Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Never Rains But It Pours

That's such a strange cliche - almost poetic, really: inscrutable at first glance, like a zen koan, but then slowly it trickles throught the part of the cerebral cortex that deciphers poetry and riddles (this is one of the only two parts of the brain that need alcohol to fully function; the other one is the pool playing part, but it turns on at about 2 drinks and fully disengages at 4, so it's trickier) and bit by bit you think, "Why, that's absolutely right! It never does rain but it does pour!" and pour yourself another tall one. I, personally, have not had any alcohol (unless you count generic Nyquil) or tobacco or caffeine since Sunday. A glow of holy goodness surrounds my aura, or it would if anything was discernible through my aura except bronchitis and general malaise and the horrible fact that I've been lying around in these same pajamas since Sunday, coughing.

However I feel a little better this morning, almost as if I might live. That's a good thing, because unfortunately my mother has to have semi-emergency surgery tomorrow afternoon and I will naturally be accompanying her. She had some cancerous cells on her nose for the second time; there turned out to be more than the doctors thought there were; they took off quite a bit of her nose; it must be reconstructed, which process is delicate & time consuming & quite horrifying & will take two full surgical procedures with full anesthesia and everything. So if you are of the praying persuasion toss one in for Mom, would you? Poor darling, she's 78 and still gorgeous and although she won't talk about it, I know that she's miserable about losing her nose - who wouldn't be? I told her, well, if there had ever been a nose she had in mind, now was her chance to get it. She kind of laughed, and then said that she thought there was no reason for all this fuss, why couldn't they just take some skin from her fanny and slap it on there, maybe with purple stitches to make it stand out? This is bravado at it's finest. My mother hates doctors and hospitals with a cold and steely passion, so this is even worse for her in some ways than it would be for other people.

I go pick up M on Friday morning for a nice long weekend home, the first time I've seen him in 3 weeks. He sounds totally cheerful and happy and even had a great time on his 6 day hike on the Appalachian trail, which is fantastic, and he wants me to buy him a kilt, which is inscrutable like a koan, but fine, okay. Even though the Irish were never big into the kilt look, as I recall, but if the kid wants a kilt, the kid gets a kilt.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Whining About My Cold

I have a cold. You must now all put down your drinks and say, "Oh no, poor dear, I'm so sorry." I'm feeling excruciatingly sorry for myself and I need your support. I went to Earthfare this morning and bought honey (A says she doesn't know what happened to the honey we had before I left for NY. Oh yes, I'm so sure! That miserable dog of hers is what happened to the honey, I know it is. Either that or in a mad, sticky, honey soaked orgy she ate it all herself.) and echinacea and C-Monster juice and a spelt blackberry maple muffin which has that faintly gluey health food store taste that lets you know you are being virtuous and good to your body by eating this muffin that's approximately the size, shape and density of a 1964 Buick.

Anyway my throat is sore, my head aches, I'm sniffling and, to top it all off, I'm broke. I have to get a job immediately, preferably a very high paying job that involves a minimum of actual work. Failing that, I guess I'll go be a secretary again for a while. But right now I think I'll go back to bed.

Oh and last night I dug the last carrots out of the hopelessly overgrown garden and discovered that the peppers have all finally come in to their own and I have about a million assorted different peppers, none of which are particularly hot for some sad reason, which is a drag since it means I can't use them to make hot pepper jelly. However, I did make pasta e fagioli last night, or a version thereof, with the carrots & the peppers & it was really, really, really good. Be impressed. Be very impressed. Now bring me the kleenex & a cup of echinacea tea and tell me I'm going to get better soon.


A and I heard a strange noise outside the kitchen tonight, and after we flew immediately into our trained strange noise response (close and lock the kitchen door! Secure all windows! Run around shrieking at one another!) we wondered what it might have been. I think it was a small furry animal in it's death throes thanks to our evil killer cats, but A thought it might have been a possum. This sent me on a long journey through the wilds of the internet searching for a recording of a possum. Alas, I did not find one. I did, however, find this.

And on that helpful website I read the following under Dangers To Possums:
Trash: Problem: Opossums do not wear shoes. Broken glass will cut their delicate feet. Wire, string, plastic bags and other garbage can be deadly.
Solution: Do not litter!
I don't know about you but I immediately got all teared up over the poor possums and their delicate feet and their lack of shoes. Seriously. I mean I'm weeping here. I tried to explain my sorrow to A but she was sorely lacking in understanding. "Oh great" she said, "I can see it now. We're going to have a pet possum soon, aren't we?"
"No, no." I said, "It's just their poor little feet and all that broken glass up around BJs."
"Good Mom. Worry about it. Then people will ask me, so, what does your mom do? And I'll say, she makes shoes for possums."

I do worry about possums though. I like them. Okay they're horrible and prehistoric looking, except for this guy, but they deserve love too. Besides, I just found out that they eat mice and rats as well as garbage, so I'm much more favorably inclined towards their creepy lurching selves. There used to be a huge one that lived down the street, easily the size of a small collie - like mine, for example. He was afraid of noone and nothing and would kind of hiss and keep walking towards you if you were foolish enough to go out with your dog early in the morning. Theo and I were both terrified of him.

Maybe I will get a pet possum. My friend M in Mclellanville SC used to live in a, um, mobile home community, and the people next door had a pet possum. He said it was kind of sweet.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Which Rock Star Are You?

Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper....
You come across as having a twisted creative mind
and a liking for the dark. You are dark and
mysterious. You also have a very strong moral
outlook on life and are quite smart. Probably
a good person with a wild side or a wild person
with a good side. Either way. You can be
entertaining without using substances either.

Which rockstar are you like?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, September 24, 2005

If I Ever Own a House Again

This is what I'm going to do with it. Or something similar. A dinosaur maybe. Big, strange, public art that will drive my neighbors crazy. Yes.

Okay, I confess: I was drunk off my ass when I wrote that post last night and I'm sure it contains stuff to annoy, irritate and offend almost everyone. Sorry about that. Consider it a valuable lesson against the evils of alcohol abuse from me to you.

Multi Cultural Asheville

Y'all are just going to have to put up with a bit of posting diarrhoea while I use up the excess creativity and happily return to my computer centric post vacation ways. I had this surreal night anyway, and I need to write about it while it's fresh in it's own bizarre reality.

