Monday, March 31, 2008

At Least I Still Have My Sheets

You would have thought that the cell phone disaster was enough laundry trauma for one night, wouldn't you? So would I, particularly after the peculiar craft project I started didn't work out and the spaghetti made from the Italian sausage flavored Polish sausage turned out bizarre as hell. Note to self: sausage has a flavor already, and flavoring one nationality of flavored sausage with another nationality flavor of flavored sausage is just not a good idea. Italian sausage is good and Polish sausage is good, but never, I say, should the twain meet. Leave the sausage alone!

While that peculiar sauce was simmering, I was trying to make a basket out of old Sunny D juice containers. Or a wallet. Or something charming and colorful and crafty, you know, like something that some immensely talented African woman would make that would then be sold at a small artsy import gallery and which I thought, in my innocence, that maybe I could make too. Why, you ask, why would you look at juice containers and think about things like that? Because I am deeply, deeply weird and sometimes I come up with these bad really great, thrifty, creative ideas. Unfortunately, while I'm full of ideas, I lack talent and reweaving 2 juice cartons into 1 nifty basket turns out to be too much for me, even with hot glue. It's a good thing I'm not trying to make baskets for the family to survive because frankly, with that and my noticeable lack of skill at ceramics (I had to bribe a grad student to throw a cylinder for me or I'd still be sitting in that studio, many years later,) we'd all have died long ago after being laughed out of the village. I kept thinking about that last night, as the one juice carton I'd cut into one long continuous strip kept slipping out of the other juice carton strips and folding itself around my leg in a manner eerily reminiscent of what I would imagine river reeds would also do and I resigned myself to thanking the gods that we do live in a world where our survival isn't predicated on my ability to weave baskets.

The basket abandoned and the dinner setting uneasily, I settled in to watch a completely bizarre thing on the Ion TV channel called The Lost Empire. It was vaguely based on Chinese mythology but had a Caucasian American hero in what had to be the worst khakis & blue shirt outfit I've ever seen and whose presence bothered me all night, like, do you, whoever you are who made this so terrible as to be pretty good epic think we, American TV viewers, are incapable of watching a really bad special effects lameass lengthy made for TV movie set in ancient China without a stereotypical American to guide us? Because that's creepy, frankly, and also, that actor, whoever he is, looks like my first husband and that's creepy too because even my first husband doesn't dress that badly. At any rate, the movie was mostly incomprehensible, which is fine with me, because it had lots of horrible special effects and dragons and a guy with a pig's head and another guy with a necklace of skulls and bad guys who looked like they were just dragged off the set of Thunderdome and dropped into this movie, so, you know, one wants for nothing more. Also, they cast Confucius as a bad guy just for extra weirdness points.

So all would have been well in my universe as I was sitting there watching bad TV and knitting but then, alas, I decided to put the sheets I had just washed back on my bed during one of the lengthy commercial breaks. That would have been simple, except for the fact that the sheets were not there. No, they were gone and because I am a raging paranoid, I immediately assumed that someone, some dire, evil, hardened criminal type, had boldfacedly stolen them right out from under my very nose as I was absorbed in a not so good E. Annie Proulx novel across the laundromat. Because, you know, everyone wants my four year old threadbare flannel sheets with the snowflakes on them and a couple of ratty beach towels and a pair of young M's underwear - yes, everyone, clearly, wants them. Everyone except for the people who didn't steal them, since all that was still sitting there in a dryer this morning before work. Hurrah, because I like those sheets and also they're the only actual matching set of sheets I own. It was not a good evening for me at the laundromat, clearly. I can't believe that even in the depths of my dead cell phone angst and also the discovery that one of the dryers hadn't been heating at all for 18 minutes and the subsequent search of the car for quarters (ah, the delightful minutiae of the laundromat) I was so out of it as to completely forget an entire dryer load. And, adding insult to injury, naturally, I did all this stone cold sober. I swear, I hate not having drugs to blame when I do something that stupid.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

More Laundry Disasters

Well, I just washed and dried young M's cel phone.


There's nothing much else to say about that except that it's a little ironic that just now when I got home, toasty warm forever destroyed cell phone in my laundry basket, ebay had left me an email about a camera I was watching. Good thing I didn't bid. No camera now. You know I just got him a new cel phone in December and it cost the earth even given the hours of phone bargaining I did with the Sprint people. They won't insure him anymore, either, because if you actually use your $7 a month insurance to get a $50 replacement phone more than twice, you become uninsurable. Naturally. You'd think it would be possible to find used cell phones given how many people upgrade somehow but alas, it is not and even though you can buy a disposable phone for less than $20, you can't get one that will work with Sprint for less than $150. Goodbye, camera dreams. Fuck. And I can't even be that mad at him: he didn't lose it or leave it somewhere or break it mysteriously; he forgot it in his jeans pocket and I, who should fucking know better, didn't check any pockets.

I had been hoping to escape from Sprint somehow, because sometimes I get a little wary of the way my soul has been signed away and the bill keeps on rising inexorably, even though my Sprint phone is useless where I work, unable to detect a signal through the concrete. Everyone else's phone works there, but not mine. So I thought perhaps I would get away and switch, although all the phone companies are just sprouts off the root of ultimate evil, I know. Now that I'll have to somehow come up with another phone I can't afford, that plan is doomed, because every time you do anything at all with Sprint, like walk in the door of their "store" or whisper the word Sprint at midnight on a full moon, your contract mysteriously becomes two years longer. You know this because bats fly down the chimney and drop the new one, full of two point Gothic type, signed in blood and trailing a few sacrificial feathers, in your kitchen. Sprint has me forever and they know it. I heard the eldritch laughter and saw the puff of brimstone when I pulled the phone from the dryer.

