Saturday, December 31, 2005

Some New Stuff for the New Year

Okay, y'all on the sidebar you will now see two changes: The Fairytale of the Day, which is a pretty nifty thing in case you happen to be suffering from fairytale deprivation, and really, aren't we all?

Then, under my links, there is a new blog. Yes, I have started a new blog, a blog of dreams, and I'm going to be randomly occasionally entering old dreams from my dream journal, or, should my subconscious life pick up, even new dreams. My dreams are weird as hell, so be warned.

Yeah. Fairytales and dreams - I'm heading for an increasingly surrealistic new year, and that's a good thing, because frankly I've about had it with reality.

Also, happy new year! A fun game and a great cartoon.

2005 In Synopsis and Lists

Well, kids, this is it, the last day of the year, and what a amazingly sucky year it's been, too. I dreamt last night that I was the sacred holder of the magic bungee cord, and I had to protect it at all costs from evil clowns and dark wizards. Seriously. So this must mean something, but I'm damned if I can figure out what, and I really hope it isn't a portent of Things to Come.

Since everyone else in the world is doing Best Albums and Best Movies and Best Books and stuff like that lists, I thought I'd get into the act with a highly biased and personal reflection on 10 Best A Random Number of Somewhat Interesting Things from 2005. I started creating links at the bottom and moved my way up, but I've lost interest in googling, copying and pasting at this point, so if you're interested in these movies you will just have to google them yourself. Sorry about that, but you know, it's a form of exercise and all.

Movies: The new Harry Potter was marvelous, the Brothers Grimm was really good, I think that it was 2005 I discovered Scotland, PA, and even though it's like 5 years old, it's joined my top ten movies ever in my whole life, movies I'd take to a desert island, although then when I got there I'd probably be really bummed that I just had these DVDs and no power to play them, and I would weep and curse that I hadn't used the space for a bag of rice or a bottle of whiskey or something more useful than stupid DVDs. Must Love Dogs bit the big one, it was quite sucky, and I saw Uzumaki, a Japanese horror movie which left lasting scars in the form of total confusion about whether I was being eeped out because the movie was scary or just because it was so, well, bafflingly Japanese.

TV: I rediscovered TV in 2005 in the form of DVDs and so I managed to get completely hooked on first, a gateway drug: Upstairs, Downstairs and then the television equivalent of heroin: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which, if you don't know, is about a vampire detective agency because, see, the whole world, or at least California, is actually infested by demons who live in the underworld and there are dimensional vortices and all kind of demons everywhere, or at least, like I said, in California. Which if you think about it explains a lot, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and the mudslides. Then I watched Lost, which ended much too soon, and now I'm hooked on Six Feet Under which is also, interestingly enough, set in California only with ghosts instead of demons, and I like it despite the fact that I actually pretty much loathe all the characters except for Nate, who I am in love with even though he's irritating too.

Just recently I've rediscovered Jan Willem van de Wetering but there must have been some other books I read in 2005 that left an impression on me, right? Right? I'm trying desperately to remember here. Oh wait, yes, Elizabeth Willey, and Pat Murphy and Tim Powers again and always, and it turns out that Peter S. Beagle actually wrote more than three books, and I got to read those. I'd have to go to my room and look at books to be reminded and I can't leave the computer, because than M (who I'm not actually allowed to mention on my blog anymore, he's embarrassed and furious with me) will seize the computer to play video games and that will be the end of that.

This was the year of Tinariwen for me, African music yay, and also a year that I dredged up a lot of old punk and listened to that, and I discovered the Dropkick Murphys, who rule. I want the new James McMurtry album and the Duhks album and the Robert Earl Keen album, and maybe I'll get them, you never know. Oh and that wretched dog ate Genesis, Selling England By the Pound, and now I have to replace that.

I could go on and on about my personal life, but then I kind of have already done that, for what is this blog if not an extended, cathartic and revelatory (some would say way too revelatory, like embarrassing Mom, jesus, don't you ever mention me again, I don't know what's wrong with you) examination of my personal life, in 2005 and now, soon to be coming your way from the bright future of 2006. Where is my jet pack and super video communicator and condo on Mars, anyway?


My Uncle Jack died yesterday, I'm sorry to report. I have little else to say really; we knew this was coming, I kind of did my mourning already, and, to be terribly honest, I really didn't know him well. My family is not very close; there are long stories here, but I don't feel much like getting into them. Uncle Jack was kind to me when I was a child. I was a late child, younger than his children, my cousins, and on the infrequent occasions when we visited them in Florida or at their summer house in Jackson County, I was alone a lot. He was whimsical and he liked children: neither of these were qualities I associated in my mind with adult men, so I was always charmed. He was charming, my Uncle Jack, and a great raconteur, and a font of stories about Florida before it turned into Disneyland/Retireeland/Environmental Disaster Land. I am sorry that he's gone and my heart goes out to my cousins, because I know just how tough this is, even if you've been expecting it for a long time.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Dangers of Drinking Liberally

Drinking Liberally is a good thing, and if you're in Asheville you should go down to Jack of the Wood every Thursday at 7:00 and proceed to do it. You should, however, watch out for me while you're there: I'll be the one who has had too many beers and agreed to weird ass shit like running for Sheriff of Buncombe County. My head hurts today and I have dim, yet haunting, memories of having altogether too much fun. Perhaps it was actually my evil twin again. You never know when she'll show up.

Somewhere in that fun was the running for Sheriff, or perhaps Registrar of Deeds bit. Now, it's true that I can't seem to get a decent job the ordinary way here in our fair city, and possibly running for office is the only way to get a reasonable salary and benefits, not to mention all the possible kickbacks I can envision, still, I'm not sure I want to be Sheriff. My campaign manager has assured me that all I have to say is that I'm against crime, and I am, you know. Against it. Crime, that is. Truth be told, I'm not really clear on what a Sheriff does, besides run around Nottingham Forest being outwitted and plotting with the dastardly Guy of Gisbon. The Howard Pyle Guy of Gisbon seriously creeped me out as a kid, so I don't think I want to plot with him. Like every other liberal artsy chick worth her salt, I'm in love with Robin Hood anyway. Or, actually, since I figured he was probably taken, I was in love with either Alan a Dale or Will Scarlet. Always the minstrels, always the minstrels. . .

But anyhow, let's get back to this Sheriff thing. On sober reflection I have realized just how much evil fun I could have as Sheriff, and in fact this could be the first step on my long deferred plan for galactic domination. Bow down before me, minions! I am ready to redefine crime in your county; vote Felicity for sheer, anarchic weirdness and a complete, and baby I do mean complete change of regime.

And now I see that I am, in fact, running for Sheriff. Aaaaaaaaaauuuuuuugggggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! I am afraid, very afraid!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Years Approaches

New Years Eve, my least favorite holiday of all, is fast approaching on clonking monster feet. I hate this time of year. It fills me with dread and ennui, and also, I'm getting tired of cleaning the fucking house. The dog has been sick twice in the last 48 hours; the second time, this morning, he managed to do it on the long suffering living room rug. I just finished cleaning it up and it was no fun, although, okay, it was more fun than yesterday's sick in the kitchen, which was really gruesome and you probably don't want the details. The paper towels slid. Isn't that enough? In a just universe, cleaning up two instances of dog vomit in two days ought to be enough to get a pass from housecleaning for all of 2006.

But this isn't a just universe, and yet again I must contemplate what I'll give up in the coming year. Smoking. And drinking. And being fat, which entails giving up eating and time spent lolling around in bed reading novels. 2006 already sounds like a year of penance, and I've had enough of those. I'd throw the I Ching, except that all it ever says is that it will further me to cross the great water. I've no doubt at all that it would totally further me to cross the great water; in fact, crossing the great water would be extremely high on my priorities list if certain stupid nagging little details like paying the rent and eating weren't up there higher. If I give up eating, though, maybe I'll have enough cash to cross at least the little water, which could be either the French Broad River or possibly my basement. I cross the French Broad all the time: usually on my way to the bar, and then I cross it again on the way home, sometimes rather wobblingly, but crossing nevertheless.

2005 was a fairly gruesome year, as most of them seem to be since about, oh, 1972, when I had a pretty enjoyable 3rd grade year and Paul DiAntonio hugged me in the math corner. It's not so good when you get more action in 3rd grade than you do in your 40s. Now, all the radio stations and media outlets are frenziedly hawking the best movies and books and songs and albums and, oh god, I don't know, toilet paper origami animals of 2005, and I haven't heard of hardly any of them. I only go see bad science fiction movies, because that is just who I am, dammit, and they never make the top lists. I read books from the Goodwill, mostly, and while they may have made best of lists in their day, they haven't been mentioned since the late 80s. I lost track of popular music sometime shortly after M was born in 1991, and I guess I'm altogether out of it. Ah well. I have been invited to a New Years Eve party and, because I'm a twit who keeps on having some kind of whacked out faith against all expectations and odds, I'm hoping that it's actually going to be fun. Yeah.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I don't have much time - I have to go pick up M at the Sword & Grail, since he now lives there - but I wanted to tell you about my socks. I am wearing two socks - YES! 2 socks! - and they are BOTH Christmas socks but. . . dah da da da. . . they do not match. One of them is my Christmas sock from last year with the dogs with antlers on it and the other one is the fancier, more exciting Christmas sock of 2005, which is polka dotted and features snowmen with green glitter scarves. My life is getting terribly boring, because when I figured out that I had, now, two Christmas socks instead of the one lonely one with the dogs with the antlers which is the only Christmas sock I have had for a year, my heart was filled with happiness. This is a little moral lesson, you see: it is better to save your hideous Christmas socks forever (forever, I say! Yes, forever! Until you have huge boxes of them all over your room!) because one will inevitably be lost and then you will have another to mate with it, since Christmas socks are not picky and don't care who you mate them with, and, meanwhile, instead of getting angry, wailing and gnashing of your teeth at the loss of one sock, you can simply join it together with another lone sock and be joyous, lo, and all cheerful. It helps to drink heavily.