I went downtown to meet my friend J who has been a bit blue lately & just to have a couple beers. My friend H appeared not long after, dragging his (we think he is a vampire) strange and freaky older dad and his dog (who is a perfectly lovely Chesapeake Bay Retriever and if you have a bitch he's looking for a mate. Aren't we all? but seriously, he is and has all those champion bloodlines and stuff. Email me.) That is a whole David Lynch film of a William Faulkner story in its own self, and not integral to the following narrative. But it is a bit too weird for words. H is sweet, and brought me books to read, and punk rock CDs to listen to. Which I haven't yet, but I will. I swear. Any day now. But not our old friend C's band, because we have all known C since high school and look, it's been like 20 years and his bands have, um, not improved. Not that the Colombian Neckties weren't integritive to the development of DC punk in the 90s. Yes. Yes they were. C is a dear friend. You couldn't pay me to listen to it.

Then A showed up all excited because her friend M was coming with a blind date for her. So J and I metaphorically tightened our metaphoric seatbelts for the coming turbulence and I drank more PBR.

Meanwhile, Asheville was a-hoppin' tonight. We couldn't figure out what the fuck was going on but the streets were insanely full of people, the usual drum circle in Pritchard Park but much more populated, I mean it was busier than the Lower East Side. A schizophrenic street kid named Matthew bummed a cigarette off me - I tried to just give him a cig but he said he was paranoid and took my wish cigarette instead. I said, "Make a wish then," and he said, gesturing to the sky, "The truth is up there! Nobody looks!" So I looked, and I guess that yeah, okay, the truth is in the leaves and smog, but whatever. The truth was not revealed in letters of flaming fire or a fortune cookie. Damn.

Then A's friend M and her Arab friend S showed up and they were both very nice, except for the way M disappeared now and again and came back even more wired. Also, you don't see many Jordanians here, with various real estate dealings in Jersey and Jordan. He bought us a bottle of champagne and waxed generally enthusiastic about the house he's just bought. So I nabbed A in the bathroom and told her stories of cokeheads and Arab moneymen who want to get married from my own past. And she gently, coolly, reminded me that she is 22 years old and perfectly competent and capable of taking care of herself, and is, moreover, nobody's fool. Which I know she's not, but when they went off to the disco I shook S' hand and said, "You take care of my daughter," and thought, jesus, when I was her age I had an entire life behind me and survived it quite well, so get over it Mom. However I mentally made notes of some various guys who owe me a favor, so, by the way, if you are planning on fucking with my daughter I would advise you not to. He's a nice guy anyway. So far. The guys are on call.

Then J drove us home, and I insisted that we stop at the Hot Spot for beer. At the Hot Spot most of the beer comes in 40s and I ended up in a long line where I was the only woman and the only white woman at that. People kept coming in and saying, "There's a grand opening party on Wall Street" and the people in line kept saying, "Where's Wall Street?" So I started giving directions. Unfortunately for all that I used to work on Wall Street my directions sucked royally, because I don't really know the names of any of the streets, and saying, "Well, you go up there, and you kind of hook a right at the jewelry store, because Wall Street is that funny cobblestoney kind of half assed street that's only a block long" didn't cut any ice really. Except everyone started laughing at me a bit. Actually the whole atmosphere loosened up and it was pretty cool - and also, the guy in line behind me was beyond gorgeous. That was, of course, probably why I started talking. Well that and the Arab possibly cokehead champagne. God I did used to love being dissolute.

So I bought my beer and went on home, discussing with J the fact that we, as white girls, don't drink 40s. We have never drunk 40s. Why not? We drank 40s one time, at the old Ebony Bar and Grill, one night after a gallery opening and we had a grand time where we all sat with the owner who is one of the single coolest ladies I have ever in my life met and also played this extremely dangerous game of truth or dare where we talked about the strangest date we ever had in our lives, round robin, which was extremely interesting but I'm sworn to secrecy, as are the rest of you who were there and you know who you are, please, but as a general rule girls like us do not,repeat not, ever buy or drink a 40. Which is, obviously, hideously racist, yes, but is also involved with the fact that while we might well and in fact do drink 40 ounces of beer on a semi regular basis, we don't want to drink it out of one bottle where, god forbid, a man might see it and think we are beer guzzling non ladylike type drunk chicks. It would also involve admitting to ourselves that we drink more than 40 ounces in an evening, and that is, obviously, a terrible calumny that shall never be uttered.

It has come to my notice that I never have anything resembling a workable conclusion to these blog essays, which would horrify Mrs. Paslowski, my 3rd grade teacher who taught me through fear and intimidation how to write an essay, no end. I do not want to horrify Mrs. Paslowski, because I believe her long dead self fully capable of coming back in the form of a bat or other unpleasant night being and shrieking hideously in my ear one night, right before she drags me off to the closet. Therefore I say, conclusion: Asheville is weird. Cokeheads are dangerous. Money comes from strange sources that should be fully questioned. Being a vampire is tough. I still won't drink 40s, and any punk band that has C as a guitarist and lead singer should just hang it up.

Friday, September 23, 2005

New York, in Several Paragraphs & the 2nd Person

It is a long drive from Asheville to New York. 12 hours, perhaps more if you are driving in a rented cargo van with commercial plates from South Carolina and thus you get turned away from the Holland Tunnel as being possible terrorists even though both the occupants, road giddy, try to be as Southern dumbass as possible with the cops "Air yew shure, Offisah? We just come up from South Carolina to git us some art!" to no avail. It's long on the way back too, possibly longer, since Secaucus is completely under construction and makes no sense, and highway signs don't tell you how far it is to the McDonalds until you're already committed to the exit.

There are a lot of people in the world. As evening falls and you're somewhere in Pennsylvania that was briefly made famous by Bruce Springsteen and little cars who obviously know where they are and where they're going whizz by on their appointed rounds and the sun slowly sinks behind the whatever the hell that is on the right of the van, you may become homesick and disoriented and give way to a moment of maudlin speculation: to wit - wow. There sure are a lot of people in the world. Look at the lights in that little farmhouse. All those people have families and friends and they all have families and friends and genealogies and histories and it all just goes on and on while I must just drive on and on, alone on the road (okay, not alone, there's F, but we can safely ignore him for the nonce, he's entranced by Carlene Carter) like some figure out of Greek mythology except with the internal combustion engine already invented and all who's condemned to just drive on and on past the lit windows, alone, alone-oh! Don't go there.

Marianne Faithfull singing 1930s German cabaret songs may be the worst driving music in the entire world. The Carter family is good. Elvis Costello is better. Rock would be better yet. F knows many anecdotes on several different subjects. It is surprising how long a conversation about real, unreal and suspected computer bugs and viruses can go on when there is no computer there to look at. Truly surprising.