Damn it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

me and endo the snake behind the westville

S and I went over to the Westville for a couple of beers early yesterday evening and there was a guy with a large boa constrictor named Endo. I am fond of snakes - well, I'm fond of snakes when I know they're tame and I'm not stumbling across them unexpectedly out in the woods - and so I got to hang out with Endo for a little while. Very cool; it had been a long time since I held a snake. If you don't count a boyfriend or two back in the dark old days, that is.

The weather was so nice yesterday that I had a sudden brainstorm and decided to throw a spur of the moment party on my deck. S & C & Z & H & J all came over and we drank a lot of beer and ate a bunch of party food. In a moment of trashy hors d'oeuvre glory, I made these oh so fancy sausage rolls by wrapping whop crescent roll dough (Laura Lynn brand, too, hon) around pieces of Italian sausage flavored kielbasa. They were extremely tasty although I do not, on the whole, recommend the Italian sausage flavored Polish sausage, since it just seems to be kind of a sudden cultural mix whose time has not yet come. It's disconcerting, to say the least, but who really cares about the flavor of the sausage when it's wrapped in the doughy wonder that are store brand whop on the counter type crescent rolls? Yum. And a good time was had by all. Impromptu parties are always the best parties.

Therefore, I have done not a damn thing all day but lie around in bed reading fantasy novels and frankly, my dear, it's been wonderful and I do not feel even the smallest shred of guilt. I feel a little guilty about the amount of leftover party food I've devoured in bed, yes, but the lying around part has been awesome and anyway, it's raining. However, while speaking of ideas whose time has not yet come, I did have to run to the drugstore early this morning and I noticed that they now have menopause tests on the shelves. Menopause tests. I hate to break it to the marketing department of whoever thought this was a good idea but, look, menopause is just not like pregnancy. There's no time crunch here, like, OMG I have to run to the drugstore to get a menopause test in case I'm menopausal and, frankly, if you are going through perimenopause or the real thing? You do not need a test. No, really, you don't. So unless it's made of glass and will make a good, satisfying noise as it shatters against the wall, trust me, it's useless.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rock Cornish Game Hens and the Spring Blues

I made Rock Cornish Game Hens for dinner last night. I hardly ever make them and then when I do I can never remember why I ever eat anything else. I loved them when I was a kid; my kids loved them when they were young and I still love them. Terribly enough, though, I think that one of the major parts of the whole appeal of the Hen is the barbarity of the eating experience. It's not just food; it's like your own little medieval dinner theatre. You get this whole miniature chicken-like bird on a plate and then you have to break it up and suck the bones and get all greasy and, let's face it, really down with that bird. Or at least I do - there may well be people out there who can eat a Rock Cornish Game Hen neatly and fastidiously but I am not, alas, one of them. For kids, it's savagely fascinating: the tininess of it all, the wee drumstick, the breaking the whole hen apart and sucking on the minuscule bones and then, of course, the sheer joy of a whole little teeny chicken, all to yourself. Also, they taste amazing; there is that. Yes, this sort of orgiastic carnivorousness is out of fashion but, well, fuck it, at least it's not an ortolan.

In other news, I have the blues. The funk, the pre-spring gloom, the end of winter blahs, the something or other that is making me just want to sleep 24 hours a day. Retail therapy isn't working; rafts of mediocre fantasy novels aren't working and, gasp of horror, drinking too much beer with my girlfriends doesn't even seem to be working although, honestly, it works just fine while it's actually going on; it's the next day that's problematic. So I am taking fish oil again and hoping for the best and, in the meantime, seriously contemplating just going to bed for the weekend. This time of year has historically been tough on me; most people get all bummed out in the depths of winter but I can handle that fine (it reinforces my naturally bleak outlook and besides, I can wrap myself up in blankets next to the fire. Also, I love wearing bulky giant warm clothes that hide a multitude of figure flaws.) It's this tease of spring that gets to me: warm one minute, cold the next and meanwhile everything and everyone is running around getting things ready for summer, the birds are singing, plants are budding and there's mad activity - but not mine, somehow. Bah. Wake me up when it's really warm outside.

Also, the title of this post? Would make a really mediocre and annoying band name.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


It's 12:30 in the morning and I'm awake. Not only am I awake, I'm spraying bleach on my hands and arms and pacing around like a goddamn crazy person. Why is this, you ask? Why, indeed?

Because the toilet is completely clogged up, of course. The toilet is totally clogged and my groovy cheap plunger, the one with the translucent green bowl thing or whatever it is that you call the business end of the plunger, and the white plastic handle, that looked so cute at Lowes and worked so admirably on the bathtub, is not working at all. Not working worth a shit, you might say - YOU might say, but I won't, given that it's 12:30 in the morning; I don't have another bathroom and I don't, through some kind of terrible life oversight, have a pair of rubber gloves. Rubber gloves are what you're supposed to wear at 12:30 in the fucking morning when you're plunging and flushing and bailing with the potting soil pitcher into a blue bucket and carrying that full bucket out to alternate sides of the house to dump so as to be an equal opportunity neighbor annoyer and then going back in with an untwisted wire hanger to probe around into parts of the toilet you never knew existed and, frankly, would be more than perfectly happy still to remain in that state of blissful ignorance. The internet will save me, you are thinking, but all the internet is telling you is to wear rubber gloves and not to use the kind of plunger you - and by you, I mean, of course, me, miserable me - own. And there are not going to be any handy plunger buying opportunities any time soon.

