Monday, July 31, 2006


I woke up in the middle of the night the other night (well, obviously it was at night, since it was, you see, the middle) to worry about the coming pandemic. Bird flu, or ebola, or something we don't know about yet - you know, the 21st century variant on the Black Plague. That thing that's going to kill most of us and bring our dissolute, decadent way of life to a terrible, tragic yet somehow justified (in the eyes of 25th century historians, anyway) end. I'm not particularly worried about it killing me - hell, I've lived enough. All sudden death means to me is that I'll have to be reincarnated sooner in order to get my lazy ass around to writing the Great American Novel and probably I'll have to do a lot of the same things over again, since life lessons have this way of sort of not sticking to me. I have to do all that in my next life anyway, regardless of when I die, since it it's a bit late to fix myself; I haven't written that Great Novel or painted that Great Painting and I kind of doubt that the Great American Blog counts in that Great American Creative This Is Your Life Work So Get It Right This Time On the Karmic Wheel Please For Pity's Sake sweepstakes. So the problem isn't me dying of a horrible sudden pandemic disease, although obviously that's devoutly to be avoided (there's more beer to be drunk, and I need to be here to drink it;) the problem is M. If the Plague comes and we all die except him, he'll be stuck in this house with no earthly idea of how to feed himself or drive a standard shift car - and this is a two standard shift Saturn household. Of course it is. We live in Asheville - we're all about the low gas mileage and the cool points inherent in the clutch.

So after tossing and turning and finally turning on the light, I decided that it was vital that M learn to drive a standard shift car. I'm not sure where the hell he's going to go if 90% of the people in the US are dead, or even if only 75% of them are - in fact, he'd probably be better off staying in Asheville, where at least the weather is nice and the survivors are likely to be no loonier post pandemic than they were pre, but you know, you have to give your kids options. Maybe he wants to go to whatever will be the post apocalyptic hot spot - Thunderdome, or something - but he'll need wheels to get there. And black leather and spikes, but that's his lookout.

I told him this tonight and he said he could already drive a stick and anyway didn't care and jesus, Mom, will you just shut up? He's at that age where he would be overjoyed if everyone under the age of 13 and over the age of 19 died tomorrow: they don't understand, man! I also told him I was getting him a life coach to get his ass organized and he had better not plan on having fun like this once school started and I think that was the point at which he cracked, desperately howled for his sister to toss him her keys and started her car up. His sister is a bit miffed at him at the moment, because he hasn't washed the dishes in three days, despite apparently intense inter-sibling bargaining. We have a dish rota theoretically going on, in which each person is assigned a day, and if they don't do their day, then the dishes pass over and they have to do the next day, and so on. M's day was Friday. It is now Monday. Every plate, and bowl, and piece of mismatched silverware in the house is sitting by the sink, to say nothing of the pots and pans. I know the bargaining was intense, because he told me that he was going to pay his sister $10, which is half of his weekly allowance, to wash the dishes, and then I heard him earnestly explaining, “Dude. You need $10. You’ll be so happy when you see that $10.”
“But there are way more dishes there than you said there were!” said A,
and M, who is rarely at a loss, said, “Fine. You pay me $5 and I’ll wash half of them. No, wait. You give me $15 and I’ll do them all.”
That was probably when she started after him and he started her car up. "Don't worry," I said, "He can't drive a standard shift. You can catch him easy when he starts hopping down the street."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

At Last, Good Pix of Ink

The Asheville Art Museum is currently hosting a tattoo show, which, if you are in fact in Asheville, you should make every damn effort to go and see. As we all know, I am somewhat of an alumna of the museum, being as how I worked there for five years and in fact was kind of involved with the genesis of this show. It's turned out really well - probably better than it would have if I'd worked on it, heh. It provides a very cool, well documented capsule history of tattooing and an incredibly cool series of tattoo related contemporary pieces and no, I don't mean those pages of flash with the little hearts and winged skulls and such. More like utterly creepy tattooed/embroidered baby dolls and a fantastic chess set made of tattoo needles and stuff like that. Stuff that it is well worth your $6 to see. Go.

And, indirectly through this show, I finally, finally managed to get some decent pictures taken of my own personal ink, or some of it, which is presented here for your delectation. I don't know why it's so hard to take decent pictures of tattoos - maybe because they're round rather than flat, or maybe because nobody's skin really benefits from harsh flash and close up lenses (eww! moles! pores! bumpy bits!) but at any rate these are quite fabulous.

Friday evening at Bele Chere a man asked me about my leg tattoo in less than pleasant or flattering terms. He was with his young daughter and I have a feeling that he was trying to use me as an object lesson as to why she shouldn't get tattoos. I like confounding people like that so I stopped and spoke courteously and literately (and by that I mean that I was polite and used big words) with him, which totally was not what he expected. I think he thought I was going to grunt or something, or get mad, or just ignore him. Don't you love people like that? What object lesson is he giving his daughter by demonstrating that he feels perfectly justified in commenting loudly on the appearance of any passing woman? Yuck. Oh well. I am fond of my tattoos; every so often I vaguely consider getting more - in particular I'd like to find an artist who could expand the Hokusai on my back so it doesn't end quite so abruptly - but on the other hand it's possible that I have enough ink for a middle aged lady with no biker pretensions. Still, getting inked is probably the one thing in my life that I don't regret, at all. Even if I do have to always wear long pants around my mother for the rest of my life.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Surrealist Weekend

It's that time of year again - the dreaded Bele Chere, Asheville's annual ode to all things drunken, sunburned and redneck. Also, crafts. Not, for the most part, good local crafts but instead shiny machine made crafts from New Jersey and of course obligatory mass produced hippie clothing reeking of incense. I kid, because I love. Or no, not love, love is too strong a word - but kind of enjoy. Although this year I am fuming over the music selections, since all the national acts are ticketed and 95% of the free music is local. I love local music; I support local music - I can see local music 365 days a year for $5 in far more pleasant surroundings and with better sound quality than at Bele Chere, so having all local music does not tempt me downtown. I used to pick a couple of bands I really wanted to see, the kind of bands who don't play here often - George Thorogood and John Hiatt spring immediately to mind - and go, but this year? Forget it. I like Government Mule but I'm not paying $20 to see them outdoors, from a distance, standing up, squashed in a giant crowd with hooting idiots spilling beer on me. I want that experience to be free of charge. And, as you may have guessed by now, I'm not much of a crowd person anyway. I always start uneasily looking for the exits.

