Thursday, July 31, 2008


ack dog
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Now the house would appear to be falling through. Isn't this exciting? There's like a new update every day and believe me, my heart plummets up and down with every update. And every time it goes down, like it is right now, I don't seem to be able to react like a normal adult and just say, oh well, and move on. Instead, I dredge up every sorry, miserable, bad news thing that's ever happened to me (which is a lot and I could and may well spend days and days thinking about them) and think that this just proves my theory of the universe: the Felicity is Fucking Doomed theory. Aaaauuuggghhhh.

This is like quitting smoking or dieting or something: you should never, ever tell anyone about it and then if you blow it, your shame and humiliation is yours alone. Unfortunately, I've never been able to do that - I am compelled (well, obviously, or I wouldn't have a blog, right?) to share all this kind of shit with everyone. I feel bad, then, when y'all go to the trouble of congratulating me and then the damn thing falls through. Which, come to think of it, is a lot like quitting smoking: everyone tells you how great you are and then, two weeks later, when they catch you behind the dumpster puffing away in the sleet, they just look at you sadly. Look at me sadly, y'all. Except that this time, it's actually not my fault. Really. Honestly. Although, no, I don't believe that either and we return to the Felicity is Fucking Doomed theory: it's the opposite of the Midas touch, that thing that I have and holy shit, I must have been a real charmer in my previous lives. Gah. This sucks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Okay, I'm buying a house. At least, I think I am - the fully signed contract should be winging its way to me even now via this magical internet thingy. And then, or now actually, you know, the real fun starts as I make my way through a crazy maze of documents trying to prove that I am worthy to borrow vast sums of money. I'd like to point out in a kind of grumpy manner that really, the bank is trying to figure out not if I am worthy to borrow but, more to the point, if I am worthy to make them one shit ton of interest money over the course of my 30 year mortgage. Yes, thirty years. In thirty years I will own my house free and clear. I'll also be 75 years old but, whoa, let's not think about that. Maybe I should only have been considering houses without stairs. Nah. By then I'll have a jetpack. But anyway, although I am still scared to count on this house, I am really beginning to think that this is going to happen and I actually am going to be moving to a house I actually own and actually even already love for all that it is not a pristine and beautiful Arts & Crafts bungalow but instead a mid 60s poor man's house of odd angles and surprising corners, which is to say, kind of just like me.

So, because the universe is delicately balanced along with a lot of shagging angels on the head of a disco ball lit pin, when one thing goes right, others must go wrong. Fortunately, instead of one big thing going right and one big thing going wrong, we have one big thing going right (so far, at least. I'll get back to you after I've actually found all these bloody documents and the banks have actually sworn in demon blood to give me this money at the end of September) and a lot of small things going annoyingly wrong. So many, in fact, that they need to be listed to keep them clear:

1. My kitten has pointy feet. Her feet and her teeth are so pointy that when she climbs up me like a tree, as she is wont to do, usually when I'm not paying attention to her, she leaves little marks. My thighs look like I'm given to self loathing with a razor blade but that wouldn't be a big deal, except for the fact that . . .

2. My kitten also has fleas. Or, perhaps, the dogs have fleas or Mojo the visiting dog (S is in Florida for a business meeting because she's all cool and execu-chick that way) has fleas or I have fleas or whatever, but something tiny and biting shared the bed with me Monday night, which led me to half wake up in the middle of the night and scratch my knees furiously, with the result that now, what with the aforementioned tiny cuts and now bleeding bites, I can't show my legs above the shin. However, itching pales in comparison to the lovely discovery this morning that . . .

3. Either Mojo or Pebble had diarrhea all over my room last night, culminating with a final burst actually on the side of my bed. Fortunately I didn't lie in it, which is surprising, since I've been sleeping ridiculously heavily lately, which I attribute to the heat and also to the fact that . . .

4. My 15 year old alarm clock seems to have finally died. Now I have to buy another one, which is a drag since I have no extra money since . . .

5. My car got towed last night. This is my own fault, sort of, since I had pulled my parking pass off my rearview mirror in order to loan it to S when she volunteered for the museum on Bele Chere and then I forgot to put it back up. So my coworker kindly drove me down to the impound lot, conveniently located practically right next door to C's warehouse, where the Repo Woman sneered in my face and said, when I pulled the pass out of my purse to show her, "Don't do you no good in your pocketbook, now do it, honey?" At which point I shot her and took my $40 back.

Well, no, actually I handed her my $40 meekly and that's why I don't have enough money to buy another alarm clock. But at least I have an active fantasy life.

Monday, July 28, 2008


annie being goofy
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Young M is in trouble again. I don't want to talk or blog about it but jesus, I swear I don't know if I'll make it through these teenage years again. I'm just glad I only have two kids. If I'd had more I'd be in the loony bin by now - which actually sounds quite appealing, since I think I could well be perfectly happy taking lots of thorazine and making baskets out of toothpicks, although, given budget cuts, they probably don't have toothpicks anymore and the loonies have to make baskets out of fingernail clippings or something. Still, it's better than daily life, which, what with the crippling guilt - none of this would have ever happened if only I was a better parent / had managed to stay married / had married somebody with better genes and a normally functioning brain in the first place / had more money / had stayed home / had thrown the TV completely out / had eaten only organic wheatgrass / etc. - and the real paralysis of dealing with the here and now problems, has made it so that it's just no fun being a parent anymore. No fun at all and, as S & J pointed out last night when I met them for a quick drink while I was doing my weekly penance at the laundromat, every time I sort of stop being distracted by the conversation I say FUCK under my breath. Yeah. FUCK.

I'm also still waiting to hear about the house and I'm trying to maintain some kind of precarious magical balance in my thinking. See, if you start planning things like pulling up that heinous carpet and maybe there's wood underneath it which would be excellent with a sort of cherry stain particularly if one was to add a thin bead molding at the top of the walls, then you are guilty of hubris and counting your chickens before they are hatched, which means you won't get the house. But, on the other hand, if you think that there is no way you will get the house because you suck and nothing ever goes right for you since you were clearly born under a cursed sign, have bad karma and all is bleakness, plus you totally deserve to spend the rest of your (wretched, no doubt painfully diseased) life under a bridge in a soggy cardboard box, then you are guilty of negative thinking, which means you won't get the house. Therefore I am trying very hard not to think about the house at all, which isn't working very well either. Short version is I still don't know if it's going to happen or not. Sigh.

