Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dogs Are Stupid

toad 1
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
For years, I have been laboring under an incorrect supposition: namely, that my dogs are, if not Eal-ray Ight-bray, than at least no stupider than other members of canis domesticus. Well, that turns out to not be so true. All three of my dogs are challenged, bless their hearts. How do I know this? It's a simple question of doors.

My house has two levels. There is the upstairs level, which is elegantly decorated, immaculate - for, um, certain values of immaculate: basically, there's hardly any big chunks of rotting food around - charming and inhabited by me, the resident Middle Aged Person and the fish. Then there's downstairs, where the kids live, which is also nice. Nice as in we used to call it Teenage Wasteland when my son was the only person holding court down there but now that my daughter has moved downstairs as well, this name is no longer applicable. I refuse to give in and call it the Dungeon, as my daughter does: okay, it has certain dungeonesque qualities, namely, the lack of windows, the low ceiling, the slightly dank aroma and the overwhelming concrete but hey, it's lovely down there. Lovely, I say. The dogs and the cat move freely between levels for the most part: the dogs mostly like to sleep under my bed while the cat tries to alternate beds so as to maximize her chances of completely destroying some unwary sleepers ankles. She doesn't like it when people move in their sleep and she has ways of expressing her displeasure, oh yes.

Anyway, due to this two level construction, there are several sets of doors to my house, which is one of the reasons why we are all gonna be toast when the long anticipated zombie apocalypse comes. Is it weird that I worry about this? I actually contemplated not buying my house due to its very lack of defenseability - we are fresh out of escape tunnels, moats, barbed wire and enchanted swords, not to mention machine gun emplacements and while we may not have enough windows downstairs to bring in the desired amount of light, we have way too many to keep out your smarter run of zombies: the ones who have figured out that glass breaks.

However, I digress! The thing is that you can enter - or exit! Hail Janus! - my house any of four different ways. On the upper level, there is the front door, which comes in off the street and then there is the kitchen door which takes you out onto the porch, from which you can then descend via stairs to the backyard. Downstairs, there are two sliding glass doors on either side of the house that lead into that same backyard. There's also a door from Audrey's room to what might be called the driveway, although it isn't, really, one, but for the purposes of this narrative we'll forget about it. Anyway it's locked with a combination padlock on the outside and the combination has long since disappeared. Early in the morning it is our custom to blearily prop open one and sometimes two of these doors so that the dogs can get in and out, attend to their toilettes and keep a vigilant eye on the ever present danger of squirrel activity. The open doors also make sure that we maintain requisite levels of in house insect population - right now it's stink bugs, who are fucking everywhere, and I am using that as a verb.

The dogs cannot figure out that they can go out one door and in another.

No, seriously. They don't get it. They think that if they go out one door than that's the only door they can go back in. Or, conversely, they can't seem to grasp that if they are up on the porch and want to come in, it might be worth running down the steps to see if the downstairs door is open. They'll just lie there sorrowfully on the porch for hours even when the downstairs door is open. I have even tried leading them downstairs - there is very little, I find, that makes you feel stupider than earnestly attempting logical discourse with dogs - and explaining the whole thing to them and still, they Don't. Get. It. The cat, however, gets it just fine, which kind of reinforces those mean things that cat people on the internet are forever saying about dogs.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Recently I have been on a quest to rediscover the hotties of my youth. My youth, you understand, was so long ago that we did not even use the word hotties. We said hunks, or, well, actually I didn't, but I think it was occasionally used in magazines. However, oh youth of today, some things do not change and no matter how uncomfortable it must make you to contemplate it, we had hormones too back then. I believe my own personal hormones were first activated by the Monkees, although my great love for Davy Jones was tempered by several issues, namely, that I was nine and he was, like, a grown up who was shorter than me. This was also the problem with my adoration for Chekov on Star Trek: all the fantastic fake Russian accents in the world cannot make up for someone who is shorter than your ten year old self.

Early loves are all very well and I'm not going to get into the first R rated movie I ever saw, because Robert Redford deserves his own blog post. Still, even with 3 Days of the Condor behind me, I didn't know true love until my mother and I watched every minute of Poldark on Masterpiece Theater. My mother was an intellectual snob par excellence - she never watched TV unless it came from England, in which case it was Educational and Culturally Superior. Well, except for Beat the Clock and the Doris Day show - she liked those too. Still, she never watched soaps or sitcoms or anything like that, unless you count Upstairs, Downstairs; Mystery; and every single damn BBC production that was ever introduced to the States by the mellifluous tones of Alastair Cooke on Sunday nights. Be careful not to get mixed up! Masterpiece Theater was hosted by Alastair Cooke, not Aleister Crowley, who would have put together quite a different program, no doubt.

I was usually kind of bored by Masterpiece Theater, even when I was allowed to stay up to watch it (we were properly raised, which is to say we were put to bed hideously early) but since it came on after Mutual of Omaha and then Disney, both of which we were allowed to watch, sometimes I got to see it anyway. My boredom, however, changed with the advent of Poldark, which was basically a filmed adaptation of a slightly more literate than usual series of historical romances set in Cornwall. I have never been to Cornwall but I have read any number of novels set there and those, with the influence of Poldark, make me feel as if I know the place. It's infested with elves, holy Grails, sleeping knights, smoldering smugglers, ghosts, ladies in strategically torn white nighties, thrashing dramatic scenery and lots of cliffs that people throw themselves off on a regular basis. Excellent, in other words. Poldark was something else again and my mother and I were completely, absolutely and totally hooked. The tempetuousness of it all! The incredibly good looking Ross Poldark! Oh my god, Ross Poldark. Be still, my twelve year old heart!

I inherited my mother's beliefs on TV - if it comes from the UK, it's good; from the US, it's bad - and thus in the early 80s I was ripe for Robin Hood. Robin of Sherwood was not only one of the most beautiful men (in a specifically early 80s kind of way) I had ever seen, it also had veiled references to Celtic mythology and a kind of Enya meets the Temptations proto New Age soundtrack. I was hooked, even more than I was hooked on Excalibur, which is saying a lot, since Excalibur was apparently the only movie that the Charleston, SC infant cable company had full rights to - they played it more or less 24 / 7 and I knew every word. Still, there was nobody gorgeous in the entire cast of Excalibur while Robin. . . oh god. . . Robin.

As we age, our hormones settle down a bit and these bland young actors cannot stir them. I tried watching the new BBC Robin Hood early this summer - I have had a thing for Robin Hood my entire life, okay, I confess - but I was unmoved. My daughter, who does not have a thing for Robin Hood at all, possibly because of all the various Robin Hoods I, her mother, have made her sit through, said something cranky about how stupid Robin Hood was, really. Nonsense! I said, wait until you meet the real Robin Hood, the sexiest Robin Hood ever! And I launched myself on a quest to find my Robin Hood of memory and lo, since one of the truly all good things to come out of the 21st century is Netflix, I found it.

Huh. It's very, um, early 80s. Robin does seem to spend a lot of time sweeping his hair out of his eyes. He's kind of cute but. Well. It's just . . . just not the SAME! I can't stand it! And neither could my daughter, who said cutting things about the soundtrack - "Are they singing? They're singing! They're singing ROBIN. . . ROBIN IN THE WOODS!" and the hairdos. And then I, in some kind of defense, went online and discovered that I was not the only middle aged woman in the world who still harbored a secret crush but that at least I had not devoted my life to a fan forum. Which, all power to them, but in new pictures of Robin he's wearing kind of an alarming amount of eyeliner and, well, I just can't go there. He's aged, too. I mean, a lot. Not like me. Um. Sigh.

That was Robin Hood, though. He was never on Masterpiece Theatre and thus, despite his undeniable Britishness, was probably less cultural than Poldark.. Poldark must be different and so, when I saw that I could get Poldark from Netflix on demand last night, I forced Audrey to sit down and watch the first episode with me. Oh. Oh dear. It's rather slow. And Poldark's original love, Elizabeth, is really strange looking, as in, she looks and acts not unlike a standard poodle. A standard poodle made of wood, at that. And the titles are tempestuous, as is the scenery and the extras and, frankly, Ross Poldark is, as my daughter pointed out, kind of an asshole. I googled him too. He seems to have turned into a rather jovial old man and, damn, another idol has bitten the dust.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


bug and bead 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Blog people tell you sincerely that you should never apologize for not posting more often. This, apparently, is the kiss of death that will render your blog pointless, sad and alone, unvisited. Like this one is any of the opposite of those things, but still, I try occasionally to bow to the wisdom of the Blog People. However, it feels kind of weird to come back in here like, oh yeah, I took a couple of weeks off there, no big, without saying um, sorry about that, whoops, did I have a blog or what? Although, honestly, that's kind of what happened and I cannot guarantee it will not continue happening. Although it might not, too. One never knows with this roller coaster of life! ROLLER COASTER!