If you're awake, say a small prayer to the gods of white ceramic that the half bottle of generic drain opener I just found in the garage is working. While you're at it, go ahead and hope that spraying your arms with bleach spray works as well as rubber gloves so that I don't catch some kind of horrible cholera toilet disease.

And now I know why young M's phone is off and he is nowhere to be found. AAAAAARRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: The drain cleaner stuff did the trick. The toilet is fixed and, mysteriously, young M admits to no knowledge of how it could ever possibly have gotten broken. Must be the ghosts again. Damn ghosts. The moral of this story is twofold: 1) Do not buy plungers for their aesthetic considerations and 2) always, always have half a bottle of drain cleaner handy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

one of those embarrassing pictures

Damn, three-ish days since vow and I still can't get myself to post every day. I suck. You see, I had Monday off and so A and I went out for some serious retail therapy. Something about taking your grown child(ren - young M was there in the form of demands for new jeans; he will not go shopping himself unless threatened with death) shopping means that while you may have intentions of buying yourself a new wardrobe, somehow, your child(ren) will come out with one while you will sort of - not. Well, I did get 2 pairs of sandals that I won't be able to wear until or if the weather warms up, a pair of long shorts, ditto, and a pair of cheap jeans that are slightly better, I hope, than any jeans I currently own, which all suck rocks in hell. And a very cute black sweater. A found two adorable skirts and some shirts and a couple pairs of plastic sandals and all in all I think she made out better than me. I got young M some jeans. Evil parenting tip #473: if he says they're horrible, which he probably will, I will just wash them and put them away with his other jeans. He will then totally not notice that they're new and wear them all the time.

Why is it, though, that all the stores stop selling weather appropriate merchandise in February? Look, it's still cold here. In fact, it's fucking freezing. And if I could afford to go off on a cruise or something to more clement climes so that I actually needed a sundress, sandals and a neon colored bathing suit cover up, I wouldn't be shopping at Ross Dress for Less, Goodwill and Wal Mart, now would I? I'd be shopping somewhere perfect, where it's eternally 1968 and I'm sitting in a comfy chair while nicely dressed ladies flutter around and bring me different things to try on. Somewhere like the Lord & Taylor I remember as a small child, where not only did the ladies bring clothes for my mother, we got to have lunch in a fancy restaurant called the Bird Cage, which, although it was disappointingly bereft of actual birds, got major points for cutting the crusts off their sandwiches. Ah, the club sandwich - nostalgic soul food for the white middle class. You cannot get a club sandwich with the crusts cut off at Ross Dress for Less.

After our shopping excursion Monday, of course, A & I drank beers (as you can tell from the image above) and so yesterday, being Tuesday, you would have thought that I was in appropriate shape to post to this blog. And I was but I could not face it. Someday when I'm like 90 I will learn not to drink on a work night. Therefore, instead of blogging, I continued my shopping madness with an afterwork trip to Wal Mart to wander around in a flourescent light induced haze, buy more jeans that might work or might not and a pizza, which I then ate hungoveredly in bed before going to sleep at 8:30. Yes, Wal Mart is evil and they suck but they have awesome pizza and where else can I buy jeans, a PS2 memory card and dinner all in one spaced out ramble? Also, a vacuum cleaner.

Yes, I bought a vacuum cleaner. The president is going to send me more money for being poor (if he's trying to buy me off, it's totally working. Keep the checks coming, shrub! I am mercenary and conscienceless!) so in the good, classic American way, I'm spending it on crazed luxury items before I even get it. My current vacuum cleaner, of more or less the same vintage as the Lord & Taylor trip described above, is an electrolux that looks like a pig and sucketh not, neither do it do much except make a fearsome noise unto the dogs. So I bought a big upright fancy maroon vacuum cleaner which I haven't tried out yet, being as how I was too hungover to vacuum yesterday - there are limits, after all - and I am looking forward to checking it out. Well. That is to say, looking forward is probably too strong a term. More like anticipating with resigned misery; still, a new vacuum cleaner is a new vacuum cleaner and at least the first time, it will be pretty cool.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lice Scare

Back in the day, when we were hippies, we had lice every year. I mean every year, every hot Baltimore summer, we had lice and I duly freaked out and washed all of our heads with Nix, over and over again, and washed all the sheets and the blankets and the pillows and the curtains and the hats and the coats and every single goddamn piece of clothing in the house and sprayed what couldn't be stuffed into a laundromat heavy duty washer with Nix Lice Insta Death Spray. And then, after that, everyone's heads tender from the Nix, which is honestly only one small step off from DDT, I would sit and comb their tangled, thick, long hair with the tiny blue plastic comb that came with the Nix. Which was not cheap, either. And there were tears. Many tears, a lot of them mine.

We repeated this ritual pretty much every Baltimore summer for years, sometimes with variants, like the year I shaved young M's head in despair and then cried for days since he looked like the world's smallest convict. I told my friend Michel that I thought there were latent lice in the curtains and he poo pooed me with rigorous French laughter and medical journals but you know, I still think there were. "Dormant!" I insisted, "Until summer! Like fleas!" and he said, no, not possible, but jesus, those were some itchy summers.

Then we moved to North Carolina, where the mountains are apparently too high for bugs to climb. Since we moved here we haven't had roaches, we haven't had lice and we've only incidentally been troubled by fleas, which, for a girl who spent most of her life in Charleston and Baltimore (bug capitals of the US, both) is nothing short of miraculous.