However, I did go downtown, because, hold on to your hats gentle & fierce readers: I have acquired a Job. Yes. An actual Job. In my field. In what passes for my Career, or what used to be my Career and I guess is again. It's contract and part time for now but it may become salaried and full time in the very near future and I'm excited and I basically started Friday, at Bele Chere. Since I like this job, or the idea of this job, I'm not going to blog about it, for we all know where that leads. Nevertheless, there I was, starting work - in the middle of giant inflateable Ingles bags and kids swimming in the Pack Place fountain. The sky was unutterably blue and the crowds were much thinner than usual and so it was quite bearable, not to say fun.

But I left Bele Chere (by public transit! I took the bus downtown and back and it was not bad at all!) because I had heard that Walk In Theatre was playing a Monkees movie and I was excited. I gathered up a posse consisting of my friends S and J, who are also old Monkees fans and we plunked our folding chairs down in the Westville parking lot and prepared to discover the answer to that eternal question: who's cuter, Mike Nesmith or Mickey Dolenz? Because Davy's too short and Peter, well, Peter's just too Peter. Although cute. And it's eerie, I must say, how all of them have gotten, well, younger. When I used to watch them on TV they were, you know, old, and now they look about 12.

Yet we were fooled, for Head, the Monkees movie is not cute. No, cute is not a word I'd use - bizarre, yes. Drug induced, check. Psychedelic, mmm hmmm. Makes Eraserhead look like a stroll through normalcy, yup. It may have been the weirdest movie I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of weird movies. What the hell was it about? I have no idea. I wasn't on enough drugs - I'm not sure there are enough drugs in the universe to make that movie coherent. It seemed to be the Monkees' Manifesto: rather in the spirit of Karl Marx, manifesting away about being trapped in the library, the Monkees used Head to protest their terrible imprisonment in, uh, whatever state of consciousness it was that they were imprisoned in. Possibly their pants, which were scarily tight. It was brilliant and bizarre and there were sudden impossible glimpses of Teri Garr and Jack Nicholson and Annette Funicello and, holy shit, Frank Zappa! And somehow, juxtaposed against the surreal transformation of downtown Asheville into even more of a three ring circus than it usually is, it fit most perfectly.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Book Thing

This is going to be one of those posts where I talk about books, which posts I know are never very popular, but tough skivvies, people, because books are what I feel like discussing. So don't be fooled by the sunflower, which is just there to add, you know, a bit of visual interest and also because I am so deeply enamoured of that particular peachish shade of virtually orange where the pink and yellow start to melt together. All the sunflowers in my garden are blooming right now, which is a) awesome because it always is, yet b) sucks because I was hoping they would all bloom the first weekend in August when I have a bunch of people coming to my house and c) is downright peculiar, because in an effort to prolong the blooming season, I planted them all at different times over the course of about 4 weeks.

But. Wait. Books. A couple of weeks ago I was in the downtown library, rushing as always because I have this bad habit of parking in the illegal 15 minute loading zone out front and I grabbed a book at random off the shelf called The Chymical Wedding. I am prone to fits of alchemy and I even know what the hell a chymical wedding is, so I thought, okay, that looks cool. The downtown library, unlike the West Asheville library, is not organized by genre, which I applaud in general as being less ghettoizing, but it does mean that you really don't know what you're getting, whereas in the West Asheville library you can (and I do) just go straight to the fantasy/sf section and stand there glumly for a bit because you hate Anne McCaffrey. Anyhow I took The Chymical Wedding home and discovered. . . that I'd already read it. Of all the books in the library, and so on.

I barely remember it, and I don't know when I read it, but I know that I did. So because I have this Zen Therapist I decided that this odd finding of the book was Meaningful (it's kind of a Meaningful Book, if you know what I mean) and meant that I had to reread it. Which I am doing, and so far all it's doing is bugging the hell out of me, because what it seems to be, really, is a poor man's The Magus. Now The Magus blew my small mind and changed my life and generally freaked me out and radicalized me and sent me on a strange and lifelong path - I read it for the first time when I was about 17 and I've read it a bunch of times since. That may be because it's just way, way better than The Chymical Wedding which so far is about a poet whose wife had an affair which wigged him right out and sent him headlong into the country where he naturally has a friend who loaned him this faboo cottage (why don't I have friends with faboo cottages in the country, I ask you? And why is it that English poets always do?) where promptly he starts getting Green Man intimations and meets a strange gypsyish American babe and then there are flashbacks to 100 years ago and Tarot cards, because there are always Tarot cards and a sheila na gig on the church and so on and so forth and if I remember correctly there will be all kinds o' weird Corn God type bloody wickerish goings on in the next 300 pages or so. But then I am jaded. Still, I shall persevere.

In the middle of this book, because it's hard to stay deeply interested in it, I picked up a book I had gotten A for Christmas (also on a whim, just at Malaprops this time) and which she told me I had to read. The book is My Year of Meats, and you should go right out right now and read it. It isn't science fiction, relax, or rather don't, because it's not relaxing but instead intense and funny and incredible and will make you never want to eat meat again while you are cogitating on women's rights and the differences and similarities between the Japanese and the Americans and so on. I mean it is fucking brilliant. I mean it is great and not only is it all that but the author's note in the back is funny and cogent and made me think for a long time about the writing of novels, the intersections of fiction and meaning and politics and I am invigorated.

Because good fiction, boys and girls, like sunflowers, sometimes has this tendency to burst in your mind all at once despite the date it was planted. Good fiction, like The Magus, like My Year of Meats, has so much going on that it's going to take a while to simmer in the back of your brain. Which has all made me think about why I am so determined to write fiction even though I am old and have so far demonstrated no discernible staying power for the task. But maybe that will change, because I'm thinking now about those intersections of meaning and story, which are the cornerstones of good fiction, and really, you know, of good lives.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Long Week

sunflower, backlit
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
It was a long wild week, a week where it was necessary, for one reason or another, for me to go out drinkin' every single night. I know, that's a lot to ask of any mere mortal. Not everyone could bring themselves to make that kind of a sacrifice simply in the name of fun, but let it never be said that I quail at such responsibilities, that I cower in the face of taverns or that I, god forbid, can't hold my liquor like a gentleman. Actually, you could say the last and be terrifying accurate, but let's not go there. Ever again. It was, as M would say, epic. Yes. An epic week, like an old Norse saga, with similar amounts of beer and sagas, if slightly (only slightly) fewer horned helmets and clashing sword on shield. Which gives me a chance, oooh, to link to one of my new total favorite pieces of Viking flash in the world!

