? They want me to disclose content that I have no right to have in my possession. Maybe it’s not my writing they want, but derive some kind of professional advantage from evaluating the content. Nearly all of what I write as a technical writer is not mine – I’m not Napster. ‘Nuff said.

I’ve also been ill, affecting my balance. The first attack of vertigo was at home, violent in its severity. The second attack was a week ago, not so bad, but was in public. My doctor gave me some meds, and dispensed some advice. He asked me “Are you happy?” and I said “No”. I’m not happy at all – not with really anything. He assured me that good things were coming my way, and sent me out to pay my bill.

So I was scared, walking to Kmart, fearful I would have another attack, this time with no one with he who could help me. But it was all good. The magnolias are in bloom. Springtime is here, ready or not.

Leap Day

I smiled this morning as I woke up. I heard birds chirping. The sky was light, but the sun had yet to rise. Coffee, journaling, and the obligatory job search email, I dress and escape the house. I know that it is the last day of February, that spring is far away, but the plants and animals seem to be more than ready. And it’s not just warm out, it’s hot. I carry my jacket with me. I slowly walk south as the cars, trucks and buses drive past. The bushes and trees have a halo of light green around them.

My lunch tastes good. People crowd the restaurant, I enjoy being there. Like the wise men of old I go home by a different way, dodging mud and puddles from the rain earlier in the morning. As I walk home, this time north along South Meridian. Just south of the bridge over Pleasant Run I always have to chuckle, There are two bars frowning across the street from each other. There is a pleasant breeze. It is a good day.