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.

Monday, June 14, 2010


okra on the porch
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Summer is indubitably here and I don't like it. I have sweat running down my face; I have to keep my hair up and I'm afraid to wash the dishes because that would require hot water. Last night I woke up over and over again with an inexplicable stuffed nose and my hair soaking wet and all in all, I am feeling extremely sorry for myself. Look, I am a woman of a certain age, which means that my core temperature has been hovering, lately, somewhere around the same mean level as the surface of the sun. Added heat, therefore, is a problem and is probably why I was shrieking and throwing dishes and shoes around this morning although, honestly, that's a perfectly sane and reasonable response to a stubbed toe. Right?

We do not have AC. We do have a cheap and terrible window unit that is lying around in the garage somewhere but even if I wasn't afraid of the killer attack garage mice and the hypothetical, just barely possible, killer attack garage snakes (Audrey claimed out of the blue the other night that snakes love garages. It would explain why the mousetraps have not been sprung. Eeee!) and, hell, why stop there, the killer attack garage gnomes of death, I wouldn't put the AC in a window. You see, each window in this house takes two people, a hammer and an alarming amount of foul language to open or close. That is why they get opened in the spring and closed in the fall and since even I have grasped the fact that running a window AC unit in a room full of open windows accomplishes nothing much else than further destruction of the environment, ozone and, I don't know, happy kittens frolicking on doomed green lawns, I'm not going to do it. So we suffer.

The house has a whole house fan which works miracles when it actually gets cool at night. Asheville should get cool at night. It used to get cool at night, goddamnit, when I was just a young and thoughtless slip of a thing but now the incredible weight of cool that came with all the hipsters has heated up the mountains and we're trapped in a sauna. High eighties and not dropping much below seventy at night is not cutting it: when it doesn't cool off enough in the evening, the whole house fan tries, but it can't really do its job.

It could be worse, I know. I used to live in Charleston, long ago, where even the whole wee slip of a thing who was me, staggering drunkenly from the Fulton House to ACs and back again, bitched more or less continuously about the heat. I also used to live in Baltimore, which is just as bad as Charleston - Baltimore pretty much has the worst of all possible weather patterns, always. I have never forgotten the time I was driving down the JFX with my friend Noelle, coming home from a party in Hampden when the radio said "It's 1:33 am and 104 degrees in downtown!" Actually I have often thought that would make a great beginning for a horror movie and it kind of is, because that sort of heat makes many of the scarier people of East Baltimore, the ones who ordinarily don't often leave their basements, come out. As my then small son said, one blazing day driving down East Pratt Street and looking in shock at a very, very large man on his stoop, "Look! It's a . . it's a NUDIST!" And it might have been. One couldn't tell. So all in all, I know, I'm lucky and it will cool down here again for at least a little while before the summer ends.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


pink roses yet again
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Audrey snagged a copy of Real Simple from somewhere and brought it home. We're not much of a magazine household except for the New Yorker, which I have been reading my entire life and intend to continue reading for my entire life, despite the elitism, the cartoon contest on the back page that I hate with the passion of 1000 suns, the annoying ads for stuff I will never be able to afford and wouldn't want even if I won the lottery and the fiction, which is so often of the Overprivileged White Person Sits in Fabulous Kitchen in Connecticut and Ponders Last Affair variety. Wait, though. Not if - when, I mean. When I win the lottery. Power of positive thinking! The Secret! I already promised Miles a Rolls Royce when I win the lottery anyway, which purchase will seriously cut into my ability to buy hideous jewelry and mysterious financial bond thingies.

However, Real Simple, although I have often thought it should be called Real Expensive and pandering as it does to the demographic who believes that buying lots of stuff equals simplifying your life (a demographic to which I most firmly belong, hells yeah) turns out to have that good thing, quizzes. Who doesn't like magazine quizzes? Magazine quizzes used to be the shit, back in the day when you had to find an old envelope and a pencil to take them and the internet hadn't cheapened them by ceaseless repetition into nothingness. Back when they asked the real, the important, the burning questions such as "What is your fashion style?" or, in the case of Cosmo, "How much do you like oral sex?" as opposed to the inane Facebook variety that simply queries "Which boy band are you?" (O Town, not that I would take such a foolish quiz.) Therefore, Audrey administered a Real Simple quiz on my organization style to me with an old envelope and a pencil.

