So yesterday I took my shut-in arse out into the world and reintroduced myself to walking. I found this salon where I think I'm getting my hair cut every day, at least in spirit.
I admired the kids from the magnet high school having a wholesome lunch hour on the campus, tossing a frisbee and talking about the current fads such as pet rocks and what have you, and then took pictures from afar like a creep.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many errands I could run on foot. Then I was drawn in by one of the local abandoned businesses. And it made me realize: DUH. I am from New Jersey, where it's a rite of passage to hang out in/explore anything abandoned (most awesomely, we used to frequent an abandoned asylum in Edison, often at my older brother's instigation). I am squarely in the Weird NJ target demographic. I had temporarily forgotten that I LOVE abandoned shit; I love modern ruins. Why should I be bummed out by depressed areas of town? Baton Rouge is an urban explorer's dream!
The moon! I remember that thing! We used to see this same white orb in the sky when I was a kid. You don't see it so much now in the NYC area, where the night sky is a fuzzy pink-orange-beige color known as light pollution. And stars? Fuhgettaboutit. They're gone. There's not too many stars visible here, but still more than New York.
I loved how the moon had a white halo around it, and I also thought the sky looked very Southern.
Speaking of very Southern and not like New York City, um, I saw a couple of interesting items on the local news the other night. The anchor announced there had been one of those rankings of states' obesity rates and noted with a chuckle, "Louisiana is not the number-one state in obesity...but we're just a few doughnuts away!"
The top-ranked went like this:
1. Mississippi 2. West Virginia 3. Alabama 4. The state I now somehow live in
Nine out of the top ten were Southern states. They attributed it to sedentary lifestyles, but I'd throw in there that you might want to lay off the hush puppies, and if you eat vegetables, try cooking them in something other than pork fat.
But the upside, noted the chuckling anchors, is that LSU co-eds were named the top 4 prettiest. Wait...did they just call women "co-eds" on a TV news program? That's right, local news anchors, women attend college now! And good thing they're pretty! That's a very important attribute in being a co-ed.
One of the reasons moving was such a bitch is that, just by existing, I amass tons of items like this little number.
One aspect that I always found tragicomic (one of my fave combos) about this Magnajector can be seen here:
Number one suggestion for usership? Shut-ins. Then they have a sick kid in a hospital bed who is delighted at the still image of a clown on the wall. Except everybody knows that no one likes clowns, and secondly, that kid probably has polio or something and a creepy clown is not going to help anything. But I digress. My point is that I am now a shut-in.
My loyal VW bus Wolfgang is not here in Louisiana yet, and the bf's truck is a stick shift, which I haven't learned to drive yet. So until I gain that new skill set, I'm limited to walking-distance errands, and actually my legs have gone a-tingling these past few days because I think they're saying, "WTF? What happened to walking? What happened to those four flights of stairs that kept us so shapely and alluring?"
That's OK, though! I can still do plenty of things! I can:
Walk to the intersection of Government Street and Acadian and compare the values between the competing pharmacies on three of the corners: CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.
Cook with my super-fancy oven which has a thing which tells time and remembers what time you put your food in and knows when to take it out. I'm told this is called a "timer." It also has an interior light and a window on the door! (I was basically working with one step up from the Easy Bake Oven for the past 6.5 years--except even the Easy Bake had an interior light and a window on the door.)
Calculate the savings achieved by buying giganto multipaks of TP and paper towels (PT) instead of buying them one at a time at bodegas.
Watch for new awesome local TV ads. There's the one for the girdle garment I saw during South Park (!); there's the one for a handbook for raising your kids right featuring an expert who has a brush moustache (because nothing says "safe to be around kids" like a brush moustache); and there's multiple commercials for telephone dating lines, one of which takes a different approach from the usual cleavage-n-lingerie spokesmodel. It shows a woman hanging out in a park, then a skinny longhaired dude comes up to her and goes, "You have beautiful hair." She brightens. "Who's. Your stylist," he says, in a way that suggests he would like to be her platonic stylist. She wilts. Annnd, scene. Then it's pretty much like, "If you don't want this, call Tango! Because you might not know the Internet exists!"
Anyway don't cry for me, Astoria. I have tons to do, though I'd rather reverse the proportion of paid writing work and unpaid housework, I enjoy doing all of it, and this is a temporary shut-in situation. But it's another aspect that's throwing me for a loop. My life is so different now than it was a few weeks ago. Good thing I have my Magnajector clown projection to keep me company.
On Friday night, four of us went for dinner at a Thai restaurant with the goal of later checking out this Tsunami rooftop sushi bar we keep hearing about. The Thai place was a windowless cinderblock building, making it look just like a strip bar from the outside. The inside had mirrored walls, continuing the effect. We got to check out the crowd for a good 20 minutes before being seated, and I felt rather glamorous by comparison.
All the whitecaps had put on their best going-out polos, cargo shorts, and of course, white caps for the occasion. One stood out by wearing his best sweat-stained going-out promotional bank visor. One benefit of wearing these outfits out for the night is that if a game of ultimate frisbee were to break out at the restaurant, they would totes be ready to go.
At 9:35 or so we were finally seated. We ordered about 10. Fifteen minutes later we got silverware and water, then we had to stop someone to ask for the beers we'd ordered, which then took another 5-10 minutes to arrive. By 10:30 our appetizers hadn't arrived yet, and we wondered if they were growing the soybeans for the tofu.