In other, slightly less bleak news, yesterday my brother B and I and young M and the QOB drove around Black Mountain searching for a place to have brunch. We also made a short trip around the Warren Wilson campus in an effort to impress upon young M the happy thought that, given a complete turnaround in attitude, he too could grow a beard, wear brown homespun and be a Warren Wilson student in a few years! He was unimpressed and the first restaurant we went to, which we know is good since J & C work there, had a 45 minute wait. We briefly considered another restaurant near that one, which had an expensive buffet, but the terrifying mole man (he snarled at my brother, who swears that he's seen him in horror movies) playing the piano caused us to lose all heart and retreat in fear. Then the car, which once belonged to my dad, took over and brought us to a fancy restaurant in a sort of hotel in the middle of nowhere near Montreat and that was actually pretty cool and completely the kind of place my dad would have found and waxed enthusiastic about. The QOB deemed it too old for her - fine for my mother, who is, after all, a whole 18 months her senior - but she enjoyed her french toast nonetheless and the Eggs Neptune (mental note: when, oh when, Felicity, will you learn that you live far from the seacoast and crab is dubious in the mountains?) didn't actually kill me or anything. So a good time was basically had by all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bele Chere

me cracking a geode
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Perhaps. one day, far far in the future, I will not have to work at Bele Chere. That day will be golden, and beautiful, and spent way the fuck out in the woods as far as I can possibly get away from Bele Chere. Because the novelty has worn off: sorry, but I'm tired of being hot and cranky and wanting to strangle tourists because they take half an hour to pick out a $3 mood ring. There's no music I want to see: anyone I like can see almost any weekend for about $5 in far, far more comfortable surroundings (Bele Chere makes the Orange Peel look comfortable, which is saying something) with cheaper, better beer.

Okay, I'll stop being a curmudgeon now and I will point out that the guy with the welded flying pigs is back again this year and I love his work to the point of utter distraction; pink is apparently the new black or puce or mauve but lots of people are wearing it and, since I like pink, that is good and, hey, we had to retire the Spot the Mullet game since, get this, the mullets have finally more or less died out and gone to Haircut Heaven. But it was way too fucking hot today to be cracking geodes in the sun. Young M, however, who worked with me for a couple hours, is an excellent geode cracker and an all around good sport, so he gets mad props or kudos or whatever those kids who should stay off my lawn are saying these hot and cranky days. As does S, who also cracked a shitload of geodes and sold mood rings with a smile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fostering Neuroses

Pebble and Me
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
When I come home now, as always, the dogs come running to greet me. "Hey, guys," i say, casually, just as I always have done and then I say, "Where is my Pebble? Pebble! Pebble! Awwww, sweet Pebble!" Then I pick her up and cuddle her and she rides on my shoulder (and right now, she steps on the keyboard) and I sort of push the dogs aside while I get all idiotically dewy eyed over Pebble, worlds' most amazing kitten.

The dogs, for their part, try to show me A+ papers from tech school and nuzzle my knees and bring me what would be the evening paper if there were such things and, since there aren't, a muddy bone, and look at me with eyes of undying devotion and I say, "Boys! Have you been nice to the Pebble today?"

The best thing about animals is that you can be horribly psychologically rotten to them and get away with it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Economics, Vegetables and Epsom Salts

a days harvest
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The vegetable garden has finally started to deliver. Look upon my expensive produce and despair, ye mortals! Ha ha! After you factor in the cost of rototilling the garden and buying plants and seeds and straw and all the water needed this drought ridden summer, well, I tell you what. I'm probably paying slightly less than twice what I could be at Ingles, even given our current insane rate of inflation. But - and here's where I'm all economical and shit - the money for all that stuff is either already long spent or invisible, like the water bills yet to come, so, hey, free yard groceries! I'm eating for free! None of this cost a cent and I feasted last night on sauteed zucchini with goat cheese and corn that went straight from the stalk to the photo shoot to the boiling water. Now, if only I could economically leverage the price of the house I want to buy down so easily. . . argh.

Also, the groundhogs ate my cantaloupes. I'm paying out groundhog protection money in the form of old produce chucked towards their house every week and still, they ate all the beans, the cantaloupes and the cucumbers. They apparently are not fond of tomatoes, zucchini, hot peppers and corn, for which I am grateful, but still.

In other news, have you ever tried to soak a dog's paw in an Epsom salts bath for 10 minutes twice a day? Yeah, it's impossible unless you are a Hindu deity, in which case you will no doubt be totally able to hold the dog's collar, the dog's leg, which you have managed to leverage into the bowl of water on the dining room floor, the kitten, who doesn't want to be left out of the fun, the dog treats to bribe the dog with the foot in the bowl and the other dog, who feels that if treats are being given out than he surely must be involved somehow. Five arms at a minimum and really you need another one to catch the bowl before it flings salty water all over everything and everyone - that's what got me yesterday morning, that lack of a sixth arm. So in the afternoon I just put Django in the bathtub and figured it would be okay to soak all of his paws. That was working admirably and I got to soak my feet too while Pebble and Theo watched with interest from the edge of the tub, but then Django decided that if he had to be in there he was damned if he was going to stand up the whole time and the situation began to rapidly degenerate. Salt water is not really an ideal cleaning solution for dog fur or the bathroom floor, I have found. On the bright side, I think the dogs are starting to hate the kitten slightly less - they haven't actually tried to eat her in over 24 hours and I'm viewing that as big progress.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Django is Our Guest Blogger Today