I went out, I drank vast quantities of beer, I had fun, I had hangovers of varying proportions, although none, I'm happy to say, as cripplingly bad as I almost certainly deserved. I even somehow managed to clean the house up, mow the yard and get a little work done. And watch the first two installments of the Back to the Future movies, which I hadn't seen in many years and about which I can only say, "Scientists, get cracking. There are only 7 years left before I get my flying car - hop to it!"

And meanwhile, the garden is rocking right along and the sunflowers, which I love so much are, as my friend C would say, raging. Raging most awesomely, dude.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Bad Case of Cousins

We have cousins. It's kind of like having ants, except that you know, they're people, but they have the same sort of unexpected, inevitable, unstoppable quality. Cousins shouldn't be unexpected: we knew that this wedding, the first one of the new generation, of my cousin P's stepson, was coming up, but like an ominous bad dream, we kept on thinking it wasn't happening, or that through some kind of magical anti-cousin fairy the whole thing could be avoided. Impossible, of course. Once you have cousins you have to see the entire weekend through: there is no escape.

It's not that I dislike my cousins. Actually I really enjoy them: they're nice people. I try to avoid them because I feel inferior: my cousins weem to have all successfully mastered this life thing. They have Marriages and Houses and Careers, and their kids go to good private schools and on to good colleges and then even their kids get Careers that are all far more worthwhile than anything I have ever done in my whole life. My brothers and my mother and I all say that this is because we, unlike our cousins, are Imaginative, Artistic, Creative and Sensitive and it is true that the cousins don't seem to spend acres of their lives crouched in dark smoky bars worrying about the Meaning of It All, which pursuit, of course, my family excels in. Also, they're all jocks. A couple of them came damn close to qualifying for the Olympics in tennis, and they all have the hearty off handed grace of jocks. It's good to see them. I'm glad they're all here. And they know me, which is why I have ended up at this wedding this weekend despite determined protests on my part: they wouldn't let me wiggle out. Damn.

So anyhow, I have Cousins this weekend, which explains why I just finished vacuuming the living room at 1:00 on Saturday morning.
M said, "What the hell, cousins. What am I supposed to do with them?"
And I said, "Some of them are very pretty girls," which elicited only a snorting noise.
"I'm leaving," he said, "Or I'll just say hello and go back to World of Warcraft. I mean, what am I supposed to DO with them?"
"I don't know," I said helplessly, "Play kick the can or something?"
"That," said M with enormous dignity, "is the total lamest thing I have ever heard. Dude."

Ah well. I love them very much, and it's awesome to see them, and all these kids are growing up by leaps and bounds, and all in all, you know, cousins are better than ants. It is way better to have cousins than ants. Dude.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jesus H. Christ on a Pogostick

I am weeping and wailing and gnashing my teeth today because of the Asheville Citizen-Times. Not because of their fearful editing or horrible writing or overall Gannet-ness and not even because of Susan Reimer, whose determined perkiness gives me hives, but because of the two stories on their front page.

First of all, they're selling Chimney Rock. Chimney Rock is a tacky wonderland, it is true, but it's also a glorious anomaly and I love the rickety staircase to the top of the mountain, the crazy elevator and, of course, the views. Kiss those views goodbye, because it's all going to be condos soon. Ridgetop development, the latest wonderful craze to hit our area, which destroys ecosystems from the top down and, in the process, ruins everyone's views. Hundreds of developable acres near Lake Lure, now on the market: you know they're salivating, champing at the bit to further clog the narrow roads, overtax the infrastructure, destroy the quality of life and market all of WNC to people with way more money than taste or sense. Because we need more assholes - the kind of assholes who will move downtown because it's scenic and cute and artsy, the kind of assholes who spend $2 mil on an apartment because they can and then, also because they can. . .

they complain about the noise and get the drum circle kicked out of downtown. The drum circle, which has been there for years, which livens up downtown on Friday nights and makes me happy to live here, has come into inevitable conflict with the wealthy downtown residents who moved here because Asheville was so different and now want it to be much more, you know, restricted. And genteel, and quiet and would all these strange hairy people please go away because they're lowering our property values and really, we'd rather just see people like us, which is to say Floridians and New Yorkers and occasional Californians who are over 55 and worth more than $4 million and who sold their old house and business for lots and lots of money and want to retire to downtown Asheville because it's so quaint and charming and all, but they don't want to interact with any Ashevillians unless said Ashevilliens are handing them their dinner. After their dinner shift, those Ashevilliens should take their $8 an hour and get on a bus back to guarded work camps in Candler. Because why should the new residents of Asheville, who have so much money and prestige, be troubled by the old residents, who have neither, and can't afford to live here anymore anyway, since the buildings that were moderately priced apartments are now multi million dollar "lofts"?

God fucking damn it. Is there any place on earth that humans won't spoil once they get a chance? Is there no way to stop the greed parade, the wretched excess, the vulgar assholes from ruining everything? I can't stand it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rejuvenating the Spirit and Channeling the Yip Yip Martians

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Today is Wednesday, which is to say it's the day I spend an hour with my zen therapist. Today's lesson was about refreshing & rejuvenating the soul - right now I'm feeling very frazzled and harried and I'm doing a lot of things all at once, which means that I'm not doing any of them particularly well. Zen therapist says that that means it is time to drop everything and go refresh myself. So I went for a wander around the Botanical Gardens, where I'd never really been, and I saw this bunny. This bunny let me stalk it until I was quite close, like 10 feet away, snapping all the time. It was fun as hell, waiting til he turned his head, walking three steps, then freezing as he looked at me again. And it did throw me out of my head and into my body, into total "I am a camera" only mode. Which is good for me.

Zen therapist says that I am smart and also that I am very much in touch with my intuitive side and the dreamworld, the unconscious, the symbols, but the problem is that I second guess myself, overanalyze the symbols until they lose all symbolicness (this is via Jung, he says) and I then get tangled up in an indecisive mess of intellectualism vs. intuitive self vs. emotionalism and thus nothing gets done. Zen therapist is right, of course.

