Monday, May 31, 2010

pistol packin' mama

pistol packin' mama
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday, my friends and I threw a baby shower for our friend Jen at my house. This was more difficult than it sounds, because on Friday night I made the in retrospect terrible decision to drink a few Little Kings with Charlie at the DeSoto. Little Kings, if you don't know, are what they drink in hell. They're like evil alcoholic double agents - they look innocent and seem charming, but they're actually plotting against you. I thought, having encountered them before - Charlie is inexplicably addicted - that if I used Math and was careful with their 7 ounce bottles, I would be okay. I was not okay despite my calculations and neither was he and I highly disrecommend those oh so innocent little green bottles unless, that is, you really were planning to spend a day being completely miserable. So very little got done in preparation for the shower on Saturday and thus I had to get up early on Sunday and go berserk in the kitchen.

That worked out okay, though. Back when we were planning this shower about a month ago I suggested that we tiedye onesies as a party activity and, that being received well, I had duly gone and gotten all the materials we needed for this project as well as some extra baby stuff from the Goodwill. Yeah, I had a baby oriented week last week. First, I dug through baby clothes for 100% cotton stuff at the thrift store, which took me back about two decades to the days when I haunted Value Village for the rare, the elusive, the second hand Hanna Anderson striped baby suit of cuteness. Then I went to Babies R Us, a freaky place where I discovered that there are far cooler baby clothes available to the general public nowadays than there were back then and then I browsed around Amazon and Etsy and Thinkgeek for even more super cool baby stuff. All babies all the time and then, if that wasn't enough, as I was walking back to the car on Haywood Road after buying procion dyes at Earthguild for the shower, I nearly got run over by a giant red plastic bus thing full of infants and toddlers. Now I am terrified and doubling up on the old birth control lest I, like my friend Jen here, end up with more than just a pistol.

I hadn't done any tiedying in years and the directions were not what I was remembering at all, so I called my old tiedye friends in a panic right before the activity was supposed to start. Alas, they didn't really remember all the fiddly little details either, like do you soak the clothes in urea or washing soda or what, but fortunately, the internet never forgets, and here, if you should be interested in this fine old party activity or need to dye your dog* or something, is the recipe we used, which worked out beautifully. We used mason jars and spoons instead of squeeze bottles and everything, including the old Devo t-shirt I used up the dye with, looks great. Okay, yes, this poor child's first words will probably be "I don't want to be a hippie anymore!" but he will be stylin'. Asheville stylin', that is. They came out so well that this morning I briefly considered a career in tiedying baby clothes because nobody in Asheville has ever thought of that before.

Besides tiedying everything in sight, we also ate shrimp and grits and biscuits and mini quiches and egg and caviar dip and deviled eggs and cookies and cake and toasts from homemade bread and managed to drink an entire giant bottle of vodka, so a good time was had by all. All parties should start at 1 in the afternoon, I have decided, because I not only stayed up long after everyone else had departed or gone to bed, I cleaned up the entire house. This was stupid, because now here I am with absolutely no excuses for not getting things, like writing a book or finding a job or starting a party planning business - there's a future in catering tiedye parties! Right? - done.

However I do not intend to let that distract me too long from my life of sloth. Anyway, I've been reading bad murder mysteries from the Goodwill again and I have realized that a body should be showing up in my life any day now, since that seems to be the fate of middle aged women: we find a body, we have sassy back and forth conversations with our girlfriends and our adult children, we discover clues, we meet a handsome, brooding yet sexy homicide detective who is way better than our conveniently dead or divorced husband and then, whoa, we solve the crime. Probably it will turn out, as you can tell from the picture, that Jen did it.

* do not use procion dyes to dye your dog, you idiot. Use food coloring. This is how I made my brother's shih t'zlivingroom, Phineas, red, white and blue for the long departed and much lamented I Am An American Day Parade in east Baltimore, back in the days when I was still looking for 100% cotton maternity clothes in Value Village my own self.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yes I Am Still Alive Despite Appearances

night poppy
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
You may have noticed that I have not been updating this blog as often as previously. Acute! Clever! Yeah, well, these things happen. Basically, I have been extremely busy. "With what, unemployed slacker?" you might be thinking. Well, you never know!

