What I Remember About Huntsville

I’ll be honest. Right now I’m in one of the blackest places my soul has been all year. My depression is quite high. And it’s tempting for me to write on that. To wallow in that. I might get some sympathy if I did. But would it be healthy for me? We all know it wouldn’t be.

So I choose the opposite. I choose a piece that is nothing more than my memory. I don’t know if anybody cares about my memory. I doubt y’all do. This is pure self indulgence. But I write this for my soul. I’m aching. Let me escape as I write.

Huntsville, Arkansas I remember as a fantasy place. I remember it as an idyll. I think of it as a place that existed outside time and space. It’s not. It’s a normal small town in Arkansas. But I remember my trips there, especially my trips between 1994-2002, as if I’d stepped into another world.

Part of why I remember that is how hard it is to get to. It’s not an interstate exit town. It’s isolated. Or at least it was until the highway between Huntsville and Springdale was completed and now it’s a quick drive between Huntsville and a massive metropolis that houses two of the biggest companies in the nation if not world. What I remember is the isolation, the winding curves of the Pig Trail to get there.

I remember the topography of the town. The Escheresque series of hills that form the landscape. Straight streets exist not here. And it’s so green. Pure forest. In the fall it sits ablaze.

I remember the Wal-Mart. My granddad was always baffled as to why I cared so much about going. Growing up in, well, anywhere I had better shopping options. But there was something so magical about that store to me. It sold interesting, neat things to me. Buying a Star Wars paperback to read curled up on a couch at my grandparents’ home is a ritual I still chase. It was never about the store. It was the ritual.

The grocery store next door was different. I remember it as almost a barn before they rebuilt. It was clean with again a normal allotment of things. Noything special but when I bought a bag of candy, it felt unique.

The video store within? That was different. Sure I always rented “A” movies from it but I remember those glorious b-movies it rented out. It was as if I was in an alternate universe from the safe, boring choices of the chains. The family films were really strange, and have shown up on Rifftrax. But the horror? That has to capture my memory. Such strange films as fairy tale characters as monsters.

Honestly I remember the video stores a lot. The grocery store was the only one I spent much time in but I remember them all. The posters. You rarely saw A-titles sold there. Perhaps that’s what gave the town this AU feel to me. If even the movies were another world, then it had to be another world.

There was a theater. I went in that building twice. Two times as it was abandoned. One time as it was a flea market. I wish I’d gone when it was open but it closed before I was two. As the cinema is my cathedral, I long to worship once there.

The theater sat on that perfect town square. I know that square as the epitome of Heaven. Lots of flea markets popped up over time. There was a used bookstore a few months there. It was a nice place.

But if any from Huntsville are reading this, you know I must honor Coger Drug. What a cool, unique place Coger Drug was. It sold everything. I remember it for two things: Candy and comics. I’d go in, buy a Heath and get a kids comic. Only in 2001 would an Amazing Spider-Man leave the grocery store with me. But lots of Disney comics left for the drive home. They sold books. I wish I’d bought one to say I did.

I remember how few chains entered the town. It was world destroying news when Pizza Hut came in though That Little Pizza Place crushes it with incredible food. The Wal-Mart was front page news. Sonic was thrilling, the first chain fast food. Dollar General was exciting too, especially when I found a Marvel/Boulevard novel there! But they were it.

I could go on. I knew every gas station there. I dropped in Ozark Foods. I remember the drive-in with killer fried chicken. So many details.

But the last detail I remember is the quiet. Late at night I could stand in the front yard, look up at an array of stars, and bask in the silence. No noise. Nothing to disturb the perfect isolation.

Now is where I deconstruct everything. All the video stores are gone, following the trend of the death of video rental and eventually physical media. The Walmart moved to a bigger location on the edge of town, lost the hyphen in the move. Coger Drug is long closed. McDonalds came in. So did alcohol. Huntsville is no longer the place it is in my mind. I have not been there in 6 years, mostly due to time and ability.

But I remember it. I carry it in my soul. I go there when I close my eyes and seek an escape. And I love it forever.

Why something silly made me angry

Two stories.

1.
My wife’s car battery died Tuesday. $200 worth of work. At the mechanic it became clear her gear shift release button was stuck. $400 the next day. A bombardment of stress. My weekend last week was all but killed though I got some lovely time off later that week. A lot of work. A lot of money. A lot of stress. Fairly calm.

2.
I’ve been in the hunt for rare horror tie-ins. The cost of all of them is exorbitant, even for poorly made novelization omnibuses. Today, I learned once and for all that any hope of digital editions was crushed. The rights holders don’t want them at best and there’s a mess of legal issues at worst. (Look up Friday the 13th.) I am effectively blocked out from this world.

So guess which of these caused this blog entry?

Yeah it’s time to yet again discuss how my brain is out of balance. Because the major hit left me unphased while the silly little nothing upset me far more.

Actually, let me be clear. I hate the news about the car. I’m deeply worried. But at the same time it didn’t induce primitive frustration in me. I get it. Cars cost a lot to fix. NBD. The situation the fixes solved was far more anxiety inducing honestly. There is, in other words, a balance. Car needed fixing, car got fixed.

There’s no balance here. I’m looking to read some silly, unimportant pulp books for Halloween season. The thought that I would have to spend at minimum 28 dollars (lowest cost as of this writing) for a Freddy Krueger novel is, to be polite, obscene. I’m looking for a couple of hours of fun. They’re looking to charge in some cases $150. Not balanced.

And so here we are. Two situations. One perfectly in balance. The other not. The first will be an ongoing stressor but I get it. The second I can’t come to terms with.

Why else might I be angry here? Well I had power in the car situation. I knew where to take it. I knew how to deal with it. I did. It got resolved. In this case, I’m clinging to hope someone randomly gives their books to goodwill. I can’t do anything against the mountain of corporations to convince them kindle is their friend. I certainly can’t afford the books.

And then there’s the value issue. My wife can’t function without her car. I don’t need these books. I’m not really a horror fan. I’m only looking to dabble. I don’t get this way about rare comic book novels, though those rarely cost obscene amounts and appear often in the wild. I’m not that way at all about graphic novels because Comixology has everything I want.

So it comes down to this. I want what I can’t have. Would I care if they littered the streets? No. I didn’t buy a couple I saw in the wild once though I had no idea how bad the cost was. I don’t want the few I can find. I’ve found a wall of Buffy novels at goodwill I shrugged at. (OK I bought 6 but by my standards.)

That’s what I can’t resolve. But I’ll live.

Why I’ve Been On Hiatus

I’ve been mute on this blog for the last few months and I want to address why.

I haven’t written a new entry since August. A few weeks, maybe no more than one, after I experienced an incident that triggered my PTSD. I’m not going to talk about what it was. I’m only going to say it was a social one relating to online interactions that set me off.

But I’ve been battling intense PTSD lately. That’s beyond dispute. I’ve been extremely sensitive. Very on edge. Very nervous in social interactions.

My PTSD relates heavily to my experiences being teased and made to feel small. Thus I’ve been overly defensive. If someone criticizes me, I don’t want to be back in that place. So I’ve been angrier than I like. I’ve blown up way more than I should. It’s all to keep the fear at bay.

I’ve thought a lot about that period. You can’t ever really get it out of your head. The way you’re treated when you’re abused is not pleasant. You replay it over and over. And you fear that you’re going back.

I’ve also felt less like discussing autism. I’m lucky that my patrons want me to on film. I have no desire to talk about this topic right now. I’d rather run from it.

So bear with me. I’m going through a low. I’ll be back.