Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Customer Service Test

I went in this morning for my customer service test at LargeUnnamedTemporaryService this morning. Hint: It's nationwide and starts with a K and I mistakenly thought, given their perky emerald green logo, that perhaps some shared ancestral heritage would make it kind to me. The customer service test is done on a computer with a headset; you put on the headset and the computer gives you your choice of three little scripts to read in response to the completely bullshit sounding customer. It's not difficult, because even I can figure out that in the horrible alterna-world that is the temp company's training module of evil, you're supposed to answer the phone by saying "Hello, thank you for calling XYZ Corp, this is Felicity, how may I help you?" in a sweet and cheerful voice instead of snarling "XYZ Corp!" as is done in real life. Well, I say it isn't difficult, but then I failed.

Part of it anyway. I got the being nice part okay, and the greeting, and the ending, but I missed the vital Sell The Customer More Shit in the middle part. So I had to take a remedial module. I was not happy about this, particularly since the 22 year old temp service employee said encouragingly to me "Gee, you did really well on the first part! Have you ever done customer service before?" and I wanted to strangle her.

I took the remedial sales module and I learned all about the ways to sell people shit they do not need or want under the name of Customer Service and I decided that what I really want to do with my life is make those training modules, because, jesus, they suck, and I could do it better with a sharpie and a torn piece of newsprint. It was like being submerged in evil: I learned about how to use leading questions to get the people to admit other things they wanted and then I learned the most evil trick of all: closing the sale by assumption. The assumption means that you just say, "Okay, Mrs. Smith, I'll sign you up for that right now" before the customer has actually agreed to purchase anything. You can tell that they're approaching a "buying moment" by the fact that they'll either agree with you, ask your advice, ask for details, or, as far as I could tell, do anything at all other than hang up shouting Fuck You!

I wanted to take a shower. When that happens to me on the phone I become completely berserk, but apparently it's standard operating procedure and the customer is the better for it. So I finished my remedial and walked into the other office to learn about the horrible job I agreed to take next week. The temp lady started to explain the timecode and then said, "Dress code is business casual, which means. . . "and okay, maybe I'm sensitive, but I got offended that she felt she needed to explain business casual to me. I got more offended when she said patronizingly, "You look pretty nice today." Fuck her. I'm wearing basic office lady uniform: gray skirt, black sweater, black tights. Then she said something about MAY which caught my attention. "MAY?" I said, "I'm not still going to be doing this in May." "Oh," they (the other office lady got interested at this point) said, "Isn't this your career objective?" Yeah, hon, all my life I've wanted to work in a miserable call center being treated worse than an animal for less money than I need to stay alive. "No." I said. "No, it is not my career objective." "What is your career objective?" she said haughtily, "Administrative? Clerical? Data Entry?" "No." I said, even though I knew this was going to go nowhere good. "My career objective has nothing to do with this kind of thing; what I want from you people is short term, temporary administrative work while I look for a real job."

So they fired me. This is some kind of personal record: I haven't even done any work for them yet and I've already been fired. Am I good or what?

Monday, January 30, 2006

March of the Penguins

I can't stand it. I just watched March of the Penguins and I'm going to Antarctica right away to rescue some penguins. I totally cannot deal with it; I don't care how well adapted they are and how miraculous it is that they've developed these amazing tenuous survival strategies, they'd be much happier in my backyard. I can bring in a kiddie pool. My god, if I was those penguins, the backyard, the zoo or really, any-frickin-where would look so much better than my life, I'd smuggle myself out with the filmmakers.

I know that this is not what I'm supposed to be taking away from this film, which is, granted, amazingly shot, as in, how the hell did they do that? but really, even back in the days of Mutual of Omaha I knew I could never make it as a wildlife photographer. How can they just stand there with the cameras and let. the. baby. penguin. die. of. exposure? When there are even sweaters available?! I can't take it. That movie was too much for me, and I still have tons of unanswered questions, mostly revolving around the miserable lives of the various bereaved penguins, who made me cry, not to mention the ones who didn't find mates. I hope they found happiness anyway.

No more nature! I have to go back to something forced and artificial, like Six Feet Under, or the movie I watched again this weekend: Swamp Thing Science transformed him into a monster. Love changed him even more! which is totally atrocious and did not make me anthropomorphize anyone or anything.

Mr. Bill is Crazy

Mr. Bill is having some kind of weird resurgence of kittenhood. Mr. Bill is, frankly, nuts. Crazed. In-bloody-sane. And he's not quietly mad either, no, he's meowing mad. He makes more noise than anyone else in this household, which is saying something, since Theo barks all the time, especially if, as occasionally happens, there's a squirrel on the front porch. Mr. Bill comes in and out the kitchen door (and he prefers that the door be opened for him; he doesn't like the pet door that's conveniently located in the kitchen door) mewing wildly the whole time. Then he mews at me for a while until finally he decides that what he really wants is to a) go right back out, or b) eat something, or c) just to meow like a banshee for a while. I've never had such a vocal cat. What happened to the cat like the fog, creeping silently about on little gray cat feet? The poet clearly never met Mr. Bill. Mr. Bill jeers at the poet! Loudly.

This would be kind of funny and sweetly amusing, if Mr. Bill did it only during daylight hours. It's distinctly less charming at 4:30 am, particularly when nothing will shut him up. Oh wait. There is something that will shut him up: playing with a beaded scarf on my bed. Playing by meowing, naturally, and pouncing, and trying to eat the jet beads off the scarf. I lay there and wondered if he'd seriously gone crazy. Brain worms, I thought: (4:30 is not my strongest thinking time) maybe he has brain worms. What will I do if he has brain worms? "Mrrrrreeeeeooooowwww" said Mr. Bill, and dragged the scarf across my face.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another Old Photo

Because it just wouldn't be fair to do a post about Baltimore in the 80s and leave out poor A. These black and white pictures were taken by my friend Michael McDonald, by the way, just so he gets credit, and this one is in my old, beautiful, apartment in Bolton Hill, that we would later be kicked out of because the Allmighty Senators moved in for a week or so during a particularly cold snap when the pipes at the Hour House froze, and our 85 year old super would then accuse us all of being, and I quote, "Garbage People" because of the vast quantities of trash that were coming out of my apartment. Which led to one of my two plaques on the bar at the Mt. Royal (you can buy a small brass engraved plaque saying whatever you wish and have it set in the bar, thus memorializing you forever) to wit: Garbage People: Live in one dump, drink in another. And, making this nicely circular, my other plaque says The Non Aquatic Cousins of Jacques Cousteau something something weekend, which commemorates a particularly insane weekend which involved me, the aforementioned Michael McDonald, Hy Chase from Charleston and frightening amounts of Natty Boh.


Last night I went, as is my wont, to do my laundry at the Amoco conveniently located across the street from the Westville Pub. (The stupid laundromat has raised their prices, the fiends, not just on the washers but on the dryers too. Although that annoying fact has in fact nothing to do with the following narrative; still, it's a drag.) I got my clothes into the washers and went across the street, got a beer, went outside and walked into a conversation about Baltimore. Cool, I thought, and then I heard the name of some kids that my daughter knew back in the day. "Wait!" I said, "Did you say . . " And yes, they did. There were three guys there reminiscing, and the younger one went to the Baltimore School for the Arts with my friends' daughter, and the other guy knew my ex mother & stepfather in law. It was like old home week. Not only that, but one guy was about my age and - this is where it gets truly bizarre - knew all of the people that I knew, from the Maryland Institute and from the Mount Royal Tavern, from back in the day, from when I was so cool it was scary. As you can see from these circa 1987 Baltimore pictures. I was cool; I was invincible; I was young. I hadn't yet figured out that I look like an idiot with blonde hair and bangs.