Here's a short quiz: Has Felicity
a) been negotiating with top level brass at BP, the US State Department and a cadre of friendly aliens straight out of a 1970s animated save the environment kids show to end the oil spill in the gulf by putting on a show with an accompanying vaguely discoesque yet folksy soundtrack?
b) been writing the Great American Novel during breaks from painting the Great American Painting?
c) been on a short vacation to Biarritz, where she communed happily with the far more glamorous ghosts of the fabulous past?
d) been kidnapped by extremists who kept her in an ancient submarine buried deep within a small mountain cave with no wifi access (cruel!) while they plotted what, exactly, they could accomplish by kidnapping this highly influential, if broke, middle aged slightly overweight woman? I'd have been toast, there, if it wasn't for my intrepid gnome army!
or, e) been accomplishing practically nothing energetically but for the most point enjoying the fuck out of it?

It is a tough quiz! It's hard to get absolutely nothing much done and have it take up so much time, it is true. I have been busy though: I have a new phone, a Palm Pre to be specific and it is taking up all my time, what with the apps and the games and the fiddling around and the figuring out of the how to send the text messages and the reading of the email in the morning in bed yet being unable to answer and the endless, quiet, seething worry that perhaps, cool as it is, it is just not as cool as, say, an iPhone or a Droid? The son has a new Droid clone (do you realize that as recently as three years ago, that sentence would make no sense at all outside a sci fi RPG?) and it is most assuredly cool, plus, you can download a shotgun app that makes a nice realistic shotgun noise and, even better, aim it at your mother or your sister and have it take a neatly labeled picture of where you shot them. The Pre does not have this app. Really it is too responsible of a phone for me, leaning as it does towards apps for, god forbid, time management and bible verses. Boo. It does, however, have a real keyboard, which I require lest my text messages come out something like umsno! ;lkjsp? aslkjg asdmr;ajka ^^^6? and then I throw the phone across the room. It also had a couple of mindless games at which I have become a world class expert, particularly the one where you stab the bubbles with your finger and they make a pleasant popping noise and your score keeps going up, up, up and then you look around and realize that several hours have passed and your carpal tunnel is in high gear now, oh good.

So you can see I have been busy! I have kind of sucked at being on the computer but I'm going to change this beginning next week because, despite my cheerful predictions that my savings could take me through the summer, I'm heading rapidly towards financial disaster. Quelle surprise! So there should be more updates beginning soon, same bat place, same bat channel and all that same old bat crap. Guano! Valuable guano! One hopes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hella Weekend Roundup

Here it is Monday and I have a shit ton of things to do but LO, it is noon and I'm not doing any of them. I attribute this failure of energy partially to a rather over full weekend and mostly to my dreams: last night, while asleep, I snuck into a Modest Mouse concert that turned out to be a) not at the Orange Peel at all and b) not a concert but some kind of simulcast thing with a big screen, which made all my friends leave in disgust. This was smart of them, because shortly afterward the building was attacked by flying saucers full of terrorists with large black mustaches. Evading the terrorists involved a whole lot of stairs, so I woke up tired.

This was one hell of a weekend and by hell, I mean, well, hell. On Friday Charlie and I took Valentino back up to Hot Springs to rejoin the Appalachian Trail and while we were there, we got a tub for an hour, which was lovely. Then back to Asheville and somehow, although now it's all a blur, I think I was sort of crazy busy but at any rate we all ended up at the Admiral. All was as usual in my small PBR drinking world and then we came back home and went to sleep, only to be awakened at 1:15 with the news that young Miles had just been in a major car wreck.


This is not something anyone ever wants to hear although I tell you, as an alarm clock it works rather, um, alarmingly well. I levitated out of bed and into clothes and we jumped into Audrey's car and got down to the end of Haywood Road where my shaken but miraculously unhurt son was standing with a police officer observing the ruins that result from the mating of a 1998 Buick and your common or garden variety telephone pole. It was a one car accident - apparently a truck driver, who was very nice, as was the cop, had started pulling out of a side street onto Haywood and young M had seen him, freaked, swerved, over corrected and gone into the pole. I duly took my son home, gave him tea with lots of honey and an ice pack for his lip, woke him up every four hours to ask him who the president was (you can tell there is no concussion if their reaction to this question contains enough complaining about not being allowed to sleep for gods' sake Mom what is wrong with you content) and then, over the course of the next three days, proceeded to argue with him nonstop about how insurance stinks, life stinks and what the hell is he supposed to do now?

