Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bowling And So On

sunrise brevard road
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I went bowling last night and I'm sad to report that I'm actually not really in good enough shape for bowling and I probably need to find a more sedate sport, like backgammon or possibly competitive channel surfing - at which, by the way, I excel, even though I do it old skool: wIthout a remote, sucka! They warn you about the dangers of bowling right up front at SkyLanes (which is the bowling alley we favor, due to the fact that it happens to be in West Asheville, which is where we live) but alas, we didn't take this warning seriously enough. Nay, we even mocked the screen on the automated complete with condescending animations scorekeeping thingie when it attempted to tell us that bowling was a risky business. "Yeah, yeah," we said, or, well, I said, "Keep your hands out of the ball return, kids! Or the ball return monster will tear them off!"

It was not the ball return, though, but the hole in the ball that pulled S' thumbnail half off. She finally got a bandaid and perfected thumbless bowling, which was actually kind of humiliating, since, I mean, I had a working thumb and yet I somehow failed to win. It's because I was wounded too: my thumb and my knee and my arm hurt and that's absolutely why I only tied with the the thumbless wonder while her boyfriend G beat the hell out of both of us. And he said he hadn't been bowling since he was 12. Huh.

I like bowling even though, or maybe because, I am unspeakably bad at it. I like the colors of the balls and the bad 70s music and even, or especially, the kinda creepy, smoky little redneck bar tucked into the corner of Skylanes. I like the dippy little animations on the scorekeeping screen that are mean to you when you get a gutter ball and never congratulatory enough when you get a strike (yeah, I did get one. No, wait, two. TWO! I rule!) and I like watching the people, from the guys who are serious about bowling and actually good at it to the small kids who hold their balls with two hands while their parents drink beer and alternately ignore, cheer and berate them. And I love the purple and pink psychedelic carpet. I think maybe if I was actually good at bowling my appreciation for all this ambiance would fade and that's why I'm so careful not to get good.

Mmmm hmm. Or possibly I'm just not coordinated.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Golden Compass, Among Other Things

playing dogs
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Last night A & I finally got to the discount movie theatre to see the Golden Compass. I'm really glad I didn't pay full price because I was sorely disappointed. You would think I would know by now not to get my hopes up and really expect great things from a movie, but alas, the trailer and what people said and so on had me all excited. Bah. I suppose it would be fine if you've never read the book, but alas, I have read the book. Now, I don't think that the book was the absolute best book since sliced bread or anything but neither is it chopped liver, if you get my drift. Drifting food metaphors, that is. I'm hungry.

The thing about movies made from books is that there are really only two choices. They either have to be fantastically done, adoring near slavish versions of the original texts - Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter - or they have to be completely different from the book, sharing only the titles - Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, The Witches of Eastwick. The latter approach, as we can see from age of the titles, seems to be out of fashion. This is a pity because, look, if you're going to fuck the whole book up and add a lot of stupid exposition and a new, happy ending with a completely unconvincing, out of character inspirational speech, of all gruesome things, then just go whole hog and make a damn new movie that can then be good or bad on its own. As it is, you fucks, while I grant you that the movie was visually totally stunning and utterly gorgeous and all that, the rest of it made me unhappy.

In other news, there is no other news. M is going to be here this weekend, hurrah, yay, and I might just possibly go bowling tonight.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January and the Faces of Asheville

I'm trying and failing to come up with anything scintillating and witty to blog about. It is the depths of January and we all know it's going to be winter for, basically, two more months and that's just. . . depressing. Especially since my oil is going to run out any day now and then I'll be heating completely with wood, which is excellent if you happen to be a) home constantly throwing logs on the fire and b) fairly warmly dressed and c) in the den but not so wonderful if you are a) gone and letting the fire go out or b) more than 10 feet away from the fireplace insert or c) at all affected by billows of woodsy smoke. I'm noticing that I'm waking up coughing a lot, which I'm naturally ascribing to the woodsmoke and not to my beloved tobacco, but whichever: it's probably not all that good for me. This morning at around 6:30 as I enjoyed my daily tuberculosis attack I thought moodily about smoky medieval peasant huts with holes in the roof and the related life expectancy of 35 or thereabouts. It doesn't seem to be affecting young M, though, so maybe it's not the fireplace. Or maybe he just hasn't surpassed his medieval peasant life expectancy yet. But even if the medieval peasantry, hunched over their fires, inhaling carcinogens along with their burnt porridge, were hating January, at least they didn't have to make phone calls. Phone calls into voice mail jail.

Phones are the invention of the devil. Yesterday I tried to call about the panini press and they told me I was number 26 in the queue. First off, what the hell, queue? Are we outsourcing to Britain now? Britain, where they have real health care, a social safety net AND make more money than we do? Secondly, number twenty-six? What is that, 12 hours on hold? Forget it. I hung up and now I have to gather all my nerve and try again. Shit. We must have a panini press! Our melted cheese levels are dropping dangerously low! Winter cannot be endured without a chicken, tomato, feta and provolone panini on sourdough bread. Really. Really, it cannot.

In other, important, news, last Tuesday I went and had my picture taken for the Faces of Asheville. If you live here and still haven't signed up and done this yet, go and do it. Seriously. She's very nice; it's totally painless and the project needs to be supported, because it is supremely cool. Not only are they good portraits, it's a serious examination of this community: where it's been, where it's going and who is part of it and why. So you get to talk as well as pose and it's all very interesting. She needs 200 more people by April or May and that means you! You can even sign up right there on that website - you don't need to make a phone call or anything. Well, face it - if it required a phone call, would I have done it? Of course not. I hate making phone calls.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


alien guy in the terrarium
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I made a terrarium today, prompted by this metafilter post and I'm all thrilled with myself. I like terrariums; always have, but the last one I made I gave away and this one is just for me. Also, I feel magnanimous, since I have finally provided my little angel/alien warrior, my glowing frog and my tiny flamingo with a lovely leafy home. And, bonus, I feel dangerous and badass, since, okay, I confess: I stole some moss and a little vine-y ground cover thing from Bent Creek yesterday (not the fern though - I got that at Lowes, where I walked it through the aisles in one hand with a giant maul in the other, which was also kind of weirdly cool.) Yes, it is evil and wrong to steal plants from the forest but I think I get excused, since the Bent Creek people themselves are logging the hell out of where I snagged them and, hey, either they die there or I take them home for a new life.

For one thing to live another must die and I'm horrified to report that the Panini Press that young M got for his birthday and which we have all been using at least once a day since, just up and died this morning. I tried it in three different outlets and nothing - it's dead. "What the fuck, Hamilton Beach?" I said in disbelief and young M was equally upset. "Man, my friends are gonna be pissed off," he said in tones of sorrow. Now I know why the cheese has been disappearing so quickly - there are teenage boys making paninis in my kitchen every afternoon while I'm at work. I had suspected something of the kind: the plates in the garage were a dead giveaway - it's cold out there, but if you're 16, that is no obstacle to enjoying a giant grilled cheese and a game of air hockey. A came over this afternoon, naturally planning on a panini and was also stricken with sorrow - the panini maker, it turns out, has changed all of our lives.

