Sunday, June 29, 2008


peas in a pod
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The lawnmower wheels will not stay on. I've been to Lowes and gotten what I thought was the proper hex nut which turned out to be, of course, not the right nut at all. And I've tried another screw nut combo that fell off immediately and I've cursed and shoved things around and looked for the hex nuts I know we have, that do fit, because I bought them when the first wheel on the lawnmower turned to the dark side. I haven't found them, because they were in the garage, only they're not where I put them, because my son and his cronies turned the garage into a Lair a while back and it's horrible and scary in there now. I pulled the sheets off the garage windows furiously because I think that's where the rats are coming from - rats, like teenagers, are partial to hanging out in Lairs of Eternal Darkness with Mickey D's bags scattered hither and yon - and discovered that one of the garage windows is broken and my son, on whom I would like to vent my frustration with this and certain other issues, is in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, my brothers and I are increasingly concerned about the QOB who seems to be regressing, not getting better. My mother was insisting that she was in charge and everything was being handled but unfortunately this turns out not to have been true at all. My mother is in over her head, here, and therefore my brother and I are now taking over, which means I have to get on the ball and call a bunch of doctors and therapists and so on and make appointments and find classes and sign them up and, also, spend Saturdays looking at houses with the QOB, despite the fact that she says she won't stay here. But, as my brother keeps trying to tell her, if she goes back to New York she won't last, well, the proverbial New York minute. It's scary and sad and frustrating and she and my mother are kind of acting like seven year olds locked in a power struggle.


On the brighter, or at least weirder side, yesterday S & J & H and I all went out to get flowers. You see, at the Museum's silent auction, S and I went in on a certificate for what was billed (in flowery phrases with lots of flower pictures at that) as a pick your own flowers, get four buckets of flowers, deal. We spent $25 each and won it - the value was supposed to be $200, so, you know, good deal. And I thought I could bring Mom and the QOB out there to pick flowers, which, I thought, they would enjoy. Well.

I called up the flower lady on Friday to schedule a visit on Saturday. "You'll have to get buckets," she told me, "They have to be the 3 gallon buckets from Dollar General."
"Okay," I said, thinking to myself that this was rather specific.
"What time are you coming?" she asked then,
"Afternoon," I said, since that would give me Saturday morning to veg out a bit before I picked up the Ladies.
"No!" she said, "The flowers should be picked first thing in the morning. They don't like being cut later."
"I'm sorry, " I said firmly, beginning to get a bit irritated, "We have to come in the afternoon." So we hung up and she said she'd email directions, which she did, along with a note saying that since we were coming at the wrong time, she thought it would be better if she just picked the flowers herself and we could come by and pick them up.
"No." I emailed her back, "The whole point of this is picking flowers."

Well, my mother and the QOB refused to go, when it came down to it. They said they were too old to traipse around in the heat picking flowers and good luck, kids. I told my mom that, okay, I would bring them flowers and also all my friends to visit and that seemed like a good solution. So J & S & I all met at H's house and off we went, through the river and over the woods, into. . . a subdivision! Yes! A fancy, fairly upper middle class newish subdivision, but a subdivision indeed, with nary a farmers field of flowers in view. The flower lady's house was indeed surrounded by gardens but not, you know, huge or totally extraordinary gardens. Suburban gardens.

She met us at the driveway and took all four of our buckets to fill with warm water. "The water," she explained, "Has to be warm or hot. And also," she added, "I don't let people pick or cut flowers. You follow me around and point at what you want and I will cut it. No poppies or roses. I'm saving them for a wedding. And I don't think I have enough flowers for four buckets. You'll have to come back later." She came back out with two buckets and started walking; like obedient ducklings, we followed her.

She likes to talk, the flower lady. We listened. We learned that some flowers should be plunged briefly into boiling water before putting in a vase and that all the flowers must stay in the buckets for at least three or four hours before arranging and that you have to mash some stems and that you have to cut them on a diagonal, some of which I knew, like the mashing and diagonal, and some of which I'm not sure I believe, like the boiling water. We learned that she isn't going to have roses anymore. We learned that we had just missed all the best flowers. This being Asheville, we of course figured out all the people we knew in common. And we noticed that if we pointed at a flower she didn't actually want to part with, she would just sort of not see us and keep on moving. It made us feel guilty, because, well, it was her garden. Around her house. And here we were taking all the flowers and, you know, even though we'd paid for this, it all seemed kind of odd. So we didn't get a lot of flowers and, truth be told, there weren't a whole lot to get. It is an inbetween time for flowers, this is true.

Finally it started to rain and we took our two buckets, which weren't exactly what you'd call full and went off to my mom's house to distribute flowers. Then we went on to H & Zs and distributed more and drank a couple beers and ate some delicious deviled eggs and then I went on home to watch a scary movie and go to bed.

Did you notice the mystery clue in this account? Did you? Yes! Flower lady be stealin' mah bukkits! Indeed. Indeed, she did. We went in with 4 buckets - and we came out with 2. i has a bucket

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday, wahoo

It is Friday and I am not as psyched as I wish I was. My stomach hurts. Grumble, whine, bitch, moan and complain. In other news, however, there was no dead rat in the kitchen this morning. I can't decide whether to be thrilled that I didn't have to dispose of another corpse or horrified that, perhaps, the other rats have gotten wise to the trap placement. Or, just possibly, there were only ever two rats? Sort of the Bonnie & Clyde of the rat world - a young rat couple on their own adventure? Should I feel guilty if I offed them on their honeymoon? Romance is dead around my house, rats. And anyway, they weren't wearing little eeny wedding clothes.