Over the last couple of weeks I've basically been consumed with my show at the De Soto. It is up now and it looks good and oh my god, I sold quite a few pieces at the opening and that is mindblowing and fantabulous. It's interesting - I haven't had a show in 12 years. I set out in my twenties to become a famous artist - that worked out well - and then as the years passed and I got various things like kids and real jobs and dogs and so on, the art kind of faded away. Now, though, the kids are grown, the jobs are nonexistent and the dogs, well, the dogs are okay. So I can make art again and lo, there it all is up on the wall at the De Soto, making me feel kinda weird and also thrilled. Jodi had to rehearse me before the opening - "You're going to hate this," she said, "You don't take compliments well and you don't like being the center of attention. So what are you going to say when people say they like things?"
"I don't know," I said, "Maybe something like "Can't you tell it sucks? You must suck for liking it! I suck! My art sucks! LIfe sucks!" and then I run into the bathroom to cry and do drugs?"
"Or," suggested Jodi, "Thank you. I had a lot of fun taking them."
"Hmmm," I said, "That's an interesting approach."

In other news, there are a lot of bugs around. I like bugs for the most part - unless they bite or shit in my food, in which case all bets are off and it's war, baby, war - so I like this time of year. I don't get why people are so wigged out about insects anyway: frankly, there are daddy longlegs out there I trust more than some humans. I like listening to the cicadas going nuts every night lately and I don't even mind the stink bugs who seem to live in my house. They come lurching around every early fall, flying drunkenly into things and then landing to sit in one place for hours. They're friendly, or at least I think they're friendly, so it's all good. The daddy long legs are back and so are the orb weavers, who make the giant incredible webs. A couple of weeks ago I went out on the back porch around midnight and found a small spider battling with a giant beetle by the light. My sympathies were with the spider - I don't like beetles THAT much - so I left them to it. When I came outside the next morning, some eight hours later, they were still at it. I was impressed.

beginning of an epic battle

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Well, I am busy. I have this show coming up and that means I have to frame a whole lot of stuff, which I am doing in a highly haphazard and so far mostly theoretical way. It is weird as hell to have a show: I haven't had one in, um, like twelve years. Yes. That is a long time, long enough for one to forget that one used to be, like, an artist. I certainly had mostly forgotten it except for the odd compulsion to occasionally paint things and, of course, the carrying of the camera everywhere with me. So the fruits of all of this are going to be on view at the De Soto starting, gulp, next Thursday. I promise that there will not be 12 entire years worth of stuff on the walls. Anyway, you can come to the opening and enjoy a delicious beverage and perhaps some cheese cubes and see me as well trying to be all artisty and yet not get riproaringly drunk, which is my usual response to openings. Or you can come any time during September and point and laugh to your evil little hearts' content, which is worth doing if only for the De Soto jukebox, which is a highly excellent one.

But enough of that! I will start getting all freakazoid again if I think about how much I still have to do! And I'm doing it on very little sleep, due not only to a few major non art worries I have been overthinking late, but also because the night before last, my phone went berserk. Lights began flashing and it started to emit little happy beep noises and, one thing leading to another, I woke up. I looked at the clock and saw that it was 4:20. 4:20, yes, and then I looked at my mysteriously behaving phone and saw on the screen a small picture of a present. A wrapped present with a big ribbon and stuff and so, hey, given the time, the state of my not quite awakeness and the image, can you blame me for thinking, oooh, my phone has given me a special present? Yeah, right. I tapped on the picture and the stupid phone breathlessly informed me that it had updated my operating system. Listen up, Sprint. The next time you wake me up at 4:20 it had better not just be an OS upgrade or . . or. . something. Something bad.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


birthday girl
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It's hard to leave a zit alone, isn't it? I have a zit on my upper lip and all indications are that if I leave it the hell alone, it will fade and go gently into that good night without anyone except me ever noticing it.. My friends, like me, are just not all that observant. Besides, we're old. We can't see tiny things like lip zits anymore - it's one of the few, the far between, compensations for aging. On the other hand, if I pick at it, as I am oh so driven to do, it will become a massive weeping sore that will make me look like I'm actually an 18th century prostitute in the last stages of syphilis and that will be hard for even the blind to ignore. So of course I'm fucking with it. Of course.

In other news, August is a month of my friends' birthdays. Last night we went to Kathmandu (the restaurant, not, alas, the city, although Krista, who has been there, says that it is kind of a horrible place anyway - the city, not the restaurant.) to celebrate Jodi's and Charles' birthdays. The food was fantastic; the service was utterly inept but at least good natured; an excellent time was had by all and because Annie has discovered the wonders of the dollar store, we all got bamboo back scratchers as unexpected party favors. Eating great Indian food in a companionable, if damn near unphotographable, bright orange room (yes, India, there can be too much heart chakra for lenses) with awesome friends and getting a back scratcher! Things do not, really, get much better than this: I have been wanting a back scratcher for months. I was even toying with putting one on my Christmas list.

As it is the month of birthdays - I get along well with Leos, apparently, and when you realize that in my lifetime I have dated FIVE left handed Leo musicians named Michael, it all becomes opaque - I also ended up at a birthday party last Saturday night. It was a cool party although I knew basically nobody and was therefore kind of nervous, which is probably why I was texting my daughter from the bathroom. Therefore, in the inimitable spirit of Texts From Last Night, or, okay, last weekend to be pedantic, let me offer the following, with the caveat that actually it was a very lovely party.

Me: Am trapped at sorta weirdass birthday party in n. asheville w/ bunch of 20 somethings. Every time I go to leave everybody's like but the stripper will be here soon!
Auds: Oh no. How did that happen? that is crazy as hell.
Me: Dillon & Jodi lured me out. Stripper is on her way out now. Am not allowed to take pix. Yikes. Stripper looks like Wiccan. Me I feel I have seen enough skinny naked wiccans for one lifetime.
Auds: Dear lord. I wish I was there!
Me: Yeah me too!

The stripper did a kind of belly dance routine, very elegant. She never did get naked, the people were really nice and as far as I know there was no black magic going on at all. And after that we went to the DeSoto where I ran into several friends I hadn't seen for a while and watched the people from the LaZoom bus polka tour. I had never thought of Asheville as exactly a sort of Polka Mecca but apparently there's more polka here than you would think. This is fine by me and if only these two things could be combined so that we had wicca polka, well, then that might be Asheville and August in a nutshell: the Wicca Polka Mecca.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lazy Sundays - Featuring Twilight Spoiler So Don't Read It If You Are One of Those People Who Get Freaked Out By Spoilers, OK?

cat and green
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Last week I went to Mr. K's used books. For once I had the intelligence to bring a list of possibly decent authors with me so I was spared the usual total blankness that overtakes me whenever I walk into a book or video store. I swear, when I'm just sitting around I can remember the names of dozens of authors I want to read and all the titles of the movies I want to see but the minute I walk through the doors, poof, it's all gone. I react more or less the same way I did when I wandered into TJ Maxx recently for the first time in years: I turn into Goggling Fool Just Down the Mountain From the Cave Where She Has Spent Her Whole Life. "Ooooh," I say, "Shiny! Lookee there! Wowee! What's that?" and bam, my entire long term memory has vanished and been replaced by pure bemusement. This is how I end up leaving used book stores with paranormal romances featuring alien talking dog lawyers and movies about more or less the same thing. This time, though, I had a list and so I have been pretty happily working my way through a pile of relatively decent books, even if one of them was just a lengthy paean to the joys of dying in battle, preferably with a silver axe by your side.

Audrey, meanwhile, has been reading the Twilight series. I have avoided this thing like the plague, because I've read all too much about it on the internet and know that I would be immediately hooked, absorbed and unable to come to until I crawl out the other side feeling vaguely disgusted with myself. I know enough about Twilight from reading the online mockery, actually, that I was able to completely spoil the plot for Audrey by saying, innocently enough, "So, has she had the vampire baby yet?"
"MOM!" screamed my daughter, "She does not! Vampire baby?"
"Oh I'm sorry," I apologized insincerely, "I'm totally making that up."
"You are not," said Audrey, looking at me closely. "Vampire baby?"
"Well," I said, "It's not like it claws its way out of her or anything."