It was amazing and wonderful, and I think we blew my friend J & A's friend (I called A & made her come down to talk to these guys too) C's mind since we talked about stuff like, oh, the Hour House back in the day with the phone booth made of a shower, and the All Mighty Senators (I was their first manager. Yes. Yes I was and you can even see my name and a long long defunct phone number on the back of their first album. Which I probably own the only copy of.) and their giant puppets and Mitchell Valiant covered with ashes playing the accordion (that came from the farm commune where I lived) and Landis being just Landis, and Ron Compton's tattoo of a stomach filled with beer, and tEntaTively a cOnvenience and Vermin Supreme and the party at Brent's out in Aberdeen during the 17 year cicadas when everyone was eating them deepfried and raw (the party of this color photo, in fact,) and my old boyfriend Jack Snope and his cockroach farm. And the powwow and Danny Van Allen and Spoon and more, and more and more, moving into true crime stories, without which no Baltimore gathering is complete, and promises to have a crab feast here in Asheville this summer.

Lately people seem to be remembering me as an artist and recalling to me the days when I thought I was an artist too and it's kind of guilt inducing. Cousins I haven't seen for years at the memorial service asked me how my painting was going, MICA people talking about installations - it reminds me that I did used to be an artist, really. Really. It's possible that that was even the defining thing about me and the important stuff in my life and probably letting it all go to hell - and beer, do't forget beer - except for Christmas cards and mosaics and weird craft-y stuff like that was a big mistake. Not that I was a great artist, I was mostly just kind of a weird artist, but I was an artist of sorts and I am beginning to miss that. I think just possibly it's time to take out the paints again.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mucking About With ArtRage

I decided to make myself business cards yesterday and I "painted" this in ArtRage to put on them - but I chickened out and opted for a stolen borrowed .gif of a generic flamingo instead. I identify with trees, but also with flamingos, which may be why it was so difficult for me to figure out what to put on the cards. I'm pretty much willing to do almost anything, but somehow saying that on a business card doesn't look so good, so instead I went with a long list of stuff that I would do, classily in the present tense, beginning with organize and ending with art (they're lined up according to length.) Still, I kind of like the tree.

Several Arguments With Myself

Today is Saturday and I'm arguing with myself. I have been really bad lately and so I have a lot to yell at myself about. For one thing, the house needs to be cleaned again, and I'm reluctant to get started. "You are a lazy slob," I tell myself. "Stop playing computer games and get some semblance of a life, and clean the house, it's disgusting." "So?" I reply sullenly, "It's my fucking house and it can be trashed if I want it to be. Let it reflect my inner angst and sorrow!" (I can be annoyingly melodramatic sometimes.) "No," I say reasonably. "You have to clean it up because otherwise it will depress you. And you need to go for a walk; it's a beautiful day. And work on job stuff." "Fuck you!" I say with all the fervor of my inner 15 year old, and then I sigh resignedly at myself.

However, I need to do these things, and I definitely need to figure out what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I'm going to start by cleaning my messy bedroom and getting rid of a bunch of sweaters and shoes. Panic grips me at the thought of parting with any of my shoes, though. "I can't get rid of these, they're Steve Maddens and I love them! Also, I got them on sale and they were so, so cheap." "But you never wear them. In fact, you've never worn them because they have five inch heels and you can't even walk in them. If you could walk you'd be 6'3" in them anyway." "But they make my legs look fantastic and what if I suddenly start dating someone who's 6'7"? I'll need them then."

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life careerwise, too. I'm not one of those people who decided at the age of 4 that they wanted to be an insurance executive; I'm one of those people who decided at about age 23 while drinking heavily that she wanted to be, like, an artist, and you can see how well that's worked out. So now that I'm middleaged I need to be all responsible and adult like and possibly go buy a copy of What Color is Your Parachute (black. Mine is unrelieved black, except for the flames.) and decide, you know, what I find joy in so that I can have a happy and rewarding career instead of just lurching around from one thing to another. Actually my career really resembles the other meaning of that word, or, well, according to dictionary.com I'm thinking about careen & not career, but still: To lurch or swerve while in motion. Yes. What do I find joy in and what am I good at? Mostly Bookworm, lately, and somehow I don't think there's much of a call for someone to find words in racks of wooden letters, although, hey, if you have an opening, I consistently achieve the rank of Grand Archivist and would welcome the opportunity to talk further with you about my qualifications and abilities. It's too bad I don't find joy in creating Excel spreadsheets, but alas, I just don't. I kind of want to be a graphic designer, but I'd have to go back to school, which is unlikely, and then, after graduation, I would just be joining my many many graphic designer friends, almost all of whom are out of work and drinking wine desolately on their porches while discussing the possibility of jobs creating Excel spreadsheets. So I don't know. I think that since when I was linking to Bookworm just then I inadvertently opened it up I'll just . . just . . be right back . . .

Friday, January 27, 2006

Politics, or 5 Easy Steps To Save America

This is a political post, or, well, it's my version of a political post, which means it's me telling the world in somewhat strident tones exactly what America needs to do to fix things. Now, this is not one of my Evil Overlord posts, wherein I explain exactly how to fix the entire world by immediately making me Supreme Overbeing With Ultra Powers. This is a levelheaded, rational, realistic approach to American politics. That also uses a lot of long words, to prove that it's serious and all, you know.

1. Get rid of the two party system and implement parliamentary representation. Our voter numbers are the lowest in the world and a national disgrace. We have a completely uninterested, disenfranchised electorate and it's horrible. We're not a democracy, we're a hideous oligarchical plutocracy, and it makes me ill. Having more than just the two parties of corporate lickspittle buttlicking sycophants, indistinguishable except one-is-slightly-less-evil-than-the-other-one, would go a long way into reinvigoratiing the American people. We might even start getting political graffiti, like every other nation worth it's political salt. (I feel that the American lack of political graffiti is a sad commentary on American politics: to wit, people really just don't care even enough to spray paint their candidate's name on a wall. That's pathetic.)

2. Vote with your ATM card for one week in November. Everyone who doesn't have an ATM card can trot on down to the DMV and be issued a free one that's only good for voting. I mean, seriously, the fucking technology is already there. Any ATM in the country can recognize me and access my bank balance, how difficult would it be to write a program utilizing that network to vote with?

3. Eliminate the Electoral College. It's not 1805 anymore, people, and we don't need someone on a horse to tell us who won the election. One person, one vote, that's that.

4. National health care. National health care. National health care. I'm tired of living in a third world nation while more enlightened people everywhere kind of smirk via the internet and say in horrified tones: you mean you really can't even go to the doctor? No, I can't go to the doctor. I don't have insurance and I don't have money, all I can do is pray I don't get sick. That's a horrifying thing in this day and age and it's un-fucking-known in any other nation that has any pretensions to being a world player and even in a lot that don't even field an Olympic team.

5. Bye bye, Iraq. Sorry about all this. Apologies. See ya!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Did Manage to go Hiking Today

And here's proof. It was cold but beautiful out at Bent Creek and yet again, I proved my theory that if you start to feel alone and lonely out there, all you have to do is try to pee behind a tree, and lo! There will be streams of mountain bikers to cheer you on. One time when I was up there, climbing up a small and vertical trail, I ran into the great god Pan. At least I think it was Pan, although I grant you that it could have been just a middleaged overweight balding man in polyester shorts with a small snappy dog. Still, I was either overcome with panic, or dizzy from climbing, but I took it that he was Pan. He appeared and disappeared rather suddenly, and there was distant haunting music, and he and his dog glared at me, and I felt a bit, well, panicky. So you never know who you might run into at Bent Creek.

