Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thomas & Mack After Hours

The basketball game just ended on the radio. 85-57. The Rebels won soundly. My neighbor, Michael, two houses down, with the rough but not nearly calloused hands of the woodworker that he is (always a handshake either when we meet up or when I've got to bring one of the dogs back to the house), is either getting ready to go to work or is already at the Thomas & Mack Center, but not necessarily for the game. Maybe he was there that early, deep in the background, not at courtside, not in any of the seats. He, the South Carolina native, is a member of the crew that cleans the arena after everyone has left. He's one of many who tosses discarded food into the trash, who sweeps the detritus, the wrappers, the soda cups, whatever's around that people have either brought with them or bought at the stadium, but leave behind.

Yesterday, while Tigger was with me on his leash, I talked with Michael for a while, about the city, about where he came from before Las Vegas (Playa del Rey in Southern California, and he told me that he misses the beach, being right there, being able to walk to the shore like you'd walk to your mailbox. In our first conversation, he talked about how he misses South Carolina and even though he's been in Las Vegas for only nine months, he wants to go back. But to South Carolina or Playa del Rey, I'm not sure. Something tells me he'll be here for a few months longer at least, because the work is steady, and we all need that in this hoped-for economic recovery), about the hack job the maintenance guys did on the bushes (He trimmed the bushes around his property himself, and he did a far better job than those guys did), about his motorcycle which he won't be able to ride in the cold of winter, and, of course, about the Rebels, lamenting the post-Thanksgiving game in which they lost against Oregon, but becoming hopeful again after their win over Iowa State. We both agreed that the team can't keep shooting three-pointers arbitrarily. They need to have a far-reaching plan for the game, adjustable as the minutes tick off, but only when they're sure they can make the shot, then they should take it. We talk every couple of days, usually sooner after a Rebels game, and that seems to be enough. With him on the graveyard shift, we don't cross paths every day. But it's more than I ever had when I existed in Southern California.

I'm not sure what he'll be driving tonight. It was pleasantly warm today, but he'll probably keep both motorcycles at the end of his driveway, under that awning, since neither come with heat, like a car would. So it'll be whichever car is his, the one that isn't his wife's. But he may be there already, waiting for the crowds to clear out. Either way, he's faced less traffic than he would have much earlier. Or maybe he is there already. Why battle with the traffic coming out of Thomas & Mack after the game? He told me that when he did get to Thomas & Mack after the season opener against Northern Arizona two weeks ago, people were still trickling out because that game had drawn the biggest crowd in UNLV Men's Basketball history. On the day of the game, there were only 500 seats still available in an arena of 18,776 seats.

I haven't been inside the Thomas & Mack Center yet, but I love walking through empty spaces, and I'm looking forward to seeing the cell phone photo Michael's going to take of the inside of the arena after everyone's left, before the cleanup begins. I'm curious about exactly how much of a mess is made, if it's bigger on more crowded nights than sparsely-crowded ones, and if this matches the season opener, which was apparently very messy.

And what still amazes me is that this is only a minute crumb of one evening in Las Vegas. But it's just as interesting a crumb as all the others that make up my city.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Every day here at home, whether in Las Vegas or Henderson, or hopefully Boulder City one of these days to walk around again, I look for little pieces of life. Sometimes I like absorbing an epic arc by what I'm reading or if I briefly meet a particularly charismatic person, but most of the time, I like the little things. I don't need much to be satisfied.

During Black Friday, Meridith found out that Toys R Us was selling "ABBA: You Can Dance" for Wii. She's wanted it for a long time, even though she doesn't have a Wii, but that's coming soon, possibly from Best Buy, which advertises a black Wii with "Wii Sports" included, for $119. Normally, "ABBA: You Can Dance" is $39.99, so she had to grab this. Since she doesn't transfer money into her checking account all that often, and I wasn't sure how long this sale would last, I decided to order it. It wasn't for a surprise since she already knew about it. Besides, I eventually want to see what it's like, too.