"Do you think everything should have a place and be in its place?" she asked.
"Um," I hazarded, "Theoretically. I mean, yeah, in a sort of Platonic ideal of a house. But, you know, that's impossible in real life."
"We'll say yes," she said firmly and wrote down a number.
"Do you prefer symmetry in artwork and in your home?"
"Gah! No! What a horrible idea!"
"Do you often drive with the empty light flashing?"
"What's the empty light? Oh, do they mean if you're almost out of gas? Well, of course."
"Do you feel guilty if you don't follow the rules when playing board games?"
"Honey, I feel guilty if I knock the little dog off the Monopoly board by accident (or the iron. Actually I had to remove the little dog from Monopoly years ago because otherwise the entire family fights over it. Including me.) Of course I feel guilty. But rules, now, I mean, define "rules.""
She glared at me. "Yes," she said, "I'm putting yes."

There was a silent moment or two of intensive calculation. "You're left brained." she said.
"Whoo hoo!" I cheered, "Wait. That's the bad one. That's the only one where left is bad and right is good, right? It's like that thing Noelle said about free radicals - they sound good but they're bad!"
"That can't be right," said my daughter, "No way are you left brained."
"No," I agreed, "Not possible. The quiz must be wrong."
"Oh wait," said Audrey, "I think I screwed up. You're right brained after all!"
"Yay! What does that mean for my organizational style?"
"It's hopeless," said my daughter sadly. "Hopeless."

See? Quizzes are useful.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


perdita like water
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I have been resorting to retail therapy more than is my usual wont (wont! wont! What a lovely word, that can be used in so many ways with just the addition of a handy apostrophe.) lately. This is highly stupid, like, 10 out of 10 on the stupid scale since, as we know, my income is essentially nil. That is, the state of North Carolina, in its infinite wisdom, is handing me approximately 3/5 of my previous pathetic salary as long as I log on to their website every week to apologize for not having a job. Also, I must keep a job hunting log of failure, desperation and rejection, which is big time fun, let me tell you. Still, I feel it is my duty to spend this NC money, thus stimulating the economy and also netting me stuff like this pair of not all that hideous and highly comfortable pants for $6.24 from the clearance racks at Target today. Score!

Well. In a strange quirk of personality, fluorescent lights and the smell of fabric softener have the power to cheer me up, and being unemployed gets old. I have time if not money and so I have been doing some shopping. Today, I had things I had to get for Annie anyway, so that was the ostensible reason I was browsing the clearance racks at Target after a visit to Michael's crafts, where I nobly held back from the extremely groovy plastic chip bowl and took away some of those all graphite drawing pencils to which I am so addicted. I need them to draw with and then the dogs eat them, so a constant supply is a necessity. Besides, Michaels is always like a small trip to the nether reaches of the solar system in itself. There are entire Chinese provinces devoted to making peculiar things, like terrifying plaster bobblehead dolls, for Michaels.

Michaels and Target are conveniently located practically next door, so when I left the land of freaky crafts, I went to Target, where I found the aforementioned pants. Then, since I was going to do the dressing room thing anyway, I went ahead and plopped two heinous dresses and a pair of, gods help me, purple cargo shorts into the cart.

The clearance racks at Target are as interesting as clearance racks anywhere. When I'm shopping, whether it's accompanied by the Goodwill screech of hanger against metal rack or the Target / Ross / TJ Maxx searching for the size and price tage, my mind inevitably goes into a sort of stream of consciousness fugue state that swings happily from "What the hell is this dress? It looks like a post ironic take on some kind of construction worker Village People thing? Who would wear this?" to "Oooh, lady with scary hair. Do not look. Scary hair! Scary! Does she know it's scary? Did she pay somebody to do that to her hair?" to "Is that a . . . gingham romper? Oh god, it's a gingham romper. Wouldn't it be kinder to equip all gingham rompers with body heat activated laser beams so that anyone over the age of eight who puts one on is immediately and painlessly dispatched?" The answer to that question, by the way, is yes. Yes, indeed.

