Sunday, December 31, 2006

Heart Attacks, Pictures of the Day & New Years Eve

Well, my friend S is having a party after all so I do have something to do for New Years Eve. Wooo hoooo. It's pouring rain, blah. Also in the blah category, I think I might be dying or something - I've been having weird as hell chest pains, pressure & dizziness for like 24 hours now. This is about the third time this has happened in the last ten days, too, most notably on Christmas Eve, when I also thought I was dying and yet, I lived. So this morning I thought I would go to the emergency room; however, as the day wore on and I didn't actually kick the bucket, I changed my mind.

Fuck it. If I'm going to croak, it'll be the kids' problem and not mine. They'll recover eventually and my problems will be over. Sure, it isn't a very good time for me to die for young M, but at least he's not like 8 or something. He's 15 and yeah, still needs his mother, if only for her chicken nugget heating abilities, but he'll be okay. So I decided that I'll wait until Tuesday & make an appointment with a doctor then. I have been a) under a lot of stress, which often tends to work itself out in physical ways and b) sick with a lingering cold/flu-y virus for the same 10 days which probably means that all this is just some symptom of that. Also, I have like hardly any risk factors for heart disease - in fact, just one, the smoking, which, as we know, stopped a month ago. Yes. One whole month without smokes. Dude.

But anyway, should I buy the farm, well, it's been great knowing you, happy 2007, please have a gigantic drunken Irish wake in my honor & if you could arrange a Viking funeral, that would rock.

Assuming my continued life, I'm going to start a new bloggie/photo project tomorrow right here at the Hangover Journals and also at Flickr. 365 Days is a project whereby I'm going to post a picture every single day for all of 2007. This doesn't mean I'm going to stop or change my blogging habits all that much - it just means that there will be a lot more images, which may mean a bit less text. Or it may not. We shall see. I'm excited about it and I think it will end up being kind of cool.

So, like, HAPPY NEW YEARS! 2007 already; damn, it's the future, when do I get my flying car?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Stolen Car!

A's car has disappeared. No, not her new car, which is so Republican Grandma that she'll never, ever get pulled over, but her old car, which has been sitting in the driveway for about four months now. Yes, the old gray Saturn with the bolted on hood, broken windshield, cracked door, split engine block and fucked up transmission that barely ran, essentially didn't run, got stolen. It was the car that nobody wanted, or at least we thought it was, until somebody, for some inscrutable and extremely puzzling reason, stole it. Today. In broad daylight, at some point between around noon, when M's friend I left the house and 5:30ish, when A came home from Charleston with her new car and stormed into the house demanding to know where her old car was.

M and I had no idea that it was even gone, which is fairly pathetic, I grant you. But that driveway isn't that close to the house and frankly I have spent the day in my pajamas doing nothing whatsoever on the kitchen computer until it crashed too many times (I think it's a bad sound card, but that's another story). M spent the day lying on the couch with the curtains drawn watching The Mummy Returns and eating leftover Chinese food. The dogs may have barked or they may not: noone pays any attention to them when they do bark anyway, because mostly they bark at other dogs, so we've learned to ignore them.

It's so bizarre it passes understanding. I thought maybe one of the neighbors had reported it as abandoned and the city had towed it away, but the cops said that no, they don't take cars out of people's driveways. If you were looking for a car to steal from my house today, why not take mine? It's also an old Saturn, but it has the vast advantages of not only actually running, but having a full windshield as well. The whole thing is totally inexplicable and the timing is awful, because A actually has a buyer for it. He would have taken it away last week but she couldn't find the title, so they were going to go together to the title office next week and formally sign it over. Now he's mad too and we all drove around the neighborhood looking for the damn thing on the theory that it couldn't possibly have gone more than about three blocks under its own power but it was nowhere to be found.

Friday, December 29, 2006

dogs at the park at sunrise 2

See? There they are: frost on the grass, smoke on the water, fire or at least jet streams in the sky and me, shivering around the tripod. Nothing like being out in the freezing sunrise to make you think deep thoughts about mortality and doom - or, actually, not. Mostly it just made me think of coffee and light and whether I could work the camera with mittens on and why, oh god, a puppy would want to break through the ice to play in the freezing mirey water in the slough and shit oh god, he's going to get into the car like that, isn't he?

Waiting for Good Karma

Today is one of those days where I think the gods should send some kind of reward my way. I mean, I got up at 7:00 and took the dogs to the frozen park where they ran happily for an hour and I trudged equally happily around with my new tripod and took a bunch of fairly mediocre pictures of the park and the river and the blurry dogs. Still. 7:30 am and 25 degrees - don't I rate a reward of some kind? Not to mention that I'm going to work with my cold, like I did yesterday: I've just been pretty damn good lately.

No smoking, barely drinking, doing laundry, cooking dinner, keeping the house clean (okay, I grant you that one,) walking the dogs, not killing the puppy even when I find one of my favorite shoes half chewed up in the mud and, perhaps most importantly of all, persisting with holiday traditions despite the fact that both my children made it clear that they would far rather have been tortured on the rack rather than face another family holiday of any sort. And you know what I'm planning for New Years Eve? Cleaning the house and baking bread! Yeah! Party ON!

Sheesh. Maybe some opportunity to be bad will come along. Either that or I better win the lottery, you hear me, gods of fortune?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Good, Bad, Good, Ugly & So On

I played hooky today. I hardly ever do such a thing and honestly, I don't know why, when I called in, I lied and said I was sick. That is to say, I am, actually, sick, but not really sick enough not to work, just sick with this measly cold/sore throat thing that won't quite go away and won't quite get really bad.