Granted, I was starting to wonder whether my new panini diet, consisting as it did of pretty much nothing but melted cheese and beer, was perhaps the culprit in the fact that my jeans are a bit tighter than they were before we got it, but, damn, the sandwiches are so good it's worth it. It's still under warranty, thank the cheese gods - tomorrow I'm calling and demanding an immediate replacement. We're all addicted. We must have our panini or all hell will break loose!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

bent creek winter trail view

M couldn't come to Asheville this weekend, which made me sad, so I took the dogs for a long hike out at Bent Creek this morning. It was a good hike and there was still snow and ice on the trail I ended up on, which is a trail I don't often take. When I got there it was gray and cloudy and, miracle, there was hardly anyone else there. Well, I mean there was hardly anyone else there once I gave up on my first choice trail and kept on driving up the dirt road until I got to another trailhead where there was nobody, particularly not five women with six dogs on leashes. My dogs are not on leashes when we're out in the woods and sometimes that leash/no leash inequality thing really eats at the canine mind. Also, I hate Dog Nazis, who stop to lecture me about how terrible it is that I let my dogs run free in the woods. Since I pretty much think it's terrible that they never take their dogs off leash, we have a basic failure to communicate there.

We got a load of wood on Thursday night, hurrah! It's huge, giant wood though and young M broke the axe handle when he went to chop one log into smaller, more usable pieces. "We could burn that," I said doubtfully.
"Nah," he said, brandishing the sharp broken end, "Check it out. This is a perfect vampire stake. This right here is a serious Buffy weapon." And he was right. So now, I am happy to announce that my house is thoroughly protected against vampires. Just try it, bloodsuckers! We've got the stake!

In other news, I signed up for homeownership classes in March through the Affordable Housing Coalition and I talked to my friend T who is a real estate agent and I'm going, on Monday, to call some mortgage brokers and bank people to see if anyone will loan me enough money to buy something resembling a house in Asheville. I'm a little nervous about all this but I feel the time has come - and I don't want to live here and freeze my ass off forever. Even if the houses I can afford are also made of cardboard, which is likely, if I own them I can insulate them - by, like, duct taping up huge sheets of bubble wrap and then sheetrocking over that! What? I thought it up the other day! It will work! I think. Anyway, think good thoughts. I'm finally getting off my ass and motivating to actually, my god, buy a house.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Snowing On Me

Everytime I venture outside today to smoke (which is twice, because it's gawd DAMN jesus fuck cold out there today) it's snowing. So I smoke my cigarette, look at the snow, maybe stomp around a little to keep the feeling in my legs and go back inside, where I helpfully inform my coworkers of the fact that it's snowing.
To wit, I say, "It's snowing."
And they say, "Oh no!" or, possibly, "Really?" and then they go outside to check. That's human nature: straightforward observations on the weather have to be immediately verified. People will believe any kind of lunacy coming from the media, but a person they know and (presumably) like and trust says something about the weather and it can't be true unless they've seen it with their own eyes. If you're wondering why we can't just all look out the window, I work in a bunker. A windowless concrete bunker. If the bombs start going off, I'm staying right here where it's safe, except for the slight problem that there's nothing to eat but those little boxes of antique raisins that all offices are issued with by order of OSHA or something.
Then my coworkers come back inside and eye me suspiciously. "No, it's not." they say.
"Pardon?" I say, having forgotten the snow and all.
"It's not snowing," they say, and they continue to insist on this even after I say, "Yes it is."
So, either they are egregious liars or it's only snowing when I step outside to smoke. Or, maybe it's only snowing on me. That's entirely possible, especially in Asheville.

I like snow. I don't much like being freezing cold all the time, though, and it's a quandary, since it hardly ever snows when it's 70 out. Which would be perfect, by the way, and if you know a place like that, tell me, so I can go there and go sledding in shorts. The other problem with snow and ice and 16 degrees holy shit is that I'm trying to talk M into moving to Asheville. One of the reasons M lives in Charleston is that he actually really doesn't like cold weather. Therefore, I am engaging in a little spin here whereby I keep assuring him that it isn't really that cold in Asheville. This would work a whole hell of a lot better if he then didn't promptly open up Wunderground (see above; M, alas, is not immune to human nature regarding the weather) and it didn't inevitably have a lovely little graphic for Ice Pellets or something else equally appealing right there at the front and center. Ice Pellets. Wintry Mix. Snow Showers. High: 27. Then M just looks at me and I smile feebly and say, "But it's character building! It's bracing! It's good for you!" And, to add insult to injury, the snowballs I lovingly packed up and put in a cooler and took to Charleston so I could playfully toss them and he would see how great snow is (well, either that or we would become characters in a Bill Cosby sketch from the 60s) melted by the time they got there. The snow is just determined not to cooperate with me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


sand quarry with leaves
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm very cranky today. I'm going to blame this on my hormones and not on any intrinsic personality disorder (not that I don't have lots! But it's all somebody else's fault! No, wait, it isn't! I'm going to cry now! No, I think I'll scream at something instead! Argh!) but nothing seems to be making it better, not even Oreos. So I think I'll just have to wait it out and accept the fact that just because I got ink on my phone (always, gentle readers, alway, always look at the end of a ballpoint pen you've fished out of an old jar before absentmindedly using it to dial your office phone. Switching to your fingers halfway through the number is not going to help; it's only going to get worse.) and then my fingers and then, inevitably, my keyboard, the world is not going to end.

It might end, however, because the stock market is crashing, which is one of those things which makes me cranky, not because I'm losing money (ha! ha! My money is all tied up in such essentials as gas and the water bill, leaving me not a damn cent to spend on cigarettes and beer this weekend, which is why, frankly, I'm so fucking annoyed with the universe, and we haven't even touched on the buying wood vs. buying food dilemma here) but because I don't understand any of it and yet it fills me with vague creeping dread. Bad incomprehensible financial news always starts me thinking about how awful it's going to be when we're all - me, the kids, M, the dogs, my mother, my brothers, possibly a couple of my friends and maybe a few extra people for the hell of it - living in a tenement apartment in Leningrad or New York or a cardboard box under a thruway overpass on the great prairie or somewhere else where, in my fevered imagination, it's always January. Of 1894. And we have a pushcart and some potatoes - blighted potatoes - and TB. Or, wait, maybe that's the hormones too. I don't know but I'm worried.

On the bright side, though, I did dream about having a giant sloth for a pet and I think that this is a brilliant idea. I like sloths; they're so . . . so. . . slothful and relaxing. It could just hang out in the den growing moss on its fur and making me happy and I wouldn't have to walk it at the crack of dawn when it's like 20 degrees outside. Nor, probably, would it eat my stuff. On the other bright side, here is a charming story about an octopus and his Mr. Potato Head pal, which made me inexplicably almost tear up. Almost. Almost, damnit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weekend's Over

battery park
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm back in Asheville, where it is cold. It occurred to me, as I was driving up 26, a drive that's gotten horribly familiar, btw, that I was leaving a warm, clean environment for a freezing, filthy one and perhaps I should abandon my children and dogs and just move in with M right now. Actually it was not that filthy when I got home; the kids had tidied up a bit and were even trying to run the dishwasher, which would not work. Why would it not work? Well, boys and girls, that would be because my West Asheville home was wired for electricity back in 1956 by Keebler elves on crystal meth. It's a constant GED type logic problem in my kitchen, to wit:

There are nine electrical appliances - a Panini Press, a Refrigerator, a Toaster Oven, a Microwave, a Crock Pot, a Waffle Iron, a Blender, a Food Processor and a Dishwasher. The Refrigerator can run at the same time as any two things, but no more. The Dishwasher OR the Microwave can run at the same time as any ONE of the following: the Toaster, the Waffle Iron, the Blender or the Food Processor. The Crock Pot OR the Panini Press can run at the same time as any ONE of the following: the Toaster, the Food Processor or the Blender. Using these parameters, attempt to simultaneously heat up frozen hideous crap for a teenager, make smoothies and waffles for a sleepy twenty something, cook beans for thrifty, health conscious mom, get all the dishes out of the garage where the teenager and his friends have left them and wash them along with all the other dishes that nobody has touched since Mom went to work and thence out of town on Friday morning. If you mix up any of these rules, you will trip the faulty breaker and force Mom, on her return, to go down to the scary, snowy basement with a candle to try to get the goddamned thing working again. Which will make Mom shout bad words.

