Thursday, August 11, 2011

Braving the Elements

The elements, in this case, are not the those typically discussed by mystical New Agers: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. No, the elements I reference are these: the Great Outdoors and the Not-So-Great Indoors.

Ever since I moved to Houston, I have noticed the large quantity of mosquitoes that inhabit the place. They mostly seem to reside in my apartment.

Although their numbers are dwindling, I often find rogue members of the insect kingdom hovering hungrily around my bathroom (while I'm in the bath) or circling my bed, waiting for me to go to sleep so they can gorge on my blood.

I'm very fond of my blood. I've been through a lot, just so I can continue making it: 2.5 years of almost-daily chemotherapy, to be exact on what "a lot" is.

If I was still on chemotherapy, I'd have the joy of knowing that the mosquitoes wouldn't live long, as they used to bite me (yes, I let them), fly about three feet from me, and then drop out of the air.

At the time, I took a certain macabre joy in being a walking talking vessel of poison. I was something of a super-villainess to biting insects, complete with shiny bald head and everything.

A female Lex Luthor of mosquitoes, if you will.

But these days, my body doesn't kill the skeeters like it used to do, so I'm left frantically trying to get them before they get me.

There are a lot of tiny bloodstains on the walls of my apartment from mashed mosquitoes.

So that covers the Not-So-Great Indoors.

The Great Outdoors weren't all that great, either, in truth.

Today I visited the campus of the University at which I begin my Master of Architecture degree. I attempted to go, yesterday, but Google Maps was on crack, and so its directions sent me... not to the University. I ended up in north Houston - in a not so great part of town where I was too frightened to exit - and drove for about twenty minutes after I realized my (or, rather Google's) error just so I could find somewhere "decent" to pull a U-Turn.

I'd been on the road for about 60 minutes, by this time, what with the wreck that blocked the right lane on I-45 and all.

I decided to try again, and to go back to my neighborhood to start all over.

Easier said than done, as the entire freeway was shut down in the southbound direction due to a massive wreck involving an 18-wheeler.

Three hours after I first left home to visit the University, I arrived back at my home without having so much as glimpsed it.

Attempt #2 took place, today, and it was successful. I reached the University in about 15 minutes, found a parking spot, and got out of the car.

I immediately wished I had not done so.

Fortunately, there are trees where I was walking at first, so I had the benefit of a bit of shade. Unfortunately, I had to cross into an area of ineffective brise soleil, no trees, and no other vegetation to reduce the heat of the microclimate.

The University has an architecture school. They have no excuse for environmentally ignorant buildings.

Anywho, I finally found the Student ID office, and had my ID made (not too terrible, but not nearly so flattering as my drivers license picture. Yes, I am serious: I want 8x10 glossies of that DL picture). I went to the book store and discovered that 1) only one of my classes requires textbooks; and 2) I would have to special order the "clicker" to be used in one of my classes, and I'd be emailed when it arrived.

The clicker is used for attendance (it's a little electronic device, similar to a remote control) and to show that I'm paying attention in class. I have a feeling that my professor might be, erm, a bit obsessive-compulsive.

As I walked around the campus, finding my way back to my car, I remembered the Asian women at my alma mater who carried parasols to shield themselves from the blazing sun. After the amount of exposure I gained to the sun, today, I'm thinking it might be a good idea.


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