What actually happened was that I had to drive A to Columbia SC to catch a bus to Charleston. Why? Why, you ask, did I have to do this? A's dad said he would give her a car if she would get herself down to Charleston within a certain amount of time and so, it behooved us to get her there, since I am sick unto death of sharing my car. But it wasn't easy, since, thanks I think to Homeland Security or something, you can barely rent a car one way anymore. Only Herz & Avis will do it out of state, and they won't do it, period, full stop, for drivers under 25. A is 24 in 2 weeks. And so on and so forth and I won't bore you with the full, lengthy, endless rigmarole story of all this and the guy at the Herz counter at the Asheville airport who was a certified true blue total asshole and so on. So in desperation I said, okay, I will drive you to Columbia to take the bus. Because the bus from Asheville to Charleston takes 11 hours, you see - for a 4 hour trip by car - and that would have put her there outside the time limit. The bus takes one hour to get to Greenville and two hours to get from Columbia to Charleston, but it takes 8 hours to go from Greenville to Columbia. Public transportation, American southeast, end of 2006: forget it. Either have a car or you ain't getting there.

So we went off to Columbia this morning and barely made it to the bus in time and it was all exciting and yet a royal PITA and then I saw all the signs for the exit to the Riverbanks Zoo and I thought, you know what? Since I am already playing hooky it is time to have some fun while I'm at it. It's odd, but this is not the first time I have played hooky in Columbia: when I was about 16 or so, my friend A and I cut school and drove my mother's Jeep Wagoneer to Columbia. We had no idea what to do when we got there and no money, so we went to a record store, pooled our change to buy a hotdog and drove back. Big exciting 16 year old day: I've never forgotten it. Now that I am old, playing hooky has incrementally improved, since I had money & a destination and so, off to the zoo I went. I had a marvelous time - it's a nice zoo, although I was kind of surprised by the places where you could buy food & feed the animals, which is not something I associate with your modern zoo; also, they had pony rides. It was way cool. I took many, many pictures and wandered along happily in a zoo inspired daze and even bought an ugly coffee cup at the souvenir stand.

And so, all would have been great with my world, fabulous and happy and etcetera, except that when I got about halfway between Airport Road & Long Shoals Road on I 26 coming back into Asheville traffic came to a dead standstill and all my plans for the evening, which involved looking at my pictures and doing laundry and meeting my friend J for a beer, came crashing to a halt because I was dumb enough not to get off at Long Shoals but to think that perhaps the jam would end really soon. It did not. Not only that, but about halfway between Long Shoals and Brevard Road, the oil light started blinking in my car. Now, I know little about cars, but I know that when that light shows up you are supposed to turn the car off and leave it off until you get oil into it. Unfortunately, this was basically not possible, because it would quite literally have taken about four to five hours for anyone to get to me with oil, given the traffic jam. I thought about parking and climbing up to the Parkway and trying to get someone to meet me with a couple quarts of oil up there on the Parkway bridge and then climbing back down and putting oil in the car, but my heart quailed within me and I chickened out. All of which is a long winded way of saying that I drove my car five incredibly, unbelievably slooooooooooooow miles to Brevard Road and then poured two quarts of oil into it and then drove slowly home because Brevard Road is backed up too and in the middle of all this I had a nervous breakdown or two and screamed at my friend, my son, the sky and myself. Which is all very bad, especially because when I got home (it took me over an hour to get from Long Shoals Road to my house, which is to say like 11 miles) and found that the puppy had spread the bathroom trash all over the house again, I lost it again and screamed some more. And threw things. I am a bad person and I'm beginning to think I had really better start smoking again before I kill someone.

Then I decided not to do laundry - fuck laundry - but instead to drink a beer at home and I called my friend and told her I couldn't meet her and I told my son that a) I would drop his laundry off to be done by other people tomorrow and b) I couldn't cook anything except canned chicken noodle soup and c) I was unable to take him to the record store and then I looked at all my pictures and now I'm back to thinking it wasn't such a bad day after all. Phew.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sniffles & Trifles & A Couple of Recipes

Well, I've been issued my personal version of the cold that all Buncombe county residents must, by law, have this December. Sore throat, sniffles, stomach ache, dizzy out of it feelings - I've got it all. But actually, on a horrible dreary day like this one, I've been just as happy to do nothing but slowly make my way occasionally from the bedroom to the kitchen, pausing en route to admire the complete disgusting mess that is my house. It's a nice respite from all the frantic activity of yesterday & the days before.

Also, I've been tipsy all day from repeated forays into the leftover trifle. Mmmmm, trifle is really good if you load it down with about a half a pint of dark rum and it just keeps on getting better. Actually, if I do say so myself, there's been some stellar food around here the past couple of days and yesterday, when I made Christmas dinner at my mother's was no exception. It was a little fraught though - it turns out that my mother thinks I have always overcooked my green beans (oh, quelle horreur) and, get this, the reason noone in the family has ever been able to duplicate my mother's potatos, which she has always called Pennsylvania Railroad Potatos, is because she uses a stick of butter for every three potatos. Yes. A. Whole. Stick. We grew up eating those; it's a wonder that we grew up at all. So here, have some recipes.

Night before night before Christmas fancy chicken
Boneless skinless chicken breasts
bleu cheese
a little lemon juice
1. Put the breasts between two sheets of wax paper and whale on them with a rolling pin until they're nice & thin. Salt & pepper them.
2. Mix up the figs and the bleu cheese and the garlic and the mushrooms and a little lemon juice in the food processor. It is possible that I had sauteed the mushrooms first; I totally can't remember. They were baby bellas, though.
3. Spread this stuff on each breast.
4. Roll the breasts up.
5. Wrap the rolls in pancetta.
6. Bake in the oven at 375 for about half an hour, 40 minutes or until done. Finish under the broiler to make crispy.
Very elegant and gourmet, also delicious. I served it with risotto (used the recipe from the back of the arborio rice bag) and green beans.

