Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Return to the Frozen Tundra

Whew. That was a whirlwind week-and-a-half. I’m very popular when I go home now, which contradicts all other social situations throughout my life. Knoxville is basically the same except the traffic is even worse. I never got a moment to myself, but I wound up taking the back roads everywhere because I40 and Kingston Pike are so bad.

My grandmother is sprightly as ever, thanks for asking. All the people I used to work with at the hospital are still completely messed up; thanks to Aunt Brenda for catching me up on the ER gossip. Cousin Wesley changed his major halfway through his first semester of college, and he broke his finger playing basketball for the college team, but he still makes excellent grades. Cousin Chandler is seriously naming his first child Chloe, bless its little heart. Dad’s office is moving out west, and it’s weird that he doesn’t work downtown for the first time in my life. Mom still works 16 hours per day, every day, but at least she works from home. My brother, revealing his secret tight-assed side, tells his children not to act like hooligans in public, which makes me laugh so hard that I choke. My best friend, always obsessing over her teeth, now gets paid to do so.

What else? I saw Running with Scissors, which if you don’t know, is a movie based on the memoirs of Augusten Burroughs, whose childhood will make you thank God yours was so easy. Very funny, but completely heartbreaking. Also saw The Departed, which is the best Scorcese movie I’ve seen in years. Seriously, it’s Shakespeare meets the Irish mob in South Boston. I watched about 12 DVDs at my mom’s house, almost all of which were cheesey chick movies. Nothing particularly sticks out in my head from that bunch. Although I did see Brokeback Mountain finally, which was very pretty but not dense enough for a two-hour film and quite poignant, but not necessarily oscar-worthy. There are still about a gazillion movies I want to see, but probably won’t get the chance to.

I got to satisfy all of my southern food cravings. I even had Krystals twice. I also got to try out a new Mexican restaurant called Abuelo’s, very good. What else? Wound up getting smashed on cheap boxed wine at Ash’s house while she cooked me and her friend, Michael, dinner. My flight home got cancelled and I ended up hanging out in the Philadelphia airport for eight hours trolling for a ride, but that’s a whole other blog.

Anyway, I sometimes really miss good ole K-town, but I like where I live now too. Plus, I really missed my husband, way more than I miss my hometown. Glad to be back, for real.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I feel compelled to do certain things when I’m home in Knoxville so that I feel like I’ve really been home. My agenda always includes the followings things. First, I have to sit in my grandmother’s living room for at least two hours and gossip about family issues, past or present. Next, I must rent sappy chick movies with my mother and fall asleep watching them in the den.

Sometime in the first couple of days I have to go to lunch with my dad downtown and discuss the newest books we are reading. On the weekend, I must go to the movies with my father and see some weird artsy flick that no one else will go to see with us; this time I’m thinking Running with Scissors or Little Miss Sunshine. At some other point, we have to eat breakfast at Shoney’s, because let’s face it, if you’re in K-town you’ve got to go to Shoney’s breakfast bar.

Another must-do involves some sort of fun activity with my niece and nephew to further solidify their belief that I am the coolest aunt ever. And let’s not forget their father. I have to get my drink on with my brother, either at Toddy’s or the Olde College Inn. My mother has to have something to worry about, right? I won’t talk about the time we got thrown out of that cheesey west end night club. It wasn’t our fault, I swear!

Further, I must not forget my bestest friend. I have to spend at least one night in Loudon smoking too many cigarettes, drinking too many Jack and Cokes, bitching about our lives, and possibly dancing to the Violent Femmes. God love her husband for letting us. Ok, I know I quit smoking, but I think I’m going to have to relapse. Maybe Ash and I can take in a show somewheres in the Old City too, maybe maybe. Can you tell I’m getting excited? I don’t think I’ve seen any live music since we caught Southern Culture on the Skids at the Blue Monkey like a year ago.

Now, as for the food I cannot get up here in the frozen tundra. Krystals, yeah baby. Mom and I are definitely eating some Krystals. For those of you who don’t know, they’re tiny little square greaseburgers ala White Castle, but they’re way better. I gotta get me some Buddy’s Bar-B-Q as well, because you know they don’t have barbeque in the great white north. Oooh, and Pelancho’s. They don’t have Mexican food around here either.