$8.98 was an online-only price, but it could be picked up at a Toys R Us in our general vicinity, which meant the one on West Sunset Road in Henderson. Yesterday, I received the e-mail from Toys R Us that said it was ready for pickup, Dad printed it out today at his school, and he, Meridith and I went to Toys R Us late this afternoon since I was the only one who could pick it up, since they required not only the printed e-mail, but also a photo ID.

A woman was in front of me when we walked in, trying to figure out with a Toys R Us employee behind the counter how she was going to get the huge box of something she bought to her car. The employee had a hand truck with her, which tells you the challenge that was looming. Plus, the employee obviously wouldn't be there with the hand truck in tow once the woman got home.

But that wasn't the piece of life I found interesting. When I got to the counter and was waiting for someone to take my printed e-mail and check my ID, a man was next to me with four boxes of the board game Stratego, which I've only ever heard of. I've never played it and probably never will. When I was a kid, Guess Who, Life, and Connect Four were pretty much it. Every other game we had was either on the Nintendo or the Game Boy.

He put the boxes on the counter and explained that he had bought the game for his Boy Scout troop, but it wasn't the original Stratego. The employee helping him said it looked like the original since it said "The Classic Board Game" on the box, but he explained that it didn't have the same number of pieces that the original had. It had more. And then he went on to explain some intricacies of the new game versus what the original had, evidenced by one of the boxes that he had opened previously to check out the game, and I didn't catch any of that.

The employee helping me said that it would be 15 minutes before I could pick up the ABBA game, and so Meridith and I walked to the video game section so she could see if there were any more copies of the ABBA game, and there were none, which is lucky, since we apparently got the last copy, at least for now at that location. Then she asked the guy at the video game counter if they had any more Wiis, and they didn't.

Back at the Guest Services counter, which is nearly pressed against the entrance doors, the employee had a large, clear plastic bag containing the game, and first thought it belonged to the woman who had left with the huge box, but finally she turned around, saw us there, and knew that it belonged to us. I didn't mind that she might have momentarily forgotten, as long as it was there and as long as Meridith now has it.

Before we left, the Stratego guy was standing behind another customer who was also at the counter, holding four tin boxes of the 50th Anniversary edition of Stratego. That must have been the one he was looking for, and now he could exchange the not-original-Strategos for those ones. Now those Boy Scouts can know what real Stratego is.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hack and Slash

A few minutes after 12:30 this morning, I walked Kitty and then I walked Tigger. I walked them to the bush across from the porch of the house of the neighbor who I talk Rebels basketball with, and then to the pebbles-and-dirt patch under the streetlight near the back door of a house diagonal from that neighbor's house. Then to a small stretch of bushes with light violet flowers on a few of them, facing the guest parking spaces. Then onto the dirt in that island with the stop sign planted at the head of it, facing drivers who approach that turn in the early morning.

I like those flowers. And I also like the reddish flowers that are on the bush in front of the house belonging to the Lundy family (indicated by the sign on the outside wall nearest to their screened-in porch). And I know that winter's coming and therefore changes must be made. When I went to walk the dogs again a little after noon, I saw that the leaves on some of the trees seemed to have turned red overnight, winter charging in rapidly, though not as fast in the air since it's cooler, but not as bitterly cold as it was two weeks ago.

The stop-my-walk-completely shock came when I looked over to those bushes at the guest parking spaces as I walked Kitty to that same bush across from my Rebels neighbor's porch. The flowers were not only gone, but so was the dignity of those bushes. There had been no trimming, no clipping, no topiary care of any sort. Nothing to ease the transition of these bushes into winter. Yes, I can understand that there would be no leaves on them, that they would be bare, that the small petals of those flowers would have gradually fallen onto to the dirt, but it looked like branches of those bushes had crashed violently into one another, the top ones slamming through the rest, a confused jumble of sticks that looked like a Jenga game played by hyper toddlers.