Big Important Thoughts, China Mieville and Some Job Possibilities

This is kind of a disjointed post, or, if you will, several posts in one. Leap now with me from one thought to another, completely unconnected thought, and be less linear. It's good for you. Let us start with large and important thoughts, vital questions and the nature of the universe, shall we? First up on our list is the Zit Question: Has anyone, ever, anywhere, managed to ignore and not pop the giant zit on their chin? I can't do it. I tried, but I just can't make it through. And why, why do zits happen at the same place over and over again?

Einstein said, famously, that e=mc squared. This has something to do with the speed of light, right, and also something to do with the fact that no matter is ever created anew in the universe, it just changes from state to state. Or so I think I understood, once, long ago, before I burned that last vital brain cell with a shot of tequila one dark night. Except he obviously wasn't thinking about leaves and leaf mold. See, there is no way that the nutrients in the soil sucked up by a tree equal the amount of leaves that then fall off that tree, go under the hedge and then eventually turn into soil. Not in mass or space or anything do they equal out. This is, over years, a bunch of soil, which means that the earth is actually getting bigger, kind of like a rubber band ball. That is matter that's been created. Also, kids. And puppies, and kittens, and even horrid tiny hairless baby mice, eerp, they too are new matter. So, sucks to be you Einstein. There is so new matter, and I figured this all out this afternoon smoking a cigarette in the back yard and looking at the new matter under the hedge.

China Mieville
is a genius. I'm reading Iron Council and while people said that it wasn't as good as The Scar I actually like it even better. However, it reminds me of a theory I have about British authors vs. American authors: to wit, British authors are tougher. American writers get sentimental and don't kill off their major characters; British writers don't care and in fact take a kind of fiendish delight in oceans of gore. They routinely kill of their entire cast of characters; they let babies be eaten, hundreds be masscred in entirely new ways and they don't care. Witness not only China Mieville but also Jeff Noon, who is incredibly tough on his characters, and early (before he became an American) Neil Gaiman who has gotten much nicer and more sentimental since he basically switched countries. This theory is still under construction. Don't mind our dust!

I agreed to take a horrible job with Kelly Services in a call center selling cosmetics. I really don't want it, so let's all hope that something else comes up in the next week before I start. Actually something may have - a strange Craigslist ad looking for people to proofread magazine articles might actually be for real, so keep your fingers crossed for that possibility to materialize. It's almost real money AND I don't have to leave my house. Yeah.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

blurry cat yawn

blurry cat yawn
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
It's a terrible thing to say, I guess, but Barbieri's death has really brought me closer to Mr. Bill. He used to rely on his brother to handle all the interspecies communication he thought was necessary - stuff like "isn't the food ready yet?" and "Why don't you make it stop snowing?" Now, he must ask me these questions himself, and he's decided that he loves sleeping in my bed, which I love too, so we have shared interests. M says, "Mom, the cat is not your best friend." and I say, "Yes he is. Mr. Bill, that orange cat was around here this morning looking for you. You had better be careful if you go outside" and Mr. Bill yawns and stretches out deliciously on my comforter and says "Have you opened a new can of breakfast for me yet?"

Jobs, Despair and Ringtones

I got another call from Kelly Services this morning. I'm getting to know them well, although they still haven't found me anything resembling what I want from them, which is a relatively painless couple of weeks doing data entry or answering phones so I can transition my brain back into the workplace. No, they either offer me stuff like that, then tell me that they'll "submit my resume" and I don't get the job, or, as today, they call to offer me a "real" job for $9 an hour at a call center where there is no hope of advancement because the actual company isn't even anywhere near Asheville and I'd be working 10 hour shifts - after two weeks of training at less money - with no end in sight. I do not want this, although I'm stupid, since I'm desperately broke. I had no idea I'd still be unemployed now. It's starting to freak me out more than a little.

So I've spent the morning trying to figure out how to become a teacher and I haven't figured it out yet, although I did print out a whole bunch of applications and looked at my college transcript for a while. The only class I ever failed was Arts Management, which is just so ironic. In actual fact it wasn't so much that I failed it as that I didn't withdraw in time and thus never even went to the class. Dumb, in retrospect, but please, North Carolina school systems, realize that 20 year old college transcripts just might not offer the clearest image of me available. It doesn't really matter though, since I cannot for the life of me make my way through the maze of PRAXIS II exams and complicated requirements and this and that to even become a substitute teacher, which is apparently nearly damn impossible nowadays. I'd have to take a class and, surprise surprise, the classes are all full. There's one available in March, and I'm going to sign up, what the hell, but god I hope I'm not still unemployed in March. The classes are all full; the websites are forbidding; the maze seems unnavigable and that's just to make $58 a day as a substitute. Becoming an actual teacher seems even worse, but I printed a bunch of application information and I'm going to try. Unless something better comes along. My friend J called to tell me that there's an ad in the Iwanna for, and I quote, "someone to do internet computer work" which could be, you know, anything at all although the chances of it being some complete loon who I visualize as an old man in a wifebeater, spitting tobacco juice and deciding to get in on some of that there internet stuff he's heard about on the tee vee, are high.

In the meantime for a little light relief I have renewed my search for a cel phone ringtone of Warren Zevon's Lawyers Guns and Money but alas, the only thing I can find is Werewolf of London, which is kickass, yes, but not good enough for me to pay $2.50 for and replace my current ringtone I Wanna Be Sedated which I adore and is always appropriate in any circumstances. Although Lawyers, Guns and Money would be awesome. Truly awesome.

If you click on that Ramones link you will get to a video and it's great, if a bit blurry & dark. Or maybe that's my monitor.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Fifty Most Loathesome Americans

Read it and weep. With laughter among many other things.

Altered States, Apocalyptic Light and Suchlike

I took M up to Celo this afternoon, after a long grey stormy Sunday of doing essentially nothing. We did go out for breakfast at the Silver Dollar, where I swear they put valium in their coffee; nothing else, after all, could excuse the taste, or the fact that after leaving A there to doze in the booth while I dashed up to the ATM (the Silver Dollar takes nothing but cash for it's incredibly cheap cholesterol laden breakfasts,) dropped M off (where else but the Sword and Grail) and came back to duly pay the check, we came home and passed out for almost 3 hours. Then there was the drive up to Celo, and the discovery halfway there that, oh, by the way, M was supposed to have graph paper and sundry other school supplies by tomorrow, which necessitated a stop at the Roses Discount, worthy of it's own sweet blog post enumerating the many useful and less items that can be purchased therein, and then we left the Roses and walked outdoors into sky. The sky and the light was apocalyptic, so that we had to stop and just stand there for a moment, and try to take a picture, but you can't take a picture of light like that. Or possibly you can, if you have a good camera and have actually read the manual, and know about stuff like shutter speeds and lens apertures.

At any rate, it was glowing everywhere, the kind of light I've been trying to capture for days now, the kind of light that I saw briefly up in Sapphire but didn't have time to take a picture of the moss laden dead tree that was being illuminated into neon. Do you know the kind of light I mean? It's the kind of light that is coming from all over, the kind of light that if suddenly, a big door opened over that sudden neon tree, and Elvis, Mary Magdalene, three Munchkins and ET came jouncing out in a big pink Mary Kay cosmetics convertible cadillac, you wouldn't blink an eye, you'd just say, yeah, it's that kind of afternoon.

Back to Asheville, through intermittent rain, the kind that makes you have to fuck with the windshield wiper speeds through the whole drive, annoying, but I have fallen in love with the rental car (the defrost works so fast! It moves so smoothly! I passed someone on an uphill grade! The CD player, oh gods, the CD player!) so it's okay. I came home, made lentils and left again to go see Mirrormask.

