Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Saga of the Hometown Rundown.

Two blog posts in as many days? This is madness! Or this is me avoiding everything I ought to be doing.

So I just changed out of the discount stretchy pants I bought during that shameful 3+ hour bonanza at Ross (see also: the previous post) because I had decided, in a strange attempt to act my actual age in a more beneficial way than drinking too much and making poor life choices (which I think it pretty standard for the 22-year-old lot), to try yoga.

Admittedly, I have a fear of yoga on the same level as my fear of poetry, both, coincidentally, products of my friendship with Grace Tiao (who may or may not be reading this? if so, HELLO and if not, SHAME ON YOU - no, I tease). Twice I stayed with Grace while visiting Boston, and once we went to this yoga session that was going on in a creepily dark public use room downstairs in her Harvard dorm. That's what I mainly remember: creepy darkness, and an intense sense of inadequacy, because here were all these lithe Harvard ladies, who are obviously way smarter than me but also apparently much more limber, and I'm breaking a sweat merely standing on one foot, and the zen-ed out yoga instructor eventually gave up on me and my rigor mortis muscles, so I just sat down and waited for the concluding Slumber Death pose, which was basically lying on the floor like a corpse, which I was really, really good at.

But it's always been an inkling at the back of my mind; I should try yoga again. And I finally made up my mind to do it, and I bought the appropriate pants, and I was all ready to get my meditative knee-bending-chi-centering-whatever on because I found a Wilmington yoga place that offered Gentle Beginner's Yoga which was as close as I could come to Fat Inflexible We Promise We Won't Laugh At You Yoga, and I set out, all full of gall and gusto!

Only to not find the place. I did find a different yoga place, but I probably would've wound up in some 150 Degree Room Temperature Stand-on-Your-Head and Chant the Bhagavad-Gita Yoga class instead. And then I would have had to retire the Yoga Pants forever.

The reason I did not find the place, and the reason for this post's title, is Wilmington's absolute lack of streetlamps. So I'm puttering down this insanely busy street, peering through the windshield wipers because it's been hurricane-rainy all day, and cars are whooshing around me and headlights are blinding me and the street is this acid-trip barrage of green lights and red lights and I just thought, "Fuck, I miss Tulsa."

So here, at last, is a Battle Royale between Wilmington and Tulsa. May the best town win.

Streetlamps and Overall Traffic
Wilmington: -1000 points. The drivers here are abominable. I've been honked at, flipped off, and glared at dirtily too many times to count. There is no such thing as a peaceful drive in Wilmington - just today I went on a little cruise, thinking I'd find some hidden gemlike nook, but I couldn't look out the window for fear that I would get t-boned. Not to mention Wilmington's street system was designed by crazy people or small children with crayons, and the roads go every which way, sometimes changing their name in the middle, sometimes just stopping out of nowhere. Meanwhile, Tulsa, which scores approximately one million bajillion points, is mapped out on a grid. It is pretty much impossible to get lost there, and the drivers are courteous, or at least not hellacious demons, which seems to be everyone behind the wheel in Wilmington, judging by their insistence on driving all of 4 inches from your back bumper. Also, streetlamps. Are streetlamps some kind of hurricane liability? Why the hell are there no streetlamps here?

Mexican Food
This one ought to be obvious - Tulsa is simply closer to Mexico. Therefore it has better Mexican food. But Wilmington does have Flaming Amy's, which has a salsa bar crafted by some salsa savant, lending itself to infinite combinations of pineapple jalapeno mixed with tomato chipoltle and how could we forget peach ginger? We can't. Tulsa has to win, if only for Taco Bueno, but it's a close call.

The Ocean
Fine. 20 points to Wilmington.

Well, I hate to break it to both of you, Tulsa and Wilmington, but you both fail pretty miserably. This one goes to Wilmington, though, for Port City Java, the local chain that has this inexplicable mid-90s alt-rock theme going on (can anyone explain that)? I.e. the shirt's say "Joe's Addiction" and you'll more than likely hear a few hits from Jagged Little Pill. But it's still a nice enough place, and within biking distance of my house here. Meanwhile, Tulsa has those overpriced, underfurnished spots usually overrun with high school students - though we did play a handful of vicious Scrabble games at the Coffee Shop on Cherry Street. But when I pay $4.50 for a chai, I want $4.50 of drink, not $1.35 of Chai and $3.15 of some ornamental fern made of foam. That's just bullshit.

Ross Stores
Tulsa has 4. Wilmington has 1. You do the math.

Pickle Selection
Tied. Pretty much the same pickle selection in both.

Used Bookstores
So I went on a quest for Lovecraft the other day, thinking that surely one of Wilmington's three used book stores would have a volume, and I was shit outta luck. There's a bookstore downtown, a little crowded alleyway of a place, that has as much charm as you could possibly pack into 30 x 90 feet, but every time I go in, I walk out empty handed. Or I walk out with a New Yorker anthology of short stories, only to have some cranky old man ring me up and express oh-so-subtly how he thinks the book is falling in to undeserving hands (he was reading the current New Yorker at the time). A colleague here recommended not to go in with anything in mind, but browsing either gives me a slight panic attack (SO MANY BOOKS AND ALL I WANT TO DO IS WRITE ONE) or empties my wallet.

But then, there is the little spot nearer to my house, which is owned by the friendliest folks in all the Eastern Seaboard. I popped my head in one night and asked when they closed - "Ten minutes ago, but come on in." And I did go in, and had a look around, but there was no Lovecraft to be had, or rather, none that I could afford that was not the Library of America edition that would give me Willa Cather Seminar flashbacks.

Meanwhile, Tulsa has Gardner's - an entire warehouse, a massive labyrinth of every genre on the planet plus comics plus movies plus CDs plus a weird corner of decorative state-themed plates, with bad carpeting and haphazard shelves but oh, my God, the books! The millions of books! And they will take your old books! And give you so much in-store credit you will never want for a used book again! And while this also happens at bookstores in Wilmington, there are no damn books that I want to buy! And I am a student of books! All I'm supposed to be doing here in the next 2 and a half years is interact with books!

Plus, Gardner's has a cafe AND a Mexican restaurant in the very same building!

I think we can all agree that the winner here is:


Now there is just enough time to squeeze in a tense game of Scrabble before the new Top Chef. Perfect.

1 comment:

  1. You've got to consider this: