Thursday, October 5, 2017

#BLOGGING #AMWRITING – ODE TO TAMPA HARTLINE ROUTE #2

courtesy:hartline.org                       

This is the current iteration of the bus, and #2 route. There have been many different bus "stylings" over the years.

It's hard to say goodbye to an old friend. It's even harder when that old friend isn't really a person, or a thing, or a place, but a state of mind, if you can call it that. When I found out that our old Tampa Hartline Bus route #2 on Nebraska Avenue was going completely away, I felt sad. I don't know why, because there will still be the sleek, MetroRapid that courses along Nebraska Avenue briskly. There won't be as many stops and it will all be very efficient and time-saving and money-saving, I suppose, but I am going to miss the wheezing blue bus that was full of God-Knows-What. It just always made my day and I've written about this route in several posts.

Missed the movie “Deliverance”? Never fear. It got on the #2 bus every day around 2:30, after the M.D. 20/20 had run out, and it was time to head back down town to the Salvation Army, where dinner was served at 4:30 pm. There'd be a hootenanny, a hoe-down AND a ho down in the aisle, if the driver just didn't give a shit, which most of them didn't as they were pretty jaded by all of this after years of driving this route.

courtesy:history.com                   

This is NOT who was running up and down the aisle, drunker than a coot screaming he was Apache and Geronimo and had a broken leg. Not even close! 

Last week, “Geronimo” got on the bus. I'm not too sure what this dude's deal was, except that I'm pretty sure the real Geronimo didn't sport Nikes, support hose, a broken leg - which he loudly proclaimed he'd just gotten and walked out of the E. R. with - a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey, and a porkpie hat, and proceeded to tomahawk his way up and down the aisle during our bus ride loudly proclaiming he was an “Apache and fuckin' Geronimo!” with a whiskey bottle hanging out of his back pocket. He got off at the local Drunk Park, or whatever it's now called. It's the one place I actually cross the street and pass at a stiff trot, brandishing my cane. They usually haul one or two out of there per day. Whether or not they survive is an open question.

Of course, no #2 bus route elegy is complete without “Shoe Sniffer”. This guy really cracked me up, but he pissed off most of the men on the bus. He was into sniffing shoes, but only men's shoes. When Jim was alive, he came home one day, and said, “Get this. I'm on the #2 bus just now and this guy comes up and asks me if he could smell my shoes. And then! Without even waiting for a yes or a no, he gets down and starts smelling my shoes! And then! He acted like he wanted to lick 'em! I told him to get the HELL away from me! Have you ever heard of such a thing?” By the time I stopped laughing and explained what a “shoe fetish” was, he was just aghast. Well, “Shoe Sniffer” was all over the place sniffing shoes on the #2 bus until he finally got arrested. It was such a shame, because it was so damn entertaining on the bus. You'd hear someone yell “GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!” and just know “Shoe Sniffer” had struck again! Of course, to be fair and honest, if he was into sniffing women's panties, he would have been stopped a lot earlier than he was. Still; just sayin'.

     courtesy:hartline.org                 

This is one of the older "stylings"; a sort of rainbow swirl, that supposedly gave people motion sickness, but I think that's just an urban legend, kinda like those zombie poison trumpet plants, I made up a year or so ago for A-to-Z-Challenge! But the Checkers-of-the-Damned is for real!

Today, I thought we were just going to have a “normal” ride; one where there's just the usual din of 85 people yelling into their cell phones. Why bother using a cell to call the D. R., New York, or Nigeria, when you're screaming loud enough to be heard without the aid of one? I was also blessed to not have that random guy sitting next to me, just shouting out incoherently. I've had that and it always ends in a fist-fight; then, blood, tears and regret, but not mine. Keep your nightmares in your head; I have enough of my own, thank you.

But no, today we had this lovely gentleman get on the bus and he had a little posey bouquet of flowers; just so pretty. Everyone on the bus had to comment on the loveliness of the bouquet and the man explained that he had just purchased it, because he felt kinda blah, it was a blah day and he needed a pick-me-up. We all agreed that that would do the trick. It was a really nice moment, and there are nice moments on the bus, as well as the crazy ones. Alas, this nice moment was not to be lingered over.