Mirrormask was brilliant. Art movie, kids movie, adult movie, okay, it has some flaws, but not many, and it's visually stunning. Drawings and surreality, nods to Dali & Bosch, fish swimming through a mutable sepia city, masks and black lipstick - really, if you haven't seen it, do so immediately. I walked out of there and got into my lovely little rental car, turned it on & later vintage XTC started blasting loudly into my otherwise silent bubble, which fit weirdly and perfectly with the movie and the mood. Everything was an amazing movie. The streets were shining black, the black and unmarked and silent car ahead of me went through a puddle with cinematic precision: each drop of water slow, backlit, and technicolor. The highway was deserted and glowing and the Smoky Park Highway bridge has never looked so smoky, so park, so highway, or god, so taken out of a 1950s futuristic fever dream. The sky is a purplish smoking orange, the air is so clear it's water, and everything looks like a painting, like a perfect dream of paintings.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


I just came back from my uncle's funeral. It was a nice service; a full mass and I haven't been to a Catholic mass since I think my own first wedding in, uh, 1982, but I didn't get struck by lightning or anything. Although they've changed the words to everything, including the Lord's Prayer, again, and I never know when to stand up and sit down. Also, in complete blasphemy, I had forgotten to turn off my cel phone, and I couldn't figure out a polite way, seated up with the family and all my cousins and all (we were, of course, bordering on being late) to reach into my purse and turn it off, so every time we were supposed to pray quietly, I devoutly offered up my prayers unto God that the damn thing wouldn't ring, thus unleashing the Ramones plus a kind of vibrating mooing noise into the silent church. My stomach, objecting to the three cups of black coffee and half a pumpkin muffin, was making enough noise to fill the church anyway, and I prayed to God to make that stop too, but in his infinite wisdom he decided to let the ominous rumblings and glorping noises continue.

The reception after the service was lovely, full of cousins and their children, all of whom have grown alarmingly, and some of whom, even more alarmingly, look identical to their parents. It's scary how much we all look alike, actually; there were photos of my aunt (her husband, my uncle Jack, died; my aunt is my father's sister) as a young woman and I didn't realize how much she looked like my father; how much I look like her, and was reminded again of just how much my son looks like my father. My son will be sorry he missed it; some of my cousins' girls are about his age and they're an astonishingly pretty bunch. They cried. I got a bit teary eyed myself. There were golf jokes (we're that kind of family, yes) and some of my cousins spoke about their father, sweetly and well, and my cousin who is a master brewer in California brought not only a keg of beer he had brewed in his father's honor but also his utterly adorable 2 1/2 year old son who I had never met before. It was a nice afternoon, if you can say that about a funeral. I'm sorry Uncle Jack wasn't there, because he would have enjoyed it - my mother said perhaps the nicest thing you can say about anybody about him on the ride up, to wit: "You always wanted to be seated next to Jack at a dinner party, because he always had something interesting and funny to say; he could carry on a conversation about anything." My father would have liked it as well.

I don't see my cousins often; and when I do it's usually for something like this. There doesn't seem to be any way to get around this aging and cycle of life process. Our lives are all different, have always been, although as we all get older that stuff matters less, I think. They usually say something to me about how wild I am (my older brother and I are the token black sheep of our family) and I usually say something witty back about how somebody has to do cocaine with rock stars but really, I am glad I have them, and I kind of wish we saw each other more often, without death.

Raise a glass to Uncle Jack. He liked dogs, and golf, and kids and sports. He raised 6 good kids and he told many a kickass anecdote.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Rental Car And An Old Meme, Revisited

I rented a car today, wahoo! Naturally this took longer than it should have, because the first car they gave me, a PT Cruiser, didn't have a CD player. Fuck that, I know my rights, and my $22 a day entitles me to blow those speakers, baby. What madness could have inspired the car people to put a cassette deck into a 2005 car is also somewhat mind boggling; I personally own the last extant cassettes of the world (the Smiths! the Ramones! . . Men at Work, gah!), and they're getting kind of stretchy and creaky. By the way, what they say about PT Cruisers having no visibility is essentially true: great style, creepy to drive. I had to take it up the highway to the next rental place so they could give me a nondescript blue Chevy, with a working CD player and a bass boost that rumbles the doors. Yeah. I went up to Celo with 6 Japanese swords (a late Christmas present from M's dad) in the back seat and Mary Prankster shaking the frame and all was well in my world. The cows are all lying down out there, though, so your Hangover Journal Early Weather Change Warning System is now advising you that Mom always says cows lie down when the weather is going to change. Bring your umbrella, or, do as I do: forget it. If you bring it you'll just feel dumb anyway: walking around trying to juggle purse, umbrella, coffee, cigarette and probably a file folder full of papers. On the way back M played me wild surf music, his latest craze, and that too was good.

Tomorrow I am going up the other side of the mountain to Sapphire for my uncle's memorial service. I am bringing my mother and so I doubt there will be punk rock, alas, she doesn't like to play music in the car. The rental car was her idea though, so I won't complain. She didn't want to show up in front of the family in my Asheville hippiemobile and really, who could blame her? I get a little leery of it myself whenever I venture out of city limits, although of course that rarely happens. It's somehow easy to forget, in Asheville, that not everyone is majorly tattooed and driving a biodiesel station wagon covered with fading stickers. Kayak on the top and border collie with bandanna optional, but preferred.

The Old Meme I am Revisiting is: Songs in List Form. Here is my contribution to the genre, inspired, of course, by driving along listening the the Clash:

Where I am:
- all lost
- the supermarket

How I feel:
- Unhappy

Why I’m here:
- Special offer
- Guaranteed personality

My background:
- Fell Out
- Unnoticed
- Lived in suburbs
- Shorter than hedge

What I heard then:
- People on ceiling, fighting

What I do:
- Watch TV
- Save tea coupons
- Listen to disco record
- Drink

What I hear now:
- Kids in halls
- Pipes in walls
- Phone calls
- Silence

Where I am:
- Lost.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

fliss interview outfit

fliss interview outfit
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Check it out, it's what my ex used to refer to as the Execuchick Outfit, complete with ladylike pumps. Despite it, however, I did not get hired to manage an upscale ladies' designer dress shop, which is okay, because I probably would have been very bad at it. But don't I look like I work for IBM or something? You should see the full black suit; it's overwhelming and even more so with the houndstooth jacket. I would at this point just like to point out that that skirt is a size 10, yes ten, and it fits just fine, hee hee hee hee, and if you don't think that cheers me up to impossible heights, baby, you just don't know me very well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You Are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue

You are the president.

Computer Woes

I made the hideous mistake of downloading Google Pack. I'm not going to link to it because I am saving you from ending up in the same boat as me; namely, it borked Firefox completely. I spent like two hours last night and then again this morning trying to restore it; ultimately I had to do system restore back to two days ago AND remove every mozilla folder that's ever been on my computer AND find hidden google files and remove them AND completely reinstall firefox. That even sounds easier than it was, because I'm leaving out all the useless, pointless, in between steps AND the swearing AND the stomping around AND the smoking of the cigarettes of anger - you know, the works.

Last night was an exercise in frustration anyway. My brother and I did one of those drive-back-and-forth-between-the-autobody-shop-and-my-mom's things; of course the car wasn't done because, you know, it never is. So we went to Broadways, where I ran into my friend D and we shot some execrable pool, and I told my brother to go ahead and take my car back to my mom's; D would give me a ride home. Which he kindly did; that part was okay. The part that wasn't okay was that my laundry and the book that I'm reading and the DVDs that are already very late going back to Orbitz, were in the car as well. It's a good thing I have another set of sheets, because all my sheets and pillowcases are in that laundry, which would be why last night I slept on 2 leopard print king size pillowcases and one Noah's Ark one.