Buying new shoes for this trip and wearing them might not have been the smartest move you ever made. East Broadway doesn't seem to connect to Canal Street in any meaningful way. You haven't lived here in a long time and the Lower East Side is just not as funky as it used to be. Lower Broadway looks alarmingly like a suburban mall, but that's okay: you have an Old Navy card and they don't have one in Asheville yet anyway! Tra la! Ah, Asian junk. I looooooooooove me some Asian junk. Ooooh! Buy the shiny little things! You need Chinese soup spoons! You need cheap little Mary Jane slippers like you used to have in high school only these are all embroidered (probably by 5 year old political prisoners with bleeding fingers, don't think about that) and soooo cute. There aren't any galleries in Soho anymore. Nobody asked you to buy dope ("Smoke? Smoke coke? Rock?") in Washington Square. How things have changed! But Fanelli's is still crowded. And Canal Street has not changed at all. This is good. Canal Street must never change!

Everyone in Brooklyn has a dog now. And all the dogs are well behaved, except for one reassuringly bad one who is still not as bad as your dogs on a good day. The people who don't have dogs have babies. They buy things for their dogs and babies at tiny cute boutiques with adorable windows which jam the sidewalks, almost squeezing out the trendy coffee shops and micro bakeries and totally replacing the surly Arabs with hole in the wall newsstands where you could buy a Daily News and a bialy on the way to the train. That's okay though, the Village Voice is free now. All the people in Brooklyn are in their 30s and cute and dressed in jeans. They drink in big old bars with huge mirrors and smoke outside, or small Austrian bars full of friendly funny people who smoke secretively in the back. They drink imported beer with unpronounceable names like Jaffel but you can still get PBR in some places.

All the art is in Chelsea now except for one or two galleries left like forlorn holdouts in Soho. In one of them was a show of Russian contemporary artists that had several really good pieces in it by people whose names were polysyllabic and unpronounceable and you would never have remembered them anyway. The gallery attendant seemed surprised when you asked for a list. Most of the gallery attendants in Soho are still beautifully groomed Asian girls in their 20s. Perhaps they're immortal robots? They still treat you like a penniless art student even though you dressed up. You didn't make it to Chelsea really except to stand by a warehouse and watch people load crates into the van.

MOMA is large and white, boxy and confusing. The art is hung apparently by vague stylistic groupings instead of by artists or chronologically thus you run the danger of encountering another Matisse or Picasso in an unexpected place. You can never get a clear look at Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy but it's still one of your favorite paintings. Pollack is still a genius. There is new art downstairs and a lot of it is really cool and makes you feel like a loser to still be bothering with woodcuts and paint when there is clearly so much more exciting art technology now available. Some of it is rubbish though, and besides, you're experimenting with computer art now too. Anyway by the time you get down to the new art your feet hurt.

Max Fish hasn't changed much. The Mefites are a friendly, articulate and amusing bunch of people. You have a great time. You flirt and laugh and play abysmal pool, making a mental note to get your friend D to tutor you once a week from now on for beers so you won't suck so badly next time. You drink about 200 Yuenglings. It's all good. If only you could stay another day, a week, a month, a year! You wonder how Jackson would do in New York and if you could get a job and an apartment or whether those days are gone, and how your son would do. But alas you must leave Max Fish and say goodbye to the nice drinking people. The band at the next bar is good but you must leave there too, because anyway you are beginning to feel more than a little woozy. You have to be in a cargo van for 12 hours tomorrow, remember? And it's 2 a.m. . . .

I'm Back and the Dog Has Gone Insane

My whirlwind tour of New York is concluded; look for several NY related posts to come. I feel like I was gone for four weeks not four days, and my feet still hurt. However, let's move on immediately to the present day, where Jackson's sanity, always precarious, has slipped completely over the edge. A warned me over the phone, but I didn't quite believe her. Now, I know the terrible truth.

Jackson has discovered feet and the smell of footprints and he finds them endlessly bizarre and pleasing. This is a difficult thing to describe, seeing as how I think it may be unique in the long and sometimes vexing history of human/coonhound interaction. What it amounts to is this: if you walk around the house in bare feet, which we are wont to do, Jackson becomes extremely excited and follows everywhere your feet went, nose to the ground, tail wagging ecstatically, stopping occasionally to bay and let the world know he's on the scent. When he finally finds your actual feet, he tries to dig underneath them to see where the fascinating smell is coming from. This starts out hysterically funny (especially if you do a little dance, and run around in small circles) but becomes annoying faster than you might think. Or maybe you would think. Because it is. Annoying as hell, I mean. He sometimes tries to dig right through your feet, and that's really annoying. It's almost worth it, though. I need a video camera to document the madness - last night I fell down weeping with laughter. Granted I had been in a cargo van for 12 straight hours with F the curator and, god help me, a CD of Marianne Faithfull singing 1930s German cabaret songs which may be the worst thing I have ever heard, so I was more than a little out of it, but still Jackson managed to drive me from hysteria into an almost catatonic state of helpless laughter.

We should have known it was coming, since a few weeks ago he had a similar reaction to his own feet. He didn't seem to quite believe that they belonged to him, and he chased them all over the couch. It's really hard to describe the sight of a large hound dog on a couch chasing his own feet but it's just as weird as you might think. He dug holes in the futon trying to get to them and when he actually did manage to catch one he couldn't believe it. It's kind of like the way Tyrannosaurus Rex's brain was too small to encompass the notion of his tail - Jackson's brain is apparently too small to encompass his whole body, or anyone elses whole body either. He thinks in small chunks, like kibble, and he's apparently decided in his kibbly brain that feet are some new species of animal: a new species that we're inexplicably keeping as pets. Thank the gods that he got friendlier before he came to this conclusion. If he was trying to kill my feet this would all be less amusing.

All this has led me to compose a little song, roughly to the tune of We Must Find Another Whisky Bar - it goes like this
This is Theo
He is not crazy
He is a good dog, a sane dog, a very sane dog
This is Jackson
He is nutso
A complete whack job, yes complete whack job
Yay for Theo! He is sane! So nice and sane!
Boo for Jackson! He's so crazy!
I tell you he is crazy!

The dogs both like this song except that even as I type this and sing it, I must also shout "Out from under there! You fucking loon! Those are my feet, you weirdo!" which all proves that I am just the ADD poster child queen of multitasking.

Monday, September 19, 2005

See You in Four Days!

I'm off, but I wanted to leave you with something funny to look at: The shamelessly stolen & often seen Hasselhoffian Recursion!

I would also like to mention that there seems to be a theme whereby I wake up at 4 am on Monday mornings and can't get back to sleep, thanks this morning to of course the Hell Hound, who decided that 4 am was a good time to get up & start whining & howling and generally being his usual pain in the ass self. He also took a shit in the kitchen, which, okay, is probably why he wanted out so badly, but still.

