I love Tuesdays off. I took my 19/30 flex day today. These days are normally consumed by vacations, because I try to stitch together holidays, vacation days and 19/30 days to maximize my trips per year. Not doing so well this year on that. Been taking half-days to go dirt biking. It's worth it. Only other trip this year will be driving to Colorado over the Independence Day holiday.
Today I focused on rational hedonism. I've lately realized I don't do much I enjoy. I'm forever trying to get done the "things that need to get done" and finally, after 32 years, I realize that this list never ends. It is an ever-flowing well; an endless spring. Now, don't get the idea I'm giving up lists. That would be crazy! If I don't have three or four lists to update, cross off and throw away with a little squeak of glee, what would I do nights and weekends? My new specialty is themed lists: home projects, shopping, places to consider visiting, things to look up online.
Enough with lists, what do I really enjoy? That needs to be mixed in, in a big helping. If I'm to survive in Houston and stay sane, I realize, I need to change some things, and that's one of them. What do I enjoy? Last night, I made a list. One: I enjoy driving my convertible.
I strung together a list of "should-dos". First I slept in. Then I dropped off the cleaning and enjoyed the beautiful, dry, cool morning from the seat of the Mazda, which has 7200 miles, 95% with the top down. Next was Pottery Barn to try out some leather chairs -- I decided I want a reading chair and lamp, to enjoy. Nothing doing -- all the chairs are too long in the thigh, which means I sit in a slouched position. Next Sears tool department -- a fun place to look at and touch shiny metal objects. A shrine to male-ness, right at your local mall. Maybe I should get a part-time job there, for the spiritual fuel it would provide, just smelling all those tools for a few hours a week. I was looking for a better torque wrench but decided $80 was too much. Next to Big Tex to pick up my real metal trailer license plate, then back down to Ikea, where I found nothing at all. Their chairs are no good either. Just north of Ikea in Houston is a neat, tidy little 1940s and 50s neighborhood. This must have been a nice area then too, as these are big houses for that time period - 2500-sq-ft-ish. I drove north up Antoine, amazed at how nice much of Houston is. Big, gorgeous trees. Lots of green everywhere. Gnarly oaks. The neighborhood then went downhill as I drove north -- it's amazing how one can pick up even slight changes in the "goodness" of the neighborhood, and how quickly they change laterally. A few more cars parked outside, a little peeling paint. The $66k lot I went to check out was also in a 1940-50 neighborhood, but very simple small houses with carports. Today, it has taken a dive. Not the place for my new ideal house.
Off to Java Coffee and Tea. Through the villages, my favorite part of Houston. Picked up a variety of odd teas -- none fruity -- and got a red-clay teapot, but not the one I thought I wanted. Covered in Chinese characters, probably the Abbreviated Teachings of Mao, for all I know. I'm like the Japanese Tourist with a T-shirt that says "Butt" in English. A couple of tiny red clay cups with it. These things bring me joy. The ritual of making tea, and pouring it out, and feeling the grit of the sand and silty in the making of the clay cups. Finally, the highlight of the day, I went to Happy Great Hand and Foot massage for -- you guessed it -- a "deep tissue" hand, foot and body massage. I can't say I enjoyed it at the time, or that it felt good. It was definitely deep tissue. At times I was in severe pain. I think I popped a lung. But for an hour and a quarter of torture, I paid only $20. Amazing! E.R. Flesch, you need to try this place if you're in Houston. If they can't break you, I don't know who will.
After recovering from my "massage" with about twenty mini-clay-cups of whole-leaf oolong tea, to cap off the day, Sabkha and I went for an "adventure walk". This is going for a walk someplace you haven't been before. Today, it was really close to home. We walked about 1/2 mile south to the Westside High School in Briar Forest, and walked the road around the school grounds. Quite interesting. Lots to see. Stuff you don't see from the car, driving past 1,000 times. Little wooded areas. Puddles of water. Cool trees. On the way we smelled jasmine. Some of the ritzy houses just south of me have jasmine climbing the fences. In Tucson I had a huge spread of jasmine. I need to plant some here. The Eldridge corridor, where I live, is on the rise. They recently finished a nice new LEED office tower near my house. And a brand-new Hilton. The landscaping is great. The trees keep getting bigger every year. It's good to be the cheap houses surrounded by much higher-end neighborhoods.
Here is a map of our adventure walking route.