December 29, 2008 :: Blue Christmas

I used to be a bit of a decorating nazi. There were rules. For a while, everything had to be shabby; flowers, toile and pastel, chippy paint. Then it had to be mid-century: Scandinavian angles and burnished wood. Oh, and then there was christmas. There had to be a real tree, it had to be decorated with matching silver-tone ornaments (or fully decked out with with all-vintage glass bulbs from the 50's), there was no tree flocking, no colored lights, no hanging of pre-made stockings, no tinsel hung from the moldings with care. Oh, that was then, before I realized that life (for me anyway) goes much smoother if I just don't fight the slow creep toward entropy that is constantly building speed in my wake. And with that revelation, I am so free. Now, I place things around the house whichever way seems right at the moment. I buy whatever calls to me from the pile of junk at the thrift store (believe me, stuff calls to me. It's how I ended up on an airplane a few months back with a 1956-version "Visible Man" model, which thoroughly freaked out the Indianapolis TSA employees). And at christmas, I ask Mr. Rainey what he wants to put on the tree.

This year, he wanted blue lights, some of my vintage ornaments, and every mis-matched, kitchy, country-cute tree trimming my grandmother has given me for the last decade. It was glorious.

Granted, I still maintained some control. You'll notice (if you can see little Casio point-and-shoot is on its last legs I think) that the tree is a vintage (reproduction) "tinsel-tree," and if you could see the base, you'd see that its awful metal-slab holder is disguised inside a perfect tin-and-paint 1945-ish christmas tree stand. The only thing missing is a color-wheel, and I'd have had one of those if I'd been able to visit my deceased grandmothers' house before trimming things up.

It's such a breakthrough for me. I only cringed a little when Blake insisted we use the holly-adorned "snow-boot" salt and pepper shakers and hung less than 1/3 of the most amazing, faded mid-century bulbs and bells. (The evan-williams spiked egg nog helped. A lot. )

Now, all I've got to do is prepare myself for the post-christmas decorating requests. He wants a gargoyle on the roof (that one I'm all over). And a big, comfy chair and ottoman in our living room (that one's a space issue. not sure). And concrete "lawn ornaments". (starting to roll eyes) And beer-neon signs (oh no... help) And an inflatable gorilla. (no kidding. he asked.)

As I said. Entropy.



December 10, 2008 :: Happenstance.

Two years and one day ago, to my knowledge, I had never heard the name Blake Rainey. Given that I'd lived in the same town as this person for nearly 8 years, frequented the same dives, seen some of the same bands, and even rented an apartment that overlooked his at one point, it's likely we crossed paths, but fate or karma or the great spaghetti monster or what-have-you did not see fit to make that presence corporeal. The way we met was pure happenstance.

Read on, that that lovely word (a word I've always liked) is going to sound supremely cheesy. Because on December 9, 2006, I walked into a morning-lit bar full of hung-over, bescruffled musicians to have my name drawn out of a hat, linked up with four people I'd never met, and sent off to write a set of original music to be performed, nearly untested, that night in front of a packed-out club. Yeah, the call it "The Happenstance." Egos be-damned, early-morning prickleyness nonwithstanding, creative differences, fuck-off. It could have been hell. It could have been a cellblock meeting with a ball-point shiv. It could have been ten fingernails ripped out and dripped with lemon juice. But boy did I get lucky. I got Kim, and Ben, and Rich (someone I've lost track of, but who was a pleasant dude). Exceedingly nice, exceedingly talented folks who were kind enough to not strangle me with guitar strings for being the obvious weak link.

I also got Blake.

I like to tell people (when they ask me how we met) that Blake pulled my name out of a hat. The rest of the story takes a while and involves explaining both the dictionary meaning and Atlanta music-scene meaning of Happenstance. There was obviously some time and a lot of detail between that first night, playing, that first date at the Local, that day he moved into my apartment, the day we decided to get married, and the upcoming day where we'll get right back on that stage, together, for the first time since then. Just too much to type out right now. Just know that that night in 2006 was one of the most fun nights of my life. And thanks to Blake, now, I've had exactly 730 of the most fun days, nights, mornings, weekends, lunches, mid-days, date-nights, afternoons, dawns and witching-hours of my life, straight.

Now that was a good twist of fate.



December 1, 2008 :: Just you wait a second.