I was ready to go back through the kitchen and see which Motley Crue song the middle-aged Asian waitress was dancing to over on the other side, where it must still be a functioning strip bar. That could be the only explanation for the extended stretches of time between her visits. At 10:36 our apps arrived, then six minutes later came the entrees of my three dining companions, followed by mine four minutes later. The reason I have such precise times toward the end was that I was keeping sane by taking notes, which you would think would give the impression that I was a food critic and we might get better service. Nope. Our waitress said by way of explanation at the end that they'd been busy all night but, uhhh, the thing is, sometimes restaurants get busy! Especially on weekends! So have more staff on hand or move faster! Baton Rouge people, is this normal service for these parts? Please say no. We'd had a fun night heckling away, but decided not to attempt Tsunami since it was after 11, and who knew what the waits would be like there.
Saturday morning we went to the farmers' market in the downtown, which looks like this.
Notice that there are about ten cars parked in the downtown of this state capital. I don't think this photo was taken when inhabitants had evacuated due to a hurricane. From what I've seen so far, the downtown is usually about this populated. Ghost towns are kinda cool, but also kinda depressing.
The farmers' market was about the size of the one in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, only this one has a lot more okra, huge fresh shrimp, and grape-ish fruits called muscadines. When we asked about the mystery fruit, a tiny man in a purple-and-gold LSU-logo-print button-down appeared next to us: "MUSCADYYNES--YA MAKE WYYYNE FROM MUSCADYYNES." Gotcha. A wheelchair-bound man in shorts had a constantly-twitching stump below his knee. "Where I'm from, we cover that up," the bf said, and our visiting Austin buddy Adam mentioned restless leg syndrome. I couldn't help laughing, thinking I'm going to hell unless I start doing some major good deeds. We also bought a basil plant there from a man who sounded exactly like Justin Wilson, the Cajun chef (RIP). Hooooo-wheee.
A lot of the businesses around here that aren't aimed at the students tend to paint a pretty bleak picture of the non-university population. In my area there are numerous bail bondsmen, loan places, a pawn shop, and two tattoo parlors, one that I've dubbed "The Bad Idea Tattoo Parlor." You just know there's a lot of Tazzes and misspelled tributes getting inked onto skin in that one.
Later, we ran errands out on Florida Boulevard and Airline Highway, which to me is fuggo central, stark and lined with strip malls, discount stores, fast food joints, abandoned businesses, and seedy/sketchy/shady motels.
On the one morbid hand, it's intriguing local color. On the other, sadder hand I couldn't believe we'd moved here. I was feeling pretty down and my bf reminded me, "It's funny, remember?" And I clung to that, then when we saw this place, the bf pulled right into the lot, and we were ready for free entertainment.
According to the sign outside, you could get 6 TEETH for $150 in there. Sounds a bit like a little place I used to frequent in Brooklyn called the Fulton Mall! Then we reconsidered. If we stood out everywhere else in town, we were definitely going to stand out at this place. Locals, umm, is it advisable to go in **TH FLE MA KET**?
My beau said, "I almost want to go to that Perry Farrell show just to be around someone normal."
"You realize you just referred to Perry Farrell as normal," I replied, but I knew what he was talking about.
After the errand run, a malaise set in. There's a Winn-Dixie supermarket near us and I'm pretty sure it's permanently closed, but maybe it's just really pathetic- looking. Who can tell around here? But that evening we forced ourselves out to this LSU Tailgate Party at the River Center, figuring it was a guaranteed hilarious shitshow.
It did not disappoint: $20 well spent! Going in we passed a gang dressed as the Flintstones, and we also realized we'd be the only ones not in LSU colors (as usual). "Louisiana Saturday Night" was playing, some girls were dancing around to it, and I started singing along. And to our surprise they had some decent beer as well as of course the usual college fare. Because we were there, we had to do these disgusting Jaeger/Red Bull shots.
They tasted like college, although in my day, we didn't have no Red Bull. While in the shots zone, I also attracted the eye of a possible lesbian admirer in her late 40s or so, who immediately turned conversation to women leaving their husbands for other women. After I escaped, she would eagerly wave whenever I saw her that night.
By the time the bf and I found these ballroom dancers, we just hung out there for awhile, laughing, until we met our friends and departed for more beer.
They were dancing ballroom style to such hits as "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Brick House."
Later some pie-eyed, moon-faced boy who looked no older than 14 bopped my bf with his poster, going "WOOOO!" The bf responded, "YEAH, HOSS! WHAT'S UP?" and the kid just continued to "WOO" and my boyfriend tried to get him riled up, but it was impossible: "YEAH, JETHRO, HOW YA DOIN'?" No response other than WOO from our very enthusiastic young tailgater. I could not stop laughing. When we saw him again later, it was more of the same.
What I wish you could see in this picture is that a beauty queen and some sporto guy were giving away a ride-on cooler! Sporto is sitting on it.
