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Archive for November, 2008

The Day After

Bout to make myself a lunch of leftover turkey breast, mashed potatoes, asparagus and coconut cake (I made this. Just trying to justify the name my parents gave me.) After that, I’ll be walking a crazy old black dog in weather that, should you choose to ignore it, may have you trying to explain to whomever controls such things that you never meant to be so selfish as to ignore the easy beauty provided to us here on this miracle of timing known as Earth. I’m just saying, if you live in the South Eastern United States and you don’t appreciate the temperate nature of our climate you suck. Sorry, but you do.

Next up, cleaning house, job hunting and maybe visiting with friends. Sounds boring, right? Better than this nonsense. You know, the older I get the more convinced I am that the secret to a happy life is understanding and not trying to fight against the basic truth that life is about balance. Swing the pendulum of anything too far in one direction, you have problems. Which is why I agree so passionately with Krauthammer’s column today (not unusual of course for me to agree with him but this one I found myself thanking God for because someone actually has the foresight and courage to write these things in a climate that does not look favorably on this particular opinion. Courage fascinates me. I love it. Literally.) Running amok and killing at Wal-Mart is savage — it’s the modern version of the fight over a carcass — and while the market economy depends on the consumer, that pendulum has swung way too far in one direction when people trample someone in an effort to be the first to purchase the new blanket with sleeves or whatever ridiculous thing is being marketed to the masses at the moment.

And yet, as Krauthammer notes, politicizing the market to the extent that New York looks to Washington to call the shots, which, as he points out, is now pretty much the case, the pendulum has swung back and lopped off a few heads on the down swing.

Balance people. Balance. One of my favorite books is one of my favorite books because it makes much of the phrase “Don’t Panic.” Even when you’re told you should. Usually the one telling you is simply trying to create confusion to further an agenda. Cynical? Yes. Also probably true.

Have a leftover filled weekend.

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Finishing up a few things at work — yes, I know some of you people are already home but I had to come in despite the fact that I got home late from a gumbo/Back to the Future extravaganza (and to the gumbo maker — you did your Louisiana ancestors proud sir).

Here’s a clip I love from a great movie. Although technically not explicitly a Thanksgiving clip, it is nonetheless hilarious, features a turkey, and is perhaps the best maniacal laugh ever caught on film.

I love you people. Happy Thanksgiving!

And also there’s this because OMG AWESOME!!!!!!

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Breastmeat for everyone

Just a primer for the coming Holiday. I’m still coming down from my dance and wedding cookie high. I’ll catch ya later this week…

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Breastmeat for everyone

Just a primer for the coming Holiday. I’m still coming down from my dance and wedding cookie high. I’ll catch ya later this week…

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Staying sane through rhythm

A friend of mine told me yesterday that she was heartened to see a recent interview that Barack and Michelle Obama gave where they talked to each other like “a real couple.” She told me that at one point in the interview, Mr. Obama made a comment that he found doing the dishes peaceful (or something like that. I haven’t seen the interview so this is second-hand info. If I’m wrong please let me know.) and his wife looked at her husband like he was loopy and said something to the effect of “When have you ever enjoyed doing the dishes?” as only a wife can. My friend found this comforting that these two had real dialogue, imperfect dialogue, just like the rest of us.

As for me, I can’t decide. I think it’s cool, too, to know that the Obamas are “real” and not some dressed up version of marriage that looks good politically (cough, cough, Clintons, cough, ahem) but it’s a bit disconcerting that Michelle Obama is already looking at her husband like, “Who the hell are you?” Make him keep it real Michelle. For all our sakes.

There’s a fun thing going down tonight that, if you don’t already have plans, you should check out. The dance studio where I take classes is holding a fundraiser at Tasty World and the theme is 80s Prom. I just went and got a hideous bridesmaid dress from Goodwill and I’m certain it will be the least obnoxious outfit at the event. The music will be stellar — this is the stuff I grew up listening to — and there will be dance performances to boot. Yes, I could have performed in the piece to “Let’s Get Physical” but I figure that being old enough to remember when that single dropped — I was pretty young but I do remember it — means I’m too old to shake it in a leotard for the college crowd at a bar. On stage in the Spring show, sure. But I gotta let the kids have the nightlife. Tomorrow, at the historic Morton Theater, the company from my studio (including the ballroom company, those crazies!) will be performing with other area studio companies just to kind of showcase how Athens does dance. Good times. I’ll be ushering so come see and I’ll find you a seat.