I got home and decided to finish redoing my filing cabinet. I spray painted it black yesterday (spray painting is a drag. Getting it all even and stuff is an even bigger drag. Making up your mind that the sort of swirly uneven paint on the side of the filing cabinet actually looks kind of like a Chinese landscape painting and thus is artistic, cool and okay is priceless.) and I was ready to decoupage all the zen quotes I've been collecting for a couple years off my zen quote a day calendars onto it. I did so. It looked good. I realized that they were all on there backwards. Yes, backwards, facing the back of the filing cabinet, the unpainted back that goes to the wall. In the middle of all this I also discovered the true extent of my computer problems, namely, that I can't even run Bookworm with IE! The horror!

So I tore the whole thing apart and started again, which entailed losing a bunch of quotes and very, very carefully removing others with my thumbnails, a painstaking and persnickety process that is not what you want to do when your computer is borked and you're utterly frustrated already and at some point in the middle of this I lost my Exacto knife and that's when I really became overcome with misery. I ended up cutting the clear contact paper off the filing cabinet with a carving knife, which actually worked better than I thought it would) and I smoked many, many cigarettes of fury.

But now it is Wednesday morning and the cabinet is done: it looks a bit, uh, eccentric, but what the hell, and firefox is back, and I have two peculiar job interviews tomorrow, so things are looking up. At last.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Summary of the Previous Post

An oldie but a goodie.


A & I watched Laurel Canyon tonight. I’ve vaguely been wanting to see it for a long time, well, quite a long time, obviously, since it’s four years old. Now I can’t imagine why I bothered (it's a thrillingly postmodern movie in which there are lots of pleasant wealthy people and nothing happens,) but, between that movie, other various movies and Six Feet Under, I have noticed something: people in California seem to fuck all the time. There’s just constant sex going on in California as far as I can see. Everything I know about California I am learning from the media, after all, and surely they would not lie to me. People in California have crazed hot monkey sex all day and all night, and not just regular boring old vanilla sex, either, but sex with all kinds of people and in all kinds of combinations: far more interesting sex than we will ever have back here on the puritan east coast.

I used to think I wanted to go to California, but I’ve had to rethink that, because my inner prude has woken up and that theoretical Mayflower ancestor of mine (the one who was a murderer and a convicted felon, the one I'm so proud of) is shouting in jealous rage from the back of my gene pool. I never thought I was a prude, but, according to Laurel Canyon, some things are de rigueur for novice Californians. Unfortunately I feel that having a threesome with my boyfriend’s mother is just not on the agenda, and if I was Brenda from Six Feet Under and engaged to be married? I wouldn’t be inviting stray teenagers in to my (extremely expensive & gorgeous, jesus) house to party. That’s the other thing. Just looking at the real estate makes me realize I can’t afford to even visit California, and what with that and the crazy sex, I guess I’d better just stay in North Carolina and be celibate.

Actually I’m pretty clear on the fact that I’m a prude, and getting prudier. I tried watching Wild at Heart the other night and I couldn’t make it all the way through. I saw that in the movie theatre when it first came out and I thought it was genius, but somehow I couldn’t watch it on my living room couch. I mean, the dog might have seen it. And, now that I’m a born again virgin and a late life prude, I knit on that couch. I watch TV and knit and make wry, unfunny comments at the screen. I think I’m 60. I know my livers’ 60, and I think my brain might be catching up. It’s the complete lack of sex, probably. I should go to California, but I’m afraid. Very afraid.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Saturday Night: Cake and a Compliment

I'm home by myself baking A's birthday cake, a chocolate orange guinness (yes, guinness, that guinness) cake and shoutcasting random music from my giant miscellaneous folder for the mechazens. I'm happy. Baking makes me happy; this fact has contributed significantly to the decline and fall of my waistline over the years, but fuck it. Baking cakes or bread or muffins or something on a cold winter night just cheers me up no end; I have no idea why. I'm puttering around with a couple little art projects; I'm drinking beer; I'm just kind of cheerful. It's nice.

It strikes me that guinness is appropriate for A's cake: when she was a baby she was colicky and I had no idea what to do. I pretty much had no idea what to do with her at the best of times; I was 19 and scared, and all I could really do was just love this dark haired baby (she was born with a full head of dark hair; she still has it) to the ends of time and the earth. I didn't even give her a bath until she was 11 days old and my mother arrived, poor duck, I was too afraid that I might slip or something. Anyway, one colicky night I called my ex mother in law, who is one of the most wonderful women I have ever met, a level headed mother of five Irish kids, and said, help, what do I do? She told me to sit in a rocking chair and drink a guinness and nurse the baby, and lo if it didn't calm me down, calm A down and generally contribute to the quality of our life in a most amazing way. Now I use that as my piece of advice to new mothers - even though I still don't like guinness, and when A was a baby I practically had to choke the stuff down. And here she is 23. Dag.

Tonight A came home between birthday sets and sobbed miserably for a few moments, poor child: birthdays are tough and they're just never as great as you want them to be. It's like New Years Eve times twelve or something; I know how she feels. Then she cheered up, got dressed up and a bunch of her friends appeared at the door, which made Theo insanely happy. Theo loves parties, even extremely short ones that are really just somebody's friends picking them up. So he bounced and barked and A's friends clomped about and made a lot of noise and music played and all was genial chaos.

Then one of her friends stepped into the kitchen and told me I was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. It seems terrible and vain to write this down, but you know what? Wow. It's not every day a 23 year old boy tells me I'm gorgeous, and I intend to treasure this moment for the rest of my life. Of course, I blushed and laughed and said, "Honey, you must not get out much!" but, well, damn. Damn. And here I haven't brushed my hair in two days and I'm wearing red and black fleece pajama pants and a huge black wooly sweater that's mostly covered with flour from the cake process and probably he was just overcome by the baking fumes, but dag, I am all cheerful now.

snow mr bill

snow mr bill
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
It's snowing today. A is upset, because it's her birthday and she doesn't want to get snowed in, and Mr. Bill is absolutely furious. He hates the snow; in fact, every time the weather is not to his liking he considers it a personal insult meted out by a vengeful god, namely me, and snow is the worst possible weather he can imagine. He is now sitting under the kitchen table, howling his despair to the world, which is loud. The kitchen table is one of those small metal restaurant equipment jobbies and it amplifies his anguish quite nicely. About every 20 minutes he demands to go back outside, and then comes back in five minutes later, covered with snow and wailing. Poor Mr. Bill. Poor A. And poor me, because the CD drive seems to have stopped working completely, which puts a damper on the useful way I planned to spend today, namely, ripping my entire CD collection to the hard drive. Drat.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Well, I DId Nothing Today

I did absolutely nothing today. I woke up at 5 am again, partly because of the neighbors dogs and partly because 4 beers is now too much beer for me (woe! How the mighty have fallen! Middle age is no fun!) and I picked up Last Call. That was a terrible mistake, because then I couldn't put it down again. I stayed in bed all morning reading it (it's brilliant, it's great, it's just been reissued, go & get yourself a copy) and then I did something even dumber: I discovered a new word game that's even more addictive than the other word game I've been playing compulsively, and better in that it doesn't make my mouse hand clench up in pain.