That is why I was in the basement this morning with a lighter and why my reading lamp and alarm clock weren't working last night, since that breaker controls all the outlets in my room, half the ones in the kitchen and a couple of random outlets scattered all over the rest of the house and I refuse to even attempt the basement adventure in the dark. This is also why I just had to walk young M through the bean making process, since the dishwasher was running this morning since it wasn't yesterday (see above.) The bean making process by phone is fairly entertaining, and it goes like this:

Mom: Pour the water off the beans.
Young M: The beans in this bowl by the crock pot?
Mom: Yeah. (sotto voce - because there are so many bowls of beans soaking in our huge kitchen it's hard to find them?)
Young M: How?
Mom: Well, just try not to dump them in the sink. Or use a colander.
Young M, accompanied by worrisome noises that indicate beans falling in sink: I'll call you back.

Phone Call 2:
Mom: Now get those ham hocks out of the fridge, you know, those gnarly looking things.
Young M: Those things that look like they're for the dogs?
Mom: Yeah, those.
Young M: For real? We're going to eat those?
Mom: We'll pull them out. They're just for flavoring.
Young M: I don't know, they're pretty haggard.
Mom: Trust me.
Young M: I'll call you back.

Phone Call 3:
Young M: So, how do you want me to cut the onion?
Mom: What do you mean? Just half an onion.
Young M: But, like, long ways or around the middle?
Mom: Don't overthink this. Just peel it first and then cut it in half.
Young M: I have to peel it first?
Mom: Call me back.

Phone Call 4:
Mom: Now add about an inch of water and turn it on.
Young M: Should I get a ruler?
Mom: No, it's like. . . like when you put your fingers so far apart. . . I mean. . um. . like half your thumb!
Young M: Just that much water?
Mom: No, that much water over the top of the beans.
Young M: You're not being very clear.

Ah, it's good to be home, away from that clean, warm, shiny Charleston no kids or dogs environment. Really. Really it is.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bar Burgers

M brought his laptop home from work so that I wouldn't start seeing giant pink spiders on the walls, which was totally wonderful of him. I hate internet withdrawals and even though I mostly managed just fine without internet for five whole days in early January it's nice to know that I can be here for the weekend and not start sweating and shaking. So here I am in rainy Charleston, happily poaching wireless, rereading Quicksilver, and watching M make some incredibly cool thing out of wood and copper wire and hemp twine. Brilliant.

Last night we went to Gene's Haufbrau which, when I was but a young, evil girl, was a boring bar full of old (like, they were in their doddering forties and fifties, probably. I mean, ewwww.) people located right next to Clays, which was a creepy redneck bar full of semi badass or badass wanna be mullet headed biker boys. I hung out at Clays, naturally. Clays, though, is gone along with all the other grotty relics of the late 70s and early 80s and Gene's Haufbrau has morphed into a really cool bar/restaurant where we drank a $5 pitcher of PBR (Five dollars. Yeah. This is a Good Thing.) and ate hamburgers and hung out with our friend H.

This is the third time we've gone out for bar burgers in Charleston and the first successful bar burger. I was contemplating starting a new blog devoted purely to the search for the perfect bar burger (the alliteration - Best Bar Burger Blog - pleases me) but then I decided instead to make it an occasional feature on this blog. Short version: the burgers at that Irish pub in that strange new North Charleston neighborhood somewhere near Montague Avenue are atrocious; the burgers at Buffalo South are also fairly loathesome and the burgers at Genes are quite passable. We will continue our search and expand it even into Asheville. Suggestions are welcome.

It's funny how the world has changed. Occasionally I wax indignant at young hipsters because they can just go to the mall or the internet and buy cool thrifty hipster clothes, whereas I actually had to work for my Dickensian waif like look and also, my outfits, similar to those everyone wears now, actually drew shocked looks of disdain, whereas nowadays, nobody cares if you have purple hair and are wearing fishnets and combat boots and a torn up jean miniskirt with patches. Also, back in those days, downtowns and strip malls from Charleston to Asheville to Baltimore and New York were eerie, deserted places full of vacant lots, rusted razor ribbon, skeins of barbed wire, boarded up windows, feral swarms of rats and, in the suburbs, the occasional Hallmark Shoppe, Waffle House or Rite Aid. In other words, they were excellent environments for disenfranchised teenagers with brains full of mescaline. Sometimes a group of rednecks roared by in an old pickup with a Confederate flag on the back and that was about it; the radio sucked (okay, some things never change,) there were only two or three kinds of beer and you had to know the right people to get a cassette copy of Combat Rock. Nowadays, there are nifty gifte shoppes full of cool artist made shit everywhere and helpful, funkily dressed twenty somethings in good moods listening to indie music on Ipods. It's all very nice and expensive and the battered Krispy Kreme is a shiny bank branch. It's good and all, I guess, but M and I kind of miss our pre/post apocalyptic landscapes of yesteryear. Which explains a lot about our generation.

Friday, January 18, 2008

cold gnomes

cold gnomes
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm booking on down to Charleston this weekend again y'all and leaving tomorrow's snowstorm to you other locals. I have four snowballs in a soft Ingles cooler in the back of my car to surprise M with and I think that's enough snow for now. I was surprised as hell, though, by how much snow there was in West Asheville (be quiet, Colorado people with your giant snow) compared to downtown. I mean, this morning there was still quite a lot of snow everywhere in my neighborhood, but downtown was snow-free. Mountain micro climates or maybe they're just better at getting rid of it; who knows?

A and I had a brief snowball competition off the back stoop yesterday. We were aiming at the People's Liberation Front oil tank - that's the oil tank next door that says UnitA on it, which I thought when I first moved in was Latino political graffiti - and it took us an embarrassingly long time to hit it.
"It's a hard target!" said A.
"No it isn't," I said, "It's huge and it's not that far away. We're lousy shots." This is alas, the truth, although then A suggested throwing underhand.
"Underhand?!?" I said scornfully, "What are we, girls?"
"Well," said A, handily hitting the UnitA tank with a nice underhand toss, "Yeah."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

django on a snow day

django on a snow day
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
WE CAN HAZ SNOW DAY!! Yeah! I love living in cities where everything shuts down for 3 inches of snow. Asheville, like Baltimore, rocks that way. It's as if snow causes some kind of crazed amnesia: every time it snows, even though it happens every winter, the whole populace has never seen it before and is paralyzed with fear. Last night on the 11:00 news on WLOS, they were freaking out in the grand manner. They even had a list of careful snow tips in case, god forbid, you had to venture out of your door, which included (I swear I'm not making this up) this gem: Be sure to cover your mouth and all exposed skin. Because otherwise . . . uh. . . the demonic microscopic Snow Monsters will eat you! Wear a welding mask! Wear 12 layers of wool! God almighty, be careful! There's 3" of snow on the ground! Anything could happen!

