Sunday, September 23, 2012


I love to walk. Well, now I do, but I never did when I was a little kid. When I was in kindergarten and first grade, Mom used to take me and my sister on hikes around where we lived in North Georgia. Sometimes she carried Allison, but she always made me walk all by myself on account of the fact that I was perfectly capable.  But all I remember about those hikes is standing in the middle of the trail, hollering at Mom's back as she walked away up the mountain.  Then I'd run after her until I could see her back again, and then I'd yell at her some more. Yet somehow, she had the patience to take me hiking a lot.

But all that was before Marilyn.

Mom had these friends named Marilyn and Bob who were my grandparents' age and childless, so they kind of adopted us: Mom, me, Allison, and our dog Moonshine Starshine. Mom became friends with them because Marilyn was the librarian at my elementary school and I was forever ruining the library books: I left them in the rain, put them places where Moonshine Starshine could chew them, I lost the ones I didn't injure. Eventually, Marilyn scheduled a parent-teacher conference to figure out how to foster my love of reading without costing the school system hundreds of dollars a year.  By the end of that meeting, Mom had Marilyn promising to babysit me and Allison three afternoons a week. 'Cause Annie Shields is that good.

Anyway, Marilyn and Bob were from Minnesota and loved to hike like you wouldn't believe.  They literally couldn't sit still for one second of the day.  You left Bob alone with a tree and he'd make a canoe out of it.  Marilyn was obsessed with expanding the collection boulders in their rock garden. She was a tiny little woman, but each morning she'd hustle up the mountain behind their house and work on unearthing a giant rock. When she'd done that, she'd work on inching it down the trail to the house over the course of a couple weeks.

Allison and I spent a lot of weekends with Marilyn and Bob, and each one was like it's own, special Bataan Death March. Marilyn would wake us up at 6:30 in the morning, we'd eat some Bran Buds with skim milk, make some PB&J's on whole-whole wheat, mix a couple bottles of Crystal Light, and take off up the mountain, looking for "flagstones."  When we started complaining around 10 a.m., Marilyn bribed/threatened us with pie after dinner: "A storbery-ru-baaarb pie!"  By the end of the day, Allison and I would each be lugging a huge (proportional to our size) rock down the mountain.  We'd also each have a temper tantrum (proportional to our size) when we found out what strawberry-rhubarb pie was, and then we'd sleep like children who had actually done something that day.  Because we had.

Anyway, because of Marilyn--or possibly in spite of her--I like to hike now.  I can also interpret and passably mimic a thick Minnesotan accent.

So, this week, Bryan, our friend Ricky, Odessa and I went to the Hike Inn in North Georgia.  It's this wonderful house in the woods that you hike 5 miles to, spend the night, and hike out again the next day.  Odessa and I did it by ourselves last year in a thunderstorm, and it was a formative experience for us both.  I felt like Gandalf carrying a Hobbit through Mordor.  Which I don't think Gandalf ever actually had to do, so I officially have the one-upsies on Gandalf.

This time, it was a lot better: we brought the mega-stroller and Bryan and Ricky helped carry her when the going got too bumpy.

It was really great, but I can't help thinking my mom--or Marilyn--would have made her walk by herself.  And possibly carry a boulder.

Orienteering has reached its zenith.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The List

Dear You,

It's late on Bryan's night out and I'm stuck by myself at home after a kind of horrible day.  It's probably been in the Top 5 Suckface Days of 2012.  Odessa's sleeping, but the house is really messy, I can't settle on anything to do, and I'm the kind of disheartened that even a long shower can't fix.  I'm just terrible at this.

The good news is, I've got a list of things I do when nothing seems good:

1. Talk to somebody who isn't me
2. Snuggle somebody who isn't me
3. Yoga
4. Take a shower
5. Take a walk
6. Write something
7. Paint my fingernails
8. Find something to laugh at
9. Take pictures of stuff

My apologies to the OCD among you. I know I should have 10, but I don't feel like thinking of another one. Sometimes there are just nine of something.

Anyway, here's my list of excuses why I have a list of things that make me feel better, but I'm still not currently feeling any better:

1. 11 PM is not an appropriate hour to call a friend and say, "I'm feeling blue," because then my friend would be like, "OMGdoyouhavearazorbladeinyourhand!?"

And then I'd just have to be all, "No, it's not like that--it's just so boring and stupid and I'm a hideous ogre that everybody hates." And then my friend would put her mouth guard back in and be like, "Fixth fixth advithe advithe advithe, you okay, honey? I luff you but I'fe got a thing thamorrow."  And then she'd hang up and I'd still be feeling blue.

2. Odessa would wake up if I tried to snuggle her, and there'd be hell to pay.  Bryan's at the bar. There's nobody left to snuggle except Nastycat over here.  You know, I've actually considered going to raves, because I've heard people are always trying to cuddle you at raves, but everybody I've vetted it with thinks that's basically my worst idea ever.  And I've had some bad ideas.