Then my head started itching the other day in those dangerous areas, right around the nape and behind the ears. Good lord, I thought, I can't even imagine the conversation I'll have to have with poor M - I've been sleeping with him - and he doesn't have kids. Forget breast feeding and discipline - lice is the true measure of those with kids and those gleefully without.

When one person in a house has lice, everyone has them. You have to go with a total scorched earth all death nuke them from orbit approach and actually, the best way to do it is to treat everybody's hair, wash everything, spray everything and then get the hell away for at least 48 hours and preferably more. Lice starve to death in 48 hours. Or so they say, but honesly, after you've gone through the terrible maelstrom that is lice, you need to get away anyway and pretend that you're a nice family who never, ever got something like lice.

So I called in A to check our heads. A is probably the premier lice checker in all the world; her services used to be highly in demand. Me, I can never see the little fuckers until I'm brushing my hair and suddenly there's something waving legs at me. This is never a good moment. A can spot a nit from a mile and has had this talent since I named her Official Family Lice Checker at age 7. She is good.

So I sat down tonight and A went through my hair and then I went through hers and it was shiveringly familiar. Turns out , thank you baby jeebus, I don't have lice and neither does she. We have new shampoo, which we think perhaps we should toss, since it's making our heads itch in bad places.

And here is my last thought on lice, which I give you, new parents, gratis. Never admit to having lice. Never, ever, ever, whatever happens, should you admit it. If you find lice on your kid, send an anonymous email or make an anonymous phone call to the effect that you suspect, somehow, from your cabin in the Yukon, that there migh just be lice in the third grade. Then hang up before they can trace your call and when the nurse calls with the terrible news, you can happily scapegoat another family. Just trust me on this one.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday we went to Charles Towne Landing, a famous Charleston attraction, where they used to have a lot of alligators in a kind of fetid pond with a walkway with plexiglass walls over them. This is where, notably, small A, about 3, stopped dead in the middle of the walkway and shrieked at the top of her lungs "ADDIGATOR! ADDIGATOR! ADDIGATOR EAT ME!" which is one of those parenting moments you never, somehow, forget. I hadn't been to Charles Towne Landing since, really, although I think I did maybe make one visit when young M was very small as well.

I used to go there a lot when A was little, for obvious reasons, and then I used to go there a lot as a teenager for less obvious ones, most notably that there were lots of private wooded areas where teenagers could indulge in recreational herbalism and then, herbalism indulged, there was a lot of really fucking weird ass shit to look at. Even then, Charles Towne Landing always struck me as one of those parks where the intentions were good but the money ran out much faster than any of the planners had anticipated. In those days they had a strange underground pavilion with state of the art broken technology in the shape of weird tubes that you were supposed to stand in and somehow learn about the founding of Our Holy City. They were excellent for standing in and yelling to your friends across the sunken, half lit, freakishly inexplicable space. There was a rotting boat and a palisade of pilings and then, best of all, the animal village, where you walked through exhibits of animals native to South Carolina in 1670. The exhibits, kindly, tried so hard to give the animals natural habitat in limited space that you never saw half of them. To this day I have yet to see the puma. I think they're lying about the puma, actually, and also, unless that's a miniature elk, hidden under a leaf, it's still missing too. And sometimes, desperate for money, they would show movies in their sad cafe. I went to see Gone With the Wind there once with my friend H.

Charles Towne Landing has changed in some ways - they have a really nice visitor center now, all wood and smoky glass and a gifte shoppe with plastic bears and wooden muskets and blue glasses with the SC state flag on them in gold. But the animal village is still pretty much the same - except for the alligators. Apparently Hurricane Hugo played havoc with the animal village and the alligators got loose. Still lacking money or just not caring, whatever, the decision was apparently made to just let the alligators roam. Which they are doing in fine style. I can just imagine a beleaguered, underpaid curator throwing up his hands and saying, "Fuck it. Let the alligators go free!"

It's pretty cool, actually, to be walking along the History Path, which has helpful signs and nifty exhibits of archaeological digs and a replica settlers cabin complete with squirrel pelts and drying sage and come across an alligator sunning himself by the edge of the marsh. I'm sort of surprised, given the number of tourists with small dogs and children, that there hasn't yet been a tragic encounter, but, so far so good. M says that alligators won't attack humans because they think we're bigger than we actually are, since we're tall, compared to alligators, and, apparently, alligators are, ya know, ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, so they think we have back legs. Either that, or, what I think is much more likely , being as they are a very old lifeform, in the depths of their vestigial genetic memory, they look at us, return to the Golden Age and think, centaur.

Friday, March 21, 2008

18th Century Naughties

This totally awesome picture comes to us from Timofey Usikov and The Ones We Love photo project, which is pretty cool. This picture, obviously, is super ultra totally cool and appropriate in all circumstances. This morning as I was walking to work I was thinking about what I might blog about today, given my vow, and for some reason (my brain is weird) I started thinking about this time I stumbled into the pornography section of the library at the august and dignified Art Museum where I used to work.

I worked in the education division and occasionally I got to go to the library and look stuff up, which was sweet, even though I felt kind of awkward up there being as how I was only making stuff with kids as opposed to being occupied by High Scholarship (there were a lot of High Scholars in that library, particularly the manuscripts curator) but that was mostly my own insecurity in action. Anyway, I always reserved enough time for wandering blissfully around the stacks with no particular destination in mind, which is something I like to do in libraries. Well. It turns out that pornographic art is art, after all, and so there were a couple of shelves of naughty books from centuries long gone by. Now, these weren't super valuable manuscripts or incunabula (be impressed. Do you think I know that word from having a fancy art history degree and working in museums and all? Nah, I know that word from Dorothy Sayers because Lord Peter Whimsy, one of those fictional characters with whom I am in love, collects them. Just goes to show you that detective novels too can lead one to a better vocabulary.) or at least I don't think they were - they were just books. So I sat down on the floor and opened a couple, keeping meanwhile a wary eye out for any loose curatorial assistants or other denizens of the library.

