Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shark's Teeth

Today at work, a group of severely mentally handicapped children came in for a class. I mean, these are kids with really serious problems - tards, as we used to call them. Before you get mad at me for linking to Tard Blog, hush up. Sure she's evil. And her blog is all ended now anyway. Still, she was funny as hell, and she was working with those kids every damn day, which is probably more than you're doing, and definitely more than I'm doing, and so she got, in my book, a free pass on some serious gallows humor.

At any rate, one of the boys today was a little out of control. He was more out of control than the boy who kept coming in and out, panting and saying "Drink water! Drink water? Drink water!" and more out of control than the swaying girl and the boy with the big, huge scar that ran up and down the back of his head and neck. This boy had a devilish grin and more motor control than most of the kids. He came swooping by the front desk, where, as you know, there is a basket of free shark's teeth. He grabbed a whole handful of sharks teeth as he dashed by.

And ate them.

That made his aide angry and she was yelling at him and pulling them out of his mouth - and dropping them back into the basket with the rest of the sharks teeth even as I tried to stop her.

It's not that I'm prejudiced against the disabled - I'm not keen on anyone's drool in the shark teeth basket. I wouldn't let the Pope spit in the shark teeth, frankly. It's bad enough that a hundred little kids a day root around in there with their grimy little fingers - saliva is de trop.

The aide was actually more interested in shopping and talking to the other aides, though, than she was in watching her charge. I don't entirely blame her, but on the other hand, perhaps she might have stopped him before -

He came through again and grabbed another handful of teeth! This time I said "Oh, no, no, honey, those aren't for eating, they're not good for you, they don't taste good!" which I grant you is fairly idiotic but some of those teeth are sharp as hell and I can't imagine that they'd go down easily. So the kid paused, with a few shark's teeth in his mouth and the rest in his hand, grinned wildly, and flung the teeth all over the gift shop. And my desk. And just around. Which, you know, totally made the field trip for the third graders from the nice charter school who were all at the time standing there gaping. And the damn aide started picking up the sharks teeth off the floor and off my desk and (naturally) pulling them out of his mouth and putting them back in the basket while apologizing all over again.

"Oh no," I said, "Really, it's fine. Really, I'll clean it up. I'm just worried about him! I think eating those teeth could be dangerous."
"He's eaten everything else," said the aide darkly, "A few teeth won't bother him one bit."
And then she put a few more spitty sharks teeth and some gross carpet gluck from the floor into the shark tooth basket and went back to the gift shop. And I hid the basket and gave everyone my best great big fake customer service smile.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fun Homework

So my son had to do this epic tale thing for English homework in the form of . . a comic book. This is a fun assignment, right? Except for M, who became overcome with gloom and sorrow until we bethought ourselves of the Historic Tale Construction Kit. Remember them? They are fantastic and as a result, M & I just did the most totally kickass epic ever tapestried. It had better wow the 9th grade English teacher.

I'm always terribly disappointed when a project of mine my kid's doesn't get a good grade. I've never forgiven A's 8th grade teacher for only giving a C on my her Slake's Limbo diorama. I mean, a whole bunch of actual certified artists worked on that thing, and we made wee figures out of Sculpey, and even a cardboard escalator. It was a rockin' diorama, as diorama's of slightly uneasy children's books go, and it should have gotten an A. So, come to think of it, should the several papers I my children have written on Harriet Tubman. Not to mention M's "auto"biography, which took days and was quite epic itself. But this kind of homework is fun, unlike math homework, at which I am frankly hopeless. The math homework he's bringing home now has those weird quasi medieval swooping fs in it. I admire the typography, but the formula escapes me.

On a more serious note, this project was also, well, noteworthy in how difficult it was for young M to grasp the concept of the classically epic hero. He's so post modern, so steeped in contemporary culture, that every single hero he came up with at first was fatally flawed. Sure, that's what makes heroes interesting and human to us, but you don't find Beowulf emoting over his Oedipal issues, or Hercules having much of a crisis of existential dread. Okay, Hercules does go mad for a while, but that was probably manure fumes. Every single story M came up with (and there were some extremely awesome plots in there) featured a doubting, flawed hero who has to overcome personal shortcomings. It's damn hard to escape your culture, even for long enough to write a comic book.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Watering Hole

This is an African watering hole that will happily run all day on your computer on windows media player. It is pretty nifty, really, even though so far all we have seen are bugs. Phosphorescent bugs, granted, but bugs nevertheless. Not dissimilar to the bugs we have right here in North Carolina. Still, as my son said hopefully, "But they're special Africa bugs!" And they are indeed. The soundtrack is really cool, though. The African night is much, much scarier than ours, even those nights of ours that are punctuated by random gunfire, like Thursday (I guess I wasn't the only person who got stressed out by Thanksgiving.)

My son, despite his advanced age, is fascinated by the watering hole. He thinks it would be better if there was a speaker, though, and we could talk to the (so far hypothetical) animals through it. "Wouldn't it be awesome," he said, "If like there was this lion just having a drink, and then you yelled OOOOOOOGA OOOOOOOOGA OOOOOOOGA through the speaker and he just like jumped straight up in the air?"
"Yeah," I said, "Although I'm not sure that's what Dr. Doolittle meant by talking to the animals. I mean, you know, learning their language so you can play mean practical jokes on them."

