Monday, August 31, 2009

"Anything but The View"

Make your own good time no matter where you are.

That’s what I do.

I had a mammogram today -- and for those who don’t know what it’s like -- you can practice for it.

Here’s how:

Take your pinky finger and place it on a brick.
Then slam another brick on top of it. Don’t breathe.

My friend Yvonne told me that I should blog about my experience today, and my friend, Laura, the insomniac, said earlier, “Blog, will you?”

So, I’m blogging.

Today I went to get my annual mammogram. Women have to do this every year after they are thirty-five or something. The first time I went, I used the experience for chat at many social gatherings.

Finally, David said to me: Do not tell that story again. If I have to hear about how it is like the Spanish Inquisition without the masks, my eyes will roll outside my head.

Me: Easy for you to say. All you have to do is cough.

Never mind.

Anywho -- my appointment was at 10:05, and after circling the parking lot like a buzzard following a chicken serial killer, I arrived at 9:52 and headed to sign in.

Then I sat in one waiting area, and then sat in a second one.

Beginning at 10:20, my appointment time, I was ushered to yet a third one. Three waiting rooms -- who thought of that?

After donning the terry clothed hospital issued gown and being asked if I had on powder or deodorant, I was told I was a “good girl “and shown the waiting area where about fifteen other ladies were already seated, all of us dressed alike like the Roman Senate . I sat between two other ladies as it was the only seat and opened my book.

No matter where I go, but especially to any kind of medical appointment, I always have a book with me, and the one I was reading had about 100 pages left. I glanced at my watch several times, watched as they called one woman over and over, and mainly focused on my book, but I noted that they were running behind.

Occasionally, I would glance at the floor and note the other women’s toes and feet. Most of them were clad in some sort of sandal, most toes were painted, but two ladies had on hose.

I thought: Egads. Hose. Talk about torture.

One lady, Mrs. Huff, dropped her pocketbook over and over on the floor. Each time, she said, “Sorry” to the lady next to her. Many times the lady helped her pick it up. It was the size of an overnight bag. It made this thud when it hit the floor. It was like *thud* "sorry" *thud* "sorry" so many times, I snickered to myself.

Another woman fooled with her Blackberry like she was communicating with the Axis powers. It vibrated and hummed like a refrigerator.

At 11:10, I finished my book and shut it.

It was like the shutting of my book somehow set off the women around me.

An elderly lady next to me quipped as she flipped through Southern Living, “Good thing, I ain’t got some hot man waiting for me at my house because by now, he’d cooled off.”

I chuckled.

Then the lady across from her piped in “I can’t believe that in a room full of women, they have the television on the Hunting Channel. If that guy shoots that turkey, I’m gonna go off on a hospital employee.”

I laughed out loud.

She put on her glasses and ran through some channels.

Another lady said, “I don’t do the View. Anything but the View. I hate the View. I hate all of those snippy women and their political agendas.”

Awkward pause.

She stopped on Judge Somebody.

Then the lady on the other side of me contributed, “What time is it anyway? I need a drink.”

We all laughed.

Then I was called back to the torture chamber by Mrs. Fernando Alvarez de Toledo.

The world is a funny place. Pay attention.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back in the Classroom.. only not.

Saturdays seem to be good blog days for me.

Saturday is just a good day of the week.

I went to Publix this morning and saw Alec, again. This time he took out my groceries because he wanted to brag about going to Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, and actually showing off his knowledge from his American Studies class two years ago.

He said, “We visited a lot of graveyards, saw some historical homes, and I put some Walden Pond water in my Dansani bottle and brought it home.”

I said, “Thoreau would have been proud. Did you go into the small town of Concord?”

He commented that they had lunch at a place called Thoreau’s Burgers.

I said, “No way; it's called Thoreau Burgers?”

He said, “Yeah, and they had some good names for the burgers.”

I said, “I can imagine. I’m sure they were puns. You know -- give me a Thoreau burger, all the way, without the work.”

Alec looked at me strangely.

I said, “You know Thoreau was really a goof off - didn’t really have a vocation.”

Blank stare.

I felt like I was back in the classroom.

I said, “Never mind.”

I then went to Party City to get tablecloths for the after-wedding brunch for my niece. [more on this later]

That store made me feel like I was on an acid trip. There was more plastic in there than all the waitresses at Hooters.

Trent, a long haired young man, maybe 16, with three piercings, tight white t-shirt, bold colored name tag, and black peg leg jeans, rang me up.

Trent: Can I put you on our email list?
Me: No, I doubt I’ll be in here again.
Trent: Why’s that?
Me: Too many colors, and I don‘t have too many needs for balloons and Abby Cadabby blowouts.
Trent: I know what you mean. When I leave here, I smell colors.
Me: Yeah, I can see that -- I mean, smell that… never mind. Thanks.

I felt like I was back in the classroom.

I also had lunch with a former student today. She and I met at Chili’s, and she brought her two children. Nicole graduated from HHS in 1994, and at one point, she was a babysitter for my nephews who are now 22, 20, and 18.

I thought I felt old -- now Nicole feels old; I just feel older.

Nicole is this sweet-spirited wisp of a girl, but she has given birth to these large children. Both of her children weighed at least 9 lbs at birth. Her daughter is solid and her son looks ready to tackle Michael Vick, before the stint at Leavenworth. She throws him on her hip like a bag of potatoes and tugs her daughter around.

She said, “No big deal -- both of my brothers are over six feet; we have some big ones in the family. I'm used to them.”

I actually went to Nicole’s wedding seven years ago where I ran into many former students -- she caught me up on many of them. Most seem to be functioning in society - they have mates, children, and jobs. Of the ones she mentioned, none of them have been incarcerated. One is in Italy with her military husband, another is in Boston where he husband is a disc jockey, and still another one works for the Federal Reserve.

Nicole’s class at HHS I remember very fondly for being a lot of fun as well as cerebral. They had four valedictorians that year -- a four way tie of some ridiculous GPA’s of 4.94678928856 or something equally nauseating. HHS had the biggest National Honor Society of any high school where I have taught. *no comment*


When she was a junior, Nicole would share her lunch time with me (I had third period planning) and complain that she was just not as smart as the rest of her peers, and I used to reassure her that she was, and besides, she was grounded and goal focused.

In fact, she and her husband are constantly setting goals which they are meeting. They both work full time and manage two children, a home, and all that goes with it. Great members of society if you ask me, and I reminded her of what she used to say all those years ago.

Nicole works for the Boy and Girl's Club of America where she manages a department where she has to push some adults around. She commented, “I just can’t believe how stupid some of these people are.”