I would also like to say that if you have a choice between terrifying dream a) Hurtling down a snowy mountain on a sled being chased by a large black panther who even a Zippo lighter will not scare off and b) being Australian, in the buffet line at a large party in a huge and decaying castle and invited by a muliply pierced Steve Martin to join him in a medieval themed S&M/swingers club (he'll give you a token, a big shiny coin that looks like something from Chuck E. Cheese, but you only get one) well, take a. Because A is more terrifying during the dream, but B is far, far more scary on sober and awake reflection.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Midnight Ramblings

It's late & I just got back from sitting on the upstairs deck at Broadways with my friend J, talking about everything and nothing. That is the best deck in Asheville; it's amazing that nobody else is ever up there. You can watch the freaks on Lexington and the cars whiz by on 240 and there's even a small, strange, square tiki bar with a blackboard that says Frozen Concocktails $5.50 that you can sit under if it's raining.

J & I were talking about people with agendas. I said of a mutual acquaintance, "I don't trust her. I have never trusted her, and I don't know why."
J said, "You think she has an agenda."
"Yes," I said, "That's exactly it. She has an agenda and I have no idea why or what it is, but it makes me nervous."
"That's because you don't have one. I don't have one either, that's why we're friends."
It's true. I have nothing resembling an agenda in any area of my life (except for the to-do lists, I have those) and people who seem to have one make me wildly uncomfortable.
"so&so has an agenda."
"Yup." I said, "And that's why I've never liked her."
"so&so has one sometimes. . " J started
"Yeah," I said, "But he's so bad at it that it's transparent and adorable."

This ask metafilter question really got me thinking about the process of learning to read, and since in my mind that's linked with discovering how totally nearsighted I was, vision. I was a late reader, which concerned my parents, because the kindergarten IQ tests suggested that I was pretty bright. It never, apparently, occurred to anyone to test my vision. They sat me in the back of the first grade classroom, since I was one of the tallest kids. I was a quiet, shy kid who didn't ask questions and I don't think I knew that there was a blackboard up there or that there was anything on it. The teacher waved her arms around a lot, I knew that. But I'd never seen the blackboard. Kids think that whatever surrounds them is normal: how would they know any different? I didn't know I couldn't see - I thought that's the way the world looked. So finally, one day, somehow or other, they twigged to the fact that I really couldn't see, and I was taken out of school to go get glasses, my first pair.

It was amazing. And at the same time it was terribly, terribly disappointing. To this day, without glasses my world is full of auras and nimbuses: everything is blurry and surrounded by its own special fuzzy light filled aura. Things in the distance blend together, colors merge, everything glows a little. It was perfectly simple for me as a child to believe in every fairy tale, because a tree more than a couple yards away was a humming, glowing blur of possibility. Of course there could be fairies floating around in the branches, why not? They were at least as probable as squirrels and I sure as hell wouldn't be able to tell the difference unless they were pretty close. I thought that when I got glasses I would finally see them clearly, but instead they disappeared.

I used to lose my glasses a lot, and I used to take them off to ride my bike, which I knew was dangerous, but it was just too beautiful and I couldn't resist. Movement was like rushing through wet paint, everything blending together. The tradeoff, I guess, was that I learned to read the week after I got my glasses - it was amazingly easy then - but I miss the confidence I had in my blurry world. Now I'm afraid of it, I keep my contacts in all the time, my glasses by the bed so I can see when I wake up, and I'm a little frightened by the nimbuses. It's still beautiful though - streetlights look like chrysanthemums, the horizon is a thick mix of color. Sometimes I wonder which of these two worlds that I see is the true one.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I'm so excited about going to New York that I'm not doing any of the things on my myriad of lists. Yesterday I started to blog my lists - that would have been helpful, no? and then decided to spare y'all. For which you owe me, bigtime. Except my head is full of them, from buying a carton of cigarettes to mowing the front lawn to, of course, trying every single piece of clothing in my closet on and then having a total hissy fit about how fat I am and how nothing fits. It won't matter anyway, because as my friend L so wisely observed many years ago, whatever you wear to New York immediately looks dowdy as soon as you emerge from the Holland Tunnel. You can go buy a designer outfit that day and wear it to New York - it will look like shit as soon as you get there. It is the immutable law. Also I have been in Asheville too long and have too many tattoos and too weird hair and my newly waxed eyebrows are giving me a rather disconcerting look of perpetual 1930s surprise. I seem to have reached that magic age where I look like a drag queen impersonation of myself.

Last night while I was working really hard on my trip I ended up going briefly to Downtown After Five & the New French Bar with my friend D and then to Jack of the Wood for dinner with my friend S, & saw RB Morris, who is, as you know, a god. It was nice to be at Jack again, saw a lot of people. All my friends seem to be dating someone now, which is great for them, but gave me a hormone & beer induced attack of angst about my eternally single status. Thus I had to go home & have a long drunken phone conversation with my erstwhile friend R in Charleston.

Back to lists! Back to lists! Woot!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Going to New York!

I'm going to New York City! Yes, I have won an all (okay, a few) expenses paid trip to Nooooo. . .Yawk. . . City!!!! Or rather, I've picked up a courier gig for the art museum that my friend D didn't want. I get to drive up to NY on Monday with F the curator, a long long drive, and then be in NY on Tuesday and Wednesday and drive back on Thursday. I am actually incredibly excited and have, in fact, done the dance of joy around the kitchen and also been to Sally Beauty Supply and thence had A dye my hair several different shades of red and purple and a kind of indescribable orange that wasn't intended but unfortunately emerged. It's okay. I now have the coolest hair in New York circa 1988. I am so psyched to be the most gorgeous weirdo out of town 42 year old heavily tattooed sort of fat all black wearing chick in the East Village that ever was!

Or something.

Actually, I really am looking forward to this. There are shows (art, art, it's all art) I want to see and the new MOMA and back to DIA and oh, lord, a lot of places that aren't all initials. For the NY interested, I am going to Max Fish on Wednesday at 6ish to meet some internet people, so show up. Buy me beer. Buy me shoes, because I haven't any that will live up to New York standards.

Yeah. This is going to be serious fun.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Jury Duty Tomorrow

Wait! This is all a lie! Well, not the 2nd paragraph. But the first one is, because after I finished writing this, and my cel phone minutes had made their magical transmogrification into free, I called the number on the jury summons sheet and I don't have to go after all. Damn. And I was just planning my costume.

I have jury duty tomorrow. I'm excited and planning on wearing mostly black, with all my tattoos showing, and carrying a sketchbook and a large science fiction novel. I also plan to scowl a lot and I wish I had a Communist Party card so I could pin it to my shirt, but alas. Maybe I can photoshop something in the large red star area up tonight. This is because I do not want to get picked. This is the second time I've ever been called and the above strategies (code name: operation surly anarchist art student) worked quite well the first time.