Then the heavens opened up and thunder and lightning came down from the sky and I had to unplug the computer and Theo had a panic attack. I realized dimly at this point that I was wasting my life, and also that it is in fact my daughter's 23rd birthday tomorrow, and I hadn't gotten her any presents yet. So I had to venture out into the torrential rain, and I went shopping, which exhausted me so that I had to come home and watch Six Feet Under and knit. That would have been great, except that 1) apparently the two episodes we missed, the last two episodes of season two, are the only episodes in all of Six Feet Under in which anything at all happens, and 2) it turns out I can't purl. Nope. Can't do it. I have two knitting books open on the couch and I tried umpteen times and every time I had to unravel the whole damn thing because it became an insanely tight tangled mess. After that, clearly, there was nothing to be done but sulk and play some more word games and find out via the internet what happened to Nate's annoying girlfriend Brenda who has been summarily replaced by an even more annoying wife Lisa.

I can't believe A is this old and that by extension I too, obviously, am so very, very old. My New Years Resolution by the way is to stop lying about my age and fudging her age, or, sometimes, okay, I confess: just sort of omitting to mention her existence. It's hard to pretend you're 32 when you have a 23 year old daughter, which is a bummer, because I still think I'm 32, or, to be more accurate, 23, or possibly 15 and occasionally 11 or, on really bad days, 5. 42 doesn't seem possible at all, but I had better come to grips with it, because it's half over already.

She came with me to Drinking Liberally last night; we had quite a crowd, about half of whom were A's peer group. That was pretty cool: they're not cynical and burnt out yet like me and she seemed to get into it, my semi radical child. I actually felt hopeful, which is rare, and we talked about Peak Oil and the evils of capitalism and Marx and suchlike apocalyptic fare and I found myself believing that the world maybe could be changed. Also, I got to use the word lumpenproletariat, which I hardly ever get to say, and you know that any evening you say lumpenproletariat is just not a wasted evening.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

If You Ever Wonder What Music I Listen To

A semi random, yet representative, playlist.

XTC – Garden of Earthly Delights
Elvis Costello – Veronica
Lucinda Williams – Big Red Sun Blues
Gillian Welch – Caleb Meyer
John Hiatt – Crossing Muddy Water
Brandos – Gettysburg
James McMurtry – Dry River
Dolly Parton – Jolene
The Iguanas – Born Again Devil
Steve Earle – The Revolution Starts Now
James McMurtry – We Can’t Make It Here Anymore
Super Furry Animals – It’s Not The End of the World
Southern Culture on the Skids – Shotgun
Emmylou Harris – Red Dirt Girl
Mary Prankster – Tits & Whiskey
Tinariwen – Amidinin
Mary Prankster –The Bottle’s Talking Now
Little Feat – Fat Man in the Bathtub

Trivia and Paranoia

My friend J kindly hosted an online (IRC) trivia game last night. I was really looking forward to this game, because I think of myself as somewhat of a trivia whiz. No, let's be honest, I think of myself as the trivia QUEEN, the galactic overlord of trivia: I think I am it, the shizznit, the bees knees, the all time trivia genius of the galaxy. But last night, yet again, my reality came into terrible, heart wrenching conflict with consensus reality. Turns out I suck at trivia. I am the worst, the loser, the ultimate trivia fool. I came in 3rd - to last. 3rd to last, and the two people I beat really weren't taking it seriously.

I was a bit distraught, so A consulted the Magic 8 Ball, which said that yes, we should go on down to the bar. The Westville, though, was totally noisy and packed with people I have never seen before in my life. This is my neighborhood pub, the place I frequent, where, as the song goes, everybody knows my name, or at least the bartenders do anyway, and R, who's always there playing pool. So it was weird to know noone there. People get strange, when you're a stranger, people seem strange, when you're alone. You know? However, they have a trivia machine. A & I sat down and played trivia, and I won handily. I won several times. I could have gotten the high score if we weren't playing two player! Yes! I was the trivia queen again. Now, okay, it is true that the machine questions were along the lines of: What Guinness record was created with 400 tortillas, 1/2 a ton of refried beans, 30 heads of lettuce, etc, and the multiple choice answers included Worlds' Largest Burrito as well as three other joke answers like Greatest Heartburn (hyuck, yuck!) I don't care. It made me feel better.

Meanwhile, paranoia. It used to be, in my life, that things just happened or came along: good grades, a boyfriend, a job, a social life ~ they all just sort of appeared without tremendous effort on my part. This happy chain of circumstances has ground to a halt and I don't like it, nor do I know how to cope. So I'm wondering if (pause for sinister music, this will do nicely) there is a conspiracy against me! Well, okay, not a conspiracy, but maybe somebody put the evil eye on me? Or possibly I'm being blacklisted? Or the Asheville vortex is attempting to spit me back out? (really, having this music on is definitely helping me take these wild accusations seriously. Click that link! If this was myspace I'd have it as background music, bwah ha ha!) As noted in a recent post, this is the time of the month when things and people conspire against me, no one loves me, and I am martyred, defenseless and sad. Mr. Bill was not in the house last night, which made me go to bed worried, and then he didn't appear first thing this morning, although at some point in the wee hours he'd kindly left us a gift by the kitchen door, a lovely dead brown field mouse. When I opened the door this morning and he didn't come in, I immediately just knew he was dead, and I thought about breaking down and crying, but instead I drank coffee and fretted and mourned, and then I figured out that, clearly, someone in the neighborhood was killing cats! I was all ready to call the police and the newspaper and the fire department and/or go buy a gun and stalk the evil cat killer myself when Mr. Bill sauntered in, asked if I liked the mouse and demanded his breakfast. I feel a little better now. You can turn the music off.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Coyote Update!

Dig, I wasn't imagining the rabid coyote thing. Here's the original report from the paper and, there's an update. Do you think I'm evil for finding it hilarious that the paper mentioned that the original victim was bitten on the nose? I'm curious too, as to how anyone would let a coyote get near their nose. Leg, okay, sure, maybe hand, but nose? Do you think it kind of flung itself through the air and attached to the guy's face? Because that would be just wrong. And damn, I wish they'd caught it on video.

Apparently - and this is good to know - NC officials are dropping rabies vaccine all through the woods for raccoons. That's awesome. That is the kind of government program I can seriously get behind. Now if they would just start dropping birth control pills for the deer, we'd be in good shape. Failing that, they could drop birth control & rabies vaccine around the malls, disguised as M&Ms; as the mother of a teenager, who has seen his peers, I endorse this idea. A friend of a friend has a theory that the reason Wal-Marts are designed with that kind of airlock entrance that goes whoosh as you enter is that the air in them is drugged, giving you something that puts you in a daze and makes you more likely to buy things you don't need - what Nanci Griffith famously calls "unnecessary plastic objects." More drugging of the populace is no doubt expected momentarily, ah, the wonders and joys of 21st century science.

Diet, Exercise and Freakishly Warm Weather

Well, I'm dieting, which is making me irritable but soon I will be thinner, yes, and able to fit back into my old jeans, and my glamour will be such that noone will be able to resist me. Also, I have to lose weight, so that on the off chance that someone wants to interview me for a job, I can wear my black suit. Hope springs eternal, I know, but I'll be double dog damned if I have to go spring for a new big old fat suit. There's no point in my owning more than one suit anyway. I am not a suit kind of gal: I am a sort of ragamuffin skirt and sweater kind of gal, or, actually, due to my multiple months of unemployment, I am really a pajamas and a sweater kind of gal. Every time I go to the laundromat I realize how pathetic my life has become as I dutifully wash and dry long underwear, three pairs of jeans and a bunch of pajamas. There's never anything more formal in there, but there are many layers, because despite the fact that it has been in the mid sixties outside all week, it's still a cozy 55 degrees in my house, and my hands get numb at the keyboard.