Now whenever she walks in the room, bemused from another six hour session of straight Twilight, I raise my hands above my shoulders, hook my fingers like claws, stick my teeth out and say "RAR, RAR! Vampire Baby! Rar!" I find this endlessly amusing. It breaks the monotony of trying to cure Theo of his obsessive barking disorder by using positive reinforcement and lengthy calm lecturing. "Use your tail, not your bark." I say in my best Romper Room voice. "Remember, use your tail and ears! We're not going to bark today! You'll get a gold star for using your tail!" and then I pet him. It is easier said than done to pet a dog continuously when he isn't barking. Rar! Rar!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Another Day, Another Interview

bottle tree
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I had another job interview today. This one is notable for the fact that it is actually for a job that I really want, as opposed to an interview for a job that I don't really want but think would possibly be bearable oh god. And by bearable I mean perhaps I could stand it for six months before starting to think about Dorothy Parker couplets involving pills and razor blades. So this is a rarity and it meant a lot to me. And even after the interview I still want the job, which is even more of a rarity.

It is damn lucky that I even made it to this interview, because as of yesterday I was still in the throes of believing that it was happening Thursday, which is to say, tomorrow. I was so convinced that it was happening on Thursday, actually, that I ignored all evidence to the contrary, including the correct date written on the kitchen calendar, the email with the correct date in the subject line and my own memory of the phone conversation setting the interview date and time. I was so convinced of this that I went ahead and scheduled a hair appointment for today at noon so that I would look excellent and professional for the interview tomorrow. This was a serious hair appointment at a real salon, too, not just my usual haphazard wander, hoping for the best, into the salon where it is cheap and they give away free beer . That strategy sometimes works - and sometimes it does not. Yeah, and like the little girl with the little curl, when it is bad it is horrid.

The reason I was so convinced was that I knew it was going to happen on my old friend Ray's birthday. As it turns out, yes, it did: today is his birthday and we can all wish him a happy birthday and point out that after his two months of being two years younger than me he is again now only one year younger than me, so there. How I managed to convince myself that August 4 was on a Thursday, I don't know, but I did it and if Ray had not called me yesterday to taunt me with his youth I probably would have been sitting in a hairdresser's chair this afternoon instead of in the throes of academia talking seriously to a search committee. This would have been bad.

Men, I suspect, can go off to interviews without much preparation. They put on a suit - their good suit, the interview suit that they bought in 1988 that still is in fashion and still fits and maybe pay $20 to get a trim (or, for my peer group, a head wax - I kid because I love) and then there they are, ready to interview. It is maddening. For those of us with the double x chromosomes, it is different. I had to go shopping - three hours at the Dillard's clearance center, oh lord - and buy interview clothes and then make an expensive hair appointment . I had to plan, actually, to spend my entire weekly unemployment stipend on a chance to get a job. Oh well. LIfe is unfair and gender inequities are beyond the scope of this blog. Besides, it is rough to be a guy. I would not trade even for the twenty year old suit and the ability to write my name in the snow. And now I have a couple of pairs of interview pants - neither of which, naturally, I wore today. Although I did wear the shell and jacket.

However. After straightening my calendar out and canceling the hair appointment and indulging in the obligatory freak out, I decided that something had to be done about my hair anyway. Therefore, I talked my daughter into accompanying me to Sally Beauty Supply, a comforting shop of which I am fond. They have styrofoam heads there for $4.99, after all, and black rubber gloves and mysterious hair products and the whole place smells nicely of aesthetic chemicals. Audrey and I debated colors and finally settled on one that we thought might be too edgy but was not insanely boring and yet was close enough to what remained of my last color job so that it would not require complete bleaching of my much abused follicles first. We got the developer - at Sally Beauty you do not get the convenient little box like you do at the drugstore; oh no, you have to buy each bit separate and they assume that you know what you are doing - and the gloves and a couple teeny bottles of nail polish just because and then I came on home to do my hair.

It is not really a good idea to dye your hair a complete new color with a brand new product the night before a job interview.

Particularly when the color your hair turns is purple.

I woke up this morning and went to the mirror and LO! I was rocking me some purple hair. Now, I love purple hair. I often have purple hair. Purple hair is the shizz and it is most excellent and rather becoming if I do say so myself but it is not, perchance, exactly appropriate for interviews unless it is 1989 and you are applying to work at CBGBs or an extremely poor yet intellectual gallery on the Lower East Side. You can get away with purple hair on the job after you've worked somewhere for six months or more, usually, but at an interview? It is kind of the kiss of death. I hied myself back to the shower and shampooed it vigorously and while this did eliminate the fuchsia scalp side effect - unsettling at the part! - it only muted the hair a little bit.

Oh well. When there is nothing you can do there is nothing you can do. I put my purple hair in a ponytail and I put on my Dillard's clearance conservative, classy yet slightly edgy shell and swingy jacket and my favorite striped linen pants for luck and I went off and, oh man, I hope, I dream, I think that I may have aced the hell out of that interview. Purple hair and all.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tofu of Despair

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday I ate an entire pound of tofu. No, wait, actually it was only 14 ounces - hardly anything, as I pointed out to my daughter who was laughing hysterically at this revelation. "That's a lotta fermented bean curd, Mom." "Yeah," I said direly, "My stomach hurts." No kidding, right?

Well. I'm back deep in the land of despair again, living the mother's lament, hanging around in the darkness, darkness, no color no contrast that Joni Mitchell sang about in the early 70s. Things are not good. Things were already not good and they got rather dramatically worse on Saturday night and that's pretty much all there is to that. Kids get into trouble. Then you as the parent feel that you have failed miserably with your entire life but, actually, it is not really your drama here. It is their drama and sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent is step back and away and just hope against hope. And cry a lot. There's always that. The kid is still, after all, alive and healthy and we will leave it there, because this is not a mommy blog. Take it from me, mommy blogging is just not as much fun when the youngest is, supposedly, an adult.

So, enough of that! Life sucks - really sucks - but in a mighty feat I have eaten a pound of tofu and lived to tell the tale! Yesterday, hungover (I suspect there is a healthier way to deal with trauma than many bloody marys but I don't really want to know about it and anyway, think of the vitamins) and depressed, I turned for solace to the refrigerator. I'm on a diet and it seems I will be on a diet forever so the contents of my refrigerator are disgustingly low fat, low cal and low joy. But there was the tofu. I only planned to have a little tofu, you know, but it skyrocketed and it turns out that going on a tofu binge is deceptively simple. Be warned!

It started with tofu salad, to which I am addicted - take tofu, squeeze it mightily in your hands until the water all drains out, crumble the dry tofu into a bowl, add tamari, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, grated carrots and fresh grated garlic and ginger and eat it on crackers. It is good even without the carrots. You can skip the ginger, too, if you wish, but why would you wish? If you get bored while you are squeezing the tofu - it is admittedly kind of gross - then you can slice up the rest of it and soak it in tamari and rice vinegar and then bake it for a while in the toaster oven so as not to heat up the house. Make a sauce with garlic and ginger and tamari and lemon juice and just a little tiny bit of peanut butter and then, having finished the tofu salad, you can eat the chunks of baked tofu moodily with your fingers as you discover that your great plan to reread all your Terry Pratchett books is just not cutting through the malaise and sorrow. After your tofu orgy you will feel kind of peculiar, to put it mildly, but, hey, it's okay: you will actually not have gained any weight. Tofu, freakily enough, is allowed.

It's kind of scary: I've gotten way too good at this weight watchers diet thing. A whole damn brick of tofu is only 10 points, leaving me another 12 points or so worth of food I could have eaten yesterday, although once you have eaten all the tofu, honestly, you don't really care to eat again for some time. Possibly weeks. I knew that eventually I would start gaming the weight watchers system - I can't help myself - and it has happened. I have figured out how to eat basically nothing and still feel full, what with the help of freaky diet food, fruit (it's not all bad, this diet) and, thank the gods, light beer. And tofu.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nostalgia Fest 2010

yellow butterfly 4
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Over the last couple weeks I've finally gotten around to scanning in a bunch of old pictures and putting them up on Facebook. I have a surprising amount of old pictures, but I didn't get obsessive about them until the early 90s. I wish I had more from the 80s - I mean, there were outfits that should have been immortalized, not to mention such images as Ricky Fuckhead passing out on my parent's steps, Audrey's stuffed cookie monster cuddled up to his matching blue mohawk, but I didn't have a camera then. I wanted one but cameras were expensive and developing film even more so. Besides, I was too damn busy being cool to go around taking pictures - thank the gods I got over that.

So I have a very few pictures of the eighties - mostly faded polaroids - and a lot of pictures from about 1990 on up, all organized into the kind of cheap-o albums that are guaranteed, like a cyanide tooth in a spy's mouth, to destroy each cherished image bit by bit. Still I wish there were more. The advent of digital photography has spoiled me and I think everything should be documented, but it wasn't so easy back then. I remember wanting to take pictures of landscapes and rocks and bugs and suchlike artsy stuff - kind of like the butterfly there on the right - one summer in Vermont and stopping myself, thinking, Felicity, you can't afford pictures of bugs and flowers. Every picture you take should have the kids in it or at the very least the damn dog.