Things that have been going on around here:
  • Mad-dash branding presentations in which I do the work I would normally take 6 months to do, in 2 weeks
  • Indiana visits - 2 in one month
  • Thanksgiving Indian, black Friday pizza, Sunday night post-thanks turkey
  • Wedding planning--cupcakes, hummus, room-measurement, chandeliers, fabric, mailing tubes, secret songs
  • Lots of coffee. And hot chocolate.
  • Gifting showers--kitchen implements, hand-drawn tattoos, spicy sausage, beer and wine with friends and colleagues
  • Christmas plans, expensive plane tickets, handmade present buying
  • Dog jogging
  • General thankfulness
I'll be back in force soon. I promise. But for now, I am slammed and frazzled. Stay tuned.



November 11, 2008 :: Oh, It's ON.

Mr. R and I are already officially married. But now, it's becoming evident that we will soon also be officially weddinged.

The invitations came back from the print house today. There's your sneak peak, above.

And here's a little plug for the creator.

Coming soon to a mailbox near you.


November 4, 2008 :: Let the Games Begin.

I spent a little over three hours in line this morning to cast my vote. This is longer than I would wait, standing outside in the sun without a chair, a bottle of water or a bathroom, for nearly anything not life-threatening. And, if I do say so myself, I am a bit proud of myself, because years ago, I would have cared very little about the outcome of any vote. I believed the big "they" were all liars, all cheats, all the lesser or greater of some evil. I know many people who still believe this. Hell, I'm married to one and share half my genes with another. (FYI, Blake at least is voting, so there's hope. But he has serious doubts about any real change coming from any outcome, which I think is kind of sad.) Anyway, I used to be there, but somewhere in the last 8 years I stopped the nihilistic reasoning cold turkey.

Two points to be made here:

One - Simply, if you can believe in even a slightly bad presidency (and I'd call our most recent one quite a few uglier names than that, as would most of the rest of the world), then you must believe in the potential for a good one. A transformative one. One extreme cannot exist without the other.

Two - We're all in this together. We are all Americans, no matter our affiliation, and throwing stones calling names and burning people in effigy serves nothing but a deeper, more treacherous split between us, and no smart entity faces its enemies divided. People, our last election was lost/won by 537 votes. Quantifiable, irrefutable proof that yours matters. Play paper-rock-scissors with the person next to you to find an answer; or, search your soul. I don't care. Just VOTE.

I have some very specific views on a number of the issues at hand this time around. I also live in a nice blue bubble of like-minded individuals. My stance isn't challenged very often, and as such, my debating skills are way rusty. So, instead of ranting about my stance on prop 8 is (even though I'd really like to) or telling you what my uterus wants to say every time someone mentions repealing Roe vs Wade (too many four-letter words for this site), I'll defer to people much smarter than I.

The brilliant Audrey has this to say: "...what was tearing us apart, what IS tearing us apart is our divisiveness. Our willingness to attack each other, from the far right or the far left, our willingness to hate. A fevered delirium of opinion and rude behavior has taken the place of reason and fact. And it’s apparent across all party lines."

Sweet Juniper, channeling Lincoln: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."



Oct 31, 2008 :: boo.

Halloween in the Time of Cholera

Looks like things were much scarier back then.

Mr. Rainey and I are off to the ABC Halloween party in a bit, $1.20 vintage monkey masks in hand. (No reprise of the Joker and Henchman getup. We're holiday-lazy.) Have a sweet, scary night!



October 30, 2008 :: my I

Once upon a time, I was a bit of a daredevil. I spelunked, unguided and untrained, through northern caves. I scaled a treacherous quarry wall, no tresspassing signs blaring, to fall, intentionally, into 80 feet of crystal-clear water. Spun front-wheel drive sedans backwards through cornfields, gravel roads, icy parking lots. Spent endless winter school-nights launching over moguls, sliding face-first into ice, racing boys down black diamonds. I piloted banana-seat bikes, no hands mom, over bumpy crags into knify stickers, twisted metal flying. I jumped, I climbed and swang, I barrelled full-force, headlong, arms flailing, fearless, beat-the-devil wild into countless possibly dangerous situations without a single thought to life, limb or insurance premiums. I hardly came out unscathed. Busted elbow skin, chunks missing from knees (still), broken nose, black eyes, fractured fingers, rug burn, road rash, concussive blows, broken eardrums, chipped teeth, toes snapped like twigs. I loved every second of it.

It's still in me. The rollercoaster-loving, fast-driving, "yeah..that thing I have no idea how to do? Let's go!" me that sits here and writes about crazy furiousness more than she actually lives it can still feel the adrenaline rush, the heartbeat rushing her ears--just now during the first song of the set, in front of the design class, at the restaurant trying the thing she can't pronounce. But today, I found out its even more "in" me than I knew.