She's lost her mind. I don't want to say anything, I mean, she's the Mom and the Keeper of the Kibble and all, not to mention the Driver to the River, but this time I think she's gone too far. There's a new creature in the house and I'm pretty sure it's a funny looking squirrel. It's small like a squirrel and it climbs like a squirrel and, well, maybe something happened to its tail. You know, one of my most important jobs is to make sure that squirrels don't get too close to the house - Theo and I let the whole neighborhood know when anyone is threatened by squirrels, actually; it's hard, thankless work but we keep at it - and here she goes not only letting it indoors but letting it sleep in her hair! A squirrel, even if it is a weird looking squirrel that makes really alarming noises almost constantly, right there on her bed! Well, I ask you. Theo and I aren't even allowed on her bed and that noisy thing, whatever it is, is sleeping on her pillow. And to think she gets all mad and shouts Jesus at me when I express my undying affection by eating her pillow all up out of the pure love of my heart. Something's very wrong here and I think she must have been brainwashed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Yeah, Mental Unhealth Day

Last night A came over with a basket. Inside the basket was the small one pictured here, who is 9 weeks old and yet to be named although we're leaning towards either Pebble or Issa, with me leaning toward Issa and young M leaning towards Pebble. We do not know if Pebble/Issa is a boy or a girl. We do know that s/he is curious, friendly, adorable and simply too cute for words. The dogs are beginning to wag their tails, even, although it's a little fraught and we're trying to keep them separated which is already not working all that well, since Django keeps leaping over the gate and Pebble/Issa keeps going under it and, if the door is closed, wailing plaintively until s/he is released.

Anyway. A brought the kitten over and then we had a couple drinks and she noticed that Django was limping which I at first poo pooed and then noticed too and so it was decided that I had to go to the vet today. My landlord had emailed me yesterday that the chimney sweep was coming by today at 10 so I called in late to work and called the vet and waited for the chimney sweep. The vet can't see Django until 2:30 so after the sweeps left I thought I could go to work for a couple hours at least and I got into the shower. The water in the tub is backed up again but that, I thought, was no big deal.

Wrong. There was a series of menacing Glub Glub Glub noises going on which I thought was a little disconcerting but probably coming from the tub drain. Wrong again. I got out and saw small tsunamis coming from the toilet bowl, whence the Glubbing was emanating. Not good. And then it started making even creepier sounds and then I tried to flush it and it filled to the brim with water. Hurray.

So I gave up on going to work and I put on grubby vet suitable clothes and called the landlord and waited for him. Alas, he didn't want to call a plumber so the plumber did not come, and given the fact that the plumber has not, obviously, accomplished much the last five times he's been here, no loss. My landlord came with a plunger and of course then the toilet worked but he plunged it a bit anyway and then told me that if the toilet got messed up again to make sure and fill the bathtub with water before I plunged the toilet, using some arcane reasoning that I, not really all that good at the intricacies of plumbing, do not understand. Also, even though I now own two plungers, I have kind of had it with plunging a toilet I don't even really own. Then he left and I let young M out of his room where he had been hiding keeping Pebble/Issa silent, since I am not supposed to have a cat, although I pretty much feel that I wasn't supposed to have rats, either, so fuck that.

You know, I can take a hint from the fucking house gods, I swear I can, and I'm trying to get out of here just as fast as I can. I'm waiting to hear if my offer was accepted on the house I want and oh, house gods, please, I will leave this house and its plumbing of doom and rats and smoking chimney like a flash if you will just let me get that beauteous hippie palace. And I will bring my kitteh with me.

UPDATE: Django tore part of his toenail off. Then it got infected. Finding all this out plus meds plus flea meds plus just, you know, walking into the vets office cost me $227.61. Holy shit. That's one expensive hangnail.

Monday, July 21, 2008

If At First You Don't Succeed and all that

I'm trying again to buy a house. Yeah, yeah, I know, I said it was impossible. Well. It looks as if I might have been wrong about that. So I'm trying again, this time leveraging even more money, which is pretty scary, and aiming for the wild ass hippie house I thought I couldn't afford. Guess which one from the second paragraph of this post, hee. I looked at a lot of houses and I haven't even blogged about some of the primo stuff I saw, including one that apparently came complete with about 100 migrant workers - I mean, they were obviously living there, probably in shifts, and how would you go about evicting them and then ever live with yourself again? It's funny how looking at house after house after house gets you to a point where they begin to blur together like the dresses on the clearance racks at TJ Maxx, and in the same way as at TJ Maxx you end up making these summary decisions: No, No, Maybe, Huh, Yes. Then, though, one house (that would be the Huh one, of course) will just stay in your head. Like this one did to me, as I slowly began to admit that while I have always wanted to be the kind of person who can live in a tiny beautiful dollhouse and have minimal stuff and a perfect miniature garden, in actual fact I have never succeeded in actually becoming that kind of person. In actual fact I am kind of a sprawling, juryrigged, quirky person and I think I will be happier, in the long run, in a sprawling, juryrigged, quirky house. So - here we go again. Keep your fingers crossed. Let's all hope for the best. If this one doesn't come through I'm in big trouble, because there is nothing, but nothing, else out there that I've seen even remotely in my price range that I have any interest in whatsoever.

Oh and in other news, it's hot as HELL (I'm dreading going home to my air conditioning free, negatively insulated abode,) young M is back from his tour of the middle east - the mid east Atlantic region, that is - and the groundhogs or something else have eaten all the beans in the garden again, grrrrr.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some Thoughts About Friday Night

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
1. Surprise: I'm apparently not past the age where somebody I've never seen in my life before comes up to me and says, "Whoa, do you live here? Rockin' party, man!"

2. The deck is sturdier than one would think.
2a) Even quite respectable semi normal people have a morbid interest in watching the deck collapse.

3. I'm not the only person who invented the vodka, lemonade and club soda drink. We still need a catchy name, though.

4. After enough beer, even Elton John sounds okay. He still sounds better if you sing him like Alvin the chipmunk, though.