Be glad, I keep saying, that you are alive. I am glad you are alive (well, up until about hour 7 of argument 3a, I was) and that goddamn Buick saved your life and oh, god, my son, part of me still wants to wrap you in bubble wrap and pad your room and just keep you in there, safe, forever, because you terrify me so. Don't have kids. Sure, babies are cute but they grow up to be teenagers and it turns out you still love them helplessly but there is little, or nothing, at that point that you can do about what happens to them.

Anyway. I'm unclear on the details of what we need to do now myself. We need to go down, today, to the police station and get the accident report and then we need to deliver it duly to the insurance company and we need to go to the car and get whatever was inside of it out of it and, I suppose, arrange for it to be towed to a wrecker. Sigh.

So that was Friday. It would be enough for most people, who would then go into suspended animation or something like sensible beings. But no! We are not wimps! Instead, after an afternoon of home repairs and the like, we went on to a rather fabulous party at Restaurant Equipment Galaxy, which is owned by my friend Charles and where, by the way, you should totally go for all your obscure and important used restaurant equipment needs. At the end of the party we got a sudden impromptu - at least I think it was impromptu - performance from Kenny the clown, pictured here juggling fire. There was also a unicycle and more juggling and a balloon was swallowed, which was a little terrifying, and it was highly awesome, so I took too many photographs.

And that, minus a few details like my wonderful daughter who cleaned up the whole kitchen on Sunday thank you thank you thank you, was my weekend. Despite the interludes of great fun, I would prefer never to repeat it, thank you gods. But we are all still healthy and hale and, oh, there are baby wrens in the hanging fuchsia on the porch.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Burning Down the House

hound in a car
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
My old friends' Carol and Schuyler''s son Valentino is visiting us. He's hiking the Appalachian Trail, the whole thing and having gotten to Hot Springs he decided to take a couple days off. This neatly coincided with a spate of less than perfect hiking weather and so I picked him up and brought him home. We have been showing him Asheville, more or less, or at least the part of it that is this West Asheville house full of dogs and also, Chai Pani and the hula hoopers at Pritchard Park. So we have had Indian food and home made pasta after an evening of familial wrangling over which restaurant to go to - daughter: All Miles will eat is Asian food! Me: Well, make him pick a restaurant. Daughter: He won't. Me: Fuck this, I'm coming home and making pasta - and an evening of hunting and gathering, which is what I call it when I go on strike and point out that my children are not, really, children anymore and for gods' sake somebody else should cook. Then we eat potato chips and cheese toast. Tonight, however, I decided to grill hamburgers.

There is a small hibachi in the garage; I knew this because I had seen it the other day while Charlie and I were in there, he setting mousetraps and me getting all worked up and freaked out over the necessity for said mousetraps. Charlie, when he tolerantly agreed to set the mousetraps, also said he would come over and check them every day. This is good, because I am deathly afraid of rodents of all sizes and Miles charges $2 a mouse for removal. $3 a rat and $5 for a snake or squirrel, but that's neither here nor there. Anyhow, today there was one mouse in a mousetrap which wonderful Charlie kindly disposed of and then, some hours later, it was time for me to go into the garage and find the grill and the charcoal and the lighter fluid, because I was sure that we had those things.

Well. I had to call Charlie and keep him on the phone while I wandered, or, more accurately, sidled - wandered is not exactly the right term for proceeding through my garage, which is more or less stacked to the ceiling with a fascinating variety of stuff ranging from my mother's paintings to Audrey's furniture to, somewhere, I swear, a trash bag full of clean pillowcases - and removed the grill. Then I went hunting for the charcoal but it was gone - the mice must have eaten it - and so I had to go down to the Citgo and buy more. I bought the kind that doesn't need lighter fluid,brought it home and put it in the hibachi up on the corner shelf on the deck. The covered deck, yes, the covered deck made of wood.