Mean practical jokes on animals can be amusing, though. Django is terrified of the rooster noise that M can make come out of his celphone, but the scary monkey-hyena-leopard-invisible-smoke-monster roaring noises from the watering hole aren't fazing him one iota. I remembered freaking Theo out one time with the sound of a fox on the computer (he wigged right the hell out) but the watering hole noises aren't bothering him either. So we tried playing some other sounds: lions and foxes and wolves. Theo did get off the couch to bark at the front door when the wolves howled, but Django just stayed on the kitchen floor chewing up a dishtowel. This proves that instinct has been completely subsumed by modern life: you know your dog is a suburban 21st century wuss if he's more afraid of roosters than of lions.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Conan Movies Are Way Underappreciated

Here at Hangover Headquarters, we have special ways to recover from post Thanksgiving stress disorder. It's a multi part process that involves first laying around in bed most of the day, reading magazines. By the way, Bark magazine? Really strange. Who knew there were so many expensive dog thingies out there? Or so many dog obsessed yuppies to buy them? My brother brought it over as part of his latest quixotic campaign, which is to turn my daughter into a dog whisperer and I read it cover to cover yesterday. Sorry, Bark people - I really hate to break this to you - but dogs aren't kids. They're dogs. I have two dogs and I love them dearly, but they're dogs. They're fine with plain dog food and a backyard and sleeping on cheap dog beds on the floor. They don't need clothes, designer bowls, handmade treats and special environmentally conscious toys that have been hand made by disadvantaged handicapped blind children in Nepal. They like empty water bottles to chew on and tennis balls. Their collars came from K-mart. Their rabies tags came from the clinic. And their ID tags came out of a machine at the Petsmart.

But wait. Back to Thanksgiving recovery. After you're done marveling at the weird world revealed by niche magazines and napping (many naps. Naps are mandatory.) you must eat Thanksgiving dinner all over again and then settle in for an evening watching both Conan movies, back to back! Yes! Conan movies are AWESOME! Conan movies RULE! Conan movies require NO HIGHER THOUGHT PROCESSES! Although you can mentally note that the director was smart in keeping Arnold's lines to a minimum - mostly he just says "CROM!" with a look of surprise. He's very good at saying "CROM!" Then his muscles ripple or something else amazing happens or they have a big old clanking sword fight and it's all good. You can relax into a leftover turkey haze and just lay back and enjoy. Seriously, though, they're not bad movies at all. Trust me on this - I watch bad movies for fun, and neither of the Conan movies qualifies - although the second one comes perilously close in parts, particularly the parts where Olivia D'Abo is required to do something besides look cute. They're well paced; they're nicely shot; the dialogue is mercifully minimal and the actors don't go insanely overboard.

Besides, my favorite movie line of all time is in Conan the Barbarian: "A couple years ago it was just another snake cult. Now, they're everywhere!" Truer words were never spoken - a subtle political observation that's more valid today than it was even then and makes the recent elections even more heartwarming, since we got to crush our enemies, see them driven before us and hear the lamentations of their women.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving, a Post Post

I forgot the most important moment in the earlier post - the moment when I came home from Earthfare, put my bags on the kitchen table. One bag contained two bottles of Pellegrino fizzy mineral water. That would be the bag that inexplicably exploded about five minutes after I put it down. Yes, the bottle just exploded for no apparent reason, and thank the gods it was in a bag that caught all the broken glass and most of the water. At the time I chalked it up to just one of those weird ass things. But it was a portent! A sign! An omen!

And fuck thanksgiving. I'm done with this particular nightmare.

My two favorite Thanksgiving dishes are creamed onions and rutabagas. I didn't do the rutabagas because I totally ran out of time and the creamed onions? I pellegrino'ed the creamed onions. I have no room in this kitchen and so I pulled them out of the oven and set them on the stove top. On a burner. In a glass bowl. The burner that I then turned on to High, because I twisted the wrong dial.

Exploding creamed onions in a glass bowl are not fun.

I fucked up the gravy.

I burned the rolls.

Dinner was cold.

But the living room looks fantastic. The party never really happening does at least leave the house a bit cleaner (I have so many dishes to wash, I'm developing pre-emptive wrinkled hands) and there's lots of leftover beer (most of the wine was undrinkable.)

Ah. It's over! It's over!

Thanksgiving, Live from the Trenches

So far today:
8:30 woke up hungover. Naturally.
9:30 fielded phone call from mother. Yesterday morning fought with mother over her desire to participate in turkey, lost battle, mother brined turkey overnight. Now mother freaking out over amount of time necessary to cook turkey. Told mother time fine.
10:00 read Joy of Cooking, called mother back, demanded turkey immediately. Made stuffing. Made frozen biscuits for kids.
10:30 brother showed up with turkey in roasting pan. Went with brother to Earthfare, wandered hungover in daze around store, bought a ton of stuff, forgot cheesecloth, nearly lost vitally important list but recovered.
11:30 stuffed turkey, put turkey in oven.
12:00 realized there were no giblets with turkey, called mother again, fought again over giblets, discovered that mother cooked giblets yesterday, got upset, smoked cigarette, called daughter, complained about mother, daughter fighting with boyfriend and upset, thus completing traditional trigenerational female thanksgiving stress trifecta.
12:30 cleaned bathroom. Scrubbed living and dining room floors on hands and knees. Vacuumed hallway. Semi tidied up bedroom. Yelled at son for doing nothing but playing World of Warcraft.
1:30 started cooking again. Peeled & cut up mountain of potatos, got on stove.
And now it's 2:00 here at Hangover Headquarters, and Thanksgiving is imminent. Whooo eee! Back to the turkey mines!
2:14 son uses guest towels for shower, destroys bathroom. Scream at son.