I nodded.

She said, “I used to beat myself up in high school, thinking I was dumb and all, but now that I am out among the general population, I know I am smart.”

I nodded. I felt like I was back in the classroom.

Her children, a girl age three and a boy age one, are well-behaved but full of energy. Nicole and I barely got through lunch before they were wanting to climb the booth like monkey bars and throwing food like a frat party. Nicole, like all mothers of young children, does not do a lot of sitting. We cut lunch short and spent time on the bench of front of Chili’s trying to continue to catch up. Her kids were in the bushes, throwing the decorative rocks, and generally acting their age. Nicole kept up a running chat with me while chasing her children.

This is why you have to be young to have children.

God knows what he’s doing when he cuts women off at a certain age from having them -- it seems like he should also have provided that for men too, but then I remember Abraham.

Never mind.


I love Saturdays.

Actually, I love every day of the week, but Saturdays are still the best.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted, Brian, and Don

Good news --- I’m blogging.

Bad news -- I’m blogging about nothing.

Ted Kennedy died. Hard to believe that the last of the Kennedy dynasty has died. Ted was not one of my favorites -- he seemed a little smarmy, and I don’t appreciate his career Senate seat. If we look back at the founding fathers ideas, I don’t think that making Congressman your “lifework” was part of the original idea. I think you were supposed to “serve” and go back to your real job. One of the many problems with our current government -- but I’m not getting started with that….


The Kennedy family had a certain tainted royalty about them. We held them up high for some reason, but their beginnings were humble. I remember at one time, after the assassination of RFK, spending a whole summer reading everything that I could about them. They were tragic -- so much sadness, but they had money and press -- a combination that made them very readable in a tabloid kind of way.

Photogenic in that Massachusetts way (my father would say the women were “horse farm” looking) , the Kennedys were a clan -- father was a bootlegger, mother was a matriarch who stood by her man no matter what he did, but is biographysized as a stoic, no-nonsense disciplinarian with her children, one son died in a blaze of glory as a war hero, and two other sons killed by assassins -- that’s the stuff of fiction -- a Hollywood like saga made for TV movie.

They were legendary. They will be written up as so, but I am not sure that history will paint them in a beautiful light. I’ll give them this --- at one time, we Americans could not get enough of them.


I’ve been watching the Braves. They are wearing me out. Chipper looks tired, I don’t know their names, and in HD, they all look like they are wearing Maybeline lipstick # 42. I love baby faced Brian McCann though -- he’s like the all American boy success story -- or at least for this season.

I have also been watching Season 1 and Season 2 of Mad Men. It’s quite the rage right now -- written up in magazines and newspapers as the “drama” of the year… winner of Golden Globes and Emmys -- but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s campy, realistic, and depressing. You don’t want to watch too many episodes back to back, or you might find yourself wanting to go out and buy a pack of Lucky Strikes and a case of scotch.

The anti-hero is Don Draper -- which has to be a play on the word “dapper” -- an ad agency’s creative director and whose ability to pull “ideas” out of the air is rather “whatever,” but he has a certain charm in that American “rags to riches” boy story --- he’s a philander, a bully, and a liar, but for some reason, I love him. The fictional ad agency that sets the drama’s background, Sterling and Cooper, is full of interesting people whose lives intertwine at work and after … most of them not necessarily wholesome activities.

This is not for the young. It’s totally an adult show. It’s a ugly look at American life in the 1960s-- where money should buy happiness, but it mostly buys them drinks and terrible decisions with sometimes rather tragic consequences . There is not a contented character on the show -- unless it’s Peggy Olson, but she has had her own “issues.” (I’m thinking Jimmy Olson of Superman fame -- but I could be making too many connections.)

I dunno. I just know I’m hooked.

Other than that -- I’m still reading.

I haven’t read anything really worthy of blogging -- I read a collection of Chris Adrian’s short stories, which made me go “huh” at the end of them, and a novel titled The Pleasing Hour. I’m still thinking about whether I liked it or not. I think not.

Adrian is a little confused -- he’s a doctor and a divinity student. His stories did not indicate the latter. I wonder what divinity school he attends?


I looked up today and realized that this is the third week of school. I keep waiting to miss it. I’ll let you know when that happens.


Meanwhile, I’m busy. Very busy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Stuff

It’s Saturday morning and the early morning fog has burned off. I should know; I met that morning early.

I still can’t sleep late, and neither can Tallulah. She was meowing at 5:30, and David , up to go for a walk wakes her up, so Keats and I sleepily got out of bed to let Tallulah in the room. Once Tallulah is in the room, there is no rest. Keats and I both braced ourselves for it.

When I open the bedroom door, Tallulah comes in the room like a torpedo -- her target -- the bed. She takes two steps in the door and then one leap to the bed. Tail up, purring like an outboard engine, she messes with every moving thing and pounces on it like a wild animal. If try to lay back down, she comes at every exposed piece of flesh -- she nips and pushes -- and licks my hair. If I push her off, she just detours and comes at both of us a different way.

I have to remind myself all the time -- that in waking hours -- a kitten is awesome -- when you are not so awake -- they are as annoying as a BIG fly.

We’re headed to the mountains today -- Marilyn and John are coming up with their boat. John said, “I’ve always wanted to see Lake Rabun.”

We shall take the boat out on that water and see what the rich people are doing today.

Lake Rabun, Lake Seed, and Lake Burton are tie in together in the northeast Georgia mountains. There is something about the mountains and lake together, a kind of simpatico of beauty not to be gotten just anywhere.

For eighty years, the affluent of Atlanta have skipped out early on Friday to spend the weekend at their “little house” on the lake… and Rabun is good, but apparently Burton is better. I’m not sure what determines that except the price of the real estate.

I’m here to tell you that the idea of “little” house is a thing of the past.

If you cruise the Lake Rabun Road, you see remnants of a time when perhaps the houses there were more rustic. Tucked here and there a long the road are clapboard, or board and batten, or sometimes rock houses of the early years of the lake.

These old getaways are evident as the houses are draped in hemlock and mountain laurel, and the windows and doors are the kind of yesteryear … they have no screens and have to be propped open. Most of these are small -- cabin like --- and outdoor like -- but these are definitely houses of the past. Most look abandoned -- or are up for sale.

Now the majority of the houses on the lake are of the ostentatious kind -- not ugly money, but sometimes “enough” money is evident.

Boathouses on Lake Rabun can be 500,000 dollars --- some of them are three floors, have jet skis tied up around the base bobbling in the water like dolphins, big ski boats, and cabin cruisers all neatly tucked up inside. On top, ten or fifteen deck chairs, complete with umbrella and tables dot the surface -- so that if you are having the whole family up for the weekend -- everyone has a chair -- and I mean, everyone.