I burned my thumb trying to light the coals but then I got them all lit - way lit. As lit, really, as coals can be lit: to the point where there were flames shooting right up into the air and munching hungrily at the porch roof rafters.
"Gotta go!" I said brightly to Charlie, with whom I was talking on the phone, "Burning the house down! Catch you later!" and then I shouted for my daughter, who abandoned her video game to come outside and freak out with me.
"Water!" she said, and I duly filled a stock pot with water.
"But the water will make the flames all go whoosh!" I said,
"Oh god!" she said, "They will!"
"What if," I said, "We each take one handle of it and gently put it on the floor where it won't be so close to the roof?" I held out hot pads.
"No," said Audrey decidedly, eying the three foot flames exploding on every side of the hibachi, "I"m not even going to try to lift that. Get rid of the oxygen! Put the lid on!"
"I'm putting the lid on!" I shouted and did just that. Everything was calm for just about 15 seconds and we were beginning to relax when the flames exploded all around the lid, creeping through the vent holes and everywhere the lid connected to the body. "Baking soda!" I said and proceeded to sprinkle it all over the flaming hibachi. It didn't do much. "It's got to die down soon," I said hopefully and then, slowly, it did. Well, it did right up to the point where I cautiously took the lid off, at which point the accumulated, waiting fireball exploded right up towards the porch rafters again.
"Oh god!" shouted my daughter, "Just throw the water on it."
"Oh hey," said Valentino, wandering in, "What are you guys doing?"
"We're burning down the porch!" I said, "Wanna help?"

Then the flames receded, bit by bit. Miles came upstairs. "What the hell?" he said, "Why does it smell like lighter fluid in here?"
"You missed it!" said his sister, "Mom nearly burned the house down again!"
"And I missed it?" he said disappointedly, moving out onto the porch and feeling the roof. "Whoa," he said, "That's pretty damn hot."
"It'll be okay now," I said, in my role as reassuring parent. "I think I'll just have a beer."
"There vas a vhoosh," said Miles in a Russian accent, "Unt zen zere came ze fireball! Vhoosh!"

And it was okay, even though there was another bad moment when I went out to check on the burgers only to find that the hibachi was in the process of burning through the wooden shelf it was perched on. Miles and I slid a tile under it and stopped that particular disaster and I cooked stuffed burgers and my mother's potatoes of cholesterol deliciousness and then, once the burgers were off, carried the damn hibachi down to the yard to sit in the rain. Phew.The burgers were worth it, actually, they were worth it.

Stuffed Burgers
Like a pound and a half of real ground beef from Earthfare - you must get the real thing so you do not die of some horrible cheap beef disease or suffer a crisis of vegetarian conscience.
finely diced onions, about 1/4 cup or thereabouts. LIke a third of an onion.
2 jalapenos chopped not seeded, god, don't seed them.
some lime juice
Some grated mexican cheese, the kind that comes in the bag that says 4 Kinds of Mexican Cheese!
1/2 a box of Neufchatel, which is to say, slightly less fatty cream cheese. This is mostly to appease your inner dieter.

Mix the beef up with salt & pepper & worcestershire & onioins. Mix the cream cheese up with the jalapenos & lime juice & grated mexican cheese. Make 8 flat burgers. On top of four of the burgers, put a big heaping spoonful of cheese mixture. Put the other burgers on top and shape them all so no cheese is showing and you have a fattish burger with a delicious secret inside. Grill - good luck with that; you're obviously on your own here -- and then eat on Kaiser rolls with mayo and lettuce and ketchup and tomato and whatever else your heart desires. Yum, yum, yum.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Birthday Week Survived

I made it through the birthday week and all the required partying. It is kind of amazing, really, that I get to keep on having birthdays given the havoc I wreak on my liver and brain cells every May. It's just required, you know, to go out every single night and have way too much fun. Yes, yes, tough life, somebody's gotta do it, etc., etc., and so on. What, I'm supposed to settle down now that I've achieved this advanced age? Unlikely! Too late!