However, I also channel the Yip Yip martians, and so I think I'm actually in pretty good shape. I was driving over to Zen therapist's office, late as usual, a bit frantic, and on the Patton Ave. bridge there was a big livestock truck. In the truck were 4 or 5 goats, all huddled together in one corner with the big daddy goat sort of protecting the smaller lady goats. It took me a while to figure out what they were, from a distance and through the bars of the truck, and as I did I went "Yip. . yip. . .calf? Yip. . yip. . goat? Gooooooat!!! Yip yip yip gooooaaaattttsss!!" and then finally as I passed them I yelled out the window "Como estas cabrones?" and they ignored me. It was cool.

Lately I have been reading the Iwanna, because I need a new monitor and possibly a new computer, but instead of reading that section I almost always find myself magnetically pulled to the animals and livestock section. Did you know that goats are amazingly cheap? There are even some free goats in the Iwanna! And chickens are cheap or free too! I can't believe it! I am so tempted to get some goats and chickens I can't stand it. My emotional intuitive side says Go for it! You need goats! And chickens! And possibly a llama and maybe an iguana too! But my intellectual side says, Felicity, you have finally and completely lost your mind.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Avatar of Domesticity in the Year of the Albino Zucchini

The annual garden deluge is well under way. That means that the garden itself is deluged with morning glories and other less attractive weeds as well as horrible demon bugs of all descriptions, including, but not limited to, Japanese beetles, the showy, glamourous Gianni Versaces of the insect world. Morning glories and Japanese beetles are terribly similar, really, to the kind of thing found in the garment district: parasitic, decorative as hell, amusing and yet slowly killing their struggling hosts.

There are bugs everywhere. Something ate my eggplants; the rest of the squash are succumbing to what is either a horrible fungal infection or the depredations of the cucumber borer beetle and it's hot. Meanwhile, I am deluged with green beans, hot peppers (one pepper plant fell over, so burdened with fat jalapenos that it could no longer stand) and zucchini, which curiously this year are almost all albinos. Go figure. Squash is promiscuous and has weird offshot babies whenever you plant more than one variety but I can never resist in the spring. It's delicious anyway, even if M did refuse to finish his last night, saying "God, it's so, so squashy."

So in a fit of enthusiastic pioneer style old fashioned good womanhood (I have them occasionally. Stop snickering.) I decided to can the green beans. Apparently just canning green beans plain is inviting certain death unless you own a $80 pressure canner: I read the articles and the brochure that came with a box of Mason jars and it scared me right off. I don't want to drop dead of botulism or some other less savory doom just because I want fresh canned green beans next December. Instead, I pickled them. After that, having some pickling stuff left over and all those aforementioned jalapenos, I pickled some of those. That's an experiment. It may be a bad, bad one but I'm already half planning to give them away anyhow, sneaky evil me.

Pickling is a lengthy process. First you have to heed all the dire warnings and wash all the new jars and the lids and the rings and then you have to put them all in pots of hot water on the stove and simmer them. During this process some of the lids will inevitably weld themselves together in a touching display of affection and physical love which winds up being a royal pain in the ass. Why? You try separating them using tongs and you will know. Then you take the hot jars and you stuff them with your prepared (washed, trimmed, inspected closely) vegetables. This is also harder than it sounds, since raw green beans and peppers don't like being stuffed into small spaces and also the damn jars are hot as hell. Eventually, however, you get them all in there along with some garlic and a head of dill and some other stuff for the hot peppers and then you pour a boiling mixture of vinegar, salt and water over them. You will burn your fingers again putting the lids on, and it would be good to admire them then, because after processing, they won't look so bright and fresh, which is a pity, but I suppose it keeps you alive and that's all for the best. Processing, for the uninitiated, means that you put the sealed jars into a big huge pot of boiling water and you boil the everliving fuck out of them for as long as the recipe says, 10 or 15 minutes. They are supposed to be on a rack: I don't have a rack, so I use dishtowels in the pot to keep them from banging up against it or each other and cracking. That's why there's a huge pot of water and wet dishtowels on my stove right now, actually. In case you wondered. Then you pull them out with tongs and put them on a towel on the counter and moon over them with pride and if you have done everything right, they will eventually each make an extremely satisfying little Pop! noise which means that they are sealed.

So okay, the lawn isn't mowed, the living room isn't vacuumed, the dishes aren't done and the less said about the bathroom the better, but I have 6, count them, 6 beautiful glass jars of pickled things and I am proud. Proud, I tell you, with the kind of housewifely pride that made this country great. Now I can fulfill all my families needs for pickled green beans (none of us have ever actually tasted pickled green beans or pickled hot peppers, by the way, and the kids are showing a distressing lack of enthusiasm at the prospect) for the whole winter.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Few Vague Unrelated Things

First, the Computer
My computer is fucking up all over the place and I'm scared. I was working a couple of hours ago (working on one thrice damned .jpg, pixel by fucking pixel, mind you) when my computer just suddenly completely shut itself off, blam, kaboom, no warning. And my cable internet has been erratic at best lately; it seems like I have to reboot the modem every single time I turn on the computer and sometimes it just goes off randomly in the middle of what I'm doing. During this cable internet down time, by the way, the lights on the modem flash madly, which worries me. Add to this the fact that in the last three weeks my printer AND my monitor both died and signs point to ominous. I'm scared. I need computer help. My computer is 3 years old and I know, that's 90 in human years (similar to dog years, computer years are set at a 30:1 ratio with human years) but I neeeeeeeed it to keep on working. Argh.

Some Random Notes On Photography and Dreams
My camera, as we know, is something of an obsession. I like to take it everywhere, but alas, this is just not possible, since it's big and bulky and not necessarily easy to carry without either a) looking like a complete touristic doofus or b) worrying the entire time that it's going to get scrunched or smushed or, gods forbid, stolen. Sometimes both a and b apply. So I don't always take it with me. Inevitably, when I don't have it, photogenic things happen all around me. Yesterday, for example, when on my way home from my mothers I got caught up in one of those oh so Asheville mountain microclimate events: to wit, there was a huge and very local thunderstorm over Biltmore Village and Biltmore Forest. The sky was utterly amazing and driving along Swannanoa River Road (wait, I don't think that's what it's called there, the portion of it on the other side of Biltmore Avenue that goes past all those concrete factories and trainyards and Victoria Road, the part that gets flooded when it rains) was even more amazing, since it was pouring sheets of rain behind the trains and over the woods that border the estate, but sunny and bright where I was, some 500 yards away. I love it when that happens. At any rate, this wishing for the camera thing must have struck deep into my subconscious, because that night I dreamt about constantly walking into places that were unbearably perfect to photograph: perfect shadows, great contrasts, amazing colors, remarkable circumstances - and, you guessed it, I didn't have the camera and it caused me much grief. Wailing and gnashing of teeth, as PG Wodehouse so famously said.