I just got a call from Baltimore, where my friends' daughter R is currently visiting and she wanted my blog address since she wants to start a blog. Welcome to the family of fun that is the weirdo blogging community, R. Do not do as I do. For one thing, for fucks sake, don't cuss as much. Put up pictures of kittens. Use the word-simulacrum LOL a lot. And keep it short and sweet. Then you need to pimp it out with MP3 players and link it all over the internets or something. Look not to me for the secrets of blog popularity, child! If I was popular I'd have Google ads and be living on the coast of Spain by now!

In the further annals of the QOB, she doesn't want to live with me. This makes me sad, sort of, but on the other hand can one blame her? I don't even want to live with me most of the time and we're not even approaching the subject of cohabitation with the Dogs Who Fear Rats. So we're looking at apartments downtown now on the theory that she'll be okay at night and we'll get some people in for a couple shifts during the day and then the rest of us will all also come by every day.

They have a three month waiting list at the Battery Park Apartments, where you have to be over 62 to live. This kind of grislied me out for a moment - I mean, is the place full now? Do they base their waiting list on the statistical likelihood of current tenants, uh, permanently moving out if you know what I mean? But then I decided that I really didn't want to know any of this and asked them to mail me the application anyway. All I need to know about the Battery Park is that they have a ballroom and hey, any senior apartment building with a ballroom is good by me. Besides, they're right there next to the Grove Arcade and so far, the Grove Arcade has been more or less the only thing about Asheville of which the QOB has thoroughly approved.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Too Much Fun

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm getting better at rat removal. Oh yay. I wonder if I can put it on my resume now - probably, since I'm reviewing resumes at work and I've already come across one that listed "uses email" as a technical skill and one four page masterpiece that waxes lengthy and poetic about the skills the author used at her deli counter job: "Wraps meat!" "Ultimate customer service!". So dead rat removal from kitchen clearly goes on the resume, along with the meat wrapping that I learned at my own deli counter job in the early 80s and, hey, my extensive and near expert use of email, including but not limited to such high tech phrases as ROFLMAO and occasional lapses into LOLcat.

It only took me 15 minutes of shouting about God to get the rat into the trash this morning, too, and that's counting the time I spent forcing Theo to a) come in the kitchen and b) sniff the body. He went immediately into point like a true hunting dog which would have been more convincing if I wasn't pretty damn sure that both he and Django are terrified of the rats: they won't go into the kitchen at night at all anymore unless I bribe them heavily. Neither will I, of course, which is why there are five bottles of water in my room now.

On Tuesday night we all went to the Asheville Tourists game to watch the Tourists lose. We brought Z, who had never been to a sporting event before and was surprised at how much fun it is. Baseball is great - I mean, I wouldn't watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio or look it up in the newspaper or anything, but as an excuse to drink beer and make a lot of noise while ogling cute guys in cute uniforms it totally rocks. Besides, the players all seem to have their own theme song and when they come up to bat a few bars of it blasts over the speakers along with their vital statistics on the not quite Jumbotron that graces McCormick Field. We think they must choose their own theme song, because the choices are hilarious and one guy, whose name I can't remember, went with the Carmina Burana, which means that he has won my heart forever. Drive your enemies from the field, unknown Tourist! Hear the lamentations of their women!

However, all this constant party party party over the last few weeks has taken its toll and yesterday I snarled at two of my friends who had the temerity to suggest that we go out tonight. They're all going to the 48 hour film festival and my brother is going to the Gray Eagle to see the Sun City Girls on their farewell forever tour. Both of these are wonderful once in a lifetime or at least a year events, but fuck it: I'm holing up alone with a pile of science fiction novels. I'm not going anywhere for a while. I'm fat and horrible and exhausted and besides, I've had the cramps of doom for two solid days and I'm contemplating either a sex change operation or wholesale slaughter of the human race, whichever is cheaper. Check back with me when the weekend comes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Yesterday in despair I ordered one of these. Not the deluxe, which promises 40 kills for 4 AA batteries but the classic, since I figured that 10 kills with 4 AA batteries was enough and, frankly, if there are actually 40 rats in my house than I won't have to worry about anything at all, since I'll either just keel over and die of horror or, failing that, the men in the white coats will come and take me to a quiet place where I can weave baskets out of gum wrappers to my hearts' content. The last time I had a rat encounter was a few years ago and at that point some helpful person told me that no matter where you are in the world, you are never more than 10 feet from a rat. I think about that sometimes for the thirty or so seconds it takes before I'm glued to the ceiling shaking, feeling like there are bugs crawling all over my body. It's the best argument for space travel I've ever heard.

This morning, naturally, since I'd already paypalled the money off to the ratzapper people, one of the plastic snapper traps I got at Lowes worked. There, waiting for me when I got back from walking the dogs, was a big dead rat on the kitchen counter. Aaaaaiiiiiyeeeeeee!!!

I walked in the kitchen and saw the rat and walked right the hell back out, shrieking as softly as possible so as not to wake up my brother. Young M is helpful in these situations, since we long ago worked out a payment plan for dead animal disposal: $1 per mole cricket or waterbug, $2 for mice and $5 for snakes decapitated by the lawnmower. Unfortunately young M is still in Baltimore and I had a feeling that my brother would charge a lot more than $5 for the dead rat, not to mention that he would then never, ever, until we are like 106 and in the nursing home, let me forget it, either. So I had to do something about the rat.

I put on rubber gloves. I tried walking towards the rat, but I couldn't get very close: there was a force field all around that corner of the kitchen and somehow, logic or no logic, my body flat refused to go over there. I turned on some music on the theory that perhaps some cheery tunage would help. Not much - I was still standing in the opposite corner of the kitchen cowering. Theo barked at me - I think it was the combination of the yellow rubber gloves and my peculiar, crabwise motion around the kitchen in a sort of spiral pattern as I tried to trick myself into getting closer to the body. I snarled at Theo and that might be when my teeth snapped together so hard that they still hurt, some 2 and a half hours later. I brought the kitchen trash can up towards the counter but I still couldn't bring myself close enough to touch the trap (the rat's head was in the trap. Oh god, oh god.) and I thought about taking a picture but, as I said to myself out loud, "Felicity, that is too weird even for you."