Did you know that there are ancient Greek and Roman dildoes? Now imagine the look on the face of the 19th century German archaeologist digging them up, if you will. Hee. Yeah, I like that image too. However, that wasn't what really caught me - what got me was this early 18th century book of pr0n with lovely anatomically correct engraved illustrations and, gods help us, couplets. I should have written some down but I can't remember them - although from what I read, then, as now, good pornographic writing seems to be a well nigh impossible task. What I mostly remember is one image of a naked woman with an accompanying ode of joy about triangles - the pubic triangle, of course, and then what the author considered the fabulous sexiness of the triangle consisting of two tufts of hair at the armpits and then the pubic hair. Think Leonardo but with more hair and va va voom and also a guy in a wig but no pants having an orgasm next to it on the page. Brilliant stuff, summing up all pr0n over the centuries, really: the more things change; the more they stay the same.

And now for something completely different:
How many cannibals could your body feed?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Okay, I Promise

I promise I'll be a better blogger from now on. I know - it's been kind of dreary around here lately. It's frankly a little dreary in my soul at the moment - nothing life shattering, but this time of year seems to be kind of tough on me. I know, everyone's supposed to love springing forward and getting sunlight in the evenings but hey, I'm the one who's now out in the pitch black darkness trying to walk the dogs. And I'm busy as hell right now so it tends to be pitch black by the time I get home anyway. And the weather! And the kids! And the long distance part of the relationship! And the living situation insecurity! And the weird noise the car is making! And the lack of money! Waaaaaaaa! So, yeah: whine, whine, a fine local whine. I think I'll start back up on the fish oil, much to everyone's relief, and, not so much to everyone's relief, I need to start taking more pictures again too. Not one a day - never again - but perhaps we could shoot for 3 a week or so.

Anyway, this morning while I was walking the dogs through the darkness (actually, I took them out yesterday in the warm rain and it was surprisingly fun - better than the cold wind and dark clouds this morning) I made a vow that I would blog every day that I have computer access starting now and continuing until early May. Uh, by the way, I'm leaving for Charleston again tomorrow and I won't be back until Monday and I probably won't have any computer access there, so, um, yeah. Still. I swear. It's a vow.

In accordance with this vow, even though I have nothing much to say, I'm going to inflict it on you. Yay. Therefore, we're going to talk now about retail therapy and how much I need some, because I hate all my clothes. All of them, except, that is, the thin ones which I can't wear until I lose 10 or 15 or 20 pounds (like that's going to happen.) But the ones that I can wear? That fit? Suck. Suck completely, and even though I recognize that this is partly or mostly the time of year, I have this deep seated wish to go out and buy a whole new better wardrobe. In black, naturally. I think if I just had the right black skirt and the right black top and maybe the right white men's shirt to go over it all in a piquant and charming vaguely French inspired look that would also camouflage my sadly over 40 upper arms and the teenager weight around my middle (that's like pregnancy weight, only it happens because your teenager is driving you so crazy you have no option but to eat brownies and drink beer or else you will go insane) and maybe some new shoes and definitely some new tights and new jeans that actually fit, like the dearly departed ones the dog ate, then perhaps I would be completely happy. Or if I could find three more pairs of those fabulous black corduroys I bought at Belks three years ago which have turned out to be the only article of clothing I own that's worth a damn, but, alas, as we all know, the minute you find pants you like the manufacturer gets taken over by the jellyfish people from Jupiter, who promptly discontinue your clothing with a high pitched cackle of evil laughter at you thrown in - and don't even get me started on the evil interstellar alien lipstick cartel.

So I'm seriously considering taking some of the money that I should be dutifully saving for a house - hey, I finished my housing class! I got a certificate and everything! Now I just have to find a house in West Asheville in my price range (ha. ha ha. ha ha so very ha, motherfuckers. I don't care. There's a house out there for me. I believe in miracles. Shut UP, small voice of logic doom.) and also overcome my fear of telephones and make some appointments with mortgage people! - and going to Ross Dress for Less and Marshalls and TJ Maxx and Old Navy and every other big, fluorescently lit clothing store I can think of and just going wild. Wild, I tell you. I'll be poor, but I'll be nicely presented.

Monday, March 17, 2008

fog and waterdrop

fog and waterdrop
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm sad today but I don't want to talk about it, so instead we will address yet again the question of the Scary Mannequin at Bellaggio Everyday on Biltmore Avenue. She's on the left side, plotting evilly, as you can see from her curled up plotting hands and her evil expression. She's plotting so evilly, in fact, that she forgot her skirt. Yeah, she's just wearing leggings and a shirt and frankly, it's not working for her. You don't look and think, wow, scary mannequin in cool clothes! You think, wow, scary mannequin forgot to put her pants on. Poor scary mannequin! How embarrassing! She is surrounded by highly groovy luggage, though, so no doubt she has some more clothes in there.

In other news it rained most of Saturday and I took this picture of clouds advancing towards downtown on our way to Broadways. At Broadways I briefly got my Irish license revoked for not immediately recognizing a Pogues song on the jukebox but I came back fast by pointing out that it was from that Pogues album recorded after they'd kicked Shane out of the band and replaced him with Joe Strummer, so it doesn't really count. Then M & I went home and watched No Country for Old Men, which is incredible but really scary and dark and heavy duty.

