Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"The Windmills of My Mind"

Did you ever have one of those days when You can't stay focused on any one thing for any length of time??  Today is that day for me.  It feels like the various "windmills of my mind" are all spinning in different directions.  Jumbled, restless, dissatisfied, just generally unsettled, that's me.  I don't think there is a particular reason for it, its sort of recurring occurance (Hmm, that sounds like an oxymoron or something).  Every so often, I get this feeling that I want to be doing something, but I just can't figure out what it is.  Its very frustrating.

It used to be that when this feeling cropped up, I could correct the problem by going for a long drive, usually with the windows open and the radio blasting away while I sang my little heart out.  That worked really well in Chicago, where you could drive for a very long distance and never leave town!  There was always something interesting to see.  I would usually try to find a road that I didn't use very often and just drive wherever it took me. And sooner or later all those windmills would stop their unsettling turning and come back into line and all was once again right with the world.

I loved doing that.  Doesn't work very well in Austin, though.  Too many roads that end up running into the river or the hills or "no outlet".  Some of those roads could get you seriously lost, even if you've lived here for 9 1/2 years!

Chicago, on the other hand, is almost impossible to get lost in.  It is a very logically laid out city.  A gazillion years ago, some inspired genius (actualy I think it was the city council or some group like that) sat down with a map of the city and drew a grid over the whole space and decreed that all Chicago roads would follow that grid, i.e., roads would go either North/South or East/West and they would be reasonably straight.  Chicago doesn't do twists and turns and curves, and backtracks, or other such nonsense.  There are a few diagonal streets, but they stick to the same grid and numbers. The streets are numbered sequentially from Ground Zero (more commonly known as State and Madison), until there is no more city to number.  This area gets bigger and bigger all the time.  Chicago is a BIG town.

For those of you who might find this to be interesting, here is a link which tells you all about it.    Streets_and_highways_of_Chicago 

As I was growing I always lived in towns (albeit much smaller towns in Florida) that were pretty much laid out the same way, i.e., North/South and East/West.  I thought (if I actually ever thought about it, which I doubt) this was pretty much always the way it was done.  I thought it was some kind of city planning law or something.  It was always logical, clear, understandable, and got you where you needed to be.  It was wonderful.

But then....duh, duh, DUH!  (that is what Ratchlet used to call danger music),  we moved to California and ultimately to Texas and all bets  were off.  There are NO STRAIGHT STREETS in California or this part of Texas....none, truly! 

In addition, Austin is kind of tilted along a NE by SW axis that doesn't correlate to anything!!  There are no clues anywhere that all of a sudden a road would stop, or twist and turn all over the place depositing you in totally the wrong place; or disappear up a hill, or come to the river with no bridge in sight; and if that weren't bad enough, street names would change for no reason at all! 

Then, if, by some miracle, you managed to navigate all that and still have some little kernal of knowlege of where you needed to be in relation to where you were, you'd quickly realize that you CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE!!  Its no wonder my hair is gray!  In fact, its amazing I have any hair at all.  I've been mighty tempted to start tearing my hair out and screaming. 

You see what I failed to consider in my assumption that all towns were laid out logically, like Chicago, was that Chicago is in Illinois.
Illinois is kind of at the center of the Midwest.  The whole state is pretty much flat as a pancake.  No hills, mountains, no need for all those twisty windy streets.  If a river popped up, they would build a bridge over it.  Simple.  They could put the roads wherever they wanted to and the roads would  be nice and straight and flat too!  Upon reflection, I realized that Florida was pretty much the same way, so they could put their roads wherever they wanted to. 

But alas, central CA and Austin both must deal with the terrain that is no where near flat or straight.  Mountains (ok, little mountains) and hills are all over the place.  It is a reality that even I can understand, that it is easier and cheaper to build a road AROUND a mountain than to build one that goes THROUGH a mountain. 

Another fatality of this terrain is my sense of direction.  I used to have one!  I don't anymore.  I think I am heading north and suddenly realize I'm looking right at the sun!  Well, I learned in grade school that the sun can be in the East, the South, or the West, but NEVER in the North, so where the hell am I???  And more importantly, how do I get to where I'm going????

I think you get the picture.  I may not be lost exactly all the time, but if I venture onto a road that is new to me, it's pretty much a sure thing that I will have no idea where I end up or how to get where I should be.  At night its much, much worse.  The moon is not nearly as good a homing point as the sun, and I never did learn how to read the stars.  So I end up somewhere unknown on a darkened roadway tearing my hair out and screaming. 

The upshot of all this is that I no longer have a surefire way to clear out my mind and get those windmills in line.  What a bummer!


  1. I have no sense of direction - never have. It is a handicap I still haven't learned to live with. When cell phones were invented, I said I didn't want one - never would use one, etc., etc. Now, I am SO glad to have a cell phone with me if I'm out of town, because I ALWAYS get lost and have to call someone to try to direct me to my destination. Then, I can't get back - Seriously, I cannot drive back the same way I just came. I think, for me, driving when I have those windmills in my head, would land me in a foreign country! Enjoyed your post. laurie

  2. Even growing up in Arizona, moving here was definitely a shocker! I don't have natural navigational skills, so maps and GPS units are my friends!

  3. I'm still struggling with left and right, so the whole NSEW thing escapes me. In Tucson, the Catalina Mountains (and they were REAL mountains!) were North. In Denver the mountains were West. Here is CA, I have no clue. I decided to take on the idea of a friend of mine - basically that whichever way I'm facing, that's North!! Easy!

  4. Ratchlet asked my dad which way was north when she was a little girl. He told her, "North is the direction you are facing." He meant at that moment. She thought he meant always. So that's what she believed for years and years and years! I always though she was the only one with that belief. Just shows you how wrong I can be!!


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