Yellow cake. (I made a Duncan Hines classic yellow cake box cake the day before, you could also buy pound cake or whatever, really.)
A can of vanilla pudding
A can of lemon pie filling
1/2 a pineapple
2 kiwis
1/2 a plastic grocery store freezer thing of sliced strawberries in syrup - thawed.
1 bag of frozen berry/cherry mix, which is to say, frozen fruit leaning towards the strawberry/blueberry/cherry end as opposed to the melon-y end of the frozen fruit spectrum. Thawed.
coconut. I used the flaked canned kind with sugar.
whipped cream (I did this myself but what the hell, you could use the canned kind.)
At least half a bottle of dark rum.
A trifle bowl.
1. Find & wash the trifle bowl. You probably had a plant in it at some point; god knows I did.
2. Cut the cake up into big chunks and put a layer of them on the bottom of the bowl.
3. Cut up the pineapple & the kiwis and put them on top of the cake.
4. Pour some rum over all that.
5. Put another layer of cake chunks down.
6. Pour the vanilla pudding and about half the lemon pie filling on top of that layer of cake.
7. More rum!
8. Another, probably final, layer of cake chunks.
9. Put the strawberries & berries on top of that.
10. Sprinkle the whole thing with coconut.
11. Rum! By god, more rum! Soak that thing!
12. You could, of course, keep on going with the layers indefinitely, given a big enough trifle bowl and infinite fruit. Or you could stop, whatever. I stopped here.
14. Cover and leave the hell alone for at least 4 hours. If it's going to be longer than that, put it in the fridge.
15. Before serving, add the whipped cream to the top all pretty & peaky like.
This is remarkably delicious, especially the next day.

Mom's Pennsylvania Railroad Potatos
9 or 12 or so biggish russet potatos
a metric shitload of real butter
1. Boil the potatos.
2. When they're almost but not quite done, dump them in cold water to cool off.
3. Put a stick (yup. One whole stick.) of butter in a heavy pan and melt over medium heat. Don't let it ever get too hot.
4. Take a potato out of the water. Peel it.
5. Holding it over the butter, cut it into quarters, then slice those quarters into the hot butter so you have thin triangles in there.
6. Repeat, but only do as many potatos as fit nicely into the pan.
6. Leave alone.
7. Stir very rarely.
8. When they begin to look brown, add some chopped scallions and chopped parsley.
9. When they are indubitably brown, put them into a big oven type pan. Salt & pepper.
10. Continue with the butter (yeah. I couldn't bring myself to use that much butter either, but my potatos were totally not as good.) and the potatos until they're all done, never putting too many in the pan and resisting the temptation to stir them a lot.
11. Then put the whole thing into a 350 oven for a while until the entree is done. They'll wait indefinitely, just sitting there in their artery clogging buttery goodness.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas and All That

Live blogging from the wreckage of the dining room, this is coming to you direct from THE NEW COMPUTER! YEAH! It's set up and working and hooked up to the intarnets and EVERYTHING, baby! So that's our big exciting Christmas news - we are now officially geeky, a two computer household. Just in time, too, since old computer has gotten really crotchety and miserable. But it will soon, soon be happier, because I'm gonna fix it all up.

Christmas is moving along nicely, actually. The only problem is that we were visited in the night by the Christmas cold fairy, and all of us are sniffling and sore throaty and a bit out of it. I personally have been feeling for several days like I'm orbiting the third ring of Saturn, but then that's hardly news.

Everyone got nice presents yet managed to complain anyway. The dogs each got a large ball and a large bone: Theo turned up his nose at the ball and stole half of Django's bone, which made Django sad. Then they both got thirsty and nearly knocked over the Christmas tree trying to drink the water out of the stand. M got lots of clothes which didn't make him entirely happy, since he's still young enough where clothes don't seem like they should be presents, but too old for toys: an awkward age indeed. A got lots of clothes and other stuff which should make her happy, yet she was not happy, because none of these clothes added up to the perfect Christmas afternoon outfit. I got a tripod, which was what I really wanted, but I managed to get cranky about it anyway, since A & her newly made up with boyfriend J bought it for me and I felt that they should spend their money on getting a goddamn place of their own to live in rather than on expensive presents. On the other hand I really, really, really wanted a tripod. The gods bless my brothers though, because they gave everyone gift certificates, and gift certificates are GOOD, and my mother is the Santa Claus who delivered this shiny new computer, yay, upon which I am typing, if I didn't mention that already: yay, yay, and yay some more.

And I hope that all of you are wrangling along as nicely as we all are, because complaining means we're alive and for this family anyway, it seems to be Just the Way It Is. Love & Peace & All That Good Shit to you! Merry Christmas, ho, ho, ho!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Stress Rising

Well, we're only two days away from Christmas and the stress is thick enough to cut with a knife. M & A & I are all at each other's throats already: yay, Christmas. We walked out of the Five Points Diner this morning because they were out of Coca Cola: this is extreme even for me. But I needed coke this morning, because last night I was out with both my brothers. Naturally, because I was wearing the second most hideous item of clothing I own, I ran into not one but two of the cutest guys in Asheville. Death take me now: I have been seen in a Christmas sweater. Yes. Yes I own one and yes it has bows and little wreaths on it, but that doesn't mean that they had to be so mean about it. Or maybe it does. It was pretty funny: the whole conversation about how the Christmas sweater was controlling my brain, making me say bright and perky things, removing my cynicism and making me love the baby jesus. Or maybe not going quite that far.

This morning as we all spat at each other, leaving one diner and heading for another, I broke down and accused my kids of hating me, hating each other and hating Christmas. "No, we don't!" they cried, "We love each other and we love Christmas." "Oh," I said, slightly mollified, "Well, I guess that's alright then."