A Hidden Post

This will soon get swallowed by Thanksgiving
Which is good.

It's 1:00 am and I'm cleaning my house and in the process I'm learning some things:

1. I know all the words to Freebird and I sing them completely unironically.

2. It's hard to scrub a concrete Buddha with a toothbrush and not feel a) disrespectful and b) idiotic when you apologize politely.

3. When you sprinkle a rug with white powder, the result is going to be more or less the same as sprinkling a human with white powder: they'll look the same, but blurry. You can vacuum up all the powder, but the underlying thing is still going to be blurry. Possibly forever.

4. Not emailing my cousins was stupid and a failure of nerve. There's a long and sorry story here, but it's really just dumb: I should have invited them for Thanksgiving and fuck the stupid ancient family politics and my own feelings of dumb loserdom for being poor.

5. Your chances of getting washed depend entirely on your random placement within the living room.

Dude. Thanksgiving!

Oh, and before I forget it, these two things:

My son, last night: "Dude Mom, our mice are actually kind of cute." Long pause. "Of course, that doesn't stop us having to bathe in their blood."

My friend who is also incidentally a shrink, tonight: "You are the weirdest mixture - you're very logical, but you have all this strange knowledge and bits of information in your head, which takes you off on these tangents that make sense at the time but then, they just go. . . I don't know where. And over all of it is a heavy cloak of romanticism."


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dog Walking Fashionista

The good people at Project Runway have been bugging me to reveal my dog walking fashion secrets. It's not surprising, really - I look so amazing at 7:00 am when I set out into the cold with the dogs. So here, for the first time ever, I will dissect my dogwalking wardrobe for the good of humanity.

The key ingredient is a pair of. . overalls. And not just any overalls. In the summer, I wear denim overalls that are not only a little too short but with (this is vital) a couple of missing buttons on the side, so that I achieve that really, seriously Appalachian local look. Usually, these overalls are combined with a giant plaid flannel shirt. Or two.

In the winter, I wear an outfit that some might say is a little too young for me. To them I say, phooey! If it's good enough for all the best dressed 6 month olds then it's good enough for me. In short, black fleece overalls. Baggy black fleece overalls. Baggy black fleece overalls that lack only a TV screen over the tummy to make the wearer look exactly like a goth teletubby. Or possibly Mindy. The first time I ever wore them (the only time I ever wore them to do anything besides walk dogs) my brother fell into hysterics. "Mindy!" he cried, "Mindy, where's Mork?" The overalls get even baggier around the middle if you wear them, as I did this morning, over gnome pajamas. The combination of the pajamas, the overalls and the many plastic bags in my pockets all work to give me that special diaper butt toddler look that is so hard to achieve for most adults. But who can tell? Because over all this must go a giant black sweater and, given weather like this morning, a 30 year old Army coat that has never been washed, a fur hat and mismatched mittens. And, oh yes, mismatched socks and white sneakers with shiny stripes.

I look special. Proud. As special and proud as anyone can be who is holding a bag of shit and being dragged down the street by two dogs. That's pretty damn special. And yes, I know, this post is useless without pictures. But there are no pictures, and if the gods are kind, there will never be pictures. Never, ever, ever.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Marathon Begins

Thanksgiving is in three days. Am I ready? No. Oh, no, I am so far from ready that it might as well be July around here. I always think of Thanksgiving dinner as running a marathon: it's rewarding and kind of fun, but a helluva lot of work for all that. It's worse nowadays because my mother - yeah, that's my mother, as in Mrs. Clean. The Dowager Empress. The woman who makes Martha Stewart look like the sorry slacker trash she really is - has Thanksgiving at my house these days. We have forced this issue despite her well known distaste for my house since the year she decided to be killingly efficient and make Thanksgiving dinner ahead of time. Like, a week ahead of time and possibly more: I still can't believe we lived through that one. She gets a bit obsessive, you see, and wants to get things done. Efficiently. And granted it's a pain to make sausage stuffing and turkey on Thanksgiving day, but doing it 10 days ahead and reheating is, uh, not the ideal solution.

The other problem with my mother's house is that she has far, far too much stemware and she believes that everyone should have an appropriate glass (let's not even mention the silver, god) at all times. So, for each person that's a cocktail glass, a water goblet, a red wine glass, a white wine glass and a coffee cup and saucer. Possibly more - remember that we are, after all, Irish. None of these things go into the dishwasher, and neither does the thrice benighted silver - shrimp fork, salad fork, dinner fork, dessert fork, teaspoon, tablespoon, butter knife and assorted serving pieces, all with attractive curlicues and my grandmother's initials. After the year I was there until 2:30 washing and drying crystal, I put my foot down.

So I do it now. And mostly, I like it, but this year for whatever reason I'm kind of behind the eight ball. To put it mildly, since, given the assorted characters who live here plus one puppy who is into everything (everything includes the trash, goddamn it,) my house looks like it should be condemned by the health department and burned to the ground for the good of the community. And it all has to be spotless by Thursday. Even though I have to work every day.