On Friday I went out for sushi and sake with my friend Charlie at Green Tea - that's the one by the Denny's. It's a great restaurant - I have always liked it but I started boycotting it there for a bit because I felt sorry for their turtles. It is, yes, a tad disingenuous to complain about the treatment of aquatic animals in a seafood restaurant - and I had the baby octopus, which is pure evil and purely delicious - but I really like turtles. Thus, I felt that having them in a tank in the atrium floor was not kind, somehow. However, they're still there and presumably okay with being walked on as if they were the older Bush's face on the floor of the Baghdad Hilton and, well, fuck it. I am not overwhelmed with sorrow enough for the turtles to escape my joy at the fact that Green Tea has a patio now so you can watch the scenic back of the Pizza Hut while you eat your baby octopus. When things are burning it is good to fiddle! It's Revelations time - what are a couple of turtles to oil spills and volcanoes and, um, the construction of the traffic circle on Clingman Avenue, a sure sign of the End Times? Besides, we had a long and important conversation to have, which, just in case you are interested, lead to this news update: recent reports of the death of my romantic life and/or short lived most recent relationship were, um, apparently premature. Yay!

That was Friday and a lovely and eventful Friday it was, which led into Saturday - my god, the calendar is just so cyclical in nature and repetitive. Wouldn't it be cooler if just every so often a whole new day got thrown into the mix, so you would think it was Friday but NO, it would be Smorgday or something? Yes, Yes, this would be good and I'm adding it to my Evil Overlord To Do list. On Smorgday, therefore, Susan had a party: our joint birthday party, in fact. We never get to celebrate our birthdays together - being born a month apart makes it tough, usually, even for dedicated women like us to keep up the party on spirit - but this year we managed it. It was a highly awesome party which featured not only heavy drinking but also firearms in the form of an Airsoft pellet pistol that Susan pulled out so we could shoot at her latest yard sculpture.

This was really fun. Guns and beer! I get all nostalgic and enthused! Sure, she later threatened to shoot me for stealing her blue lighter but hey, what's a party without one or two minor death - okay, not death exactly, more like a welt - threats? Besides, guns are educational. It turns out that if you shoot a CD that is dangling from a complex and funky yard assemblage thingie with a pellet gun, the CD does not break. No, it does not break exactly, but the reflective mylar covering on the other side of the CD from where you hit it peels off in an extremely cool bullet hole looking way. This is highly awesome and if you are a good shot, like Susan or Charlie or pretty much anybody but me, you not only get to hear the delightful plink of pellet hitting CD, you get a really funky thing to exclaim over. Science!

Sunday was pretty mellow - it sort of had to be. I finally got to see the real 2012 movie, and I am delighted to report that, as expected, it totally sucks. Watching lava eat LA and then the ocean take down the Himalayas, complete with enlightened lama in lamasery was, though, pretty cool and landing the aircraft carrier on top of the cruise ship in the trough of the tsunami wave was pure genius. End times! So aesthetically satisfying! Anyway, now it is Monday and a cold and gray Monday at that. I am a little worried, now, about my vegetable garden, given the forbidding temperatures lately, but I guess it's just all part of the end of the world as we know it or something. Another reason to drink heavily! Hurrah!

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Mysteries of Time

carpenter bee rescued
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It is a complete mystery to me, now that I'm unemployed, how I ever managed to get anything done with my actual life and home while I was holding down a full time job. Since I've worked for the better part of 30 years or so, I must have gotten something done - I'm not really sitting around in a smoking ruin, I mean, not more than usual anyway. But as it stands now, it seems as if all I do is run around like crazy trying - with about a 50% success rate - to get things, vital things, utterly important things, done.

Last summer or fall my friend Adam put a new faucet hose bib mysterious plumbing thingie in where the old one leaked. Then in the middle of the winter, despite or perhaps because it was supposed to be patented freeze proof, it duly froze and split and leaked water all through Miles' closet and then was turned off. The other outside faucet is in the wall behind where the iBoiler now sits and somehow, while that was being installed, all access to that faucet was removed. So I have no outdoor spigot anymore and, since it is shaping up to be a hot dry summer, that's a problem. Carrying buckets of water out the front door to the vegetable garden gets old surprisingly fast and also it turns out that most of my buckets, dear Liza, dear Liza, *have a hole or six in them. Annoying as fuck when you're rushing them through the living room, let me tell you.

