Friday, November 15, 2013

I Will Buy You a Garden, Where Your Flowers Can Bloom

Today I traded in my shiny new North Carolina driver's license for a newer, shinier, Texas driver's license! I only had the wretched thing for five months before ditching it, despite the eight years I had to pay for. We definitely cannot move for a long time now, because I am pretty much done with the DMV for the foreseeable future.

See, to get a license in Texas, you have to have your Texas registration and your Texas title all in order (expensive!) and to get your registration, you have to have your vehicle inspection done (annoying!) and then you will be granted the right to a) put stickers all over your car and b) sit at the DMV for a couple hours and wait until your ticket pops on the random number generator. Being as how I have been feeling lousy all this week, I put everything off until today and had to do it all at once, with Robert in tow. But it's done!

Laredo is a weird city for driving. It's a weird city for a lot of things, but today I was feeling the driving weirdness especially. It's a really long city, and we live at the very tippy top of the north end. The city is bisected by an interstate highway that terminates in a couple of international bridges that can sneak up on you quickly if you're not careful. (So far I have only had to do the oh-crap-there's-Mexico u-turn once, but I'm pretty sure it'll crop up again.) The interstate highway is a series of bridges we call the loopy-loops (interstate overpasses in Texas look like someone started tying a fancy bow and forgot what they were doing halfway through), with ground-level areas that are on-ramps and exits, then bridges that go over the actual streets. On each side of the loopy-loop highway runs a three-lane one-way surface street, where you have interstate traffic entering and exiting in the left lane and businesses and driveways laid out on the right. Every mile or so is an underpass with a dedicated u-turn lane so if you find you're going the wrong way (which is often) you can zip under the interstate and try again. As a result of this unique setup, many of the north-south roads stretch for miles through the city, with the result being that you can look at an address, think "hey, that street is near me!" and come to find out that your destination is six miles away.

While 35 and its loopy-loops complicate my life in the north-south direction, the rest of Laredo seems content to confuse me with the endless mysteries of the Bob Bullock Loop. This is (as you may have guessed) a loop road (though not a loopy-loop road) that runs from pretty much the northwest corner of the city, across the top, down around the eastern edge, then bisects the southern portion of the city 2/3rds of the way down. There are a ton of businesses and offices on this road, as well as the airport, so it's an important and very busy artery. And for some reason, neither Kathy the Tom-Tom or Siri the iPhone can make heads or tails of any of it. I think it's just too big and goes in too many directions. That time I mentioned, when we almost ended up in Mexico? That was a terribly unfortunate confluence of the Bob Bullock Loop, Interstate 35, and Kathy's total inability to understand Laredo's peculiar traffic. Doesn't really help that a lot of the time the streets are very busy, oftentimes with huge trucks. This is a very big area for huge trucks, it's not rare to go into a grocery store parking lot and find a few dozen semi trucks, with and without trailers, chilling at the back of the lot or along the driveways.

Honestly, the thing that makes this driver's license blogworthy may be the fact that it signifies me driving at all. Up until now, I have avoided driving in Laredo wherever possible. M has the car most of the time anyway, but even when it's available, I've been sticking close to home and the few shops near us. Just the fact that I can name the major streets that are flummoxing me is a step in the right direction. Sure, Robert and I spent a lot of time today chasing our tails down one way streets ("Mommy, we're going in circles!"), but we got to every place we needed to go! I even made time to get to Target and pick up a bunch of the things I need to finish unpacking the house. Maybe what I'm really doing is making a note of today because I hope I'll be able to look back and see when this strange land started to feel like home.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A grand day out

Today was the first nice day in ages, And it looks like more bad weather is coming up, so Robert and I went out to play. Robert got a little toy cart for Christmas so we took it outside the parking lot. We spent 10 minutes or so just running around. Robert was particularly pleased by the loud noise the cart made on the pavement. The dog at the house next-door was not quite as pleased. After a while it seemed appropriate that we go shopping, since we already had the shopping cart and all. We walked down the hill, and had a brief lesson about why letting the shopping cart roll into traffic would be a bad idea. Then we headed to the convenience store around the corner. The local convenience store is a United dairy farmers outlet so it's a little bit like a grocery store with very small aisles. Perfect for grocery shopping with a very small shopping cart. We picked out potato chips for everyone and split a single scoop of blue ice cream. Then we headed home, with Robert pushing his shopping cart full of groceries. next to the convenience store there is a bar, where people celebrated St. Patrick's Day. As we went by a woman used some very inappropriate language to talk to her friends, and then was horrified when they pointed out Robert and I passing by. This was funnier because she had on plastic St. Patrick's Day antennae.

 After we came home we got in the car with the shopping cart and went to the tractor supply company. This is the best time of year at tractor supply company because the baby chicks and ducks are there. We were not allowed to hold them, but they're so cute. We watched them for a while, then watched an adoption event for the local pitbull rescue. Robert spent some time looking at the toy tractors, then we bought our cat food and came home. By that point we were about ready for a nap. So we took one! Robert has not been napping as much as he used to when he was smaller, especially not since he started school, but today he was all tired out from exercise. He slept 2 1/2 hours! That was enough reward for me! After he woke up he came out the living room and sat on my lap for a while. I had to the iPad with me so I loaded up blogspot and made a post. Rather than use the keyboard, I use the microphone function, which is what I'm doing now. It is really strange to make a post with the microphone. You think differently about what you're saying. Luckily my flat Midwestern accent is perfectly suited to voice post and I don't get too many typos. I just wish this had been around back when Robert was a baby and I was trying to nurse or pump and use the computer at the same time. Technology marches on!