As we reluctantly departed (the place was shutting down), the bf continued calling out, "AMY!" and "BRITNEY!" at the clusters of blonde girls in little yellow and purple dresses, just to see who would turn around. As we stood by the pickup bidding our pals adieu, we hear "WOOOOOO! LSU! WOOOOOO!" and who's leaning out the window at us in a passing truck, but my boyfriend's little pie-eyed moon-faced buddy. "YEAH JETHRO! SEE YA LATER!" The bf said.
As of yesterday, I have cable for the first time in like seven years. I found this awesome show last evening where everybody got saved! It had the trembling organ music and everything. This preacher lady was speaking in toungues just like the preacher lady in Jesus Camp. Not too creepy!
What happens is, each person comes up, and the preacher lady doesn't really waste time on what their problem or problems is/are, she launches right into the tounges action then pushes them back with her hand and they are HEALED! Meanwhile one or both of these other two evangelists have sidled up behind him/her to catch the newly healed lamb of God. Then the best part is, someone else comes in with a little blanket and drapes it over the healed lamb on the floor, just like the guy who used to bring out James Brown's cape!
And in case you wanted a closer look at the getup on the pink lady--I know I did--here you go.
I made some resolutions for the semester, everyone! Just kidding, these are somebody else's goals that I found written on a folded paper towel in the house--or as I like to call it, "blogging gold."
In the process of unpacking and settling in, I've done a little investigative journalism and learned a bit about former occupants of this house. Let's call that above goal-writer "Amy," because I think that's her name, and because various other girls I've heard about since moving here have had that name, and I've only lived here for like five seconds.
I have reason to believe that Amy might also have patronized an establishment called Classy Nails, charged an under-$3 purchase at McDonald's, and sometimes needed a helper in the kitchen--a helper called Hamburger Helper, for which I now have a 50-cents off coupon. All part of Operation: "bod that we like--HEALTHY", I suppose. (And who constitutes "we?" Amy and God?) Why am I being such a bitch? But please understand, I physically could not stop myself from displaying this gold nugget for all to behold.
Yesterday was kitchen-organizing day and I fell in love with the dishwasher. I've never had one before, and had been rather anti-dishwasher, thinking them wasteful and a waste of time (I had this notion that you had to hand-wash the crud off dishes before loading). Boy was I wrong! In one day with minimal effort I got years of city grime off all my kitchen stuff, and got it more sparkling than hand-washing ever could. I wanted to put everything dirty I owned in the dishwasher, like appliances. I wish there was an invention that would clean everything, then I realized there is, and it's called "Mexicans." (I'm allowed to make that joke because the invention used to be called "Irish people," which you may have noticed I am.)
We went to see Superbad last night in a movie theater in an anonymous strip mall amidst other parking lots of strip malls that could have been anywhere except NYC. The best part was the $7.25 student admission (I'm a student of life) and that we didn’t have to go up 17 escalators to get to our theater; we walked three steps from the ticket taker (and cop who was stationed there for some reason?). But the saddest part was that with my snorting, I was probably the loudest person in the theater. (Horror movie crowds at Court Street in Brooklyn, I pour out my malt liquor to thee!)
We were the only ones not wearing LSU shirts and caps. There were four or five Amys ahead of us on line. They all looked like they patronized Classy Nails. Until one of them turned around, I was certain she was a mom to one of the other ones, but she turned out to be college-age like them. She was heavy, had platinum white-blonde hair with a little pink bow on top, and her giant velour bag looked like a craft store had exploded onto it, leaving a mess of appliquéd flowers, sequins, possibly even rickrack. I had never seen a woman under 40 up north who would choose this look. Of course they bought tickets to the romantic drama Becoming Jane. Oh, girls. Really?
When we got home, the radio was on, though we'd turned it off before leaving. And the stereo's dial was set on the phonograph function, so there was no way radio should be coming through the speakers! Finally we realized this must be what our neighbor was telling us about: the smooth-jazz radio station of the nearby magnet high school, which has a signal so strong it tunes in on everything. If I wore braces I'd probably be tormented by El Boring Boringson jams inside my head. For a moment there, though, it was like being haunted by the ghost of smooth jazz. The least threatening ghost ever.
I also had my first encounter with a palmetto bug in what was previously a most non-threatening kitchen. It looked rather like this. I'm not over it yet.
I'm a bit concerned that in this small town, everything local that I heckle will come back to haunt me. So far numerous specific places/people/phenoms/organizations I've written about have elicited commenters with personal knowledge of that person/thing. I don't want to offend (too much)...the people here are just so bloody nice. I've met like six neighbors without even trying, like they actually stop by and ring the doorbell to introduce themselves. You can even talk the utilities people into doing you a solid and, say, turning on the water on the same day instead of their policy of doing it the next business day. Talking someone out of company policy in the northeast? Fat chance. So anyway, yes. Everyone is supernice and that is supergood.
Oh, PS, we also spied some old lady who may or may not have been a low-priced hooker hanging out on a bus bench at a T-intersection after midnight when the sidewalks are all rolled up & no one else is on the streets. Locals, your thoughts on this phenomenon?
I'm back on the Internets! We had to go to Texas to get it, though. JK, BATON ROUGE!!! We just don't have all the utilities hooked up yet, and now we're in Waco, Texas getting an awesome set of midcentury furniture from the bf's mom. Here's what the week's been like. (Apologies for the blue tint in many photos, mama needs a new camera.)