The first time was in Baltimore, and they called me for 3 trials but picked me for none, thank god. The third one was a murder trial, and the defendant was absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so, since when they asked if anyone should be excused on account of knowing him, this girl stood up and said in a low voice "I used to date him." They got her out of there in a hurry and I was struck by how seeing your ex as the defendant for a murder trial would pretty much qualify as up there with weirdest and worst days ever. So let's all hope I don't get picked and sequestered or anything insane like that. Unless there any large celebrity trials coming up in Asheville. That might be fun, but we have a certain shortage of large celebrities, it is true.

A Public Service Announcement

The Animal Compassion Network here is organizing a rescue for abandoned pets in New Orleans. They're looking for temporary foster homes for those pets, and, I imagine, a few permanent homes as well. These are good people and they do good work, so if you can support them in any way, please do.

After I read about this I asked the dogs if we could take in a foster pet. Unfortunately, A was in the kitchen, and she overheard me talking to the dogs. All I'd said was "Guys? Hey, dog guys?" They weren't listening because they were trying to simultaneously insert each other's heads into their mouths. No. Wait. That makes no sense. The English language may not have a sentence that adequately describes what the dogs were trying to do. At any rate, A started making noises of scorn and condescension because I was addressing the dogs as "dog guys." Well, they are. Dog guys, I mean. It's not quite as awful as it was when the kids used to call me Mom Dude. Or Dude Mom.

So then I asked the dog guys, and they were all for it, but A started shrieking "NO! Have you lost your mind?!" from the kitchen and I had to admit, as I fell over a dog, that she had a point. I could hear the dog guys thoughts and they weren't really all that charitable. Something about getting in a little yappy Pomeranian and seeing if they could swallow it whole. A hadn't covered that aspect yet, she was mainly thinking about the ankle deep drifts of dog fur in the hallway, and the dawn chorus of howling.

Anyway, the cat guys would kill me. Or kill small furry animals and dump them in my bed again. Or, which is, as we know, far far worse, bring in live furry animals for my bed. And evacuee animals are already traumatized enough, life in this household is the last thing they need. I thought about taking in a human evacuee, but the only room I have is M's, and my gourd mold experiments are going on in there right now, plus, even without the 6' cardboard Boba Fett, it's a little, um, under decorated. Not to mention that he'll be home in a week or two.

But if you have space, please consider it. Or, if you have money, please donate that. I don't have either at the moment (the big job search is now underway! I updated my resume! Do you think Galliard is too weird of a font to use on my resume?) but if I had I would be giving what I could and I'm sure that you are too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sleep Dep, Hiking, My New Spidery Friend & J's Birthday

Yesterday I had to drive my brother to the airport - the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, about an hour & a quarter or so away. I had to be at my mom's to get him at 7:30 am. So of course, since I'd been drinking red wine the night before, which always gets me, I woke up at 4:00. And couldn't go back to sleep. I am not one of those people who function well on 4 hours of sleep. I am one of those people who think that 9 hours or so is about right and anything less than 7 hours of uninterrupted slumber is torture. So I was really out of it when I got to my mothers; among other attractive features, my eyes were all red around the rims. My mother is disgustingly perky at 7:30.

I drove my brother to GSP and the whole way it felt like my brain was loose in my head: not crammed in there like it's supposed to be, but as if my skull was huge and my brain was just kind of floating. I talked out loud to myself the whole way back and kept promising myself a nap. I got one at last - for about 2 hours before the dogs started in howling at each other. My brother refused to stay here after 2 nights: he said it was like living in a kennel. I was irritated at the time but okay, he has a point.

On Sunday my brother & I hiked up to the top of John Rock. It's a hell of a climb and either I was in a lot better shape 3 years ago (oh horrible thought) or the trail has gotten steeper. Or something. It's pretty much 2 miles straight up. It's two days later and my calves are still killing me. But gods, it's worth it when you get up there. The view is incredible, with Looking Glass like a ship, like it's just getting ready to sail off over the mountains, and the hawks circling below, and down at the very bottom the Fish Hatchery, geometric and exact. John Rock itself is so wonderful too, although I won't go near the edge and my brother would barely venture out on any of it. It was all warm from the sun and now I want to go sleep there some night. Although I won't; I'm much too chicken. Between the bears and the possibility of rolling off - no. Bad idea. We didn't bring the dogs with us. John Rock is no place for a blind hound.

The spider I talked about a couple days ago comes back every night now. I looked him up here, which is a very useful site you should bookmark and it turns out he is a Golden Orb Weaver. And my friend. He's my friend now: I go out every night and talk to him for a while and he seems happy to see me. I'm a little concerned that I keep blowing smoke at him and he might get lung cancer, although A points out that since I don't seem too worried about my own lungs it's a little ridiculous to worry about a spider, and J says spiders don't have lungs anyway.

We drank a lot of beer with J last night to celebrate her birthday and danced around the living room to the Supremes. And played Trivial Pursuit until A got too furious. It's tough to play Trivial Pursuit with me, I admit it. Don't hate me because I'm a genius - hate me because I gloat over my incredible geniusness while I beat everyone. Also, A is just too young to play with me and J. We know stuff, like Patty Hearst's code name with the Symbionese Liberation Army, simply by having been alive in the 70s. A doesn't even know who Patty Hearst is. Which is how it should be, probably, but meanwhile, bwah ha ha ha ha ha! I know everything! I ROOL Trivial Pursuit!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

There are Times

There are times, like right now, when Shoot The Dog is high on my priority list. It's probably a good thing I don't have a gun. Shoot the Cat is up there too - the fucking cats have discovered that they can chew through the screens in this house with no trouble at all, thus opening little cat doors for themselves whereever and whenever they choose. I went to Lowes yesterday and bought a roll of aluminum screening and carefully patched one of these holes in the kitchen window. I got up this morning to find another identically cat sized hole right next to it.

Meanwhile, Jackson has decided that there's an intruder in a tree behind the shed, just on the other side of the fence. He bayed at it for about 45 minutes until I could stand it no longer and went out to fetch him. Keep in mind that you can hear a Walker hound bay for some 2 miles. He's designed that way. I know for a fact that you can hear him here in my semi-suburban neighborhood for at least 2 1/2 blocks, since I've heard him from that far away. He was in the house. When he's close to you, like in the car, it's literally ear splitting: you're surprised that there doesn't seem to be actual blood coming out of your ears. Last time he did that in the car I hit him hard on the nose in fury and shock. Didn't faze him one iota.