At the very next stop, an androgynous person gets on the bus and sits on the opposite side from me and my roommate, but one seat ahead. This person then proceeds to take out their cell and with earbuds in, starts to watch what is just a stage on the phone. There are no people on the stage; there is no action or movement that I can discern, at all. However, this person is singing and miming and gyrating all over the place to music that is. . . in his/her head? Music really in the earbuds? Person hallucinating? What? I'm going for hallucinating, because after several minutes of this, the person jumps up and hollers out “WHAT IS THAT?” I, like the moron I can be, jump up and yell “WHAT IS IT?” Patty my roommate, who is actually sitting in the seat in front of me, looks up at me and says sotto voce “it's nothing”. I fold up like cheap kleenex and just laugh for 15 minutes. We're in the front of the bus, so the whole rest of the bus gets a nice treat of “Idiots' Delight”. I look back and the guy with the flowers is laughing his head off. I am such a dolt.

So, yeah, I'm gonna miss this wheezy old bus, although the MetroRapid will travel the same road; Nebraska Avenue, with fewer stops and will have the same idiots on it, it just won't seem the same. Everyone in town knows about #2. The #1 bus which runs parallel down another major artery just doesn't have the same trashiness and weirdness; nor the drivers. Who can forget Mr. “Safety Last”? The dork who couldn't make a 90° right-hand turn, and had to call the Supervisor when we got so rowdy, because I was threatening to tell the TPD he kidnapped us (they were only 50 feet away working a traffic accident and 2 other buses had made that turn) and it was frustrating folks, man! That was fun and Alex had a great time telling me to stop acting like I was 11. Incompetence brings that out in me.

courtesy:hartline.org                    


These are the new green monsters. The seats are hard plastic, with sprayed-on fuzz, or at least, that's what it feels like. They always keep these things at about a jillion degrees below zero too, which is good I guess considering who rides in them. It's also a good way to prevent the spread of colds and viruses during flu season, but I feel like a complete jackass getting on this thing in the summer time with a winter coat, if I'm taking a long trip. But trust me, you'll need it.

Anyway, I wanted to write about the loss of #2. It's been here for forever, I'm guessing, and it might even come back some day. They do change routes and schedules at a whim, but this is a huge overhaul for Hartline. As far as public transportation goes, it's okay; It's not BART or the NY Subway, but it's ours. We'll keep it!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#IWSG OCTOBER 2017 CHECKIN – AFTER IRMA AND MARIA *****WARNING: SALTY LANGUAGE AHEAD*****


***WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SOME PRETTY SALTY LANGUAGE***

Well, we survived Irma and we're one of the luckier areas in Florida, I believe, but I ended up with a brief trip to the E. R. My current roommate went OUTSIDE during the hurricane – I guess to hole up somewhere and smoke a cigarette – and I grew concerned and went outside. Since I apparently have a head made of wood or sawdust, as I told my boyfriend, after the fact, I was hit in the head with flying debris. I then proceeded to lie on the front porch in a driving rain, for God Knows How Long, until someone found me and called an ambulance. I regained consciousness in the E. R. of St. Joseph's hospital, with 6 staples in my head.

The idiots at the hospital wanted to admit me, because my “core temperature was lowered” when I was brought in, but it was coming back up. Gee, ya think? Since I had laid there in the rain for God Knows How Long, bleeding from a head wound (not at ALL serious, by the way) there might just be a slight possibility that my core temperature was lowered and oh by the way, Billie Joe, I take Primidone which is a barbiturate for my essential tremor and my core temp is basically lower, ANYWAY. So, I yawped and barked and got the HELL out of there! I've had enough of hospitals, thank you very much and I am no fan of this one. MY hospital is TGH and they work with me.

Anyway, home I went and the power came back on about half an hour later. Maria is more worrying. My neighbor's mom lives in Puerto Rico. My 'hood is mostly Hispanic and there are still people that have not been heard from that island, whose relatives are here in town. I cannot imagine that uncertainty or worry hanging over their heads. Plus, we have a tone-deaf president who gives out Golf Trophies and flings rolls of paper towels at the islanders; it's embarrassing to be an American. We should do much, much more. What part of this is Donald Trump NOT getting? This is an American Territory with real trouble. Comparing Maria to Katrina is the most fallacious argument I've ever heard and Maria was a “real” hurricane, Mr. Factoid, so shut the fuck up, Donald Trump.