The houses have been known to cost upwards of five and ten million dollars. To have a nice weekend, apparently, costs a lot of money. Thankfully, David and I share the same air for a lot less than that….

David and I run into the “lake” people occasionally in town at our favorite haunt, Grapes and Beans. They’re different -- the lake people -- they have a veneer that only folks with lots of money seem to have. It’s a sheen, an indifference, an attitude that money seems to preserve -- we just roll our eyes and note that we can order the same thing at the counter.


Rich people -- I guess we need them --- for something.

Blog off.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Woodstock: I guess I should comment -- everyone else is....

The news and papers are full of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. I have seen footage of Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. The band Canned Heat sang there too, and I always loved their name. Canned Heat -- now what does that mean? It's so original that I liked it and "Going up to the Country" did not have to do with Newport.

BTW: When Janis Joplin died in 1970, I had this really out of it friend named Robin, who asked me, when I told her that Joplin had overdosed: “Really, what grade was she in?”

Bwhaha -- we told that story so many times that it became myth like. Robin said some awesome things; she was so gullible and sheltered.

Anywho... ha ha....

Looks like all forms of media are in on “feelin’ the love” of the summer of 1969.

Interviewing gray-bearded men and grandmothers across America who attended Woodstock, the journalists now, in retrospect, seem to be of the consensus that the “idea” of Woodstock was a much bigger piece of smoke than the event itself.

Regardless, we Americans love our nostalgia -- and it’s now time to be all sloopy over Woodstock.

Here are my comments to add to the millions of others out there:

I had just turned fifteen years old in August of 1969 -- I was attending band camp, going to M.Y. F. on Sunday nights, and hanging our with my friends. We were more wholesome than Woodstock, I guess, as we got together to watch the moon walk in July the month before.

In fact, our parents let us stay up and out past curfew to watch it at Diane’s house and, oh my, in mixed company. We were, however, fully chaperoned by Diane’s mother who had the same characteristics as a rottweiler on guard duty. That woman could stare.

For me, Woodstock was a story on the news, pages of pictorial coverage in Life magazine, and write ups in the local paper. I‘m sure my parents thought it was heathenish, amoral, and downright embarrassing to watch all that wallowing in the mud, much less the hollering on the stage.

I never heard them comment or if they did, it wasn’t part of my world, so I didn’t care. If someone from my neighborhood or high school or even one of my brother’s college friends attended Woodstock, I didn’t know about it, and at the time, we sure didn't say, "Oh, are you going to that concert in New York?" We lived in a small world....

I know that one of my friends later claimed that his brother was in the opening credits of the Woodstock documentary, filmed hanging on the scaffolding beside the stage. Taken from a helicopter, it was hard to tell who the long haired young man was -- he could have been anyone, but my friend, Brad, claimed that it was his brother Terry -- the family of four boys had the reputation for being "wild." *shrugs*

Terry could have been there, for I was no one to dispute it, but the claim only mattered that he was, months later, when the thought of having attended Woodstock was equivalent to nowadays bragging about attending Harvard or Princeton.

By spring of 1970, the hippie influence of Woodstock had caught up with my peer group. We began to wear blue jeans as often as we could (even though we couldn’t wear them to school), we bought t-shirts, abandoned our bras if we were female, that is, and allowed our hair to look stringy. The longer hair that a girl had the cooler she was....

My brothers let their hair grow as well, but more unkempt -- they wore corduroys, shopped at Army surplus stores for cool jackets, and did not shave. For a guy, it must have been Nirvana to totally disregard your appearance …

BTW: I hope my brother cut his hair before he rode a Trailways bus to Boston from the University of Virginia to campaign for McGovern in 1971. Those black and white photos, snapped from that door to door deluge of college students, were some serious, cerebral folks, perhaps bright eyed from too much coffee and cigarettes.

Somehow, this little tid-bit about my brother I didn’t know until recently.

My parents never knew it, I feel sure, since they voted for Nixon and defended him throughout the Watergate affair. When they found out he was guilty, their hearts were broken and they felt humiliated that they were somehow hoodwinked by this man they trusted to be telling the truth.

I like to go on record to say, that when we embraced the hippie culture, we took it on with good hygiene. The hair and clothes were clean; they just were not particularly attractive. I have many pictures from that era that are hilarious.

Who thought hip hugger blue jeans with patches sewn all over them was a good look? Tapestried bell bottoms? Tops made of scarves? Army jackets with USMC over the pocket?

I remember my strait-laced sister complaining to my mother that her sister [me] wasn’t wearing a bra or makeup. My mother told me later that she told my sister at the time that she “had bigger fish to fry.”

I loved the expression “bigger fish to fry.” I would not have wanted to know those particular fish, and no daughter does if she has a healthy relationship with her mother.

Just saying.

The best thing to come out of Woodstock was the documentary -- I am sure it was way better than the actual event which looked like a mess to me, but I have always had a adage: “No thermostat, no Harriett.”

I don’t camp.

I don’t see the purpose when there is a perfectly good Marriott or Ritz down the road.

I knew this boy once who thought that was the end all - - camping -- and not just any sissy camping -- but the parking on the side of some woods and hiking 20 miles into the forest kind of camping -- for a moment, I thought I was in love with him, but then I cut my toe so seriously on a metal light pole in his front yard that we made a trip to Grady Memorial for nine stitches and a tetanus shot.

Not a match made in heaven, especially since he dropped me off at the emergency room door and told me (as he flipped me a dime) to call him when I was done cause he doesn‘t do “hospitals.”

What? Who doesn’t do “hospitals”? Only someone who has something “weird” in their bloodstream?

I used that dime and called my girlfriend instead. I have also sworn off camping and any man who thinks that's a good way to spend a weekend.

What was I blogging about?

Oh yeah, Woodstock. I love the documentary, but I wouldnt' have wanted to attend. The footage makes me itch.

Woodstock -- 40 Years Later: Much ado about something, but it wasn’t something I would know, and even if I had been older, it wouldn’t have been something I would have done, but my friend Wingate would have been there for the experience.

Happy Anniversary, Woodstock -- you will never happen again, nor should you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Shellback and other ramblings...

There is something “unused” and “clean” about the early morning air and really outside itself. .. before garage doors open and spew out the varied noises of the car engine, the beep of the security system, the sound of human voices, or the rattle and jerk of the garage door.