Tuesday: Packing insanity
In retrospect (and in real-time-spect), it was absolute lunacy for us not to recruit more help for moving what must have been hundreds of boxes out of the fourth-floor walkup apartment. My bf had two friends help, one who came at the beginning and one many hot hours later at the end, and both were godsends. The packing never ended. Even at the end, when we were stuffing the clothes from the closets into trash bags, there was still more to pack. Then we just left things I would have normally taken, like the old-tyme typewriter I found in the Bronx. In the fever of packing, I began hating everything I loved: vintage Pyrex? Why in the world do I have so goddamn much of it? I know that I also appeared rather insane to the bf for hoarding this many things. John Lennon appeared in my head to impart wisdom from beyond the grave: "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can..." Unfortunately for all involved in this move, I can not.
The plan was to depart in the middle of the night whenever we finished packing the truck, but by the time we'd finished at about 4 a.m., we were beyond spent. We decided to crash for about two hours before taking off. A wink or two later we were up and decidedly not rested, but it was time to go. We took another load out to the trucks in a dreamlike state before one final trip up to the apartment to get the pets, when my bf started cursing: he'd left the house keys upstairs. We were locked out.
"Looks like it's time to go up the fire escape," says I. We retrieved the step ladder from the moving truck and brought it underneath the fire escape. But it wasn't nearly tall enough to reach the hanging fire escape ladder. The solution was that I'd climb the stepladder, then my boyfriend would lift me the rest of the way to the fire escape ladder, where I'd pull myself up. By this time we'd gathered a small group of onlookers comprised of the deli-manager neighbor and construction workers (none of whom were coming forth with any taller ladders).
"But I don't have the upper-body strength!" I kept protesting, even as I got into position, as there was no other option. He boosted me up, I pulled myself as best I could, and once I got my foot in the bottom ladder rung, I was fine. The rest of the break-in was a piece of cake. I climbed up to our floor, went in the window, back down the four flights for the 150th time in the past day, and let the bf in, whereupon he got to the bathroom and vomited. Jeez, I'm not that heavy, am I? (He has early-morning stomach troubs anyway.) Then he had a little rest on the ceramic tiles. It was an auspicious beginning to moving day one.
Wednesday: Brooklyn to Southern Virginia
We were off: me driving the moving truck with the cat, the bf driving his pickup with the dog. I'm happy to report that, despite the cancer of strip malls that's eating away at the nation, a lot of the country still looks like this.
Western PA and Virginia were all gorgeous rolling farmland. And the farther away we got from the East Coast, the closer we got to God, apparently. Roadside signs read: "REPENT! God will abundantly pardon," "The WAGES of SIN is DEATH" (is that proper English?), and the anti-Ayn Rand sentiment, "Who runs your life, Jesus Christ or Self?" I also spied a JESUS Hardwood Flooring Installation truck and an "America Bless God" bumper sticker. (1. What does that even mean? 2. Proper English?) I regularly spotted supersized crosses in fields, in both original single-cross format and the extra-morbid Golgatha triple-cross format. I thought, Golgatha would be a good band name, especially because it means "place of the skulls." (These guys thought so, too.)
Then I experienced almost hell in West Virgina, at the worst example of a Subway ever. There were four people in front of me and all told, the wait was 25 minutes. That means two kids took 25 minutes to make 5 sandwiches. This might be acceptable if all the components of the sandwiches were not ready to go right in front of these morons' faces. Also at least half of the people in the place were morbidly obese, which rather took away from Jared's weight loss example. I shifted from foot to foot, resisting the urge to go behind the counter and make the sandwich myself, telling myself that my cat was not dying of heat out in the truck. Then they didn't have the veggie patty even though it was on the menu, so I had waited 25 minutes for a soggy gross pocket of vegetables. Mmmmm! Note to self: patience. Not everywhere moves at the pace of a NYC Korean deli. In fact, nowhere else really does.
In southwestern Virginia, just after crossing Route 666 (nobody I texted was as impressed about this as I was...this is shamefully non-metal; Manowar would de-friend people for less) was the first of four or five states to come in which I noticed a creepy botanical phenomenon: to the left of the highway, all trees, rocks and all other structures were blanketed with the leaves of one unknown kind of plant, I'm assuming on vines. The covered trees created the effect of colossal Swamp Thing- like green zombies, frozen in motion. If anyone out there knows what this foliage is called, please tell me, but until then I will call the phenomenon Swamp Thing Zombie Plants.
We stopped for a nap in a Virginia rest area atop a picnic table in a treed area. The chorus of cicadas buzzed us to light sleep. We blearily pressed on but quit at a Super 8 before our goal of Knoxville, just above the border to Tennessee. Then it hit me that we'd really left, and I cried. The bf thought I was a little crazy and overtired. Then I cried and laughed at the same time. Then I slept like the dead.