But it isn't. Everyone is freaking out now; M is standing behind me with a litany of Christmas misery and god, this is getting old. I like Christmas. But I'm beginning to wish I could go like Christmas all alone, in a cave in Tibet.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Insect's Christmas

Merry Creepy Christmas from long, long ago. This is some amazing stop motion animation and extremely, uh, weird. Enjoy! (via Metafilter)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

7 Crows

I saw 7 black crows this morning, sitting in a bare black tree against a gray and misty sky. This is clearly portentous, although not exactly clear. I tried counting, but I couldn't remember what seven crows mean. I was kind of hoping it meant a hot date, but it turns out it's either a secret, a witch or the Devil himself, who I already dated. And the secret, bah, not in this electronic age or a witch, hell, this is Asheville: half my friends are witches. So now I have to go off to work with that itching ominous feeling - there's been an omen! A prophecy! Of. . . something very small, like the light turning at the right or wrong time. That's the problem with prophecies: they're so opaque and you never know exactly what they're getting at.

I don't know why writers, me included, always feel compelled to note that the crows are black. It's not like crows come in any other color, at least not on this boring bloody planet. If I'd seen shocking pink crows, now, or lime green ones, or yellow with black checks, well, then that would be an Omen. And a black tree: most trees are, after all, black a little before sunrise, and it's December, and the branches are bare. Actually, I love that. I love bare branches against a winter sky - it's just so much more, I don't know, aesthetically pleasing. Calligraphic. As are crows, come to think of it, when they're moving across the sky and even when they're hunched against it, like this guy, whose picture I took another early morning in the same neighborhood. He's my local omen crow, I guess.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm Done

My Christmas shopping is OVER. That's it; I'm done; one hairy, dizzy, awe inspiring (and by awe, I don't necessarily mean anything good, here, but more along the shock & awe lines) visit to the Evil Empire and it is all complete, thank you bebby jeebus. Well. Except for possibly one accoutrement to a friend's gift. And unless I get a wild hair. I even sent out almost all of my Christmas cards, which is truly miraculous, since usually what happens is I spend hours slaving over the damn things and then I never mail them, so I have shoeboxes of old cards that never got mailed laying around. This year I got smart & was creative on the computer and let winkflash print them for me and they were cheap and fast and hell, DONE. This years card is pictured here; if you want one email me and I will mail you one. Maybe.

So I woke up really early this morning for no apparent reason except that the dogs woke up too early and made scratchy jingly noises and then, after I had gotten over being pissed off about that and also given up on getting back to sleep I started thinking about self fulfilling prophecies and the power of positive thinking and I had this way inspirational blog post all ready for you but then, as one will, I did manage to fall back to sleep precisely 12 minutes before the alarm went off and thus, alas, it was lost. The short version is this, though: if you are a teacher bringing kids on a field trip to the museum and you accuse them of stealing before they even get in the door by saying, "Don't you dare steal anything! Don't take anything! Don't put anything in your pocket and sidle out the door!" then the kids will steal stuff like crazy. If you do not say anything at all about stealing and act like you never ever even heard of anyone ever stealing anything, anywhere, then the rate of petty pilferage will drop to almost nothing. So extrapolate from that and run with it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday Music

I confess, I am a total sucker for holiday music. I always have been, beginning in the days when I was rejected, year after year, for the elementary school choir. Teacher: "Almost! You're almost there, Felicity! Maybe next year!" I mean, wtf was she waiting for? My voice to break? I'm a girl, a, and b, if your chorister's voices are breaking in elementary school choir than you have more issues than a nice arrangement of the Gaudeamus will solve. At any rate, I still like it. A good version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen can make me weak at the knees and the other day, when I was awakened by the Persuasions version of Joy to the World, I was just overcome with all this holiday feeling. I mean it was like I got to leave the Island of Misfit Toys for a moment. A brief moment, yeah, but a good moment. Dude.

Anyway. All of this is just a prod to send you over to my friend grabbingsand's blog, where you will find a really fantastically wonderful holiday mix, just for you. Enjoy. I sure as hell am.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Disconnected Rants N' Rambles

I haven't been able to think of anything consistent to post about - I think it's part of the quitting smoking thing: my mind doesn't seem to be connecting things very well. I have a theory about this, actually, which even contains within it an explanation for why my stomach has hurt pretty much solidly since I quit; it's pretty gross, so you may wish to skip to the next paragraph. Still here? You're the one with the gross out wish. (Like my kids, who, when they pull some milk out of the fridge and smell it and find that it's totally disgusting, immediately say, "Smell this!") Anyhow, smoking produces mucus, right? It makes all the million creepy little cilia things that your whole insides are lined with (ewwwwwwwwwww!) work overtime creating mucus to coat all the surfaces in your body so that the smoke won't irritate them too much. Over time, your body gets addicted to mucus. The mucus feels good, like jello wrestling:(I have this twisted lifetime ambition to dive into a swimming pool of raspberry jello, yes, yes I do) it's all slick and smooth and slippery. Albeit disgustingly mucusy, also brown, right, from the tobacco. (Braaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!) So your brain uses all that mucus to conduct thoughts from one synapse to another, because it's electrically conductive. Yeah, it is, and so are your thoughts, which bop about all electrically like little yellow zig zags. I think vaseline is too; or something like that; I have a vague memory of a filmstrip about making something electrical in the manner of the Young Scientist. Billy was in black and white and said "Keen!" as he applied vaseline to a potato. No, that's not dirty - get your mind out of the gutter, you perv. Meanwhile, your stomach is also all coated with mucus which means that nothing really hurts it because it can't get through the thick globby layer. Isn't this horrible? Did you like my barfing sound effect? Then, when you quit smoking, your brain hasn't got any electrical mucus tobacco jelly for the synapses to fire through and your stomach doesn't have any mucusy defensive shield against evil shit like fried things or black coffee and so you just sort of fall apart. Hopefully you get better eventually though. Hopefully.