If you cannot do this job and it's obvious now that you cannot, step aside. Or how about this? DOJ, do YOUR fucking job and arrest this man for Obstruction of Justice! Clap him in irons and frog-march him into a jail cell where he belongs and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law, based on the evidence, YOU ALREADY POSSESS! It's only going to get worse, not better! We, the American People, who are taught to think that the Institutions of this country will protect us, are being given short shrift, because the people who are currently manning those institutions are craven gorms, who are afraid to stand up to this nit-wit of a baby-man, lest he throw a tantrum. This is no longer a Democracy, a Republic; it's just chaos. His own Staff doesn't even know what he's doing!

Donald Trump wants to be Dictator of the United States and then, the World. We need to get him and his sleazy family and friends out of the White House and out of our Government. As Americans, we need to take back our system and run it properly and do it legally and without loopholes and/or wads of cash. I'm furious over what has happened to my country and you all should be, too. I'm GLAD the NFL is taking a knee. You know who else takes a knee? George Clooney does, when he prays for this country, every night. You all should, too. I'm out. I'm too goddamned mad at the American public, the media and my own government for behaving this way. Exercise your right to protest and vote, goddamnit! It's your right and your duty!

courtesy:thedailybeast.com                                         

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

#IWSG SEPTEMBER 2017 CHECKIN – THE CAPPER OF A PERFECT YEAR? IRMA IS ON HER WAY!


In what has to be the most monumentally perfect end and seque into what has got to be a better tomorrow – and this is being said with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, we are bidding a fond adieu to this third quarter of 2017 and looking ahead to the last quarter of 2017 and heading into 2018, with the hopes that all of this will be far, far better than what has gone before and I must elucidate.


Hurricane Irma, 09/06/2017 01:48 am edt. Marching up the Caribbean to Florida.

After coming home from Japan, which was surely a highlight, it took a while to get back into my normal routine, and as a matter of fact, I'm not sure I ever got there. This is rather a disaster for someone like me. I'm hard-wired to the max and it's difficult for me when I get out of my routine; I get out of sorts and lose my appetite, have trouble sleeping and just generally do not operate at my optimal level best, but I soldiered on.

Things seemed to be settling down into a normal routine, until I had two unfortunate hospitalizations; one in March and one in late July. The one in March was due to some atypical chest pains that were attributed to my essential tremor, which I've grown accustomed to experiencing, but the one in July, was a bit more difficult, as this one was caused by my essential tremor once more interfering with my autonomic functions, by lowering my blood pressure and this time, my heart rate, throwing me into bradycardia and had the unfortunate effect of leaving me with a poor sense of balance and with vertigo. I was also having my usual trouble of keeping weight on. The upshot? Home with physical therapy, occupational therapy, extra food, care of Meals on Wheels and extra vitamin supplements.


My handsome viola, Wolf. He's an Italian snob and it shows in the way he looks and sounds. No wonder he doesn't want to get his feet wet!

Then, after a few weeks of that, I came down with a case of strep throat; only my 2nd in my entire life. I knew it was strep, because my gums threatened to run away first. Lovely stuff. This is on top of having had my new cell phone stolen back in May. What a bad summer. The highlight was seeing my old and dear high-school chum of 40+ years back in May. That was 3 days of laughing hysterically over everything. I get to see her again in the spring, along with another cohort of ours, and I can't wait.


So, here we are. It's September 5th, 2017 and what do we have awaiting us? Why one week after Hurricane Harvey, certainly one of this epoch's most destructive storms in terms of human misery and the cost in property damage and just the scope of destruction, we have Hurricane Irma, not just lying in wait, but what has become quickly, a category 5 storm, with winds of 185 miles per hour, at least 3 times the width of Florida, so that it matters not where she comes ashore, we're all at risk. And it matters not whether or not I am ambulatory, or if I have a vehicle or not. I have a valuable instrument, and as long as I'm in a place that is high and dry, it behooves me to stay put. Or rather, it behooves the underwriters of the insurance policy that hold Wolf's policy for me to stay put. Not that I'm tempted to go and grab a boat and go punting through the streets of Tampa anyway. Nebraska Avenue is weird enough, when it's normal out. I can just imagine how bizarre it's gonna be with Irma's impact. Mr. Cigaret and his “Merry Christmas” in July and Abraham singing to the cars will have new audiences to sing to and new patrons to greet, if FEMA and disaster relief need to make their way to our shores. As for me and Wolf, it's highly doubtful that we'll be singing for our suppers, but you never know. Stay tuned. At any rate, when Irma leaves, it's time for this run of luck to change!