I don't really do St. Patrick's day, actually. It's kind of amateur night, I think snottily, and the bars are too crowded so I don't usually do a damn thing except, perhaps, listen to some Pogues. Some real, Shane McGowan era Pogues. But one must do something and as it is Saint Patrick's Day today of course, sure and begorrah and stuff, I made corned beef & potatoes & cabbage last night as is required. It was kind of horrible, too, but oh well - it was not a disaster on the scale of Friday's "gnocchi" which took me three hours to make and turned out, after all that, to be in fact lemon flavored mashed potatoes. This is the second time I've tried to make gnocchi and the second resounding disaster, so I think I might give up trying that one. Still, it was kind of fun: there's nothing like spending all that time making the potatoes and smushing them with egg yolks and rolling them out into ropes and cutting each rope into pieces and rolling each tiny piece on a fork for indentations and chilling it and so on - only to put the gnocchi gently into boiling water and watch them instantly disintegrate back into mashed potatoes. I mean it's moments like that where you must laugh long and hard.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

when daffodils attack

when daffodils attack
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It is officially spring, right on time. I know that it's right on time because whenever I start to freak out about global warming and the End of the World I search my flickr pictures to find the daffodils and, inevitably, it's early March. Maybe there has been tremendous warming and daffodils bloomed and were photographed in early April before there was Flickr; yeah, that is possible, but since life before Flickr is all a dim blur to me now, how would I know?

At any rate, I am happy to announce that the daffodils in my front yard, which I did not plant, are going great guns and they inspired me to even go out there and rake the yard lackadaisically for a half hour or so, which has made the whole house look much more like someone decent and pleasant lives there and less like the Unabomber is about to come out of the garage. That's probably why the girl scouts came by later selling cookies. Has anyone but me noticed that there seem to be a lot more girl scouts and a lot more cookies this year than ever before? I'm beginning to get suspicious. Girl scouts with cookies, sure, uh huh, yeah right. Clearly they are agents of some interstellar invasion force, lulling us into sweet, sweet submission with their fiendish cookie devices.

So I didn't buy any. That was totally dumb and right after I closed the door I yelled at myself for a long time about it. I did buy some (thin mints. That's my poison and I'm sticking to it.) a couple weeks ago in Charleston and so I feel like I've had my yearly fix, although by my I think I actually mean young M and his friends', since I had two or three cookies, left them in the kitchen and then, a few hours later, the box suddenly appeared completely empty by the TV set. I notice this tends to happen with cookies in my house, see also, chips, frozen pizza, chicken nuggets or anything, really, that takes minimal effort to eat.

In other news, the lost dog up at Pack Square to whom I fed half my Loretta's bread (god, I'm a kind, thoughtful, generous person. I mean, Loretta's bread, possibly my favorite food on the planet, better than thin mints, and it was right there with my salad so I could have soaked it in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, making it into the food of the gods for real and I gave it away. I must have accrued some decent karma here.) has gone off to the pound. Don't freak that he's going to get gassed: it gets better. And, frankly, he's way better off at the pound than he was when I just walked by there and saw him, a cute little terrier type small mutty yellow dog running terrified in the traffic on Biltmore Avenue. So I sat on the sidewalk by Pack Place and called him and fed him bread for a while but he wouldn't let me close enough to read his tag: he had his tail tucked firmly between his legs and kept barking in that "I'm scared, I'm mean, I'm scared, I'm mean" way. Then someone else came out and tried to coax him in closer as well. I had to get back to work so I gave her the rest of the bread and left her to it.

The Pack Place grapevine, always efficient, has now reported that she finally got him closer and they called the number on his tag but it was disconnected. This makes me sad. However, it also turns out that she's the owner of Bistro 1896 (she's very nice and I like her restaurant better now) and that she says if his owner doesn't come forward she will go and get him and keep him. So, happy ending!

And it reminds me that I need to get Django another tag forthwith - for a while there he kept taking off his collar and eating it, and in exasperation after the third or fourth lost forever tag I gave up and just wrote his phone number on his collar in sharpie, but I think he's growing out of that phase now. Or so I hope.

Monday, March 10, 2008

still life with inverted spaniel

So I'm reading what I think might be the most manliest book ever. I mean this book makes Papa Hemingway look like he really belonged on Key West, perhaps with a thriving interior design business. This book makes Travis McGee roll over and beg for mercy. It's the toughest book I've ever read. What it is is The Lost Get Back Boogie, by James Lee Burke and I think, although I am not sure and am too lazy even to google, that it's his first book. I actually am enjoying it, although counting the beers the narrator drinks in an average day is straining my math skills and my credibility, since I, personally, have a hard time taking a 1959 Plymouth lazily up to 100 through the snow after even 11 beers, let alone 2 cases and half a bottle of whiskey, but maybe I'm just a wimp. It is good though and I like it so I thought I'd give you a short, manly summary loving parody:

The sun was going down in loops of fire behind the black mountains as I tapped the steelhead onto the bank and took a long slug of Jack. Damn woman in Missoula, I thought, snaking the old .44 from behind my back and taking a good size elk cow. I drank another beer as I skinned the elk and wondered if the brakes would hold out. Back in Louisiana I'd killed a man, hard and cold and dead on the barroom floor and the memory of it made my eyes burn. I drank another beer and drove down through the snow, jacking the pickup sideways through the gate, the beer clutched between my knees.