Keep your fingers crossed. It will happen. It always does, through some miracle or other. And you're still invited and I guarantee the food will be delicious and, you never know, I may even live blog the preparation proceedings - good times, good times! Dinner's at 4-ish. The heavy drinking, leftover & pie eating begins around 6-ish. It's an open house - see you here!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Red Sonja!

In a moment of total madness this afternoon, I actually rented Red Sonja. M said, horrified, "You actually went in the store and rented that? You'll never be able to go in there again." It is true; I had forgotten the true awfulness of Red Sonja, although one must give it credit for being a fairly awesome metal hat movie. The characters pretty much all have way over the top metal hats, except for the Asian kung fu super master ninja guy, who has what appears to be a large hookah and small dog assembly on his head. And then Red Sonja herself sports hardly any headgear, but with that mullet, who needs a hat? It was hilarious. I laughed until I cried, several times: the utterly, utterly diabolical acting, the dismal effects, the ruthlessly atrocious script and the endless clanging sword battles (I don't think you're supposed to aim for the other guy's sword just to make a better clanking noise, really) make for a good time, I swear. The kids were fairly good sports about it, although when they found out that yes, I actually went to see it at the movie theatre when it came out (it is true. Of course I went with a bunch of people and we were all heavily medicated.) they started speaking softly to me in words of one syllable.

The end of it got me thinking, though. A friend of mine on a forum recently said that she has always wanted to walk away from an explosion in slow motion, putting on her sunglasses and I thought that was brilliant. I'll go one better - I want to run out through a collapsing castle of doom, leaping over lava pits and dodging boulders. I wonder if, when my arch nemesis finally appears and all my evil plans are thwarted, this house will slowly collapse in large yet surprisingly light hunks of masonry? It is obligatory, after all. Meanwhile, I had better get around to stopping up that totally obvious secret passage into the throne room that my nemesis can get through in about 3 and a half minutes.

And if it actually does snow tonight? I am SO going back over to the video store and getting BOTH Conan movies.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Utterly Pathetic

Okay, I've spent waaaaaaaaaay too much time today doing my part for the internet: clicking away brainlessly, voting on the funniest picture, the cutest picture and on the prettiest picture. Somebody, after all, has to make the tough choices and it might as well be me. The prettiest is the hardest one: both choices are usually pretty goddamn horrific - having looked at the actual top winners, I'm just clicking on anything that a) doesn't have a waterfall and b) was not created by an AdobeTM product. The cutest picture contest currently only seems to have about six images to choose from, approximately three of which are actually cute, so it's fairly simple. And the funniest? Well, that's your source for seriously dumb shit; it's entertaining. If you like dumb shit, that is, and hell, who doesn't?

I have done absolutely nothing today; it's just wrong and evil but somehow I feel so relaxed. Some days you just have to surf the web, halfheartedly rake a few leaves, go back to the web, eat too much and stare into space and today I have done all those things superlatively well. It's good to be good at something and I am really good at doing nothing. Yay me.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Printer Vigil

I'm at work. Why am I at work after 6:00 pm on a Friday night when I've been here since 8:30 this morning? Because I am sitting here with the printer like it's my sick friend, except maybe I mean my sick arch enemy, for I am not feeling particularly sympathetic or kind towards the printer. It's true that I'm asking it to do a lot - some 125 sheets of card stock - but it's done that before without freaking out like this. And this has to be done before tomorrow, and it shouldn't have taken this long, and, well, you can guess the rest.

Argh. It strikes me though, that sitting late with the printer, keeping vigil, has become some kind of weird rite of passage in our culture, kind of like a knight kneeling on the cold, cold stone all night (usually authors say "cold, HARD, stone" but this has always bothered me because, come on, obviously the stone is hard. I work at a rock museum and you can take it from me: 99% of the time stone is hard, and even when it's kind of soft, like gypsum or talc, it's still hard if you're kneeling on it. You should say cold, HARD mud, or cold, HARD feathers, but not stone.) Or maybe not. It's almost done! OMG! I think I might be able to leave this place tonight after all! Bye!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Goddamnit, Get Off My Lawn 'Cause I Can't See You Anyway

It's utterly hopeless for me to pretend to be a young hipster anymore. No, it's all over, I am that pathetic thing: an aging, graying hipster with youth pretensions. Tonight I went after work to meet a friend at a nearby (had to be nearby; it's horrible out) dimly lit hipster bar and, since she was late (it's horrible out, which is the international signal for Hey, Assholes! Drive Around In Circles! Day) I tried to read the paper whilst nonchalantly sipping my beer and smoking. It's tough to look hip when you're holding a newspaper as far away from you as humanly possible and angling it in a sort of hopeless, doomed attempt to catch some ray of nonexistent light. I mean, I will never know what my horoscope said, people.

Fortunately, the good people at the daily Asheville paper have addressed this issue with their recent redesign of Take Five, their weekend section. They've designed it either for the very old or the very young: it's unclear which, but the shrieking 16 point type, lots of (bad) pictures, multiple exclamation points, words of one syllable and random locals spouting paragraphs about subjects they know nothing about will clearly be a big draw to both the preschool and the senile demographics. I kid because I love, y'all - but really, what were you thinking? I grant you that the old Take Five was not going to win any prizes, but, uh, baby? Bathwater? This new thing is heinous. Actually, while I have the soapbox: please, please stop trying to be hip, oh Citizen-Times. It becomes you not. You are a daily newspaper, the very definition of an eminence grise; a paper of record, a (okay, I'm exaggerating here) journalistic source. Attempting to become a really horrible free weekly is beneath you. And if you must be a free weekly, could you at least include some comics and some Ann Landers? I miss me some Mary Worth.