Book Review! Whee!
The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith, are the literary equivalent of Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light (who I will not dignify with a link) and I find it wildly weird and offensive that they were shortlisted for the Booker.

Wait. Stop the presses. I based the above Booker information on a vaguely remembered blurb on the jacket of the first book. Googling reveals that in fact they were NOT shortlisted for the Booker prize. Doesn't look like they were long-listed either. So what were they? Well, let's google a little more. The jacket copy is: "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency received two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by the Times Literary Supplement." Hmm. Interesting. WTF, exactly, is a Booker Judges' Special Recommendation? Googling that turns up. . . that book and that quote. Over and over again, repeated ad nauseum in every magazine and paper that reviewed it, which was a lot. Nothing else. No other book in the history of the world, apparently, has won this recommendation. Which could mean that these books are just, you know, uniquely incredible, or it could mean that Booker Judges' Special Recommendation means exactly NOTHING. Nada, zip, or possibly a couple of people who once served as Booker judges said something like "Well, yes, I do specially recommend that book - to the feebleminded." Ah advertising, PR and the endless marketing campaign. It never fails to surprise me, although not, probably, everyone else.

I wondered about this recommendation because frankly, the books SUCK. I know this because I read the first five. Why? So you won't have to! Also because my brother gave them to my mother to read during her hospitalization and I can't help myself: I'll read anything, especially when it's free for the borrowing. It is true that they have much in common with crack cocaine: you can't put them down, even when your better self is screaming Stop! Stop now!, you know how bad they are for you and they may leave some residual brain damage. I learned a lot from these books, I must say. For example, did you know that most everyone in Botswana is happy, particularly those who hew to traditional values? And that they express their values in simple sentences because, you know, they're natives and natives are so cute! Eeeurrgh. They remind me of those gruesome Jan Karon books. Warning: more Thomas Kinkade horriblity awaits you if you click that link, "gentle reader", within the Mitford books, which are not recommended for those with diabetes, since the sugar content is approximately that of a tanker truck full of coca cola syrup. The Ladies Detective Agency books are very similar, but with a creepy added overlay of colonialist paternalism. Bleck. I read them and now I wish I could scrub them off my brain.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Turtle In the Park

box turtle 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
The picture and the title kind of say it all, actually. I woke up in a bad mood, because it is kind of getting to be that time of the month when I want to kill, kill, kill and also because I'm feeling overwhelmed, swamped and too busy. I was thinking about all the ten bazillion things I have to do and instead of making me happy, it was making me miserable and tired, so I took hideous Theo to the park for an hour. I was trudging grumpily along trying to achieve pure Zen walking meditation mind and failing spectacularly when along came Turtle, and that's satori right there.

I love box turtles; I have loved them since I was a small child and we used to catch them and put them in elaborate cages made out of cardboard boxes and chickenwire from which they would inevitably have escaped the next morning. Last summer or the summer before, I found one up at Bent Creek who was patiently trying to get up a steep hill into the woods. He kept slipping back down, so I gave him a lift in the direction he was going and he thanked me: the next day there was a box turtle in my vegetable garden, where no turtle had ever been seen before or since. Once too I was scared shitless by a box turtle. I was out hiking on the bike trail in Maryland that runs along the Gunpowder Falls when I heard a tremendous crashing coming through the underbrush at me. I thought it was probably a rabid dog or raccoon or, god knows, some kind of horrible transdimensional creature of the vortex and I was terrified, I mean my heart was thumping and I thought it was probably all over for me. It was a box turtle making his way noisily through the tall weeds.

Yay box turtles and their ability to knock you out of the everyday!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Run, Walk, Run

I've been busy as hell today. Adding actual working to my day to day schedule is, like, impossible, dude. Just trying to keep the kids and animals fed and the house and garden in some remote kind of shape that's just shy of somebody calling the health inspector takes up every minute of my time: imagine how totally time consuming it would be if I did any of it well! And then there's avoiding paperwork, which I spend an awful lot of time doing. Right now my kitchen's a mess (and by mess, I mean I had to dig out a plastic fork to eat my salad for dinner: there isn't a clean one) I need to can - or freeze, or eat, or something besides compost - a metric ton of green beans and, oh god, a million of things to do. Weed the garden, do laundry, force the kids to clean their rooms, get my hair done, get the rug cleaned, organize this party I'm having the first weekend in August, answer my emails and so on. Not to mention work, which I only did 2 and a half hours of today.

However, I did go see my therapist today and he made me go on a walk with him, which scared me at first but turned out to be awesome, if hot. Turns out his office is right in this cool neighborhood with tons of adorable houses and some great gardens. I love my therapist: we have these lengthy intense conversations about all kinds of cool things like quantum mechanics and existentialism and whether faith is a good thing and Qi Gong and changing your world perspective from the inside out and achieving a balance between the intellect, the emotions and the body and chakra colors and Vivaldi's neuroses being cured by Freud on a walk around the lake in Geneva and so on. That's one helluva big lake, as I recall: I can see why Vivaldi was cured. Two quantum walk things: I found a playing card on the sidewalk - the 9 of diamonds. And we saw a sunflower, a volunteer on a weedy bank, so smothered by morning glory vines that it was horizontal instead of vertical, but it was still utterly gorgeous and a perfect, perfect flower. It even had a couple more buds on it, in these crazy unlikely surroundings where it was flourishing despite being swamped and covered by clinging vines. Ha! Do we see the metaphor? Anyway, I wonder what the 9 of diamonds means.