That is, unless it isn't the quitting smoking that has fried my stomach but instead the deep fried little debbie snack cake I ate directly before becoming deathly ill for three days which is, as we know, what led to the smoking cessation. Do you think it's possible that a deep fried ho ho can destroy your intestines forever? The Brits apparently eat them regularly and they're mostly still alive. Hmmmmm.

This has been a public service message brought to you by my years of medical training, which consist mostly of a) ancient magazines from waiting rooms and b) a slightly overactive imagination.

This is the next paragraph, which isn't gross, but is also going to be way short, because I can't think of much to say. I'm having one of those hormonal evenings where I get terribly sad over really stupid shit but then I almost immediately am able to realize how utterly idiotic that is so I laugh a little, which makes the incipient tears come out and causes people in Ingles to look at me uneasily and steer their shopping carts away. This guy tried to sell me mistletoe in the parking lot: I didn't buy any because I thought, "Well, hell, of all the pointless things for me to get - mistletoe? Who am I going to kiss, the dog? Ewww, he gives too much tongue anyway." Which of course made me all sad but then I realized what a total drip I was to get teary eyed over mistletoe being sold in a parking lot by a suspicious looking guy from a brown paper bag - contraband mistletoe, probably.

And this paragraph isn't gross either, and it's really just a short lament on the fact that other people appear to be able to put up Christmas lights that look like Christmas lights instead of some kind of demented blinking floor show put on by developmentally delayed Martians. Honestly, I do try, but somehow I just can never hang things up straight or hide the wires or make it all look, I don't know, grown up. I think I'm just eternally halfassed, but, oh well, what the hell, that's okay. At least I don't smoke anymore.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Brief Poem of Woe About Tights

Why are there no tights for tall people?
Why do they lie so blatantly on labels, where they say
One size fits all
Because it does not
Unless I am not one of all
Which is possible but depressing.
And the labels say these tights will fit women up to 5'10" and 150 pounds
I am 5'10.5" and 160 pounds or okay, a little more, but who's counting?

Woe to the tights manufacturers
And also unto the manufacturers of leggings
Particularly the cheap pair I tried to wear today
That had a butt built in
of all peculiar things
But were tight around the thighs, making me walk funny
And They Fell Down All Day.

Woe to the small skinny short girls with their tights
Argyle and plum and striped, with skulls and paisleys and fun polka dots
Sneering short girls with groovy tights
that I will never have
If I am lucky I can find tights, maybe
Off black, a horrid misnomer for a strange and moldy grey, with control top
Oh control tops which should be regulated by the Geneva conventions
For they are cruel and unusual and make
The fat rise up to your neck
It has to go somewhere.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This is a portrait of one of my ancestors, proving for all time that I had some seriously dorky ancestors with highly peculiar ideas of how to dress their kids. I post it now for your enjoyment because I meant to do a far more interesting post, but alas, I've been sucked in to Every few years I get interested in genealogy and do something dumb like join or buy some family tree software. I don't know exactly what I'm looking for - evidence that weirdness is in my blood and bones, maybe? Some explanation for young M? The alcoholism gene, coupled neatly with the restlessness gene, as I misheard it explained on a morning public radio talk show some ten years ago? - but I do know I never find it. That may be because my enthusiasm wanes so very, very quickly. It's a royal pain, looking up all those records, and is one of those evil sites that charge you extra money every time you think you might have a lead. I hate that. I refuse to pay extra; it's as bad as not letting you get emails unless you pay them, the bastards. It's already ridiculously expensive and I wish they would fuck off with their intimations that not knowing when your grandparents died is somehow declasse. Ancestry, not Match, although I wouldn't put it past them.

According to family legend and rumor, I come from a long line of crazed gothic Southern Irish aristocracy. There's frighteningly little evidence to support this claim despite the miasma of secret doom, fin de siecle ennui and faded grandeur that surrounds me. Which, granted, I may just be imagining - that could be damp and dog fur, true. It's even possible that my whole family tree was made up; nobody was ever particularly forthcoming about any of it. When I was a child, I was sure that the reason we seemed to have hardly any relatives and all references to ancestry were veiled and murmured (and usually discussed only through the bottom of a bottle) was because my father was a spy, or there was some terrible secret in the family tree. As an adult I'm beginning to think that they were just all too lame to remember anything. Except, okay, there is this tendency on the part of the women of the family to go mad. These things happen in the best families, after all.

And then there is the undeniable existence of these weird cousins who come out of the woodwork whenever there's a funeral, eat a lot and then fade away again. I've always wondered who the hell they are; I'll never know, since the vast majority of that branch of the family have died off now. I think. There is the one who went off and became a Mormon, and then there's the one who works tirelessly for the anti abortion people, but she creeps us all out and we do not speak of her. Bunch of goddamn wackos, my father would say with some satisfaction. Jesus Christ, Felicity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nativity Scene

Every Christmas, I set up a nativity scene. (When I was a kid, we used to call it a creche, but nobody seems to know what that means anymore, so I have to use the far clunkier term nativity scene.) I set it up because my mother had an old one that she set up every year, and I inherited it, and when I lost it through a combination of stupidity, youth and a too rapid move, I was eaten up with guilt until I managed to acquire a reasonable facsimile of my own. The thing is, though, I'm not at all religious, which will, I know, not come as much of a shock to most of y'all. And what little religion I possess, when I possess it, which isn't always, tends far more along vaguely hippie Celtic Wiccan Buddhist Taoist Pagan Mushroom Cult Quaker Theosophist Subgenius Dr. Bronner's Soap Whacko lines. Lines that, in other words, don't tend so much towards the I Wub Bebby Jeebus aesthetic but more to the "let's go drink some wassail and have mad world regenerating sex on the sacred stones in the snow." While meditating, naturally. God is within, yo, all one soap: dilute! Dilute!