Thursday: Virginia to Mid-Mississippi
Thursday took us through three states I had never been to before: Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. What stands out most about Tennessee was a super creepola radio station found at 930 AM, Pigeon Forge Radio in the Smoky Mountains, "your source for comedy and fun." I was transfixed by it nearly all the way across the narrow state. I'm not entirely convinced the station was of this time and/or world. There's something otherworldly and out-of-time about AM radio anyway; it always sounds so far away and tinny, but I wasn't sure that 930 AM was even being manned by a human. The canned announcer would introduce a comedy segment from their main man Milton Crabapple, who is the Sheriff of Crabapple County and who always provides "squeaky clean comedy." Then they'd play a segment from Jerry Seinfeld, then a little Tenessee trivia, then another bit from Milton Crabapple, and then another from (you guessed it) Milton Crabapple. They also threw in Ray Romano and one or two of those blue-collar comedians (Men and women are different! Yuk!), but mostly it was ol' Miltie. And to think I was worried that there wouldn't be any good comedy in this Jew-deprived land where we're moving!
Speaking of demographics, evidence of the existence of black people returned to the radio as soon as we crossed into Alabama. R&B and even a wee bit of hip-hop returned to the airwaves, whereas for most of the past few days all I'd heard was (mostly white) pop, rock, and a buttload of country and religious freakazoids.
Alabama has a lovely welcome center complete with rocking chairs lining a back porch. I took Gypsy out in her cage while I waited there to meet up with the bf. The heat and humidity were so oppressive that by the time we left she was panting--a rarely seen tragicomic cat phenomenon.
In Missisissippi as it started getting dark, my phone stopped working. This was bad, as it was the only way my beau and I had of meeting up to stop for the night. At first I thought his phone had the problem, as the message said his phone had been disconnected or was no longer in service. My brain started concocting a scenario in which the bf had been murdered on the dog path at the rest area and for some reason the murderer had also cancelled his phone service. Then I realized how silly that was, and realized my phone was giving that message for everyone I tried calling, and I stopped at a Motel 6 for the night and used their phone. Over an hour of no phone contact had elapsed, though, and my boyfriend was almost frantic when I got him on the phone, certain I'd met some horrible misfortune. But everything was fine. If I had gotten offed, though, I know who (would have) killed me. Probably somebody from here:
Friday: Mississippi to our new home in Baton Rouge
My phone started working again around Louisiana. And hey! Louisiana felt preferable to the previous few states. We finally got to Little Pink around noon on day three. Our yard's welcoming committee consisted of butterflies, geckos, and mourning doves.
Time to unload the trucks in the scorching midday sun. Our friendly neighbors gave us water since our water's not on until Tuesday (don't ask what we're doing about relieving ourselves), saying that Baton Rouge has the number-two best tap water in the country. "Yeah, New York has really good water, too," I replied, feeling like a jerk as I said it. I think New York has the number-one water. Also, this tap water tasted like chlorine. Still, I was melting in a bikini top and shorts, and I drank the hell out of it.
Later, as I began the unpacking, I wondered: what to do with all this storage space in the bathroom? I have an inordinate amount of toiletries and such, but this was far too much for even my collection.
Then I realized: this area must be what's known as a "linen closet." In non-NYC places where people have decent amounts of space, homes have whole closets just for towels and linens! I'll be damned.
After feasting on the first real food in days (from Whole Foods) we headed to the back deck to relax with our local Abita beer, tunes from the iPod and a soundtrack provided by nature: cicada or locust drones--they sounded like monstrous critters. We strung up some lantern lights and watched the dog run around like a goofball. Sitting there not doing much of anything for the first time in days, I felt like I was starting, just starting, to understand the slowed-down appeal of the South. The scariest part--uprooting from home--was over.
It's going to be okay.
Saturday: Baton Rouge to Waco, Texas
It was our first morning in the sunlit house, but we had to set out again that day for Waco. Before leaving, we took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood to check it out. The first unusual phenomenon we noticed was that everybody waves at you. Huh.
We decided to pop in on our friend Mary, who had just moved from Austin the day before (she's in the landscape architecture program with my bf). We soon learned that if you are walking in August in Baton Rouge, 1. It means you don't have a car and 2. There is no "popping in." It was more like sliding in, dripping sweat by the time we got to her place, after what should have been a ten-minute walk but was more like a twenty-minute leisurely stroll through a hazy sauna.
Mary lives in the Garden District, which is resplendant with enormous ancient live oaks and darling houses. Basically the Garden District makes our humble little neighborhood look like a piece of crap.
"We're in trouble," Mary announced quietly on their back deck. We didn't get the full story, as her roommates were in earshot, but apparently they had hit some of what were supposed to be the best bars in town the night before and she was quite disappointed. I don't think I'll have such a gloomy outlook on it as I'm not expecting anything impressive. I'm just anticipating funny material, like when the bf showed me a glossy flyer card for an ultimate fighting competition sponsored by a place called Daquiri's. The bf is glad he's over going out. Amen to that.
Then we were on the road again to Waco, this time we were all in one vehicle except Gyp (who was holding it down at home) with much togetherness.
At Houston we drove through what may have been part of one of those hurricanes that are swirling around about now. We also switched drivers and walked the dog just as a sandstorm hit.
We finished the trek through lovely rural eastern Texas. The funniest thing I wish I got video or a picture of but didn't was a pack of about 15 cows running their asses off, presumably for shelter from the pelting rain. Anyway, here we are in Waco, and today we got to pack up the truck again, before driving back to Baton Rouge tomorrow and unloading the truck again. Awesome! I am going to be so in shape after all this, so that means I get to drink lots of delicious beer and eat lots of delicious cheese.