Yeah. You have to read that out loud in a really really manly deep voice. I'm telling you, I've missed my calling. Here I was thinking that I could make a fortune writing stuff like the most horrible book ever, and I present a paragraph of my very own:

Alysssssssa tossed her auburn braid over her comely shoulder and adjusted her emerald gown. "Goodness gracious, sir!" she said laughingly, while harboring within the depths of her sensitive soul a great hatred for the topaz eyed, raven haired, wide shouldered, sword begirt, slim hipped piratical man who stood calmly regarding her from the tousled doorway of her silk laden boudoir. "Don't mind me," he drawled insinuatingly, "Now that you are my property, we have lots of time to work out the details of your deflowerment."

You get the general puke inducing idea. You would think I could churn out 400 pages or so of that on my head, but alas, every time I've tried it's broken down into high comedy and low pornography by about, oh, page 55 or thereabouts. I can't ever keep my perky heroine with her perfect peach shaped breasts tantalizing her smoldering eyed lover long enough - either I kill her because I hate her so and just can't take it anymore or I toss them into bed and leave them there. But maybe it wasn't me. Maybe I'm just trying the wrong gender. Perhaps my heart has actually been with the trout and the beer and the shotgun and the dark, taciturn, brooding loner with the bottle of whiskey all along. Huh. Who knew?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Old Geeks Doing Old Geeky Shit

paul chiaroscuro
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday, I organized a piece of surprisingly lame performance art - possibly the most unnoticed flash mob ever. The idea was great and the participants were great but damn Ingles: they foiled my genius plans by a simple act of uncaring technological change. I hate it when that happens.

You see, a month or two ago, I was in the self checkout line at Ingles, as I so often am, and the cute hipster boy in line behind me scanned his Ingles Advantage card at exactly the same time I scanned mine, which made our robot cashiers spout out "Welcome, Ingles Advantage Card Holder" in spooky and surprisingly loud unison. It was hilarious and creepy and also, Hollywood, it would have made a really cute meet if I was flirtier and single and younger and cuter, because then we could have laughed sheepishly at each other and started talking and walked out the supermarket to, I don't know, be shot at by random drug lords or abducted by aliens or have to flight the Blob in the weird meat aisle or something. I give you this idea, Hollywood, for free. At any rate, it stuck in my head as cool (the robots in unison, not the guy, although he was cute) and it occurred to me that doing it with FOUR people would be super rockin' cool and a nifty kind of performance art piece.

Enter too much beer on Friday night, J & S & Z & H and lo, before I knew it, we had plans to meet at the Ingles, dressed in black, to synchornizedly make our way through the self checkout and in the process, record the whole thing for posterity or Youtube, whichever comes first, on S' video camera and A's various recording devices. So I emailed A and he was up for it and then we all met, dressed in black, at the Haywood Road Ingles at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Two people had dropped out, but by wonderful synchronicity we ran into P, pictured here later that evening. and he agreed to be the fourth weirdo, even though he wasn't wearing black. But then, after all, it is West Asheville and there were already four disaffected hipsters in black at the self checkout when I got there.

We were a little nervous about the Ingles people maybe arresting us or something but I reassured everyone that actually, noone was going to arrest us: we are old geeks. Doing something old and geeky. This is not a crime but more the kind of thing that supermarket staff look upon with bemused tolerance and the sincere wish that the old geeks would go away as soon as possible. Also, most of us are, like, regular customers at that Ingles - they're not going to toss us out for anything short of total mayhem.

So we wandered around the store for a while (first time I've ever had a social event at the supermarket) and then met up by the self checkout. As soon as they were deserted, we went into action. It was a little confusing due to lack of coordination, rehearsal or any of those good things (hey, it was me who was organizing it, so, uh, yeah) but we kind of got it going. Four people, four Ingles cards, four baskets full of random groceries, all scanning at once. It should have been awesome. Unfortunately, though, the machines were so not loud you couldn't really hear the synchronization at all. I mean the canned voices were ridiculously quiet. Even though the store wasn't busy, you couldn't hear the incredible coolness of the robots saying the same things at the same time above the muzak. And, to add insult to injury, the cashiers, security and etc. didn't even notice us or care, despite the fact that S was boldly filming away from the frozen foods aisle. And also, in a side note, it's too bad that the self checkout robot doesn't loudly announce what you're buying, because that would be hilarious.

So we did it but it kind of fizzled, alas. Ingles, clearly anticipating unauthorized art, must have turned the volume down. Damn the Man, I say. Turning the sound down! Still, we tried. Then we went on over to S' house to celebrate Mojo's first birthday with beer and many snacks and a good time was had by all and perhaps some day we will get a super amazing flash mob with synchronized robot sounds that really pays off. Or just drink beer.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Marble and Tears

I spent the afternoon in court. I've never done that before - despite my scuffed combat boots and general tough chick aura (hee! hee!) I have never actually broken been caught breaking the law. I have a bad rep in libraries up and down the East Coast and I've spent way too much time in DMVs explaining why my tags are out of date, but court, no, it's a new thing.

It's a fucking broken thing.

We went in, dressed up, because I come from an apparently incredibly distant time and place where you dressed up to go to the courthouse. That time has vanished; we waited in line with a cross section of Asheville, mostly dressed like they were planning to spend the afternoon spiking trash out of the sewer or something equally challenging to your good clothes. Who knew that court has long since become not only casual but filthy? There was a long line when we got there and we waited a long time, knowing nothing. We knew nothing because the phone calls I had made, after much googling, since there was no "summons" per se, just 2 pink slips and a letter with no phone numbers on it, garnered me nothing but a lady who snarled and hung up on me when I asked what one should bring to court and where, by the way, was it?