So I took pictures of the kids and the dogs and my friends and there we all are, in Charleston, in Baltimore, in Rock Hall, in Vermont, in New York, uncomfortable in Jackson County at my parents, looking younger and, okay, sort of embarrassing (my daughter, on hearing that there are more scanned things up on facebook, screams OH GOD NO NOT MORE HIPPIE KID PICTURES MOM.) But good, too. We look good, I think, and the kids, the kids. The kids are grown up now and some of them even have kids of their own. This makes me sad and then happy at the same time - that odd time passing ache, that nostalgia thing.

Old pictures stir up old emotions, or, rather, you sort of think they should but they don't, exactly. They stir up the ghosts of old emotions, frayed and faded remnants of what you once felt or said or did. I looked at one picture and thought, huh, what's he doing there and remembered, oh yeah, that was after that suicide attempt. Well. He's fine now, twenty years on. Oh look, I think to myself, that's when my marriage was ending and I was pretty damn suicidal myself. Hmm, wow. That's when I couldn't figure out what to do about the kids' schools and that's when I was fighting with my best friend and, huh, it all kind of worked out, didn't it? Or did it? Is there some parallel universe where I'm still married (yeah, okay, I broke out the wedding album. Jesus.) or maybe where I'm still dating so and so or what if I never met any of these people or, or - eep. Old photos are dangerous. That's one of the reasons why I'm okay with them fading.

In Baltimore for a while there was a lovely museum called the City Life Museum. It had exhibits on, basically, living in the city in the early 20th century - somebody else's nostalgia fest - and included in it were a bunch of photo albums that people had donated or that they had found at Value Village or something. These were the kind of photo albums where somebody in the early 30s had carefully written out captions - Caspar, at the Lake, 1927, with Aunt Iris - and fitted beautiful black and white worlds into photo corners. You could tell that they had been treasured for a long time and then one day long after Caspar the white dog had become a friendly ghost and Aunt Iris had also departed this earthly vale and nobody knew where the Lake was anymore, the album had ended up in the museum. So, those afternoons in the nineties, had I and while the kids, small then, played in the little fake 1920s grocery store I would sit on top of the fake fire engine and look through these old, old photo albums. It was the pictures of the dogs who usually made me cry but really, there is nothing sadder than an abandoned photo album, even if it doesn't have dogs in it.

So as to keep this fate from my pictures, I have therefore scanned a bunch and put them up on Facebook to be laughed at and then put the albums back on a shelf to molder quietly. It's been a more uncomfortable task than I thought it would be and not just because the scanner is so slow. It makes me question things, like, did this really work out? Is this really okay? What happened to us and where did we go and what, exactly, is this time thing anyway? I hate getting involved in asking those big, horrible questions that shouldn't ever really be looked at. Photos are dangerous.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fish Scare

cat and balloons
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The other day I was at Ingles, as I so often am. Along with my weekly portion of diet food and the rather schizophrenic completely non diet food that my son requires to keep his buffalo chicken wing and ranch dressing counts sufficiently high, I bought on the spur of the moment some whole, albeit headless, rainbow trout that looked fresh. Even Granny, the scary checkout lady who has been checking out groceries at the Haywood Road Ingles since I was born, said that they looked like good fish. And Granny should know. I know that I try like hell to avoid having Granny check out my groceries, not because she is bad at it - she is the best, at this point, as you would have to be after forty gazillion years at the West Asheville Ingles, well, either that or a serial killer - but because it makes me feel guilty to have this ancient lady swiping my heavy groceries from one side of the counter to the other. I feel as if I should offer her a chair and an iced tea and swipe my groceries myself, ungrateful middle aged child that I am. However. We must figure that Granny knows fish.

I brought my Granny approved fishes home and put them in the fridge and then last night I made them for dinner. I put lemon slices and sliced shallots and some tarragon inside each one and squirted lemon over the whole fish and broiled them and therefore, you know, yum. They were pretty tasty and all would have been well except that half an hour later I did not feel well at all and neither did Audrey. We felt, actually, as if somebody had slipped some psilocybin mushrooms or some other frightening fungus into the trout. Extreme cottonmouth, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and, for me at least, fear, although honestly, I have in my lifetime had enough experience with psychedelic drugs that you'd think I'd react more with joy than fear.

The terror was mostly the fault of the internet: naturally, I immediately started googling and discovered that some fish farm in England had botulism on their trout once. This of course convinced me we were going to die forthwith. We even called poison control, a desperate move, and they told us to drink lots of water and monitor our symptoms, which we did by saying enlightening things to each other like, "Wow, I feel really weird."
"Me too!"
"What if trout naturally just secrete hallucinogens?" I said hopefully, "And all we are is tripping and it will be fun?"
"Mom," said my daughter, "If trout made you trip than we'd know about it. And every high school student in western North Carolina would be spending their weekends knee deep in the creek."
This was indisputable.

We told Miles, who hadn't been home for dinner, about our imminent demise. "If you get money from this," he said callously on his way back out the door, "I want some. Tell them I ate it too."
"What, you're leaving?" I said, "What if we need you to drive us to the hospital?"
"If I come home," he said, "And find y'all dead on the floor, well,"
"Well what?"
"Well, it would be upsetting." he said, waving and leaving.

Fortunately for young Miles' peace of mind, the symptoms dissipated after about two hours and we were fine, although I think I will not eat trout, particularly farmed trout, again. I'm still wondering what the hell happened. It wasn't really like any food poisoning I've ever heard of but neither was it a feeling I've ever had after dinner. Now, after dosing, yes, sort of, although that's much, much more pleasant and I can't figure out how the drugs met the fish. I mean, I really, really doubt that Granny (although, after all those years, could one blame her?) or anyone else at the Ingles is randomly dosing fish with LSD, although, let's face it, that would be kind of an appealing horror show idea.


Blogger has made it hard as hell to delete posts. The fish thing published twice but I can't get entirely rid of it. So here's a stupid placeholder. Grar. Argh. Bitch, whine, moan and complain.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dream Building

chicken coop
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It has been hot the last couple of weeks - you have probably noticed this - and I have been losing weight, which is nice. It seems to go away in the form of sweat, which is arguably less nice, but, hey, as long as it's departing, converting, one assumes, itself into some kind of energy or possibly the speed of light (I never made it all they way through the Tao of Physics) then whatever. And it's a learning experience, because in order to remove the sweat, I'm pursuing a kind of practical doctorate in fan placement.

Everyone who lives in the tropics without air conditioning - and, let's face it, as we move into the 21st century we're all living in the goddamn tropics, now and forevermore - becomes a fan expert and I am no exception. This house has a whole house fan, which is a hidden thing in the ceiling of the hallway, protected by louvers that open up when I flip a switch and start the dull yet comforting roar that means the house fan is on the job. In temperate weather, running that thing at night is enough to cool the house off nicely but it's not enough when it's this hot. Therefore, I've been adding fans. Window fans, box fans, the big round fan in the basement that my son will not relinquish no matter how much I try to bribe him. The fans have to be placed just so and I think about this a lot - probably too much - in order to maximize air flow from one room to another. Also, nobody is allowed to close any doors lest precious coolness be thwarted and the fans, which must be turned on as soon as it cools off outside, must then be turned off before 9 am. This is key, although my children sometimes just flat fail to see the drastic importance of all this. I feel like a personal failure on mornings when it's hotter inside than outside - unfortunately, that's a lot of mornings lately. You see, if it's over 85 in your house when you wake up it means that the day is going to basically suck. This is one of the laws of thermodynamics and thus immutable.

Thinking about air flow is like thinking about carpentry projects, which is what I do while I'm going to sleep. On nights when I have trouble going to sleep I think about other things as well (not THAT. Well, okay, sometimes THAT.) like walking through every house I've ever lived in and long railway journeys through Siberia and what it would be like to live on a spaceship but mostly I think about things I could build and how I could build them. I never actually build any of the things I think about but I am telling you, they would completely rock if I ever got around to it.