And then I went to see my mother, who has been reminiscing about her childhood and told me all kinds of stuff about her father's family, Dutch from Greenberg, Pennsylvania, and what it was like being a child in the Depression. That was cool and my mom is getting better by leaps and bounds, so it's all good there. I like being busy. It makes everything seem more fun somehow.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Boring Post

I haven't got a thing to say, except that I've been typing little numbers into the computer all day long and half the night and as a result I may be blogging somewhat less in the near future. But I'm making money, yeah wahoo, which is good since I need to spend it all on my computer so I can enter little numbers in the future. It's a circular world, isn't it? I need a new monitor: my old one died and I'm using A's, borrowed from her room, which means that the kids can't play Sims in there, which is leading to a summer of some discontent. Monitors are surprisingly expensive, sheesh. I also need another hard drive, although not the kind that will eat my music again, please, and an actual working CD drive/burner. What I have right now is one overtaxed and overfull hard drive and two elderly, fussy, cranky CD drives that will no longer burn anything. They work (by work, I mean recognize a disc and even access the stuff on it) sometimes and sometimes they don't. They need long rests in between work shifts and if they don't get their beauty sleep they seize up altogether. This is not good, because as we all know, my virtual life is far more interesting than my real life, and if it goes away I will start to shake and see pink elephants and stuff, I mean more than usual, and that will just not be good. So, since crunching little numbers means getting a little paycheck, crunch numbers I will. Yeah.

Monday, July 10, 2006

HWSNBBA and Space Cars!

M is home. We didn't expect him home for another two weeks, but he saw a ride coming south and hopped it and appeared home yesterday, grungy, tired, starving and full of hair raising stories about sleeping on some motel steps in Ocean City, punching a skinhead who was hassling some black kids in Rehoboth and asking a cop in all honesty for the location of a doughnut shop in Dewey Beach.

He is furious about the travesty of Theo's haircut. And he has clear ideas on his own couture: M, (and don't tell him you read this, because this is He Who Shall Not Be Blogged About) is determined to wear black jeans, white suspenders, a black and white striped shirt, Doc Martens and a top hat to school on the first day. We spent last night surfing Ebay to find a top hat. They're expensive as hell: $60 and up. I personally am reluctant to spend $60 on what I perceive as a passing whim, but what M perceives as a vitally important, indeed epic (a lot of things are epic. Some are even hella epic) part of his personal expression. In fact, he wants to start a gang. A gang who will all be wearing combat boots, black jeans, white suspenders, striped shirts and top hats.
"What should I call them?" he said.
"How about The Suspender People?" I said. But he booed me down.

I don't know. He almost had me buying the damn hat, but I came to my senses. "What if you ask Gramma?" he said desperately, "Tell her I'm taking a manners class, and I need a top hat. It will work! Or I could mow the grass 6 times - I swear I'll do it!"

Alas for M, it will not work. I can mow the grass myself 6 times for free, and Gramma will laugh cynically at this "manners class" no matter how much those manners might need improvement. We are unfeeling and cold, and we say, "Save up $50 and we'll talk spotting you the extra $20 ($10 for shipping). Alas.

So, to make it up, at Ingles I bought a box containing 15 great Movies From Space! The first one we watched was Visit to The Planet of Prehistoric Women, or perhaps it was Visit to the Prehistoric Planet. No matter. They had a Space Car, which this is, and check out those fins. That is MY Space Car, the one I was promised by the Year 2000, and it's six fucking years late, and I want it. Now. It hovers, hon, and it has a machine gun. It is MINE. I need it. Even more, or perhaps equally as much, as my son NEEDS a top hat.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Near Barnardsville, Somewhere

panorama near barnardsville
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
This is about the best panoramic stitched shot I've done yet, which isn't, I recognize, saying much. I'm still getting the hang of this stitching thing. Click on it, and then when you get to Flickr, click all sizes to see it in a reasonable version. My brother and I went and got mildly lost outside Barnardsville today. I was looking for Douglas Falls, which I vaguely remembered as being "easily" accessible: you take the Barnardsville exit, follow the road on past where it turns to dirt, go way the hell up the mountain looping along, and then the road ends at a parking area and you hike on down to the waterfall. Nope, that is not true. Either I remembered it totally wrong, which is probable, since it's been around 3 years since I was out there, or they've changed it, which is sadly also possible, since lo and behold, at the way the hell point up the dirt road are a couple of McMansions in various states of construction. At any rate, the dirt road turns back to pavement, and that pavement eventually takes you to, of all places, Burnsville. We tried going up another dirt road - that ended at a locked gate, and then we walked for a bit, although my brother was slightly worried that someone with the key to the gate was going to drive up behind my car, see the hippie stickers and shove my car over the cliff.

I do not get McMansions, hideous things, anywhere but particularly not up there, which is eleventy hundred miles from anywhere. Even with our new, milder (tm) winters, that road has to be impassable from November to March and it's no picnic in July. But what do I know? I'm poor, and I think spending millions on a house is immoral, and building a slew of houses in the middle of nowhere, up on a ridgeline, destroying the ecosystem and spoiling everyone elses view is double immoral. However, in the silver linings department, it was either the development or some logging that took me to the clearing where I shot this picture and, bonus, the clearing was full of wildflowers.

Note: Damn, it's my own stupid fault. I forgot about the turnoff onto Dillingham Road.

don't mind me, I'm tweaking. These lovely things are from my friend taz' site, and I want them as my backgrounds, oh yes I do. In a further design type note, isn't it interesting how the eye reads the one on the left as a hole in the white page, but the one on the right doesn't read like that at all? YMMV, I guess. But that's how I see it. HEY! What do you think about the new design?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bold Fashion Statement or Terrible Error in Judgment?

and After.

The haircut, in pictures.

I swear, I thought this was a good idea. I thought it was going to be great. I got tired of wading through knee deep drifts of dog hair and I thought, oooh, won't Theo be happier with all that hot heavy fur gone? So I took him on down to the Soapy Dog and told my friend R to go for it, shave it all off, you know, R, just go for it, and then I merrily went off for an hour or so . . and then, I was presented with the new Theo: Freak-O, reptile fox rodent creature of Mars. Galactic scourge. Interplanetary large tailed loon. After A and I got done gasping and laughing and falling on the floor, A said, "I don't think collies are supposed to be shaved." and damn if she isn't right. Good thing Freako isn't particularly vain and hardly ever looks in a mirror, because oh. my. god. He looks horrible. He looks naked and strange. I think I have to make him some clothes. I don't think I can even take him out for a walk: people will scream and run. Damn. Haircuts: not always a good idea.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Unfairness of Games

I'm addicted again. It is sad but true: the slavering dope fiend side of my brain has yet again emerged triumphant and I'm spending hours and hours lining up those twee little animals and watching them go pop. And by hours, I mean HOURS. All this would be okay, however, since I love my addictive side and I love spending my life making things with a repetitive yet strangely endearing jangly soundtrack go *pop* while my brain slowly turns to goo, except for one problem. My daughter is better at it than I am. It's just so brutally unfair: my kids are always, always better at video games than me, and it makes me miserable. The only games I can beat them on are Tetris and Bookworm, and even I can't play Tetris anymore.