Then, if I can find some time to myself, I’ve got to drive around town reminiscing about how it used to look. I’ll drive to Farragut the back way, down Bob Gray Road, across Lovell and then onto that street I can never remember the name of that stops at Campbell Station. On my way back, I’ll take a dip through Hardin Valley, come back up Pellissippi Parkway and get on Northshore so I can see the water. I’ll take it all the way down to Lyon’s View and up to Sequoyah Hills because I like to look at all the old mansions. I might even take a quick drive through campus if I can stand all the damn pedestrians.

That’ll just about do it. I might squeeze in a visit to Perkin’s if I’m feeling masochistic. Somewhere in the middle of all this I’ve got to help my mother do some “spring” cleaning and maybe paint her kitchen cabinets. Dude, I am so homesick.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Melody of You

I’m going home for a week and a half on November 1st. My husband decided I was homesick and just bought the ticket. Even though we have no money, even though he’ll miss me like crazy, he knows that I need to see my family. That’s just the kind of man he is.

Yesterday, I wondered what I would do without him. He said, “You would’ve graduated two years earlier, have a job in Atlanta, maybe New York, and own your own house.” I said, “Maybe, but I’d be so lonely.”

I met my husband when I was going through a depressive breakdown, which is probably not the ideal time to begin a relationship. However, he kept me afloat. When I didn’t have the power to reach out to my old friends, to my family, he reached out and caught me. I think I healed myself a lot faster because of his support.

He may not be what my father wanted for me (southern atheist PhD with six-figure salary), but that's not the person I needed. He knows how to love me exactly the way I need to be loved. He accepts me completely. He couldn’t think of his life without me even when we’re screaming at each other. He’s smart, completely hilarious, handsome, principled, and sweet as pie.

Our life together has been difficult, but we can power through because we have each other. Life is easier when you have a partner, which is something I haven’t always believed. I take care of him, but he takes care of me too, which is something I’ve never had before. He really sees me, and no one else ever has. I am lucky to have him, and I know it.

See, I made a choice. Maybe I could’ve had all that career stuff. But that’s not what makes me a complete person. I chose the life I have now. My life’s not perfect, but it’s the one I want. Life is a struggle, and you fight the whole way through. I’m thankful I’ve got a sidekick who’s got my back.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sole Sessions

I'm feeling frumpy, dumpy, and gross today. I keep thinking about those shoes in my profile picture. You know, I've had those since the 8th grade.

They were not my first pair of Chuck Taylors, nor my last. However, they are my most loved. I say "are" because I still have them. I can't really wear them any more. I mean, they still fit, but as you may or may not be able to see, they are wounded. In the sole. Heh. But seriously, there's a hole in the sole that I covered with some duck tape. There's a piece of green yarn tied to the laces from a high school friend's lesbian girlfriend. I wrote all over them. Mostly poetry, but some from books and other stuff.

For instance, the tip of the right one says, "Everything is Cool and Froody," which, if you're a Douglas Adams fan, you should know is from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The left outside sole screams, "Yippy-skippy super monkey!" which is something my high school buddies and I used to yell. I think we may have gotten that from one of those novelty posters of a chimp wearing a baseball cap. Maybe. The right outside sole warns, "Muppets don't smoke." I don't actually know if that's true or not. Let me know if you can think of one who does.

And yet, the catalogue continues. The inside left reminds us that "Blueberries are our friends." I've completely forgotten what that's about, but I still think blueberries are our friends since they're full of antioxidants. The instep of the right is a double whammy, an eerily prophetic P.J. Harvey lyric: "I was born in the desert, been down for years. Jesus come closer, I think my time is near," and the dubious assertion that "You are the devil's cupcake." Aren't we all?

