Wednesday, January 27, 2010


So, today I was in the co-op and I was standing in front of the vegetable racks, and I turned to the left and saw a woman I knew sitting at the table by the window. She's a nice woman, though pretty reserved, and I greeted her and then immediately said, "You know, I worry a lot about vegetables." The woman I know mumbled something about meat, and I was about to launch into some sort of lengthy explanation when I saw someone else--not someone I knew, mind you, but someone I had often seen pictures of on Facebook--which means of course I had to introduce myself and explain that I only Facebook-knew her, but that I was friends with Melanie and Jesse, etc. By the time I had finished with that poor woman, the other woman had packed up and ran away, because she's right: I am an insane extrovert and am best avoided. Or as my sister Allison says, "Uncool, Jessie. You are uncool."


So, back to what I was saying about vegetables. Motherhood has turned me into one of those nutjobs who fixate on nutrients. I am In Charge of Food in my house. If I were not here to buy and prepare food, my family would probably eat egg sandwiches with pickles on cinnamon raisin bagels for every meal, every day of the week. But since Odessa started eating regular human food, I have begun to agonize over vegetables--I will drive to the store at sorority rush hour (which is 32% more aggravating than regular rush hour), as I did today, to get tomato and avocado to put on the veggie burgers I made for dinner, knowing full well Odessa's just going to spit this $1.69 avocado out on the tray of her high chair and then wipe it off onto the floor, where Ruby will come along and lick it up and then spit it back out again, and then I'm going to have to come along sponge it up off the linoleum tomorrow morning. It makes no difference. I am compelled to buy the vegetables so that my family can abuse them.

My own sainted mother struggled with vegetable anxiety herself when I was young. I remember her pleading with me at 15 to please, please, please just eat a couple of bites of her inexpertly boiled broccoli (sorry, Ma, it had to be said), and my response was to give her a look that bespoke, "Woman, would you mind your own damn business?"

No, she couldn't mind her own business. Because vegetables are Mama's business.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Here I am, sweet, sweet readers, writing to you from the trenches. Of hell. Oh yes.

I had a nice day today. I worked half a day Saturday, so I went into work at noon, got a bunch of stuff done, learned several pieces of interesting news, came home and made a very delicious pasta dish with my yearly allowance of grotesquely expensive and artisnal bacon. I talked to Bryan while he and Odessa took a bath and sang a song about ducks and all the things they do. I gave Ruby a pan of bacon grease and she loved it. I was happily chatting away to Bryan at exactly 7:30 when it happened: the Universe collapsed on itself.

Bryan was sitting in the bath and all of a sudden he looked at me and said "I'm getting a migraine." (To fully understand the implications of this, I'll have to write a post on Bryan's head one of these days. It's a veeeeeeeery complicated place.)

Odessa, who had been playing with some colored plastic cups, looked at me and started screaming her head off.

Ruby in the other room started yelping in unexplained agony. I ran into see what's the matter with her, and Zucchini was on the ottoman eating the piece of ice cream cake that had been waiting for me. Still unsure as to whether this is what so affected Ruby.

I am nothing if not a woman who can take charge. I put sheets on the bed for Bryan, got Odessa in pajamas and stuck her on the floor of the living room, tripped over Ruby on the way to the drier. In the meantime Odessa ate the birthday card I received today and hadn't read yet, because I was waiting to read it with my ice cream cake and it had fallen on the floor during Zucchini's transgression and Odessa went over and made a sort of glue out of it with her saliva and snot (it was made out of kind of thin paper). And it had come all the way from Costa Rica. So now I know that Audrey was sitting at a cheese factory eating a mint chip ice cream cone when she wrote it, but not much else. And Odessa has only recently stopped screaming at me, and now I'm sitting in front of the wood stove (yes, it's here!) and you know what? The fire seems kind of cool. Like, chilly. Have you ever met a fire like that?

I think it's a sign that I should just start over again tomorrow when spades will be spades again.

Buenos noches, amigos.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Virginia in the Italian Alps

My grandmother and some cattle. 1971?

Today I'm doing a photo project. More about that later, but this is my favorite photo of today. Or any day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There are some people who are different from me

I just consulted Saint Google to see if I could find a photo similar to the one I saw tonight posted on the Elbert County Gun Club bulletin board. But alas, even He cannot help me.

So, I went to a meeting at the Elbert County Gun Club for reasons I won't share because they're too boring. It's the kind of place where there's a cement floor and some metal folding chairs and someone had the idea of sprucing the place up a bit, so they covered the bulbs on a string of Christmas light with shotgun shells and draped them haphazardly over a window.