Ahem. In Conclusion
Due to the time-warping nature of travel, Brooklyn already seems so long ago and far away, but also, you know, not. Those of you who said this would be an adventure were right. I'm glad you understand that's a good thing.
I'm going to get in trouble with the beau for cursing the rest of our move, but I can't resist saying that so far it's been a fortuitous one, considering the amount of things that could have gone wrong. It seemed that so many things happened the way we needed them to. I felt like our combined seven dead grandparents were watching and calling in favors for us (I almost ran out of gas twice and didn't; I missed an exit but the way I took back to the route I needed was scenic rural area and I didn't have to backtrack; we're both pretty banged up but no real injuries, etc.). In fact, I had kept my Nana's umbrella in the cab of the truck with me as a good-luck charm. Am I sounding like a crazy person? Please ignore those last few sentences.
Last night was the last night of sleep that felt like home until the new place starts feeling like home. Today is my last day living here for awhile. It's the last day of packing. Last day of errands. Loading up the pickup and the moving truck, and setting off sometime during the night.
I started this post yesterday, as another form of procrastination from the neverending packing up of nearly seven years of living in one place. I have a feeling that despite my best efforts of the past week and a half packing with boxes, Duck tape*, and a Sharpie, the end part of this will be a shitshow involving desperately stuffing belongings into trash bags.
We're leaving during the night and aiming for Knoxville late tomorrow. Looking at the route highlighted on the map by AAA (which you may recall stands for Triple Awesome), I was excited that I'll finally be going through these exotic Southern towns and cities, though we won't be taking the scenic route this time. So you won't hear from me for a few days at least...do they have Internets in Baton Rouge? (I'm joking, Baton Rouge. You should have better self-esteem. Let's work on that together, Baton Rouge.) But of course I'll document this journey, and be sure to check in for my epic report.
*** To give you a little taste of what's in store when we get down South, here is a text-message exchange between myself and my friend who lives in the greater New Orleans area.
Cokane: Yo. Im moving 2 BR on wed. R u ready 2 teach me 2 shoot guns soon? Hope so.
Paul: Totally! Are you ready for a dull Southern town full of rednecks? I hope so.
Cokane: :( im ready 4 lots of writin time & free material 2 heckle. And ready 4 shootin!
And, scene. ***
...I'm kind of choked up right now as this is finally starting to be real. I'm leaving the place where I really came into who I am. The only place I've lived longer was my childhood home. I'll just busy myself, Lord knows there's enough to do and states to go before I sleep, so I'll put off feelings time until I'm driving the moving truck solo tonight and all day tomorrow. Friends are invited to text message me affirmations over the next few days. Otherwise it's going to be a road movie starring a whole lot of me and one very unhappy Benadryled-up cat.
* re: Duck tape: Although I disapprove of any brand name that reinforces misspellings, such as the car Expresso, if you are into huffing, this is the enjoyably-fumed packing tape for you.
(Some content possibly NSFW? I dont' really know what's considered NSFW, as my last job was in a porno office.)
Somehow in the middle of the last few days of moving preparations, the bf and I threw a going-away rooftop barbecue kegger. It went rather smashingly; strangers became friends, old friends reunited one last time for now, and hilarious wastedness occurred. A lot of friends seemed really sad to see us go...it must be that they've absorbed the concept of me moving better than I have.
After about 8 hours of kegging, and like 50 trips up and down 5 flights to let people in, I'm rather dum and useless today so I'll keep this short.
Meet Dana. This standout BBQ atendee is bffs with Calisha Jenkins of that crazy band I keep trying to tell you about, Drunky Brewster. Here's Dana showing off her "BBQ grill," which is a grill she made out of barbecued sausage.
Later, she peed on the roof. Mind you, my apartment, which has a lavatory, was about 10 steps below where this took place. However, this choice kicked the party up a notch.
I have not hung out with Dana too much, but it's cool that she was so comfortable with me that she would spend like 5% of the total time we've ever been around each other urinating in my presence.
Lots of other fun was had, but none of the other photos were flattering so I shan't talk about it.
And this morning, a major breakthrough was made in inter-apartment cat-dog relations. After months of trauma because she's so scared of her somewhat-newish dog apartment-mate, Gypsy is finally starting to emerge from her self-imposed exile. Little does she know her entire small world is about to get tsunami'd* beginning in the wee hours of Wednesday morning when we move. This is the closest she's ever dared to get to the dog.
Note the red-wine stains on Coop's fur. Or maybe those are burns from Gyp's hate beams.
*(I took the high road and did not make the obvious Louisiana natural disaster joke)
Gee, maybe if I read Maxim, and watch pornos with fake lesbians touching each others' boobies, and then get drunk and touch my friends' boobies in front of drunk guys, and eat lots of red meat, I'll be a "guy's girl" and then a frat boy will propose to me! Thanks, New York Times, bastion of quality journalism!
I'm procrastinating from packing again, by the way.
Even though my move is in the opposite direction, and I'm not moving to NYC to become a male prostitute, and even though I'm not Angelina Jolie's dad, this opening sequence of Midnight Cowboy still has the right sentimental/major life changes/anticipation/dramatic feeling. (I also love the bit later when they famously show his face bobbing through the crowd in NYC, and used to think of that all the time when walking around.)