I knew we were getting a real snow day last night, even though - or maybe because - young M was doing the magic thing of saying over and over, "I have to go to school in the morning. Maybe a 2 hour delay. That's it." Meanwhile A & I were chanting, "Snow day! Snow day!" and drinking beer; I actually stayed up later than young M. That hasn't happened in lo these many years. And then I slept until 11:30, had 2 breakfasts (steel cut oats done in the crockpot overnight are amazing; but don't use apricots; they break down) and have done not one damn thing since. Except take some pictures and put on my peculiar snow day clothes of a giant hippie black skirt over my gnome pajamas, danskos and my huge fuzzy peruvian snow sweater.

I did have every intention of cleaning the house but it's already 3:00 and, gee, cleaning time has passed. Pity, that. I was also going to spend the day cooking and I should probably get to that pronto; there's a pork loin roast awaiting my attention. Meanwhile, however, it's lovely just to sit around, drink coffee (with a small, judicious application of Sailor Jerry's) and be lazy. Young M has gone off with some of his juvenile delinquent friends; A is reading and the dogs, per appropriate dog behavior, are busily tracking as much snow into the house as possible. Django will catch a snowball if you throw it to him, which is fabulous, but then he wants to bring it into the house to eat on the couch, which is less exciting.

Snow Day! Yay! Yeah! Wahoo! Snow On!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


frost macro 1
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
There's a blizzard a'comin', oh yes indeedy. I know this because every single person in Asheville is discussing it in hushed tones and, no doubt, flooding all the Ingles in search of toilet paper and milk and white bread. You have to buy white stuff when it's supposed to snow; it's an immutable law. Me, I'm not going to buy any white stuff when I go to the Ingles tonight, even if I do get arrested by the snow police. There are other things more necessary for a Snow Day: I'm going for beer, actually, and cigarettes and hot chocolate mix and I might even make a run to the ABC for some whiskey. You have to be careful though, because I have been burned before by the Non Materializing Blizzard and it's unwise to get plastered the night before the possibility of a real Snow Day, even if the meteorologists are basically falling all over themselves having orgasms about it on the teevee. Nothing sucks more than waking up with a hangover fully expecting ice on the roads and the radio telling you to stay home but instead receiving 55 degrees, sunshine and unpleasantly perky coworkers.

I'm going to the grocery store after I visit my mom, who is fully recovered from her cold and lonely for company. Nevertheless, my mother is worried about the weather and she's worried that I shouldn't come over and then that I shouldn't go to Ingles in case it becomes too dangerous to get home. We have just had a couple of phone conversations about this and I told her that it was probably going to be fine. I don't think the Snow Beasts come out right away; I think it takes like an hour before children start getting devoured and stuff. Anyway the snow isn't supposed to start until way later than I'd be there, which, considering that my mother goes to bed at like 7:30, is not going to be very late.

Actually, I shouldn't laugh, because I also am not immune to snow paranoia and I hate driving in the stuff. I learned to drive in Charleston, SC and the woman who taught me (who was a daring, redheaded, dashing divorcee of some 40 odd years and who, I found out years later, was conducting a torrid affair with one of her high school age students, who I would years later have a torrid affair with myself, that being the nature of Charleston) didn't cover snow and ice. I have firmly resisted all attempts to teach me what to do since, preferring to stay home when it snows. And I intend to, and I'm looking forward to it. And it should actually snow, because I have been wearing my snow globe ring all week, and you just know that has to work. So yay! Snow Day! Let it snow!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One of Those Days

My attitude of late has improved so much that even 20/20 has noticed - they've named Asheville, my fair city, as the happiest town in America. Goddamnit. There goes my newfound happiness - way to change my attitude for the worse, 20/20! That's just what we need to stay happy in Asheville: more creeps with way more money than those of us who actually live and work here will ever have moving to overpriced lofts downtown, or, god forbid, cute bungalows off Haywood Road, looking for happiness. Happiness that doesn't, apparently, involve drum circles or freaks. Yargh. The only person who can move here is M and we have to find him a real job first, which we are working on and you all will soon be working on as well.

In the meantime, though, let me share my current unhappiness. First off, in the continued annals of Felicity Doesn't Get To Have Heat in the Winter, the cheapass ancient thermostat in my house, which is, of course, connected to the cheapass ancient furnace, has gone all wonky and keeps spewing out heat even when you push the lever down to 50. This cannot be allowed, because heat costs money and I have no money (see above; I live and work in Asheville.) At this rate, I'll have to buy another hundred gallons of oil for another $350 in a week or two and I do not anticipate having $350 to spare at that time without significant lottery winnings. I mean, given a little more time we could all stop eating food for a couple of weeks in order to buy oil, but without time we don't even get the starvation option. And the starvation option is tough with a 16 year old bottomless pit living in the house. So I'm fucking with the thermostat and fucking with the thermostat and getting, basically, nowhere. It seems to have gone to full random activity mode and this is just not good at all. This is causing me acute mental anguish.

I woke up in a bad mood anyway since Django the Hell Dog has decided to wig right the hell out every night for the last two at, respectively, 2:30 and 4:00 a.m. Last night, anyway, we all went out to Mela for a delicious and sinfully expensive meal to celebrate A's birthday and I ate too much, so I was a bit extra groggy anyway, which doesn't help when you're cursing at a dog and, of course, stumbling over things in the dark wee hours trying to let the dog out and wait for him to come back and all that kind of big fun stuff. Then I couldn't get back to sleep and so on and so forth and that's why I was driving to Asheville High School this morning at 8:15 like the proverbial bat out of hell with two dogs in the back of the car.

But I was cured of my crankiness by flirting with a totally sweet guy at the Merrimon Avenue Valvoline Quickee Oil Change Palace or whatever it's called. He was adorable and we told each other jokes and he liked my bumper stickers. Contrarily, this little interaction made me the happier for having M, because, see, if I was still single, I would now be filled with angst since I would never have had the nerve to ask him for his phone number or give him mine or do anything but tell a joke, laugh at his, secretly admire his blue eyes (I am a total sucker for blue eyed boys, am I ever) and then I would have driven away feeling bereft. Because I have a boyfriend now, I got to just drive away happily, thinking he was a nice guy and being glad that I do have a boyfriend who also has blue eyes that I adore. This is good. And all would have continued to be good had I not gone home for lunch only to discover that. . .