About a week ago, I went to the local el-cheapo eyeglasses chain to get a couple random pairs of frames filled with a new prescription. The doc in the box checked me out (one or two? three...or four? better....or....worse?), and then began looking perplexed. Broke out the magnifying loop. Shone the SUN into my eyes, one by one, then asked me if I had insurance.

Fortunately I do, I said. Good, he said, because I see something weird. Pigment crystals floating in your eye fluid, clogging the natural drain, possibly causing glaucoma. I heard "pigment" "fluid" "BLINDNESS" then that earful of racing heart.

Before I go on - My eyes are mismatched in color, you should know. Left: 90% brown. Like a giant birthmark on my iris. Right: greenish blue - clear as a well-chlorinated pool. It's odd, yes. It's also, for the rest of you, humerous to be asked if you "know" that your eyes are two different colors. No. Had no idea. Eesh. Anyway, I'd heard about pigment before from eye-guys. That the retinal surface in my dark eye is full of pigment stalagmites. That it's beautiful - and maybe dangerous...just come back next year so we can check again.

Today, I went to the "real" eye dude to find out if my vision will go the tunnel-route prematurely. Or dudes and dudettes, may I say, as five different technicians administered nearly a dozen tests and poked and prodded my runny, massively sensitive, angry eyes (notice I do not wear contacts? It's because my eyes explode into watery, red, blinky craziness if I get anything even near them. Everyone at the Dunwoody eye clinic understands this now.) trying to figure out if I have this, or something else, or nothing.

The verdict: I've been whalloped in the head.

Not surprised, you say. Yeah - me neither, since I remember a winter day 17 years ago, my pink K2 165s razer sharp and waxed to atomic speed, rushing across the bottom slope at Perfect North and then....blackness and tumbling, as an out-of-control dude twice my size slammed into me at 30-some mph. His elbow? Shoulder? Knee? connected squarely with my left browbone, fracturing it, and knocking me into a binding-popping, pole-chucking, head-over,heels flip. (He wasn't any luckier, you may be interested to know. I walked away. My skies sliced his very nice Rossi's into several paper-thin layers, and he was carried off on a backboard.) Apparently, that concussive force knocked a bunch of eye-color loose in my left eye, splattering some pigment abstractly against the lens, and leaving more to float free and clog eye-drains. Where some people have screws-loose from concussions, I have a rainbow loose in my head.

Say it like that and it still sounds exciting, but not nearly as scary. I'd say that describes my adventure-life these days perfectly. And I still love it.



October 27, 2008 :: A pretty great joke.

My goodness, I love Halloween.

I also love slathering clown makeup on Blake and torturing him with eyeliner pencils. The suit, though, that was all him. Who owns (and has, in regular rotation in their wardrobe) a purple velor single-breasted suit jacket? My husband, that's who. There was no question who he should be for Halloween.

I, by the way, was a very scary be-masked henchman. Photos exist, I'm sure. I remember the flash-pops.

Happy Hallowe'ening!



October 8, 2008 :: On/In the Air

Despite the books on my shelves, I've been kind of a lazy reader lately. When I was a kid, I could plow through a book a week; a book every three or four days, if I were so motivated. I've skipped school to read Stephen King, shooed away summer games of kick the can for Orwell, stole secretly into my mother's stash of books I was "too young to read" and to find The Handmaid's Tale. (Why she was hiding Margaret Atwood from me, with all the feminist ideology and the strong women fighting back between the pages, I'm not sure. I think she thought I might not get the references at twelve. She was wrong.) I have a Bachelor's of English Literature (and 4 straight years of 4-hour Anthology-reading sprees a night under my belt). I don't know, maybe it burnt me out a little, all those years in my parents' backyard on a lawn chair, on couches and in coffee shops pouring over texts looking for hidden meaning, those hours in airports in limbo between shoots and interviews. Reality is, the internet probably did this to me. I've got a single-serve attention span these days with focus just as long as your typical All Things Considered soundbyte. The sad truth? I've read, fully, three whole books this year, and am now scrambling to make time, working on both 100 Years of Solitude and Blood Meridian at once. I felt guilty and a little overwhelmed (why didn't I go with Harry Potter and Dan Brown?). My brain may explode in revolt.