Also, I finished making my Christmas cards today. Email me if you want one and I'll mail it out sometime in February, I promise.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Post Mortem

Twas the day after Christmas and look, I got gnome pajamas! Which I am still wearing; they soothe my hangover. It was a nice Christmas. M loved his record player and A loved her Men of the Westville Pub calendar, and I, of course, love my gnome pajamas. I finished my friend J's Christmas scarf and then we went on over to my mothers, where my brother gave me a Crazy Cat Lady action figure! Yay! I made a really terrible Christmas dinner (I'm a good cook, dammit, but not when I'm in someone elses' kitchen and especially not when that someone is hovering and complaining and suggesting the whole time, dag nab it mom) and drank too much wine and cleaned up the whole kitchen, which led to some bitterness on my part, and then as I recall I had a Buddhist revelation or moment of satori or nirvana, somehow. Like Li Po, I achieved enlightenment with the help of copious amounts of wine. Unfortunately, also thanks to the wine, I don't remember much about it, but I think it has something to do with every task being as important as washing the baby Buddha, which is of course a fairly well known quote, and not particularly revelatory on an every day level, but what the hell. Last night it was.

Christmas is funny; at the time you're kind of stressed and maybe not totally happy, but immediately 24 hours have passed the whole thing is romanticized in your head and everything, even the memory of the overcooked asparagus and something your mother said that maybe wasn't all that nice and something you wanted for Christmas but didn't get, is sweetly funny and soaked in Christmas spirit. It's like instant nostalgia: ah, I remember when, back yesterday, when it was Christmas, and I wanted to hear carols, and the tree didn't look kind of strange, and having silver pine cones in a bowl on the coffee table didn't seem ludicrous. Ah, wasn't Christmas lovely, everyone was so happy, and the food was so good, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful Christmas, back then, when it was yesterday.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Morning Here

I still have shopping to do, damn damn damn. In a fiendish holiday tradition, a couple days ago I counted all the presents for each kid and discovered, oh horrors, that A had more than M, so I dashed out and got some more presents for M. Well, I wrapped all M's presents yesterday and somehow, in some demon arithmetic, I screwed up and now A has way less presents than M, and so I have to go spend more money I don't have in a crazed attempt to even up the scales, and that bites. Not only that, but I spent so much time telling the kids that this Christmas was not going to be a big one (okay, let's get this clear now: I was raised by Christmas fools who loved spending money and I inherited this gene and Christmas has always been an opportunity for my family to get itself deeply into the kind of debt you never claw your way out from under, so all you sensible types who give your kid $20 and a toothbrush, or one toy a year or something, had better stop reading now, I wish I was you, but I'm not, and we can all give that vain hope up) and now, yet again, there are going to be too many presents under the tree, giving me vague misgivings and guilt of American consumerist greed and overspending, while, meanwhile, neither of the kids will have gotten what they really wanted in the first place. Do you believe that is all one sentence? Wow, I wonder if I won something.

However, what I want to tell you about is a small Christmas miracle whereby I found an unread book by Jan Willem van de Wetering on my bookshelf. This was welcome on many multiple levels, not just because I really like him, and had recently found a collection of short stories I hadn't read either at the library, but also because the library was closed yesterday, and will remain closed until Tuesday. Do you believe it? They allow the library staff to have a real Christmas holiday, the fascists. How dare they? Such a thing was never allowed at the nameless non profit cultural institution where I used to work. Actually, while I support the NY transit strike, the library being closed, and all rights of all workers everywhere (Oi!! Man the barricades!) I was pissed about the closing and stood there stupidly with my plastic Ingles bag of books to return until I ran into another young woman with a shopping bag of books and desolation on her face. "What will we do?" I asked. "I don't know." she said, "I guess I'll have to go buy some books." We walked away sadly. It is, after all, imperative to have books to dive into and escape the madding holiday weekend, and thanks to my foresight in, at some point in some dimly lit and dusty, or, for that matter, fluorescently lit and screeching with hangers, used bookstore or Goodwill or Salvation Army, finding and buying an actual unread by me Grijpstra and de Gier novel, I will have just that. Oh Christmas joy.

And all M wants is to move in to the Sword and Grail and never come home and all A wants is an endless succession of parties, party party party, and all I want is for both of them to immediately cease and desist from this growing up stuff and get small and sweet again, want to stay home and watch Santa on Norad instead of both of them sighing and looking at the clock and saying, "Mom, why exactly do I have to be home Christmas eve? I mean, it's not like there's anything you really need me for" and so on. But ah well, that won't happen, and it's their nature to not want to be home. Maybe next year I'll book myself a cruise or something ghastly like that and they can have the house. Or not.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Moving Right Along - and, just for you, Santa Badger!

I need to wrap presents and clean the house, in particular the kitchen floor, which has had several unfortunate incidents with pomegranates lately. I need to not be doing this, or reloading AVG because XP made me or trying to figure out why every fucking thing I download goes to a mystery desktop that isn't mine and may in fact not even be on this planet since sometimes windows explorer recognizes it as a place and sometimes it does not. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. At the very least I need to be knitting, knitting madly, knitting like the knitting fool I am. Wait til you see the pictures I will take on Christmas of the many amazing knitted gifts I have made. You will be shocked and awed. Or something. And M wants a wallet now and also I have to go buy a tiny buddha to make a tiny shrine or possibly a statue of Oprah; do they sell devotional statues of Oprah yet, and if not, why not? And, the other day in a moment of madness I bought a $30 disposable digital video camera (isn't technology getting amazingly strange?) and I have to figure out how to work it so that I can make a heartwarming Christmas movie.

To continue with my computer issues, I was just searching for a copy of Santa Badger because Christmas just isn't complete without it, and when I clicked on the first google link, my browser got highjacked by Adult Friend Finder. That isn't supposed to happen with Firefox and I'm pissed off. It was a royal pain in the ass to undo, too. However, be happy. You won't have to google & get highjacked; you have it here. Yay for Santa Badger!

Last nights Drinking Liberally went very well I thought and it is beginning to look like we're gonna get this thing off the ground. So if you were not showing up because you feared being forced into work or organization or something, it's okay now. Henceforth Thursday evenings are the official time to step away from the computer and come down to Jack of the Wood to talk politics in a non threatening and funny and relaxed manner. If you're lucky M will come along to tell us all about how revolution is actually, like, totally simple, dude. So, man, merry revolutionary Christmas! Yeah!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Grow Christmas!

Grow has a new Christmas game. And, of course, it's the best Christmas game ever. No, really, it is. The best. Play it, you will see. Ah, I love, love, love Grow. Also, they have a Grow Cube which I had somehow missed as I navigated my way around all the different Grow games.

Bah Humbug

Okay, five days to Christmas - it's FREAK OUT time! I'm knitting madly yet I have not even begun some of the scarves I must make. The one I'm making for my brother is getting longer and longer. It's ugly. It's bumpy. It has odd holes and pokey-out bits. I'm hoping that if it reaches Dr. Who lengths then these flaws will be less visible - hope springs eternal during this magic time of the year, doesn't it? I'm also hoping that Santa's magic elves descend on my house, clean it and leave behind a sizable check. As I knit and make crafts I have begun to realize something: all my artwork has a certain charming childish naivete. That's a nice way of saying that everything I make looks like it was made by a doped up pre teen. That's okay. I plan on telling my brother that he can pick up girls wearing this scarf: he just has to explain how his poor sister, who takes massive amounts of thorazine, made it in crafts class at the institution. These theoretical girls will be charmed by his fraternal affection.

Also in crafting news, I had bought A some underpants, which I planned to embellish with transfers of otters. The picture on the package of underpants I bought looked like little boy shorts - a pink pair and a blue pair, how cute. How cute indeed, until I opened the package, when they turned out to be giant, enormous, and huge granny briefs that come up to your rib cage. So I'm not going to embellish them with otters and in fact I would give them to Goodwill except I think they might make a hilarious Halloween costume.

A Haiku:

Ah Christmas Crafts
Bringing Halloween Joy
for next year

M & I went to Best Buy yesterday and got Windows XP which I then downloaded. W00t! My l33t 5klllz r001 - it's working. After several hours. And somehow it reloaded all the crap game software I spent 3 hours deleting. God damn you Bill Gates! Also, I need RAM, and RAM is expensive shit. I had no idea - I also have no idea how we've been running on as little RAM as we have. I think we have like 12 megs of RAM, no lie. Clearly this is not enough, but more costs hundreds of dollars, so we'll have to rely on Santa's magic elves for that as well, drat.