5. J & K's friend M from Florida has a tattoo of a Haida bear on his shoulder (and he got it on Miami Ink): it's the same Haida bear that I made a batik of once, long ago in a galaxy far away. Not only that, but we both discovered and became obsessed with that bear from Gardner's Art Through The Ages or somesuch canonical art history 101 text. Not only that, but he also owns the same chair I do, only he's left it in the original dark wood, orange-y plush village scene upholstery. Of course, not only is he gay, he's married.

6. Somebody hung a painting in my living room. Huh.

7. I have two pairs of glasses here. Claim them via email. If you know who I am, which you probably don't.

8. Party food is not so good for dogs.
8a) The party cleanup wouldn't have been that bad (thanks to J) if there hadn't been dog diarrhea on the den carpet.
8b) Whatever; I was too hungover to do anything about it until around 5:30 anyway.

9. Sushi, vodka and sake with your girlfriends is a great hangover cure.

10. Party on, dudette.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bitter Laughter

pumpkin flower 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
This morning on my way out the door to work, my across the street neighbor called to me. These are my super incredibly cool neighbors, the ones I would like to be friends with but somehow, since we're all so busy and they're in that Small Children phase of life which I thankfully left behind about 6 years ago, it's never happened. Actually they're the people I thought about when I read this totally fabulous and poignant Harvey Pekar (if you don't know Harvey Pekar, you should) comic. By the way, every single story in this series is totally worth spending some time with.

Anyway. My neighbor wanted me to know about a series of break ins that have been happening up and down our street. I laughed this off with my usual "it will never happen to me and I refuse to live in fear like a Fox News watching suburbanite" insouciance. This is the same method I used the other day when my dog walking friend told me I should be way more worried about people lurking in the tall grass at the park than bears in the trees. I told my neighbor that, well, my two intrepid dogs will bravely lick them if they try to get in (although, actually, Django is not fond of strangers and could conceivably be kind of scary particularly if they tried to steal something from under my bed where he would no doubt be hiding) and also something to the effect that I would totally not prosecute burglars as long as they agreed to take everything in the garage, leaving nothing behind. This is, of course, not entirely true, since I would weep should burglars take either Frosty the light up snowman or my giant animatronic Halloween spider, but there's a lot of shit out there they could totally have, including but not limited to the dead rat I strongly suspect is lurking behind some boxes.

The news of the break ins was unsettling though, particularly coming on the heels of a meeting I attended on Tuesday, where I heard that graffiti and vandalism around our downtown building has increased at an alarming rate and that there have been a bunch of attempted break ins (or people lurking creepily anyway.) That in turn had followed a report by the people who run the lot where I park every day of increased car break ins; they even posted a sign telling people to take everything out of their cars. My neighbor this morning made a grim joke: "Well," he said, "I guess there will just be more and more of this as we, you know, turn into a third world country."
"Yeah," I said, "I think there's getting to be a lot of anger out there." And we shared a moment of bitter laughter; the kind of laughter that we're all familiar with here in the land of the sky.

There is a lot of anger. It's expensive as hell to live in Asheville nowadays; as always here, wages are low, costs are high. People who have been squeezed further and further out to the country by the insanely increasing rents and housing costs in the city now face gas prices that make that commute impossible; Manna food bank is staging emergency food drives; and food prices have, as we all know, skyrocketed. It's tough out there and getting tougher and that is making many of us angry. Yeah, us. I may not plan on taking out my anger by breaking into expensive yuppie cars or houses in neighborhoods where my family and I can no longer afford to live, but you know what? I'm angry too and watching more and more and more developments of "affordable" condos that start at $140,000 or more and, of course, luxury lofts and boutique fucking hotels and tiny stores selling $200 hippie skirts to whoever the hell those size 2 rich women are, is not helping one bit. I don't advocate crime, obviously, but I sure as hell can understand it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bear at the Park?

is this bear sign?
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
As we all know, I take my dogs running (by which I mean, they run and I meander) every morning at a park I won't name because hardly anyone else ever goes there and I wish it to remain that way so that I can let the dogs roam freely, which IMHO is the natural born, gods given right of dogs. Besides, it's a pain to keep them on the leash and they're good, trained trail dogs who get along fine with other dogs and people and (mostly) come when they're called. Anyway, we've been going there four or five or sometimes even six times a week for well over a year now as have lots of others, including many readers of this blog, so, whatever with the leash thing. Then, yesterday, I noticed that there was a lot of bark scattered around - as pictured, and I do mean scattered all over the place. I went on up the trail and came to a place where the trash had been pulled out of one of the trash cans and scattered too. Now, this is, as I said, that park, so the trash was mostly condom wrappers and, weirdly, a couple empty cans of tunafish. It has never occurred to me to eat tuna out of the can at the park but, well, there you go and why not? Anyway, I kept on going for a little ways and then saw that a couple of rotten logs that usually sort of line the trail had been pulled out and kind of torn up, at which point I thought, WHOA, BEAR.

At that exact moment another dog came bounding up and I jumped some six feet in the air until I realized that it was Django's friend Bucket and, good, that meant that there were two more dogs and, probably, two more people about to show up too. I showed Bucket's owner the log and he said, huh, or something like that and he and I and the five dogs went on walking and there was nothing else to report, so I mostly forgot about it until this morning.

This morning there was a lot more bark scattered about, much closer to the parking lot. There was not a soul around all morning either and so I was a little nervy. The dogs acted perfectly normal, which is to say that Django jumped in the river and the creek and every muddy puddle and Theo bounded around like an idiot chasing squirrels and theoretical groundhogs and I took some pictures and we all went home. However, here's the question for you, oh loyal readers: Bear sign or not? And, what are the chances that my two utterly idiotic dogs would be cool around bears? Or would a bear be cool around my two utterly idiotic dogs?