This is a fairly nice neighborhood. A few residents are decorating for Christmas, and the one two houses down that decorated elaborately for Halloween, with spider webs draped over their front-door walkway and all throughout the tree in front of their two windows, is doing the same for Christmas. The streets here are kept clean, no streetsweepers coming through, but there isn't that much debris anyway. There is such peace at night, nothing that makes you uncertain of whether you belong. I can see the Stratosphere from where I stand at the end of our driveway, and at night, I can see the lights flashing in different colors, and the red beacon at the top blinking on and off to let aircraft know that it's there. I like that. I like that I can also see the colors undulating on the Eastside Cannery building from a certain spot near my neighbor's house, which is next to the empty patch of land right next to us. It's us, that space, and then the neighbor's house. I also like seeing just a tiny bit of the Boulder Station sign from far off, and of course my solid red beacon on top of Sunrise Mountain, which I look for every night.

Flowers can't survive in winter, at least not here. I know that. But I'm still disturbed by that hack and slash job done on the bushes. I've been trying to see the beauty in it, some order to it, but I can't. It's like someone placed a tiny bomb inside it and blew it outward from the inside. What bush here deserves that? Being Las Vegas, we don't have the market cornered on greenery, but what we do have, I always appreciate. I hope they come by later on or some time before winter's over to fix it up, to make it right again. When I walked Tigger, I went to the huge, long dumpster that's next to my Rebels neighbor's house, and is also next to the side entrance to the senior mobile home park, both of which are run by the same management. I saw the branches in there with leaves still on them, the branches with flowers also carelessly dumped in there. It's not right. You trim, you take off what the forthcoming winter doesn't need. You give it a little lift for the holidays, making sure that when the weather gets warm again, it can continue where it left off. Not like this. Not as awful as this.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Only We and the Librarian Showed

In a modest room off the entrance of the James I. Gibson Library, four middle-sized long tables made a square that suggested more of a less intimate AA meeting than speed dating. On a table near some empty book racks were a few bottles of water and a few books selected by the librarian in charge of the program to show off. And there was the librarian, 23 years old, one of many librarians here surely, but the one who spearheaded this program in hopes of bringing some of the community together, having done this once before.

23 years old. It made me wonder what the hell I did with my 20s, for a few seconds until I remembered that I wrote my first book and saw it published. She did remind me by just a recap of her life in Henderson (since she was 2 years old), that I need to haul ass on the rest of my writing projects, make them happen.

"We" was Meridith and I, Meridith having gone with me out of curiosity and bringing the Bobby Flay Mesa Cookbook to tell people about her favorite chef, if there were people who would come to this. There wasn't. There was only me, Meridith, and the librarian, whose name, incidentally, I forgot to ask.

The librarian told us that she put on this event once before, but the few people who came all knew each other, and it works better if people come who don't know each other. That would have been true if there had been more people there than just us three. And I know the librarian would have made sure that Meridith and I obviously don't get paired up to chat.

When I wrote on Facebook about no one showing up to this, I got one comment that was incredulous that I was looking for love in Las Vegas. Well, no, it wasn't that at all. I wanted to see if there were other bibliophiles in Southern Nevada who are as devoted as I am. I wanted to see who else called the local libraries home or a temple or a place of worship like I do. I wanted to get to know others who are just as content as I am sometimes reading two or three books in a day. Logic would dictate that I shouldn't have expected it in a state with a total population of 2.7 million, the majority living in Clark County. But then, I should, since the majority is here. And I know Las Vegas is a transient city and all that, even though this was in Henderson, but I do get a sense that those who live in Henderson are here for a long, long time. So I would have also hoped to meet those who call this city home.

I liked the aim of the program. I still believe in it. In fact, the librarian said that the next time she puts on this program, she'll call us ahead of time to let us know if anyone else has signed up. I'll be there again because this one librarian is trying to gather members of the community, to make the community stronger. I believe in it. I believe Henderson needs that more than ever, to fashion a stronger community, and this is one way to do it.

I'm not disappointed. I have my books. I have my ideas for future projects. I'm not going to start haunting Barnes & Noble in the hopes of finding another voracious reader. Mom says that I may find that person when I least expect it. Well, I don't expect it. If the chance comes along, it might be nice, but if not, I've got this enormous region to get to know intimately by visits to all kinds of places I still haven't been to and places I want to go back to (I desperately want to walk around Boulder City again, visit the library there, which I love because of its respect for old books, and to walk around the UNLV campus), and to study by way of the books that have striven to define it, both historically and by personal feelings. And all the stories around me every day, all the interesting people to see! What better city to spark creativity?