In the dressing room, I tried on the post ironic denim dress and it was fabulous, if, that is, you are living in, I don't know, the year 2123 and have a very specific task to accomplish, like, perhaps, mining something radioactive out of one of the smaller Jovian moons. For all other occasions, I felt, it would be unsuitable. Plus it was tight across the hips, a sad factor of my recent existence. Then I tried on a dress that, as far as I could tell, was created when a classic Burberry trench coat had a midlife crisis, felt that it had missed out on disco and thus, in a feat of transmogrification, became a mini dress! A minidress that is, alas, equally inappropriate for the dance floor or the spy novel. Still, points for trying, raincoat! Then I tried on the purple cargo shorts. Yeah, okay, the result of that was pretty much what can be imagined and we will not dwell upon it.

Greatly cheered up - I saved probably $27! I could therefore go and spend that money on nail polish and discount diet drinks! - I left the dressing room and spent the rest of my Target visit ducking around corners to avoid Scary Hair Lady, who was everywhere. Perhaps there were two, identical twins, although that' s the stuff of B rated horror movies everywhere. Ah shopping. I have done my part for the economy, America.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Life in These United States

Audrey's purse was stolen yesterday from her car at Carrier Park. Fortunately, she had her phone with her and no money in her purse, but still, it's a total drag, as everyone knows. There's the bummer of losing the wallet which belonged to her grandmother and then there's the terrible mess of replacing all her ID, bank cards and so on. It is a frustrating unhappy time and the kind of thing that makes you go all Republican for a few minutes - wait! you think. I am the victim here! Yet this is making my life suck! Go ahead government! Start shooting poor people! Then, hopefully, you come to your senses and realize that honestly, the government should not shoot poor people but conceivably, they should totally shoot the bureaucrats. And we should all eat the rich, of course, but that's another story.

I remember when my purse was stolen in Baltimore years ago and I had to go to the DMV for another driver's license, which they decided not to grant me on the grounds that I had no ID, so clearly could not get an ID. This was most unfun - the Mondawmin Mall DMV in Baltimore makes Kafka's castle look like DisneyWorld - and I had to go back three times. Nothing would have ever proceeded and I would probably still be licenseless and gibbering from my cardboard box under the JFX if on the third try I hadn't finally lost it. I took most of the contents of my filing cabinet including the huge folder containing all my mortgage paperwork to the DMV in a big box and dumped it all across the petty bureaucrat guy's desk while screaming incoherently. This worked and I got another driver's license. Due to this incident, I was not sanguine about Audrey's chances of getting another ID.

Therefore, this morning early we went through the filing cabinet to find her some proof of identity. "What about your fifth grade report card?" I said, "Surely no identity thief would be that thorough." She settled on her 9th grade Hereford High School ID card and the commemorative unofficial birth certificate the hospital gave me when she was born, the one with the unbelievably cute little ink stamped foot prints and a grainy black and white photo of Boulder Community Hospital on it. I tried to get her to take her varsity badminton letter - yes, my daughter was on the varsity badminton team and we were all so proud - and maybe her SAT scores or perhaps her tennis camp group picture, but she refused. The DMV, which is overall way nicer in Asheville than in Baltimore, were nice about everything and she eventually got another license.

Or, rather, not a license, because due to all the terrorists who want NC driver's licenses (they use them for currency in Baghdad! Cue frothing at the mouth!) or something (those goddamn brown people from South America! Think they should have driver's licenses! Froth froth rabies greeeeeearrghh snorf snorf! Thank you, modern conservatives, for yet again making everyone's lives that much more annoying) you can't actually get a driver's license at the DMV anymore. No, they can't just make them there; instead, you get a piece of paper that says you have a driver's license and it will come in the mail eventually. In the meantime, of course, you have no picture ID at all and if your bank card has also been stolen and duly reported, you have no way to access your bank account. That is why Audrey is going to Wachovia today with her 5th grade report card and a note from her mom, namely, me, saying that she is in fact my daughter and please can she have some money? We will see if it works.

In other news, I have been on this huge major ska kick all of a sudden, listening to the Specials and the Toasters (that one's even appropriate to the blog post! Whoo! We have context!) and UB40 and Madness and so on and I must say it is making unemployment and the dole and the whole thing, which has been kind of glooming me out a bit lately, much more bearable, because, you know, fuck Reagan youth and Maggie Thatcher is the antichrist and where, oh where, are my checkered wayfarer clones and my pink Chucks?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mondays Are Still Rough: Some Random Shit

in my window
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I have just been scrubbing gourds on the back porch. These are the gourds of last summer: they've been (literally) mouldering in the garage since the fall. There are about 25 of them, fabulously cool big bottle and birdhouse gourds that somebody - who probably isn't me - could turn into either great works of art or something so tacky it would make Thomas Kinkade wet his pants with joy. That part I may be able to manage. First, however, they have to be scrubbed and that is, as I am finding again, a royal pain in the ass.