Years ago my friend C and I and young(er) M and two of his friends and my then very old dog Toby and a very young Theo went camping way the hell up in Qualla Boundary. There were lots of bears there: we found fresh bear scat in the morning some 200 yards away from the tent (we did not tell the kids this, since we felt it would go badly) and, when we were hiking the next day, a guy we met told us how in the winter you could, and I quote, "see the bears running these ridges." I have always thought this was a lovely image because I immediately got a mental picture of a highly stylized mountain landscape at night with bears spaced evenly along it, running a race. Whether the bears who shat near our campsite were racing that night or not, my brave dogs completely didn't notice them. There was no barking, no whimpering, no nothing: as far as they were concerned, there were no bears. I feel that this is a healthy attitude for dogs and I want to encourage it. And, after all, I go hiking with the dogs all over the place all the time and there have probably been scores of bears hanging out right nearby and nothing has ever happened.

Which is why if, I was a sensible person, I would never have done any bear googling. But of course I did and now I'm all panicky about letting the dogs run around off leash in the possible (probable?) presence of a bear. Bah. Reassure me about bears and dogs, please.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ahhh, Time

I just got off the phone with my brother in NY. He asked if the QOB was doing better and I said that yes, she was. And she is: she can sign her name now, which is fairly awesome, and she's pretty coherent a lot of the time, which is, let's face it, about the best one can say of anyone.

"Really?" said my brother, sounding unconvinced.
"Yes," I said, "She still has a lot of trouble with numbers and time and stuff, but she's definitely more in the ballpark. Like, last week at the neurologist's office, he asked her what month it was and she said, "It's the 104th.""
"Uh huh." said my brother.
"But then yesterday at the occupational therapists," I continued enthusiastically, "When the therapist asked her when she had the stroke, she said, "On the 4th of Friday!" Isn't that great?"
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"Wait," I said uneasily, "I mean, now that I've said that out loud it doesn't sound so good. Somehow it sounded more promising in my head."
"Yeah, in your head," said my brother, or words to that effect.

It is better, though. She's sort of homing in on the idea of days and dates and times and numbers. At least that's what I think. I have no idea what the therapists think. I will probably find out, since she's going to be there a lot from now on, what with occupational therapy and speech therapy and physical therapy. There are many different kinds of therapy out there, apparently, and I'm not even including the kind I used to go to, where I talked about my horrible procrastination and inability to find a boyfriend and then had to stand in a circle and feel my inner warrior. The therapist's office where the QOB is going isn't exactly an office - it's a big hall at a rehabilitation center, with lots of different kinds of therapists working with lots of different kinds of patients. This is kind of distracting, like when the woman in the wheelchair kept on moaning until her therapist promised her ice cream, which also made her moan, but, um, differently. And then there was the man doing a sort of very serious Ministry of Silly Walks thing up and down while holding first a mirror and then something that looked like an English Beat album cover from 1984, all black and white op art checks. Maybe he was stuck in some kind of late 70s/early 80s vortex. Meanwhile, our therapist was getting the QOB to move plastic discs from one board to another and timing her, which would have worked better had I not gotten confused as to how many rows there were on each side (she was timing each hand separately) and so screwed up all the results. My mom made me go back to the office after that although, honestly, I probably should have stayed and moved discs around for a while until I got clearer on the concept.

But it's all progress, of one kind or another, I guess. When I left the rehab center yesterday I kept thinking about how surprisingly fragile human beings are, after all. There seem to be so many ways for them to break. I also thought that I couldn't do the work those therapists were doing for even ten minutes before I would go completely, screamingly batshit insane, which makes it even more amazing that that's the kind of work my daughter does. It's good that they're out there. And it's also good that we're all here and, on Tuesdays, watching movies and having pizza with my mom and the QOB, which is how I spent my evening. We're all kind of fragile and we need to stick together.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Weekend Survived

goatus interruptus
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It was a busy weekend, which means that it's absolutely amazing that I was still able to keep my bubble game scores up. That's what happens when you're completely dedicated, man: even through seeing my old friend R on Friday evening and then going to Z & H's and then to the Westville for the last part of the hilariously funny Golden Blade III and then the next day attempting to take the QOB to Bat Cave (it was too hot - my car really only has nominal air conditioning and it's completely unable to climb hills with the AC on - and I had to promptly return her to my mother's, since she was threatening to run away) and going up to Bat Cave by myself to take a lot of formal, studied portraits of goats and then returning to Asheville to party on D & J's wonderful Five Points porch and then, deep breath, ending up Sunday with the QOB and Z & H at the Gray Eagle for the Indy Craft Fair, which we used as an excuse to drink beer on the cool patio while discussing ghosts. Phew. And yet, through all of this, I managed to devote hours to playing the bubble game because I am, yet again, hideously addicted. My shoulders start to feel like they're falling off, I yawn, the dogs whimper to try to get me away from the computer but no! I must sit up half the night and play the bubble game. It is my life.

Anyway, over the weekend I also learned to identify stinging nettles, of which there are one shit ton at the park, some handily located on one side of a six inch path that's bordered on the other side by a huge patch of glossy poison ivy, so you're sort of fucked no matter where you turn (a state of mind with which I am so, so intimately familiar) and I harvested the first peppers out of the garden. I also made amazingly delicious fish stick tacos, thus proving that there is a way to make seriously cheap fishsticks from Aldi palatable after all.

You will need:
fishsticks - as aforementioned, the nasty cheap ones
mayonnaise - do not sneer
onions & garlic & peppers (I used half a Vidalia onion, a couple cloves of freshly picked Bat Cave Garlic, half a bell pepper and most of a right off the vine cubanel pepper)
lime juice, lots of
cilantro, lots of
grated cheese
Some corn would also be awesome but I did not have any, so, oh well.