This morning, I spent an hour on my front porch, sitting on Madon’s bench (David’s mother’s front porch bench which we inherited), and I thought about how many times Madon must have sat on that same bench and prayed, thought about life, memories, losses and gains, and observed her neighborhood. Madon lived in her neighborhood for fifty-eight years, a house that she and David’s dad paid $7900 for in 1951.

Sitting on the front porch at 7:30 in the morning gives me great vista but little action. The humidity is thick today -- the sky gray -- and the chipmunks and birds were up and at ‘em, but the rest was quiet and lazy. A breeze rustle the leaves in the woods a little, but the air was fresh.

The gardenia by the porch has had a tough year -- too cold in April, too dry in May, and too hot in June. My gardenia bush never produced flowers except at the bottom where it managed to force out three or four blooms. The fragrance of gardenias did not grace me this year -- a smell that always reminds me of my mother who cut them, brought the flowers into the house, and placed them in water in small cut crystal bowls.-- the original and now politically correct green friendly air freshener. The usual verdant green leaves on the gardenia are black, and the ground beneath littered with yellowed leaves apparently giving up and dying in the strange weather of this spring and summer.

The mums show promise -- already small blooms are budding even though the foliage is not hearty or sturdy. It’s a tad early for mums -- they are, to me, a fall flower, their bright yellows and burnt orange reminiscent of that season’s color.

Weeds thrived in our lawn this year --- a variety of formidable species, determined to rule the yard. Weeds are the thugs of the landscape… gangly, clustered in groups, deep-seated, and dressed ugly.

Across the street, my neighbors’ newly sodded lawn shows the effect of little rain --- once it was lush and carpet like, fit for the eighteenth hole -- now it is spotty and brown -- bald spots showing….leaves on the many varieties of hydrangeas droopy and ragged on the edges. This was a poor year for the normally hearty bush -- neither of ours bloomed their usual hooray of blue and pink.

What have been happy in this wacky summer weather is the crepe myrtle -- they are puffed and bouffanted in their pink, white, and watermelon red blossoms like trees drawn by a kindergartner… round, plump, and poufed. We have a line of them as does our neighbor, and this has been the summer parade for them. They wave proudly and prettily like Texas debutantes from a float.

I’ve always been one to observe, to study, to look at what is around me, but now that I have time to note it more, I regret that I haven’t been more of a front porch sitter.

Since we have owned this house, I’ve been a back deck sitter. Under the umbrella and right next to the grill, I watch the birds fight for position on the feeders, the big birds jockeying for pecking order, the little ones conceding petulantly, and the hummingbirds darting about like a Blue Angel squadron as they swoop and fly at each other without abandon. I appreciate how they will hover at eye level with me like a Black Hawk helicopter -- wings whirring -- undaunted and unafraid. Keats ignores them totally -- she likes big birds -- but -- Tallulah has found them fascinating. Their quickness is right up her alley.

The front porch is quieter. Yes, the chipmunks scurry in the flower beds, digging, chirping, playing their yard games, and the birds chatter and chirp and make their noises, but the action is less and the pulse beat not as frantic.

Growing up -- our back porch (we had no deck) was a concrete slab with eight steps and was where we sat and listened to the Braves’ game broadcasted on WSB radio. This was at dusk or dark. With the radio propped in an open window, we would listen to the game, the Braves were such losers then even though Milo Hamilton tried to keep it interesting, and my siblings and I along with the neighbor’s kids would watch fireflies and eventually convince my mother to let us catch them in clean, glass canning jars or recycled mayonnaise jars with holes poked in the lids . The game was always to see who would fill them full of glowing bugs. We always let them go, but afterward, there was this funky bug smell on your fingers and hands from handling them, and, of course, if we tried to keep them too long -- they died, their glows winking out faintly and slowly and then for good.

We used to sit on that back porch, hard chairs pulled out from the kitchen table and talk, listen to the radio, swat mosquitoes, gossip, and play our ritual night games.

The front porch was the place to see things. People were outside then -- it was hot inside, few folks had air-conditioning ….. My daddy said later that air-conditioning was the single most significant catalyst of the break down of caring for and knowing your neighbors-- but that is a story for a different day.

People sat on their front porches -- in swings, on gliders -- or on what I thought was the most comfortable of the chairs --- the metal shellback with all of that give. I loved those chairs -- you could bounce around on them like a crack baby and no adult ever told you to “be still.”

In our neighborhood, folks walked places too. They walked to school, to the grocery store, to the mailbox at the top of the street, to the huge elementary school playground that housed two baseball fields, a basketball court, slides, a see-saw, and ten or fifteen swing.

If we were on our porch, they would wave, stop and talk, or come up and sit with us or sit on the steps. If adults showed up, the young people gave up their chairs so "they could sit" comfortably. When my parents first bought the house, the porch was screened in -- eventually, my mother took down the screen as she saw it as a barrier to others and "too expensive to keep well screened."

When I see my childhood home now, it was so close to the street. All houses were -- we we could talk to folks from the porch - - catch up on their family -- ask them “how’s your momma and them” and know details about their lives. Not in the nosy way, but in the neighborly way of concern.

My mother knew her neighbors well -- especially the women -- Pat, the neighbor on one side, Vera across the street, and Naomi, two doors down. She knew the names of their children, where they were from, where they went to church, and where they shopped. Yes, my mother and her neighbors would borrow “a cup of sugar” or “two eggs” or “a little milk” if they ran out right before supper. Front porches made good neighbors -- or neighbors made the front porch good. Either way -- it’s a lost part of the social network.

The front porch -- it didn’t used to be so quiet.

I love the serenity of my porch now, but I also would not mind the social milieu of the front stoop. The last time we really talked to my neighbors was when the house across the street caught fire and burned so badly -- they had to rebuild -- and at that moment -- it was a step back in time as we united with compassion for our neighbors -- with communal concern even though we didn't know their names.

But -- this morning -- it was just I, the chipmunks, the birds, and my own thoughts of the past.
It was Sunday -- I have to admit that I said a prayer or two --- one of which is my thankfulness for time. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bathing Costumes Must Be Worn at All Times

Argh. Why are earth would I say I wanted to go to Key West?

When going to Key West involves buying a bathing costume?

Yes, I said costume -- cause that is so what it is.

David and I are headed to Key West at the end of September. We will meet friends there and spend four days in the sun, rolling cigars, eating, and looking for Hemingway and his five-toed cats.

My friend Laura: You have to get a bathing suit. It would be ridiculous for you to go down there and go on boats or scuba dive without a bathing suit.

My friend Marilyn: You can’t go out on boats without a bathing suit. It just looks odd.

Me: I like ridiculous. I like odd. I no likey bathing suits.