I'm not big on scrubbing at the best of times. I mean, hey! Dirt is good for you! It builds up your immunities! You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die! I am all about the dirt, and not so much about the cleaning. Besides, this isn't like just washing out a glass or something. I am used to washing glasses: I have children. They use a separate glass for each sip. Washing the gourds, which are supposed to soak first in a mild bleach solution which they stubbornly refuse to do, being buoyant as only hollow woodenish objects are buoyant, is a major drag. After the soaking you have to scrub them with, preferably, a nylon scrubber to remove not only the mold but also the waxy sort of skin stuff that the mold feasts upon. You are not supposed to use steel wool or anything for fear of scratching them. That would be dandy if it worked. Personally, I am using steel wool, wearing rubber gloves and meditating unhealthily on how all the gourd mold and weird ass gourd waxy skin stuff is going to kill me, probably tomorrow. If, that is, the elderly sandwich I got from Earth Fare doesn't kill me first. So many ways to be morbid!

I have this wonderful green soap with little bits of purple flowers and bits of stem and so on in it. It smells nice and I believe it gets me clean and all but I'm a gardener: I get in the shower to remove small pieces of plant detritus, not to add them. It confuses me when I step out of the bathroom with foliage still all over my skin.

I love Mary Prankster. If you have not heard her stuff, you should go listen to it because it is excellent and hardcore and funny and sort of heart wrenching all at the same time. That said, I do not love Mary Prankster as much as my iPod does and I am at the desperation point where I'm going to have to resync the damn thing and remove her. I know, I know, I have to learn to make smart playlists and stop relying on shuffle but frankly this annoys the fuck out of me. I want the iPod to sit on its little iHome being iCute and playing iMusic, which is to say, MyMusic, one random song at a time without a whole ton of repeats, which, you would think, given that there are about 3000 songs on the damn thing, it could manage. But it cannot and it's driving me crazy again.

I'm not very good at them and I'm not in one anymore. No big surprise there, no big drama either, although I'm not particularly proud of Saturday night. Well. Sometimes I kind of miss the days when I felt it was okay to emote and freak out all over this blog but, alas or joy, those days are gone. He's a nice guy. I'm not so nice, or something, and I think perhaps I've just been single too long to change. Things fall apart and the center cannot, always, hold. I guess I'll go wash some more gourds now.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Thunder Dogs

If, like me, you are of a philosophical turn of mind, you may have often wondered, why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms? You might even wonder this while your collie mix is making a determined attempt to dig a hole in the computer room closet floor and your springer spaniel is setting new records for most pants per minute, with accompanying drool. You might also think, irritatedly, that dogs might notice that it has fucking thundered every day for two weeks and, honestly, get over it. And then you might wonder why cats are totally unafraid of thunderstorms yet still take everything but perfect, 70 degree sunny weather as a direct slight against them, almost certainly perpetrated by you in some evil, fuddled attempt at a most uncatly joke. That one I cannot answer.

However, I believe I can shed some light on the dogs and storms question. Years ago when my parents lived in Jackson County (Warning! I may already have told this story on this blog! I'm not sure and I don't care enough to check! Old age is like that!) they had a handyman kind of guy who would come around and do landscaping, stuff like that. This guy also had bees, which was highly awesome, because it led to us always having lots of sourwood honey - sourwood honey, if you don't know, is the best honey and will totally spoil you for all regular honey forever - and he was also one of those characters who are all about the folksy, down home yet slightly off kilter stories. Central casting, yes. However.

For whatever reason, my mother's dogs were always terrified of thunderstorms. I don't know why this was; maybe it was something in the way she reacted - although she was totally unafraid of pretty much everything - but I do remember that she had, once, to disassemble her bed to rescue one of the springer spaniels who had gotten stuck underneath it in an effort to escape a Charleston summer thunderstorm. After that adventure that same dog got downers prescribed just for such storms, which is how, some years later, I got to say the immortal words, "No, Mom, please do not mail me the dog tranquilizers. I don't think that's a good idea no matter how afraid I am of flying." on the phone, meanwhile visualizing the slightly crazed and no doubt sitcom worthy high jinks that would ensue from a resultant drug bust. It's all fun and games until somebody ends up in maximum security women's prison!