3. I would do yoga, but there's too much shit on the floor.  And to clean the shit off the floor would add "cleaning rage" to my already overwhelming list of complaints.  Sorry body, sorry mind, sorry Holy Ghost.

4. I took a shower already.  I even deep conditioned, toner-ed and moisturized.  I plucked my eyebrows. Nothing.

5. I can't take a walk because Odessa's in the house asleep, and what if somebody's in the bushes, waiting for me to leave so they can sneak in and kidnap her and sell her to a nice Mormon family? Better not.

6.  I AM writing something.  Results pending.

7. I would have to take my current polish off, and that's too hard and lame.

8. I just tried to watch TV and it was just too hard and lame.

9.  What am I going to take pictures of? My dirty house? My zit cream face? This gross topless Barbie?

I think Barbie there pretty much sums it up.

Anyway, this is what I wanted to know: what do YOU do to make yourself feel better?

I need your advice.  Please don't say online shopping.

Your sincere friend and advocate,


Monday, September 10, 2012

The End of Everything

My studio is right next to the office of this guy who spends a lot of time at a drafting table, drawing pictures of rivers.  The guy doesn't talk much, but he listens to music all day long, and the kind of music he likes is contemporary bluegrass--the more mandolin and dobro solos the better. I don't even know how to look up this kind of music on the internet to give you an example, but to me it all kind of sounds like, BIDDLYDIDDLYDIDDLYDIDDLY BUM BUM BUM diddlediddledliddle.  Except faster.

But this morning he played After the Gold Rush.  The whole goddamn album.  

Did I mention it's totally beautiful here right now? 74 degrees, sparkly white sunlight all over the place, a cool, undulating breeze.  Summer's almost over.

And we're all going to die!  You know that, right?  Every year, Neil Young smooshed up against the final days of summer reminds me.  I don't actually mind all that much--I mean, it's kind of nice and important feeling, actually.  I believe one of the reasons people go bonkers for autumn is we all like to be reminded, very gently, of our mortality.  It's what fuels nostalgia, everybody's favorite FEELS. 

So, I guess it's appropriate that today I'm supposed to be writing about how it's all going to end. And by "it all," I mean the Universe.  (Spoiler alert: BLACK HOLES!!!)  It's not going to be tomorrow or anything, but everything we know will eventually stop being, even Grandaddy Universe. Just FYI.

Maybe there's a good reason for everything having to end. I mean, probably there is, but I don't think even Neil Young knows why.  He just sang a little piece of it to remind us all, very gently.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eating in Season

Earlier this week, I spent most of a workday sitting at my desk eating muscadines. I don't know how many I ate, but it must have been a lot.  I got a stomach ache.

Muscadines are like grapes, except they grow wild in the bushes, and they taste better. It's muscadine season right now, and the other day I hit paydirt on the side of the road out in Madison County, and filled up the little trashcan in my car with them.

Something I've noticed since I had Odessa is that I've started to really appreciate all the stuff that goes along with each season.  For instance, I've never been all that into Halloween, but since we've been discussing Dessa's Halloween costume pretty much daily since July, that shit is NOT sneaking up on me this year.  Hell no, it's not.  (BTW: Odessa's already informed me that I'm going to be a bride and Bryan's going to be a scary spider web.)

So, I'm becoming a little more of a seasonal planner, and one thing I did this year was eat produce off the vine like a little woodland animal.  We ate so many strawberries and peaches this year, it was obscene. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get at as many tomatoes as I would have liked; somehow I got thrown off my tomato game.  But not next year.  Tomatoes better watch their backs next year.

Anyway, so I was at work, eating away at the gallon of muscadines on my desk, and Chris looked over and was like, "you're gonna give yourself a stomach ache."  And I was like, "no way, this is the new me.  I'm seizing the day.  It's muscadine season, so I'm eating muscadines.  Is it corn season? I'm eating corn. If something is ripe, gonna eat the living shit out of it."

Chris hates it when I say things like "____ the living shit out of ____," so he winced and said, "I believe that's what they call 'eating in season.'"

Me: Call it whatever you want.  I call it gorging myself on stuff I like while it's cheap.

Chris: So, what are going to do in December?

Me: Cookies.  And then in November, it'll be discounted Halloween candy, and in January, It'll be birthday cake because that's when my birthday is.

Chris: You do realize you're going to gain 15 pounds this winter, right?

Me:  That depends.  If I really go for it, I could gain 20.

So, I'll keep you posted. If I really do gain 20 pounds this winter, I'll probably complain about it.  But it'll be the environmentally responsible thing to do.  I'll be okay with it as long as I've got the moral high ground on that 20 pounds.