So I went and got the fireplace shovel and using that I managed to slide the rat and the trap off the counter and into the trash can, chanting JESUS JESUS OH JESUS JESUS HOLY JESUS louder and louder as it slid in. My neighbors probably think I caught religion this morning. The traps are supposed to be reusable but fuck the environment and fuck that - I'll spend another $5 on another trap.

There's something so final about a dead rat - so final and so decisive and also, good lord, I might be Cleopatra, Queen of De Nile, but once you see the body in the kitchen you have to admit that there are, actually and in fact, rats in the house and that right there is just so horrific that there ought to be a 12 step program to help you cope with it and, given that this is the internet, there almost certainly is. I mean, I knew there was a rat in the kitchen on an intellectual level but emotionally I was still hoping it was aliens or possibly a, I don't know, stray wombat or something. Anything but rats. I can handle bloody rabbit heads on the living room carpet and live birds in the living room and dead voles in the garden but mice and rats are where I draw the line. I'm heading for that support forum that must exist, full of people who got rid of a dead rat in their kitchens in 1994 and are still talking about it. I can totally sympathize and as soon as I take a lot of drugs and book myself in for about 40 hours of therapy, I'm going there. Or to outer space.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Party On, rattus rattus

omg baby chicken 1
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The rats have migrated from the garage to the kitchen. This means, among other dismaying facts, that I constantly have UB40 in my head. It also means that the rats are growing fat, first on bread carelessly left out on the counter and now on the bait from the traps, which they pick off with scornful ease. Therefore I have to move to sterner stuff. I'm considering this little gem, which I found on (where else?) metafilter.I'm just not sure if a rat will fit through a paper towel tube and then, if it does, and I make it drop into the kitchen trash can half full of water, what happens the next morning when I'm confronted by either a drowned rat, or, infinitely worse, a drowning rat? I have no idea but I guarantee it won't be pretty.

A tougher friend from Florida, where they live amongst all kinds of horrible vermin like rats and palmetto bugs and members of the Bush family, said that I would have to just get mean and use either poison or the glue traps. I'm afraid of using poison because of the dogs (either they might get into it directly or what if they chew on a poisoned rat?) and glue traps are just so incredibly cruel. Back when I worked in a fabulous antebellum mansion in Baltimore, there were often mice in my office and the custodial staff would put out glue traps. Then sometimes I'd come in in the morning and there would be piteous mouse screams coming from a glue trap under my desk and then A (who was really good looking and also super sweet, so at least there was that consolation) from maintenance would come and just step on it. He was brisk and matter of fact about it, but still, that was horrible too. I have this idea that I could pick up the trap and put it behind the car and back over it, thus ending the whole trauma except for the cleaning rat guts off the driveway part but, honestly, I'm not sure I can even get close enough to rat in a glue trap to do that. And I have no backup, here: young M is off doing a George Orwell in Baltimore, which was supposed to make him appreciate the value of high school but which, infuriatingly, is only succeeding in making him announce that he loves Baltimore, where it is exciting. He also mentioned that he doesn't understand why I won't sign the papers to admit him to the Marine Corps on his 17th birthday in December. But that is yet another horrible traumatic tale I can't get into here because it just makes me want to take to my bed forever.

I confess: I have a rodent phobia. I can handle snakes - in fact, I handled one last night; the friendly guy with the friendly boa was at the Westville where I and 10 or so of my close friends and relatives had gone to lose miserably and shamefully at trivia - and bugs and lizards and pretty much anything, really, but mice and rats and squirrels and, embarrassingly, gerbils and hamsters freak me completely the fuck out. They. . . scurry. Those. . . teeth. The. . . tails. Aaaaaiiiiieeeeeeeee!! I'm getting chills all over just typing this and I want to hop up on my chair like the worst kind of stereotypical 1950s cartoon housewife and shriek like a proverbial little girl. Alas, this approach, while sort of entertaining, particularly in high heels, is fairly useless and I know this because I have tried it. So I don't really know what to do, short of just moving immediately to another country.

In other news, the QOB seems to be settling in fairly happily at my mothers. It's not a long term solution - as my brother said memorably, "The QOB has probably never even spoken to a Republican in her entire life. We can't lock her up with 1000 of them now." - but she's definitely getting better. I took her to an emergency dentist to get her dentures fixed (well, sort of - it's not perfect and I might have to take her back on Monday, which, since I don't much like dentists and sitting there while they work on my aunt is not much better than sitting there while they work on me - I mean, the whirring drill noises, eeee - is not a trip I'm really anticipating with glee if you know what I mean) yesterday and then we all came over to my house and drank some champagne on my back porch. The QOB brightened visibly at the sight of the champagne and thus you know she is improving by leaps and bounds. And the search for a house sort of goes on, not as fast as one would wish, because getting everyone in this family on the same page as far as what's going to happen eventually is damn near impossible. That said, oh Asheville blog readers, if you should in your travels come across a house for sale or rent in West Asheville that has either two apartments or a mother in law apartment or could conceivably be converted into such a thing with minimal trouble, please please let me know ASAP. Also, I will happily accept rat removal tips and tricks. Oh yes, I will.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


coal train 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, on Sunday night after my invigorating 72 hour workweek was finally grinding to a close (it shouldn't have ground to a close for another three hours, actually, but needs must and my coworkers are almost talking to me again) A and I drove to Charlotte to pick up my brother N and the QOB. The drive down was kind of fun, even given that I was still unfairly hungover and completely exhausted, which A informed me meant that I was not hungover but had some kind of hangover virus, with, get this, exactly the same symptoms as a hangover, that is currently going around. A always knows about these weird symptom inexplicable mystery virii that, like, everybody has, even her friend in Greensboro. These virii may or may not be tied to the phases of the moon or the likelihood that Mercury is in retrograde, which is my friend J's explanation for exhaustion, sorrow, cramps and the regrettable tendency of small but important pieces of paper, like money, to escape my purse. But, despite the planets and the germs, we got there okay in about an hour and 45 minutes.