A) it was probably in the mid 70s in my house (temperature wise, not decor wise. It's always the mid 70s in my house decorwise.) and B) the dogs ate my favorite pair of blue jeans. Ate holes all through the ass. If I cried, I'd cry now. It's fucking impossible to find jeans that fit and I had that pair for over two years and they were just getting totally comfortable. Not only that, but the dogs knocked over the closet door (don't ask. Leaving a teenager and a 20-something at home "alone" every other weekend has not been the best thing ever for my house. Not that things wouldn't have broken down while I was lying on the couch drinking PBR, because they do all the time, but since I'm not there I can blame the kids.) and it broke an ugly lamp of which I was fond and for which I think I paid like $5 at a Baltimore thrift shop in the late 80s. Damn, damn and fuckity fuck. Irreplaceable lamp, irreplaceable jeans and, goddamnit, irreplaceable heat. My happiness has been disturbed and I blame ABC TV.

Monday, January 14, 2008


auds 1985
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, it is this child's birthday today and she doesn't look quite so much like that anymore, since she's taller now and hardly ever wears her hair in pigtails. As you can see below. It's a big semi significant birthday too, and I think she can't be my daughter anymore. She has to be my sister now, or my niece or friend or something - no one must know that I have a child this old. Yeah, okay, she is 25. Isn't that amazing? I can't believe it myself; hell, I usually feel younger than the age she is now. Actually, I also usually score younger than her on internet How Old Are You, No Really? type tests, which drives her up the wall and leads me to reflect that there is something good about being an irresponsible parent after all. She's a Capricorn, likes order and frets about details, which has come in very handy over the years, since it is A who listens to my voice mail when I get too neurotic to hear it, straightens me out on various subjects and talks to the cel phone people for me. Also, she has a wicked sense of humor, is great fun to be around and all in all, she rocks. Happy Birthday, A!! I love you!
project 365 #322: audrey reads her own palm

In other transitions I bade farewell to my zen guru therapist today in a cloud of sweetgrass smoke. I am formally hereby adjudged sane: look out, y'all! Danger, danger! No, seriously, I'm fine now and actually, I'm enjoying it. Being sort of generally happy is actually easier than being miserable all the time (who knew?) and so I'm striking out on my own, away from my therapist. This is actually pretty cool and I'm pleased with myself.

I know all this good news gets wearing, so I do have a lovely snippet of relatively bad or at least significantly gross news for you - guess what Django ate this weekend? Hint: He's not going to get pregnant any time soon. Yes, that's right - Django ate one and a half tubes of Gynol II, which is to say, nonoxynol 9 containing spermicidal gel! Can we have a hand of applause for the springer spaniel who knows what he likes? He apparently ate the entire metal tubes with contents, plastic lids and all, which is doubly amazing when you know, as I do, that most people (at least those interviewed in a highly scientific study taken over many years observation, say no more) do not, um, like the taste of that stuff. Apparently it makes your lips a little numb too, but after close observation, I am happy to report that, as usual, it didn't affect Django one iota. Which is really good, because I sure as hell didn't want to have that conversation with the vet

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekends End

I hate it when the weekend is over. M has gone off back to Charleston and I'm sitting here kind of sadly with nothing fun to do. I miss him when he leaves and become lonely and start thinking about all the stupid shit I have to do. I have to go to the laundromat and all I really want to do is something unhealthy, like drink the afternoon away. Fortunately or unfortunately, my drinking buddies are all either busy or sick or out of town and I've never gotten the hang of drinking alone.

Speaking of afternoon drinking, yesterday M and I went downtown to wander around and stopped at the Flying Frog to have a bloody mary and watch Asheville walk by. It's always interesting at the Frog: it's the bar where I won a bet with my younger brother some years ago as to whether Asheville or New York has more freaks per capita. I won (I think it was the lesbian couple in matching zoot suits and moustaches that finally got him.) It was a little chilly for the true freak factor yesterday but there was still a lot to look at, including the guy at the bar when we got there. He had obviously been there for a while, being as how he was having a little trouble standing up and walking out, but he made it and we're all praying that he didn't go get into a car. M sneaked a glance at his paid bill after he left: that man racked up a $160 tab at the bar. By himself. Before 4:30 in the afternoon. Gods know the Flying Frog is not the cheapest place in town, but still, that's downright inspiring.

Friday night we did go and play trivia with our old friends E & M & D, although not, alas, very well. Turns out that M was right about there being a Yellow Sea near China, which none of the rest of us believed (I think we're too inoculated PC or something and it sounded vaguely racist, besides, coming up with a complex etymology for Aegean involving color was so much more, um, challenging) and E was right about Rice Krispies predating Cheerios (Rice Krispies have been around since the 20s. She knew that. The rest of us, associating them only with the little 60s/70s era guys floating around in the bowl, couldn't quite grasp it.) Still, it was really fun and we should do it more often; also, it's pretty cool, when you get down to it, that 20 or so years later, not only are we all still friends after multiple years of losing touch, we're all still having fun doing weird shit in bars. Generation X (the original one which I was theoretically a part of, not the one after they changed the rules and got younger while I continued to age and apparently became a member of some nonexistent gap generation) rules. We do not give up our fun easily.

Then last night we went and had dinner at the Admiral, for which, I am pleased to note, by the way, that this blog is the third Google result of. (And I've just won the awkward sentence construction sweepstakes! Hurrah!) The food was fantastic yet again and we ran into our friends Z & H and their friend S, so we all sat together. I love that place. My only issue with it is that they didn't open during the six or seven years that I lived half a damn block away, the years where that was the B&D Bar, which had an air of eternal scary mystery, being as how it was only open on some secret bizarre schedule that only the regulars could understand and you could tell from the windows that you would probably just not be welcome. My old neighborhood keeps on getting cooler and it makes me nostalgic and sad but on the other hand, if the Admiral and the Rocket Club had been there when I was, no doubt I'd be even poorer than I am and my liver would be in worse shape. Sometimes you have to rely on the silver linings. And I'll be in Charleston on Friday night with M again.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Way My Brain Works

I rescued a worm from the sidewalk this morning. I had to use two twigs like chopsticks to do it (sorry to be all girly-girl, but touching worms is just one of those things, like mice, that I have stereotypical issues with - mainly, it makes cold chills run up and down my whole body and I tend to jump and shake violently) but I finally got him safely over to the mulch. I'm assuming here that mulch is something worms can dig through to earth more easily than sidewalk but I could be wrong about that - this was pretty serious mulch. I found him (worms are asexual. I want to say him or her here but that would be wrong and the default is him. I have issues with this but that can of worms can be opened in another post sometime. Or not.) while I was smoking a cigarette and it took me a while of watching to decide whether or not to effect a rescue maneuver there. As I smoked and watched, these are just some of the pressing, burning questions that went through my brain: Should I rescue that worm? Why is there a worm on the sidewalk in January anyway? Isn't that just wrong? What if I rescue that worm and my rescuing of that worm puts some bird who was counting on that worm for his protein in jeopardy and then that bird doesn't reproduce and eventually there's a sparrow drought in downtown Asheville? Am I fucking with the forces of cosmic nature here? Is there some kind of karmic debt for that? What if that worm was put in my way specifically by some small bored god wanting to find out what I would do and what if by rescuing it I throw that god's perceptions of humanity all off? Hey, I wonder if anybody else remembers that parody of the We Are the World song that went We Are The Worms, Under the Sidewalk? Did that come from Weird Al or Sesame Street? And, most importantly, what if I go to rescue it and I have to touch it? Ewwwwww!