One night last weekend, I saw a Virgin Atlantic 747 sitting on a taxiway, waiting to be cleared to taxi to the runway and to takeoff. I saw Air Force One in the daylight, sitting at a far end of McCarran, back when Obama was preparing for his first debate in Henderson, and I'd seen a Virgin Atlantic 747 fly over me to land at McCarran, but I'd never heard one with its engines idling. I love that sound.

One day this past week, after we picked up the Michael Buble CD and the $25 gift certificate to the Ravella spa in Lake Las Vegas that Mom had won on KSNE, and after we went to two Barnes & Noble to find the connect-the-dots daily calendar Mom wanted for the new year, we went to dinner at The Hush Puppy, which has the weirdest rules, such as if you order one of their all-you-can-eat specials, you can't take home what you don't finish. I didn't get it either.

Anyway, at the table behind us, one guy was speaking loudly and I learned a bit about some of the trees we have in Las Vegas, including mesquite, and that guy being impressed by the crew that came to cut branches off of one. It was actually pretty interesting to listen to.

So I have all this. And I'm going to the library later today to pick up 15 books on hold, including The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (I like to wait for hype to pass), and Sanctuary, the seventh novel in the Decker/Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman (I've read the previous six). There's so much to do that if that person happens to come along, and I'm taken enough by her, I'll ask her to come along with me. Ideally, I'd like her to be of this area, of Henderson or Las Vegas and to have lived here for enough years that she knows so much that I don't, even with how much I know so far.

But if she doesn't, well, I'm ok with that. I'm not searching, I'm not going to search, and there's so much to do as it is! It's a good life here, a worthwhile life, far more than I've ever had before and more depth than ever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speed Dating with Books in Hand

I wake up very late Tuesday morning, leading into the opening minutes of the afternoon, not expecting to see Skyfall later that afternoon at Regal Boulder Station 11 (one of the best Bond movies, but On Her Majesty's Secret Service is still the best), not expecting to double my money on Coyote Moon, my favorite slot machine, at Boulder Station, after the movie, not expecting to go to Wing Stop for dinner that evening, and certainly not expecting to hear from my mother what I hear after I've dressed and walked into the living room:

"You're going speed dating!"

What? Me? Speed dating? Hola. Mi nombre es Rory Aronsky.

Let me back up to 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. I went to bed in the bed that I know is my bed, with all those books on the floor from the library and those which are my permanent collection. I know all those books.

I woke up in the bed that I know is my bed, in the room that I know is my room, pulling clothes that I know are my clothes from the closet that I know is my closet. Everything seems the same. When did speed dating decide to stroll on in?

After I shrug off the shock that feels like five minutes more than the two seconds it took to do so, Mom tells me that she found it in the View section, which is expressly written and printed for all the different areas of Las Vegas. We live in the Sunrise/Whitney area, so we get that section every Tuesday inside our regular Las Vegas Review-Journal.

She tells me to pick up that section of the paper, which is already on top of the rest of the paper, folded out to show the "Arts & Leisure" page, the bottom of which has the "Book Briefs" section. And here is the blurb that I read:

Find love among the shelves at the Date My Book event scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Gibson Library, 100 W. Lake Mead Parkway. Singles are invited to bring a favorite book and chat with other readers in five-minute sessions. For more information, visit or call 702-565-8402."

I wasn't sure how to react. I'm still not sure how to react. As Mom put it, "It's better than a bar or any other place like that," and that's true. It's in a library, my place of worship, and I'd like to meet other bibliophiles like me. Mom wasn't pushy about it, not hinting that I should find a date, just that I could talk books with people for a while. She doesn't read a great deal, not finding a comfortable spot to do it in yet, Dad picks one or two books a week from the new books section of the Whitney Library, and Meridith reads steadily, but not to the extent I do. Three, four, five books a week, maybe more? I've done it countless times. I'm still writing, I still want to write the books and novels that are always swirling about in my head, but there are just some weeks that I want to chuck all those plans and just read. Perhaps this event would be good for me. I follow Mom's viewpoint about this, and I stick to this about the other possibility: If it happens, then I'll work from there. If not, that's fine. I don't discount the possibility, but I'm not actively searching for a relationship. I've got an enormous city and region, and eventually state, and other states, to explore, I've got books I want to read, and books I want to write, and that's enough for me.