When the QOB came off the train she looked great. I mean, she had misplaced her teeth, which is always kind of disconcerting, but otherwise she looked fine and if you didn't know her you'd never guess that she had a stroke about three weeks ago. We piled into the car and drove back up to Asheville which, mysteriously, although we followed the same route, took two and a half hours. So everyone was exhausted when we got to my mothers and A and I just went on back to my house where we collapsed for a few hours before the workweek reared its hideous, leering head yet again.

Yesterday I worked about half a day and then went over to my mothers where I sat with the QOB for a while and realized several things somewhat depressing things about her condition, such as that she is completely spatially disoriented - she doesn't really know where she is - she is having trouble recalling who she is and who we are and, most importantly perhaps, my mother is not really up to this caretaking thing. The plan at this point was to find a small rental for the QOB centrally located between my older brother and me and hire some nurses during the day.

Thus, in a series of wild coincidences I thought I'd found the perfect house for her in West Asheville and we all - my mother happily excepted - went to see it. The house was cute. The QOB seemed to like it, if you overlooked the fact that she was kind of totally confused and still didn't have her teeth. The landlady (the coincidence here is that she turns out to be Bucket's human, with whom I walk dogs almost every morning, small Asheville strikes again) was highly dubious about the QOB's ability to live alone. She is right. Then, she politely and gently let us know that really, nobody in their right mind was going to rent her a house - she's like a walking perfect storm of potential litigation. This undeniable fact struck my brother and I dumb since it hadn't even occurred to us and yet now that it had, we had to change all our strategies. So we went over to my friend C's used restaurant equipment business - he was having a sort of afterparty party party - and drank beer and tasted hummus and ate some fried things and generally had a great time despite the constant low level thrumming worry at the bottom of both of our brains.

Then we went home and talked about the whole thing for some hours and got basically nowhere except that we agreed there is absolutely no way the QOB can live alone, in New York, Asheville or anywhere. This morning when I woke up I thought, you know, really the only thing is for her to move in with me. My mother had more bad news - the health insurance or whatever that the QOB had in NY, which was going to pay for therapists and home nurses and so on, will not transfer to NC, so everything she needs will have to come out of pocket. Don't you love America? I so love America and its wonderful health insurance and help for old people (medicare will cover none of this stuff.) And, in other downer news, my mother thinks that the QOB can only stay with her for a month before my mother's retirement community, which is essentially run by great white sharks with Episcopal leanings, either kicks her out or starts demanding giant amounts of baksheesh.

So, today, I have started looking for large houses in West Asheville while still unsure of what is actually going to happen. I am wary of the QOB regaining all her faculties and deciding to scamper back off to NY (we can hardly keep her duct taped to a chair in the basement all the time) and thus sticking me with a large house I can't afford. And I don't want to tell my landlord that I'm moving out in a month and then have some other solution for the QOB materialize, leaving me with three days to move and find a place to live and so on. Argh. And, quite frankly, and I know I said I would do this and I will, this is just PMS hangover virus overtired anxiety nerves talking here, I just sort of realized that, you know, my youngest child is 16.5 years old which means that in about 5 years he might well be moving out and I would, for the first time since I was 18, be able to just take care of myself. Except that now, I won't - I'll be taking care of my aunt. This is selfish, I know; just give me a moment to mourn my no doubt mythical free woman in the free world future before I head back to Craigslist and try to decipher what, exactly, they mean by close to central West Asheville.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Weekend

hula hooping girls 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, it's Sunday and I am - wait for it - at work! Yeah! Not only am I at work, but I'm managing to spend money at work, which is kind of counterintuitive. I just gave a jeweler my grandmother's opal ring and a large chunk of change. In return I got a promise that in a few weeks, I will receive a gorgeous black opal pendant in the mail. I can't afford to do things like this but I decided that the ring had languished unworn in my jewelry box long enough and that if it was a pendant, I might just wear it despite the gold. My jewelry is usually either plastic or base metal, with the occasional piece of real silver: I don't do gold for the most part. Now I will be a gold pendant wearing, beans and rice eating, poor chick. That's okay.

I stopped by the Urban Trail block party on Eagle Street last night and took this picture and some others of kids hula hooping. That's one of those Asheville things: there are people hula hooping at every single celebration you can imagine. Grand Opening of a hardware store? Hula hoopers. Shakespeare in the park? Hula hoopers. Hardcore Ashevilleins probably have them at funerals.

Then I went and had a couple - and I do mean just a couple - of beers at the New French bar with my friend S and a couple of really nice vendors from the gem show. They were a hoot; we had a good time and then I went home, ate dinner, drank a lot of water, cleaned my entire house including vacuuming and went to bed at a reasonable hour. This hangover, therefore, is utterly unfair. Boo. And in two hours I'm going to be driving to Charlotte to pick up the QOB and my brother N, who, by the way, is the one who originally coined the QOB term long and long ago, because he is actually funnier than I am. We all know this but he doesn't have a blog, so I get to recycle his jokes. I have mapquest printouts and a steely sense of determination, so everyone hope I can find the damn Charlotte train station in a reasonable amount of time. Given that it once took me something like 4 hours to find the train station in Greenville (and almost that long to find my way out again) I'm a little trepidatious.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Disappointment of the Naked Bike Ride

I'm downtown, of course, working, of course, basically trapped in Pack Place (help me! I cannot escape! They expect me to earn my meager salary! Aaaaiiiiieeeee!) and so I got all excited when I heard about the Naked Bike Ride. I mean, let's face it: the Naked Bike Ride is quite possibly the closest I will ever be again to a naked man. Besides, I'm getting tired of taking pictures of rocks and cute kids and cute kids with rocks. So you had better believe that I was out there in the rain on Biltmore Avenue waiting anxiously for the naked bikers.