Yet I continue year after year with the nativity scene. I've always tried to make it sort of multi ethnic, what with the tiny Christmas tree in there and the nutcracker and Santa Claus. This year I scored with a bright pink tinsel mini tree, vividly lit up with pink bulbs, which goes so awesomely with Joseph and the Wise Men and the Drummer Boy and the Angel and the Camel and the Cow and the Sheep and the Bagpipe Player (don't ask. An ex-boyfriend with both musical ability and Scottish ancestry who felt, in the way of Leos, that he should be represented uh, everywhere.) Then there's Mary, naturally, the co-star, except for some bizarre reason she's wearing a red dress, which makes my art historian self get all tingly and dizzy and out of whack. It's good to have reality altered a little although I cannot figure out why anyone would put Mary in a red dress. I mean, we all know what a red dress means. Maybe it's the Magdalene, although if she was there at Jesus' birth apparently aged 20something than I am totally heading off to embrace my long lapsed quasi Catholicism for its sympathetic understanding of those intergenerational romances and then I am going to get me a hot young thing to keep the winter at bay.

I don't stop decorating with the Jesus freaks. I usually put a couple of Buddhas in as well and possibly Ganesh or whatever other gods I happen to have lying around - I just got a nifty little Set, actually - so that everyone's included. I also made sure that I got a properly scaled dog for my nativity scene - the Bible doesn't mention Jesus' dog, but there had better have been one: dogs are awesome at sitting around mangers guarding babies from possibly rabid camels and lambs. And dogs are, of course, god like - much more so than infants, no matter how exalted their parentage; I've had both and I know.

So there it is, in the dining room this year. I haven't added the other gods or the goat horns or the mistletoe yet, but I will, I will. I like it. Because it's a party, you know, this midwinter birth, this solstice thing - and the more the merrier.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Which X-Man Are You?

Which of the X-Men Are You?This quiz is really stupid but surprisingly accurate. At least for me. At least I think so. I totally stole it from Edgy Mama, too.
You Are Iceman

You tried to live a normal life, but it just wasn't possible
A bit of a slacker, you rather tell jokes than cultivate your powers

Powers: turning self and others into ice, making ice weapons, becoming nearly invisible


There were hairy electricians in my office today; hairy, sleepy eyed electricians with large overalls and power tools. I had to go downstairs and use my other office, a.k.a. the front desk, and they disconnected the printer and made lots of noise: Mondays. I went to work early, as I will have to go to work early for the next couple of weeks while my daughter (who is currently undergoing a bad breakup and a new job and is thus less than delightful company) gets her schedule together. When I got home I had to go to the laundromat and the children made rude jokes about yesterdays lasagna. So, okay, strictly speaking it was not lasagna. The lasagna noodles were full of bugs, and anyway there were less than I thought, so it became a sort of spaghetti casserole a la lasagna, which apparently wigged the kids right the hell out. I had no idea they were such purists, such devotees of classic Italian cuisine. I half expected them to call the lasagna police on me. And when I got home from the laundromat the puppy had naturally thrown up in technicolor around the dining room: he's been eating ornaments off the Christmas tree. Now we have to worry about him as well although I cynically think that he can digest a little thing like a glass ball (or two) with no trouble at all.

One week, one day, 20 hours, 59 minutes and 35 seconds. 88 cigarettes not smoked, saving $17.75. Life saved: 7 hours, 20 minutes. So far, so good, or so awful - I still haven't smoked and I even went to the Westville and had one slow miserable beer at the bar this evening. Supposedly it will all get better in another week; just one more, one more week to hold out and I'll be able to go for more than a few minutes without thinking about cigarettes. It's like having a urinary tract infection - when you have one, all you can think about is peeing and your urinary tract, but when you don't have one you simply never think about your urinary tract. You go days, in fact, without thinking about it even once. When I was smoking I didn't spend hours thinking about it all the time: I just did it. Now, I have to relearn how to live without smoking and all I'm hoping is that soon I can do it without my whole head being taken up fighting the urge to smoke.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Holiday Spirit

I finally got it together today and got the holiday decorations up. First I threw a hissy fit though, because my mother very nicely gave me a Christmas tree. She lives in a retirement community where they're not supposed to have trees or lights so they won't set the place on fire (my feeling on this is that if they can't be trusted with Christmas lights they probably shouldn't be trusted with objects of real danger, like toasters and coffee machines, but whatever) but in previous years my mother had calmly flouted this rule. This year, however, she got the tree, had the tree guys set it up in a stand and suddenly had a guilt attack. So I got the tree. Which is a nice tree. But it blew my fantasy of going off to a tree farm with the children in the snow, tra la, and singing carols, tra la, as our happy family cut down a defenseless piny forest denizen. Tra la. Of course this is just a fantasy, since in reality neither of my horrid children gives a good goddamn about Christmas except for the parts that involve presents. But I had my heart set on it, like I do every year, hope over experience and all that, and I'd even printed out the list of tree farms. I was leaning towards the one that proudly advertised that it had a restroom - it harkens back to simpler times, when indoor plumbing was a marvel that should be exclaimed over - when my mother called to tell me that instead I had just won a free tree, come and get it. A was vocally relieved, but I got all upset: I mean, how dare they give me a free gorgeous tree that's much nicer than any tree I could afford? Tobacco deprivation can do some strange things to your brain. My mother and brother had some pointed comments to make about the poor little match girl, waiting all year to go to a tree farm, so very few good things ever happen to her, boo hoo. Yeah, okay. I did take the tree.