I also wanted to include a clip of Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights," as I was rocking out to that while packing yesterday, with about the last of my energy at about 5 p.m. (I don't know if you knew this, but moving is tiring!) Unfortch, there weren't any non-modern clips of Glen singing it, but I did find this horrifying version from The Lawrence Welk Show.
That show makes me terrified of white people.
Finally on a related note, my friend Amanda turned me on to this super-amusing Channel 101 series: Yacht Rock. I know I kind of "MISSED THE BOAT" on this series as it's been out a while, but if you haven't seen it yet, do check it out. I've only watched two but there's like ten of them.
Also, let me know if you're coming to the rooftop BBQ tomorrow & email me if you need info and are not a crazy maniac. It won't rain.
An article in a New Zealand paper has identified a new subset of daters: vegansexuals. That is, vegans who won't get busy with non-vegans.
It's like, wow, vegansexuals! Why not limit yourself more? Good luck! Have some of my agar while you're at it, I don't need it any more. In another article on the subject, someone said they didn't want to have sex with meat-eaters because their bodies were made up of animal carcasses. Huh?!
Now, personally, I'm a longtime vegetarian but don't go for vegetarian guys, at least the ones who look like the stereotype. They tend toward the too-skinny. I am glad my bf doesn't dig on swine and cows, though.
I honestly hope this isn't the first of many pet-centric posts. I'm really very wary of becoming that minutiae-of-daily-life/poop/pet documenter, oh esteemed readership.
I just wanted to jump in and reiterate something much appreciated. As previously noted, my household's dog and cat are not coexisting peacefully. Also, I am a lifelong cat person, and until recently I very much thought I was heading directly to Crazy Cat Lady, do not pass Marriage, do not collect LeCrueset enameled cast-iron pots and pans. But now, there is a super good-natured yellow Labrador around, and no matter how much of a bitch my cat is to him (which happens daily), he never gives attitude. He never has an attitude at all, except the occasional grumble, and he's always in a good mood and eager to please and play. He is winning me over to being both a cat and dog person, if such a label is allowed to exist within this polarized topic.
Today after multiple errands, I was mid-packing when "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" By the Backstreet Boys came on my iPod's speakers. It's a very guilty pleasure, and I proceeded to private jubilation, dancing around like a moron. Here's the awesome part: Cooper immediately joined right in! (Well, he eagerly showed up with his weird dollar-store toy, ready to jump around for it.) That's something my cat Gypsy, who holds tight to something called "dignity," would never dream of doing. Sometimes Often Coop's enthusiasm manifests as "humping the guests," and consequently bringing shame on the family, but hopefully we can train this trait out of his repertoire. Yay for fun dogs!
While doing everything else in preparation for the move, at I'm packing in culture every night while I can. And oh, the culture to be had! Monday night two of my pals brought over the 1973 film The Baby, a jaw-dropping stinker about a family of lunatic women that keeps a grown son as a baby (complete with overdubbed gurgles and coos) and they zap him with a cattle prod if he shows any signs of development. Also, his name is "Baby." Awesome!
Through luck of the Netflix draw, last night while rolling hundreds of dollars in coins, we watched the Jim Jarmusch "neo-beat-noir-comedy" film Down by Law, which happens to have been filmed in New Orleans and the swamps of Louisiana.
Despite the cool rep this movie has, I was surprised at what a piece of garbage it was. At different times I felt like I was watching a student film or play with bad acting, or a heist-gone-wrong B-movie from the '50s that you'd see on Mystery Science Theater 3000, a la Swamp Diamonds, starring Beverly Garland. It did get much more watchable once lovable foreigner Roberto Benigni came on the scene, but still. Based on the few films I've seen of his, I now offically don't like and/or don't get Jim Jarmusch.
I am most likely going to be hanging out with these guys down in Baton Rouge.
They're called Baton Rouge. As you might imagine from the photo, they had a minor hit in 1990.
I checked in on them on the Internets to see what they were up to so I'd know what to chat about when I saw them about town. They had the one hit album in 1990, then the one after that tanked because we all know what happened in music after that, Kurt Cobain! Then, for some reason they released another album in 1997. I was most interested in guitarist Kelly Keeling's website, which promotes his latest CD, "Eat a Pickle." Somebody named Reverend D says this about him:
"Kelly Keeling is one of Rock's most influential and prolific vocalist / song writer of our time, and without a doubt the most famous unknown musician on Earth." A bold statement but then consider his catalog of work. With 30 CDs and 4 movie soundtracks to his credit, not to mention the years of touring, this is one hard workin' recording artist!
Check out his discography or just pop his name into any internet search engine and watch what happens. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you've been rockin' to his songs for years, and never even knew it! Take a stroll through this web site and expand your musical knowledge!"
Wow, pickles and doughnuts; that sounds rockin', all right. Like the link to John 3:16 at the bottom. I thought that particular Bible passage was for putting on signs at wrestling matches, though. All cattiness aside, I am intrigued to see all the rockers he's worked with, and studied his resume in case I'm called upon to play Six Degress of Don Dokken, as it seems the hard-rock musicians all shuffle around & work with each other over time. Note to self: ask him about collaborating with Alice Cooper.
The first part of this post will be my traditional heckling of that which deserves to be heckled...but after that the tables will be turned when shame is brought upon the honorable CoKane name.