I bit the bullet.

Me: Okay, okay -- I wouldn't want to be ridiculous or odd. RMEs.

I am no shopper.

I’d really rather “chew on tin foil” as my friend Brendan would say.

In fact, I hate shopping in general unless it's Publix or Total Wine.

So, I go online. Not as painful I think -- no lurking sales clerk, no public embarrassment as others look and see you are trying on a bathing suit and run like cockroaches.


I head to Land's End website.

Argh. Again.

I thought it would be easy - you know -- find a really big suit in black with the same dimensions as a pup tent and be done. Oh no, it's not that easy -- Land's End has more choices than the burrito line at Moe's.

Too many choices, too many colors, too many clicks, too many questions -- just downright too much. America. Why can't we make things simpler? There is such a thing as over choice. It's dangerous. It makes people sweat. Give back things they never took. Lie. Sell their momma.

I wish I could have a government issued bathing suit.

Government: Here you go, ma’m. One standard issue black bathing costume … full coverage - head to toe.

Me: Thank you so much. I will wear it with pride.


For once, I could use their interference.

I get on Land’s End’s website and immediately call my friend Laura. If the government can't help me, I know Laura can -- she can shop.

Me: Laura. I’ve caved. I’m looking at bathing suits, but I can’t do it.
Laura: Sure you can.
Me: Will you get on the website with me?
Laura: Sure. Quit panicking. Women buy bathing suits all the time.
Me: Not this woman. I haven’t had a bathing suit since 1988.
Laura: That’s not something I would share.
Me: I don’t care. Just help me get this over with.
Laura: Okay, quit acting like a crack head.

With Laura’s help, we wander the website looking at the options, the colors, the sizes.. I like the idea of “tummy control” and “minimizer.” I wish it said "look thirty years younger" or "take you back to 1972."

So, after a half hour on the phone, I fill up my shopping cart with three different options of bathing suits and they will arrive in the mail. Oh goody!

The price of shipping was $18.00 -- must be coming by truck.

Big truck, I guess. Makes sense -- these are not bikinis. I know, I know -- TMI.

There will be no update on this particular blog.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Roster Anxiety

I saw a school bus in my neighborhood this morning.
I saw kids waiting to go to school. It gave me the shivers.

It was 8:50.

And I wasn’t all ready there at school -- rechecking my plans, pacing the halls, reviewing the same opening procedures, and thinking about throwing up.

It makes my heart beat fast to remember those first days of school for thirty-three years.

A few minutes ago, I looked at the clock and it was 10:23. If I was at school, I would be looking at my roster for my second period class and trying to figure out how to pronounce their names.

When I first started teaching, the problem with the class rosters was calling students by their wrong names. They would have last names and first names, but students would always want you to do something other than what's on the list.

I’d call the roll:

Me: James Kane.?
James: I go by Jim.

*make mark on roster*

Me: Lily Kennedy?
Lily: I go by Angie. It’s my middle name.

*makes note*

Me: Allison Longward.
Allison: It’s LongWOOD.
Me: Whoops, sorry.

Me: Allison Moore.
Allison: Here.

*makes note which Allison*

Me: Frank Norwood.
Frank: I go by Frank.
Me: *nods and makes note*

Then two years ago, I got a roster in my second period class. I was sweating like a farm animal. The list of twenty two names looked like this and I wanted to buy a freakin' consonant:


I struggled through about ten names on the list -- and the sweat was pouring off of me, down my shirt, heart was beating too rapidly, felt light headed, and I finally looked up from the roster and commented:

Me: Where are all the American children?
Drew, on the back row, whispered to his buddy: Can she say that?
Buddy: *shrugs* She can say what she wants; she’s scary and I haven't done my summer reading.

The pronunciation of all those names was tough on an old Southern bird like me --- I resorted to callin’ each of them either “sugar” or “darlin” and pointing at them, "You, read" when that didn’t work.

So, my teacher friends out there -- I hope you had a good day.

*wipes brow*

BTW: For my friends who have heard this story, muah -- but for the rest of you, this is a true story. Sad, but true. Ask my friend, Margaret; she'll verify it.

Margaret: You should have been fired a long time ago.
Me: True story.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's got to be the love....

Today I had a tomato sandwich for lunch -- and this is probably four weeks’ worth of my eating tomato sandwiches for lunch. I ate one today with bacon, and I have been eating them since the second week in July

Even though a purist would tell you -- “it’s gotta be white bread to be a real tomato sandwich,” I make mine these days on Honey Wheat bread.

The BLT is a classic sandwich. I think of it as Southern fare, but it could be more universal than that. I know that the plain tomato sandwich is pure Depression sandwich --- cause the rich folks had the lettuce and bacon to add to the sandwich -- poor folks didn’t.

BTW: I would check Wikipedia about the origin of the tomato sandwich, but I’ll leave that up to Jessica. Jessica is one of my former students, my faithful blog reader, and, of course, my biggest critic. What’s a writer without a critic -- I’ll answer that for you --- lousy!

*waves to Jessica*

Growing up in Atlanta in a family of six, we were strapped for money most of the time. My parents had determined that all four of their children would have the opportunity, as well as this being their expectation, to go to college, so we were never frivolous about money.

My parents put four children through college, and we were five years apart; at one time, they carried three of us at the same time.

I know that we did not go out to eat much when I was growing up. Maybe a Sunday twice a year at Morrison’s Cafeteria, but we ate all of our meals at home at the table together, and we packed lunches for work or school.

My parents were Depression survivors -- they knew how hard it was to make a dollar, so they would not throw it away on an overpriced bowl of coleslaw or filet of fish. Plus, my oldest brother was a picky, picky eater -- if we had gone out to eat, he would just order Saltines or a ham sandwich.

My memories of tomato sandwiches is tied to my mother and her ability to make a sandwich that made my mouth water. I used to beg her to make me a sandwich (even though I was fully capable) because she would slather the bread with mayonnaise taking it out to the edge of the bread like a skillful painter, lay thinly sliced tomatoes two layers thick, salt and pepper the tomatoes, and then cut the sandwich in a diagonal before handing it over to me.

I can see myself in our hot kitchen in the peak of the summer heat, window fans turning, sweaty short wearing legs sticking to the vinyl chairs, and being totally refreshed by one of my mother’s delightful sandwiches.

That was summertime lunch at my house growing up ---- one of my mother’s special touch sandwiches and a glass of milk.

My mother also used to make us onion or green pepper sandwiches or a combination of any of the above. These were made the same way as a tomato except with the coveted Vidalia onion, an onion that had to be gotten at the Forest Park vegetable market on Old Dixie Highway in Forest Park, Georgia. You could not buy the real thing at a conventional grocery store like A&P or Colonial.