Back in Jackson County, though, my parents had basset hounds, one of whom was, predictably, terrified of thunderstorms. The other one was not. So one summer day, one dog was having a thunder induced panic attack when the handy guy stopped by.
"I don't know why," said my mother, "only one of them is afraid."
"The other one hasn't been hit yet." said handy guy.
"Hit?" said my mother, confused.
"By lightning," he explained. "Dogs is natural lightning magnets; they all get hit sooner or later. And then they're scared."

You bet they are! Watch out for dogs, people, they attract lightning like trailer parks call to tornadoes! And this probably explains why Django, who never cared a bit about thunderstorms, has suddenly started in the last couple weeks, to freak out almost as much as Theo whenever the rumbling begins. He must have been hit by lightning out in the yard or maybe while asleep under my bed (it's stealthy, that dog drawn lightning) and now, alas, the fear is upon him. What can you do? Dogs is lightning magnets.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Stress Baking with Gnomes

firework 5
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Last night I resorted yet again to stress baking. No wonder I am so fat these days: there must be healthier ways to work out one's angst than making chocolate pound cakes in the middle of the night but, on the other hand, it is true that there are few more delicious ones. Besides, my friends and family are not inclined, no matter how many pointed comments they make, to really stop me stress baking: the fruits of my relief from the evils of modern life are pleasing to them. Oddly enough, I have found that nobody ever complains about having too much cake in any real and serious way. At any rate, there is yet again a chocolate pound cake on my kitchen counter - this chocolate pound cake, to be specific - and while extremely tasty, it's a little dry and could use whipped cream, just in case, you know, some of the calories were trying to escape. Also, it used up 10 eggs and 3 sticks of butter, which is sort of alarming in one solitary cake.

While I was making this cake, Audrey was busy trying to clean up the kitchen from the last day or two of, respectively, chicken enchiladas and then steak and potatoes. "You have to stop cooking like this!" she said, "This is ridiculous!"
"Yes," I said sadly, "I know." And then we ate the leftover potatoes.

Meanwhile, the side of the dish drainer was crowded with mason jars. We used them for the tiedying and then washed them and then discovered that they had no real place to live. "Put them somewhere," instructed my daughter. "This kitchen is hopeless."
She is right. This kitchen is kind of hopeless but I like it anyway; still, there was nowhere to put the mason jars. "Wait!" cried Audrey in the tones of one who has had one of those cartoon lightbulbs light up over her head, "Do the gnomes fit in them?"
They did: perfectly. I started putting gnomes in jars.
"This is making me a little uneasy," I said, looking at three gnomes in sealed mason jars. "I feel like they need air holes or something."
Audrey came over to look as I put the jarred gnomes on the shelf next to the army of unjarred gnomes, who were, as usual, marching in formation on the kitchen shelf.
"Look!" she said, putting a gnome in a jar upside down. "We could make. . . snowglobes! Just, you know, glue them down and then fill it up with glitter and water!"
"Yes," I said, carried away with the beauty of this idea, "Gnome snowglobes! We'll never need to buy another Christmas gift!"
"On the other hand," said Audrey, "That's kind of an ugly snowglobe."
"Also," I said, "Large. Larger than your average snowglobe."
There was a little silence. The gnomes in the jars, imprisoned next to the free regiment, regarded us balefully.
"What are they," said Audrey, "POWs or something?"
"Yeah," I said, "They look like they're awaiting execution."
"They need airholes."
"I can't take this," I said, "I feel too guilty." I carefully decanted the gnomes and went out on the porch for a moment with my daughter.
"I think we're probably really weird," she said, "I can't help thinking about possible ways to appease the gnomes in case we've really pissed them off."
"This is wise," I said, "The last thing we want is to come in the kitchen tomorrow and find them all moved around."

And so, just to be on the safe side, we apologized to the army of gnomes. Hopefully they will not be too angry because, man, even with happy gnomes, things already disappear in this house on a regular basis - socks, phone chargers, plates, pint glasses, dog eardrops, that one wooden spoon and, of course, money, which manages to evaporate from my wallet and bank account at a rate that can only be caused by gnome infestation - so angry gnomes, clearly, are just not a risk we can take.