Right now, my library card is at its limit. 50 items. All books. My holds are at the limit of 25. I hope to meet those who do the same as me, who keep the library system running. At the Whitney Library, every Saturday or Sunday, or sometimes Monday, I walk past the other shelves full of holds to get to mine, and I look for the first four letters of those last names that appear as often as mine do, wondering about that person, how many books they read in a week, what their interests are that keep them coming to the library. This may be my chance to know more about them, no matter that this is under the jurisdiction of the Henderson Libraries system and not the Las Vegas-Clark County Library system. In fact, reading the blurb, I thought I could return the then-three, now-five books that I'm done with, before realizing that I'll have to wait until Saturday or Sunday to do that because neither the Gibson Library, nor any other Henderson branch for that matter, will accept my books because Henderson and Las Vegas are separate systems.

They say to bring a favorite book. I know exactly what I'm bringing: The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. These two novels are always locked in a Battle Royale to become my favorite novel. I've read each one nearly ten times, with more re-readings to come. I'm sure I can talk about a lot in five minutes, so I want to include that. Other topics I have in mind are my love of presidential history, my lifetime goal to read all the Star Trek novels ever published (not as a Trekkie, but as a science fiction wanderer), my other favorite books (Naturally, I don't have just one, and a favorite novel, if that battle is ever won by either of those two novels, would not be my overall favorite book, since I'll never have one), those times I just have to pre-order or order a book from Amazon because I don't want to wait for the library to hopefully get it in, and whatever else might pop up. My side of the conversation will not be pre-planned. I will not have an outline in my head.

I know exactly what I'm wearing: Jeans, both pairs of which I'll put in the laundry today to determine whether I want to wear the lighter-colored jeans (they're not that bright blue, and I could never see myself wearing that kind of brightness) or the darker-colored, and this shirt, called Lose Yourself. After I agreed to this speed dating excursion, I determined which of my four book-related t-shirts would be most appropriate, not only for this event, but also because I'll be wearing it to see Christopher Cross at 8 p.m. that night at Sunset Station. No going home to change. "Lose Yourself" would be best because it's more detailed than my other shirts (save for the rainbow in this shirt) and is suitably low-key for the other outings of the evening, which also includes Fazoli's for dinner (across from Sunset Station), and then the 10 p.m. Spazmatics show also at Sunset Station, inside Club Madrid, where Christopher Cross will just have finished performing before they come on.

I still feel a bit weird about this, not in a resorting-to-meeting-people-like-this way, but because I have my city, I have my state, I have my books, I have my favorite movies, so what else do I need? But you know what? For nine years in Santa Clarita, there was really nothing to do. To even do one interesting thing in a day, you had to leave the valley, but because of the enormous stretch of freeways to get to Ventura or Burbank or Anaheim, you had to make a day of it. Now that I'm living in Nevada, in Las Vegas, I want to do many different things! I want to experience all there is to experience! I want to see if there are any female bibliophiles who are as passionate about books as I am.

And if I do feel a twinge of something upon talking with one of those bibliophiles, well, what better place for it to happen?

Always an open mind. That's how I've lived for two months here, and it's going to stay that way. So I'm going to enjoy myself and let go. No expectations. Just the joy of talking books with those who hopefully flood the holds shelves like I do, who come to the library with big canvas bags to stock up for the week. They're my kind of people, and I should meet them! And so I will.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Radios Playing to the Air, the Stillness, the Kitchen Counter, the Coffee Table, the Patio Door

What does an employee in the front office of an apartment complex do when they arrive in the morning? Maybe they get coffee, shuffle a few papers on their desk to see what has to be done first and what can be pushed to later, call maintenance to find out if there were any repairs done during the night, if there is 24-hour maintenance.