Anyway, the photograph I saw a couple minutes into the meeting was on the wall across from where I was sitting. It was of a girl--maybe 12 or 13--with a complexion like a bowl of milk and these big, brown, liquidy cow eyes that spoke "I learned my multiplication tables two years ago, but I still refer to my mother as 'Mommy' and I've never heard a Hannah Montana song because I'm homeschooled." And just in front of her eyes and off to the right a bit, she gazed through the very fancy scope of a high-tech rifle, the butt against which she was dreamily resting her plump, rosy cheek.

And I thought to myself as I sat there in that meeting across from a man named Zeb who considered the country of Europe to be part of the Third World ("they still drive around in buggies, yall!), there are some people who are different than me.

Thank You Lord.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jane, etc.

Thank God Jane went into labor today or else I fear I wouldn't have anything to write about. Or anything good anyway, and this is not--hopefully not--a venue in which to vent my frustrations. Because that's just not classy blogging.

Anyway, Jane's my best friend. There are other friends I appreciate and love with similar amounts of warm, snuggly affection. I even have friends I've known longer...I didn't even meet Jane until 7th grade. But the thing about Jane is that she's the person who introduced me to Bryan, and who came to help me get my shit together right after Odessa was born, and the only person I can seriously fight with. And we have gotten in some serious-ass nasty fights. I'm not a woman prone to squabbling, but Jane and I have called each other just about every name in the book, and I mean EVERY NAME, including ^u%#&@* $u^!. But really, we fought because we expected better of the other: Jane's no Jesslyn apologist, and I appreciate that. Oh, and sometimes I put her as my emergency contact on waiver forms because she would totally fly her 9-months-pregnant tukus down here from Virginia at a moment's notice to rescue me if that's what I needed her to do.

Anyway, Jane is married to Vinny Argentina, which is good because though Bryan is infinitely better suited as my spouse, if Jane hadn't married Vinny, I probably would have had to, because you can't just let a jewel like Vinny drive into the sunset by himself in his 1977 Lincoln Town Car that he glued hundreds of dollars worth of pennies to. He's just a lovely person. Anyway, that's Jane and Vinny in that photo up there. Cute, huh?

And tonight they're going to have a baby boy. Well, I'll be. I hope it's going well, honey--I'm thinking about you. You guys think about her too, okay? Thanks.

Update: And he's here now! Oliver Argentina, welcome to Earth! He's perfectly healthy and apparently hairy like a gorilla. But you can't tell from this photo:

Pretty cute, huh?
And OMG, look how sweet THIS is:

And freakin' crap--THIS:

Happy baby, Jane and Vinny. Love yas!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pop Music from the North in Winter

Prescript: there are links to special songs hidden in this post. Oooh! fun!

I've discovered that in the wintertime I need some encouragement from Scottish people. And sometimes the Swedes. And occasionally the Icelanders. That's right; I need pop music written by people who shouldn't be cheerful but are somehow managing it.

Take Belle and Sebastian for instance: winter in Scotland must be--pardon the salty language, but it must be said--Shitty. Crushingly, horrifyingly, nightmarishly poopy. In fact, I just looked it up, and it is currently 36 degrees and raining in Edinburgh, the sun is set to rise at 8:37, and it will set again at 4:11. That's less than 8 hours of daylight. And of course the Scots totally feel it--how could they not? But here's the thing: they don't let the dark-as-the-inside-of-a-cow-and-yet-not-cold-enough-to-snow climate keep them from writing music that can make you dance around the kitchen singing into a spatula on a week when it didn't get over 40 degrees in Georgia. Ahem...I live in Georgia. And frankly I'm sick of freezing my tukus off.

But here's the thing:
On Monday morning, I went into the bathroom at work (there's a huge sunny window in there) and stood with my eyes closed in the sun and listened to my ipod: five minutes of people who've got it much worse than me, but are doing it with tolerable cheer. Then I went back to my desk and felt as if I could write another email.

So, thank you Scots. You too, Swedes. Keep it up, Iceland people. You're all better men than me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Public Service Announcement

You guys, my poor Mama. I wish I could say I come from a long line of attentive drivers, but alas, I do not. My poor Ma has managed to get in two automobile accidents in the past week and a half. One of them was pretty much her fault, although minor, involving a movie theater parking lot and some sun that was in her eyes. The other was absolutely not her fault because mine may be an inattentive people, but we are not criminally unintelligent. Yes, friends-- yesterday my mother was hit head-on by someone who had drifted into her lane because he was TEXTING WHILE HE WAS DRIVING! @#$%^&*, I would have totally found that guy and jerked his left arm off and beat him with it if he had killed my mom because he was texting while operating a motor vehicle.