Therefore I went to Lowes last night to purchase what a friend told me existed: an adapter that will make a garden hose mate seamlessly with a kitchen faucet. The first Lowes guy I met had no idea what that might be so he took me to the Lowes Plumbing Gnome, a grizzled and friendly soul with a long white beard down practically to his hips. "You need to go and get the aerator from your faucet," he told me paternally, "And bring it back here to me."
"That's the little screen-y thing, right?" I said, wondering if that little screen still existed or perhaps had been removed for other uses at some point.
"Yes," he said, "The little screen-y thing."
This morning, therefore, I duly removed the little screen-y thing, which was still there, after I had finished hooking up and unhooking the dishwasher. For some reason my dishwasher must (if you wish to use it, and who doesn't?) be hooked up to the sink with a white plastic adapter thingie that you sort of jam on and squiggle and then the water must be turned on so it can leak sulkily a bit and also wash the dishes. You do not, I have found, want to run the dishwasher without water. Just FYI, in case, you know, you ever wondered.

Anyway, I took the end of the faucet to Lowes where I was saddened to find that the Plumbing Gnome was gone but another older and similarly grizzled plumbing expert guy hooked me right up with a nifty adapter which I brought home and put on the faucet. Then I threaded the hose through the living room and voila, watered the garden and lo, it is all modern conveniences around here again more or less.

This all took up an inordinate amount of time.

It is all in how you measure it, though. I have never entirely understood how people who don't have children measure time, because if you have kids you can kind of count back through the years and think, well, she was six or so that year, so it must have been 1989 when we were in New York. Shorter times than years can be measured by periods - I have been known to think to myself, well, I've had two periods since then, so that's two months - another way in which being male must be baffling and lead to a sort of constant temporal disorientation. But, male or female, you can always kind of count time backwards by the music you were listening to, which is how, on looking last night at a Kenny Scharf image, I ended up listening to Haircut 100 and the Specials for an hour or so, remembering ska. Now if I could just remember what I was listening to when I moved my phone charger, I could get all kinds of things accomplished.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Army of Gnomes

I have survived another birthday. That always, for some reason, makes me feel relieved and happy, like, okay, another year can go by before I have to think about THAT again. Not only did I survive, I even managed, once the required day of birthday angst was over, to have fun, what with a lovely birthday dinner at Nona Mia, post dinner drinks at the DeSoto, post post drinks drinks at home and many fine gifts, including, from my thoughtful children, who know me well, the army of tiny gnomes pictured here. I hadn't realized that my entire life had up to this point been spent in hopeless yearning for an army of tiny gnomes but now that I have them, I know that it was. All is complete in my universe now and soon my gnomes and I will take over the world. Or something. Something - gnomey. Something that I haven't quite figured out yet but I am confident will be highly excellent when I have.

I have spent the last few days steeping myself in nostalgia. I went through my cookie tins of the past (tm) and even started cracking open the tin of letters, both love and otherwise, but that got to be too much quite quickly. In my Tins of the Past are such treasures as my children's baby teeth - one of these days I'm going to have them made into a grisly bracelet, oh yes I am - and small drawings by a variety of people dating back more than thirty years and notes from friends who had slept on the couch and then decamped and empty, lovingly preserved Yak Paks and, interestingly enough, a copy of one of the first Rolling Stone reviews of the Pogues. When I say a copy, I mean a copy: I typed it out like a slightly more technologically adept medieval scribe in 1985 or thereabouts while sitting at Hy's Charleston apartment with Ray McKee. We had decided that all three of us must have a copy so that we could remember forever that we were linked inextricably to each other and to Shane McGowan through the great chains of drunken Irish bastardry and so I typed us each up a copy, of which, I believe, mine is now the only extant. I am going to scan it at some point, probably when I start scanning all the photo albums - you know, when I've broken both my legs and am snowed in a small deserted cabin in the Yukon. I will be busy in that cabin what with the quilt making and bad novel finishing, but I'll make time for scanning too.

