Saturday, July 31, 2010
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
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."
"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, 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.
Monday, July 26, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
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.