However and meanwhile, while we were there, looking at Battlefield 2 and realizing that there was no way it would run on our system, this nice kind of elvish looking guy came up to us. Turns out he's part owner of the Sword & Grail, which is a local geek hangout par excellence, which M loves and which I try not to enter, since I deeply covet their several Cerebus books but I can't afford them. Anyhow, he talked to us for a while and ended up giving M 4 free hours on the computer games at the store. This made M very happy - me too, since it means I get to use my own computer, and also gets him out of my hair for a bit so I can obsess & freak out over his (lack of) Christmas gifts. This (total strangers offering gifts) is the kind of thing that happens to M all the time. It's interesting. He's thinking of starting a cult, and that does seem like a fairly good career option for his kind of charisma. As for me, I spotted several quite cute geeks at the Sword & Grail so maybe I should start hanging out there and just reading Cerebus.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Science Experiment

If you set off a firecracker in a styrofoam bowl of shaving cream, it won't do much except blow a small smoky hole in the shaving cream. If you leave a styrofoam bowl of shaving cream outside in freezing weather for three days, it will not change at all, and in fact it won't freeze, melt or even, get this, feel cold to the touch. Conclusion: shaving cream is some weird ass shit.

M is better, but I feel creepy. I'm not throwing up or anything; I just feel creepy, like faintly dizzy, faintly nauseated, faintly tired, faintly sleepy. It's possible that this is my normal state - I can never remember - or maybe instead of getting the full on stomach bug I'll just creep around for days feeling mysteriously icky. Blah. However, today is a momentous day. Today I bit the bullet & bought Windows XP, so as soon as I back up everything currently on this computer onto CD, I will be installing. Hopefully I'll see you again, she said portentously. I'm also going to try to install some more RAM and I have NO clue how to do that.

In other news, Barbieri's death has created a power vacuum among the neighborhood cats, and watching them maneuver around the yard is interesting. Mr. Bill is just too paranoid/schizophrenic to be a major player, so it's between the big orange cat who lives I think down the street and my next door neighbors tortoiseshell. I like both these cats, but my money's on the orange one, who used to lie in my front yard and yowl back and forth with Barbieri. He's tough. Well, he's tough until you approach him, at which point he wants to be cuddled. Mr. Bill watches all this with horror and incomprehension; he's as terrified of other cats as he is of most things, including us. A has pointed out that this year has been a terrible one for pets around our household, and the survivors are both neurotic. That may be why: after all, a little healthy paranoia can be a smart and helpful trait.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Kid is Home / The Kid is Barfing

The title pretty much sums it up. Poor M, he's really sick, and it started suspiciously about five hours after he ate at the Taco Bell on Patton Avenue. I've looked up nausea and vomiting and stomach cramps on every web site I could find and the consensus is that there's nothing to do but ride it out for 12 hours and see what happens. M never gets sick; he has a cast iron constitution, so when he does get ill it throws him off more, I think, than people who are a bit more accustomed to it. And, of course, because he is my baby and I dote, I am all worried. But he has no fever, none of the scary symptoms: he's just throwing up and his stomach hurts. God damn Taco Bell. A & I are fine, and he's the only one who had Taco Bell, so I have spotted the culprit. I selfishly hope that's it, and not something contagious.

In other news, though, the tree is decorated and looks pretty good for a slightly sad, slightly skinny tree. The nativity scene, including Ganesha, the Dalai Lama, Santa Claus, Herne the Horned God and the Buddha, is set up on the mantel, surrounded by greenery and lights, and I, having perfected the shaving cream marbleization technique, am making slightly peculiar Christmas cards.

Shaving Cream Marbleizing:
You will need a can of shaving cream, some blank cards & 2 colors of watercolor paint. It helps to have paper plates & disposable plastic knives & stuff too.
Mix the watercolor with a little water until it is pretty liquidy and thin - think food coloring or ink. Spread about a half inch of shaving cream across a paper plate. Smooth it out, then gently pour some of each color paint on top. I found it worked better to pick up the plate and tilt it until the colors kind of ran over each other but didn't really blend; you can try using a plastic fork or something to move the paint around as well. Press your paper on top of the shaving cream and then remove. If there are blank spots, gently repeat. Then (warning: this is the mistake I made last time! That and using too many colors!) leave them to dry overnight. In the morning you can wipe the excess shaving cream off with a paper towel, no problem, but if you do it now you'll wreck the whole thing. It ends up not looking exactly marbleized, and not real dark either, but pretty and unusual.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Official Start of the Holidays

M is home. I drove up through the melting ice and experienced our mountain micro climates first hand: there was no snow in Burnsville, but as soon as I got to the other side of town, there was, and it got thicker and deeper as I got into Celo. Beautiful, although as I've said before, I'm a snow driving wimp.

M has been reading Che Guevara and Revolution for the Hell of It. General Ernesto apparently had quite a lot to say on a variety of subjects; primarily that in a revolution, either you win or you die. I thought this was too simple, but M, whose new ambition is to be a revolutionary, says that revolution is simple. Very simple: General Ernesto said so. Don't buy into the corporate American deathwatch - if everyone just stopped working altogether than we could start a revolution. Mmmmmmmmkay. M also asked how my quest for the perfect man was going.
"It's hopeless." I said, "And anyway, I'm not even looking. I gave all that up."
"There has to be somebody," he said, "Even if not in Asheville. Maybe you should go to Japan."
"Those Asian guys are probably totally desperate." said M cheeringly. "They'd love you."
"I guess I could get a Russian mail order husband" I said doubtfully.
"That would be cool," remarked General Ernesto. "I really want to go to Russia. It's where communism came the closest to working."

On our way home, after a stop at the Evil Food Empire (because we wanted to get McSick, I guess. The McTummyache. The McHurls, and also the General really wanted to try a McRib, and it's okay, because we weren't really giving them that much money where it would make a difference) we went to get a Christmas tree. There's a sign just through Burnsville that said 4000 trees pick your own. I wanted 4000 trees, so we went: over the jarring unmarked speed bumps and through the trailer park to scary Grandpa's Tree Farm we went. There were not 4000 trees there at the end of the trailer park. There were more like 40, and they were kind of sad, and the three hatchet faced old men guarding the trees looked like extras from Deliverance. We turned our hippy car around and took our long haired selves out of there accompanied by sneering angry looks. Then we went to the place we went last year. Closed, said a big cardboard sign. It was closed last year too, but there was no sign, so we cut a tree down anyway. The sign, though, makes it too official for such guerrilla action. We went to another place down the road. Tree farm is kind of a glamourous appellation for about 30 odd small fir trees planted among the rhododendrons on the near vertical slope above a brick rancher with a satellite dish, but whatever. A boy about M's age came out and helped us; he was cute, shy, and nearly silent. $25 later and we have a somewhat smaller than usual, sparser than before, tree in the living room. But it's going to be cute. It leans a bit. It has some bare spots. I guess it was a bad year for the Christmas tree farms.

So, the tree is up but not decorated yet except for the lights and garland. We're waiting for A to do that; poor A, who I kind of roped into a babysitting gig for a friend of mine that will go on until the wee hours. And, as usual, my computer access will be random and brief through the next weeks as the General creates a revolution via Battlefield 1942. And I am happy, sitting in the living room looking at the tree lights, knitting and listening to Etta James sing Christmas carols while M makes derogatory remarks about my taste in music and Theo, driven mad by happiness over having his boy home, runs in whacked out collie circles around the house.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

ice storm my house

ice storm my house
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Ice, ice baby.

ice storm tree and wires

ice storm tree and wires
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
and more ice, more ice and gray.

ice storm side of house

ice storm side of house
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Ice, ice everywhere. Ice on Barbieri's body, still lying down on the corner, ice on the trees, ice falling from the sky, icicles on the tree outside the window that I'm looking out right now. Ice, and rain, and I wish I had gone up to Celo last night & picked up M, because driving out there tomorrow morning may be a dubious proposition at best. A is bored & lying in bed doing sudoku puzzles; I'm running around taking pictures and worrying about my camera in the freezing rain; Theo and Mr. Bill are sleeping on A's bed with her. There is a distinct possibility of Monopoly later in the day and this just doesn't seem to be as exciting as I thought it would be. Oh and ice: cancelling Drinking Liberally for the second week in a row. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Land of the Unwanted

Barbieri is really and truly gone this time. barbieri fall dust bath I am sad - when I got these cats, I was determined not to love them, determined that they were employees and nothing more, not members of the family, not beloved pets.

Welcome to psychic world. Just as I finished typing that, the phone rang. It was a guy who'd seen one of my Lost Cat flyers and wanted to let me know that Barbieri was dead. His body is down at the corner. He was hit by a car. God damn it. God DAMN it. I know I shouldn't let the cats go outside, but we live on such a quiet street, and have such a huge backyard, well away from the cars, and what the fuck was he doing all the way down on that street anyway? I don't really know what to do now. The ground is frozen; I can't bury him, but it seems wrong to let him lie there.

All gray cats are unlucky. My gray cat Zippy, all gray, like Barbieri, was hit by a car too. Fred, aka the most wonderful cat in the world, was gray and white, like Mr. Bill, and he died young of a blood clot/heart attack. Now I'm worried about Mr. Bill. He's been crying since Barbieri disappeared, just sitting in the kitchen and crying. He's the shy brother, the almost feral one, the timid cat who flees from people. He has never been separated from Barbieri since some lovely person dumped them and their siblings on the side of the Parkway.