It even uses outdated slang terms, and you know it's outdated when I think it's outdated, because I am the Woman Who is Officially Too Old To Keep It Gangsta, as conveyed by my children. Hell, I'm forbidden under pain of death or at least long drawn out sighs to even utter the words "True Dat" or, god forbid, "What up, mah peeps?" which has, you know, put a serious crimp in my conversational style. You've never seen anything in this world until you've seen 14 year olds in a carpool react to a mother saying "YO! Whuzzup, ma peeps? The shizznit iz in the hizzouse now, true dat!" I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thanksgiving, Anyone?

Okay, it's that time again, time once again for Felicity's Thanksgiving Dinner for Waifs, Orphans and Strays and I am now posing this as an open question, an open thread, if you will:

Does anyone want to come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner this year?

Because if you do, comment below or email me and you're invited. I'm beginning to get an uneasy feeling that I have crossed a threshold where none of my friends are waifs, orphans or strays anymore (I suppose it had to happen) and Thanksgiving is starting to look like it's just going to be my family. That would be okay, of course but REALLY I want YOU PEOPLE to come over for dinner! YES! YES I DO! We will have an incredible traditional Thanksgiving meal: I come over all conservative when the holidays roll around and insist on having exactly the same meal year after year - with vegetarian & vegan options, of course. And we will drink lots of red wine. And sit by the fireplace.

So seriously, let me know.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Me and Andy Goldsworthy

We watched an amazing documentary tonight: Rivers and Tides, a film about the British artist Andy Goldsworthy. His work is so beautiful, I can’t stand it. I sat there and watched this incredible film about this intense artist who creates this astonishing, tremendous work that’s almost all completely ephemeral in nature and I thought well, hell, what does Andy Goldsworthy have that I don’t? Besides, you know, talent. But am I not also an Artist? By god I am, and I even have a diploma from the College of Charleston somewhere in the back of the coat closet (unless the cat peed on it, which is eminently possible) saying that I am. So I have come up with a list comparing me to Andy Goldsworthy (also, due to poor HTML or blogger or something, I have come up with a lot of weird white space, but them's the breaks and actually, you know, kind of indicative of my art, which relies heavily on it's, uh, spontaneous, childlike and whimsical qualities):

Andy GoldsworthMe
Has many books both by and about himHas read many books
Creates heart stoppingly beautiful objectsCreates heart stoppingly peculiar objects, such as my hats, also just plain heart stopping objects like my patented and amazing post gallery opening macaroni & cheese, which uses all the cheese cubes left over from any average opening and can stop up most healthy arteries in record time.
Creates objects from natural materials that become more beautiful as they fall apartCreates objects from mostly fake materials that fall apart, period.
Creates objects that are held together with amazing craftsmanshipCreates objects that fall apart without ever exhibiting one whole hell of a lot of craftsmanship
Uses natural materials, such as thorns, to hold sculptures together Uses hot glue and lots of it to hold things together, mostly unsuccessfully.
Has commissions from major international art centers.Has sold a couple of paintings out of bars.
Lives in beautiful home in Scotland.Lives in messy home in North Carolina.
Has German film makers following him about.Has springer spaniel puppy with printer ink cartridge in mouth following her about.

So you see, we are very similar, Andy Goldsworthy and I. And when the dog is done making the beautiful documentary film, the world will see the truth.

Seriously though, it’s an amazing, amazing film and well worth seeking out. They have it at Orbits; that’s where I got it. Watch it. Be amazed. Be inspired.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Cops Just Came By

So this cop just appeared at our door. He wanted to know who was sitting in the passenger seat of my car an hour and a half ago, at the Arby's on Patton and Florida. We called A's boyfriend J to the door, since he was the culprit. Turns out that he flipped off the Arby's, which he has a grudge against, and the cop, who was sitting inside the Arbys at the time thought that HE was being flipped off, so he spent the last hour and a half running my tags and tracking us down.

Don't Asheville cops have anything better to do? Is there no crime in this city? I mean, since when did flipping off a fast food joint become a crime? I grant you that it was a tacky and somewhat unpleasant thing to do (please note that I don't endorse this use of the middle finger in most circumstances) but criminal? Worthy of police notice? Weird and unsettling.


Yesterday, as is so often the case, I was somewhat hungover. The shot of Jamesons with hot tea and lemon and honey, kindly made up by the nice server at the New French bar, would have been okay on its own but then, you know, I just had to have a bunch of beers too. Ah well. It was one of those slight disconnect from reality drowsy hangovers and so, I went shopping.

I went to the library to return my woefully overdue books and I went to Downtown Books and News & traded in a big bag of paperbacks for a slightly smaller bag of paperbacks (including a new copy of The Magus, a book that somehow forever changed my life or at least my brain when I first read it and which I have to always be getting new copies of since I keep giving mine away.) Then I went on to Ross Dress for Less, where I happily tried on many, many pieces of clothing, including a bright and multistriped snowflake sweater (bad), a pair of green jeans (worse) and a pair of plaid slacks (truly hideous.) Christmas has begun at Ross Dress for Less and there were lots of people there opining about the beauty of faux blown glass santas and plates with reindeer, including one lady who was explaining it on her cel phone "It's just the cutest thing. It has a picture on it of a dog, see, and it says, "Don't forget the dog!" What? No, honey, it has a picture of a DAWG, see, and it says, DON'T FORGET THE DOG! Uh huh."