Right now I am thinking about shelving every inch of the room that has finally, with the throwing out of the old couch and the subsequent moving of the daughter downstairs, become my workroom / studio / office. I went so far as to go and look at how much it would cost to do this project (like $100, or, in other words, more than I am going to spend) and I even, on that exploratory voyage to Lowes, broke down and bought a drill motor. Yes, that is what most people call one of those electric cordless drills, but my ex husband, who is concerned with the nomenclature of tools, drilled into me that it was in fact a drill motor. Ha ha! A little hardware humor, there! Shoot me now. I'm glad I have it, though. It makes me feel macho and competent, as tools always do, and I like to push the trigger and listen to it go RRRRRRR. I would like it more if it hadn't just stripped out the first couple of screws I was trying to get it to turn - I think you do after all have to drill holes first, which is such a pain in the ass, particularly when you neglect to buy drill bits - but it will be really handy when I get around to making things. Houses. Shelves. Furniture. And other nifty stuff.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Think I'll Skip This One This Year

jen and kitten
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I think I'm going to skip Bele Chere this year. This is not exactly an earth shattering decision - I mean, so what? Who cares? There will be 200,000 or so people there with or without me, not one of whom will give a shit that I am absent - but for some reason I feel vaguely guilty about this. I rarely miss Bele Chere; actually, I think this is only the second time in ten years that I haven't bothered to even venture briefly into the fray. This year, though, it's just too hot and I'm a little too battered in body (I think I have to throw my favorite shoes away on the chance that they are behind the recurring and endless poison ivy that is tormenting my feet to the point where I'm thinking maybe life as a double amputee would be preferable) and soul to face it. Besides, there isn't a single band playing that I really want to see, or, more accurately, haven't seen many and many a time before without having to force my way through overheated crowds. So, funnel cakes, sprinklers, street preachers and so on, lukewarm beer, games of spot the mullet and the pregnant teenager, you will have to do it without me this year.

In other news, this diet thing is working. I have lost ten pounds even despite the fact that over the last two weeks I sort of devoted almost all my calorie intake to beer - the stress & trauma diet works just fine, it turns out, if you're already on a big old diet and have stopped eating such delicious things as real bread and real cheese - and I am thrilled. I would be a bit more thrilled if my clothes were suddenly all too big but somehow they are not as much too big for me as I feel they should be. Well. That will come and one day, one beautiful day, I will again fit into the incredibly hideous purple plaid bermuda shorts of doom. That will be a happy day for me - for the rest of the world, not so much.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Drama and Baggage

sketchbook page
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
A couple of months ago my children and I were discussing the topic of baggage - not the Gucci variety nor even the smart black plaid traveler's satchel on wheels that I slightly covet - and my son said indignantly that I had no baggage. That is, in pyschic and psychosocial terms - in physical terms I am the proud owner of an antique yellow duffel bag much mended with duct tape that serves my infrequent travel needs. I feel that I am also the not so proud owner of a variety of the other kind of baggage; thus, I started laughing as I considered my broke, unemployed, house more or less literally falling down around my ears, three dog owning, two adult children living at home self. My daughter looked with irritation at her brother. "We are the baggage, stupid." she said.

Well, yeah. Things have been dire again this past week around Hangover Headquarters and as usual I find this inhibits my creative process, to put it mildly. I swear to all the gods there are, including the neglected Gods of Dust Behind Baseboards and Vitally Important Cables That Mysteriously Disappear that I am really not a drama queen. I am not out there looking for drama nor attempting to create it when life gets dull. I dearly wish, actually, that I was, because that would mean that life got nice and dull once in a while. Instead, I just seem to lurch from crisis to crisis. I don't have time to go looking for trouble. It finds me on its own just fine.

A lot - maybe even most - of these crises nowadays are actually more the property and concern of my children rather than me but, as every parent knows, that's worse. Childrens' crises come to parents with guilt and grief and worry and the kind of creeping, inexhaustible angst that wraps a nice fuzzy blanket of sorrow and terror around your soul at three in the morning. It's also why I'm not specific about the nature of my griefs, here. I try my damnedest to blog about my kids only in passing or when they do or say something particularly hilarious. Since they are both smart, witty, funny people, that happens rather often, although, at the moment, not so much.

Well! Wasn't that fun? Isn't life just a fucking bucket of joyous warm happy moments, love, puppies and delicious meals? And the thing is, it is - except right there in the bucket is the fact that love is fraught, puppies eat the couch and delicious meals make you fatter than Jabba the Hutt on a good day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Elder Gods

echinacea from below
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It has occurred to me that everything that is wrong with this country - and that's a lot - is the fault of Nancy Reagan. Nancy Reagan only did two good things, ever, one of which was coming out for stem cell research and the other of which was replacing the White House china with dishes of such a staggering level of tackiness that I can still snicker at them almost 30 years later. "How do you know these things?" asked my daughter when I trotted out this bit of trivia the other night. "Are you kidding?" I said, "Saying mean things about Nancy Reagan was the basis of all my conversations with my mother for at least eight years." This is not, of course, entirely true but it's true enough.

My friend Susan says that there are some Rastas who believe that Ronald Reagan was the antichrist. I think this may be true. Certainly everything has gone to hell in a handbasket since his presidency and he's the one who started it all: the theocracy, the fervent prudery, the privatization of anything and everything that can be privatized for a profit, the giant growth of the prison industry, the erosion of the middle class, the end of the unions, the destruction of the working class and working poor, the demonization of poverty and, of course, the constant push towards the right that we have endured since the eighties, which has finally lead us to a country where people honestly believe that Obama is actually left wing. Let's not forget the Reagan initiated war on drugs, either, which has effectively destroyed most of what was left of anything resembling a functioning justice system. The fucker - and his wife, I mean, that china - has a lot to answer for. I don't believe in God, really: I prefer my gods multiple, since I feel there's too much work out there for just one and I like having individual small deities to consult on an as needed basis. I sure as hell don't believe in the Bible as anything other than a source for a lot of Renaissance paintings and an occasionally useful historic text, but if there was going to be an antichrist, I think Reagan fits the bill.

Now, to delve into the realms of serious paranoia or a possible screenplay, either / or: get this. If we assume that Reagan was the antichrist, an avatar of evil, an incarnation of doom heralding the end times, than think of his airport. It is generally conceded that Reagan National airport is a clusterfuck of amazing proportions. Well, you see (looks around, drops voice to whisper) that's because the runways are set up in a carefully designed occult web of summoning and every time a plane lands or takes off from one it's creating a more favorable climate for the eventual emergence of the Nameless Ones, who one of these days will break through the tarmac and start munching out on USAir jets. This must be stopped! I've had it with these motherfucking elder gods on this motherfucking plane!

Okay, okay. I know. Sometimes I can't help myself.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Random Wednesday

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Huh, that was weird - a keyboard shortcut posted this long before it was ready. Oh well! Guess I must blog now! Actually, damn, it is far easier to post a link from Blogger proper rather than from Flickr although I don't get that tiny feeling of pride in my own mad basic knowledge of HTML skillz that I do when I type it all in laboriously. Still. And now for something completely different!

Have I blogged lately about my great love for China Mieville? No? Have I ever blogged about my great love for China Mieville? Well. Let me fix that. I am in love with China Mieville. I am also, coincidentally, in love with Martin Millar and James McMurtry (I am not posting a link to James. If you don't know who he is it behooves you to google him immediately.) and so clearly, if I threw an apple peel over my left shoulder* it would land on the floor in the shape of an M, which is interesting and totally beside the point. Nevertheless! I have just finished Kraken, Mieville's latest book and I am here to tell you that you should go out and buy it immediately. Perhaps buy several copies, even: the book is great and so, as nice lagniappe, is the cover design. The book, though, the book is completely amazing. I mean, it is wonderfully great even for a book that centers around the random theft of a giant squid, which is perhaps the best plot premise ever (eat your heart out, Dashiell Hammett - why fuck around with a small black statuette of some random bird when you could be chasing a GIANT SQUID?): it is engrossing, thoughtful, beautifully written of course and even occasionally funny as hell. China Mieville is a genius - I mean, a genius, a serious genius - and sometimes he can be somewhat overwhelmingly abstract and intellectual but it is worth it to force your brain to try to keep up. Also, he's gorgeous, OMG, insert various girly stuff here, and I like his politics. Or, well, I think I do, but then British politics are a little opaque to we colonials due to the lack of the overwhelming stupidity factor that Americans seem to find necessary to keep in our own political life. "Why, he's dumb as dirt!" we say proudly and then reelect the bastard to keep on voting against health care and extending unemployment. "Dumb as dirt! Haw! Wouldn't want one of them goddamn smartypants progressives in Washington! Why, no, I don't get why we is so poor now and how come we has lost everything we once had - must be the goddamn terr'ists."