Which leads me to the original subject of this post, the land of the unwanted: Leicester. Yesterday A & I ventured to Leicester to the Humane Society to see if by chance Barbieri was there. Leicester is a bit grim, or at least the parts of it visible from Old Leicester Highway are grim. (As an aside for those of you who don't live here, Leicester is variously pronounced as Lee-sester, Lester, Lie-sester and so on. There is no agreement between pronounciations and vicious fights often break out. Well actually I'm lying. About the viciousness of the fights.) On the way to the humane society you pass a cemetery and crematorium and then the Eliada Home, which is essentially the orphanage. Then we passed a trailer park with a blurred cardboard sign advertising a 74 Chevy pickup for sale. "So," said A, "Leicester is where unwanted stuff goes - unwanted kids, unwanted animals, unwanted 74 Chevy trucks."

That's exactly what Leicester is, and as we passed Erwin High School on our way to the Juvenile Detention Facility (unwanted teenagers) and the animal shelter, it just got more depressing. The animal shelter was tough to take. It's tiny and overcrowded and not a cheerful happy place, and it's where, of course, I took Jackson. We had to walk through two or three rooms of dogs to get to the cats and I couldn't look; I was praying he wouldn't be there, and he wasn't. I know realistically that he's been put down and is dead by now but I still wish I'd had the courage to put a bullet in his head myself, instead of his last memories being fear, and pain, and the smell and sound of a hundred terrified dogs that is that place.

As we looked at the cats and kittens, none of whom, obviously, was Barbieri, I kept thinking about the pet mega stores: the Super Petz, the PetSmart. My mother says it's obscene (although she buys her speciial dog food there) and I agree with her; there's something terribly wrong about aisles and aisles of gourmet dog food and cat food and toys and special bowls and collars and grooming implements while people are starving and shivering in tents after hurricanes and earthquakes. And to that list I'd like to add: while animals are shivering and dying by the thousands in Buncombe County alone, perfectly normal, loving animals who deserve a good home. There are lonely, broken kids at Eliada Homes and lonely, broken animals at the Asheville Humane Society and all in all, I don't think I ever want to go back to Leicester.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Vonnegut on Washington

With his usual elan. A short and chilling read.

New Hair In the Cold

I have new and fabulously glamourous new hair (picture to follow if I get motivated enough to figure out the self timer on the camera; don't hold your breath) thanks to Sweet Tea, who spent 4 hours yesterday cutting it, dying it, putting mysterious highlights in it and even waxing my eyebrows. Not only that, she cut A's hair & fixed her eyebrows too. I barely recognized myself when I brushed my teeth this morning, and believe me, that's a good thing. Sweet Tea is good at this stuff, she is serious, professional and knows what she's doing and as a result, I look like a million bucks. Huge thanks to Sweet Tea and her also sweet husband Uptown Ruler whose house was invaded by women for an entire evening which didn't seem to bother him and who added a tracker to this site for me so I can see where y'all are coming from (bwah ha ha ha.) Also kudos to their very sweet son (Sweet Ruler? Uptown Tea?) who is one of the nicest 18 month olds I know and who did a really great dance with a bamboo cane; I foresee a bright future in vaudeville.

Also, their house is warm. I may have to go back and just stay there, because I have slowly begun to figure out that this house is not warm, has no warmth in it, and why is that? It is because there is no, as in none, as in zero, as in zip, zilch and nada, insulation in this house. This house, which was built in 1925, is made of brick. The third pig, or whoever built this little house, put up brick walls on the outside and then finished the inside walls with nice smooth plaster. If only he had salvaged his brother's work and brought over a layer of straw, but alas, he just used brick. There's no wood, no studs, no sheetrock and nothing between us and the 25 degree weather outside but a layer of brick, which, if you didn't know, is not noted for it's heat holding qualities. That is why I keep ending up staying in bed all day (okay, I'm lazy too, I grant you that): it is the only way to keep warm. I'm sitting here shivering now despite the thermal undershirt, heavy wool sweater, jeans, wool socks and fuzzy slippers - and my fingers are getting numb again.

Yesterday I stayed in bed and knitted. I have to go buy more wool, because my hideously deformed scarf is not long enough. It turns out wool is sold by the gram, like cocaine, and, also like cocaine, you need a lot of grams. The label on my ball of wool said that it would make one scarf. Yeah, for Barbie, maybe, but not for a human being. I've used two balls and it still isn't long enough. It is true that my scarf inexplicably goes from quite narrow to quite wide and back again (it undulates, okay? It's a natural wave phenomenon.) although I have no idea how I keep picking up and/or dropping stitches without noticing. Who cares, anyway? It is a scarf I knitted myself and I am proud. Also cold. Do you think it would be too pathetic to spend the day in the public library near a heat vent, knitting and mumbling to myself? I may yet find out.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Personality Test

Well Damn. This is NOT my
personality profile
according to the people at this website . I took the test and everything, but when you click on that link, it takes you to the survey results of an extroverted male. Mine was that of an introverted female, an introvert who likes parties, a sloppy artist, an imaginative person with no ambition. But instead of letting introverted, creative, quiet little me look at my results, I've been supplanted. By an extroverted, uncreative male. Goddamn alpha males weasel their way in everywhere, take over even the small bits of cyber space we lower profile types have carved out in a quiet corner for ourselves. Bastards.

But I like taking quizzes, so we'll forgive the personality project and move on, what the hell. At this site, you can take a personality test by drawing a house! The test was more fun but apparently my house drawing indicates far more serious psychological problems than the personality project did. Your mileage, of course, may vary, but this is my house, which indicates that I will a) live alone forever and b) continue yearning hopelessly for love. Too bad I'm not an extroverted male.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Crafting Madness!

Okay, fellow craftaholics: I have learned a new skill. I have learned to. . . knit! Yes, me and 6 billion other hipstresses across the world; as usual, I'm about 2 or 3 years late, but I've finally learned to knit. A and I went over to my mom's today and she taught us how. I've already knitted almost a foot of a very, um, unusual scarf. It's charming! It's naive! The width varies madly in only a foot!

I went to Michaels' again today. I bought all kinds of crafty goodness fun - yes, art supplies are a drug, not unlike crack, only requiring far more storage room - and fell for the frothy, furry fun yarn, the yarn that was on sale with a picture of a great scarf on the front and the encouraging legend: easy beginner 1 hour scarf pattern included. One hour, I thought, hell, I can manage one hour, and so can A, and knitting will be good for us, and Mom will love teaching us. The girl at the checkout looked doubtfully at my yarn, which is the multi colored kind with bits of fuzz sticking vibrantly out everywhere, and my giant blue chrome knitting needles and said, "Have you made one of these before?"
"Oh no," I said blithely. "I've never knitted - my mother is going to teach me this afternoon."
"One afternoon?" she questioned.
"Oh sure." I said. "No problem."

And it hasn't been a problem. I've only been working on my scarf for about 4 solid hours now and I have almost 10 inches done. Impressive, huh? I'm clearly a natural. A has unraveled 3 scarf beginnings and gone and bought different yarn already, but me, I'm just keeping on going. I figure if it gets long enough the holes and odd bits won't show so much. I feel like I joined a club, and I want to go to the stitch and bitch meetings at the Westville, and I'm just all excited. I can knit! Sort of. My mother, who's been knitting on and off for almost 60 years, started talking to A about argylle socks, and sweaters, and purling. She patted me on the head and said I was doing a good job, but she didn't want to teach me how to purl right away. She said it would confuse me, and since I have noted that I tend to forget how to knit as soon as I put the needles down, she may be right. A, now, she'll teach A to purl no problem. A has been busily fixing any problems in her scarf. Imagine! Me, I just keep on going, and my scarf is way longer than hers, although, okay, it looks a little unusual. Yes. Unusual, creative, different, and it has holes in it where something wrong seems to have happened. Very different. Different enough where you think maybe it was left behind by a visiting clown.

Meanwhile, the gourds, the christmas cards, the T-shirts (you know when it says on a package of T-shirt transfer things that they'll only work on light colored material? They aren't kidding about that.) and several other crafts in progress have taken over my dining room, and I don't really have time to blog. Must return to knitting before I forget how - oh help.

Barbieri is Missing

We haven't seen Barbieri for over 24 hours now and I'm starting to obsess, freak out, and really get upset. He's gone walkabout before, for up to 3 days, so this wigout of mine is probably premature, but on the other hand it's 25 degrees outside, and he's only ever left before in the summer.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Crafting and Low Self Esteem Dreams

I was up until 1:00 this morning creating what are quite possibly the worlds' ugliest Christmas Cards. I mean they are so horrible that I'm not even going to photograph them. You will just have to imagine how terrible they are. I had this brilliant idea wherein I would marbleize cards and then do potato print snowman in glitter on top of them. In my imagination these cards were utterly beautiful, abstract, sophisticated, modern and elegant. In reality they look like something some alien being, and not a friendly one, would make for Christmas as part of his disguise. Christmas Cards by Invader Zim.