Fortunately, I think I found a nice middle ground this week. A way to satisfy my need for words and my need to be doing something else constructivce (i.e. not sitting) while consuming them. The almighty podcast.

To be honest, I thought those dang things were pretty useless until now. Years ago, pre-iPod revoluion, the ex-mister had a subscription to Audible, which he'd use to listen on the job to science fiction novels while he made pictures move on screen. He may still do that, but I work in words, so other people speaking in my ear while I'm writing them is intolerable. Singing works ok, usually. But not speech. But then, I stopped having a car commute and began a train and walking one, and needed some diversion. Since I listen to music all day, I missed the talking.

Thank you Steve Jobs...problem solved. This week I discovered WNYC's On the Media. And Soundcheck. And RadioLab. And that you can subscribe to This American Life. And TED talks speeches from years past. And nearly anything else that strikes your fancy. I had no idea I'd be so enthralled with having people yammer in my ear. I was actually pretty sure I'd hate it. The interesting, unexpected consequence of this is that I'm now speeding up the actual reading too. 50 pages of Fortress of Solitude last night, uncoerced (Blake's been begging me to read it for a while now). NY Times book reviews this morning. Vonnegut novels on CD for the trip to Indiana this weekend. I'm on a roll. I think I'll listen now.



October 3, 2008 :: I have a confession to make.

About a month and a half ago, Mr. Rainey and I hauled ourselves and our friends (and Blake's bandmates) Kevin and Blake P. and their significant others (the lovely Alli and Mariela) to hot, steamy New Orleans to play a couple shows. We were met there by other people from Atlanta and some friends from NOLA and surrounds, and things were set to be a great time. French Quarter hotel rooms were booked, maps were printed out, bags were packed and unpacked. An ordinary working-musician's vacation.

But then, on the second day, Blake and I took a ferry ride across the Mississipi to Algeirs, signed some paperwork, solemly swore a few things, waited a couple hours, and married. Not your ordinary working-musician's vacation.

Nobody knew beforehand except my best friend and our two witnesses. Nobody in our families knew until a couple weeks ago. And now, you know too.

For two people who are not traditional wedding-folk, this arrangement (in a pink wedding chapel in the French Quarter, with one tattooed drummer and one tattooed bass player as witnesses, with no scripture or promises to "obey", with little planning, in comfortable shoes, with some of our favorite people waiting across the street at a bar called "The Three-Legged Dog") was absolutely perfect. The best wedding I've ever been to.

I think everyone should think that about their own wedding. If you don't, do it again. You deserve that.

We laughed until we just about cried. (From left to right, our witnesses: Blake P. {My Blake's best friend since first grade} and Kevin, Mr. Rainey, the new Mrs. Rainey {that'd be me}, and Reverend Tony - our awesome officiant.)

We signed some legal stuff. (Blake P signing, the rest of us posing).

We tried to look (and act) all kinds of solemn. (We're both giddy and nervous at this point. Blake looked so sweet and happy.)

They gave us a Sharpie and a dollar bill.

Which we both signed - a tradition.
And then stuck to the ceiling with a long pole to celebrate with hundreds of others.
Kevin and Blake blew some bubbles as we left.

It was the best day. Ever.



October 1, 2008 :: Still Processing

Above: Young Antiques at the Star Bar. CD Release for Soundtrack to Tear Us Apart. 150-some people. Lots of loud. More to come.



September 26, 2008 :: And sometimes we talk about music.

Every day has a soundtrack around here. Always has for me. And I love it when I encounter other people for whom there's a song, some song, just for that moment. A couple weekends ago, I met and got to hang out with one of Blake's significant ex's, and at a point during one of the many conversations, she asked the group, out of the blue, "what song do you have in your head, right now?" I already liked her quite a bit, but that sealed the deal. Then it was Elvis Costello's "Oliver's Army," but the internal playlist has rotated since. Probably ten times, actually.

Every morning (and then seventeen more times throughout the day), I go on a methodical search for the day's soundtrack. I rarely know exactly what I need. Fortunately, I work in an office full of people with crazy-varied taste in music (and be hooked up to them via iTunes), and between them and internet radio, pandora, and a T-1 to the bit-torrent sites, I can usually find something. Weather affects the search (Bonobo, maybe Cinematic Orchestra on the overcast days), so does workload (Nick Cave for the corporate web writing, Bon Iver for research). But mostly the soundtrack has to do with mood, motivation and mostly suggestion. I use iTunes' party shuffle like a litmus test - play, pause, skip (good lord, no more TV on the Radio, yes please Band of Horses), until I find the right album. Then I wear the hell out of it.