The garden has been really weird this year. It is the beginning of July and yet the garden seems to think it is the middle of August. Thus, all my sunflowers are out, half the peppers are ready, the corn is miserable, small and no good, the beans are done, the cucumbers are finishing and, well, it's not so awesome, actually. Also, borer beetles have killed all my zucchini - little fuckers! Evil insects! Forces of doom! - so for the first time in many years I am facing a zucchini free summer, which is clearly not to be borne. I am baffled in the face of the sudden uselessness of all my carefully hoarded recipes that disguise zucchini. If there is no zucchini to disguise I will probably have to start gluing mustaches on those weird ass Chinese whatever they ares and we don't want that. Or maybe we do.

I am having more fun with the Wii Fit than I probably should. I live in fear that somebody will catch me attempting one of the kindergarten level games, like marching in place, that I enjoy so much and yet am so, so very bad at. I confess: I've never really gotten my right and left straight. Never. Neither has my son, which is one of the reasons why we were so extremely terrible at Tae Kwon Do all those years ago. I am also bad at rhythm, as in, I don't got none and so I am terrible at most of the Wii Fit games, which rely heavily on rhythm and balance for some unknown reason that perhaps will one day become clear to me. But it is fun as hell to try. There are elements of living in the future that I adore and running in place in the basement while virtually following a small cat around an imaginary cartoon island on a large screen in front of me is one of them. As long as nobody ever sees me. I think I should probably wear a fake mustache.

I decided a while ago that I would get another tattoo on my mom's birthday, which is today. Happy Birthday, Mom! Miss you every day - yeah, that's one of those things that you don't know until you lose a parent but let's not go there. It is rough. However. My mother would be completely horrified by this form of tribute - we had a sort of silent don't ask, don't tell thing going on with all the tattoos I already have, which I sort of attempted to keep mostly hidden - but, well, I don't care and I do think that as usual, my own very contrary nature, which is in large part much like her very contrary nature, would continue to amuse her. So, another tattoo is in the works. I already have Snufkin and Little My on my right shoulder blade and it is time to add my very own Moominmamma. Now I have to find a place that will do this today, because with my usual total lack of planning, I have done nothing but pick out a picture. Therefore, I'm out of here and off to find an available artist. Which, interestingly enough, one could also say about my quest for Martin Millar, James McMurtry and China Mieville.

* This is an old fortune telling device that is infallible. Infallible, I tell you! What you do is first you must peel an apple so that the peel comes off all in one piece like a spiral without breaking anywhere. Then you throw it - the peel, not the apple - over your left shoulder and examine what it looks like on the floor. Whatever letter of the alphabet it resembles is the initial of the man you are going to marry. This is tough on people with names beginning with F or T or A or Z - that's why they never marry, as you know, while people whose names start with J and S and C marry often - but hey, my twelve year old self informs me that this method is absolutely the truth.

Monday, July 05, 2010

How I Ruined the 4th of July

Whoo, holiday weekend! I hate holiday weekends. I used to like them, back in the dim time before time when I actually had a job and Mondays meant something to me but now that Mondays are just another day when I don't get my quota of junk mail, well, fuck it. I might be missing coupons from Hardees not to mention dubiously existent carpet steam cleaning services that I will never use. Besides, if you're unemployed, you might hypothetically start celebrating this holiday stuff a little early, like, say, Wednesday and then by the time the actual holiday rolls around you are over it, what with the consecutive hangovers and the loss of the diet resolve and the horrible Wii Fit saying you've gained 2 pounds and making rotten cracks about your diet. Hypothetically, that is.

However, holiday weekends and their risks aside, I am an American, no matter how much I tried to tell people I was Canadian back in the early 80s when I was traveling (even going so far as to smoke Rothmans gods help us) and as an American it is my patriotic duty to drink beer and go see fireworks on the 4th of July. Besides, Annie, fired up by the small fireworks at Susan's party last Thursday, wanted to go see real fireworks. Not that the fireworks available at BJs or in all of North Carolina are unreal: they just don't go up in the air. No, they menace your ankles by emitting showers of sparks - all fireworks we can buy here say they emit showers of sparks or shoot flaming balls, a lovely double entendre that I for one would deeply enjoy seeing imagined pyrotechnically. Actually, in a beautiful failure of the Chinese packaging industry, one of the fireworks at Susan's party claimed that it would emit showers of gummy bears. Alas, it did not and so it came about that Annie wanted to go to the big fireworks display.

It is unfortunately rather difficult to take somebody with limited mobility to the downtown Asheville 4th of July celebration. Granted, it would be a hell of a lot easier if said person with the limited mobility admitted that she had it and sat down in a damn borrowed wheelchair which one could then trick up with a horn and some flags and stuff, but no, as far as she's concerned, she's the same as she ever was: it's just the rest of the world that has become inexplicably and rudely complex and fast. So this was a bit of a problem.

We started out the evening by going to a neighborhood block party which was lovely and turned out to be hosted by a Facebook friend of mine. That's always a shock - a facebook friend! Who exists! Who knew? At any rate, we walked on down there and back, slowly, a whole block and then recovered for a bit on Annie's porch while it got, again rather slowly, late enough to where we would not be sitting somewhere waiting for three hours for the fireworks to begin, a process to which I am allergic, particularly in a beer free environment. I had this theory that we could take my brother's car and go up to the top of the Biltmore Ave. parking deck, which is where I used to always go for fireworks because it is the best place. Unfortunately, over the years since I used to do this, other people have discovered that it is the best place and by 7:45, the deck was full. Damn them. I also, of course, used to start out at the New French bar and just dash up 3 flights of steps to the top when I heard the booming begin but, see limited mobility, above, that option didn't seem as if it would work.

My back up plan was to park, using Annie's handy handicap hang tag, in front of the art museum and walk slowly through the park. Well, the art museum was blocked off, all the handicapped spaces were gone too and the park was wall to wall people, so we nixed that. "What about the Wall Street deck?" I said, "I bet we can see both the downtown fireworks and the Biltmore estate ones from there!"

Famous last words. We got up to the top of the deck and parked and stood around for a bit. Then we decided to stand somewhere else and eventually, on a hunch, we moved the car to a different place on the roof. Other people began to appear. One by one they came over to me.
"Is this a good place to watch the fireworks?" they asked, humbly. "Where do they shoot off the fireworks?"
"Why yes," I said, enjoying my new role as fireworks ambassador for my city, "This will be great. You'll be able to see them from over there and there!"
And you would have, too, if somebody hadn't built the Public Interest Building in, like, 1920. Alas, it turns out that seeing the fireworks from the top of the Wall Street Parking deck is damn near impossible - you can only really do it, actually, from the place where we had first parked the car and even there it is less than optimal. Still, there were fireworks. I mean, sort of. You could kind of see parts of them here and there.
"I'm sorry," I said as we climbed back into the car, "That I ruined the 4th of July."
"This place is no good," said my aunt bitterly, referring to Asheville as a whole. "They don't have good fireworks."
"You know," said my brother thoughtfully, "People only started coming up there after we were there. They probably thought we knew what we were doing. So look at it this way - you didn't just ruin the 4th of July for us - you ruined it for all those people as well!"
"Okay, okay," I said, "I will start planning next year's celebration tomorrow. Honestly. It will be better, I swear."
And so it will, because I personally intend to be out of town and asking other people where they watch the fireworks from, I don't know, maybe Uttar Pradesh.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fitness For Employment

We have a Wii Fit! Yes, we are disgusting materialists who stay in their house all the time and are probably responsible for at least some of the decline of civilization as we know it, but, yeah, whatever, we have a Wii Fit! It is highly awesome and as soon as I learn to do the Segway ride without bending over like some kind of crazed knuckle walking speed skater, I am confident that it will trim my waistline as well as hurting my back. Actually it's amazingly fun. It turns out that I am horrible at step aerobics but that's okay: laughing that hard has to burn some calories in and of itself.

And, I did better at the yoga part than I thought I would. "Wow," said my daughter, "I am impressed with your total yoganess!"
"And I with yours!" I said happily even as we competed viciously for higher yoga points, which I have a feeling is not what any mahatma would recommend. Yoga is always competitive, though. I used to take yoga classes at the YMCA with about 300 other people, all of whom were better at yoga than I was and the competition was fierce. The teacher would be over in the back of the class shaking her head sorrowfully at my pathetic downward facing dog and meanwhile, the guy with the blue stars tattooed on his face - most flexible homeless man in Asheville! - would be tying himself into impressive knots while a squadron of perfectly outfitted ultra yoga young mothers of impeccable hipness gently outdid one another at breathing and breathtaking expense of yoga accessories. I was sure that one day they would all crack and just go on and knife each other holistically but I dropped out - the stress! The pressure! The fact that I don't bend! - before that happy event.

What with the diet and the exercise and all this stuff, I foresee that it is possible I will eventually get back into something vaguely resembling work clothes. This is good, because I actually had an interview this morning. The interview was with a placement/temp type service and my interviewer, who was extremely nice, gently and subtly told me I looked like hell.