The problem, as usual, was that I figured I could just wing this whole project in one night without knowing any of the processes involved or having any of the materials except potatos and my giant horde of miscellaneous antique art supplies. I found this nifty site that told me how to marbleize paper using shaving cream and watercolor by just sort of floating the watercolor on top of an inch of shaving cream. "Shaving cream?!?" I thought. "Cool!" First I tried my shaving cream. It's gel, not cream, and it didn't quite work. Moreover, the smell of an entire pie dish full of it is a bit , uh, overpowering, and anyway I was nearly out. The cards looked muddy, and it was hard to get the shaving stuff off, and my kitchen sink was full of technicolor shaving cream. So I went to BJs, bought shaving cream (Colgate, Arctic Fresh) and a 6 pack and some cigarettes and came back home to start again. The smell of a whole pie dish of Colgate Arctic Fresh is something to be reckoned with, let me tell you. It was so arctically fresh in here that my eyes teared, and when I left the room for a minute I realized that I was nearly blind. Driven mad by the fumes, I decided to use acrylic craft paint instead of watercolor. It makes hideous mud so much faster, after all. Then I cut a potato into a deformed snowman (form of: a hideous mutant snowman! Go wonder twins!) and poured glitter paint onto a paper plate and tried to stamp it. Wow, cool, puddles of glitter paint everywhere. I tried a stencil and a silver pen. Huge glops and blorts of silver ink everywhere - green and purpleish mucky fingerpainted background with blops of silver - how appealing. How charming. How, uh, childlike. Put it over there, behind all the other cards. No, wait, just burn it with the Yule log, and quickly . . . wait, what's that smell? Aaaurrrghh! Burning Arctic Fresh!

So I wisely gave up and went to bed, where I promptly had a dream which tells of extremely low self esteem. Note that rhyme; it would make a nice depressing country song. It was a sex dream, about a person I know on the internet only, and not actually a person for whom I harbor any of those feelings, or at least I didn't think I did, and also he got kind of mixed up with a fellow student of mine from MICA years ago. Anyway it was a wonderful sex dream and everything was great and in fact afterwards we were walking hand in hand and a whole bunch of people we know online were there. It was beautiful and romantic movie like, with a soundtrack, lacking only cartoon birds and flowers and then - he ditched me hard. At which point everyone laughed at me (including my brother who was suddenly there at a desk selling concert tickets) and even the ones who didn't laugh at my face were talking to each other about what a fool I was. I was running around, unable to believe it, trying to hope that it was just a mistake, looking for him, calling him, and realizing, wow, he really did just walk away from me with no intention of ever seeing me again. I actually woke up in tears, real tears. This isn't funny, is it? Damn. It's funny in a really pathetic way, yes it is. I swear.

Friday, December 09, 2005

my southpark avatar

my southpark avatar Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
And you can make one too, right here! I think it's kind of scarily accurate, actually, except it turns out that they do have cigarettes, and I didn't see that until it was too late; damn.

Check it out! Another avatar generator. This is the one I used to change my profile picture. I have to admit that the South Park one is probably more accurate, alas. But what the hell. I kind of like looking like a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and some anime chick, and, hell, there's probably some accuracy there too.

The Non Ice Storm

There was supposed to be a big ole ice storm tonight. It started out promising, but then it fizzled, and now it's just raining again. Bummer. I stayed home like a responsible citizen when I could have been out drinking and talking politics! Now I feel like a wimpy idiot, and instead, A & I drank hot cider and Jamisons and watched Starsky and Hutch (three thumbs down) and Dazed and Confused (11 thumbs up.) Also, I called my friend J and told her not to go out either, and thus I deprived her of a fun clothes swap night, and so I, like, suck. It was pretty cool in the beginning, though, when the leaves were all coated with ice. I know, it's dangerous, and not a Good Thing, but it was pretty, and different. It did get kind of windy, though.

I am a cold weather car wimp, though, it is true. I learned how to drive in South Carolina, and they don't teach snow and ice, and even through a decade in Maryland, I somehow managed to avoid learning much. Anyway, Baltimore, in a remarkable show of city unity, refuses to believe that it has ever snowed in the city. It snows every year, to much consternation, wailing and gnashing of teeth, orgasmic behavior by TV weatherpeople, all schools cancelled, the city shut down and so on, but nobody believes that it will ever happen again. So they don't bother to buy or repair their snowplows (all 3 of them) because, you see, it doesn't snow in Baltimore! It's beautiful, really, a city government and people acting in concord, eliminating winter weather through the sheer force of disbelief. Similar to New Orleans - why rebuild the levees when floods don't happen there?

Meanwhile, in other breaking news, and this is important, so listen up: Drinking Liberally Asheville starts next Thursday at 7:00 pm at Jack of the Wood and I am the cohost, along with Screwy Hoolie of Scrutiny Hooligans and BlogAsheville fame, and so y'all should come down and drink a beer or three and talk about politics and help us decide exactly what this liberally drinking pony should look like when we're done building it. He is in charge of politics; I am in charge of dumb wisecracks, except for the part where I get real serious and start muttering things about impeachment, and plutocracy, and America destroyed by the rich corporate vampires, and, OI! the plight of the working classes. So be there.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Suckiness of Capitalism

Okay, I've now been offered two jobs. Two $9 an hour jobs that I will hate with an undying passion, but I have to take one of them, I guess, and so I am waiting for them to call me back. I am not ebullient; I am not enthused; I am not looking forward to some miserable scut secretarial job that will net me less than unemployment paid me to do nothing, but there you have it. Money is money, and I need it. So, whine. Whine whine whine whine, and hopefully tomorrow I will be heading off to the accounting office of an electronics factory somewhere in Woodfin or Weaverville. Yay me. I can always quit, right? Right? I hate having to earn an honest living. I suck at it so badly.

To visit the other side of capitalism's tawdry, tarnished, leering and lipstick smudged face, I went to the mall on Monday. It was just as awful as I thought it might be, and the soundtrack, of relentlessly horrific Christmas music, was even worse. I stopped by Victoria's Secret (just for the hell of it, not to purchase any gifts, I swear, and you shouldn't be reading my blog anyway) and ended up in line behind a woman who apparently thinks of Victoria's Secret as her home away from home. It was a little eerie. She had her husband and her mother (or his mother) in tow, and frankly none of them looked like Victoria's Secret types, but she knew all the salesgirls by name, talked about what she had just bought and soon would be buying, and apologized for not making it to the last fashion show (VS has fashion shows at the Asheville Mall? Jesus, civilization as we knew it is indeed over.) and promised to make it to the next one. It was a strange moment in the age old art of in line eavesdropping. Then I went to Spencer Gifts, oh god help me. I can't understand why Spencer Gifts is allowed to stay in business. It's one of those conundrums in an apparently increasingly theocratic society: sex and drugs and rock and roll are bad, bad, but we must have an outlet for them, and so, Spencer Gifts, beloved home of the marijuana leaf bead curtain, the attractive "You're 50 Now And Can't Get It Up!" joke T-shirt, giant card and shot glass, the black light AC/DC poster and so on. Also the home of the strobe light, which M wanted (no doubt for some nefarious reason) for his birthday tomorrow, and which he will duly receive, if UPS does their job right.

Actually, the other mysterious thing about Spencer Gifts is the large area devoted to "old fart" jokes and birthday cards, for 40 and 50 year olds. Does anyone over the age of 15 actually shop at Spencer Gifts? Do they actually find that stuff funny? Are there really people like that, and, if so, how can I make sure I continue to successfully avoid them?

In other news, my friend D made a flying visit up here from Savannah & it was good to see him. Also, it is Jay "Bird on the Moon" Joslin's birthday today and not only that, but he came over & tweaked my blog template the other night, which explains why it is now wider, ha ha, and you, gentle reader, have been fooled into actually reading more words than you were before while the posts still look as if they are the same length! He is a genius and a good friend and I'm glad he got around to being born 33 years ago.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Back In The Day

christmas babies
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Digging around in the Christmas stuff yesterday (the lights were at the far back of the shed, all the way through the horrible gloom haunted by many tiny importuning ghosts and my phobic fear of having a mouse leap up my leg) I found these photos, which are framed together in a seasonally red glitterpainted frame and brought out once a year for mantelpiece adornment. These are my kids, each at about a year old, M on the left and A on the right. A totally got the better Santa, although M's setting (inner harbor, Baltimore, while A's was some mall in either Colorado or South Carolina) is better. But still, aren't they adorable? Aren't they just the most wonderful scrumptious babies? It makes me come all over weak at the knees with love and mother bear adoration and I want to go to Toys R Us and buy them something big and plastic and fun and just, oh, squeeze their lovely sweet little selves and rejoice in the Christmas tree and the lights and the wonders of a big cardboard box full of styrofoam peanuts.

Then I remember, oh shit, they're really big now and they want expensive stuff for Christmas. Damn.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I Can't Find the Christmas Lights

So far this morning I have summoned up all my courage and ventured into the mouse haunted shed and the just generally haunted basement, but no Christmas lights. I have opened up the hall closet and narrowly escaped death from the cascade of dog gates, vacuum cleaner parts and winter coats that fell upon me: no Christmas lights. I have exhumed the basket of Christmas books and tapes, the Christmas Witch Hat and the plastic box of Christmas tree lights, but no outdoor Christmas lights.