I'm exercising, too, or, well, I'm doing my Oprah weights in the morning. Last year around this time O magazine helpfully included these little orange cards, one for each day of the week, spelling out weight lifting and vaguely pilates-esque exercises you can do to make yourself all svelte and desirable and buff and also stave off osteoporosis, and, probably, help you reach enlightenment. My adherence to these cards has been spotty and intermittent at best; also, I lost Thursday, but I'm trying again, and now I'm on week two of doing them religiously every day. Except Thursday, which was a hard day anyway; as I recall, I had to put my feet up on a chair and do kind of reverse pushups, which meant leaving the sanctity of my bedroom for the living room and a suitable chair, thus making me far too visible to the other members of my household. M teases me mercilessly, because they're only 5 pound weights, and I do this kind of odd Lamaze/Pilates breathing while I lift them, and he thinks it's hysterical, particularly the stretching exercise he refers to as Pissing Dog. Sometimes I'm kind of glad he's gone back to school.

I'm also doing cardio, er, well, I'm walking the dog every almost every day. That's good for my heart, because it alternates between kind of lazing along while Theo sniffs at things and then sudden extreme heart rate elevation when a loose dog appears menacingly and starts growling and Theo starts lunging at the leash and a whole lot of scary news headlines appear unbidden in my mind. Usually I do something adult and dignified at these times, like leap into the bushes or try to back down the street hauling Theo on the leash. So far I'm happy to report that we have survived these encounters intact, and, thank the goddess, have not had a rabid coyote incident, but that's probably because I'm so completely aware of my surroundings. This morning I thought there was either a bear or a huge black dog getting ready to attack but on closer inspection it turned out to be a couple of dreadlocked hippies in the back of a pickup truck; I only saw them briefly, though, because there were two cats on the side of the street and so Theo and I were moving fast, yet again significantly upping my heart rate.

Monday, January 09, 2006

OMG Horrible Scary Monster Loose in Kenilworth!

I just went to Ingles. The small grungy Ingles on Haywood road, of course, my local Ingles, notable more for it's large selection of Hispanic delicacies than for it's gourmet aisle: you can search in vain for shallots at the Haywood Road Ingles, but they have bags and bags of peculiar looking candy with Spanish labels and those orange round wheel looking things called pasta duros which I have always wondered about. This is one of the reasons I love (well, not love, exactly. Tolerate. Am kind of fond of.) my Ingles and scorn the large and fancy ones. At any rate, I went to Ingles and did my shopping and fantasized briefly about a pretty good looking man who caught my eye; this fantasy imploded when I saw his cart, which was full of yogurt drinks and weight watchers entrees, sure signs of the married man. But Ingles has nothing to do with out story. Ingles is merely setting the mood, and the mood, gentle reader, was: humdrum and everyday and actually I did pretty well this week money wise and also I bought all this diet-type food like ground turkey, yum, yum.

So I left the Ingles and packed the car and turned it on, which causes the radio to turn on, and the radio personalities were panicking all over the place. The station that was on, I am ashamed to admit, is far from public broadcasting, in fact it has a seriously annoying jingle which doesn't work, since I can't remember the call letters or the numbers, but it's button 6 in my car and it plays the best mix, the best mix of 70s, 80s and today! or something like that. Why were the radio personalities panicking? Had the martians attacked? No, there is apparently a rabid coyote loose in Kenilworth, which is a fairly upscale neighborhood near the hospital. The radio said that people should stay in their homes! And not get out of their cars! And police were on their way! and so on, and so on. I have never heard of a rabid coyote in Asheville before, so my curiousity was piqued, but I can't find any information on this one anywhere on the web, although I did find this lovely site.

This radio hysteria reminded me of the time a couple years ago when I encountered what was almost certainly a rabid skunk at the river park, and, because it was a Sunday morning, I could interest precisely noone at the police station and/or animal control. Note to rabid animals everywhere: attack on the weekend. Or attack in a poor neighborhood; my guess is that rabid animals in West Asheville get considerably less media coverage, maybe 1/4 paragraph in section C if they kill more than 3 people.

I called my daughter and left a message for her to not try to rescue any small yellow dogs today (the restaurant where she works is not that far from Kenilworth) and I called my mother so we could discuss in detail her new phone issues. I mentioned the rabid coyote to her as well. "What's the difference, dear," she said to me, "Between a rabbit coyote and a regular coyote?"

Disclaimer: I am not making light of rabies. I am terrified of rabies; I keep my animals vaccinated and believe fervently that everyone should do the same. In fact I'll probably haul both my animals in for booster shots today or tomorrow just because of this news report. Rabies is a horrible disease, a significant public health threat, and oh so easily controlled that it makes me weep. So if your animals - dogs and cats - are not vaccinated, go & get it done. It's like $12 at the Reach animal hospital on Brevard Road so there's no excuse to let it lapse.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Another Thing To Get Addicted To

Make the letters into words. They want you to get the 8 letter words, but if you get enough smaller words fast enough you get an okay score. I've been playing this for like an hour. My mouse hand hurts. One of these days I'm going to step away from the computer, I swear I am. Really. Honestly. Someday.

Nature! Birdwatching, Even.

So I just took a break from my vitally important computer tasks, namely, hitting the refresh button on metachat and playing, yet again, that evil Bust Out game to which I am so, so hideously addicted, and catching up on several months of Onion avoidance (I hate, hate, hate their latest website design; it's full of moving ads and annoying popups and it's practically un-navigable, also, they seem to have lost track of the funny) and so on (I haven't read Go Fug Yourself yet, but it's only a matter of time) and went outside to smoke a cigarette. There was something crunching around in the wintry (thus crunchy) underbrush beyond the fence.

"Mr. Bill?" I said softly, "Mr. Bill?" I know, of course, that Mr. Bill would never come when called, he is, after all, a cat, and also a supremely paranoid one who thinks that despite 2 1/2 years of unrelenting kindness, we are just biding our time before we do something supremely evil to his poor little cat self. So I wasn't surprised when Mr. Bill did not materialize. I walked around the grape arbor (yeah, right. Let's rename that the Once-Grape-Arbor-Now-Giant-Weedy-Mess-of-Crap-Trees) so that I would have more room to run in case it was a rabid raccoon or a bear or a serial killer or one of the neighborhood kids or something, and saw. . . a bird. A brown bird with a very speckled breast, about 7 or 8 inches long, digging in the mud near the thorn bushes. I've never seen a bird dig before, and this one was pretty serious about it. S/he kept tossing bits of dirt and grass and twigs around and then stabbing his/her beak into the ground. It (these pronoun changes get tiresome, don't you find?) let me get quite close, so when I finished my cigarette I came in and got the bird book.

Before I moved here, Squirrel Capital of the World, I had a birdfeeder by my kitchen window. That is impossible in Asheville, because the squirrels resent it, and there is no keeping them off. At any rate, I actually used to really watch the birds at my birdfeeder and I got a birdbook and I learned to identify them, or at least the tufted titmice and chickadees and occasional nuthatches and rosy breasted finches we got in Maryland. Then I moved here and gave all that nerdy shit up in favor of other nerdy shit (do you know I was on IRC last night debating Faramir's portrayal in the books vs. the movies? No lie. I'm even farther gone in geekdom than I myself sometimes suspect.) and, except for spotting the occasional hawk (one took a mockingbird out of the bush on my front lawn three summers ago, really, seriously; it was quite dramatic) and mockingbirds and Carolina wrens, and, of course, our old friend the Turkey Buzzard, a truly awful yet somehow wonderful bird (they barf on their enemies; you really can't beat that; I've always wanted to have one for a pet so I could get it to barf on random people who have been unkind to me, bwah ha ha) I have forgotten my birding.