M is coming for the weekend and he'll be here this evening and this is making me all happy. We're probably going to go to the Westville and play trivia tonight, y'all, I'm going to send out an email any minute now, but who wants to come along? M & I are not good on pop culture but pretty frickin' excellent on such important topics as alternative & punk rock, art, literature, weird science & nature, medieval European history (me) and baseball (him.) This leaves us in need of some movie people, some showtunes people, some football people and some politics people. Trivia at the Westville tonight! 9:00! Be there!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Horrible Foods of Yesteryear

My father was a child of the Depression - and by that I mean he probably remembered the thirties about the way I remember the seventies, except without the psychedelic TV programs. However, this Depression era childhood must explain some of his weirder traits, like his inexplicable fondness for chipped beef. Chipped beef. Does anyone else remember that stuff? It came, for some hideous reason, in glass jars with thin metal tops, like cheap jelly and it was noxious in all its incarnations. The very thought of those glass jars (they had blue labels, I think, and the tops were red) sends shivers down my spine; I mean the shit was Lovecraftian in its horror. We had it one of two ways: chopped up in scrambled eggs, which was bad, or in a gloppy white sauce served over white toast - "creamed chipped beef" - which was far, far worse. And the worst thing about it was that my father loved it and so we had to eat it, no excuses accepted. We could get away with avoiding other things: lima beans, okra and milk for me, and pretty much everything in the world except peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese sandwiches in my younger brother's case, but we had to eat the goddamned chipped beef. It was salty. It was pinkish. It was formed eternally into thin leathery slabs, which is not something that should ever be said of meat, and I hated it more than all other foods in the world. I probably still hate it, actually - hell, I still avoid limas, okra and milk - but fortunately chipped beef seems to have faded and gone away into the Before Time, absolutely the best place for it.

The other food bane of my childhood was twofold: succotash and gumbo. They both had limas and okra in them. With gumbo, at least, you could eat around the limas and okra and maybe even hide them under the rice or tomatoes or something, but succotash, which was this terrible combination of corn, green beans, limas, okra and these weird little tasteless red soft chunks that I think were supposed to represent peppers, left you nowhere to stash the nasty things. Come to think of it, I bet that stuff was frozen, because those red things don't exist in nature, but you'd never get my mother to admit it. Most of the time, my mother was pretty relaxed and lenient about what we ate, but occasionally, over either the succotash or the milk, we would get into a battle of wills. Then I'd have to sit at the table until either I drank the milk and ate the vegetables or my mother gave up or, in the best case scenario, I got my brother to drink the milk (he liked the stuff, which was handy) and fed the limas to the dog. That worked out well, since it preserved everyone's honor.

With my own kids, I tried hard to avoid battles over food and mostly, I think I succeeded. Young M went through a weird phase at around age 3 where he only wanted to eat things that were cut into sticks, which is fine for hotdogs and french toast but a bit more difficult for stews and casseroles, but other than that we've done okay. In a fully serious parenting tip, I will now tell you how: don't make them eat anything. First off, they're not going to starve to death. They're just not. And if they don't eat something, it's not a rejection of you and frankly, it doesn't really matter in the great scheme of the world. So what the hell, be nice. If you cook something you don't think they'll like, go ahead and make something else along with it that they will. It's not fair to confront a kid with a plate full of creamed chipped beef or succotash or cassoulet, but if you make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or fried chicken or something they adore and put a little of the grownup stuff on the side of their plate, remarking casually that they are probably not old enough to like that stuff, but if they would like to try it that would be great, well, they probably will. And then they may surprise you, which is how I ended up with a four year old whose favorite food was sushi and an eight year old who requested Cornish game hens for her birthday dinner. Which is infinitely more fun than an eight year old sitting for several hours at the dinner table surreptitiously feeding okra segments to a dog who will then go and be sick on your favorite rug.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

News About the F Word

django, camouflaged
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I just discovered that if you stand in the kitchen and say FUCK over and over long enough, it will begin to make an interesting thwockety thwockety sound kind of like thrumming your tongue against a bottle top or a tambourine (actually, no, not at all like a tambourine but maybe a bodhran or, hell, I don't know, try it and see) and all in all it's kind of moderately amusing. Not as amusing to your friends as wehn you inadvertently say Fuckity fuck fuck, or to your kids as when you say Fuck a Duck! in a moment of total Smoky Park Highway Bridge insanity when they're in fourth grade, but still amusing. I was saying fuck fuck fuck fuck, by the way, because Django just ate not only my old pink wool gloves with the drawings on them in glitter paint and my favorite dog walking gray fleece Scooby Doo hat (which will make my daughter and other fashion mavens, admittedly, breathe a sigh of deep relief) but also, in yet another terrible leap of canine logic, his own cozy bed. Which is shredded all over my room since his bed is was located under my bed, in the far corner. For once, though, I know why he did that: he and Theo have recently moved one of their weird dog political games from the arena of the couch - belongs to Theo but hotly contested - to the arena of the dog bed under my bed - belongs to Django and recently also hotly contested. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck a duck fuck; now I have to clean up all the foam and Django doesn't have a bed, which will tug at my way overly soft heartstrings late at night when I hear him clunk his doggy bones down loudly on the hard wood floor. Damn that dog.

In other, wildly non sequitur type news, I have discovered Cake and I like it. No, not cake as in chocolate with frosting but Cake the band, who, yes, I know, everybody else has been listening to for a bazillion years and I'm like the last person on the whole planet who never heard of them but I am clued in now and I am liking me some Cake. I have Pandora playing a mix of stuff that is like Cake and Modest Mouse and the Mountain Goats and I tell you what, it is a good mix. Every year I discover some band that the whole world except me knows and this actually rocks, because by the time I find out about them, I can get the CDs used. So, you know, win win. And no need to say fuck fuck fuckity fuck except in the damn, but this song is awesome sense.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dress Code

Well, I guess we should kick Al Gore around the parking lot a few more times: it's January 8 and like 70 degrees. I went home at lunch and opened all my windows, because it's freezing in my house and when I left this morning to walk the dogs, I was suitably dressed for the interior with no idea that I was heading out into the Amazon rain forest. I was wearing my dearly beloved utterly hideous Carhartt mens' denim overalls, my dearly beloved completely falling apart giant mens' undershirt, a giant green mens' sweater which my crazy ex mother in law sent to young M for Christmas (apparently she decided that her son, my ex husband, had too many clothes, so she sent a few to young M. Sound nuts? This is as nothing, trust me. Anyway, I'm getting a kind of unholy glee in wearing these clothes, which are all waaaay too big for young M, beyond waaay too big for me and almost certainly waaay too big for my ex, so gods only knows where they originated, but they're warm.) heavy socks, hiking boots and of course my regulation dog walking Scooby-Doo fleece hat and green Army coat with the dog treats and plastic bags in the pockets. This outfit (guaranteed, by the way, to scare off muggers, rapists and innocent civilians, which is why, besides the pure-D comfort, I wear it every morning) kept me at a normal temperature in the house but made me feel like a complete idiot when the joggers in T-shirts and shorts passed me at the park. So I took off my hat and unzipped my coat and when I got to work later, I left my coat in the car.

Still, it's January and you're just not supposed to be wearing shorts and T-shirts. It's wrong. I don't care if it's 70; it's wrong. This is Asheville, not Cozumel. Have some dignity. Those of us who are not prepared to put our summer stuff back on beseech you.