I named my right shoe, "Harliss P. Pickleseimer," a name I heard once and immediately fell in love with. I christened my left shoe with the equally unique moniker, "Bob." But on the tip of the left is something I wrote on all of my Converse All-Stars, the first stanza of Lewis Carroll's poem, "Jabberwocky." I think I've quoted it here on this blog before, but let me remind you all: "Twas brillig in the slithy toves/ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe/ All mimsy were the borogroves/ And the mome raths outgrabe."

Whenever I feel I'm losing my joie de vive, I get them out, not forgetting to hold my nose, and think about how carefree I sometimes felt in my youth. I'm thinking of the brief manic episodes that blossom forth from the hell that was my adolescence. There's a lot of miles on these All-Stars, a lot of tear drops, a couple of blood stains, and a lot of dirt from all the places I love. I can't throw them away any more than I could throw away my childhood.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sangria and Star Trek

Yesterday, Lunger and I made a pitcher of Sangria with homemade wine and watched three episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in a row. Needless to say, we got a little tipsy. Despite our inebriation, we still couldn’t completely suspend our disbelief.

“When is that Tasha Yar chick going to die? Is it this episode?” I asked, scowling at the television.

“I hope so, she’s so boring. I mean, what, besides random security questions, is her purpose on the Enterprise?” Lunger asked and poured himself another drink.

“I have no idea! And her hair is so weird. It’s short AND poufy!”

“Noooo...I like her hair. Short hair is cool.” Here, I chuckled derisively.

“Commander Riker is so the Shatner of this series.” I shook my head.

“He gets better.”

“Not much. Besides, he’s always getting with the ladies and making that weird face where he squints one of his eyes.”

“Hmmph.” Lunger slurped the last of his drink. “You know how they made those beaming images? They put glitter in a glass of water and filmed it. Then they super-imposed it over people in the transporting scenes.”

“No way!” I shouted, “That’s so cool!”

“Yeah, look at the sparklies.”

“Hah! You know, I always thought they made Data for the Federation.”

“No, they found him on this planet. Look! It’s a plastic mould of his face!”

“I wonder why they made his nose so big. Oh wait, didn’t that Dr. Soong guy make him look like a younger version of himself?”

“Yeah, he did.”

“Is it just me, or does Data seem jealous of Lore? I thought he didn’t experience human emotions.” I crunched on some ice and cocked my head to one side.

“I think he’s just suspicious of his ‘brother’.”

“Yeah, he seems kind of evil. Isn’t Lore evil or something?”

“Nah, it’s more like he’s agendafied.”

“What’s his agenda?”

“I don’t exactly remember. We watch a lot of Star Trek. Does that make us Trekkies?”

“No, we just like it. I think you have to go to a convention to be a Trekkie, and like wear Vulcan ears or something.”

“Well, I did go to that one convention.” Lunger conceded.

“That was an accident.” I argued. “You just stayed at the same hotel.”

“True. We should look up the definition of Trekkie. Do you think it’s in the dictionary?”

“Surely not.”

Actually, it’s not. But, on Wikipedia it says: “Trekkie (or Trekker) is a term that in recent decades has been used to describe a fan of the Star Trek science fiction franchise.” I think that’s too broad a definition. I’m not willing to admit I’m a Trekkie until I possess my own Klingon mask and federation uniform. I don’t even read those crazy novels based on the TV series. I’d like to hold on to what dignity I have left.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Adventures in Job Hunting

As of late, I’ve managed to snag some job interviews up here in the great white north. I’ve applied for positions with titles such as Technical Writer, Proposal Specialist and other generally uptight-sounding monikers. Each time I tell these human resources people that I applied for a particular job because I love to write, they hastily inform me: “But you understand this is business writing, not fiction.”

Really? No way! If you briefly read my resume, you’ll learn that I studied business writing in college, and therefore understand the style of writing for which you are willing to pay someone money to produce. Why do people assume that business writing is such a boring job? I don’t care what I’m writing, I love to write. I know a lot of writers won’t agree with me. I thought technical writing would be boring when I began to study it, but I found that I enjoy doing it almost as much as I enjoy making shit up (a.k.a. writing fiction).