So, Mama--I'm sorry your kneecap is broken and your clavicle is sprained.



Monday, January 11, 2010

New Slippers

This evening I went to a public hearing in an abandoned middle school to register my displeasure regarding a proposed trash incinerator some hosehead wants to build over in Elbert County. A lot of people were there--so many that I had to stand in the hallway outside the room with like 90 other people who also wanted to get into the meeting, which the bumpkin county commission purposely held in the teensiest little room in the whole place so they wouldn't get yelled out. So I stood in the hall in my Danskos for two hours and talked to people, including an old man in the landfill business who explained to m the difference between Construction & Demolition and Schedule D landfills.

And the whole time I was also thinking about my slippers.

For my birthday this year, I got a new pair of slippers. My old pair were the ones I got for Christmas in 1997, and they are no longer with us; RIP, old buddies. Anyway, my new slipps were on sale at the store downtown where you go to buy your husband's wallet or belt or cowboy hat or the cowhide rug on which you and your loved one are meant to canoodle while lounging on the hearth and gazing at a crackling fire. This is all to say, they are men's slippers--evidently made for a rather petite senior executive who is on a skiing trip in the Swiss Alps. Black and brown leather stitched together by the craftiest artisans, and lined with the souls of virgin fur seals. Seriously, these slippers were intended for fancier feet than mine.

So tonight while I stood in my hard-bottomed clogs, discussing the finer points of fly ash and the ignition temperature of tires, I was secretly thinking about my new slippers. And when the meeting was over and all the cranky, purpley-faced, liver-spotted county commissioners filed out of the room, hounded by television cameras and angry citizens, I sprinted past them and jumped in the car and took off for home, and my sweet, sweet slipps.

Maybe I'll wear them to bed, just for tonight.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


On my 3rd birthday, my mom did something rash.

We lived in West Virginia at the end of a long, treacherous dirt road, which was especially treacherous at the beginning of January, when my birthday is. There was a lot of getting stuck on that road and bundling up and piling out of the car and walking the rest of the way home. There was also a lot of getting snowed into the house and having a friend who lived in town come and rescue us, and in the meantime eating squirrel stew. It was getting-stuck kind of weather on the day I turned three, but getting stuck isn't what happened.

So, my Ma is very generous and enthusiastic, and she loves her some special occasions. So that morning as she piled me and Allison in our little blue car to start the long drive down the road into town, she said, "Jessie, it's your birthday today, so we can do whatever you want! We can even go to McDonalds if you want!"

Well, this is kind like informing Attila the Hun that the Balkans are currently unprotected, but to please observe a little forbearance and self-restraint when making important merger decisions. By the time we got to the end of the driveway, I had decided what I really wanted was to climb the snowy mountain across the road from our mailbox. So, Ma, Allison got out of the car and started post-holing our way up the mountain, only Allison had only just turned 1, so she got carried and I had to walk. So then I decided it was time Allison walked and I got carried. Barring this recourse, I figured we should just go back to the car.

So, the mountain (or 12 yards of it) climbed, and the mail gotten, we started into town (Keyser, WV, current population something over 5,000; who knows what it was back in 1981), and at the McDonalds, Ma started to turn into the parking lot. But no--we would not be dining at McDonalds that day. I had a memory of my dad stopping at an establishment a few weeks back, at which I had to wait in the car while he entered, spent 10 minutes or so and came back out. So, whatever the name of that bar was, we went to it.

At noon on Friday, we were the only pretty lady with two toddlers in the whole joint, if you can believe it. But they made us grilled cheese sandwiches, and when the bartender discovered that that his place was my choice for my birthday luncheon, he broke out all the 10-day-old New years decorations, and made a general announcement to the patrons, so that I got a lot of vaguely heartfelt congratulations from some tipsy coal miners.

So, Ma's mistake was in telling me that my birthday was for doing whatever the hell I want. And here I am a grown woman, and now my husband is saddled with the burden of anticipating and responding to my every caprice every January 9th.

It is, however, still fun for me. Bryan's just lucky it comes but once each year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The reason this blog post is so incoherent

My cousin Ulla lives in Singapore now, which is a 10 hour time difference from the east coast of the United States of America. I really like Ulla--she reminds me of Anne Shirley (ahem, of Anne of Green Gables to those of my readers who happen to be dudes), only more Swedish, since her mother--my Aunt Gerd--is about as Swedish as they come. So Ulla really can't help being at least half as Swedish as they come...but I'm inclined to think she inherited more Swedish-ness than American-ness...but you see what I'm doing there? I'm hallucinating in a boring sort of way, and that's how you can tell I'm starting to kind of fall asleep.