This week was all Faith's album (sleepy, literary PJ Harvey), Jenny Lewis (silly lyrics, great hooks), the French Kicks (loopy, easy-going indie rock), Bonnie Prince Billy (the title track is my 'in my head' song of the moment), and of course, the Young Antiques.

Mr. Rainey and I do a lot of talking about music (and a lot of arguing about plot lines and politics--poking each other back and forth - but that's another story). But this week's dialogue has been all about the album above. How it's the best work he's ever done. How he's got great hopes for the next one, even though this one's not officially out yet. How he hopes people show up to the release party.

That's tomorrow night. It seems a bit silly, but I'm ridiculously full of anticipation.

If you're in Atlanta, see you at the Star Bar at 9-ish. 10 PM for Warm in the Wake, 11 for Young Antiques, midnight for Five Eight.



September 23, 2008 :: Shameless Plug, #1

This week will be a week of unrelenting pandering, I feel. Hang in there. It's worth it.

At the end of this week (Saturday, September 27) Blake and his band the Young Antiques will be releasing their fourth full-length album titled "Soundtrack to Tear us Apart" at a rocktastic party at the Star Bar in Little Five Points. For those of you who do not live in Atlanta, however, and will not be with us for the toasting with the PBR (that's Blake) and the selling of the t-shirts (that's me), you have a chance to hear the band play tonight.

Tune your browser to WREK, 91.1 tonight at 10pm for a live, in-studio performance by the Young Antiques. They call it "live at WREK". To hear it, click on the live feed link.

You may also buy a real, live copy of the album here, or via iTunes within the next week or so. (It's not there just yet...but will be.)

About the picture: Since I moved to atlanta about a decade ago, I've always wanted to paint the Krog Tunnel entrance. Sunday morning, I finally got my chance - with the help of Blake and a few other friends. It was a blast. Although painting upside down while hanging precariously over moving traffic is at best challenging, and at worst vertigo-inducing. We did a fair enough job though, I think!



September 22, 2008 :: On the road. Again.

Whew. Now that's what I call a weekend. Two mornings up at 7. Two full days of art projects and long dog walks and yard work. Two amazing dinners that ended with Blake and I both asleep on the couch soon after. Something (Claritin overdose? First breath of fall weather? Spider bite?) got into Blake and I the last 48 hours and we busted ass. Weeds, cleared. Dead garden stuff, gone. Back patio plagued by neighbor's nefarious holly-tree berries, swept and ready for grill-outs. Dogs so exhausted from walking they passed out on the front porch without a peep.

And of top of that, we're walking again.

Yeah, remember this started as a walking blog, right?

We never actually stopped, really. Just slowed down a bit for the smoggy, sweltering summer (when I find it hard to breathe outside, and harder to reconcile coming to work so sweaty I need a change of clothes). Now, rejuvenated by fall and spurned on by a need for exercise, we're out and about every single day--on the train to work, on the street toward restaurant dinners, in the neighborhood wearing out Ollie. It also helps that you can't find gas in Georgia right now.

The truck's tank is on empty, and after two attempts to find a gas station that actually had fuel, we gave up. If one anywhere near our house doesn't come back into service soon, I can see myself hiking to work carrying a gas can. (Because somehow, the always 30-cents-a-gallon-more-than-anywhere-else Shell station near my office has fuel.) So, we walked to the Cabbagetown store last night in search of hot dog buns. Then to the train this morning. What we're going to do tomorrow when Blake needs to go perform at the local radio station, I don't know yet.

Regardless, there's a bit of a Mad Max vibe going on around, and it's got my sub-conscious spinning, apparently. Last night, I dreamt an epic storyline where Blake and I are forced to leave our little house and travel with a few belongings to live in some sub-terranean encampment in Grant Park with other city refugees. We had bunk-beds in a large underground dorm where we lived with a dozen others, and, at one point, while Blake was out looking for food, the government came and outsted all of us - told us to grab our stuff and get out, we couldn't stay. Because they were turning the land into live/work condos. We had no cell phones, so I could only leave word to Blake that I was relocating. I spent the rest of the dream looking for him. (Fortunately, I snuck back into our little hovel and found him later, and we decided to go back to our house and just tough it out.) Then, the alarm went off, and I woke up, rattled.

I'm still rattled. And pretty convinced that our country, if not our whole world, is on the edge of some real-life downhill slope.



September 29, 2008 v2 :: We did Good.