Cook the fish sticks. When they're done, squeeze half a lime over them.
Chop up & saute the veggies in olive oil. Towards the very end, drench generously with lime juice and cilantro and, naturally, salt & pepper.
Heat up the tortillas - 30 secs in the microwave, yes - and spread about 1/2 tablespoon, or, okay, perhaps more than that of the mayo across each one.
Tortilla + 3 fishsticks + pepper/onion mixture + salsa + grated cheese = extremely delicious, relatively good for you and, best of all, cheap as hell.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stinging Plants and Tiny Teeth

I had a run in at the river this morning with the Plant of Evil. I don't know what it is, what it looks like or how it works its vile magic, but this is the second time that a vine has whipped across my bare skin and then, without any visible marks, made my arm sting like fire for the rest of the day. It's not poison ivy, oak or sumac - I'm well acquainted with them, thanks - but something completely different. It's all in how you look at it, I know: I suppose I should be glad it didn't just kill me and feast upon my flesh but between the plant of evil, the complete overgrownness of the trail and the abominable stench (the park smells like raw sewage these days) my morning dog runs are getting less fun than they once were. Or maybe I'm just in a shitty mood again.

I'm in a shitty mood because there's a dead rat in the garage. It's in the RatZapper, which is blinking away in the corner like a little beacon of necrophilia. Gah. Now I have to either summon up some guts or call one of my long suffering friends and beg him to come over and throw the dead rat away for me, which makes me feel like an idiot but does get rid of the corpse. I'm also going to have to go back to my original plan of cleaning the entire garage out, or, rather, having some guys from Craigslist pull everything out of there while I stand on top of the car and scream a lot. Young M, whose job this should be, is firmly entrenched in West Virginia with no plans to return soon, since we had a big fight on the phone over whether a certain .22 rifle should stay in West Virginia (my position) or should come to Asheville with him. Even though I can see, at the moment, the appeal of shooting rats, I'm still not budging on having firearms that shoot things other than paintballs, potatoes, plastic pigs or water in the house. Okay, I grant you I let a BB gun take up residence in the closet, but it doesn't work and thus doesn't count.

I went into the garage to find certain vital documents in the handily located filing cabinet. They weren't, of course, in there anyway. I have no idea where the hell my social security card or bankruptcy documents or, hell, much of anything is. No wonder I can't get a goddamn mortgage: I don't seem to actually exist. I did find, however, my misfiled 2003 taxes, old love letters, some Christmas cards that never got sent and a bunch of small notes from small children, including one that said, succinctly: "I'm sorry I called you a fat lazy pig but you were hogging the couch." Ah, the joys of little children! Those days of bliss!

I also found teeth. Lots of teeth. All of them, I guess. Apparently I was a good tooth fairy mom back in the day and I put all the tiny little teeth in ziplock bags (except for the one that fell into the bowl of Crispy Critters cereal and then got eaten by a 6 year old and subsequently vomiting A) and, in a burst of crazed efficiency, filed them. Now what? I guess I could make them into the worlds' grisliest charm bracelet or maybe I should keep them hidden away until the kids get married. They'd make an awesome presentation piece at the rehearsal dinner, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

booking through the garden at a high rate of speed

This morning when I went out to walk the dogs, there was a box turtle in front of the garage. At first I thought he was plastic - it's kind of sad when you see a wild creature and your first thought is "I wonder why a neighborhood kid would have left a toy turtle in my driveway?" - but then I realized that he was, in fact, a real, living and breathing box turtle on some kind of turtle mission that was taking him slowly across my driveway. Box turtles are one of my favorite animals on the planet so I was totally thrilled and immediately took several pictures, none of which do his handsome self much justice. Then, after some brief soul searching (Is this ethical? Should I be all good galactic citizen and go for non-interference? But what if he goes in the street and gets hit by a car? Fuck, I need the help with the slugs.) I picked him up and took him to the vegetable garden where I hope he will stay for some time. There's already a small black snake living in the garden: together, as a crime-fighting team, they'll give me like 100% pest coverage and hey, the cartoon rights and their tiny superhero costumes will be awesome. He was a bit indignant when I picked him up, waving his arms around grumpily, but once I put him down in the garden, he looked around, liked what he saw and took off for the beans with extreme rapidity. For a turtle, that is.

On the house front, I feel somewhat less doom laden this morning. I was so discouraged and depressed yesterday (yeah, yeah, that's a total self pity outburst, there in that post below. It happens.) that I just went home, refused to answer my phone, ate too much goat cheese and went to bed. I dreamed about doing vandalism and other crimes with a good looking bad boy (also, kissing, yay, I have no idea who that guy was but I will happily break into lakefront houses with him again anytime) and awoke feeling better. Yes, that is wrong, but hey, I'm a child of the lawless 80s and a Repo Man fan; sometimes, you just gotta go do some crimes, even or especially if they're only happening in the dreamtime. Fuck paying for sushi. And then meeting the turtle helped too. Turtles always brighten my whole day.

The other thing that helped is that my wonderful real estate agent and reader of this blog, the lovely D, kept telling me to keep on trying and I did, despite my natural inclination to go to bed and just stay there, whimpering softly. Thus, I had a long and very good conversation with the super nice people at Self Help Credit Union and it appears all may not be lost. It may be lost, but, ya know, it may not and I'm going to find that out. Bless their beautiful nonprofit hearts - they may be actually able to get me a mortgage after all. However, don't start cheering yet - even if I do get a mortgage, the houselet may well be hopeless, since the woman who lives there apparently does not really want to sell it after all - damn it. But. At least I'm getting my proverbial ducks in their proverbial row (if you had ducks, why the hell would you be wanting them to line up? I mean, that's so OCD.) should a miracle of some kind occur. Therefore, I am, as usual, waiting for a miracle.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stop Chanting; I Don't Get Nice Things

So much for that. I should have known it was too good to be true. It turns out that I can't get a mortgage because I was an irresponsible person in a bad marriage with bad luck and then had medical bills: I went bankrupt in September, 2005. The old laws say that if you are a good person and reestablish credit and all that stuff, then you are eligible to get a mortgage three years after a bankruptcy. Now - as of last fucking month - it is four years. I could maybe get a subprime loan, but those are a) bad and b) disqualify me from getting any money from any of the low income programs I was counting on to make up the difference between my nonprofit salary and the cost of housing in this increasingly gentrified city. So I can't buy a house. This year, anyway. Maybe, of course, ever.

