Things that make me giddy…

Certain events and phenomena make me giddy, a sensation I can only describe as a happy, optimistic, excited feeling.  It comes from deep inside, probably from my core, and almost feels like seismic activity.  Giddiness brings incredible innocent pleasure, each different phenomenon igniting different facets of my being and electrifying them.

Perplexed yet?  Still with me?  I’ll count ’em off… 🙂

Giddy Thing #1 – Thunderstorms

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Thunderstorms rock my world.  I see them further out on the radar, when the local wind is still calm.  It’s almost too calm, too still, deceptively and suspiciously so.  I like it.

Then, within a five- or ten-minute period, the wind picks up rather suddenly.  The sky darkens in a particular direction, usually to the west or the north.  Those dark clouds drift toward us.  Actually, “drift” is the wrong word; they descend.  They approach.  They encroach, but in a way that is welcome.

At the same time, the air begins to carry that moist “rain smell”, which I’ve likened more to water hitting asphalt.  It conjures up feelings of excitement and anticipation.  Sometimes, at this point, the temperature plummets, and that’s how you know that it’s going to be a good storm.

Then the rain starts–spit-like drops at first, and then eventually, a downpour.  Mini-rivers form in their usual places and patterns.  The speed of the water flow is faster than a typical walking speed.  Little waves and rapids emerge as the water accumulates.  The plants and trees drink heartily, bathed in hydro-relief.  All is right in their world.

All is right in mine, too.

Giddy Thing #2 – Freezing Precipitation on a Friday Night When You Don’t Have To Go Anywhere For the Next Few Days

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I’ve only recently become a fan of chillier weather.  I don’t like it to be too cold, but as of the last few years, I’ve been able to handle temperatures that are much lower than my previous tolerance.

And it’s super-comforting to be able to come home just as the weather is getting…interesting, and be able to watch it get slick and dangerous, knowing that you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything for a while.  I love the chill in the air and the physiological engines that it ignites.  I love the instinctual desire to hibernate.

Giddy Thing #3 – The Last Afternoon Before a Holiday Weekend

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I love the last day of school or work (depending on my phase of life) before a holiday weekend.  It’s the point in time at which I have the maximum amount of time off that is still ahead of me.  It feels like sleeping on a cloud, deeply relaxing and full of optimism.  The upcoming off-time is fresh; none of the time has been spent yet; it’s squeaky clean and exciting.

The vibe is contagious; other classmates/coworkers have a giddy and childlike excitement surrounding them, too.  The general atmosphere holds the same feeling of relaxation, optimism, and freshness.  In my school years, most of the teachers didn’t attempt to accomplish much, so the school day was lighter and brighter.  At work, I try to wrap up all loose ends in a tight, neat little ball, so that I have nothing hanging over my head or weighing on my shoulders throughout the extended weekend (or week, or however long I’ll be out of the office).  I love the feeling of sheer satisfaction that I experience as I walk out of the office and lock the door behind me for the long, dark holiday.  It’s like I tuck it in to bed and kiss it goodnight, and then I’m gone, free of all obligations and ties.  It’s absolutely lovely, like mentally gliding on cotton.

Giddy Thing #4 – Engines

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Speaking of engines, I like “real” engines, too.  The bigger they are and the deeper they rumble, the better.  Semi-truck, train, and airplane engines are my favorite; diesels have a grand, continuous growl that shakes the air around you, and airplanes have a big, low hum combined with a businesslike high-pitched whine.  My favorite scenarios are being at truck stops where I’m surrounded by multiple idling semi-trucks, and sitting on a plane that has just revved its full engines for real.  And don’t get me started on trains, especially if they’re just starting up cold. 🙂

Giddy Thing #5 – Driving West Into the Desert

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Most people love the beach; it’s their idea of paradise.  I love the desert; it’s paradise for me.  I’m not sure what it is.  It’s certainly not the chapped lips.  Maybe it’s the desolation, the remoteness, the emptiness, the endless sun, the underrated scenery, the surprising amount and uniqueness of flora and fauna, or what-have-you.  It’s amazing to me.

There are no crowds in the desert, like there are on the beaches.  There’s no Spring Break deluge, no cell phone signal, nary a fellow traveler on the road.  It’s probably a complete bitch to have your car break down out there, though.  Or to suffer a medical crisis, or to run out of gas, food, or beverage and find yourself in serious need.

Therein lies the risk of venturing into the desert.  I’m not a risk-taker or a thrill-seeker by the wildest of imaginations, but I do like the desert.  Only hearty plants, animals, and people survive there.  The animals sting and bite.  The plants even have needles.  Maybe the people do, too, but the few souls I’ve encountered have been quite kind.  There’s an inner strength, a seasoning that I can sense.  One has to be fairly resilient to survive out there.