To cheer myself up I went off and bought more lights with the money I saved, though, so that worked out very nicely, and it is a really pretty tree. After I did the outdoor lights (good thing I got new lights, since a bunch were dead as roadkill, including my favorite stars, damn it) I started on the tree. Tree decorating involves, of course, putting on a Santa hat and listening to Christmas music. It's supposed to involve the children albeit preferably smaller than they actually are, and cleaner than they ever actually were, and wearing clothes that they have never actually even owned. In my personal holiday fantasy I should be sipping sherry while my handsome husband puts up the lights and the kids, in velvet, say adorable Christmasy things and compete (politely. With no shoving.) to hang their favorite ornaments and we all reminisce a lot about Christmases past. Ah, it's a lovely evening. Or it's supposed to be. What actually happens is I drink a couple of PBRs (sherry is gross) and decorate the tree alone; A drives off in my car saying "Have fun with the tree!" and M plays World of Warcraft loudly in the other room, every so often running in to hang up an ornament and make gagging noises in reference to the Christmas music.

It's okay, though, because we have a new holiday tradition now. I found a copy of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at Target for, get this, ONE DOLLAR. Yes. As M said with truth and feeling, "A dollar is a great price for this movie! I might even pay 2 dollars for this movie!" No kidding. It's quite a movie; it's kind of hard to know even where to begin or how to describe Santa Claus Conquers the Martians although it must be noted that the Martians have some serious outfits; the world was rather different in 1964 and, mental note, it's probably a good idea to omit the air ducts from the air lock when designing Space Ship Number One. It's hilariously funny for the first half and then starts to drag a bit (it would probably be enhanced by some serious drugs) and then gets completely surreal at the end when the evil, moustached Martian fights a very young Pia Zadora in green face and a hallucinatory toy Indian chief with a drum kit. Seriously. So, we have a new and wonderful source of Christmas joy and we can watch it every year. In velvet. Sipping sherry. Or maybe absinthe would be more appropriate.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Starting With Dennys

Oooooh, look. It's the all new revamped Blogger Meets Google interface. The font is suddenly larger. The HTML isn't showing. The little options have changed. And whoa, dude, we have tags! Yay, tags! Tags good.

Meanwhile. Let us move on to the actual post of the day, because today is the day that marks 15 years since my last (and pretty much definitely Last, failing some really strange turn of events that I cannot possibly imagine) foray through Labor & Delivery. 15 years ago today, the midwife told me to have a glass of wine and relax, because I wasn't dilating very fast. It was a Sunday in Baltimore and in an effort to be helpful, my husband tore off to get wine. He came back with all he could find given blue laws: some pink, fizzy stuff. Really pink, really fizzy. I had a glass of it anyway - it tasted like alcoholic fizzy bubblegum - and took a bath. When I stood up, water gushed out. "OMG," I said (well, not literally. OMG hadn't been invented yet.) "My water broke; we need to get to the hospital."
"Are you sure?" said my clueless SO. "I mean, uh, doesn't it do that every time you stand up out of a bath?"
If I hadn't of been in labor I would have fallen over laughing. "I've been a girl all my life," I said, "It doesn't work like a suction pump."

So that was 15 years ago, and the small product of that day, who has grown a bit in the last decade and a half, wanted breakfast at Denny's, which is an unusual but entertaining way to start the day. I got him a top hat and some World of Warcraft gold, which is the other thing he wanted so that he can, and I quote, twink his character up and make other players feel bad about themselves. Then when I came home from work I made a cake and we ordered Thai food delivered from Blue Ridge To Go, which I must say is the most extremely coolest slick thing in Asheville that I had never tried before. Then we watched Barbarella, because we're just weird like that and then he went off with his friends while I stayed home to smoke cinnamon sticks. (no, I don't light them. They're my new, healthy cigarette-like friends. Shut UP. Five days, 22 hours, 26 minutes and 8 seconds. 59 cigarettes not smoked, saving $11.87. Life saved: 4 hours, 55 minutes.)

It's been a long strange 15 years and the whole birthday thing has made me muse rather philosophically on the meaning of life and what a good thing it is that we can't foretell the future. It's also reminded me that we really can't foretell the future: no matter how bleak and dreary and neverending today may seem, almost anything could happen tomorrow. Yes. Yes it could. A large anvil marked Acme might fall on your head or you could end up living in Asheville with no husband and a house full of teenagers. So have hope. Suicide is pointless. Things change. And kids grow up surprisingly fast.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lameness on the Holiday Decor Front

snow one
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
Look! It is snowing in Asheville! Yay! Or, well, boo. I was supposed to go out tonight, to test my new tobacco free self against the strength of a work related holiday party AND a big DL anniversary bash, but the snow and the traffic (if rain brings out the weirdos, snow brings out the psychotics and the serial killers) and the 19 degree cold scared me so I chickened out and stayed home where I lay around and did nothing. Doing nothing is a common theme lately, I notice, and I am ashamed that the first snow of the season caught me with my lights not up. For the first time ever, I am like the last person on the block to get their lights up. This sucks. I need to get with it. I need to brave the scary shed and put up tons and tons of tacky lights!