ANYWAY, I talked to Ulla on the phone tonight, which we don't do very often because she generally lives sometime yesterday in the middle of the night or perhaps only this morning if it happens to be this evening in Georgia. (Does any of this make any sense? I'm very tired). But I hadn't talked to her in ages, and we talked for two hours because we are definitely in the same phone-talking division or weight class or whatever. And hanging up, I thought to myself, why is it nearly everyone I know lives so far away? I think I probably know more people who live far away than I do people who live close.

In any event, it's very inconvenient and I'm veeeery sleepy. Good night.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What to do when your dad has a blog

This is my Dad. And here's a video of him. He's a big man with lots of opinions. His hobbies include throwing things out of trucks, telling stories about the olden days when my mom and he lived in an igloo in West Virginia and farmed dirt clods, grading his dirt road with his tractor, peeing on trees, singing to children, cussing the cold weather, cussing the people in charge of stuff, cussing the Republicans, cussing the Democrats, cussing the vetch in his garlic beds--ah, but here I've gone and started a list of things he's all the time cussing about, and if I keep it up, I'll never get to sleep, which I desperately need on account of I have The Shingles. Anyway, Dad has a garlic farm and a pottery business with his wife Janice, and he plays in an old time string band. He doesn't own a blue ox, but I think perhaps a giant ox would help with some of Dad's more delicate daily tasks.

And speaking of delicate tasks, Dad just started a blog, presumably to combat my yellow- journalism-style sensationalist slander. He phoned me a couple of weeks ago to tell me as much, and followed it up with, "... but I can't get back into it because I can't remember the password."

So, long story short, what you do when your dad has a blog is help him remember his password and then to set things up correctly, and then to read his posts and comment on them. And to write slanderous lies and falsehoods about him so he'll have something to contest.

Let the protestations begin! (By the way, if you want to read my dad's blog, it really is amusing:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Shingle Bells

So this is how it's going to be, is it 2010?

January 1st, 2010--the first day of this brand new decade--Bryan and I finished painting the front rooms of our house, Odessa started kissing the pictures of people she knows on the refrigerator, and...I GOT DIAGNOSED WITH THE SHINGLES. Yes, SHINGLES!

And as every story I've ever heard about the shingles starts with somebody's grandmama, make yourself comfy because I'm fixin'a tell you about the time my grandma got the shingles:

You guys remember Virginia right? Well, she got shingles in August of 1988, which was the summer she retired after 28 years of teaching English comp to each and every University of Georgia freshman ever to write a 5 paragraph essay drunk at 8:20 in the morning. And God bless her for it. Anyway, the freedom to watch The Young and the Restless every day and jump on her mini trampoline in her underpants while eating cottage cheese and talking to her friend Sylvia on the phone at 3 in the afternoon was such a shock to her system that she got shingles. Which my sister Allison and I called The Strangles because we were farm children and figured she had just contracted equine distemper.

At any rate, for reasons that mystify me now more than ever before, Virginia decided to carpe diem the hell out of those shingles and drive all five of her grandchildren to our antediluvian home in southwestern Virginia (that's right--Virginia is from Virginia; she's the eighth of ten children--most of whom were girls--so I reckon her parents were kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel for lady names by the time she came along). In hindsight, the very idea of waking up at 4:30 and piling five profoundly unenthusiastic kids between the ages of eight and thirteen into a 1979 Ford Country Squire station wagon and driving for seven hours to a place so far in the country that the telephone lines don't even go out that far, and you being the only rational adult within fifty miles of your rotting old bee-infested house, and did I mention YOUR SKIN IS ON FIRE seems just loonytunebananas to me, but let this serve as Exhibit B of what a sturdy old broad she is. It was truly Virginia and her compromised immune system versus five belligerent children.

An anecdote: One day Virginia felt so bad, she put my cousin Jason in charge of the rest of us, which made him feel as if he was responsible for making sure nobody slid down the banister. So he found a can of Raid under the sink and liberally applied it to said banister, and Allison slid down it anyway, so Jason took it upon himself to spray her with Raid in the back of the head. Needless to say, circumstances ended with five children screaming at each other and running around on the the roof, and Virginia hobbling around from window to window, threatening us with all kinds of whumpings. Later that week, Jason got partly struck by lightning.

Anyway, so here are my blessings:
1. I am not 70, so perhaps my The Shingles won't be as bad as all that.
2. I'm not currently responsible for any preteens.
3. It's not likely the rest of 2010 could possibly be as bad as it's begun. Right?