It's not like I'm the kind of parent who discouraged video games or anything. I love computer games. I was right there along with my son blowing away zombies in Doom and working my way through every single Tomb Raider. But my children easily, immediately surpassed me, and the other day, when my daughter tried my new game and got up to level 7 on her first try, I nearly wept. It took me days to get to level 7, and I still can hardly ever do it. It is a sign of my advanced age: we had to make our own video games out of mud and sticks when I was young. Hell, I never even saw Pong until I was about 9 years old and we were on one of those infamous family roadtrips and had stopped at a motel that had it in the lobby. My brother and I were fascinated; my father, not so much. "Goddamn," he said, "Stop putting quarters in that thing! Jesus Christ! That's real money, you know!"

So of course I let my kids play video games until their tongues turned blue and their eyeballs drooled down their faces. My son still does: he's enmeshed in World of Warcraft. I can't wrap my brain around WoW, although I tried: I created a limp green night elf named Celery, but by the time she had wiped out a few harmless boars and some sabertooth tigers (that's one thing I hate about Lara Croft, too: she's always blowing away snow leopards and mountain gorillas and other endangered species, sheesh) that weren't hurting anyone, I had lost interest. The last game I got into was Morrowind and while that was fun for a while, eventually I got tired of walking everywhere. Besides, M, who had already beaten the game, had decided to build himself a house on one island and settle down there with bags of loot, but he got lonely. Like the Sims, the fun is in building and furnishing your dream house, or, well, in Morrowind, your dream hut. Of course, games like Morrowind or WoW or the Sims or even Sim City, (which I used to adore - my best city ever was called Land of the Fat - the secret, by the way, to successful urban planning is plopping down a maximum security prison, a toxic waste dump and a casino just as soon as you possibly can, than sitting back and watching the accolades roll in,) are sort of winnable, unlike Tetris or Bejeweled or Alchemy, or even my youthful delight, Galaxian.

Those old style games are designed for failure: the computer always beats you and you will never, no never, ever actually win. Okay, I have heard that some people won Pac Man and in fact I think my old boyfriend used to win Asteroids a bunch, but all that you get are some lights, a few booping noises and the chance to put in another quarter and start over. There's a Bruce Sterling riff on that from one of his novels; what is it, exactly, in the human mind which would lead us to invent games which cannot be won by a human being? I mean, talk about defeatism: games that just go on and on until the computer finally conquers all. Tetris, for example, is unwinnable. It's like life, or the Bible, or something equally depressing: you just have to keep on going until you die. At least when you finally work your way through Tomb Raider you get to go back to the mansion and jump on the trampoline.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Fourth of July

Yesterday was, of course, the fourth of July, America's annual celebration of all things that are so, so quintessentially American, like plastic flags that are made in China and flag T-shirts worn by overweight men, also made in China (the T-shirts, not the men. Although, you know, who knows, really?) and, of course, loud banging whizzing wheeing noises. At some point when I wasn't looking, the 4th of July turned into a week long celebration, because there have been fireworks in my neighborhood every night for the last six days, reaching a crescendo on Sunday night, when they went on until 3:00 a.m. and every animal in the neighborhood was walking around looking like a survivor of the Somme. I even had a small shell shock clinic going on in my house: my neighbor's dog wigged out, got loose, and scratched at my front door around 1:30 in the morning. She had a hopeful look on her face which basically said, "Hey there! Everyone at my house is asleep, and I saw your lights were on and hey, do you have any more of those milkbones? Mind if I come in?" So I kept her overnight and she ate half of M's Magic cards and then considerately regurgitated them on the living room rug in a colorful and odoriferous half digested heap.

Last night I went out with my posse, a.k.a. the usual suspects, my girlfriends J and J and S and S's friend S from New York, where everything is better than it is in Asheville, as has already been covered by my brother the New Yorker. That brother, by the way, is sitting holloweyed on my mother's couch, saying "Family. Day 13. How long can it go on?" and one feels quite sorry for him, to the point where it seems wisest to back away slowly making soothing noises. However, he does not enter into this story proper. This story is about how the Biltmore Avenue parking deck is the, the primo place to watch the fireworks, partly because you can sit underneath it drinking beer at the New French bar until the last possible moment and partly because it's practically directly underneath the fireworks. My new camera has a fireworks setting: documentary evidence and some freakin' cool photos are here. The other thing that's great about sitting at the New New, as we call the New French bar is that it's next to the ice cream place, which is mobbed every 4th. Angry families, all in line, desperate for their chocolatey fix make a great spectator sport for those of us who prefer our calories alcoholic. One year I heard a paterfamilias exclaim "I could go get the car, drive it up to the North Asheville Ingles, get two pints of Breyers ice cream, bring it down here, park again (this is saying a lot, on the 4th) and give you cones and it would be cheaper and faster than this line!" His family said, "Hush up daddy. The line's moving again." Which leads me to my no fail business plan: an ice cream cart.

Yes, an ice cream cart. I happen to own a creaky, cranky, vaguely electric ice cream maker that I picked up at the Goodwill one year, and it's even patriotic, since it has an ersatz brass American eagle on it. I could make ice cream and then sell cones from a little cart to the crowds waiting to get into the Marble Slab and voila, profit. Except for the part where the health department, fascists, would shut me down, because obviously I'm not going to go get all those permits and other unamerican stuff. I'm too American, and it was with the deepest reluctance yesterday that I put back the antennae headgear made of shiny stars and dangling glittery blue and red stripes and instead picked up a tiny little flagpole and a tiny little red white and blue noxiously faux tasteful flaglet. I put it up in my front yard and it's exactly the right proportion to my garden gnomes, so it looks like they've had a fit of patriotism. Because gnomes are American. And icecream. And Chinese souvenirs. And fireworks, even though they're Chinese too, and all of them say Shoots Flaming Balls on their wrappers, even the ones that don't. Because what could be more American than shooting flaming balls?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mom is Better

It happened fast. One minute she was lying in the hospital bed, weak and gray and hoarsely whispering, asking pathetically for a sip of water, and the next she was sitting up and commanding the nurses and her entourage of children with the aplomb of General Patton. The doctor kicked her out of the hospital this morning. This move has thrown us all into a tizzy. It's not that we wanted her to be gone or anything, but for weeks now we've all been living on the edge of our seats, or, more properly, what so frighteningly seemed like the edge of her deathbed, and going from tearful farewells to Why has noone watered the roses? and Go to the grocery store and get me some Greek yogurt is kind of a shock. A good shock, but a shock nevertheless. She's at home, and my brothers and I are not sure what to do next, except that we feel she shouldn't be left alone, which irritates her intensely. It irritates all of us, actually, since it's now been two weeks of enforced family togetherness, and that's some kind of record. We are fond of one another, you know, you might even call it family love, but two weeks is asking a lot. It's possible that we've never all been together for two continuous weeks - and counting - and even if we have, it certainly hasn't been in the last 30 years. Which may explain why a seemingly innocuous conversation like today's "Who was the best family dog?" could so quickly become so riddled with rancor.