It was raining, after all and I suppose you can't blame people for not wanting to ride naked in the rain, although if you think about it, nudity actually makes more sense than getting your clothes wet. At any rate, there were only four bikers. All guys and all, alas, in their underwear. They were riding fast too, as you can tell from the blurred quality of this fabulous photo wherein the semi naked guy in question is totally checking out the girl in the green shirt. So it was a bit anticlimactic but oh well, what the hell, it was an excuse to get out of the museum for a few minutes and stand around and crack jokes with a couple of the gem and mineral show dealers.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Never Rains But It Pours

Have I mentioned yet that this is my busiest week of the year at work? Have I whined about having to physically schlep tables around the museum? Well, consider yourself whined. Everything is moving right along but it's gonna be a long weekend.

I put young M on a Greyhound bus to Baltimore early this morning. He has a couple vitamin waters, a lunchable, a cut up cucumber, some Dramamine, my old copy of Another Roadside Attraction and three fifty dollar bills in his shoe. He's going from Baltimore to the Delaware shore to hang out for a week in a house full of teenagers. He's excited and I'm a bit worried; putting your baby on the bus is always a downer. Particularly when there's a bearded, burly, cigar smoking dwarf wearing combat boots and a red cowboy shirt with the sleeves torn out getting on the same bus. And then, he'll arrive in the middle of nowhere downtown Baltimore - and when something is the middle of nowhere in central Baltimore, believe me, it is really the middle of nowhere, where nowhere = post apocalyptic wasteland - and have to take a cab to my friend N's house in Butcher's Hill. This scares me too. He is cool and tough and says he can find Butts & Betty's, the bar on the corner, with no problem. How reassuring. But it's good for him and hell, I got myself all the way to Europe at his age without a cel phone, so there you go.

Speaking of Europe, the latest QOB update is that she is continuing to recover well and is still slated to leave the hospital on Friday. I thought the family had calmed down somewhat but apparently not and my brother N is quite reasonably totally fed up with all of us. The QOB may, now, be arriving in Charlotte via Amtrak with N around 8ish Sunday night. Or maybe not. Everything is as always up in the air. No wonder she didn't want to alert the family. When I'm 80, in the unlikely event that I live that long, I'm definitely not telling anyone about my strokes. Of course, there will just be me and the 30 cats in the Waffle House dumpster anyway, and I plan to be doing more than enough drugs to make a stroke basically indiscernible, so, you know, whatever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Crunch Time

toad 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The whole family is having hysterics about the QOB. You would think somebody had a stroke or something. Oh, right.

It's all going to be okay. The QOB is recovering nicely. We'll get her down to Asheville in good time. Nobody needs to freak out. At least, that's what I think at the moment, which may just be because I don't, personally, have time to freak out right now. This is the busiest week of the year for me at work and I should be even busier than I am, instead of stopping for five or ten minutes at a time to see how many new Facebook friends I have accumulated. Yes. I am now on Facebook, although I doubt that will last long. So befriend me now while the offer is hot! I feel special when I get friend requests. It makes me briefly imagine that I'm not a desperate, geeky loner after all. Ah, fantasy and the cyberverse!

In other news, I saw this lovely little toad up in Bat Cave and it made me happy because, as we know, toads are indicator species and as they go, so goeth the ecosystem. I thought they were all gone but here's at least one; let's hope he's not the Last Toad in The World or at least Bat Cave. It occurred to me some time back that freaks and hippies are like the toads and frogs of Asheville: when they begin to disappear, there's a problem. Based on this criteria, I would say that Lexington Avenue is just not as healthy as it used to be and maybe we need an influx of hippie tadpoles. They're all on Haywood Road at the minute but perhaps as they grow legs they'll make their way downtown.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Things Change

wild daisy
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday was one of those days of change that the I Ching or the chaos gods throw into the world once in a while. My aunt, my mother's sister, who I often refer to as the Queen of Bohemia because she basically is (She's a painter. Willem de Kooning used to sleep it off on her couch. She had an affair with Franz Kline. She spent years living between the Chelsea Hotel and Mallorca. I mean, the woman defined cool.) had a stroke apparently about a week ago. We didn't find out about it until L, who was a close friend of mine when I lived in Spain with the Queen of Bohemia back, oh god, like almost 30 years ago, called my brother N on Friday and told him that the QOB (her name is Annie Truxell. But in keeping with the general theme of half assed non anonymity I have here, I will henceforth refer to her as QOB, because if I start calling her A along with my daughter A and so on, this initial thing is going to get completely unusable instead of only partially so.) was in the hospital. Thank the gods that L has been staying with the QOB. Or went by, or something. I'm unclear on the details. Anyway, my brother N has been basically living at the hospital ever since.

The QOB is doing very well. I talked on the phone with her at some length yesterday and she sounds really good for being 80 and having had a stroke. She's already walking around with a cane. She's remembering a lot of words although not, she said sorrowfully, all. She said that when her significant other of many years (the writer Jakov Lind, who died about a year and a half ago) had his stroke, he couldn't talk at all. She knew when she woke up that she'd had a stroke and she immediately thought, I have to talk and talk and not stop talking so I don't forget how.