I wonder about that only as I remember what I saw yesterday on a family tour of two apartment complexes in Henderson. Mom wanted to move only once, from Santa Clarita to Las Vegas, but our mobile home park is inconvenient in many, seemingly unsolvable ways. For one, there are a few stairs leading to the front door, and to the back door. Mom doesn't use the front door often, but we all use the back door because the PT Cruiser is right there in the carport. Being disabled, she has to walk down those steps to the car, and if we've been out for hours, into the evening, and she's tired from all of it, she still has to climb the stairs to get into the house.

Maintenance doesn't come as often as it used to when we first moved here, and we were told that whatever we request has to be on the work order. If it's not on the work order, they don't take care of it. And to get it on the work order, we have to wait, and wait, and wait. The screen attached to Mom's window in her and Dad's bedroom fell off the other day, and I just put it in the shed. We're not ready yet to request that it be re-attached because how long will we have to wait? A week? Two weeks? There are also other things in our house that have to be repaired, that fortunately aren't hindering our daily life, so we'll request attention on those, and hope that they end up on the work order.

I kind of like the area that we're in. It is a little barren, as would be expected in the desert, but it's not a far walk to the convenience store at the Rebel gas station on the left corner, nor the McDonald's and Terrible's gas station together on the right corner, after you make a right at the end of our block and walk down that long sidewalk to get there. It takes 40 minutes by foot to get to Sam's Town, and I like having a neighborhood casino, though I'm ticked at it at the moment because neither Flight nor Skyfall is playing at the Cinemark Century 18 movie theater there. Skyfall is more critical since the James Bond series is my Star Wars, but what good is Century 18 as my neighborhood movie theater if it can't provide me with what I want? I guess, having it at Boulder Station, which is generally nearby, but requires a car to get there (I've no trouble with that, but I like walking to Sam's Town), they didn't want to put it in two places so close to each other. Still, I lose out on this, and I would think that Century 18 would like to get in on that because they would make massive money at the concession stand that first weekend, being that Skyfall is basically printing money in the U.K. right now. The slight consolation in all this is that since Century 18 is showing Wreck-It Ralph in 2D and 3D right now, I can count on Monsters, Inc. 3D to be there in December. Plus, they are showing Lincoln next week, and I've got to see that too.

Our section of the mobile home park is not really a neighborhood. People really keep to themselves, and we had that a lot already in the apartment in Valencia nine years ago and then the house in Saugus for the following eight years. I have met some nice people, but haven't seen them since. It's not the kind of place where you simply knock on doors. You wait for the opportunity if the person happens to be outside.

I know people are busy, and I know that our city has a lot of transients, people who are here for a while and then leave for another state. I understand that. I accept it. But I lived too long with people just drifting and floating by me to endure that again. I'm ok with not seeing certain people for a time, because we're not in the same circles. The higher-up in recruitment in the Clark County School District who's helping me through the application process, I appreciate what she's doing for me, and I'm always glad to see her (not only for that, but she's also a genuinely nice soul), but I don't see her often because we don't live in the same area, nor would I be working in the district office once I get hired. I'd be working at a middle school. That's fine.

Same with the people we gave Meridith's princess bed to for their little niece. I don't recall their names, I do remember that they perform in a band in various casinos (the woman we met is the lead singer), but I don't remember what their band is called or where they've played. I haven't seen them since the day they came to pick up all the parts of the bed, but I liked them, and was glad to meet them. Simply put, I'm not fond of living in a neighborhood that seems to be populated by air. That's not to say that there's no personality in the mobile home park. Each home has its own paint job and decorations, undoubtedly decided by whoever lives in each of them. It's obvious that people live here, just not sociable people, I suppose. I like bumping into people, saying hi, and having a conversation for a bit, or going on with my day. There's not much of a chance to do that here.

We moved here because it was the only development that would hold a unit for us while Dad tried to get into the district and finally succeeded. That was most important because we couldn't fathom coming here and having to temporarily move into Hawthorn Suites, or some other extended-stay property, while the dogs stayed in a kennel. We are grateful for that, but we need more. We need an actual neighborhood, somewhere that truly feels like home, that we could see ourselves there for years and years. We thought it might be this mobile home park, but once we settled in, we found out it was not so, not what we hoped.