I went from there briefly to Office Max for printer toner and then to Michael's Crafts, which is fully and completely decked out for the holidays. I love Michael's. It has that unique Michael's smell, that weird mixture of potpourri and evergreen and faint disinfectant, and all those weird Michael's things like knitting machines and large sponges cut in the shape of snowflakes, and it's always crowded and cramped full with just plain strange shit. Okay, I confess: I went to Michael's to buy some highly respectable art supplies but what I secretly wanted was a flag with a turkey on it. I'm turning into one of those middle aged women who has seasonal flags hanging outside her house and who trots out a holiday themed vest or sweater at every occasion. It is true. My lack of taste has lost its ironic, hipster edge and become just straightforward lack of taste, yet somehow this bothers me not at all. However, if you do ever see me in a Halloween vest, you can shoot me, it's okay. Alas, turkey time is past; there is no room for turkeys and pilgrims and corn at Michael's now - it's all Santa and snowmen.

And artificial Christmas trees of startling hideosity, such as this one, which I totally covet, but it was like $40 which is a little more than I could quite wrap my head around. Is it not lovely? Does it not sum up the true spirit of Christmas? This tree ROCKS.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wigging Out

On Wednesday night, I wigged out. I was sick and running a fever and generally orbiting the third ring of Saturn and thus: wigout. I started getting sick on Tuesday - actually, at 2:00 on Tuesday, when I went from feeling fine to feeling like death on a popsicle stick with the suddenness of a snapped finger. Tuesday night, feeling bizarre, I went to the Drinking Liberally election night party and knocked back a bunch of beers which affected me not at all: I felt gruesome and peculiar, like my head was the size of a particularly tacky mylar helium birthday balloon that was 4 feet above my body, and the beer was utterly nonconsequential. So I went to work on Wednesday, still with my head floating horribly above me, and people started saying, "You look awful. You should go home, and please don't breathe near us."

I went home. I went home at 3:00 and planned to sleep a bit, get up at 6:30 and make dinner. When I woke up at 8:30 to find the house empty, dark and messy, and my daughter calling on the phone to tell me she had fed my son fast food and cautiously enquiring if she could have the car for the rest of the evening, I lost it. I started screaming at both my children. I mean I hollered. I mean I yelled like there was no tomorrow and I said all kind of things, including that I was taking the car and leaving them both forever and they should consider themselves divorced: this was it, Mom was gone.

After they had hung up a bit startled, I started weeping, which I never do, and suddenly I realized that noone loved me and the smartest thing I could do was to take my pillow and blanket and go sleep on the floor of my office. This is the flu: when you think that if you just take your pillow and blanket to work everything will be fine. This is not coherent thought. My children came carefully home when I was in the throes of this and my son walked gently into my room.

"Mom?" he said, "Are you okay?"
"No!" I sobbed, "No, I'm not okay! I'm sick and alone and hungry and noone loves me! Noone will ever love me! I am alone!"
"Shut UP YOU EMO FREAK!" said my son (the joy of my life, this kid) and damned if it didn't work like a charm.
"Don't you DARE call me EMO!" I shrieked. "I was EMO before there was a NAME for EMO!" Which comment woke even me up into laughter.
"You," said my son, "Are acting like a total emo freak."
"Shut UP." I said, but happily now, "I can't help being emo if noone loves me and I'm sick and alone."
"Oh Mom," he said, "Cut that shit OUT."
And I felt better, got up and had some soup, and I've been getting better, bit by bit, ever since.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Cannot Resist

Billy Idol has a Christmas album. Be still, my heart - or stop beating faster at the apparent imminent apocalypse, anyway. This is all via Metafilter, by the way, and I was going to just email it to my brother with a snarky note, but then I actually watched listened to (couldn't . . .quite. . watch . . it. . too . . many. . snowflakes. . ) the Billy Idol version of White Christmas and it was so, uh, indescribable that I had to share it with all of y'all. Wow. Words fail me. And you know, Billy Idol is one of those people who I have always had a secret crush on, even though I know that the purer people and those with good musical taste scorn him, and like I also have a crush on Billy Bragg, who is like the anti-Billy Idol, so I realize that having crushes on both of them simultaneously could maybe make the universe explode, but still. Ever since I was a teenager and first saw the video of White Wedding, I can't help it, I've been subject to mild Billy Idol crush flareups.

But those snowflakes. My god, those snowflakes. They may have put a quiet blanket of white death on my Billy Idol crush forever.

I Have A Cold

I am sniffling and miserable and that is why there have been no posts lately. Also, if you didn't hear about it elsewhere, we mostly won the election. Me, I was too involved in the process of getting ill to enjoy the victory party much, but apparently the entire government is going to get better now. And Donald Rumsfeld resigned, which is awesome, and I seriously hope he is off somewhere in outer darkness weeping and gnashing his teeth. So, to sum up: Yay politics - clearly my year of attending Drinking Liberally has had a beneficial effect on the whole country and Boo colds - they're closing schools and churches and stuff all over this area because everyone has the flu, but I'm at work, moaning now and then.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I went to a big party on Saturday night at a big house that is also a more or less communal living situation. It was fun; I drank too much and danced to a Dead cover band and gave out a lot of my newly printed non business cards. They had an awesome bonfire and all in all it was nice and it reminded me of my misspent youth, specifically the portion of it I spent living in vaguely communal living situations. Since I haven't got a damn other thing I can think of that's going on right now and is remotely interesting to blog about, I'm going to tell you a story about when I lived on the Tick Ranch.