As I was driving to work this morning I had this inordinately strong desire to write the following (not sure why but I’m going with it) — I have never before in my life wanted so badly to start the next phase of my life. It is very nearly painful. Not in an “AAARGH, get me out of here!” kind of way — I love my town and I enjoy and appreciate all my friends here and the accomplishments I was lucky enough to make while living here — but in a quiet, steady, it’s just time to go kind of way. It’s as if I’ve finished putting the puzzle together but I have to wait for someone to come by and approve the construction. I know where I want to be and that feels good — it might be the first time in my life I’ve felt that way — but this waiting is, as I said, almost physically taxing. My Pops says the only way to be really sucessful in the next phase of your life is to embrace the one you’re in and enjoy it till the new one starts. That kicking against it and trying to rush the transition is the quickest way toward dissatisfaction. And so I wait — *sigh* — but I wait with hope and joy and friends and family. And dance.

And, for your Friday funny, here’s something from Lord Somber that made me move this film to the top of my Netflix queue.

Have a hilariously melancholy weekend!

UPDATE: paybacks are hell CitiBank. I knew your bullying tactics regarding my mortgage were a harbinger for your own demise. Bad business acumen comes back to haunt you in the end. Take the lesson. (Thanks, Mom, for pointing this out.)

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A shoutout to my aunt, who always sends me home with a huge jar of Kimchi that will last me for several months. I have a taste for the stuff you see. She taught me long ago to eat it rolled up with sticky rice in a leaf of iceberg lettuce. Delicious.

Also, because Lou and I had a nice long phone conversation last night and we haven’t done that in a while, this is for you kid. Surprising how many people have never seen this movie. Surprising and tragic… Steamroller is the best game ever and I still say “It’s a jelly” when I’m trying to win someone over. Or handing out donuts…

Okay, the ghost. (for you D.)

When I was about 8 or 9, my grandparents decided to renew their wedding vows to celebrate 40 years of marriage and had a huge crab feast/family reunion (called around for the photos but didn’t get down to the ATL to have them scanned. Sorry.) at their Maryland home. All the women wore long, flowered sundresses and floppy sun hats while the men were in summer church attire. It was a marvelous party and I remember running with my cousins around the picnic tables, placed end to end to make one huge buffet table that was then topped with crab we had pulled out of the river that morning, g-ma had thrown in a boiling pot and then, when they stopped scratching around, were placed, still in their shells, on the outdoor tables (that’s how we ate our crab. You were responsible for digging that meat out yourself. We didn’t mess around…). I also recall trays and trays of yellow corn on the cob and lots of wine. Always lots of wine.

Because of the sheer number of people present — and the lots of wine — several guests were invited to stay at my g-parent’s house and so my sister Lou and I were displaced from our regular room, the upstairs furnace room, and sent two houses down river to my Aunt “Dot’s”. I always liked my grandpa’s sister (great) Aunt Dot. She had an easy laugh but also let you know pretty quick if you were nearing her fault line. And she collected porcelain shoes — she had several glass cases in her home dedicated to this hobby and I remember thinking even then how strange and wonderful that was. I also remember being about 3 and a half (I have strange memories like this, confirmed by my mother, of being a toddler and a little older) and staying at my Aunt’s house with my parents and waking up in the middle of the night and standing at the storm door in the kitchen that faced the back of the house and the driveway (I was so little that I didn’t even reach the railing on the steps up to the door that I could see as I looked outside) and crying into the night for someone to come and get me out. I remember looking down my nightgown at the little ruffle that just covered my feet and thinking I wouldn’t get far in my bare feet and that I couldn’t reach the lock to get out anyway. But I was scared man. Really scared. Cut to 6 or 7 years later…

So, Lou and I get settled in Aunt Dot’s upstairs room, a quaintly decorated, feminine space with flowered comforters on the twin beds (Mom, if I’m wrong, please let me know…) and a bedside table separating the beds with a cute Victorian lamp perched on top. There was even my Aunt’s cat, who sat on the end of my bed that first night and never left, even though my sister was very much allergic and therefore hated cats. The wall at the head end of the bed sloped at a 45 degree angle — like a barn — and there was no door, just a curtain that led out to the hall. That curtain would become my tormentor.