A short little blurb (that is actually a week late...sorry), but a project I worked on at my full-timey job can be found in every single Starbucks in the nation. It's the first in a series co-sponsored by GOOD Magazine that gives caffeinated voters the lowdown on election-worthy issues. We made a little world that explains Carbon Emissions and called it "A Field Guide to America's Favorite Greenhouse Gas."

Go get one - it's free! #2 was supposed to launch today, but I still saw these in the store this morning, and I bet if you asked, they'd still be around. You'll find them in a little pocket near the register, or on the customer side of the barista/bar area.


September 19, 2008 :: You complete me. Or at least my library.

When I met Mr. Rainey, I was already a habitual hoarder. I get it honestly. My father keeps a two-story barn jammed full of odds and ends--the plastic colander my mother probably threw out 20 years ago, drawers of nails jimmied free from old boards for re-use in future projects, a barco-lounger frankensteined into a giant, rolling desk chair. Used to be I had a collection of solid-core doors. An army of steel store display shelves. Every piece of paper I generated in graduate school. But then I bought a spec of a house, and had to let go (physically and psychologically) of all the things. Those things I drug around like cemet blocks tied to my ankles for years, but apparently never felt. I've gotten lazier in a lot of ways since then.

I purged. But I never, ever throw out books.

No matter how assinine they are, no matter if I get ten pages in and realize I want to lock the author and my ninth-grade English teacher in a room together until something gives...I keep them. There's probably something psychologically relevant about that too.

When Blake came to live with me in the Cabbagetown bungalow, I thought he was, smartly, moving in gradually. He came with some clothes, a guitar here and there, a box of CDs, some old vinyl, all over the course of a few months. What I didn't realize was that, apart from the clothes on his back, musical equipment and musical recordings, Blake doesn't really own anything. Except books. Those started pouring in, box after box, just recently, as if they'd been hiding in a corner of his life he'd just decided to dig out.

You can tell a lot about a boy by his reading material. As I was shelving last night, I was interpreting a life through titles. (Blake was out, at a rehearsal, so I got to judge him privately.) He's much more of a renaissance man than I. Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rimbaud, Faulkner. I'm more design books, gardening, Anne Lamont, Pahlanunik, Moody, Saramago, Calvino. He's all classics, I've got the arcane non-fiction--the radical interpretations of history, the legacy of salt, the dreams of Einstein. If it's depth-dark, twistedly sad, Blake owns it. If it's written 90% in footnotes or you have to turn the book upside down to read every other page, I've got it.

If a marriage is supposed to be a partnership, this one is going to be a handshake of genres. Lilting prose carried along by copious alliteration meets post-modern colloquialist, faddy banter. I'd better get reading. So should he.

We keep the books primarily in the bedroom. The photo above represents only about 1/4 of the entire collection. The rest flank the bed on the other side, spill onto mantelpieces, fall into stacks in the kitchen, and are shoved between pieces of furniture in dusty, tilting ranks.



September 11, 2008 :: Sunset with Shoes, Wylie St. 30312

Ah, things. They are good. It's just about fall here in Atlanta - I can smell it on the air - and since fall is my hands-down, most favoritest time of year, I'm all fired up and busy and ready to get down to business. Like the business of teaching a new class at Portfolio Center - "Content-Oriented Branding" where Juliet and I will tag-team writers, designers and photographers about creating new, non-marketing material to market products and services. It'll be very cool. And also the very big business of planning a wedding.

Oh yeah, that. The wedding.

I can't reveal some very specific specifics just yet (key parties are not aware and need to be notified. And no, I am not pregnant.), but for a variety of reasons, Mr. Rainey and I will be doing the marriage/celebration/big party thing 'round December of this year now. Not next April, as was previously discussed. And maybe January, depending on musicians' schedules and venue logistics. But so very soon. Invitations have been planned, my dress will arrive in a few weeks, and I've got visions of cupcakes and table rentals and bar fees dancing in my head at all hours of the day and mostly night. It's all $$$ and !!! around here right now, really, and I couldn't be happier. Allergy-ridden, mourning the fact that we just had to eat $3500 worth of damn-hell-bastard-van-related crap (the van is dead, long live the van), and utterly, wildly, stupidly happy.

Now that is a big deal.



September 5, 2008 :: The Omnivore's 100

Now, for the meats. And other stuff.

There are things on this list that I actually will never eat - out of principle or simple lifelong dislike. Those are crossed out. Things I've had are bolded. Others, commented upon heavily.