So I went out and found Jackson half way over the fence, which is worrisome, and got him to come back home with me through cajoling and promises of treats. He has gotten a lot better about coming, I will say that. Now I have the door closed and he can't go out, so he's walking from door to door to window to A's closed bedroom, whimpering and scratching and occasionally howling to get back out and up that damn tree. He's driving me berserk, and I know I can't let him out until his memory of whatever was up that tree (probably a squirrel) has faded and the scent has faded too. He does the same thing whenever one of the neighbors tries to go out in their yard. When he can hear people and can't get to them, he carries on like a complete lunatic and he never, never gives up. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Why can't I have a normal dog?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ghost Fire

Okay, so I'm playing with artrage and discovering that it can be used to smudge & paint over photos, big fun, so of course I'm using a picture of A taken at the Flying Frog that she hates & I rather like. As I'm painting her eyebrows green, I notice all this red and yellow behind her in the reflection of the glass doors into the Haywood Park Hotel. I took the photo and cut it and blew it up a bit and damned if it doesn't look exactly as if the building across the street is on fire. So I looked online to see if I could find any history of a Haywood Street fire (shut up! It is too a ghost fire reflection! It is so totally not just the evening sun on the windows!) but I couldn't find anything, so I will have to call F, who knows everything about Asheville history and discover the truth.

Ghosts after all like having their picture taken and appear that way all the time. Witness the classic photo which I alas no longer own that shows a ball of ectoplasmic energy hovering over my kids carving pumpkins. The reason I no longer have it is that I went on a couple of computer dates with a guy from LEMUR and he looked at it and said, "Ah! Classic ectoplasmic activity!" and I loaned it to him for further investigations. Then we sorta kinda broke up or whatever you call it when you like somebody from a computer dating service okay but the world does not move and so it kind of fizzles out. Anyway I am familiar with ghosts and their fondness for photography and I say, this is the reflection of a fire from long ago.

Aaaaahhheeeeeooooooooooo!! Insert spooky music here.

Impeach Bush

Yes, lets impeach him. I'm all for it, although I'm a little worried about having Cheney, the incredible vanishing demon v.p. in office. I have heard, through the conspiracy phone, the suggestion that Rove & Cheney would assassinate Bush in 2007 or so, thus riding the sympathy vote into victory in 2008. If it happens, you heard it here first. Or in the Weekly World News, whichever.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fairly Hungover

Last night I "volunteered" at the Asheville Art Museum's wine/beer tasting. I was a silent auction volunteer, which means I was supposed to stand by the silent auction tables and make sure nobody stole anything. I did some of that, but mostly I walked around and drank high alcohol beer. It was yummy, but it was weird being back at the museum, and I think it's time to officially drop the fantasy that a) I could get my old job back and b) I even want my old job back. I don't think I want it, although everyone was all happy to see me and shit. They probably wouldn't be so happy today, since I evilly booked out of there early, which is a truly evil volunteer thing to do, but I feel that I have cleaned up after enough museum parties. It was my turn to be evil, bwah. I went with my brother & some friends to the New New & sucked down PBR, with the result that I was a little out of it this morning.

Which is why, although I woke up at 4:30, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00, I still managed to sleep through my 10 am volunteer assignment for the Red Cross. I did one of those, oh god please I just need 15 more minutes of sleep, I'll just doze things and woke up at 11. D'oh! I suck! I am forgiving myself for this one though. I already volunteered for the Red Cross twice this week and neither time would anyone have noticed if I hadn't shown up, since they had approximately 3 times as many volunteers as they needed. So I'm really hoping the same was true today. I do feel guilty. I am a bad, bad person - but we knew that.

So the bad bad person fortified herself with gatorade and aspirin and went on over to pick up her mother and brother and take them to the fair. I was hungry and planning on eating some seriously horrible fair food and taking some seriously wonderful fair photos but my mom got tired after an hour and we had to leave. I was cranky about this and in fact I still am. Grrrrrr. I didn't even get to go in the sideshow I photographed, and I really wanted to see the 2 headed raccoon. I'm going back to see it. Yes. I will return to the fair! And then I will eat cheese fries, lo, and unto the multitudes will I drink lots of coca cola, and eat a fried onion, and maybe some fried dough, and possibly a caramel apple or some fudge. And a Polish sausage sandwich, and an eggroll, and a corn dog, and some greasy pizza. After this I will waddle through the freak show and take pictures of the Dixie Starlight Express, which is a bunch of really extremely white girls on horses, waving big patriotic flags around and invoking the name of Jesus. Last time I saw it one girl had shaved her horse's butt hair into crosses, which I thought was sort of a two edged symbol, and another one had painted her horse red, white and blue, with stars and stripes. Go, Dixie Starlight Express! Dash around the ring at a gentle canter and pass the flagpole from one blonde Baptist sorority sister to another!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I went to my Mom's for dinner and my brother said, after there was some hilarity over my clothes (okay, I haven't done laundry in a while, also I have to always wear pants or long skirts to my mother's so she won't see the tattoo on my left leg, and all this family togetherness is straining my wardrobe, not to mention my waistline, to the breaking point) "Mom thinks you're a tinker."
"What?" I said
"She sits up at night worrying that there's some tinker strain in the family and you're a tinker."
"I can't be a tinker." I said. "I'm terrible at sharpening knives."
"Well." said my brother. "The women tinkers don't have to sharpen knives anyway. They do other things."

And so some strange 200 year old family story full of weird ancient prejudice keeps right on getting updated. I can just imagine - County Clare, circa 1700: "The girl's a tinker! It was your grandmother's fault when she ran off with the gypsy laddie! Alack-a-day! Lock up the silver and change the will!" Can't they come up with something new to worry about? She might as well be worrying about that druid strain in the family or something. Anyhow, I probably am a tinker. And if I am, it's the best news I've heard about the family in a while. It beats the hell out of being a deeply melancholic somewhat paranoid political junkie, right?

So I said, "Okay, I'm a tinker. I'd like to be a tinker, I'd love to travel around in a painted pony cart."
"Oh no dear." said my mother. "Those days are gone, I'm afraid."
"They might be coming back." I said. "Peak oil, and all."

Which neatly tied together both strains of the family DNA.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Art at the Fair

I went last night with my friend D & my old coworker F and hung the art at the Mountain State Fair. It took hours - more than 3, to be specific, and I got home at like 11:30, leaving me just enough time to go to the Westville real quick and slam down 3 pints of PBR before bed. Then this morning we went back to the fair and judged the art.