I always read a lot as a kid and my sister and I had epic battles over turning off the light when I wanted to read and she wanted to sleep. I won that battle this night. Sometime in the late evening, as I was reading by that little Victorian lamp and Lou was sleeping with the comforter over her head, I noticed that cat, at my feet, staring at that curtain that led out into the hall. And it wasn’t just looking in the curtain’s direction, it was watching something. Something I couldn’t see. I blew it off and continued to read until I became aware of that cat repeatedly moving it’s head to watch what it was watching — back and forth, like I had seen my pet cats do when I teased them with a sock or piece of string. I grew increasingly uncomfortable. Time passed and I went from reading a few lines of my book to staring at that curtain. At some point I became convinced that there was someone there in the hall, behind the curtain and it was a man. And not a corporeal man, but one I was definitely NOT prepared to encounter. I sat straight up in that bed all night, 8 hours or more, and watched the sky lighten over the river. And told no one. Because I had just freaked myself out, right? No such thing as ghosts…ridiculous.

That day was the ceremony and that evening I was back in that room and my sister, bless her, who normally would have steamrollered me for needing that light on AGAIN, I think must have known how scared I was because she never protested leaving the light on and even, when I began to weep from staring at that curtain and from pure exhaustion, let me crawl into bed with her and, when it became clear I was inconsolable, got up, pulled that curtain aside (I was horrified and didn’t look) and went downstairs and got my Aunt. Aunt Dot called my parents at my g-parent’s and Pop walked over and got me, still bawling and freaked out, and took me back down river where, I think, I slept on the living room floor in front of the fire. All I would say is that I’d had a bad dream. And my grandpa, the redheaded scamp that he was, said, “Yeah, I’ve had bad dreams like that. Once, I dreamt I was walking on a floor covered in boobs…I fell and got a bust in the mouth.” I laughed and immediately felt like I could sleep for days. I’ve not been back in that room, or upstairs in that house, since.

I never revealed why my parents got that late night call to come get their youngest daughter who was crying and, possibly, stricken white from fear until I was in my early 20s and I was finally confessing to my older sister Juje my embarrassing attempt at sleeping in Aunt Dot’s house. “I think it has a ghost,” I told my sister, trying to sound as jokey as I could. “Oh,” Juje said. “I’ve seen that ghost…”

Gulp. I won’t tell her story. Maybe one day she’ll reveal it. I’d love it if she would — she’s a better writer than I am — but the post script here is that, just two weekends ago I was back there and my Aunt “Bitsy,” whose father built that house and who lived there as a child, casually said that my Aunt Dot, years before my little episode, used to say that she could feel Bitsy’s father there, making his fishing lures. In the upstairs room, across the hall from the quaint little room I stayed in.

Yeah Aunt Dot. I could feel him, too.

The upstairs window is the one where I watched the sun rise. It is directly across from the curtained doorway.

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While I feel sorry for myself, why don’t you all enjoy a few pics from my most recent trip to the DC area. They include, but are not limited to: Chinatown; St. Patrick’s in downtown DC; my Aunt Dorothy’s haunted upstairs room window from which I watched the sun rise for two nights in a row because there was no way I was actually falling asleep in there; the g-parent’s house (including the upstairs bathroom window I used to crawl out to hang out on the roof and watch the sunset over the water); aunt, uncle, beautiful cousin Anna; Bruce the Wonder Dog; dilapidated vineyard; my marvelous friend from high school and her impossibly beautiful son hiking at Great Falls, Md.; and, as always, my feet. Give it a twist this weekend.
































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