"This position," she said, "is in a very conservative office. Do you," beat "Anticipate any problem with, for example, dress?" Oooooh. Ow. This is not what you want to hear when you're sitting there in your best black linen pants, which, are, okay, somewhat snug and a formal - well, formal-ish - top. Then she told me that there's a Goodwill out on Leicester Highway which will give you interview outfits for free. Ow, again. Major ow. I am apparently no better at dressing professionally than I am at step aerobics. I think I'm great at it, usually, in a sort of bohemian unique take on the concept, but perhaps I am wrong in that. Maybe there is a reason why my friends all fall over laughing when I say I feel as if I look corporate that day.

Dress is the least of my worries, though, because I had to fill out one of those terrible interview things where they ask you what your work ethic is and what motivates you. I always want to put down Nonexistent under work ethic and Rum, Sodomy and the Lash under motivating factors but since I actually need money, I did not. I also wanted to say that my ideal supervisor would be one who loosened up on the rack now and then but I didn't put that down either. Although, for god's sake, let's all be honest here: I want to work for money. Money motivates me. My work ethic depends on it. It is, of course, forbidden to mention something so crass as money when you are interviewing for a job. You are supposed to be doing this job for some kind of love of humanity or deep desire to get up close and personal with the really complex parts of Excel. Uh huh. Absolutely. Well. So I put down some nonsense about recognition and team efforts because, again, I need money. Yeah, I am crass and commercial - after all, I have to recoup my small investment (it officially belongs to Audrey) in the Wii Fit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekends They Come and They Go

sunflower graphic
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I just spent three hours de-virusizing my computer, which is even more highly annoying when one considers that I haven't used the damn thing since some time on Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, it had managed to get itself all infected and, therefore, this is where I give a shout out to Spybot Search & Destroy, who not only fixed the problem that malwarebytes and avira could not but also have the most adorable software license on the planet.

So what did I do this weekend, seeing as how I was not on the computer? Well, on Friday it was of course time to go to the DeSoto and drink beer with my friends. I get to drink beer on this weight watchers thing, as long as it's light beer and as long as I have barely eaten anything all week - those glorious 35 extra points sure do come in handy for binge drinking! Whoooeee! - so I did that. I also made sure to tease my friend who is in a new relationship. "I know this is corny," he said, blushing, "But a song from West Side Story keeps on going through my head."
"As long as it isn't Officer Krupke," I said, "I think you're good."

Friday night, thus, was fun for all but there is a slight problem with drinking on an empty stomach: to wit, it leads to migraine type headaches on Saturday. Thus I was kind of a mess on Saturday but I gave in to my daughter's blandishments and headed off to the Dillard's clearance center at Biltmore Square Mall so that Audrey could buy a dress for her cousin's wedding next month and I could sit around and be unwell in air conditioning. This worked out quite well: after pulling every dress that looked even slightly reasonable off the racks, I sat in the dressing room. Audrey tried on dresses and I tried not to be sick, so it was all good despite the faint odor of, I swear to god, pee. You can put up with pee smells though, for air conditioning and cheap as hell fashion and she found not just one but two fabulous dresses, so everyone came out happy.

That night I was supposed to go to a party but instead I begged off and went to see Robin Hood instead. Robin Hood! My favorite! With Russell Crowe who is not exactly my favorite but who I would not kick out of bed for snoring and Cate Blanchett, who looks exactly like my friend Luneige and who I like, therefore, by association. I was excited and actually the movie was pretty damn good for a movie that made no sense whatsoever. I mean, none. I mean, plot holes you could drive a medieval ox team through, not to mention history holes that hurt my head. Besides, they had a fight scene on the beach, all half underwater with blood and yet somehow failed to bring in a shark. How could you do that, Ridley Scott? A shark would have redeemed the entire thing. I actually said this out loud in the movie theatre - sorry about that, fellow moviegoers, I was just so excited when I thought that maybe Robin Hood was going to save Maid Marian from a shark with his trusty bow, but alas, the stupid movie was shark free.

Yesterday, I started off cleaning the entire house with the help of an entire pot of coffee. That would have been fine and an achievement in and of itself but then I went many steps further and completely rearranged my bedroom. Redecorating is always so much fun. It always takes just as long as you think it will, right? Ha ha! It takes seven times as long as you think it will and that's not even counting reassembling the bed frame twice. The bed frame is extremely precarious at this point and I am a little worried that if I ever have company again, it's going to turn out to be one of those sitcom worthy events. Duct tape can only do so much. However, that happy event is far off and my room is now immaculate and completely different than it was before.. My back is also different than it was before and that bookcase won't make another move, but oh well, what the hell. I am pleased and the dogs, after some initial confusion, have adjusted themselves to their preferred farting positions directly under my pillow, so all is as normal in my world. Happy Monday!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer, Again

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I know it is summer now, because my feet and ankles are covered with mosquito bites and poison ivy. Yay! How exciting! Because I am physically incapable of itching without scratching (did the difference between those two words completely absorb anyone else's second grade brain during moments of boredom or is that just me?) soon my feet and ankles will be covered, again, with attractive scabs. Perhaps they will match the purple toenail polish. One can but hope.

In other news, there really is no other news. Mostly what I'm doing these days is dieting, which is boring to do - except for the part where I'm dizzy and out of it all the time, which has become kind of awesome since I decided not to be worried about it and instead to pretend that I was just on drugs - and even more boring to read about. Yesterday, in news of the totally damn thrilling, I even went to the store and bought a bunch of weird ass diet food. I am a little concerned about this - it diminishes my hippie cred considerably and we don't want that - but on the other hand it is amazing to not be completely starving. Fake diet food actually makes you feel full - sure, you're probably dying of some kind of chemical military industrial grade cancer the minute you ingest it, but you feel full, so who cares? It is better than miniature carrots. Almost anything, truth be told, up to and including thumbscrews, is better than gloomily sitting in the kitchen eating miniature carrots in an attempt to stop the hunger pains. And while miniature carrots are bad, dipping them in zero calorie zero fat white gluey stuff that has the nerve to call itself ranch dressing is worse, because then the existential gloom really comes down hard on your soul. I hate it when that happens.

Still, one marches on. One fixed the goddamn bathroom scale and discovered to one's horror that one is approximately the same weight as a humpback whale, a humpback whale who, moreover, has gained more than ten pounds in the last eight months. Therefore, one is fucking determined to become svelte. Svelte, I say. Svelte and scabby.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesdays, Huh, What Are They Good For?

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It's hot and I have miserable cramps. This has led me to realize that it would only take a good cry for me to actually embody the name of a famous 70s sort of jazz rock group - guess which one? It's not the Grateful Dead, yet, but if the heat and cramps keep up, it damn well could be - which I believe may be one of those things that normal people don't think about, but I do. However! All that matters not, because the PetSmart on Brevard Road has sold out to the PetCo and as a result, all their cheesy aquarium ornaments, plus some dog toys, are on final clearance. As a result of this changeover, the employees are wearing PetCo outfits and saying things like, "We're from PetCo and here to help the PetSmart people get through the changeover!" This is kind of terrifying, because any job that involves you wearing a brown nylon vest and a nametag and being knowledgeable about cash registers and tropical fish should not also be the kind of job where you fly all over the world helping people transition. The transition, which I guess involves having a different name on your paycheck and conceivably some redecorating in the store (which is a good thing, because it will get rid of those signs that said DOGZ TOYZ! in a cheery and soul destroying font) should not, maybe, need professional help. Well, it would be fun to be the transition manager and fly all over the world, assuming, that is, that PetCo is multinational and hey, it probably is, because who can resist small eerie castles like the one pictured, particularly when they're marked down from $15 to $3? I also got a fluorescent pink plastic aquarium flower for 68 cents. 68 cents, people!

I like to think that my fish are happy now, because not only has their decor, which had been sinking steadily since the plant died and the algae eater proved himself not quite up to his task, improved about 110%, but I added new fish. Nothing like new roommates to cheer fish up! Look, the neighborhood has gone downhill! If all else fails they can all now band together and be xenophobic about the newcomers, a bonding experience for all.

In other news, I have begun to harvest some of the freaky mystery Asian vegetables. Remember, on my klonopin fueled trip to the West Coast (I had been waiting all my life to stand on a Pacific beach and exclaim the ocean is on the wrong side! in tones of horror but when it came to it I kind of forgot, plus, it didn't really feel as wrong sideish as it should have) I bought several packets of promisingly weird looking Asian vegetable seeds and brought them home to plant. I was hoping against hope for a sort of Little Shop of Horrors experience in which I get to be that person the villagers come after with the torches and the pitchforks once my army of demonic plants has laid waste the peaceful mountain village of Asheville, but so far everything, with the exception of the eggplants, which firmly refused to grow at all, has been distressingly well behaved.