Nostalgia is a strange thing and spending a lot of time in your own past is, I believe, one of those sort of necessary Birthday Rituals that can, like a Ouija board, quickly turn dark and summon up
demons from the conveniently located portal to hell in the garage. This year's ritual was marked by the unsurprising knowledge that, hey, I have not really changed all that much since I was in my late teens or early twenties. I have more wrinkles and cursed gray hair and I am fat now (you know what? I am forgiving myself for being fat from now on. Fuck this, I'm 47 years old and I'm fucking allowed to be fat if I want to be.) but the basic person is still here. I'm a little saner, a little wiser (ha ha! Even I must spew coffee from my nose at that thought!), a little less naive and I definitely have acquired some Mad Skillz at Diverse Stuff like changing copier toner and never, ever buying horizontally striped articles of clothing except socks, but I am still, actually, me. I figured by this time in my life I would have Achieved Something and I haven't, really, except the most important things, which is to say, a sort of semi functional family of relatives and friends who I love unreservedly and who seem, for the most part, to love me back or at least tolerate my quirks. That is pretty goddamn awesome, that is, and it makes all this mid to late forties stuff okay.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Yesterday, Audrey and I made enormous strides towards transforming the downstairs room into an actual and functioning apartment. Well, it will be more functional when I find somebody who can take the damn door off the hinges and plane the bottom, because since the carpet went in of course it no longer opens. Never mind, there are four doors into that room, which is probably bad feng shui, or possibly it's very good feng shui, because as far as I can figure out, feng shui is all about getting chi into your house and then confusing it enough so it can't leave. More confused energy roaming around the basement! Wait, I have my doubts about that - there's already a teenager down there and more poltergeist activity in the form of vanishing towels, bowls and drinking glasses is maybe not what we need.

However! That is not what this blog post is about. While I was excavating the garage I came across my old novel, the one I wrote when I was about 30. So I reread it last night and this morning. My novel! It sucks! I now apologize to every single person who has ever written a book I have complained about, because it turns out that I wrote a book that can stand on its own as one of the worse things the English language has ever had to guiltily account for.

Still, it was interesting as hell - I laughed, I cried, I thought, my god, if this had ever been published my friends would have taken out an assassination contract on me and quite rightly. It turns out that I'm not a novelist - I'm a blogger who was only slightly hampered, in 1992, by the as yet non existence of blogs. This thing is a historical document of my early twenties and early thirties when, apparently, we were all stoned alcoholics who had sex with each other all the time. Ah, college. The more things change, yes: we're still all stoned alcoholics, for the most part, only slightly better organized ones who no longer, as far as I know, now that we have moved out of the small hothouse environment of downtown Charleston, SC, fuck each other continuously and revel in the resultant drama. Ah, college, or, more realistically, thank god we've outgrown that part. Every character is a thinly veiled real person or possibly, in one or two cases, an odd mishmash of two or three people, with the possible exception of the main love interest, who is clearly made up. Yeah, there were no perfect men around in my life in the eighties, either.

Since the chances of anyone else ever reading this masterpiece are slim, I will hereby give you a synopsis. The book is set in two times simultaneously - yes, this is a problem - and is told sort of in flashbacks. Part of it (the better written part) is set in a small rowhouse in East Baltimore in the early 90s, where a single mother of two children (ha ha! Who do you think that is?) is existing through a snowy winter while many mysteries - and men - from her past slowly begin to reappear. The flashback part takes place in Charleston while our heroine (it's told in first person singular, of course, and this heroine is tall and has long red hair and is an artist and feels awkward and guilty a lot, likes to paint and cook and drink and listens, embarrassingly enough, to Modern English. She is fond of dogs and the Psychedelic Furs and worries about her weight. No, a novelist I apparently am not.) is finishing up an arts degree and living in a group house with a bunch of other entertaining young people. Hello, my old friends! My god, it's. . Linda! And Hy! And Pletch! And Kathy! And Glenn! And both of the two Michaels! What a shock! There they all are, drinking beer at Group Therapy, eating the free buffet at Plato's and listening to the Uncalled Four. Hi, Nick! Paul!

This is all quite entertaining and there's a lot of partner swapping and high drama and drinking of beer and doing of various drugs and then this group goes out on a picnic and finds an alien. Yeah, an alien. Look, even I knew I had to work a plot in here somewhere. They call the alien Quisp because, well, they do, and there are many cultural references and more sex and lots more drinking - I like the way they stash the alien in Scott Finsel's old apartment behind the Pink Palace and then go out drinking - and there are some abortive musings on the nature of godhood and communication and evolution and a few jabs at Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile, back, or, rather, future in Baltimore our heroine finds that sitting at home snowed in with two children is a drag. Yeah, I do remember that rather clearly as well. One of the main guys in the book has been arrested in Spain and there are hints of evil government plots and a shit ton of foreshadowing.