1. Venison - if deer jerky counts, then yes

2. Nettle tea - Probably. But I can’t say for sure

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile – at the Friendship, Indiana National Muzzle Loader’s Society Conference and “Shoot”

6. Black pudding – On a client trip, during a proper English breakfast in the countryside

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht (I just don’t do beets.)

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho – we tried our hand at making this last night. It was awesome, and really easy. Highly recommended.

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi – not a fan of cauliflower.

15. Hot dog from a street cart – NYC, Muncie IN, Athens GA, Cincinnati

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle – shaved thin in some truly wonderful macaroni & cheese. Very tasty.

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes – my family will make wine out of anything. Dandelions, pineapple, black cherries, mango…you name it.

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries – My parents’ backyard is full of blackberries and raspberries. Yuumm.

23. Foie gras - Just doesn’t seem necessary to me.

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn or head cheese – My predominant heritage: German. So, yeah.

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (I have a low tolerance for things that taste like nothing but pain)

27. Dulce de leche – This I could go for right now.

28. Oysters – fried, grilled, raw, steamed, you name it. We grilled some last weekend, actually.

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas – One of my favorite snack foods.

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi - no. mango lassi, yes.
34. Sauerkraut - Again. Highly German over here.

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar – The cigar I’ve done. The cognac, no.

37. Clotted Cream Tea - boy do I love clotted cream though..have to try this

38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O – made for a very interesting Halloween a few years back

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail – I see this at the farmer’s market all the time. It’s a stew-meat, right?

41. Curried goat – Blake’s favorite thing to get off the DeKalb International Market’s hot bar.

42. Whole insects – I am from Cincinnati, land of the 17-year cicada plague. People eat them. I tried one too. I've also eaten cricket and tequila worms (if those count)
43. Phaal

44. Goat's milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more - maybe $80…

46. Fugu - No reason to eat something that could so readily kill you.

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel – in soup and in sushi. Not really a fan.

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Come on. I live in Atlanta.

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini – lots of olives, lots of brine. Also fond of the vodka variety.

58. Beer above 8% ABV – I’m partnered with a Belgium-loving beer snob. I don’t like the taste of many of them, but I’ve tried quite a few.

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips - Oh my. My mom made us swear off chocolate for a short time. Man. The late 70’s.

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin - something classified as a symptom of an eating disorder does not qualify as a “must taste” food. Sorry.

64. Currywurst – But if I ever go to Berlin, definitely.

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - all of them, baby!

68. Haggis – I’ve eaten the intestine of a number of animals, but no sheep’s stomach yet.

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini – caviar yes. Blini, no.

73. Louche absinthe - I’ve had absinthe home-brewed, smuggled from Spain wrapped in dirty laundry, and dripped, old-school from a decanter in a 200-year old New Orleans bar. This one should count for 3 others.

74. Gjetost or brunost

75. Roadkill - I’m trying to imagine the situation in which this would be a good idea…

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie - for some reason, you can’t buy them in Georgia. It’s a shame.

78. Snail - One commenter on another site guessed snails taste like garlicky tires. They do.

79. Lapsang Souchong

80. Bellini - These are one of the tastiest things on this list.

81. Tom Yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky - I’ve been in Pocky’s presence, but have not partaken

84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu - I’m a cheapskate. Maybe some day.

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers – dandelion, orchid, and various others in salads

89. Horse - I just don’t see any point in this.

90. Criollo chocolate – I’ve had some bad-ass chocolate. Not sure I haven’t had this kind.

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Not as impressive as my vegetarian score. But, I'd say, respectable.

Anyway, I know this list is just someone’s opinion (and I think leans heavily toward the dare-y and pretentious, to be honest), so I’d like to add a few:

- Skyline Chili – Found in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dayton, and in your local Kroger if you live in the South. I’m partial to the five-way with lots of hot sauce, and a little sour cream on top.

- Goetta – Smashed up pork parts and pine nuts, fried up crisp. Ow...arteries...

- U.S. Government Cheese – Seriously. It has a flavor all its own. And, according to Wikipedia, it "slices and melts well." I do remember that...and the giant, orange blocks it used to come in.

- Doubles – Trinidadian sandwich pocket. Probably some of the best street food I’ve ever had.

- Liquorice Allsorts – Black jellybean licorice sucks. This is complex, earthy, chocolatey, not saccharine.