The best Vidalia onions were those that the vacationers to Florida would pick up on their way back up Interstate 75 in the vegetable markets set up off the interstate exits. Home made signs would direct the travelers where to get the best ones. Friends would bring back 50 lb. bags full and share with their neighbors and their Sunday school classes.

That was before I-75 was sixteen lanes and fourteen slow downs of road construction. Egads…

My mother was a classic 1950 - 1960 mom as she would stand at the counter in our kitchen with the mayonnaise, the tomato slicing knife, the salt and pepper and the love. It was the love in that sandwich that I remember the most.

Now, every time I eat a tomato sandwich or share a tomato sandwich with my sister, we always think of our mother who made the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. The ones I make now are good, but they will never be that good. It’s got to be the love.

Not much taste better than good memories.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Riggs and Henry

Last night I headed over to the Book Exchange to hear two Georgia authors speak. I had never heard of either of them, but my retired friend, Marilyn, had read books by both of them.

{You remember Marilyn? “Love Shack, Babee blog…”}

Marilyn and I made a pact recently that we were going to avail ourselves of all of the events, readings, museums, and festivals around Atlanta and Marietta that are free. We are both retired, and we now have the time. :)

We broke the pact last night -- the book talk at The Book Exchange with Jack Riggs and Patti Callahan Henry was five bucks. Five dollars! Zounds! That’s not free, but, I forgave Marilyn and the Book Exchange; they did have wine.

I got my money’s worth -- I had two full plastic cups … the bartender even gave me the eye. That's worth the money right there --- I haven't gotten the eye since I got braces at forty.

A table was set up in the back of the store with refreshments. This was interesting fare -- homemade pimento cheese sandwiches, miniature blueberry and cinnamon muffins, Fritos, and fruit -- plus some yummy brownies.

I was the first one of our group there so I skipped all the goodies except the Merlot and moseyed through the bookstore to check things out.

The Book Exchange is in a rather “sketchy” shopping center on Canton Highway. The bookstore itself is long and narrow and lined on both sides with mostly fiction paperbacks by writers I don’t usually read: Jonathan Kellerman, Ann Hood, Janet Evanovich, Susanna Howard, James North Patterson, Phillipa Gregory, etc. They are a used book store so for some titles they have tons of copies and others only one. They also had a audio section. I saw The Notebook on audio.


In the back of the store are the hard covers -- not sure about why they were thrown to the back like a skirt in your closet that you can no longer fit into, and I didn’t think to ask.

The book talk was scheduled for 6:30 -- and, authors, like celebrities, ran late. I saved Marilyn, her friends, Linda and Christy, and Carolyn, Marilyn’s sister, seats about five rows back. Most of the seats in the front had already been saved by women who placed keys, purses, and makeup bags on them to save.

The owner had decorated the ceiling with white paper lantern lights, blue, green, and white balloons, and streamers .. the same kind of decorations you might see at prom thrown at the community center . The folding metal chairs (stickers on the back said “Roswell Chair and Tables")were eight across and seven back, and at the front was the place for the authors …. a small, wooden table with copies of the writers’ novels, a vase of fake flowers, and generic bottled water.

All of the attendees were female, middle age, and probably mostly middle class. One girl had long red-hair and peppered the authors with questions without raising her hand. A lady to the right of us was on oxygen, and when it got quiet, we could h ear the tank and the little swishing ticky sound it made as she inhaled and exhaled. Directly in front of me was a woman, who told the woman next to her numerous times, that she was from South Carolina. She had a lovely coastal drawl. Unfortunately, she was slightly deaf and kept asking questions rather loudly of the gal next to her “what? What did he say?” At one point when someone asked Jack Riggs where he lived, he said, “Decatur,” and the deaf woman from S.C. said, “Potato? Where the hell is that?”

Carolyn quipped at one point: “This shows you who reads. Look around. Women. Middle aged women. How many men do you see with a book? These authors need us.”

I didn’t answer the question or comment. I nodded.

I like to agree with Carolyn who says she needs to write a novel about how her “Daddy ruined Her Life.” Carolyn too has that wonderful genteel Tidewater accent -- she pronounces magazines with this cute little emphasis on the “mag” part. Carolyn and Marilyn are Virginia girls, dyed in the wool -- I love them more for that since my own mother was from Virginia. Plus, they are both avid readers.

Carolyn: “I don’t’ read Thomas Hardy anymore. Too depressing. I like a read that isn’t too heavy. I don’t need the moors. I don‘t need that anymore. What do you think about this book? ” She pulled a copy of Jane Austen Ruined My Life from the shelf.

I was noncommittal. [never heard of it]

Carolyn: “It’s a funny title.”

I nodded. Perhaps this is where she got the idea for the title of her own book?

At the beginning of the talk, bookstore owner Cathy pimped her store a little and then asked us all to turn off our cell phones. Marilyn leaned over and whispered to me: “Good thing she reminded me of that. I can’t imagine my phone ringing in here since it plays “Get Down on It.’”

I nodded that this was totally a good thing.

Cathy also mentioned the next writer who was to appear at her bookstore -- Suzanne Rebecca White.

Carolyn leaned up and hissed, “She went to Hollins” which is Virginia speak for her being a snob.

I always nod for Carolyn and Marilyn.

Jack Riggs wrote The Fireman’s Wife and When the Finch Rises, and he was asked to go first because “he was a man.”

He said, “No, I saw another guy here,” and he pointed to this gangling thirteen year old boy whose mother must have dragged him to the “talk” to keep him from going stupid over his video games. Either that or he was an overgrown eight year old who needed a timeout.

A man poured me my Merlot -- but he was sequestered in the back. I wasn’t about to point him out to Jack since part of the gag was that it was Jack versus about fifty five middle aged women. Jack Riggs was easily the winner, and he knew it.

We all nodded.

Riggs is reasonably good-looking in an outdoor kind of way. He had longish sandy blonde hair, needed reading glasses, which he hooked on the front of his button down wrinkled burgundy shirt, and wore pretty well washed jeans -- not as in designer washed but as in put through the washing machine a few hundred times kind of washed.

While still sitting down comfortably behind the table, he began chatting about what led him to be a writer; a bold woman from the back shouted, “Stand up. We can’t see you.”

He blushed very charmingly, rose to stand, and then check his fly to make sure it was closed. This sent all of these women into snorts and giggles.

I nodded. This was gonna be terrific - -and it was. I can't possibly remember all of it even though I took notes, but the talk from both writers total lasted about an hour.