The monsoons are a counter-intuitive and enjoyable phenomenon as well.  I’ve never witnessed their pouring rains, but I would like to one day.  I’m also always amazed at how cold it can get.  I enjoy the dryness; it feels light as opposed to the heavy humidity that prevails in the beach regions (despite the constant winds; even the winds are damp).

The desert also seems endless.  And did I mention all the sun?  Neat cultures have survived there, in adobe huts, refusing to give in, refusing to leave for greener pastures.

Some of the most beautiful and vivid artwork has been inspired by such landscapes.  Every few years I start jonesing to get out there.  I haven’t ventured west in a couple of years, but I think the urge is becoming irresistible; I’m beginning to hear the tempting whispers and I believe I will go west again soon.

Giddy Thing #6 – Goth Country/Americana Music

tarantellapic5(Pictured: Tarantella, from Denver, CO)

The perfect soundtrack to driving west and goofing off in the desert for a day or two (or more) is a tiny little slice of the indie/alternative music scene (much more so than the country music scene, which is all glam-twang).  This niche-y subgenre (also known as “death country“, even though the songs aren’t predominantly about death) is a nearly-microscopic needle in the musical haystack, but it’s well worth a dig.  The most recognizable artists include Calexico, 16 Horsepower, Old 97s, and Iron & Wine, but Blanche, Tarantella, Court & Spark, The Handsome Family, Antic Clay, and Birch Book.

Adding an archaic “frontier” vibe to indie country (which is really more western than country), this genre brings back the organic lo-fi sound, baritone male voices and contralto female voices that talk about cemeteries, pawney buttes, yucca plants, buzzards, soul-savings, and rickety porches in the lawless Badlands.  In so doing, it provides a dream backdrop for the kind of journey that a weekend trip across the empty plateaus and mesas that Far West Texas (Trans-Pecos) into New Mexico (and maybe even Arizona or inland California or southern Colorado/Utah) has to offer.

Just wow. 🙂

Giddy Thing #7 – A Fairground Midway

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Although I can’t stand the atmosphere and crowds of a mall (because I find it overwhelming in a way that’s tough to explain), I love a nighttime fairground midway in full swing.  The same sensory annoyance of a mall, amplified in a fairground setting, somehow become tolerable and even pleasurable.  I’ve long been aware of the rush of what I can only guess is dopamine surging through my brain as I walk down a busy midway, with all of the sirens, flashing strobe lights, sirens, and the pounding bassy music from about five amped-up soundsystems simultaneously hitting my senses.  I can’t explain the apparent dissonance, other than that my nervous system seeks out certain stimuli, and desires to avoid others.  A mall fatigues me whereas a fairground energizes me.

And the bigger and more happenin’ the fair, the better.  A little county fair on a flat grassy opening just don’t do.  It must be a fully-paved expanse, with rides, games, food smells, and exhibit buildings.  It has to have serious noise, a city in itself, whose streets have no names.  A self-contained organism that one might never leave if they didn’t have to.

Of course, there is a nostalgic undertone; I grew up in such an environment for a segment each year.  The days were long (both in terms of available sunlight and in terms of our work schedules), the food was fun, the lights were amazing, and the music was pulsing.  The world blared.  My nervous system was wired this way from near-birth, the fairground environment installing itself within my brain, and forever altering and shaping the person I am, for life.

And I love it.  And the mall can’t hold a candle to it.

Giddy Thing #8 – Target Shooting

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No, I’m not a “gun nut”, not in the way that mainstream media might portray me.  I’m not some crazed school shooter in training, nor do I dream of forming a militia.  I simply like to take a box of ammo, some paper targets, and a couple of rifles to a safe and established gun range (the stricter their rules about conduct and safety, the better) and I blow through a few clips.  The only time I get a “rush” is when I hit my desired spot on the target, or create a tight grouping of shots (indicating decent accuracy and consistency).  I like the smell of the gun powder and the sudden, controlled explosion in my handgrip.  My ears are properly protected, but you do feel the kickback.  You also see a nanosecond burst of light as the bullet leaves the barrel.  It’s pretty fun.

Giddy Thing #9 – Watching Karate Kid

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More so than when target shooting, I get motivated when watching “Karate Kid”; I tend to like the second one (of the three) the best, because that’s when they’re in Japan, which adds a foreign cultural undertone to the mix.  The Karate Kid is more comfortable in his martial artist skin, and more fluid in his movements.  He has more control, more maturity, more honor, and more skill.  He has acquired not only physical skill but mental discipline, too.

Watching Karate Kid energizes me, motivating me to want to get back into martial arts.  I had been in karate for four years as a teenager and kung fu for about a year in my 20s, but I hadn’t done anything martial artistic in my 30s, and I believe that my 30s will pass without my having dabbled in any martial arts, which is a shame, but also strengthens my resolve to make it happen in my 40s.

Because it’s never too late until you’re dead.  And I’m still alive… and giddy 🙂

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