So I guess I get to stay in an expensive rat infested rental I don't like and sure as hell won't be able to afford to heat next winter (I couldn't really heat it last winter; somehow, I don't think it will be cheaper this year. Heh. Heh heh heh. Funny.) for at least another year. It's either that or find another rental, spend everything I've saved for the last year on moving costs and then not be able to buy a house again because I won't have any savings.

A friend of mine and I used to talk about this place called Bad Girls Debtor's Prison: it's where you go when you do incredibly stupid financial stuff in large part because of the men in your life. We used to laugh about it: Ever gotten car insurance for your boyfriend only to have him total your car? Ever put your husband on your credit card only to have him rack up $5,000 in debt in two angry months? Hee hee! Fun fun! Ever buy a guy a car but then when you break up he doesn't put it in his name and he doesn't get it insured so that you're still liable for that "lapse" in insurance even ten years later? Wheeeee! Ever buy a house you can't sell and the tenant gets further and further behind on his rent to you and the person who bought the house with you, your ex-husband, won't do anything and, since he's not even paying one thin dime in child support, you can't come up with the money to save the house? Ever pay out a fortune to get your child health insurance and then when they need surgery it turns out that what the insurance doesn't pay is still $9,000 and you don't have and never will have $9,000 and, you know, look above if you think the father of that child might step in and help out. Yeah. I love it here in Bad Girls Debtor's Prison. I must love it; I never leave. Because even if you think you've worked for years to straighten all that stuff up and you're doing the best you can and pretty much debt free, driving your ancient car and going to work for a good nonprofit and being nice to everyone and acquiring karma points left, right and center, they still won't let you out. You're in Bad Girls' Debtor's Prison forever, honey, and don't you forget it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I'm Buying a House

Okay, everybody, hold on to your hats and say the materialist Buddhist chant, the one you use when you want, you know, actual stuff instead of that boring shit like enlightenment and inner peace: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo! Because I put an offer in a house, or a houselet, really, about an hour ago and now I have to convince someone to loan me the money to actually buy it. This should be possible, because, against all expectations and statistics, I can actually afford it and, to make it even more amazing and fantastic, it isn't even a dismal hole - it's a wonderful little houselet with a wonderful little yardlet and I really like it and want to live there. It's in my favorite neighborhood. It's in great shape. It was built in 1922 and, most amazing of all, my mother even likes it and, as we know, my mother don't like much. So chant, y'all. Light candles and chant and cross your fingers and generally do all that groovy stuff that we all do when we really, really want something. Because I really, really want this and please, oh gods above and below and all, please let it all work out.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

guess what was under the stove

So, yesterday, my friends D & R came over to get rid of my rats. My landlord who is a sweet guy but has possibly never had rats and thus was unaware of just how bad it is over here, told me he would buy me some poison and leave it in the mailbox and I should put it in the basement. This was clearly not enough help and besides, there is no power on earth strong enough to get me into that basement. Therefore when my friend J volunteered D to come over and get all medieval on the rats, I jumped at the chance. R is just back from a couple years in Afghanistan, so rats do not faze him and D is just tough. Thank the gods.

Well, they came over and got to work. They said the garage was probably fine but they put some traps in there just to be on the safe side. Then they moved the refrigerator and that's how we discovered that the rats had pulled down the cardboardy back of the bottom of the fridge and were living inside the motor. Fortunately, none of them were home. R & D then went to Lowes while I cowered in the other room and came back with about 10 big traps. Then, oh god almighty, R moved the stove and, look at what was underneath - yes, a novelty souvenir red bottle spoonrest thing! And a giant fucking rat hole.

The rats weren't coming from the garage after all. I have unfairly maligned young M and his untidy friends. There may be rats in the garage, sure - but there are more in the basement. And, to complete the story, D talked to my next door neighbors. Guess what? They had rats about a month and a half ago. I don't know, but I'll be they used one of those sonic things to drive them away - directly next door.

I was all for plugging the hole up immediately but R said, no - if you plug it up, he said, they'll just make another hole. You need to get rid of them all the way. To that end he put about 7 baited traps around the kitchen and, meanwhile, D loaded the basement, particularly the top of the furnace, which, it turns out, is directly below the kitchen and, judging from footprints and scat, is how the bastards got up to the ceiling, with poison (I took about 20 pictures of the hole, so that D could find it by the flash from the kitchen, which was sort of moderately amusing. Or not.) I didn't want to use poison but we made very sure that the dogs can't get to it and R & D told me to have a beer and stop freaking out about that, because the rats are really bad. They're right. I let them poison the basement. Also, D said he would come over and get any dead rats in the walls if necessary.

Then they left and I went over to S' house with my dogs for the party and fireworks and also because I am just having a lot of trouble being here at night. We had an awesome fun time at the party; I spent the night at S' and came home about six hours ago and . . .

I still haven't been in the kitchen. I can't go in the kitchen. The dogs have not been fed and I'm getting thirsty but I Just. Can't. Go. In. The. Kitchen. There could be like seven dead rats in there and I can't handle it. R said it was very likely that there would be maybe five to ten more before I'm through. I can't stand it. I know that eventually I'm going to have to go in the kitchen, even though I have seriously been entertaining thoughts of just going to the grocery store and buying more dogfood and some dog bowls and some bottled water, rather than step across that threshold. I recognize that this is completely batshit insane but I tell you what - I can't face that damn kitchen. Therefore, even though this is so pathetic, I'm sitting here waiting for S & Z, who in their kindness are going to come over so we can all go into the kitchen together. Thank the gods for my friends, is all I can say.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Small Spaces

I know, the blogging has slowed waaaay down. Fuck off; I'm busy. I'm trying to simultaneously find a house to buy with all the attendant hassles that brings - talk to bankers! fill out lots of forms! worry about money! drive around and go inside many, many houses, often with unbelievably hideous wallpaper! discover that not only are there no houses in the this neighborhood I love in my price range but houses I can't even afford are horrible holes! - I'm also helping the QOB and my mother navigate through the wilds of what is so charmingly called eldercare - medicare doesn't cover everything! must find more health insurance plans! they are confusing as fuck! so is the medicare prescription drug stuff! there are many doctor's appointments to be scheduled and then gone to! the QOB is persistent as hell in her desire to return to the big bad city! driving the QOB around Asheville is entertaining if a bit nervewracking! at least she's wearing some of her teeth! argh! - and, of course, I'm still holding down a job and an overly active social life (with no dating, never dating again, at least that's out of the way, thank the goddess) and, let's not forget, worrying about my errant son, who I haven't heard from in over a week but who is "safe" with his father in West by god Virginia. I think.