He told us that he was writer in residence at Georgia Perimeter College and that writing The Fireman’s Wife was a “necessity and not a labor of love.” He talked about how it was really his sixth novel because the first ones didn’t count since “autopsies” had been conducted on them.

At one point he had this New York editor who was from the South, but had adopted New York as her home, and when another of his novels was rejected, her advice was “Write another damn book.”

He talked fondly about Fireman’s Wife -- told us how he came up with the idea and noted that he had to get to know the characters -- that at times “they spoke to me.”

Apparently, the main character of Fireman’s Wife, Cassie spoke to him when he was hiking in the woods of North Georgia, interesting at Tallulah Gorge, and told him: “the story ends here.”

A woman said, "She should have died in the end. She was a selfish wench."

A pregnant pause -- and then he said, "That was the plan, but Cassie spoke to me and told me differently."

I nodded. That must be spooky.

The woman repeated, "She still should have died."

I nodded, but I hadn't read the book, but this woman seemed serious, and who was I to disagree?

He says that he knows the characters -- they are real to him, and that some of the fans have sent him postcards as if they were Cassie. He shared one of them and then said, “I have no idea who this is from…”

We laughed.

Same woman, "She should have died. I'm telling you."

At one point in his talk, the lady on the right oxygen went out, and there was this huge whooshing sound --- the whole room was quiet for a second, and then he said, “I knew there were not as many people here as I thought -- I think some of them just deflated.”

Not missing a beat, Patti Callahan Henry retorted, “I think that’s just the girl you drove over with...”


Carolyn: “Those two [the two writers]have so much chemistry. They could be married”

I nodded.

When Patti Callahan Henry---- rose to speak, I was taken aback not only by the clarity of her voice, but by the little soccer mom she looked like: adorable scooped necked yellow dress, long blond hair, black plastic hooped earrings and flat sandals. She looked like she could whip you in her mini van and make a nice little suburban kid out of you.

Callahan current novel is Driftwood Summer, but she has other novels such as Between the Tides and When Light Breaks.

Driftwood Summer has been on the New York Times bestseller list.

First thing out of her mouth was --- “On a really good day, I love my sisters.” This drew laughter from the crowd (Marilyn and Carolyn exchanged glances), and she proceeded to discuss the three sisters who were narrating Driftwood Summer. She revealed that no, they were not necessarily her sisters but that “there is a little of us in all of them and none of us in all of them.”

She also said that recently she sat down and made a list of the things she loved as a child: books and libraries.

I nodded. What a terrific idea -- I made a note.

Apparently, her father often made her quit reading. He would say to her: “Get out of that book” and she said she thought, “why? Cause you are so interesting?”

Another laugh from all of us.

She then told a story about her sixteen year old daughter who is in the throes of summer reading, apparently the book is The Great Gatsby.

Henry who says when she was her age she used to read a book a day and sometimes two has no sympathy for her child. Her daughter finds summer reading “cruel and unusual punishment” because she only has “eight weeks” to read it. Patti said that she left her daughter at home with strict instructions to read it and that she is sure that she is on the Internet downloading the movie so that she could say “Hey, I read it.”

Patti rolled her eyes and commiserated with all the parents of the dreaded summer reading assignment in the audience. [Henry lives in Cobb County -- hmmmm...]

She told us about her upbringing: the oldest of three sisters, father was a preacher, and God sent them to Florida to establish a city on the marsh. (I was the only one who laughed). What happened was that they moved around and she attended three high schools in four years.

The crowd went “ouch.”

She replied, “I’m okay; I’m 45.”

More laughs.

She coped with all the moving by retreating to the school library during lunch (the most traumatic part of the school day] --- a place of refuge for her. She admitted, “I was a nerd. I also loved Latin. All those Romans. All those roads. “

Jack interjected, “Eek. I couldn’t spell Latin,”

The more she talked the more animated and real she became. She noted that she loves to write -- and that "writing is a cathartic way of living with life.”

Both writers were forthcoming about the difficulty of writing.

Riggs: “I look at life upside down. I see life through stories. It‘s hard to write. It‘s what I do. I do the research for it. It's the hardest work there is. Or at least the trying to make a living part. ”

Patti: “In writing, I learn life but I have to write, rewrite, rewrite, reread, and edit and edit. It’s the most blessed thing I can do.”

On publishing:

Patti: “The New York publishers think that the South is one state. They set up a writer at a book signing in Oxford, Mississippi, at 8 on Monday night, and then have you signing your book in Raleigh, NC at 8 the next morning.”

Jack: “Yeah, and you’re driving.”

They were adorable - the whole evening was a treat. The writers were funny, candid, and comfortable talking with the crowd.

The talk was wrapped up at 8 -- and if you wished to have your copy of one of their books signed, you could line up in the center aisle. Since I had no copies of books for either writer and I sure didn't want them to know I hadn't read them, I wandered off to the lady’s room which was back there with the hard covers, and on my way back, I stopped by the refreshment table for the pimento cheese sandwiches.

When I returned to the line, Marilyn thought I had run off and said, “There you are. Where have you been?’

I explained, “Old bladder.”

Marilyn has loaned me When the Finch Rises by Jack Riggs, so I'll put in my stack of summer reading. [I wonder if there is a movie?]

We went outside where Carolyn pulled out the digital camera, and we posed for a picture until we were satisfied that we didn’t’ look old. We were giggling in the parking lot like twelve year old girls who had just seen their first urinal.

BTW: We were not successful at the perfect picture.

I reminded Christy and Linda, who are both still working, that I was retired and looking forward to seeing what the world had to offer when I don‘t have to “get up and go to work tomorrow.”

They made frowny faces. :)

Marilyn and I planned our next outing. Christy and Linda gave us the “drop dead” look, and we laughed and laughed. In fact, we were giggling in the parking lot and finding ourselves quite amusing. I'm sure that passe byers would have thought we were drunk except there were no passe byers.

Next stop for Marilyn and me: Margaret Mitchell house to see Anne Diamante.

And, guess what?

It’s not free. Either.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yo, Caroline, you need to think outside the boxes.

Two days ago, David and I receive a piece of mail from a television and radio survey company. David usually opens the mail, and if he knows it's a solicitation of some kind, he tears it in half and throws it away.

For some reason, he left this envelope, which I opened, and in it is a dollar and a letter.

The letter reads, "Thank you so much for agreeing to take our survey. We appreciate your time, and just to show a little of our appreciation, we are giving you this dollar on good faith that when we call, you will answer our questions about television and radio in your area."

I pocketed the dollar.

Today, they call.