So I have harvested a few of these. They look and smell a bit like turnips, so I tried chopping, boiling and serving them with butter but the results, frankly, were uninspiring. Sure, if you were in a prison colony or possibly had villagers with pitchforks standing behind you, you could eat them, but in other circumstances, probably not. I ate a few chunks and pretended to be enthusiastic but it was a hollow sham, quickly seen through by my children. Now I wish to know, what are they?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Update With Bonus Weirdo Anecdote

going home
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Today I have been rather frighteningly efficient. I applied for two jobs. I took the dogs for a run in the woods. And I have started my diet seriously, which meant that I had to spend an hour on the computer figuring out how many points are in the modified vichyssoise I made on Saturday night for my poor friend Susan, who is suffering through dental hell. I tell you, figuring out points is not for the weak. For a few moments there I thought it was possible vichyssoise had over 800 points and, actually, so it probably does, if you eat the whole pot. Which I could do right now without blinking, because I am fucking starving. That is okay, though! At least I don't have dental pain! And besides, the hunger is making me dizzy and if you just relax and go with that, you can pretend you're on drugs.

Speaking of drugs, I am mildly curious as to what the guy who sat down at my table at Broadways on Friday night was on. He was extremely strange and, which is embarrassing, I could not at first discern whether he was a) just being weird or b) a performance artist or c) on heavy, serious drugs or d) completely mentally ill. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it was a combination of c and d but I must be slipping, because I used to be able to sort this stuff out a lot faster. He was not unattractive, although not really all that good looking, but, you know, passable. Well, we are all passable, these days, us old Gen Xers, at least in the right light or lack thereof.

"Tell me a joke," he said when he sat down, so I told him my stock joke, the one about the martians and the gas pump and the wraps his dick around him three times and he laughed immoderately. This joke, which I have been telling for almost 30 years simply because it's the one joke that somehow imprinted itself permanently on my brain one day, is not all that funny. Then he made me tell him the punchline four times. That was art, possibly. Then he made a paper airplane, which would have been art and fine except it was a terrible airplane and I have no patience, really, for poor craftsmanship. I admit that my paper airplanes are pretty terrible but in their defense I say chauvinistically that I am a girl and besides, they would totally work if I had a paperclip. Nobody ever has a paperclip, so that's a good safe lie. Then he leaned in to speak to me. Uh oh, I thought, because by this point I was pretty firmly in the highly medicated and crazy as a shithouse rat camp about this guy.
"Your beer is round," he said carefully. "And your tattoos are round."
"Are you," he asked, leaning in, "Round?"

Well, that's what the diet is supposed to be addressing. At this point, I found something highly important to do on the other side of the bar and he took himself off to enjoy downtown after five and make gnomic utterances at other people. Downtown After Five, this time featuring Drivin' and Cryin', a band I have a soft spot for of old, mostly because of the Kev'n Kinney song Hey Landlord, was pretty good except actually the sound is not at its best from Broadways' roof deck. Usually, the proximity to cheap beer and the distance from the madding crowd more than make up for this but last Friday ended up just being so loud and muddy that Jodi and I finally split and went to Scullys. On Saturday I did various errands and eventually went over to Susan's to sit around and drink beer and give her the aforementioned cold potato soup. Yesterday I did very little except bring in the first harvest from the garden, consisting of three fabulous cucumbers, a whole mess of green beans and two Chinese mystery vegetables that kind of look and smell and taste like turnips or a cross between turnips and jicamas. I boiled them. They were not delicious but I still have hopes, although it's possible that I'm just starving. Or on drugs. Natural, free drugs.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


So I am on a diet. I am actually not officially on a diet yet - that starts on Monday - I'm sort of on a starter diet. A trial diet. A diet that is condoned by the Watchers of Weight. Not WeightWatchers, mind - I'm too broke - but the Watchers of Weight, who are a group of dark clad ninja like svelte people who come into your house to torment you mercilessly about your giant fatness. Also, they snatch food from your plate and then laugh heartlessly as they eat it themselves. Then they tease you about your fat clothes. Fear them!

Not really, although it would have its serious awesome points. Speaking of points, what really happened is that a friend of my daughters loaned her a weight watchers calculator. We have decided to launch into counting points, as opposed to calories, obsessively and as a result becoming slim and scornful, not to mention better at math, our own selves. The point system is complex. You take the little calculator and you put in first the calories of the food you just ate (if you do it before you eat you will lose a whole lot more weight, but the misery will double, so it's a toss up) and then the fat content and then the fiber. The calculator then hands you back a point value, to wit, hot dogs are 7 points while blueberries are 1. Some things, like tomatoes, are free: they have no points. Alas, when you add toasted bread and bacon and mayonnaise and lettuce to tomatoes, they gain points. This is frustrating, since I only get 27 points a day. 27! They add up faster than you'd think.

Given the existence of points, I am postulating that there must therefore also be negative points. There must be a way, mathematically, to simply confuse the fat away. Presumably it would involve something that was more or less all fiber. What if I ate 3 cups of celery? Would I go into negative points? I need to go into negative points and soon, too. Those 27 points are not enough and besides, I'm getting obsessive. I've been counting blueberries to make sure I'm okay on the points front. There is little more depressing in this life, I find, than counting fucking blueberries.

Now, you do get overflow points and rather a lot of them: 35 a week! That would be awesome except I fully intend to save all mine up for binge drinking. There are only 2 points in a light beer, which means I can have 16 light beers and a PBR (3 points.) After doing that on a Saturday night, I should be sick for at least 3 days, which would further reduce my point intake and again, lead me into the much desired negative point status.

You can see I have thought this through. My brain has already been sharpened by starvation and there is no system I cannot beat. Look out, thin people! I"m coming to join you! Slowly. Oh, so very slowly.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thunder Drugs and TMI Boy

haywood road
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Thunder and Drugs
The weather broke, thank the gods, as you probably have noticed if you live here, broke with one of those afternoon thunderstorms that are so amazingly fabulous for everyone but Theo. Poor, miserable, anxiety prone, panicking Theo goes down to Teenage Wasteland and hides under Miles' bed, where the floor is concrete and no bad things other than dirty dishes and towels from last March can befall him. This would be fine on many levels - the house is far calmer with only two dogs instead of three, go figure - except that he gets stuck. It takes me a couple of hours to figure this out and then I have to go lift the bed off him. When stuck, he lies very still and doesn't answer when he's called. This is a problem. If you, like me, are all occasionally slightly paranoid and prone to being kind of introspective - as I am on some evenings - you think "Oh god, what if he's dead? What if he had a heart attack? What will I do if there's a dead dog stuck under Miles' bed? Should I call 911? Probably not. Bad idea right now. Besides, they might laugh at me. What will I do? What if I freak out? What if we all freak out? Would it be appropriate to run wailing down the street? This could be bad - very bad. Very, very bad." and thus, you see, you're kind of afraid to go down there. But you must and then, honestly, lifting the bed off him is a total relief.

I would take him to the vet for doggie downers but given that there's a thunderstorm every single afternoon, he'd almost certainly get all addicted and then I'd either have to check him in to doggie rehab or face the terrible, motel room wrecking, Keith Moon-esque consequences. You never expect your own dog to become a drug addict but damn, turn around and there he is, pawning his milkbones. Post modern life!

That is a very good link. Yes, yes it is.

There's a convenience store I frequently frequent which is apparently all run by one large, dysfunctional and sitcom worthy family. Actually, wait, pretty much all convenience stores seem to be run by large dysfunctional families and perhaps I should consider obtaining one as a retirement option if my other plans, namely, taking a lot of heroin and waiting tables at Waffle House or opening a biker bar in Marshall, don't pan out.

At this particular store, though, there is one clerk we like to call TMI Boy. TMI Boy is clearly bored to tears by his job and who can blame him? This is why he likes to come up with Wacky Antics which are almost, but not quite, amusing. Well, I'm being unfair. Sometimes they're amusing and sometimes I'm in a goddamn hurry and then, dude, the small dance routine or the pretending to not know what cigarettes are grows old.

Performance art is what TMI Boy is all about. He likes to talk and the subject he likes to discourse upon is himself, which is how I know more about TMI Boy, from the state of his finances (always dire) to that of his step grandfather (really dead this time) than I really, really want to know. Still! I bitch but also, in certain moods, I get a little frisson - a little frisson, mind you. Tiny. Minuscule, actually. Sort of a frissonette. - of excitement as I pull up, wondering just what thrilling thing I will learn from TMI Boy today.