In order to identify my digging friend, I dug out the bird book from it's dusty recess in the back of the bookshelf. I was hoping, as always, that I had seen a really rare bird, a bird from Alaska or Greenland that had somehow gotten terribly lost or hitched a ride on an airplane or something, so I tried to convince myself it was a misplaced pipit, but I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. It was either a female redwinged blackbird, which is possible but a bit odd because it was alone, or (ah, anticlimax) a starling hiding in winter plumage, a bird which is to other birds as the weak wooded weed trees growing up through my grape arbor are to other trees: rubbish. I know there are starlings living in my next door neighbor's wall, because I've seen them go in and out in the spring, so chances are it is a starling. A weed bird, but still, I'd never seen a bird dig before, so it was worth it. Ah nature and it's unceasing wonders - I really should smoke more, so I can see some of them.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I Love Dogs But - and more TMI

This morning at 5:30 (that's a.m. as in awfully morning, as in atrocious moment) my neighbors dogs freaked out and started barking. They barked, on and off, mostly on, for two hours. Yesterday they did the exact same thing but worse: they howled. I have a headache and I am just not, somehow, a happy camper. It's almost noon, I'm sitting here in my pajamas, and I am furiously cranky; two nights of interrupted sleep do that to me. It's a good thing I'm not planning on having more kids because I am clearly no longer capable of being up on and off all night. And the kids I do have are driving me nuts anyway, to say nothing of the pets.

That would be because, and here comes the TMI, people, this is the time of the month when I dearly wish nothing more than to take a couple of samurai swords (that shoot laser beams too, and also some grenades, and a rocket launcher maybe, and Thor's hammer, dammit, give me that goddamn hammer you measly little thunder god, I need it today) and lay waste to all around me. Everything is annoying. Every. Fucking. Thing. I am angry with the world; also, I'm hungry and my head hurts and I weigh 3000 pounds. This makes me, you guessed it, angry. And the house is trashed again, and I need to take down the Christmas tree and so on, and also M is going back to school on Sunday, which always makes me a little sad.

Basically, I have post traumatic holiday disorder and pre menstrual syndrome, and you would think that that would put me in a state of now-ness only to be envied by Baba Ram Dass or, indeed, any yogi worth his salt, but alas, instead it has utterly paralyzed me until, like the Angriest Dog in the World I can't do anything useful; I can only sit here and glower. Happy bloody friday, everyone. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


What do trees speak about in winter?
the long silences and clarity
of bone exposed to star
the echoing nights and the frivolity of squirrels
sleep and dream and waking
and the deep roots, stirring, turned
against a frozen edge of loam time
Slowly, they say,
move slowly
do not hurry
be naked
the calligraphy etched on sky
will speak in it's own time

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Reminder, Conversation and Embarrassment

This is the reminder: tomorrow is Drinking Liberally ~ be there. Or be square. Be there with flair, or you will lose your hair, get caught in a snare, and be eaten by a bear. You will get an angry glare, find yourself on a ridiculous dare, be told your friends won't share, and go on a tear. Failing those things, you might inspire more incredibly bad Vogon poetry from me, so obviously the safest course of action is just to show up. Don't worry if you don't know anything about politics. I don't know anything about politics either and they still tolerate me.

I had a lovely evening last night because I gave up this ridiculous giving up things bit. I went to Broadways with my friends J & G and drank several PBRs, smoked a pack of cigarettes (hopefully J & G actually smoked all my cigs and not me, but I am afraid that is unlikely) and had several great conversations about, oh, sexual identity and aging and lumber and dreams and magic and art, even. And G found my camera & brought it back to me; look at my drunken New Years Eve pic! I was missing my camera terribly and I'm so glad it came back home.

In other news, I walked around downtown yesterday with my fly down and in fact stood in line for some time at the Coxe Avenue post office with my fly down. That was embarrassing and I wasn't even wearing entertaining underwear, just the normal boring striped ones. Then I had to do up my fly, which caused me a few moments of angst - is it better to just keep walking, blithely unaware, or to stop, hope the passing cars aren't looking, transfer your large package from one hand to another and manage to zip yourself up? No matter what you do, or I do, at least, it makes me feel like I'm suddenly back in 7th grade with an extremely large zit in the middle of my forehead and horrendously greasy hair from an ill fated dandruff cure that involved copious amounts of vaseline. In reality I know that noone looks at anyone else once they survive middle school, but such moments are still kind of the equivalent of being under a large spotlight in your head.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Dog and The Shoes

M's left sneaker and one of my attractive pink fuzzy martini slippers are missing, and we suspect Theo the dog. He likes to carry things outside. I have to watch him carefully in the morning when I let him out, because he'll almost always try to carry something out with him. Some mornings I'm more vigilant than other mornings: if I'm too bleary eyed to have grabbed my glasses I can't see him anyway, much less what he's carrying. He's particularly insistent about bones: whenever he gets a piece of rawhide, he gets terminally excited and demands to carry it out. He doesn't bury things or anything like that, or at least he's never been known to, he just leaves them in the yard. At any given time, say now as a random representative of time, a time that just so happens to be like 3 in the afternoon when I'm totally procrastinating doing all the various things that I should be doing and which I actually wrote down neatly in a list this morning because it's a new year, dammit, and I'm going to get organized and get my shit together and not spend hours on the internet like the loser I am, there are 3 stuffed animals, 2 rawhide bones, a flip flop, part of a cardboard box, and a drenched and unhappy sock out in my backyard. But no slipper or sneaker, which is baffling. They're not under the couch, or under my bed either, although I did put the Christmas wrapping paper box under there yesterday in a rare display of timely housekeeping that should make Martha proud.

Baffling, I say! Call in the dog detectives! I want my slipper, and M (who is not to be blogged about, oops, I forgot, let's just say a random member of my household) needs his shoe.

Seasons Pass

Check out this amazing and beautiful little video of the seasons changing in Norway. I've always wanted to do something like this myself and damn, he doesn't make it sound too hard for me. Maybe I will do it this year.

Meanwhile, I didn't even get an interview for the job I really wanted and things are extremely tough and I need help finding a job, okay? Help, help, help. I can and will do anything; I no longer have some fantasy about a living wage or benefits or enjoying myself, so please, anything you hear of in Asheville that is open, let me know? Or let them know that you know me? Thanks.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Another Year, Another 79 Cents

Here it is, 2006, and it's raining, and I have to get a job. Immediately. Yesterday. Meanwhile, I've been surfing the internets and I have discovered that there is a new and evil worm/virus out and about, so, my less technical friends, you need to go here and download and install this temporary patch, since Microsoft has not released anything to help us yet.

New Years Eve. Ah. It was quite a party and I'm not very good at parties, because I get shy and nervous, then I drink too much to overcome the shyness/nervousness and then I am a drunken fool. Yipes - yet another reason to get my life into some kind of appropriate adult order in 06 - I'm going to get boring, people: staid, respectable and crashingly dull, or at least that's the goal here. So anyway I went to a party, and I had a good time, and I even met a guy, but of course he was just visiting Asheville from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he has now returned, and probably I will never see him again. Someday perhaps I will meet a guy I like who actually lives in the same state as me, and then maybe after that I can even work up to someone who lives in the same county or even town. But I'm not holding my breath.

So, today I'm going to clean the house, and take down at least the outside Christmas decorations, and quit smoking and drinking and get a job and pay all the bills. Yes. Are you looking forward to this? Cause I'm not.