Back to Charleston and the eighties, where the entire group - there are way too many main characters in this thing, and their dialogue, while it all sounds the same, to be fair, is not badly done and pretty funny - decide to decamp for Asheville, since evil government agents are rapidly descending on them. In Asheville they learn to communicate with the alien by the use of, first, LSD and, second, a Sony Walkman, which was apparently rather groundbreaking technology to me at the time. All this goes swimmingly and they then develop mad psychic powerz and start floating shit around. Then, alas, the damn things stops, which is weird, because I distinctly remember writing about 100 more pages, including a deathless scene which my friend Ray, an early reader, has been mocking me for ever since - that's the deus ex machina part where, chased up and down a mountain, broke, freaked out and accompanied by an alien, this group of college students just happens to find a fully stocked van parked on the side of the road with keys in it. Handy!

Rereading this thing for the first time in maybe 10 years has been odd. I've been completely engrossed, which I didn't expect and the book itself is both worse and better than I thought it was. I haven't changed very much in the last 17 years, apparently: that is kind of alarming, truth be told. It's full of cultural references that made me crack up - everything from Ashley Gashley and the Creature Double Feature to Shonen Knife, REM, Iran-Contra and such distant cultural touchstones as Ma Bell, long distance bills and the difficulty in programming VCRS is in there. It's a history, is what it is, a history full of in-jokes, and it's kind of charming in its own peculiar way. Huh.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


wildwood herbal stall
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Beltane is my favorite holiday: it's right near my birthday and it's all about sex. Yeah, well, so this year, as usual, that's not going to be something I need to think about ever again but it's nice to know, I guess, that it's out there at least for the plants and the robins and, I suppose, other people, happy people, people in love - okay, wait, stop. ANYWAY - it's when I feel it's safe to plant the vegetable garden, the danger of frost having gone by and me even starting to feel secure enough to remove the snow measuring sheet from the front door where it is reminding us all of what a swell winter it really was. People say you should wait until Mother's Day but the hell with that; even though it's good old pagan fertility we're celebrating either way, May 1 is a good round number day to get the garden going. Also, it's the day of the herb festival, to which I duly went after spending the morning digging up the vegetable beds and adding composted cow manure and all that lovely kind of thing.

The vegetable beds were full of horrifying white grubs - anywhere from half an inch to almost two inches long, white, shiny, with terrible small legs and, oh god, I think they're eyes. I don't have a clue what these things are but they look alarming and creepy, so I throw them onto the road, where they turn black and die. I killed hundreds of them. I am heartless, sometimes and these grub things skeeve me the hell out. They do kind of look like something a Bushman would eat with glee - they strongly bring to mind one of those films from Anthropology 101 in which the Bushman get all excited about big white horror grubs and start popping them like candy while the American camera guy makes slight urghing noises in the background. I thought of that film and I briefly considered battering and deep frying these suckers on the possibility that I was missing out on a taste sensation, here, but I decided I can live without that taste sensation. Urgh.

At any rate, the vegetable garden is now thoroughly planted and I am excited. I even planted the mystery Asian seeds I bought in Chinatown in San Francisco on the strength of the beauty of their packets and we will see what Little Shop of Horrors stuff they produce. I like not quite knowing exactly what I've planted or where everything is in the garden. This is one of the reasons I always plant random sunflowers all through everything - well, that and the fact that I love sunflowers. The flower garden is done too and as usual, I'm resolutely not telling the flowers that they don't actually get enough sun. They get some. They need to try harder is all, I say, and with a little luck, they will. Eventually there will be dahlias and cosmos and hollyhocks and more sunflowers and daisies of many kinds and echinacea and some odd herb thing that I bought at the festival because the little description on the popsicle stick said that it brings you magic and love and right now, honestly, I could use some of those two things rather badly. Beltane may be a favorite of mind but late April, over the last few years, has not been all that kind to me.

Oh well! In other news at Michael's the other day I bought these completely bizarre little puppet head shaped popsicle stick things. They cost like $2 for about 20 of them and I have already drawn a face on one and started carrying it around so I can hold it up in front of my face and say "Tiny puppet says hello!" to people in a suitably demented voice. I'm going to paint faces on all of them this weekend and then I will have a tiny puppet for all occasions, which should quickly cause my friends and relatives to shun me forever. I can hardly wait.