Yeah, this is my mother's sister. They grow them tough in Iowa. The doctors think she'll be able to leave the hospital in about a week, which is where this all gets hairy, since we the family (that would be me and my brothers and my mother) have decided that she really can't go on living alone in Manhattan. She has a tiny apartment in Chelsea and she's outlived most of her friends. We've been trying to get her to move down here for some years now but she's been resistant. Now, though, it looks like she might go for it. "I've never thought much of family," she said to me on the phone, "But I think maybe I can see the point now. Maybe I'll come down to that weird little town you all like so much."

I think this is a very good idea. Now, though, it becomes a question of logistics and that's where we're at now: planning. Where will she live? Who will take care of her? I might be the answer to both those questions, which is fine by me. She took me in when I was a rebellious, surly and unhappy adolescent, taught me to cook, play competition level scrabble, roll a joint with hashish and tobacco and otherwise left me alone. I owe her and the world comes around nicely sometimes.

In other not so good news, my dear friend S is coming back to Asheville. This is cause for guilty rejoicing for me but not, alas, for her, since her internet fairy tale romance has bitten the proverbial dust and she's stunned and shocked and sad as hell. Sorry, men of the world, but you basically suck. Yeah, yeah, you do. But S will be home soon and, yet again, as the damn world soap operatically turns, at least I will be able to give her what she gave me a month ago: a shoulder to cry on and many beers. Love bites and I don't believe in it anymore.

However. In other news, i went up to Bat Cave today to see my friend D, which was awesome and I will blog about it tomorrow or something BUT in other other news, I GOT CARDED last night when I stopped to buy beer & cigarettes after spending the day at the mall shopping with my mother. Yes. I got carded. And the guy was not even kidding and so, you know, I could pretty much die happy now.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Facebook and Trivia

It's actually Friday night, not Saturday, no matter what the blog is telling you. It is Friday night and it is also the night that my friend J and I totally won Quizzo at the Westville Pub. Okay, our victory was not acknowledged because we got Floridaed out of it - to wit, we were winning by five points (under the euphonious and highly nerdy team name of Pirate Robot Ninja Zombie Monkeys of Deaverview) when we hit the last question, where you have to gamble. Gambling is the only vice on the planet that I have no native taste for, so I blew it, and also, the question was about Adam Sandler movies and I have never seen one. This isn't because I have anything resembling innate good taste, of course, it's just that I never see any movies unless they involve either swords, explosions or large foam rubber monsters (with extra special bonus points for all three.) J actually got the question right but we chickened out and only bet those disposable five points, which allowed two other teams to surge ahead of us and win, which was a total drag, since I was kind of counting on that $50 bar tab to pay ours. Alas. Nevertheless, not bad for a team of two - three at the very end when C joined us.

We were at the bar because young M went AWOL for almost 24 hours and I freaked out and poor J called me at the exact wrong time and thus got roped into the Finding Young M game. Naturally, young M was totally fine and camping, which I apparently was supposed to figure out from his terse and to the point phone call on Thursday night: "Mom, do we have a tent I can use?" "Not really. There are like five tents but the poles are all scrambled and confused." "Okay, thanks." You see, using my magical Mom mind reading abilities, it should have been perfectly clear that what that meant was: "I'm going camping with N and a bunch of other guys up near the Candler/Pisgah end of the Parkway. I'll call you tomorrow night." Young M, all injured innocence, has no idea how I could have been confused. Yeah. Teenagers are a joy, are they not? Such a joy. Mental note: drink more.

However, none of this is why I'm blogging right now at 2 in the fucking morning when, jesus, I should really go to bed since I think I'm going shopping with my mother in the morning and also I just got not so good news about my aunt the Queen of Bohemia which might mean an unfun trip up to NYC in the very near future and yargh. Partly because of all this excitement, which has led to me being mildly wired, I went on Facebook. I've successfully avoided Facebook up to this point and maintain a purely minimal MySpace presence just to pimp this blog (every so often I get a wild hair and make a feeble effort to pimp this blog for fame, glory and fortune but I actually can't be bothered to try too hard - yeah, yeah, story of my life and all - and thus the Hangover Journals remains mostly undiscovered except for y'all who I know are out there, silently reading and going, jesus, this chick is neurotic.) Anyway, yesterday or the day before, driven by sobriety and boredom and a heat wave, I actually created a Facebook profile. Tonight, I updated it and in the process, went to look at some of my high schools. They only let you claim two high schools on Facebook, which is a pain for those of us who, like me, actually attended three and still managed never to graduate. So I picked Middlesex as one of my two, neatly leaving out Ashley Hall and then I started wandering around to find that, lo, there are people I vaguely remember! Cool!

And there, oh my gods and tiny dancing tentacled horses, is the guy I had an obsessive, gigantic and insane crush on through my tenth grade year. Facebook won't let me look at his profile unless I ask him to be my friend, which is way too overt for my stalker minded self - I mean, I doubt he has fond memories of me: "Hey! Want to be Facebook Friends with the girl who followed you around for an entire school year, who was driven by your presence and malign love spirits to act incrementally even geekier and more ridiculous than she actually is which is saying a lot?"

We did end up making out in a barn at a party, finally, for what may have been the best and possibly even the most erotic hours of my life and then he kindly but firmly informed me that it didn't mean we were dating. He was - probably still is, hell - actually a nice guy. It's just that somehow, your sex life gets set into some kind of odd stone in the middle of high school when you're not looking. Then, before you know it you're falling obsessively in crush with any number of nice guys who will make out with you once and then go, "Um. Not really into this, sorry." That will happen again and again even into your forties. Eeek. Apparently I have great taste in crushes and slightly less great - okay, miserable - taste in relationships.