It is possible that they are at the very bottom of the large plastic trunk of Christmas tree ornaments, and if that is true, than my heart lies heavy upon me, oh woe, and darkness shall be all my reward. Because that would, like, suck. I wonder if I am capable of being that much of an idiot: yeah, of course I am. I'm actually considering going out & buying a bunch of new ones, even though that would be ridiculous and criminally insane, still it might be better than gently taking out every. single. tree. ornament and then getting out the lights and then putting the ornaments gently back again. Because, you see, I want to put up the outside decorations today, and then get the tree on the 16th when I go pick up M from school, and we can stop and cut one down at one of the many Yancey county tree farms, which is what we did last year: cheaper & fresher than a cut one and way more fun. Last year there was nobody at the tree farm so we cut down a tree & rolled it down the mountain ourselves. Yes, I put $30 under the farmhouse door. I'm dumb, but I'm honest.

This is a large box of Christmas tree ornaments we're talking about here, a very large, enormous box, chock full of Christmas goodness in the form of the many many luscious ornaments I have acquired over the years, including such gems as Shiny Jesus, Santa riding a tractor and pigs cavorting in a snowglobe. It takes hours to get them all out and hours to wrap them all in bubble wrap and newspaper and put them all back in again. My heart quails. I'm not strong enough. But I want, really want, to get Rudolph & Frosty & the other snowman & the blue spiral tree & the white flamingos and all lit up; I want to string lights all over my porch and the bushes and out to the tree; I want a goddamn big ass tacky Christmas display, by god, and I want it now!

Maybe they're in the shed after all; I'm afraid to go too deep in there. Ick. I was too afraid to get the Christmas tree stand in case it had dead mice in it; almost everything in there does. It's a horrible haunted mouse graveyard with little half dead mouse ghouls and swaying zombie mice in the shed, and hunks of stained fur and feathers - it's the cats playground and the mouse killing fields. Gah. Bleargh. Maybe I'll just go hiking instead and fuck the lights. I leave you with this amazingly wonderful celebration of the true Christmas spirit:

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Winter and Franz Wright

It is cold. Cold and dark and intermittently sleeting; the furnace keeps kicking on with that distinctive clunk/ka-ching! noise recognized everywhere as money going up in literal oily smoke. Fortunately, I sold some family heirlooms on Wednesday and so have money to burn: my mantel is denuded, but my pockets are full. Anyway, these weren't the serious family heirlooms. I can't sell those until I'm running for a train with Nazis after me, which may, of course, happen any time given the current political situation. If I do have to run for a train, today's definitely the day for it: it looks like a 40s film out there, grey and streaked and occasionally kind of buzzing to a halt. Or maybe that's me.

I spent yesterday in bed re-reading Maia, Richard Adams' semi pornographic and extremely lengthy fantasy novel from the 70s. I remembered it as being really pornographic but apparently I was much more easily shocked as a teenager, or standards were different, or something, because the sex scenes are kind of pitiful, really. Bummer, because there isn't much else there to keep your interest. It's one of those actually fairly creepy visions of teenage girl sexuality as interpreted by a man over 65 and an old school fantasy novel, which means the names were apparently created by randomly drawing letters from a Scrabble bag with the help of liberal hyphen usage. Still, it whiled away yesterday's hangover. I have to stop drinking like that.

It would be one thing if I went out and got plastered and went dancing (which I did, on Thursday night, and had fun, too, and danced like a maniac to the music of my youth) and then came home and crashed out, but no, I have to come home and make a fool of myself on the computer. I remember every gruesome little detail, too, and it makes my skin crawl with anxiety. But it's okay, because I read the new New Yorker from cover to cover this morning, and in the middle of it there is a lengthy poem by Franz Wright. I hardly ever read poetry, but I read Franz Wright. There's a poem of his on my refrigerator which has been there for several years; it is called Year One and goes like this:

I was still standing
on a northern corner--

Moonlit winter clouds the color of the desperation of wolves.

of your existence? There is nothing

And here I am, in the lovely coldth of my kitchen, looking at clouds the color of, perhaps, the puzzlement or the melancholy of wolves, and the proof of my existence is a blush inducing memory of rather a long, hungry soliloquy on IRC about diner crockery that then became a brief argument with a net acquaintance about the merits of Neal Stephenson, which ended when he pointed out that I was too drunk to type, which, clearly, I was.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Notes from the Drunken Zone

Okay. It was a long and strange day that ended up with me dancing at Stella Blue's 80s night for hours and now I'm way drunk. So tomorrow I will make hoperully a sensible post. Meanwhile, some notes so I don't forget it all.

1. I argued about Catholicism for a long time with my friend at Broadways. Central question seemed to be: can you accept the doctrines of the church given all the recent revelations, can you say it's individual human error and priests are human? I say no, catechism taught us that priests aren't human but representatives of god on earth, the pope, and anyway the hierarchy of saints would say that nobody acts individual. Long argument. Also rotten bourbon on sale so then had to buy good bourbon to prove what the difference in taste is. Also, then I gave my phone number to the bartender who I have had an enormous crush on since forever. Then I became catatonic, because, well, you know.

2. Dancing for hours to 80s music. Took off my sweater and danced in a camisole and corduroys. Danced with a gorgeous man. Danced with my best friend. Danced with her boyfriend. Went to the ladies' room and listened in to girls freaking out about men; came out all Mother Wisdom and said, well, I am older than all of you. They came out of stalls and LO, were the same age as me. Turned out half the people in the damn bar were late 30s, early 40s, just like me.

2a: I got carded last night at Barleys. Hallelujah!

3. Drinking Liberally. More later.

4. Wow, I'm way drunk Love you all!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Creativity Run Amok

I made the terrible mistake of going into the new Michael's Crafts on Airport Road the other day. It's gigantic and set in a horrible new strip mall of enormous big box stores: there's a Lowes and a Ross Dress for Less and a PetSmart and a Best Buy and many other things, besides Michaels, all stuck together in a long eco-unfriendly line with a huge parking lot full of SUVs out front. An evil, evil place, the domain of Sauron, and so on. You know the drill - Lovecraftian nightmares underneath the parking lot, slurping their tentacular way upwards; the whole thing built on an ancient Indian burial ground; cursed mummies and the occasional werewolf attack in the garden section of Lowes. So obviously I should have stayed out of Michaels, and, adding insult to injury, the Petsmart doesn't carry the extra special dog food (duck! Duck and carrots! I ask you, is this madness?) that my mother's extra special ancient Bichon Frise can digest.

I could have turned around and driven away, but no, I went in, and was immediately subsumed into the giddy wonderland that is Michaels. I could make this! Or this! If only I have the correct materials, which I can buy right now for a very low price, I can make wondrous things for everyone for Christmas and my long starved creative genius will come leaping out and maybe, just maybe, I can even sell my crafts and make a living as a Craft Artist! Yes! I looked long and longingly at the iron on T-shirt "urban design" letters and thought of the wonderful shirt I could make my son so long as I was careful to only use each letter of the alphabet once. I looked at the silk transfer printer stuff and thought of making a lovely pillow for my daughter, with a picture of the departed psycho hound printed on silk and appliqued, perhaps with a lace border and maybe the pillow could be tie-dyed purple silk. That would be so very attractive and poignant, oh yes. I could make her a sort of bead curtain, too, with glass and tiny mirrors hot glued to fishing line, and make my son another T-shirt, a stenciled thing with a picture of Che Guevara on it. And then, I will paint all the gourds and inlay them with gold leaf and while I'm at it, perhaps I should get the stuff to make the marbleized and beglittered christmas cards I thought of the other day. For I am unemployed and damn, why not?

This is why not. No matter how good my intentions, I am just too damn weird to make normal crafts like a normal suburban housewife devotee of Martha Stewart and instead I make terribly mutant crafts like my fabulous Cat Rattle, the perfect gift for those who frequent drum circles and are fond of cats and also perhaps spend a significant portion of their lives being heavily medicated.

For once I must praise the evil and draconian policies of Asheville Savings Bank, because they refused to let me have much money, and therefore, I couldn't afford to spend hardly anything at Michaels, and so a lot of these terrible, terrible ideas will have to stay in the realm of fantasy, and my creative side must remain unfulfilled, alas and thank the Elder Gods.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ladies Who Lunch

I took my Mom to the doctor today and then we went out for a long and leisurely lunch at Fig where, not at all coincidentally, my daughter A works. It was great. So I'm in a good mood today, partly because I woke up and took Theo for a walk and went down to the park and totally beat the rain, and partly because then things turned sunny and gorgeous, and partly because, well, this two hour lunch thing? With wine? Yeah, baby.

This is the way to live. You go out and sit down in a nice sunny place and people bring you mussels, and bread, and salad, and a couple of glasses of good red wine, and it's just all good. I should do this every day. We should all do this every day. It's a pity they eliminated the three martini lunch; I used to think that idea was decadent and wrong, but you know, I'm coming around. Life is too tough to take without alcohol at lunch.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Check This Cool Thingie Out - Otherwise, General Angst

Check it out: Pandora plays new music for you that it thinks you will like. So far, and I've been listening for almost an hour, it's done very well except for the small Hootie & the Blowfish mishap which was quickly corrected and it apologized fairly abjectly, which I like in my interfaces. I told it I liked Counting Crows, James McMurtry and Lucinda Williams and it's played me Tom Petty and the Meat Puppets, both of whom I have long loved, and introduced me to David Holt and The Glands and Baby Ray, all of which I now like quite a lot.