So, this was my "Goodbye Kanes, some of you for three years," weekend. I first had a goodbye Jersey bff's Friday night, then met the bf at the train in Red Bank, NJ, Saturday morning to eventually make it to a PA wedding that evening.
Since we were in Red Bank, we had to check out Kevin Smith's local self-erected shrine/promotional commerce vehicle, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash comic book store, as neither of us had ever been there.
Being a woman and an adult, I am not a Kev Smith fan. Imagine if there were a girl version of his movies (as I often have):
JEN: Hey, remember Strawberry Shortcake? MEG: I know, right, like this newjack Shortcake they have out sucks it! JEN: Oh preach on, sistafriend. MEG: That is the shit I am talking about. JEN: I know, like what's next, mothafuckin' Rainbow Brite 2008? Care Bears to the Max? The Get Along Gang Solves Terrorism? MEG: Seriously. Like Ecotourism with Monchichi on the Discovery Channel.
The thing is, some dudes are turning this kind of "culture" into box office gold: Transformers tbe movie? I rest my case. Grown men, please try to set the entertainment bar slightly higher than WHEN YOU WERE TEN. Thank you.
So anywayz, my man Tom Scharpling makes fun of old Kevin S better than I ever can, so go listen to his show, but I will tell you this: Kevin Smith's store attendant took a phone inquirer to task for using a double negative, therefore we can reasonably conclude that he's hoping to make his way into a future KS movie. Also, fans apparently leave birthday presents for KS at his store, and there is a table set out just for that purpose (these were addressed to KS, with birthday wishes):
And finally, several grungy outfits from the KS film roster are on display in the store, like this Silent Bob/Kevin outfit. This is the first and I hope only time I ever see a dude's sweat-stained (really: yellow sweat-stains) old cap in a plexiglas display case.
Then we spent untold hours in horrendous Shore traffic trying to get to my parents' place. The only saving grace was that we took an alternate route from the parking lot which was the Garden State Parkway, Route 9; and so we saw sights like these:
The world with these signs is is really the world I want to live in. Once there's no more of these signs and it's only strip malls left, please end it for me.
Then we were at my cousin's wedding and I was telling all my extended family (which is large, because of my super-Irish-Catholic dad's ten-plus brothers and sisters), about our move. I got a little misty watching my favorite uncle tear it up, ridiculous-style on the dance floor. Then a few dirty martinis in, I was in the ladies' room catching up with one of my aunts, when someone came in like, "Oh, it's the bouquet-tossing time." So, never being one for this sort of thing, but wanting to be a good sport, I went out and angled in at the back of the clutch of single ladies at the last minute. Please, while I still have some dignity, let me assure you that I was always that totally disinterested and possibly gay riot grrrrl who was like "Whatevs," with a capital "Whatevs," for this situation. So guess who the bouquet went directly to, but yours truly. I kind of batted it out of the way in self defense, but that only made matters more embarrassing: I was so clearly the person meant to catch (or in this case bat away and then have to actually PICK UP) the bouquet that there was no getting out of it. I offer this photo as proof. [a few notes of the Vince Guaraldi/"Charlie Brown Christmas" "Christmastime is Here" piano tune, comically used as sad music in "Arrested Development," should play here:]
I love that all the single young ladies in this photo seem to be pitying me, the impossibly old single lady (this wedding was in PA, remember; I'm probably 10 years older than the average bride there) who somehow almost caught the bouquet, but didn't? But officially did catch the bouquet.
In the moments following this, a few things happened: I became eternally grateful that there was no boy equivalent to this ceremony at this reception, no random drunk dude putting a garter on me. Then my head almost exploded with these infuriating Cathy-cartoon feelings: Oh no, I hope Irving my bf doesn't think I caught it on purpose! Everyone must think I'm desperate to get married! I wasn't trying to, I swear! Am I still a feminist? Of course my bf heckled me about it and there were predictably a few remarks from relatives. ("Should we save the date?") Then I was so annoyed that I'd ever have such a lame thing to fret over, and that I ever might be like stupid Cathy Guisewhite, and resentful of the tradition in the first place. It's one thing to be naming apple seeds and sticking them on your forehead as a little girl to determine who your boyfriend is. At this stage, this more widely-practiced similar weird ritual is just maje undignified.
Then I had another dirty martini.
We're moving south a week from Wednesday. It's the final countdown.
The title here is paraphrased from the zaniest kid in my NJ high school and his pal, who were obsessed with being Southerners and one time attempted to start their dream of their new life down there by forging stolen checks.
Anyway, before I head down the Garden State Parking Lot to my parents' place at the Shore and a wedding after that, a quick post:
Welcome Southern readers! Just wanted to say, I obviously barely know anything about the South, and it wasn't very progressive of me to use the inbred banjo kid from Deliverance and this mulletman when referring to your fine florid land. I apologize to some of you--but only the one(s) who have never made fun of my own homeland, New Jersey.
Colleen Kane has been a writer and editor for BUST, Playgirl, and other magazines and books, and has contributed to SPIN, Anthem, and Time Out New York, among other fine publications.
She coined the term "williamsjerk," which refers to the jerkass hipsters in Williamsjerk, Brooklyn. She also coined the term BaRou, for her new hometown of Baton Rouge. You're welcome.
Contact cokane at hotmail dot com.