So there he is, on Facebook. Clearly, I can never go back to Facebook now, unless there's a way to get into his profile without being all blatant and asking him if I can be his friend, which thought makes me cringe in panic. Good lord, Facebook is like high school all over again, isn't it? I feel like I'm walking into a cafeteria and I don't know anyone at any table and everything I'm wearing is just wrong enough to be dreadful. Yeah, I don't much see reliving high school. Even for the big crush of my life.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Return to Son of Plumbing Hell

Well, to paraphrase an old Joni Mitchell song, I'm sitting here waiting for the plumber to show, I've been listening to the sirens and

Actually, he's here. He's been here for a while. I knew we needed the plumber last night around 12:30 when I was calmly going to sleep in my hot room and young M started shouting in the bathroom. I put on a robe and went in there where it was immediately apparent that I needed more than a bathrobe to deal with this particular situation: to wit, the toilet had totally overflowed. Because misery loves company, the first pair of shorts I tried to put on were too small and this, combined with the knowledge that soon I would be wading in sewage, just seemed so unfair. However. I mopped up the sewage and bailed the toilet and plunged the toilet for a grand result of nothing but a soul drenched in anguish. Also, feet drenched in sewage. Therefore, I hustled up young M and a different pair of shoes and we went to the twenty four hour Ingles on Leicester Highway.

At first, walking through the cool and deserted aisles, I was unhappy and in a hurry but then it occurred to me that I was in an air conditioned clean and shiny place with working bathrooms and maybe we should just spend the night. Young M came to more or less the same conclusion around about the time he was sticking plungers to his stomach in the earnest search for the perfect one.
"Is there anything else we need?" I said, holding a 6 roll pack of paper towels and a gallon each of, respectively, Liquid Plum-R and bleach.
"Yes, Mom," he said seriously, the plunger on his stomach wobbling up and down, "A Danish. We need a Danish."

The Danish selection at Ingles at 1:30 in the morning is not as toothsome and delectable as one might wish. There are, however, lots of weird things on display like neon colored garlic bread and lumps of brown caulk that they're passing off as apple fritters. They also have wedding cakes at the Leicester Highway Ingles, by the way. Nothing would depress me more than getting my wedding cake at Ingles but, hey, since I am unlikely to ever order another wedding cake, what the hell do I know? We left the Ingles, where the cashier and security guard cast a sympathetic eye over our purchases (Entenmanns Raspberry Twist) and came on back to the hot and depressing bathroom, where I poured most of a gallon of Liquid Plum-R down the john (another word from my mother's generation, never used since!) and plunged with the new plunger, which did. . . nothing. So we gave up; I sent a sad email to my coworkers detailing my woes and remarking that I would be late at the best and went to bed.

This morning, the situation was unchanged. I tried plunging again for a while and then I flooded part of the bathroom again in a fit of joie de vivre and then I went to the West End Bakery to use their bathroom and buy a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin to console myself. I'm not sure what the association of baked breakfast treats and plumbing issues is (you'd think it would be a lot of cheese and meat, or maybe heroin) but apparently one exists. Then I called the landlord, who sent over the same plumber as last time. He's nice, this plumber, but he would appear to be approximately young M's age and he is very serious and dedicated. And stumped. He's walking around the house looking for some kind of mythical drain access. This isn't working for me - what I want here, I think, is a 60 year old overweight jolly plumber who's seen it all before. Or Super Mario.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Soliloquoy for Rat in Garage

Rat. Oh, rat, I say. I'm coming in. I'm turning on the light and I'm going to be walking around in here. We don't want any trouble. No, Rat, the way I look at it is, you don't bother me and I don't bother you. Everything is cool here, Rat. No need for trouble. I'll just noisily walk around the garage, talking all the time and you make your ratty self small and everything will be fine. Just fine.

I'm looking for the fan, Rat. I think there's another window fan in here. I thought we had three window fans last summer because, as near as I can tell, three is the absolute minimum of window fans we have to have not to die of heat exhaustion in our sleep. This house would seem to have achieved some kind of physics heat exchange impossibility, Rat: negative insulation. In the winter it's colder in there than it is outside and now that the heat is on outside? It's hotter in the house.

I don't see the fan, but I don't want to bother you, Rat, and I'm pretty sure that if I were you, I'd be back in that corner with the art supplies and the Halloween decorations, tucked between a papasan chair and Rudolf the kind of sad wire reindeer. That's also where the fan might be lurking, but I don't see it. So I'm just going to sort of poke the edges and stand back and say, Rat, are you really happy here?

This garage is pretty horrible, Rat. The smell is - well. The smell is hard to describe, because adolescent boys who like to, god help us, smoke cigars, are aromatic. And I just picked up three long dead ramen bowls and a bunch of glasses that once held Tang off the air hockey table. They had a definite pong to them as well. Do you seriously want to live like this, Rat? I think you're better than this. I think you have more in you than just hanging out in a garage with a bunch of plastic spiders and some sixteen year olds who still think a flaming skull is the ne plus ultra of design motifs.

I'm opening the garage door a few inches now. Your family and friends are probably out there, you know. You could go home and have some stories to tell - you'd be a feted and dined adventurer, Rat - hell, the story of the Samurai sword alone would probably make the whole trip worthwhile. I have your best interests at heart, Rat. I think you should go home, carry on with your ratty destiny, speak rattese with your rat homies, get all rat down in the rat hood. Rat on, my ratty brother. Rat on and out.

I'm turning the light out now, Rat. I'm leaving quietly. Please take this chance to make your mother's heart glad - leave, Rat, oh please, go home.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


moms roses 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
See this picture? This is a picture of one of my mother's roses. She has time and energy for roses because she is a carefree 80 year old retiree, whereas I am bowed down by the weight of the world and besides, if I planted a rose bush, it would immediately be eaten by an aardvark or some other species of wild animal that I never even suspected was nearby. Perhaps a giraffe. I could be the only person in West Asheville whose garden was eaten by a giraffe. This is all a roundabout way to inform you that not only do I have groundhogs (and you should have seen how cute the one was sitting in the garden the other day eating the bean sprouts as they came out of the ground! He was so cute, all surrounded by pinwheels! His co-lovers or whatever you call a polyamorous family of groundhogs who live under a shed are also very cute! I've seen three of them so far! I suspect there may be an entire groundhog city with a population in the thousands under my shed! Help me, please!) I have rats.