The other day, when it was still cold, there were a couple of what I think were goose hunters at the park. I'm not sure you're supposed to hunt geese from a public park in Buncombe County that happens to be surrounded by populous West Asheville, but hey, I'm not going to argue with two guys in full camouflage, a pickup with a gun rack and, the best part, a yellow lab in a spiffy padded camouflage vest. I waited until they left, actually, before I even let my dogs out of the car - I didn't want them to feel underdressed. It all struck me as weird and I couldn't quite figure out why, but a friend the other night explained when she enquired as to why you would dress your DOG in camouflage? First off, dogs, even yellow labs, are kind of naturally camouflaged, being animals and all. And second, wouldn't it be better to put flame orange on them rather than exposing them to the risk of getting shot by Dick Cheney?

When I lived by Gunpowder Falls State Park in Maryland, there were often hunters in my backyard (in fact, my enterprising neighbor used to rent out one of the trees in his backyard so they could shoot deer without even going into the woods) and I worried about my dog. I worried about my kids too for that matter, but even when young they resisted wearing flame orange, so I had to focus on the dog and in my crafty ingenuity, I made him an outfit for hunting season hiking. To this end, I converted a certain sheath minidress that I got in New York, made by a real true New York artist. You could tell he was a real artist because he just painted straight on the dress and thus it was stiff with paint and not the most comfortable thing I've ever worn. Also, it was partly black and partly had huge vaguely rectangular splotches of day glo - really day glo, like it glowed in the dark - multi colored paint on it. Look, it was the eighties. I looked hot in it. Well. Okay. So I looked weird in it. But bright! Unmistakeably bright! Anyway, in the nineties, I turned it into a hunter proof costume for my dog. Sort of a cape type thing, actually, and I thought he looked spectacular, until we ran into a couple of hipster hikers in the woods who looked at my dog with disbelief and horror. "What the hell is that?" one of them asked me, "Wonderdog?" "Alive dog," I replied briefly and succinctly, or, well, I wish I had. In real life I think I just kind of muttered something.

But it worked better at keeping the hunters away than a camouflage vest ever would have and, it was seasonally appropriate fashion, which is what this post is all about. So put your coat back on. It's January. I don't care if you're hot; you have to wear a sweater. Because I said so.

Monday, January 07, 2008

now that is a cold beer

now that is a cold beer
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
A couple of weeks ago, I had a party. To this party, my friends Z & H brought a cooler (a really super cool vintage cooler, at that) full of Yuengling, which was extremely nice of them and particularly so since they left it on my deck after the party was over. I thought I had finished off all the beers inside but given the weather, I don't go out on the deck that much lately. Yesterday, H called and asked if she could come over and get her cooler, which, frankly, I had kinda sorta forgotten about, which is not good, since it was on the deck which is Django Doom territory. Fortunately, the vintage cooler was impervious in its metal armor to Django's teeth and he had concentrated on eating my cooler instead. So I went to open Z & H's cooler and lo and behold, there was this solid slab of ice with a Yuengling imprisoned within. I cracked up.

The beer, I think, is fine, but I'm not going to find out for a while, because all the extra calories I ingested over the last couple of weeks (mostly in the form of beer and mostly in the form of Yuengling at that; Baltimore seemingly hasn't adopted the PBR the way I have) which were quietly lurking around suddenly developed critical mass, teamed together and morphed into spare tire monsterhood on my midsection. I hate it when calories do that - wait around before they suddenly turn into gigantic horrible fat. Yeah, I know this isn't scientific but neither is the simple science fact that my period is out to get me and you know that's true. As are the evil little hearts of calories and their evil little laughs as they attach themselves to my midriff. Therefore no beer for me for a while, alas, and, even more alas, I just had soup and grapefruit for lunch and all I can think about is how much I really, really want a fig newton. Ah, January: piper paying time par excellence.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

I'm taking the Christmas stuff down, a task that always makes me feel melancholy. It's almost done; the ornaments and the nativity scene are packed away: everything is back in the big plastic box that says Halloween on the lid in sharpie. Any minute now I'm going to haul the tree itself out the door and to the curb, even though it's still really green. There's nothing sadder than Christmas trees on the curb and poinsettias in the trash. On other years I've been known to rescue them - one memorable year in the eighties, a couple of us dragged like five desolate trees home to the living room for no discernible reason other than sorrow. And, well, beer. There was that.

It's the New Year and I had a really kickass New Years Eve this year, which kind of fills me with dread. Last year's New Years was okay but not spectacular and the guy I went to kiss at midnight lunged away from me in horror, which made me think at the time that I would be celibate and alone and angstridden and overly concerned with my dogs for the rest of my no doubt miserable life or at least 2007. Which turned out, as we know, to be false, since 2007 was the roller coaster year to end all roller coaster years since at least 2000. Actually, it does seem that there is no corollary between New Years Eve experience and quality of life in the next year, as I have known since the year I took a nice headlong dive into an icy puddle of sleet on a Brooklyn street right around midnight, which I figured meant that the following year would be probably the best of my life. I can't even remember which year that was, which means that there is no corollary, and the fact that last week I was totally happily making out with M in Hampden right after midnight (right at midnight I was taking like a billion less than perfect photos; I can't help it; there were bright lights and shiny things) shouldn't worry me as to what's going to happen this year. And it doesn't. I think 2008 is going to be pretty goddamn kickass, actually. Things are good and I'm not even interested in rescuing Christmas trees or poinsettias.

In other news, Project 365 is over and has been over for like six days now and it's kind of weird. I got so used to taking a picture every day that now I feel guilty when I don't, even though I don't have to and even though, yeah, it was a totally self imposed thing in the first place. It's a big relief - I really had lost interest by the end - but at the same time it's leaving a void. Also, while I have every intention of self publishing those photos and possibly this year of blog entries into a book, the Blurb Make A Book software is getting on my nerves and it's not happening very quickly. But it will. And then I will try to sell it to you so I can buy more firewood since young M did in fact use a whole fucking cord last week. Which is understandable, since this house is apparently made of cardboard and not the expensive corrugated variety either.

Anyway, y'all, happy new year! It's time to go buy a 2008 calendar! I'm going to do that myself sometime really soon!

Friday, January 04, 2008


After the missing party on Folly Beach and seeing R at Buffalo and so on, we got up the next morning, which would be Saturday and drove to Baltimore. In a fit of excessive zeal, I decided to take pictures of every single South of the Border billboard on the way up but that got old quick; the fourteen or so I did take are here. Driving up I-95 is horrible no matter how you cut it, and then this was our first road trip together, so we had to get through the whole "I would like to get off the highway and take rambling country roads and stop a lot and buy weird tchotchkes and take pictures of plastic dinosaurs" road trip ethos versus the "I will stop only when my bodily needs are about to cause me actual long lasting physical damage and even then I am planning to stop for less than 11 minutes or all hell will break loose" road trip ethos. This conversation went fine, actually, because at heart we are really both the second type of road trip person. Also, we had great music with us and we can talk about anything.