If I had a job, I would have kept the dollar and ignored the phone call, but I'm retired, and I have plenty of time.

Arbitron: Hello, this is Caroline [and she reads this long spiel about what they do with the info, in no way will they use my name or answers for nefarious [my word] means, blah, blah, blah, blah.]

Me: Okay, Caroline.

Arbitron: First, did you watch television yesterday?

Me: Yes.

Arbitron: Okay. So, on a typical day, what do you watch?

Me: Well, in the mornings, I watch the first few minutes of whatever CBS's early morning show is because I am mad at ABC. I'm mad at ABC because I used to watch General Hospital, and they broke up my favorite couple, Liz and Jason, so that Jason could prop this lame actress whose flailing hands, looks to the ceiling, and heaving cleavage would make the Beaver want to clean out the garage. They can't blow up Liz and Jason; they have a baby. Baby Jake -- and he is so cute, and Jason will never be a dad to him because he is in the mob, and it's dangerous to be a mob baby. Meanwhile, they are sending Jason on lame adventures with this character (whose name I will not even give free press too and if her bad acting doesn't kill the show then her wild hands will.) I have written letters over and over to General Hospital's executive producers and tried to tell them why I have quit watching a show that I have loved for 15 years, but they seem to just want to tank the ratings. The ratings are in the toilet. Wouldn't you think they would care about how I feel about their show? I am the consumer.

Arbitron: Ma'm?

Me: What is it with television these days? Unless a woman is a skank or in her skives, then she is not an actress. Like my momma used to say -- you can take a skank to the opera, but you can't make her read the program. Well, she didn't say that -- I made that up. I have no idea what the saying is for skanks -- but it should be -- NO SKANKS ON TV. I mean I understand they need a type of balance -- you know good over evil and stuff - and for there to be clearly good girls and bad girls, but just bad girls? The bad girls are always winning!!!! What are we good girls to do? Are we to give up? Buy low cut tops, say cuss words, and be promiscuous as -- what's her name, Lindsay Lohan?

Arbitron: Uh... so, you watched CBS?

Me: That's what I said.

Arbitron: What other channel did you watch?

Me: I think I watched AMC for a little while. They were running this all day James Coburn fest. Do you know James Coburn? He's the tall, lanky, big grinnin' Hollywood actor who was at one time a journeyman actor. He's played more roles than Charles Grodin. Yesterday, I watched parts of Payback, Vengeance Unlimited, Mr. Murder, and Deadfall. Ha. Ha. Ha. I think I see a theme here. He's dead I think. I mean, he was around forever. I mean, dead in real life, not in the movies. He never died in his movies, but he died in other's movies. I think John Wayne shot him at least 14 times in one of his 327 movies. That John Wayne - -he did some movies. Not all of them were Westerns either.

Arbitron: Thanks.

Me: Oh, you're welcome. I like AMC except when they interviewed Sean Penn. Is he a Communist? Seriously, he had some radical ideas. I don't listen to Hollywood anyway, but it would be so hard for me to listen to a man who played the character of Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and take him seriously. I mean, I know he's not that character, but well, he sure could play a stoner well. Plus, I think he's like buddies with the president of Iran. Sean Penn -- not Jeff Spicoli.

Arbitron: Uh, look, I appreciate your opinion, but I have only so much space to write in comments. So, other than CBS and AMC, do you watch other television channels on a regular basis?

Me: Regular? Well, when my husband has the remote, we watch lots of channels. He surfs between the Food Network, Palladia...

Arbitron: Palladium?

Me: Palladium?

Arbirton: No, is it Palladia?

Me: I don't know -- it's an offshoot of VH1. It's some music channel that features bands with random names like Weezer, Silversun Pickups, The Futureheads, or Kaiser Chiefs. Last night, it was the Foo Fighters, not to be confused with Five For Fighting, which I happen to do all the time. It's like that joke about Who's on First.

Arbirtron: So. You also watch these channels in addition to your husband changing channels. Does he watch anything consistently.?

Me: Hello -- he changes channels consistently. Okay, I guess he watches the Braves consistently, but when they begin to lose, he changes to some of those other channels. He also likes the Speed channel. It makes me nervous. The Speed Channel -- who thought of that? Car crashes? Nascar? All revved up is that channel. Gawd.

Arbitron: I assume you mean he changes channels a lot?

Me: Ya think?

Arbitron: It doesn't matter what I think; I need to know what channels he watches on a regular basis.

Me: All of em. He has a turbo remote. Seriously. Are you married?

Arbitron:No, I mean, okay. Moving on. Did you listen to the radio either in your home or in your car?

Me: No.

Arbitron: You don't listen to the radio?

Me: Not if I can help it.

Arbitron: Thanks. Now, is anyone in your household between the ages of 18 and 25.

Me: We don't have any children.

Arbitron: Ma'm. I have to ask the questions in the order they are written.

Me: Okay, but I was trying to help.

Arbitron: Is there anyone in the household between the ages of 26 and 32?

Me: We still don't have any children.

Arbitron: Are you Latino, Hispanic, Spanish, or Latin American?

Me: No.

Arbitron: Are you White, Black, Caucasian, or African American?

Me: What's the difference between White and Caucasian?

Arbitron: *sighs*

Me: Okay, I'll pick one. White.

Arbitron: Thank you. Now, we would like to send you another token of our appreciation. A small gift will come to you in the mail -- about the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee at a local restaurant.

Me: Free coffee?

Arbitron: It's not necessarily coffee -- it's about the same price.

Me: Okay.

Arbitron: Now, let me verify some other information before I hang up ...

Me: Excuse me?

Arbitron: Yes ma'm?

Me: Will you pass on that information to ABC about General Hospital?

Arbitron: Uh, ma'm? I'm just filling in these little blanks with check marks and little x's. There is no way for me to pass this information on to anyone except what goes in the little boxes. Our company is independent. We sell our information to the networks and radio franchises.

Me: Man. We're both pretty powerless, aren't we?

Arbitron: What?

Me: Never mind. Thanks for calling, Caroline. I'm retired. Let me know what you can do about Jason and Elizabeth. If you're ever bored, I'm right here. By the way, I have a blog I can send you too.

Yo, Caroline -- that is Jason and Elizabeth.


I freakin' love being retired.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I've had blogger's block.

It's not curable by experience, observation, or drink.

I have three blogs in my archives waiting to be published, but when I read them, I think "eh."

I don't want a collective "eh" from my readers. Let John Grisham have that....

I'll be back when I have something to write about -- and I'll monkey and edit those other blogs until they don't make me go "eh."

Meanwhile, carry on.

Don't watch that video, eh?