To me, the joy is in the process, whether or not the subject matter personally interests me is negligible. I love communicating effectively; it makes me feel like a badass. Ok, well, not literally a badass, I mean, it’s not like I’m shoplifting or boosting a car. Not that I would know what either of those activities really feel like. Obviously, a poor comparison. Anyway, most people don’t know how to properly construct a sentence. I know how to write directions so that a sixth grader can figure out how to use a software suite. Yes, I am aware of what an enormous geek I am. Over the years, I have learned to embrace it.

I say, down with human resources! Just because you don’t like your job, doesn’t mean I won’t like mine! If I can actually find one, that is. I must learn to defeat these demons that guard the gates to employment. Why do they ask such inane questions? There must be a right answer to “What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?” that will get me a second interview. Otherwise, I see myself vacuuming the living room, baking pies, and issuing time-outs.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In Mourning

Ever have one of those nights when your head just won’t shut up? Voices and people crowded inside my mind last night and refused to let me rest. Ghosts, shadows, and harpies clawed at my subconscious until I woke with a headache and a guilty conscience. Last night, or more accurately this morning, I remembered all of the people I’ve done wrong, and all of the people who have done me wrong. It was a who’s who of mistakes and broken promises.

I remembered people I loved but couldn’t tell. I remembered people I couldn’t love who loved me. I remembered people I loved who rejected me. And I thought of how I’ve disappointed myself.

I wish I could think of all the people I’ve hurt and apologize to them, and I wonder if the people who hurt me would do the same if they could. I’d like to think that I would be big enough to accept apologies from those who killed me softly over the years, but I can’t say for sure that I would. I wonder, too, if I’m obsessing over this stuff because I forgot to take my anti-depressant the day before yesterday.

That’s something that all medicated depressives go through: Am I rejecting my true self for an emotional palliative? I don’t know if I was passionate and kinetic or just sad and angry about everything before the meds. I know I got to a place where I couldn’t function at all. I had stopped writing poetry before I took medication. Now, I feel a wide variety of emotions, not just varying shades of pain.

But the doubt is still there. I wonder if I would be as prolific a writer as I used to be if I went off the meds. Then, I wonder if I could get out of bed if I stopped taking them. I can still write. The words still come in the steady stream through which they’ve always flowed. The ideas still spark. Maybe I don’t write poems any more because I am finally content.

The poems I wrote in the past always despaired of love, mourned disconnection, writhed with desire. I’ve never been able to write a decent poem about someone who loved me back. Maybe that just feels true, even though it’s not.

To all the people in my head, I am sorry and I forgive you. Sometimes, it’s hard not to dwell on the past.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Happy Frigging Birthday to Me

The 21st was my birthday, and while I'm not old, I am now officially not young. Twenty-six is definitely not 30, but it's so oppressively close that I have already begun to lament my youth.

Mostly, I am afraid I can't put off procreating much longer. However, since I have spent most of the last eight years trying to get my shit together and figure out what I'm going to do for a living, I don't have a career to speak of as yet. The fact that I am now unemployed does little to assauge my guilt in this department.

It's not my fault! I can't work in this country yet, but I can now freely travel back and forth to Buffalo, thanks to a very nice Immigration officer I met on my birthday. So I've been looking for work there.

But, here's the problem: I have found exactly zero jobs that I am qualified to perform and that pay enough money to warrant a daily commute of 45 minutes and $4.75 in tolls.

This being said, Lunger (the husband) and I traveled to Buffalo to eat dinner at Carraba's and spend some of our American gift cards (Christmas presents) on my birthday. It was awesome. If there's a Carraba's near you, go. I know it's a chain restaurant, but dammit, they serve good chow.

Anyway, as we crossed back over the border into Canada, we pulled up to be inspected by one of the depressingly abundant GWT's. Yes, guards with 'tude.

"Could you drive any more crooked?" she asked my husband.
"Um. I guess I could..." he mumbled and handed over our passports.
"Wait. You're Canadian and she's American?! What do you have to declare?"
"We bought some glasses," he told her.
"And some DVD's. Oh. And I have a pack of cigarettes in my pocket," I offered.

We explained to her that I needed my passport stamped as official proof of the day I entered the country so we could file for my residency from inside Canada.