Well. Hopefully, that's rat, as in one rat, singular. One verified rat. In the garage. This fills me with terror, loathing and despair and also, now I can't go into the garage ever again, which is a drag, since the window fans are all in there and it's hot out. The Halloween decorations are in there too and I need them. They're going to be the next step in the Groundhog War, whereby I'm going to hang Frankie on the garden fence. Frankie is a motion activated Frankenstein head who sings (with his mouth moving up and down! Ha ha! He is a laff riot! I got him for like ten bucks at the Rite Aid!) a terrible, bastardized version of Who Can It Be Now by Men at Work when you walk by him or make a loud noise or close the door or just randomly. My friends hate Frankie and they hate me every October, as do my neighbors, so perhaps the groundhogs will feel the same. Probably they'll just embrace him as a new god, though.

However, back to the Rat. Young M and his inseparable friend C more or less live in the garage, as we know. They like it there - it's dark and smelly and nobody bothers them. It's disgusting out there. Teenage boys are kind of horrifying, truth be told. The fast food wrappers alone are enough to scare off most sane adults. Anyway, a couple days ago, they both came running into the house in horror. "There's a rat in the garage!" they said.
"No, there isn't." I said, calmly, since it's more than a river in Egypt and all that. If I don't believe in the rat, it is not there.
"Yes!" they said, "It's a rat!" and they went back to the garage with pockets full of dog biscuits and both the dogs, who will follow pretty much anyone pretty much anywhere if they have pockets full of milkbones.

Yeah, I know that most dogs will chase rats without bribes. Many dogs will also kill groundhogs, not just bark violently at them. Not my dogs. My dogs are pacifists. Fat pacifists who believe food comes from a bag, squirrels are there to be herded and mice are tiny little fun doggie friends. The rat garage thing, in other words, didn't go well. They sniffed it out its location (theoretically. They could have been sniffing out the location of an ancient empty potato chip bag, too.) but it frightened them and anyway, they were only there for the milkbones.

The next step was rat traps. I obligingly bought two rat traps, the snap kind that look like giant mouse traps and handed them and a jar of peanutbutter to the boys. They acted like they knew what they were doing and sighed impatiently when I told them for godssakes not to cut their hands off with the things and/or let the dogs in there. "Jesus," said young M in disgust, "That's just common sense, Mom." Yes. Yes it is, and it's also common sense to stealthily put the trap somewhere you suspect the rat has been, not to try to find the rat and then shove the trap right at him. The trap, by its very nature, is not an attack weapon. You should use a sword for that, although apparently that didn't end well either. But pushing a trap right at a rat will lead to a rat who threatens to attack, by, apparently, hissing violently, which is why I now have boys in the den instead of the garage and I think I'm going to be hot all summer and never again decorate for Halloween.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Moving Your Kids

Well, it's finally come to this: my daughter's house is nicer than mine. Yes. Yes, it is, even if it doesn't have much (any) yard and thus would be unsuitable for dogs, which is what I keep telling myself so I don't kill her and take the house for my own. Of course, her rent is higher than mine too - there is that - but then she's splitting it several ways, so actually it's cheaper. If only I could get young M and the dogs to pay rent. Or if only I was really super rich and I could buy a house of my own! Crazy pipe dreams! Argh! Oh well. Anyway, that eggplant purple (this is Asheville. A's new landlord is a super nice guy who went to Warren Wilson and restored the house using mostly "recycled" - read, he got them at the Habitat store - materials and then he painted each room a different color.) bathroom would send me around the bend quite quickly.

Anyway, though, it was oddly enough kind of fun moving A in yesterday. There's something to be said for the staggered move: she moved out of her house in Woodfin a month ago and put her stuff in storage and crashed at a friend's house for a month, so the whole terrible get everything out of the house oh shit this isn't packed is this going to Goodwill or what just throw it in a trash bag part was over, as was the cleaning of the old house part. Young M and his friend C helped out (okay, I paid them. But still.) and one of A's friends and then one of her new roommates was there with a couple of his friends and I must say, damn. I like her house. I like her roommates. A is doing well.

Also, she has all my towels. Demon child: I'm so gullible that I didn't even make the connection between my towels disappearing and A moving out a year ago. It's always fun to help your kids move because it gives you a chance to get reacquainted with stuff like your old futon, your old duffel bag, that insanely heavy yellow bureau and all the other objects, like towels and paring knives, that used to live at your house. I think I even said something when I moved, like, "I can't understand what happened to all the towels!" and she said back, wide eyed, "Wow, I wonder what young M has been doing with them!"

Way to go, A. Divert suspicion onto your younger brother, who, gods know, is after all totally capable of taking all the towels in the house somewhere obscure and leaving them there in a fit of absentmindedness. Not only that, but his initials are already on A's bedroom door. The house is recycled, so the door is old and came complete with some little kid type graffiti and a few teddy bear stickers and, towards the top, carved with a pocket knife in familiar handwriting, my son's initials and the cryptic legend: You Know Me. You Know Me, you see, rhymes with his initials and is something he has been known to write and/or carve into various and sundry surfaces including, memorably, the coffee table. (He was little then though and already smart enough to add "I love Mommy" to that one, so, well, you know, it's a souvenir.) We suspect this door of having come from one of young M's friends rented houses; in fact, we've pretty much narrowed it down to one on Hanover Street. It was cool to find - and A thinks it's a sign. So do I - a sign that Asheville is really small and we've lived here a long time now.