Other than that, I'm kind of gloomy. It's pouring rain; last night the fireplace refused to draw, so the house smells like old wet smoke. I have a headache, and I spent most of the day taking Mom to Ingles & around. Tomorrow she has a doctor's appointment and another list of errands. This 4 hour a day take care of Mom gig is just getting so old. I tried again to talk her into buying a duplex or 2 apartment house that we could all live in and again she was unenthusiastic. It would be so much easier for me and I'd stop worrying about her when I'm not there - not to mention that it would be an actual investment/inheritance/real place to live. She seems to be determined to stay at Deerfield, though. I can't figure out why: she fights with the landscaping staff, she says she will never, ever call the help desk if she's injured (and I suspect her of having fallen again about 2 weeks ago but lying about it); she flat refuses to even consider going into continuing care or skilled nursing, ever again, and she doesn't eat in the dining hall. So why, exactly, is she living there?

Oh, and there's a squirrel with a mohawk digging up the bulbs I planted on Saturday. I can't figure out if it's the rain that's making him look so punked out or whether some neighbor, driven mad by boredom perhaps, caught him, shaved him and released him. However, he's a pain in the ass, and he keeps coming up on the porch, which sends Theo into paroxysms of rage that can only be satisfied if I go out there and bark at the squirrel myself. But that's okay, since I'm also being driven mad by boredom and I kind of like barking at squirrels on the porch. It gives me a purpose in life and it freaks the squirrels way the fuck out.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Laundromats and Wildlife.

I went to the laundromat today. Big mistake, because it is Sunday, and even though this is the Bible Belt, these people still do all their laundry on Sunday. It was packed. I wanted to go out to eat with my kids, who were enjoying an incredible meal at Sunny Point but alas, I couldn't leave my clothes alone to fend for themselves. It was okay, though, they bought me huevos rancheros to go. The laundromat on Sunday morning is somehow eternal; I think I've just been there so many times that it takes on this feeling of eternity and inevitability: as it was, is now, and ever shall be - dryer 3 doesn't work. There were the Mexican men washing machines full of jeans and talking about movies in fast Spanish; the young couple folding towels; the blonde guy asleep with his arms folded protectively over his laptop, the nape of his neck childlike and vulnerable. I leaned on a washing machine and reread Walker Percy Love Among the Ruins which I just found at the Goodwill and which was obviously somebody's high school copy, because it is helpfully annotated with various really dumb notes.

Last night when M & I were coming home from the Zydepunks we saw a possum cross the road. I stopped the car so the possum could get his/her head together and actually cross the road, and then s/he walked up the sidewalk. I leaned out of the car to really look at the possum (I like possums) and in return the possum gave me a long suffering look of total disinterest and veered into the small patch of scrub woods that edges the elementary school. I was inexplicably cheered by this encounter and kept bugging M, who really doesn't care about possums, to discuss and marvel over it, but finally he refused to comment further.

This afternoon I took M back up to school in Celo. The skies were stormy and mysterious and broke into patches of Renaissance blue, but when we started heading up through Micaville to Celo they suddenly became very intense and dramatic, with half the mountain illuminated and half under dark, roiling clouds. "LO!" I intoned, "Doom from the skies doth fall upon the southern valley of the river of the Toe!" and I made M take this picture out the car window, which accounts for the weird reflection that makes it look like God's Discman was descending on us. There were three deer by the road once we got up by the school, and they were also less than interested in us; big, beautiful does. I dropped M off under the non caring gaze of the deer and made my way back through the boiling clouds; halfway between Burnsville and the interstate a heron appeared, flying low and laboriously between the ridgeline and my car.

So, you know, signs and portents. Right?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I Have The Computah!

At last, at last! My children have finally succumbed to sleep and I have the computer to myself! Of course, it's like 1 a.m. and I really have nothing much to say, also I will be succumbing to sweet sweet sleep my own self any minute now, but it's the first time I've weaseled my way on in days. Or the first time without an almost 14 year old panting down my shoulder, squeezing my head or, bored, tormenting his sister until they both start yowling Moooooooooooom.

So, basically, pretty classic family Thanksgiving. I got into a fight with my daughter A, when she emerged from her room and I said, "Is that what you're wearing, dear?" in the precise inflections of my mother, and she responded by exploding into the same pavlovian fury that that question provoked in me 20 years earlier. After some heated words, A changed, went and got her grandmother, who we then helped over our 2 front steps (this is, or could be, the subject of a long and spectacularly unfunny post entitled Mom Won't Admit That She Shouldn't Live Alone Anymore) and then I served this utterly amazing dinner, and, of course, drank too much, but not so much too much that it was really bad. And we cleaned it all up, and J & I & A's friend S who is a sweet boy and cute too, sat by the fire and smoked cigarettes, and it was all good. And the food was completely fantastic, but damn I'm old and out of shape and I could never be on the line, because 7 hours of cooking for only 6 people (food for 10, though, just in case) about did me in.

Since then I've done some yardwork (planted all the bulbs, finally), taken M to see Zathura (okay, not as good as Jumanji although remarkably similar, the kids in the movie were obnoxious and looked like hobbits) cleaned the kitchen any number of times and read 3 books. Tonight I took M, along with several other friends and their young teenage sons, to see Zydepunk at Jack of the Wood. Fun. And I saw my old boss and talked to him, so that was good too. And tomorrow M goes on back up the mountain to school, which will of course make me sad.

And after that? I have to find a fucking job, any job, and so that is what I'll be doing next week. I put my resume up on Career Finder and so far I've gotten about 4 spam emails back in return, asking me to do things like carry packages to other countries or this very eepy job that involved money transfers - and you get paid much later! Yeah! Fortunately for me I had already heard about that one - and am cynical by nature. Cynicism: not always a bad thing.

Oh, and Elizabeth Willey. There is only one thing wrong in this world with Elizabeth Willey, and it's that she just hasn't written anywhere near enough books.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I had every intention of blogging every minute of the thanksgiving prep today but you're in luck: I haven't done it. It's 1:19; dinner should happen between 4:30 and 5:00; the turkey went into the oven at 11:40; the turnips are done, except they shrank woefully, and so nobody gets more than a couple turnip slivers; both the cranberries are done; the potatos are peeled and chopped and boiling away; I'm going to do the onions next and then the carrots and then the broccoli. It's all well in hand. I'm wearing an apron. I talked to my younger brother briefly. Nothing, really, to report. Food music on the radio from WNCW and so, Thanksgiving. The kids are supposed to clean the house now. Yes. That is what they should be doing, not taking up space in the kitchen cooking frozen eggrolls in the toaster oven. Rotten kids of today. Why, when we were kids we had to walk 40 miles uphill in the snow to eat a turnip sliver.

Thanksgiving, Part 1: The Day Before

I went and got the turkey this morning at Earth Fare, one of our two local hippie supermarkets. I hadn't ordered one ahead of time, which is a faux pas, I know, because last year they yelled at me on the phone and I had to go get one at Greenlife. I don't know what it is, I'm compelled to buy eco-friendly turkeys only, despite the fact that all year long I eat meat from horribly abused factory farm animals and succeed in just not thinking about it while saving beaucoups de dollars. But once a year, I can't avoid the guilt and thus go majorly organic. Instead of calling, I just showed up, made my way through the hordes of obnoxious rich baby boomerslovely ex-hippies who make up the Earthfare audience, and went to the meat counter to ask humbly if I could have a turkey. "No," they said, "You have to go to the Community Room and talk to them." I went to the Community Room, where I had a cup of free hot cider and sat in front of two nice ladies to talk about my turkey needs. They interviewed me. I thought they were going to ask if I was going to give my turkey a good home and I was prepared to lie through my teeth. Instead we got into a conversation about brining, and juniper berries. Since I was nervous (I'm always nervous when I'm being interviewed by total strangers) I started cracking bad jokes about bathtub gin. One lady laughed and the other looked at me pityingly. I took my slip of paper that said I was approved to buy an extremely expensive semi organic turkey and went back to the meat counter.

At home I made Alice Waters turkey brine and put the turkey & brine into my biggest stock pot. It didn't quite fit. "This happened last year too." said M lazily from his video game. "Last year you got all freaked out. Just jam it in there." So I did, and put it out on the front porch with rocks on top to weigh it down and discourage any animals. Then I got M to split the white pumpkin that's been sitting on the porch since Halloween (the old man I bought it from at the Farmers' Market said it would make a good pie, so I didn't carve it; yeah, okay, a month, kind of eepy, but a month is as nothing in the life of a pumpkin. Right?) M used the big enormous axe and parts of pumpkin flew all over the yard. The split parts were full of mud because the axe kept landing in mud - M was enjoying himself way too much. No matter. Mud is good for you. It's full of minerals.

Roasted the pumpkin, then followed the recipe on the back of a can of pumpkin to make a pie. There was way too much pumpkin, so I threw the rest of it into a buttered pie dish with no crust. Then I made an apple pie. Then I made squash soup. Then I washed a million dishes. We ate the crustless pumpkin pie, or, well, rather I ate the crustless pumpkin pie and the kids made retching noises over the sink. "It tastes like mud!" they said
"It's earthy," I said, loyal to my pie, "It's organic and natural and old fashioned."
"Gross!" they said, "I just got a big old glump of mud in my mouth! I'm not eating dirt, Mom!"
Damn modern kids.