But anyhow, thank you all so much, for the prayers and the thoughts and the kindnesses, the books and the flowers and the love. It has all meant so much to me and I believe from the bottom of my heart that it's what turned the tables around. Even if Mom is saying now that she knew perfectly well it wasn't her time to go and she doesn't understand why we were all making such a fuss about nothing, there were some moments over the last 14 days when we came very close to losing her. So thank you, because I'm not ready to lose my mother. Anyway, next year she'll be turning 80 on 7/7/07 and we all want to see that.

Not to mention 7/7/06, which is Friday, and her birthday, at which she had damn well better appreciate her $10 can of soup. My mother, on her supposed deathbed, had been waxing nostalgic for the freaky soups of her misspent youth. Soups I've never heard of, which frankly sound utterly gruesome, Consomme Madrilene and Tomato Aspic and gross mid century gracious living stuff like that. So, the other day, worried and freaking out about her, I found a super gourmet online soup store (yes, the dot coms linger on, do they not? Even past their life span and beyond; there's something for everyone on the internets) and I ordered her these soups of youth. I was so worried that not only did I order the $13 three soup gift basket (yes, math fans, that's $4 per can, slightly more than Campbells, mmm hmm) but I sprang for the two day shipping. That brought my total up to $30 - I just paid TEN AMERICAN DOLLARS PER CAN OF SOUP. I have clearly lost my mind, and my mom is getting three cans of soup for her birthday. It better be good.

Monday, July 03, 2006

On the Radio Tonight

Radio killed the blogging star, or, hopefully, won't exactly kill her, just turn her into an instant fabulous radio star. We'll find out, because at 7:00 p.m. I'm going to be interviewed on the radio, and you can listen to it here. In fact, even if you live in Asheville I think you might have to listen to it online, since as far as I know, WPVM can only reach approximately 10 people in the building next door. I could be wrong about that though, and if I am, well, it's at 103.5 FM. I tried to get it on my mom's radio at the hospital: no dice. That may actually be a good thing, because this interview may not be entirely mom-friendly. So few things are, after all, and I did mention her colon, and as we know, ladies don't have those. Certainly not on the air.

I was interviewed around noon by Paul "Brainshrub" who does this show called Tips for Political Bloggers. There is the small problem that I'm not a political blogger, unless you count the times where I kind of go off the deep end and start ranting and frothing at the mouth about health care or public education or the war, but Paul got around that by talking to me mostly about writing, and, of course, about my favorite subject: me. It was fun, and the WPVM studios are adorable and full of interesting people. Asheville does the community driven organization well: it's so full of bright talented dedicated types who have to wait tables to make ends meet and thus have mental energy left over for things like community radio or TV or films or drum circles or general anarchic weirdness. At any rate, listen to me on the radio. Tonight. 7 p.m. EST.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Shindig on the Green

shindig bass and guy Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
I took my cool hipster NY brother to Shindig on the Green tonight. Shindig is hard to describe: it happens almost every Saturday night in the summer here as it has for the past 40 years. There's a main stage, and a house band, and cloggers, and square dancing, and, perhaps most important, any number of string musicians playing in informal groups around the perimeter. This year, because of lengthy construction at City/County Plaza, it's happening in a park on the other side of Charlotte Street that I didn't even know was there. The crowd figured out the change, and they were all still there. It was lovely, and it hushed my NY brother right up, because this is a thing that doesn't happen in NYC. It's a precious thing, Shindig, I thought tonight. An amazing thing, and I'm lucky to live here, where we can take it for granted and bitch about the lack of beer.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Generations and Choppiness

I have only got a few minutes before I have to go to the hospital again. I started to go this morning, but ended up turning around and coming home because my brother called to tell me my mother was asleep and he was sitting in the lobby with his laptop and I thought that just possibly mowing my lawn took higher priority than sitting silently watching my mother sleep. This decision made me feel guilty, but on the other hand my lawn looks good.

That's the problem. I don't have time to focus on anything, do anything, because for the last ten days and now for the forseeable future, my days are choppily divided into segments: hospital, driving to & from the hospital, waiting for phone calls from the hospital, staring into space, reading bad 1948 novels and drinking too much. Even when I don't drink at all, like last night, when I took a night off from family & friends and sat at home and watched The Lost World, I still feel hungover by noon the next day, because there's no focus and somehow this is all making me so, so fucking tired.

I don't understand why this is wearing me out so much: it's not, after all, manual labor, except for the looking for a parking space part. But it is, nevertheless, and that also makes me feel guilty and lame, and I think about my mother, walking around for the last 8 months, age 78 with a softball sized tumour in her colon, and still generally accomplishing more than healthy forty something me. My mother's generation can't imagine taking a whole day to lie in bed and read: it's shameful. Yeah, it's shameful, but I do that all the time and now even that option is out. I have lists and lists and lists of things that need to be done, but somehow, going back and forth to the hospital takes up all my time.

Doctor notes: The cancer hasn't metastasized; the lymph is clear. This should be good news, and is, except that she's not getting better, she's getting weaker, her innards are steadfastly refusing to start moving again like they're supposed to after an operation, she won't do her breathing exercises and the doctor is now worried about pneumonia. The doctor, who did not attend charm school (although as my brother says, you should prefer the mean charmless surgeon to the delightful fun one, because the mean one is actually spending his time in the operating room and not somewhere honing his social skills) keeps telling us that our mother is very old and then he looks impatient. Yeah, she is old. She is also my mother, goddamnit.