The Tick Ranch was a big semi farmhouse out in northern Baltimore County and I lived there with my then five year old daughter, six or seven other artists and a vast, varying number of dogs and washing machines. The dogs had a tendency to produce other dogs, you see, and so, surprisingly enough, did the washing machines. They broke down a lot and shortly after one died, someone would get fed up and find another half broken washing machine cheap and haul it home. We put the old ones in the yard and occasionally considered making an art project, or something, out of them. We called it the Tick Ranch because, as in all of rural Maryland, the surrounding woods and fields were teeming with ticks, and all the dogs brought them home to us on a regular basis.

At the party the other night I noticed that the inhabitants of that commune had a nicely organized job board up on the kitchen wall. We never got that organized, which is one of the reasons why the whole thing fell apart. Also, as I mentioned to one of the residents on Saturday night, we threw our parties in the middle of the summer, when it was warm and so we always lost all our sheets, since guests would wander off in pairs to the woods with a sheet or two and reappear an hour or so later, happy but sheetless. This is less likely to happen when it's 36 degrees outside. At any rate, the job board looked to me like a good idea since I have never forgotten the morning I came downstairs to find a really horrible doggie mess on the floor in the hallway.

There was no telling which end of a dog it came from, and certainly not which dog. It was large and odoriferous and truly terrible, and I was not the first person to encounter it. I could tell that, because the first person to encounter it had gone to the trouble to make small warning flags out of red paper and toothpicks and stick them in it and also to rope it off with a square of yellow police tape. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with communal living, and particularly the problem of communal living with artists. It was hilarious (if it had happened nowadays, we'd have put it up on Flickr) but, of course, it was still there. It remained there for some time. And that is today's instructive commune tale for you.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Painting Is Done

This is a painting/collage I did for the New French Bar in downtown Asheville. Soon, it will join the rest of their collection of local art - as a tabletop, having beer spilled on it, cigarettes ground out on it, you know: the appropriate treatment for art. ;-) I've been a museum person for long enough where this thought both horrifies and amuses me. I get tired of people being all precious about art. You make it, you use it, it goes away - some things need a lifespan.

Actually I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out - it's a thoroughly new medium for me. Acrylic on wood and then collaged with images from the internet & from me, printed on transparency. There are a couple of my own photos, normal prints, also in there. I'm also really glad they asked me to do it, since it got me working again. It had been ages since I sat down and made a painting. Now I'm all fired up again and want to go get some Fredrix of Hollywood canvases (I hate making stretchers and then stretching canvas - hate it, hate it, hate it) and more ink for the printer and more transparencies (which are expensive as FUCK, why can't I have a cheap hobby like leaf collecting or something?) and make more, more, more!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Hangover Journal Bus Project: Asheville Buses SUCK

I rode the bus again today. As you may or may not know, my daughter's car went belly up, died, was nailed to the perch and is currently providing charming condo space to varmints in my front yard. Therefore, for over a month now we have been a four person family with one car. The strain is beginning to show because the buses SUCK. Yes, they suck. I'm sorry, Brainshrub, but they SUCK donkey balls in hell.

My daughter ends up getting the car most of the time, because she works way the hell out Hendersonville Road and public transportation out to South Asheville and beyond is a sad, sick joke. The bus goes two or three times a DAY (yeah, a DAY, not an HOUR) and it does not stop between the Wal Mart and the Airport, a distance of 12 or so miles. Somewhere in the middle of those miles is where my daughter works. Note that this is still theoretically within Asheville city limits. She has found that the individual drivers are usually pretty nice about letting her out, although the people on the phone at the Asheville transit authority say that they're not allowed to, and if you need to get anywhere within those 12 miles you're just fucked, sorry. And then, once you've persuaded the driver to let you off somewhere, you still face walking down Hendersonville Road, which seems to have been specifically designed to discourage pedestrians. Or possibly it was designed by crows looking for human roadkill - something like that. At any rate it was taking A 3 to 4 hours to get to work via public transport, and then a taxi back home costs $30 (if you're not in Asheville, you may think that buses run all the time! Ha ha! You are so naive! The Asheville buses, my friend, just this year started running past 6:00 pm at all and now they quit at 10:00 pm, although in actual fact that really means 9:00 pm) so A gets the car most of the time. I, in turn, am taking the bus, because after all I work downtown, which is very close to West Asheville, and what the hell, I said. How bad could it be? Pretty damn bad.

M has been taking the buses for months now, because I have always felt that a teenager who can get himself around town is a happy teenager, and, more to the point, has a happy mother who doesn't have to be chauffering him on all his dubious teenage errands 24/7. M has complained bitterly about the buses, but I mostly ignored him, since M is 14 and complains bitterly about many things. Until lately, when I myself have started taking the buses and have discovered that they do, in fact, as I may have mentioned in the first paragraph, SUCK.

Why do the buses suck?