However, I might have found a house that I like and, hold your breath, can afford. I'm just trying to figure out if I can actually fit myself, young M, two 50 pound dogs, giant accumulations of stuff and a severe gardening habit into about 850 square feet of space with an additional maybe 850 square feet of yard or if this is a crazy pipe dream and I should keep looking for another, bigger house with more yard despite the evidence of my own eyes that bigger houses cost more, even when they're repulsively ugly and need tons of work. I have seen, so far, a nice house on a way too busy street with a yard that looked like it came straight outta Compton - pit bull pens, concrete, weeds and, yes, rats - that was $30,000 out of my price range anyway; a brand new modular unit cheek by jowl with a bunch of other horrific modular units tucked scenically right by the freeway although a prominent sign in the kitchen promises that when the next 15 modular units go up where the apple trees are now, the traffic noise will go down, oh joy; a house with peeling paneling, no stove, an antique furnace and a giant basement that would be perfect for political prisoners and which has, somewhat unsettlingly, children's handprints etched in red on the floor of one of its locked, concrete block cells rooms. I can't afford that house and its small ghosts, although the yard kicks ass and, once a giant, multi level deck was built, it could be sweet. I have also seen one of the freakiest houses ever, a house which looks just ugly and early 70s normal from the street but then reveals many crazed outbuildings and horrific wallpaper and an entire, hidden, wacked out bachelor pad basement apartment with no heat but many mirrors and giant 70s speakers embedded right into the wall and a concrete floor painted bright blue. I can't afford that house either, which may be for the best, since young M would take one look, settle himself into the apartment, grow sideburns, take up striped bell bottoms, cocaine, disco and gold chains and never leave again. You should never risk having your kids possessed by the spirit of the 70s.

The house I like is on a quiet street in my favorite neighborhood. I could walk to Z & H & S & K & J's house, as well as BJs and the Gas Up and Harvest Records. The house was built in the 20s, my favorite decade for house construction. It is tiny and immaculate and adorable and has practically no yard around it at all and ceilings that are slightly less than 7 feet high so it is sort of a house for leprechauns. I can afford it - I mean, I think I can really afford it and my mortgage payments would be seriously lower than my rent has been. I'm going back to look at it again on Monday and I'm wondering if young M and I can turn into leprechauns. I'm thinking about hiring A to build a roof deck so I could still have parties. I'm thinking about how cheap it would be to heat. And I'm nervous as hell.

In other news, Z & S & J & D & C and I worked on The Movie last night. C & Z & S have been making a Movie - an awesome, funny movie - for a while and now we're all involved. It was a total blast, even when the scene called for J & D to drive down in front of C's business and a train decided to come through and we all had to laugh and wait. I did some camerawork and then played, first, a spacy old girlfriend of C's who has just moved back to Asheville from Sedona (I made her up. She was remarkably easy to create. This worries me a bit.) and then, the rich, bitchy, crazy head of the Rainbow Earth People's Collective Vegan Restaurant and Consciousness Raising Food Emporium. That was hilarious and involved all of us shouting madly at one another. Everything was great until I saw myself on film and realized that, holy shit, I really have gone to hell - I look like a walrus with dyed hair. Jesus. Diet and exercise and more diet and more exercise and possibly a real haircut are on the agenda for the rest of the summer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Another One

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, the RatZapper killed its first rat and this one was even bigger than the previous two, who were huge, so if this trend continues soon the rats in my kitchen will be the size of grizzly bears. This is hopeless. This is horrible. I can't believe that I have killed three rats in my kitchen in the last week and I want to move out immediately - failing that, I want to sit down and cry forever. The dogs are afraid to go into the kitchen now - fat lot of help they are. Why do I own the two wussiest dogs in the whole fucking world? My old dog Toby killed rats (and squirrels, which did cause the occasional trauma in the park but oh well, what can you do) in Baltimore routinely with no fuss or difficulty. One shake and gone. But these dogs are totally useless and, as an aside, in a moment of madness (they were giving away a DVD of classic Lassie episodes and I couldn't resist the lure of the prize inside!) I bought the farting dogfood again so by tonight not only will I own paranoid, fat, useless dogs, they'll be paranoid, fat, useless FARTING dogs from hell who are cowering under my bed and filling the air with their noxious gases while the rats make merry sport sacrificing one another to the RatZapper. Oh god, oh god.

They're not the only ones who are afraid to go into the kitchen though. I can barely bring myself to cross the threshold now even in daylight and after dark I'm just too terrified to go in there. I can't stand this. I know the refrigerator has to be moved and the holes found (the traps next to the fridge are the ones getting all the action) but I can't move the fridge myself. Not only can I not move it alone, but if I move it and there's, like, a rat king in there I will die, I tell you, I will just fucking die right then and there and then my useless dogs will be left homeless, not to mention my son, if he ever comes back from the apparently completely alluring mid Atlantic region and, also, the QOB will have to find someone else to schedule her doctor's appointments, so, you see, it's not a terribly convenient time for me to shuffle off this mortal coil.

I feel like an idiot and a wimp but I also feel like I need some help here. What I need is an army of big tough macho spitting men with bats and maces and pointed sticks and maybe elephant guns and shit to go into the garage and pull everything out and kill the army of rats who my paranoid self is sure will cascade out of every box and rubbermaid container out there. The very thought makes me nearly hysterical so I'm thinking about advertising on Craigslist for some mercenaries or temporarily unemployed members of the French Foreign Legion to come over and deal with these rats. Which probably won't work either. Oh god, oh god.