Anyhow, we made it and when we got to Baltimore there were friends and food waiting for us and it was all quite awesome. Why Baltimore, you may be thinking? It is not exactly scenic, despite what the damn tourism people are always trying say. Well, it is, but only in bits. Here, however is the reason for Baltimore: 20 odd (very damn odd, yeah) years ago I, who was at that time being what M recently lovingly referred to as Art School Barbie at the College of Charleston, where there were not very many Art School Barbies and I was consequently something of a larger frog in a far smaller pond, moved up to Baltimore to see if I could be Art School Barbie in a REAL art school - to wit, the Maryland Institute College of Art. M is the guy who told me about Baltimore, which I had never really heard of except there was something about a flag and 1812 and some weird ass WWII anecdote my father used to tell about accents. Also, one of my cousins was living there - still does, actually - and thus through an odd concatenation of circumstances I ended up in Baltimore mostly thanks to M. And there we dated for the second time and then broke up for the second time and, because that's how things go, I stayed in Baltimore from my post college early twenties to my mid thirties while M moved back to Charleston for most of those years so our Charleston/Baltimore experiences are almost exactly opposite with weird bits of overlap.

And a bit fraught and also, you see, I am an East Baltimore girl, meaning that I spent most of my B-more life around Butcher's Hill and Highlandtown and Fells Point once I gave up trying to single handedly convert Waverly back into a cool neighborhood (I love Waverly. I like the trees and the farmers market and the small not row houses and all of it but fuck, it's worse than damn Highlandtown for shootings and burglaries and so on and in 1991 I had to move out) but M is a Hampden guy through and through these days. So we did both neighborhoods and because Baltimore demands a sacrifice, M's car naturally got broken into on Patterson Park Avenue on Sunday night. They scattered his pencils about and took some stamps, we think, but nothing else and he fixed the window - it was a little window in the back, not a big window thank the crackhead gods - with a piece of cardboard and all in all there have been worse things happen on Patterson Park Avenue although it was a royal pain in the ass. Apparently we were not alone in being hit - my friend A called to tell me that she saw tons more windows similarly knocked out while walking on Monday from Fells Point up through Butcher's Hill.

Then we went up to Hampden to stay with M's sister R who I hadn't seen in lo these many years and who is totally awesome, has a very cool shop selling nifty dog things called Chow Baby and a very wonderful dog named Spud - no wonder Wegman went with Weimeraners, they're tremendously photogenic. She also has a marvelous cat named Mr. Pickle who we wanted badly to steal and take back down south with us but we couldn't get him to stay in the suitcase. And we went to 34th Street for New Years Eve, which I had never done before and which was totally, totally insanely cool in that very particular on the border of complete gibbering madness Baltimore way.

And we drank a lot of beer and talked and talked and talked, all four days through and drove back to Charleston on Tuesday and spent Wednesday happily puttering around M's apartment and buying him a couch and going to Goodwill and so on. Meanwhile, young M was going through an entire goddamn cord of wood up here in Asheville and this along with the weather reports on the Charleston TV station - "And in Asheville it's well below 0 and they're dying like flies! There are yeti and snow beasts! Ice and other terrifying monsters of the storm! Be glad you're not in benighted Asheville!" - made me decided to come back early, yesterday, that is, and here I am, where eventually I am going to HAVE to tackle that frightening kitchen and buy another cord of wood and, yeah, do battle with the goddamn ice beasts on the tippy deck. They keep coming in the house and jumping up on my lap with their snowy paws.

And that, boys and girls, was my winter vacation and it was wonderful, but I think I'm ready to get back to normalcy or whatever it is that passes for normalcy here at hangover headquarters. And I'm still in love, y'all, and the relationship survived the road trip - any relationship that can survive two 600 mile jaunts up and down I-95 can probably, we think, survive almost anything. Including ice beasts, pterodactyls, four hours of Mythbusters, menstrual cramps and gastrointestinal distress occasioned by the good people at Sonic.

I'm Baaaack

ray at buffalo
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I have returned to Asheville and I'm enjoying the last day of my vacation by avoiding the kitchen, which looks kind of like a medieval village probably looked not long after the Black Death took all the inhabitants. If the inhabitants liked to nuke junk food and leave the wrappers around, that is. That's what happens when I leave for 6 days.

This is a picture of my friend R in Charleston, sitting outside Buffalo South on James Island, which seems to have become my new local Charleston bar by default - i.e., M hangs out there, the people are friendly and it's right down the street from M's apartment. R expressed a wish to see his face on my blog, so, here you are, R: you are on the blog. R, by the way, is the mutual friend who made M call me one fine night back in October, thus leading to a big old change in the course of history, so we owe him.

In other news, whew. It was a long strange interesting week and I have tons of things to say, so look for a whole bunch of posts in the next couple of days, but I'll start with the general recap here. On the day this picture (it's R. Did I mention that it's R? Yeah, that's my friend R, who has been my friend so long now that I think we're related or something.) was taken (last Friday. A week ago. It feels like another lifetime; I hate that about vacations) I drove down to Charleston.

I was late getting out of work and when I got to my car my left rear tire looked low, so I went over to the gas station on Merrimon to add air. The cheapest gas in the Carolinas, as you may or may not know, is found in the upstate around Spartanburg and now that I have discovered this I have all kinds of wacky plans whereby to maximize my extra 6 cents a gallon or whatever. Therefore I try to leave Asheville with just enough gas to get to the Crackaroo (the only official Crackaroo is on James Island, actually, but I like saying it so much that I have dubbed all Kangaroos, as in Kangaroo Giant Mega Corp Gas Station Truck Stop Convenience Store Prison Camp and General Howdy Doo Places Crackaroos. C&D letter to follow in 3, 2, 1. . . ) near Highway 11. So I put a little gas in the car and then I tried to put air in the car but there was no gauge on the tank and it started pissing down rain and three winos were watching me in the rain fiddling around with the air hose and the tire and the whole thing with more than usual interest, so I gave up and got on the highway. Where I panicked badly because of the rain and the pea soup fog and the weird noises my car was making, like, shumpa whumpa sckreek screek. Also, I was PMSing, which never helps, and I kept thinking about how the front bumper is about to fall off since I keep hitting the little concrete thingie at the parking lot (shut UP. I can't help it.) and about how old my car is and needs a front end alignment and so on.

So I stopped at the BP at the Saluda exit, a quivering mass of nerves and everyone there turned out to be the nicest people in the universe. A guy came running out to show me that my gas tank was still open and the cap was flapping in the breeze, which accounted for some of the noises, my bumper did not fall off even when I pulled on it and somebody loaned me a tire gauge, after which another guy came out and checked my tires for me. In the rain. Go ye and spend your money at the BP at the Saluda exit off I-26 for they are awesome.

Then I got back on the road, which was still hairy, and then M called and the PMS kicked in because he, being, you know, sane, was just, like, "Great! See you when you get here!" and I, as I hung up, thought that he just didn't understand and was unconcerned for the fact that my life was in danger. Thank the gods for over drama, though, because then I managed to start giggling at myself by thinking about how I should probably have told him about the pterodactyls and the fog wraiths with the nine inch nails coming at the windshield and all that stuff and it stopped raining anyway around Newberry and I got into Charleston just fine and we tried but failed to find a party on Folly and ended up going to Buffalo (and there was R! Hey, R!) instead and then the next day we left for Baltimore, about which trip blog posts in, I promise, way less exhaustive detail, will follow.