1. They are routinely late; that is, when they show up at all. The 9 bus I rode today was 35 minutes late - I stood out in the cold for 45 minutes tonight, waiting for the bus. Last Friday, after waiting for 40 minutes, I gave up and went to the bar and got a ride home from a friend.
2. They hardly ever run anyway. The buses that run between downtown and West Asheville run once an hour. Once. An. Hour.
3. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, they simply do not post. On Wednesday, I had to go pick M up at the bus station, since the 6:30 bus was just not going to happen. Tough shit, people. Wait another hour.
4. The people on the buses are scary. And I say that as a long time denizen of inner city Baltimore who has ridden buses and trains all over the east coast, through all of New York and Baltimore and DC and so on and so forth, not a naive young thing fresh from the suburbs but a woman who has routinely been lulled to sleep by the comforting roar of urban gunfire. Yet even to me, the people on the Asheville buses are actively frightening. Last week I ended up getting off the bus two stops early and hoofing it halfway up the hill because I really thought there might be a crack whore war and I was standing right between the two of them. Also, I had heard all the details I could take about Crack Whore A's big fight, subsequent months in the hospital, husband in jail and Mexican pimp.
5. A corollary to 5: the people on the buses are so damn depressing I can't stand it, and the advertising on the buses, which is pitched to the depressing scary people (i.e.: Sell Your Plasma Here!) is also deeply, deeply saddening and wrong. The class system in this country is wrong. The educational system is broken. And nowhere, nowhere, my friends, is that more evident than on the buses.
6. The bus that routinely goes to West Asheville, the #9, is tiny. It's the short bus, but it's packed full of people. It's packed full of people because a lot of people actually live in West Asheville, which you would think the transit authority would have noticed by now, but alas, not so.
7. A corollary to 6: Not everyone who is waiting for the bus can fit onto the tiny bus, so some people must wait for the next bus. An hour later.
8. If you are one of the lucky and or rude ones and have managed to squeeze yourself onto the tiny bus, then your trials are not over. The driver goes like a bat out of hell and the bus heels way over to the side on the turns and the rims of the tires scrape on the roadbed making sparks and frightening noises and you think you're going to die. I have never seen Clingman Avenue flash by so fast as when I'm on that bus - and I have driven it just about every single frickin' day for five and a half years. Some time soon that driver is going to kill a whole lot of people.
9. You never know where the driver is going to stop. It's totally fucking random. You push the stop requested thing or pull the little wire and he will stop. . .eventually. When he feels like it. When a sufficient number of bus stop signs have flashed by. Whatever. Walk, you stupid bus riding peon.
10. The bus maps and schedules are indecipherable, which doesn't really matter, which is why I put it last, since none of the drivers obey them anyway.

So fuck the Asheville buses. I am sorry to report that they suck most horrendously and you know, as a good little liberal type person, I went into this really wanting to like them, but I can't, because (did I say this already?) they SUCK.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Alpha Dog

Puppy is the alpha dog now. We pretend his name is Django, but he doesn't know it and we don't call him that. We call him Puppy, because this is a household of four fairly bright, fairly creative, extremely verbal types. . . who call their puppy Puppy. I realized that he had become the alpha dog today, when Theo stood back gloomily and let Puppy have his pick of the doggy dinners. For a while there, Theo was in charge of which dog ate out of which bowl; this was a time in which Theo grew fat. Now, though, Theo hangs his head and lets Puppy have the first go at both bowls.

My first emotion was to feel sad for Theo, but then I realized: Theo doesn't want to be the alpha dog. I empathize strongly with that, because I'm not alpha either. I know I'm not alpha because I went to one of those PR meet n' greet thingies this afternoon with some of the WNC tourism movers and shakers. I used to dread these thingies and not take them seriously but nowadays I have decided that my ass depends on networking like a motherfucker. So I am networking, which isn't really too hard, because at this point I've actually known most of these people for years (and by know I mean seen at a bunch of cardboard chicken luncheons and smiled and exchanged business cards with) and they're all really pretty nice and so what the hell? I'm going to get a new boss sometime soon and if s/he isn't to my liking, I'll be back out there with the resumes. This is how I know I'm not an alpha: I am not applying to be my own boss, and several people I saw this afternoon who hadn't seen me since my year's hiatus from the tourism scene said, on hearing about my place of employment, "Oh, did you take the director's job?"

No. No, I didn't, and I don't want it, and frankly I don't want to be in charge of anything at all, really. If I was in charge at a real job I couldn't fiddle around with photoshop or do elaborate Excel to Word mail merge letters, which, take it from me, is the absolute best thing to do when you're hopelessly hungover at the office, which might have happened to you the day after Halloween. I know that this state often happens to people the day after Halloween, because some people are incapable of staying quietly home on Halloween and instead must go off to the bars to see the costumed masses and in the process drink entirely too much beer and stay up until quarter to two in the morning, which is a really bad idea on a Tuesday night.

That is why some people are not out at Drinking Liberally but instead are quietly at home on this Thursday night, like the actual dedicated and good employees and homebodies and mothers and carer for alpha Springer Spaniel puppies that they, in fact, are, despite their occasional resemblance to wild drunken revelers. But you see, if you are an alpha dog, you can't ever shed those responsible moments and act like a wild drunken reveler but instead must be sober and responsible at all times: among other, more pressing reasons, you'll be the first one called when the alarm goes off for no apparent reason at 2 in the morning, and if you'd been revelling, that could get ugly. So fuck being alpha. I can take being second at the food bowl if it also means that I get to be second or third when the shit hits the fan.