Eventually, as we waited there in the stone hall with the painted ceiling, a man in a red tie came by and snarled at us some more. Deferred prosecution? he suggested, and then asked if we needed a lawyer. "Yes," I said, still laboring under the belief that everyone gets a lawyer if they need one. Wrong, that idea, by the way. Only if you're innocent and really, nobody is that innocent - if you're not, you'll have to pay. Oh and hey, in case you were wondering, in North Carolina, 16 is an adult. Not adult enough to buy cigarettes or vote or any of that stuff, but adult enough to go to an adult jail and be treated like an adult, which is to say, like shit. And no matter what you do, it will cost you money. A lot of money. Community service costs, by the way. Rather a lot.

So we waited and waited and waited in a variety of hallways and rooms. Noone was kind; noone was helpful; noone was even slightly nice. I'm not sure that we're not in contempt of court right now, because everything was incomprehensible. I think we have to go back in April. I think we have to fill out some, but not all, of a five page form. The lady stabbed her pencil at several parts as she snapped about what must and must not be filled out. I think we weren't supposed to be in that second courtroom, but I'm not sure. I think, but apparently I'm wrong, that a strangely shaped lady with a halter top on who was apparently caught driving 92 in a 45 mph zone without a drivers license is worse than we are, but I guess I would be wrong, since she just paid a fine and went away. I think this is all going to cost me around $400 or $500 I don't have and that's not including a lawyer, who I probably should have, but naively, I thought that things that weren't even illegal when I was a kid weren't that damn big of a deal.

I also think that the system is broken when the courthouse is full, oh full, completely fucking full and moving slowly. I think the system is broken when an older, clearly mentally disabled lady, clutching a white ticket in her hand, comes walking in and out of the courtroom with noone to tell her where to go or what to do. I think the system is broken when noone in the whole building can tell you where to go or what any procedure is and they can't be manage to be pleasant about it, either. I think the system is broken when the only person who can be bothered to look at you in a courtroom is the bailiff and he's just waiting to snatch your cel phone. I think the system is broken when it's all like old home week around the court room because, apparently, everybody has broken some law or other and coincidentally, everybody has to pay a fine. I think the system is broken when there is nobody to speak for the helpless. I think the system is broken when half the people there don't speak English. I think the system is broken when those who actually have lawyers are the only people who know where to go and what to do. And, worst off, I think the system is fucking broken when, going through all this, I am asked, "Mom, is this American justice in action? What's wrong with this place?" and I have to say, "No, I don't think this is justice and I don't think this is right. But I guess we just have to go along and play the game." Nice game.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I Can't Quite Get the Hang of Wednesdays

Look! Ha ha, all you scoffers who thought I couldn't turn that old, hideous chair into a thing of beauty and a joy forever: I did it. And at least until Django eats the newly recovered cushions, it's beee yooo tee ful.

So, I'm better. More or less - I feel better but I'm still coughing whenever I try to talk. Therefore, I am going to be silent (cue a chorus of my unbelieving friends) for the foreseeable future. I'm back at work, anyway; it's Wednesday; my skirt is being held together by a binder clip and the kleenex in my purse is rapidly becoming shreds to match the shreds on my sweater: let's all sing together, to the tune of Girlfriend in a Coma: Kleenex in the laundry, oh no, oh noooo, it's serious!

I went to the homeownership class last night. It's way more intense than I expected and I even have homework. It's also depressing: I'm not sure where I got the chutzpah to believe that I could buy a house since, if you fill out all the handy little worksheets, you find that what I can afford is actually, like, a 2 by 4. Over the next 60 years, I guess I could buy some more 2 x 4s and then when I'm 90 or so I might be able to cobble together a small lean to. Or not. Probably not. The even more depressing thing is that I've been making the same amount of money for 8 years now and, 8 years ago, if I had had my shit together, I could have bought a house. Unfortunately, the house I could have bought then now costs four times what it did 8 years ago and I'm thus left standing here in the metaphorical rain, looking woeful. With my 2 x 4. At least I can club people with it.

I was afraid that this was the case and it looks like it may well be. But I'm going to keep on attending class and hoping for a miracle. In other class news, have you ever noticed that when people start filing into an unfamiliar room for a first class or a meeting or whatever the group often divides on gender lines? Like, I was about the third person to get there and there were two guys on one side of the room so I sat on the other side and then as more people filed in they followed our lead, at least until the chairs started filling up. Humans - they are so weird.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Return to the Infirmary

Well, I got young M's cold or flu or whatever it is. Of course I did, Zicam and Emergen-C and determination notwithstanding. I made it through Saturday pretending to be fine (and now I feel like Typhoid Mary; you just know that I sent this evil bug to Baltimore with R and Charleston with M, thereby infecting the entire east coast in one swell foop) and then Sunday I had to give up. Yesterday my boss sent me home from work at noon with instructions not to return until I was better and dear god, please, don't touch anything on your way out the door. And now here I am with my last echinacea tea bag, a box of kleenex and all I could find at Downtown Books & News of the collected works of Melanie Rawn, which are that perfect thing for illness: neither complex or stupid enough to make your head hurt. At least it's raining and I don't have to feel like I'm missing a beautiful day, which always seems like it's adding insult to injury. Anyway, here I am at home, going momentarily back to bed. Sore throat? Check. Cough? Check. Stuffed up nose? Check? Generally miserable? Check.