I meant to take pictures but I didn't. I would have felt oddly guilty - some of the art is scarily awful, some is laughable, some is pretty good, but all of it, obviously, means something to the artist in question. And I shouldn't be so snarky. That said, while I find the chickens and horses entered in the Portraits category lovable, I am less kind to the landscapes, chickens, hummingbirds and trees entered in the Still Life category. This year I even wrote testy comments in the judges' manual and refused to give them any ribbons at all.

It is fun to judge, though. There are about a billion categories, divided by medium and genre: some have lots of entry, like oil landscapes and pencil drawing and some have one or none, like abstract acrylic or amateur calligraphy. D & I walked along and said things like "Wow." "That is truly unbearable." "Oh my god why would someone mat their ballpoint pen drawing of Galadriel with shiny ribbon? Can we eliminate that as too painful for human eyes?" "Look at those teeth!" "That giant bird is about to attack those badly drawn children - heh, heh - blue ribbon for sheer weirdness." So it's a good time. Although it does happen early in the morning. Too early.

Still, you get to walk around the exhibits tent while it's all being judged and set up. Year after year these dedicated old people come and work on the fair, setting up bales of hay, positioning stuffed chickens and setting up the giant childrens' diorama exhibition which always makes me want to go home and make dioramas for the rest of my life. It's a wildly underappreciated art form. The vegetables - giant pumpkins, gourds, potatos - begin to trickle in. The special children's vegetable decorating contest is put on display. There's really nothing to be said about that one. It is what it says it is. Vegetables decorated by special children. Meanwhile, in the background the carnies are setting up the ferris wheel. D refused to walk over to the midway to take pictures with me on the grounds that if he saw how the rides were put together he'd be afraid to ride them. We did, however, get to see Babe, the giant ox, on whose ample back my friends A & M & I posited the start of a whole new religion (he is so calm! He is our god, and he is peaceful, yea, and huge!) He was lying down behind a trailer. I was a little afraid to approach my god, since he is mighty, and if he decided to be less peaceful I would be as nothing, but I did get a picture.

God and the Republican Agenda

This sums up my point of view on God, New Orleans & the Republican agenda quite nicely. I'm always outraged at how the wing nuts manage to co-opt God for their personal use. Granted, I don't believe in a Xtian Old Testament God sitting on a cloud in a robe with a long white beard surrounded by angels playing the harp BUT if I did? He sure as hell wouldn't be a friend of Dubya's and his evil, evil cronies. It's a damn shame that the right wing is apparently incapable of reading the New Testament and all it's inconvenient pandering to the poor and dispossessed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


This guy was on the back porch last night as A and I, a little giddy from too much Angel and way too much of one of grandma's meat intensive dinners, went out to smoke around midnight. I couldn't get a really good picture but he was easily as big as my thumb and light brown. He ate a moth while we watched, which was kind of like being inside a National Geographic special. It was cool but I'm not heartbroken that he seems to be gone this morning.

In other news, M called and said he wants me to mail him "depressing books." I said, "You have One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch and that's the most depressing book ever."
"I already read that one." he said dismissively. "I want Clockwork Orange and any other kind of really depressing book that shows how society is all screwed up. I'm going to do a science project on what happens if you read a lot of depressing books and don't ever sleep."
"You turn into the Unabomber." I said. "I don't think that's such a good idea."
"It'll be great." he said.

So, anyone got any depressing books they want to share?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Volunteering: I Think I Retired or Something

This is a busy week. I went down to the Red Cross this morning to volunteer on their phones. They had enough people on phones so they put me on a computer, which is my natural milieu anyway, so I made labels. Even in a disaster, you need labeled, alphabetized files. Right? Riiiiight? Actually, I totally feel for them. They are swamped right now and in a state of barely controlled chaos, due in no small part to this incredible influx of volunteers. They called me Saturday about one missing piece of paper that they needed before they sent me down to Alabama or whereever; I asked them about it today, noone knew or had time to figure out what it was. So I said, okay, I'll work the kitchen for you at the Asheville Mall fundraiser (Wednesday, come on down!) and I'll do clerical stuff for you again on Friday. They were happy. It doesn't look like I'm going to make it down to the actual hurricane hit area, but there seems to be a lot I can do here. I'm busier than I've been in months, but I'm still not making any money. Damn. Priorities.

As part of my volunteer activities, tomorrow evening I'm going to go hang the art at the Mountain State Fair. This is my third year, I'm the assistant superintendant of Art, believe it or not. And every year they give me a really brightly colored shirt to wear with a big ole patch on it that says Mountain State Fair. Just a beautiful piece of clothing that somehow - go figure - I never wear. Ever. Actually I really enjoy it. On Wednesday I go back to help judge the art - that's really fun. Since I started doing that, we have seen a shift in blue ribbons from the creepy oil landscape in the big heavy expensive frame to the ballpoint pen drawing of Ozzy Osbourne on a napkin. Yeah. Art of, for and by the people, man!

After I get done judging the art on Wednesday, I'm going down to the mall to help the Red Cross. On Thursday night I'm volunteering at the Asheville Art Museum's wine & beer tasting, and then on Friday it's back to the Red Cross. And, last night at a candlelight vigil for the hurricane, I ran into a person I know who's organizing a re-housing in Asheville effort specifically aimed at Nola musicians and artists, so I'm going to go work with her too. Apparently I don't have time to get a job.

It was a party party weekend, much fun: the first picture is the Lexington Avenue Arts Fair, or as I like to call it, the Lexington Avenue Freak Fair, around which I walked with my younger brother and our old friend H, who lives near Spartanburg now. The night before that, both my brothers and A and I went to Hendersonville, where our friends W & M were hosting a barbecue complete with many old friends from Charleston and all around, including the inimitable Bon-bon and his traveling Grill O'Smoky Doom, the 2010 L, which is this amazing grill thing he built which uses a fire in a beer keg mounted under an old refrigerator to make insanely good ribs. As you can see, much fun had by all. It has actually not yet been too bad, this enforced family togetherness and stuff. Really. Not too bad at all.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Who Knew? Mr. Bill

Watch it and weep. Mr. Bill on hurricanes, from JUNE 2004. No, Mr. President, who could have known that New Orleans was in danger? Who could have known that the destruction of the wetlands could have consequences like this? Who could possibly have known that the levees were underfunded and desperately in need of repair?

Only EVERY FUCKING CLAYMATION FIGURE PROBABLY INCLUDING DANNY AND GOLIATH, YOU FUCKTARD. And since this is, after all, a cartoon presidency, at best, and Scrappy-Do would be doing a better job as the President than dubya-doo, it seems only logical that the leader of the free world could at least have listened to his peer group.