Meanwhile, young M turns 15 tomorrow which has brought on a spate of self examination, as it always does. 15 years - wow, dude, like, 15 years and can you believe it and I wonder what we'll all be doing in another 15 years? It's kind of hopeful, really - you never do have the faintest clue what's coming next. Which is why people go on having babies: they have no idea whatsoever that 15 years will go by so fast and those cute adorable babies will be large unruly things hovering behind their chairs going "Get UP Mom I want to use the computer!" And that's not even all they want - because of this 15 year old, I will be buying breakfast for the family at (gag, blek, wince) Denny's tomorrow. Yes. Denny's. Because that is the dearest wish of said 15 year old's heart: the grand slam breakfast. We may not make it another 15 years.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Friends

Three days, 10 hours, 2 minutes and 6 seconds. 34 cigarettes not smoked, saving $6.84. Life saved: 2 hours, 50 minutes.

My cigarettes were my evil friends who helped me get through the rough times by doing bad things. You know, the best kind of friends. The kind of friends who, as the T-shirt says, can't bail you out of jail because they're in the cell next door. Now I'm sad and lonely without them. And boring. I'm getting boring and less cool already, I can tell. I know it's boring you. And I don't even promise to make it - it's entirely possible that I'll be back smoking like the proverbial chimney by tomorrow night. I keep thinking I can't make it even one more minute so we'll see.

We'll see.

Meanwhile, so that this blog isn't all just one of those horrible quit smoking do gooder blogs, here is a nifty link to a variety of funky free images, always handy.

And, here is a book review: WILHELMINA BAIRD TOTALLY ROCKS! Unfortunately, like so many other authors I suddenly discover and fall madly in love with, she's not exactly prolific (drat. Drat drat drat drat.) and I just read the three Crashcourse books. SF Reviews says it isn't a masterpiece, and I beg to differ. Okay, it's more of a pulp fiction, fastpaced masterpiece than, say, As I Lay Dying or something, but shit, come ON. It's WAY more fun to read, goes faster and you don't have to deal with some annoyingly over serious reader's guide in the back. And also the main character has TWO boyfriends and all three of them are fairly happy together for the most part, even though in the course of the three books one boyfriend dies and is replaced with another, vastly better boyfriend, and all I have to say is that this situation sounds eminently satisfactory to me. Hubris, I know, since considering that I can't even seem to get ONE boyfriend I sort of have a lot of nerve suddenly demanding TWO but, well, what the hell. Might as well shoot for the moon. At any rate get & read the books. They're brilliant.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Death, I Say

So I’m not smoking. I’m not smoking because I had this fucking two day and three night long near death experience that was either the worst hangover of my life or food poisoning or a virus or a vicious attack from outer space or possibly a virulent combination of all four of those possibilities. I have rarely been more miserable. I am still miserable. I still haven’t really eaten – I had half a bowl of chicken soup and a piece of toast on Sunday night, a bowl of rice, a banana and some toast on Monday and so far today I have had water – and I haven’t smoked. I can’t smoke when I’m that sick. Now I’m feeling better and I want to smoke, but I can’t because I was already going to quit at the end of the month anyway and now that I’ve been handed this head start of two days, I need to take advantage of it.

Which means that right now, at this very moment, I truly, madly, deeply want to kill you. Yup. I hate you. Don’t take it personally; I also hate and want to kill everyone else on the planet. And all puppies and kittens, and blue skies and big rock candy mountains and all that fuzzy shit. Unicorns. Fuckin’ rainbows. Stupid crap like that. It all must die. I want to live somewhere that looks like Mordor and I want to live there RIGHT NOW. I want to lie in the black rocks and sludge and groan occasionally. I want to be ALONE so I can sulk in perfect solitude and miss my goddamn cigarettes. Also I have a headache and I’m dizzy and I woke up at 3:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep for two hours because I thought I was probably dying. Yet I did not die; no, I came back to life so I could want a cigarette. Shitfire.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Psycho Puppy, qu'est ce que c'est?

Even as I type this, my son is becoming increasingly late for school - the shoe bandit has struck again. The shoe bandit takes socks and shoes and bits of trash and shirts and stuffed animals and hair clips and (damn him) contact lens cases out to the yard where he distributes them in a seemingly random pattern that is apparently pleasing to the canine eye. He rarely chews them up - just moves them out. That's funny and cute and adorable; it's so funny and cute and adorable that you just want to send him out to play in traffic. On days like today, when it's inexplicably, global warmingly 65 degrees and pouring rain, it's even worse. But that's cool, since global warming is just another part of my Extreme Dog Walking experiences.

Django has gotten to the age where he's kind of like a human five year old - full of enthusiasm and energy and charm, but no sense at all. He bounces around on the end of the leash like one of those rubber balls attached to a wooden paddle: a toy wielded by a completely spastic toddler. This morning, in the warm rain, he discovered the joy that is puddles. "Rivers!" he thought (occasionally, I can hear the dogs think. Shut UP. I can TOO.) "There are rivers all over the road today! Yay, rivers!" and he bounded in. To. Every. Single. Puddle. There were a lot of puddles. He became a very, very wet puppy. He likes to jump up on me. I became a very, very wet extreme dog walker, while Theo, who has his own agenda, mostly focused on his arch-enemy, the chained up chow behind the stockade fence, just got bigger and bigger and bigger: rain affects Theo's collie pelt like a blow dryer affects a certain kind of Southern lady.

Yesterday, we were just in time to see a couple of school buses unload. Theo has never liked school buses: they're too big, too noisy, too, well, YELLOW. (What he really hates and fears, though, are UPS trucks. Go figure.) However, Theo is extremely fond of children, although he has a tendency to try to herd them. Django knows very little about children, has hardly ever met any, and knows nothing about school buses. The bus doors opened, the kids filed noisily out and Django watched in horror as the huge yellow things began to spit out midgets. He did a complete back flip at the end of the leash, ran between my legs and tried to get the hell away as fast as he possibly could. It was hilarious. Sad, but hilarious. Meanwhile, Theo, desperate for love, stood there wagging his tail so hard his whole fat self shook.