As it turns out, Mom's first choice was Pacific Islands, an apartment complex in Henderson that she really liked, but we could never get in to see any of the units because they were always closed when we'd finally get there. On the way back to the 15, to California, from the Galleria at Sunset mall, we stopped by there, and unfortunately it was 6 p.m. and they were already closed. Mom and Dad have seen it many times before Meridith and I did on Tuesday, and I see what she likes about it. It's an actual property, with actual thought in the design. There are trees all around, and grass, and such a peaceful atmosphere that includes a well-maintained swimming pool with a large rock formation from which a waterfall flows. It's about as much as we're paying now for rent, but most important to me, I saw people walking around! It wasn't a fluke! And then the biggest surprise of all was when we went to where the sand volleyball court is, and a heavyset guy in an upstairs apartment named Justin told us how nice it is to live there, that he's lived there for seven years, and loves the atmosphere, loves how well the management maintains the property, and when you need something fixed, they're there. There's no "It has to be on the work order," or anything like that. You need it, they'll do it. You need a dryer replaced in the outside closet where the washer and dryer are, you only have to make sure that that closet is clean enough so that maintenance can pull out the faulty dryer and replace it. That deeply impressed us.

This is not entirely about Pacific Islands, although it may become more prominent in the future. One more thing I want to mention is that part of the property faces train tracks, and three times a day, cargo trains roll by, which excited our dog Tigger when we told him about it after we got home. He loves trains. I love it too because it'll help me in my writing, in being a constant source of inspiration. When we got to that area and parked the car to look around, I went to a shorter section of wall, and looked out at those train tracks. It's first a deep wash, and then the tracks, and looking at those tracks, I felt the pull of travel. One day, I want to travel throughout New Mexico, visit all the presidential libraries in the nation, and perhaps even visit my old haunts in Florida. Those tracks remind me of that, but they also make me want to write, to conjure up the stories I want to tell, to figure out how I want to tell them. Those tracks are especially beautiful at sunset, which was happening as we were walking to the car to leave. I went right back to that wall and looked at those tracks, dreaming and imagining.

So yesterday, we went to two other apartment complexes. Each had model units available to look at, decorated to show the potential renter where a couch might go, what a working kitchen might look like, what the master bedroom will feel like. I could live without all the attempted interior decoration, though I know that they wouldn't want these units to reflect reality. They want it to be nicely laid out enough to impress potential renters into becoming renters.

Here's where my opening thoughts come into play. When our guide unlocked the door to the unit we looked at at both complexes, there was music playing from somewhere, some radio station that I only listen to at length because it's on all day in this house, and it may not even be that one, but it sounded similar to ours. Where was that music coming from? Was there a sound system somewhere in the living room? No. There was a small radio on the floor in each of the living rooms of these model units, plugged into the wall. Is there any employee who walks to the units at the end of each workday to shut off those radios? And in the morning, do they do the same to turn them on? Or do they just leave them to play all night and all day, even when there's no one who comes to see the units on a given day? It's interesting to me because the singers featured on that particular station have their worst audiences ever in these two units alone. They're basically singing to the nearby refrigerator. When we walked into the model unit at the second apartment complex, Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" was playing. I forgot what was playing in the first unit when we walked in, but after we left, and after our guide closed and locked the door, I wondered what was playing at that moment, and who would be up next to sing to the coffee table.

While we're still going to look at other apartment complexes in Henderson to see if there's anything we want more in any of those, Pacific Islands seems to be the top choice for all of us. It's quaint in many sections, peaceful in all, and there's people all around! A trickle throughout the day. I like that. I like that it won't feel like it does here during a Saturday or a Sunday. People come, people go, but no one really seems to exist. I hope Pacific Islands is what's to come because despite the troubles currently facing the Henderson Libraries, such as the upcoming closures of two branches (including the most unique one inside a small space at the Galleria at Sunset mall) that may somewhat reduce the book choices I will have, I can live with that for all that I will gain at Pacific Islands, creative sparks all around, all the time. That's good enough for me.