One week later and still: fury, desolation, shock, horror. God DAMN our "leaders." Fucking CUBA got their people out after a category five hurricane but we couldn't. And one week later, we still can't. And the Red Cross can't even go in there.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dream and Reality

I had a long involved dream that I had a boyfriend. He was wonderful, and in fact he was extra wonderful, because he had signs posted in his bedroom of what he did and did not expect from a woman, and what he was prepared to give and not give. The signs were large, and some of them were in a sort of symbol code, so that instead of words there was a simplified black picture of a tire and an air pump and a smiley face, because he was totally okay with fixing his girlfriend's flat tires. I was overjoyed by these signs because I felt like at last here was a relationship where there would be no murkiness: everything was spelled out. He was handsome, too, and loving and sweet, and he had two adorable kids. Then, of course, I woke up.

Sidenote: this may not be the best time of the month for me to go be a disaster volunteer. This is the time of the month where I get kind of weepy and my feelings get hurt easily and then there are the slight bursts of fury.

So I was thinking about this dream and wishing I would meet this guy but knowing better (I never meet the men in my dreams. Witness Mick Jagger, who I've dreamed about any number of times beginning at about age 14) and then I thought, gee, it has been 6 whole months since I, well, you know. Did it. It's probably about time for me to meet someone for a drunken nights worth of incoherent alcoholic fumbling, followed by a morning when he can't get away from me quick enough and never speaks to me again, followed by a week of angst, increasing guilt, self loathing and shame. Ooooh, I can hardly wait!

Told you it was that time of the month.


Both of my brothers are in town, the older one and the younger one (yes, I am the classic troubled middle child, exacerbated by being the only girl.) My older brother is by way of being a Nola refugee, as is detailed elswhere in this foolish blog. Except, of course, that he refugeed himself a good two weeks before the hurricane. My younger brother lives in Brooklyn and showed up at the Greenville/Spartanburg airport this morning without much warning. He's going to stay 10 days which is much longer than he usually stays. We went out drinking as is our wont when siblings are gathered together and since all of us are semi paranoid, semi bipolar and semi a lot of complicated psychiatrical type shit, many odd things were said. I think my brain exploded. I think that I can't think much more about conspiracies and what happened when, and why, and who knows who. I also think I really don't fucking care.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is checking my references, and maybe they're going to send me down there after all. Now I'm not sure I can go - I have my younger brother here in my house, and I don't often get to see him, so I'm more ambivalent than I was.

Looking back at that last post I'm sorry that I put in the little class rant. I'm not going to take it out, but I'm sorry. She was out there trying to help and volunteer, and that's a good and brave thing, and I had no right to get all snifty because she was rich, or rich-ish, and mascara-ed. Chalk it up to jealousy. I'm also hoping that the reason I felt surrounded by disorganized & not together people is that they had already sent the competent & together people to the Gulf. I really hope that that is true.

Also, damn it, where I am in Buffy? She should so totally tell her friends that she's fucking Spike? I mean, my god, it's better to let the secrets out.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Heroism on Hold for Masses of Red Tape

I went down to the Red Cross this evening for my "Family Services" training, scared and expecting that I'd get a ship out date, all ready to go do my bit for the Gulf.

Ooops. Turns out the Red Cross is pretty much a major mess right now, what with the actual crisis and all. Disorganized is a kind and mild adjective. There were a LOT of people there - there are a lot of people who really want to help out, which is heartening. The only trouble is, I'm still not sure if/how/when any of us will actually be going down. I was there for almost 3 hours and the only thing I know is that I'm going back on Monday morning to answer the phones for 4 hours. Hopefully I'll do better than whoever answered the phone for me on Wednesday, since she apparently had no clue what she was talking about. Which isn't surprising, because nobody who was there this evening seemd to know either.

The class was in Family Services. This translates into filling out an insane amount of bureaucratic forms for refugees, who you better hope come in a classic American nuclear family shape, because if they don't those forms are going to be hell to navigate. The lady who taught the class walked us through each and every form, each with its own special set of acronyms. The big picture seems to be that people walk into a Red Cross headquarters, which could be anywhere, and then they get handed over to me or someone like me, who fills out insanely repetitive (you have to put their names & address - or what used to be their address before it was sunk under 20 feet of water or swirled up into the sky - on every. single. form. before they get any kind of actual help and there are about 15 forms. The lady said that we would probably do like 12 families a day. Given 500,000 refugees, that seems a bit slow! All these forms are set up for places where there is infrastructure: to wit, the refugees get credit card type things, which will of course only work if there are phones, to take to the grocery store and the Wal Mart and the motel. If there were grocery stores and Wal Marts and motels this would be tee-fucking-riffic. But, of course, there aren't, and our trainer at least didn't seem to have a bit of a clue what would be done then.

Who are the brain police? What do you do when the plastic's all melted and the chromium too? /zappa

They give you $115 a week for groceries for a family of four. The lady next to me was outraged and I was outraged that she was outraged, since that's about - or more - what I've raised my kids and often a no-count boyfriend or two on. And I said that, too - "hey, that's damn generous! More than you get working for an Asheville salary, that's for sure." She looked all shocked at me. Must be nice. Her husband probably pays his employees $5 an hour and tells them they're lucky to get it. /class rage rant

The trainer was worried about fraud though. She told us about how people would try to cheat this "gift from the American people" and use it illicitly. Yeah okay. And she spoke several times about how rough it was down there: no electricity, no water, nowhere to stay - and there was a sheet in our handout of forms that said that as well, and that you had better be prepared to carry all your belongings on your back. Most of the people there looked like they could do it, although most of them looked like they'd never actually done it, and some of them looked like, well, no elevatahs? Dahlink! I could see that the concept of actual no water, no electricity which equals no showers, no a/c was not quite making it through the entire brain. Idealism is great, but mascara on that level can be a problem with no bathrooms.

So finally I - or maybe it was somebody else - raised a hand and said, "Well, what about going to the Gulf? How does that happen? What do we do?"
"You have to fill out an application form and a volunteer form and a blah blah form, and then they go off to National, and they check your references and then if they want you they'll call you."
"Do you have those forms?"
"No, you'll have to come back tomorrow."
I badgered her until she got me some forms. I filled them all out and left them there, with still no idea how it all works. I do know that they pay to fly you in and out, they pay for your food, and they pay for your lodging, if there is any. At the Gulf they're anticipating that there isn't any lodging, so you're supposed to bring a sleeping bag & etc. That I knew.

I'm ready to go, and I feel like I'm needed now. I don't want to lose my initiative and not make it, wait too long, or even, heaven forfend, find a job or something and not be able to go. But apparently I'm now deep into the wait-and-see bureaucracy. They'll call me. I shouldn't call them. So I'm not a hero yet. Or maybe ever. I'm just trying to do whatever I can.