Somewhere in here my friend J came over and we drank some beer and A went out and M & I ate the rest of the tuna casserole and watched Donnie Darko and then, eventually, I fixed up the table with an old Indian hippie bedspread and what was once my great grandmothers prized handmade Irish lace tablecloth except now it's a bit stained and a trifle dish full of apples and tangerines and some lilies I got at Ingles for $3. Then I felt sad and had another beer and thought about the 20 odd years I've been making Thanksgiving dinner.

"20 years!" I said to M. "And in another 10 years or less it'll be A's turn to do it at her house with her husband."
"Yeah?" said M, "Then what?"
"Then it'll be your wife's turn." I said chauvinistically.
"Forget it." he said, "I'm not getting married."
"Then who will make your Thanksgiving dinner?" I asked.
"Uh, the local homeless shelter?"

He knows how to send me into conniptions. Tomorrow I will go completely berserk and cook 10 things, yes 10, because I am a Taurus with Cancer rising and Thanksgiving must always be the same, the exact same every year, or I become discombobulated. Although going out for Chinese like normal people would probably be a good new start.

Tomorrow's Menu:
Roast Turkey (brined, with herbs)
Stuffing (bread crumbs, apples, mushrooms, bacon, herbs)
Gravy (in the groovy 50s gravy boat)
Cranberry Sauce (2 different handmade kinds - a raw & a cooked)
Mashed Potatos (real, need you ask?)
Green Bean Casserole (the nasty delicious white trash canned kind)
Broccoli (the token healthy dish)
Carrots with Ginger and Honey (the other token healthy dish)
Creamed Onions (my favorite)
Squash Soup (my mom is on a liquid diet)
Roast Turnips with Rosemary (my other favorite)
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie (with real whipped cream)

and away we go, yet again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Million Doughnuts

Since M got home he's been bugging me to take him dumpster diving. Yeah, that's why he goes to an expensive private boarding school - so his teachers can be freegans who instruct him in the finer methods of dumpster diving. Hee hee. I actually think this is pretty cool but at the same time I am conservative and hidebound and afraid of getting in trouble, so I refused to take the boys down to Patton Avenue to explore the wonders of Krispy Kreme.

They went anyway, in the dark and cold and intermittent snow. I knew nothing, yes nothing! of this; they told me they were going for a walk. Or that's what I'll say, if asked. At any rate, they called me from the dollar store, cold and tired of walking, and I went and picked them - and a trash bag full of 85 doughnuts - up. Apparently Krispy Kreme just leaves the unsold doughnuts out in boxes on racks at the end of each day, and if you want them you can go & get them. I thought the boys should have left them for the poor, but as M pointed out, "MOM! We ARE the poor!" which is sort of true. "The poor-er, then." I said. "The poor-est." But they said there were racks and racks and boxes and boxes left. A says they do the same thing at Pizza Hut. This is a strange and horrible culture we live in, you know?

So now, even though we have given away lots of doughnuts, and everyone has eaten several doughnuts (I hate doughnuts. They make me feel ill. I ate a jelly one last night, since jelly ones are the only ones I can stand, and I immediately felt deathly. Then I thought, wow, what if Krispy Kreme has decided to do something about the homeless problem by injecting their old doughnuts with arsenic? I could see the headlines now: Local Business Takes Brave New Initiative for the Homeless.) and yet there are still more doughnuts on the kitchen counter. There's not a lot you can do with old doughnuts, you know, doughnut soup is kind of out of the question, as is doughnut casserole or that old standby, doughnut loaf. Maybe I'll stuff the turkey with doughnuts.

Or maybe, you know, not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

We Have Stove!!

It strikes me that this is a very 21st century story; this story of the Fixing of the Stove. What happened was that M & his friend A & I did it together, with tech support via cel phones from S in Colorado and C at work, which I think is in Black Mountain somewhere. S & his wife C saw my dilemma via this blog, and called to give me electrical advice. So I emailed the pictures above to them in CO and we went back & forth on the phone & email, figuring out how to do it and what had to be done. I called C in a panic several times and he told me calmly that it would be okay and I could do this, and how to do it, and why it wouldn't kill me, or the kids. I then got the boys, who are stronger than I am (wow, that's pathetic; I am weaker than teenage boys) to get the really seriously tightly encrusted nuts that were holding the wires off and then on again. We went to K-Mart for WD-40 for the last, stubborn nut. And then we duct taped the green, or ground, wire to the back of the stove and levered the back on again and plugged it in (a moment of healthy fear here) and LO! It works!

And so I have just made tuna casserole, and tea, and I'm having a beer, and the boys are watching a movie, and it's peaceful and the first snow of the season is turning the dark wet leaves into blotchy white soft things like marshmallows gone wrong, and all in all I am so happy.

So Felicity's Thanksgiving Dinner for Waifs, Orphans and Strays is on again and I reiterate my invitation to all you waifs, orphans and strays out there.

Holidays Proceeding Apace

Two days until Thanksgiving and guess what? I still have no stove! My friend C, who had kindly agreed to come over and fix it for me, came down with some bug or other and can't make it. I took the back off the stove yesterday, and it looks pretty simple and self explanatory except for one small problem. The old cord and plug is attached neatly to a black wire, a red wire, and a white wire. The new cord and plug has a black wire, a red wire, a white wire, and a green wire. There's the rub: the extra green wire. That sounds like a 40s detective novel: The Extra Green Wire, by Marjorie St. Waddlesworth, and in fact it kind of feels like a 40s detective novel. As soon as the back of the stove came off I expected a blowsy blonde in a wrapper (whatever the hell that is, some kind of bathrobe? Or do they mean she was actually wrapped, as in plain brown paper? Kinky.) to sashay in and drop a few clues my way. Unfortunately, she didn't turn up, and I was left alone with The Extra Green Wire, which is attached to the cord & plug I bought at Lowes to replace the one that's on the stove that doesn't fit the outlet that's part of the house that Jack built gerryrigged.

I thought about it. I read the baffling orange warning sticker on the back of the stove, which says something about how, if you're putting the stove in a trailer park, you should ground it differently (No lie. I swear it does.) which gave me food for thought, and I considered that the green wire is almost certainly the ground. I thought about what electricity can do if it isn't grounded - it can, among other things, remove you from the ground rather permanently - and I thought, hell, I can do this. Then I thought again and ordered Chinese.

However, I can't go on much longer like this. So if anyone has any information on where I should put the extra green wire, please let me know.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

These are my kids.

auds miles AMS november
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
My kids rock.

M and a Special Friend

miles and snow white
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Another pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving gathering up at M's school. It was beautiful, if a little cold, the food was great, the art auction was tremendous fun, poor A had an allergy attack that lasted all day and I didn't buy anything at the auction, which was kind of sad but then ah well. We is poor. We walked around and looked at the chickens and M obligingly caught one for and let us pet her, and, I shamelessly skipped the all parent meeting, yeah me. No school spirit, I know, but honestly I can only take so much.

Now M is home (Snow White stayed up at school) and I've already had to yell Stop torturing your sister right this minute young man! so I'm happy and they're happy too. And we went to see the new Harry Potter, which ROCKED and I even think it may be the best movie I've seen all year, although M says it wasn't all that, at which point I mock him gently for attending Hogwarts his own self.

Which, you know, he really does. That school has worked some magic on my child and I'm eternally grateful. On Friday night I went to the teacher conference and they had only positive, incredibly positive things to say. That's the first time ever. The only thing they complained about was the way M loses everything and my lecture to him afterwards would have been extremely effective in curbing this pernicious behavior had I not ruined it halfway through by realizing that I had lost my car keys.

Yeah M is home. He's giving me a minor noogie right now. Happy mom!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Geek Needed, Apply Within

M is coming home for a whole lovely week starting tomorrow and he wants, not unreasonably, to recover from his enforced hippie lifestyle by eating cheeseburgers and playing Battlefield 1942 Secret Weapons of WWII obsessively all night long. Unfortunately, we have a slight problem with this plan: to wit, we have no stove on which to cook cheeseburgers and the g-d computer has decided it doesn't like BF1942 anymore and crashes it on startup, without fail. Since the original version of this game is long since lost - along with it's handy registration code - in the mists of time and doghair that make up our lives, we can't just reinstall it or even ask EA Games (sterling fellows that they are, uh huh) for help. I spent hours last night trying to get the damn thing to work and hanging out on game forums, which meant I had to run adaware & spybot like three times, mutter mutter, and still it won't work. I think I have to go buy another version, which I really don't want to do. Damn. Any suggestions, oh great geeks of wisdom? He wants to play counterstrike too and I can't get that to work either.

Meanwhile, I left a message for the landlord, which led me to wake up at 8:00 am and feverishly mop the floors, because I realized that what I had done was play the Summon Landlord card, which inevitably ends with him appearing mysteriously in my house at some point in the next 10 days - usually when it is at it's nastiest and most chaotic. He didn't call me back (he won't; he'll just materialize) so I called my other friend who is an electrician manque and HE is going to come over and fix the whole stove thing up on Monday. YEAH! One problem down. So I just have the weekend to get through, which shouldn't be too hard, since I'll be up the mountain in Celo all night tonight & all day & evening tomorrow for Quaker/Hippie thanksgiving.

And on Sunday we will eat pizza.