"Don't you have a job?"
"Not right now, no," I told her.
"But you won't be able to work!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, I know." I replied.
"But you won't have a job!" she continued.
"My husband has a job." I indicated Lunger. Here, her face twisted into a sneer.
"What did you do for a living before now?" Her eyes narrowed.
"I worked as a registration clerk in an emergency room." She scoffed.
"Pull to the left and go into the immigration building," rolling her eyes and slightly shaking her head.

To make a long story short, the guy inside Immigration was really cool. He gave me all the papers I needed and answered all my questions.

So I haven't been employed for six months! So what? It's not like I'm on welfare. I cook, I clean! Lunger pays his taxes! Like she's some ground-breaking feminist because she's a border guard. Hah! Bet she's never been to a Women's Action Coalition meeting. So what if I only went once because their Communist overtones freaked me out!

I feel bad enough because a man is supporting me. I don't need some self-important public servant telling me I live in the stoneage. I'm smart enough to figure that out for myself. Besides, Lunger only asks for a few things: clean animal skins, tidy cave, fresh berries, and the occasional undercooked woolly mammoth. It's not like I purposely refuse to take advantage of the opportunities provided for me by my predecessors in the women's rights struggle. I'm just an alien, sheesh.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I'm Back...Bwah ha ha

Not that anyone is reading my blog any more, but hey, I'm finally bored of huswifery enough to write something.

The last six months have been spent renovating my old and unfortunately quirky house. Allow me to briefly explain the extent of my woes.

My husband has owned this house for many years, but renters have been living in it and paying off the mortgage. Not the nightmarish type of renters either, a minister and his family, very nice people with horrible taste.

They took very good care of the house, despite their use of floral wallpaper and aquamarine paint. Yes. Aquamarine. Stepping into this house for the first time was like stepping into my grandmother's house underneath the Gulf of Mexico. Every single room was painted this violent shade of blue, except for the child's room, which was a much darker blue and has glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, which are actually kind of cool.

Ugly paint is easily dealt with, except for the fact that they painted over the baseboards and the rest of the trim with the same color. It's true. I had to re-paint all the trim a nice, normal white. This however, turned out to be the least of our worries.

The kitchen, which is not large, sported those fake wood veneers all over the cabinets. You know, the kind from the sixties that's not fooling anyone. The cabinets had to be painted too. We also put on new door handles because the others were ostentatious and ugly.

Speaking of the sixties, a majority of the house was floored in this 40-year-old vinyl tile that was crumbling beneath our feet. Plus, it was likely asbestos-ridden considering its vintage. We laid a nice, neutral, ceramic tile over the top. Buh-bye lung disease. Well, at least from foreign industrial fibers.

Similarly, we ripped up the brown shag carpet in the living room, which frighteningly resembled the hide of a very tatty bear. Underneath lay an almost pristine hardwood floor: the first and only pleasant surprise during the entire process.

I almost forgot the best part. The bathroom, more specifically, the bathtub, toilet, and sink which were all, drumroll please, a hideous shade of pink. Yes, it did look like Barbie's nightmare bathroom suite. Hence the reason I spent two days painting the bathtub with a truly offensive-smelling and likely toxic epoxy to make it white. We ended up completely replacing the toilet and sink, though.

We finally moved in at the end of October, but this was not the end of our worries. As soon as it got cold, which means November in southern Ontario, the furnace and air conditioner decided to have a race. What, you may ask, do you mean?

Well, it seems that although we had turned the heat on and the airconditioning off, the heat pump system got a little confused and started pulling cold air from outside into our house. So, the heat would come on, the thermostat would sense it was too warm in the house, and the fan, meaning the airconditioner, would click on to cool it down. Needless to say, we were using more natural gas than the rest of our neighborhood combined. We had to to have some heating-and-air guy come over and completely disable the airconditioning.

So, it's been a super-fun winter! At least our yard is enormous with lots of trees, even if it is mostly uphill. The neighbor kid charges us fifty bucks to mow the flipping thing. When are they going to develop a lawnmower that works like that Roomba vacuum?