- Palmer Cream Pie - this one’s so particular, I can’t find a recipe online. I know it’s a cream pie with a slight amaretto flavor, a gram crackery crust and shaved chocolate and nutmeg on top. And that my great-grandmother Bergman made it the best.

- A “Fussy Bitch” - Diet Coke and Vanilla Stoli (or, alternately, a "Whiskerino/Cincinnati Bulldog" - A White Russian with a splash of Pepsi)

- Two Buck Chuck

- Stollen – Christmas cake!

- Circus Peanuts

- Bagel from a real NYC deli

- Homemade Pork Rinds



September 4, 2008 :: One-oh-ate.

There's always some time-suck of a meme going around the internets. And I'll glance by them, generally, but usually not follow suit. Recently, I've done two. They're both about food. Here's the first one.

100 things every vegetarian (or, in my case, person-who-eats-more-vegetables-than-meats) should try in their lifetime. I've bolded the ones I've had, and commented on a few others.

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked - Oh yes. This is the only kind Blake will eat, actually.

2. Tabouleh - every single chance I come in contact with it.

3. Freshly baked bread - have breadmaker, will bake. Yes.

4. Fresh figs - my co-worker unloaded half a tree-full on me a few weeks back, actually

5. Fresh pomegranate

6. Indian dal of any sort - There's a strip-mall restaurant in decatur that serves fantastic dal.

7. Imam bayildi - I had to look this one up. Now I want some.

8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu

9. Freshly made hummus - one of my favorite, favorite foods.

10. Tahini - If you've had hummus, you've likely had tahini.

11. Kimchi - If it's fermented or pickled, it's on my favorites list.

12. Miso

13. Falafel

14. Potato and pea filled samosas

15. Homemade yogurt - My mother used to make yogurt in a cool, 70's yogurt maker. Wonder if I could find one on ebay? It was so delicious.

16. Muhammara - the ingredients of this are very familiar. I've probably had it, but can't say for sure.

17. Brie en croute - Every time I have a party. My go-to snack food.

18. Spanikopita

19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes - From my own garden!

20. Insalata caprese

21. Stir-fried greens - kale, collards, and spinach

22. Freshly made salsa - Blake and I make roasted tomato salsa often.

23. Freshly made guacamole - This tastes 1000% better when you make it yourself.

24. Creme brulee

25. Fava beans

26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles

27. Fattoush -Ali Baba's in Atlanta has great fattoush.

28. New potatoes

29. Coleslaw - My middle name is cabbage.

30. Ratatouille -I have it in my recipe pile to cook this month though!

31. Baba ganoush

32. Winter squash - also a throwback to my childhood. We grew LOTS of squash.

33. Roasted beets - I don't do beets.

34. Baked sweet potatoes

35. Plantains - sugary and just plain fried.

36. Chocolate truffles

37. Garlic mashed potatoes

38. Fresh water chestnuts - canned, yes. Fresh? I don't think so...

39. Steel cut oats

40. Quinoa - quinoa is the most underrated and best grain on earth. We make this once a week.

41. Grilled portabello mushrooms

42. Chipotle en adobo

43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal - got a tub of this in my pantry right now, awaiting the frying of some okra

44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas -The BEST. I've even made the flour variety myself.

45. Frittata

46. Basil pesto

47. Roasted garlic

48. Raita of any type - man, I think I have to go get indian for dinner.

49. Mango lassi

50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)

51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry

52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie - Roasted seeds.

53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette - made plum cake the other night, actually

54. Quince in any form - I stepped over piles of these on a street in CA, but never ate one.

55. Escarole, endive or arugula

56. Sprouts other than mung bean - broccoli sprouts. Also, that mixed variety you find on salad bars sometimes is awesome--crunchy, earthy

57. Naturally brewed soy sauce - I've been to a few really nice Chinese places in the south. Also, just bought a bottle of natural soy sauce the other day for home!

58. Dried shiitake mushrooms

59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…) - blue potatoes, black bell peppers.

60. Fresh peach ice cream - oh yes.

61. Chevre

62. Medjool dates

63. Kheer - this stuff is tapioca and rice-pudding's love child. VERY tasty.

64. Flourless chocolate cake

65. Grilled corn on the cob - Every single week since grilling season started this year.

66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili - For lunch today!

67. Tempeh - I love tempeh. On a hoagie roll with cheese and veg's...mmmmm.

68. Seitan or wheat gluten - A couple times. Unfortunately, it makes me sick.

69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese

70. Sweet potato fries - with sriracha/honey sauce from the bar down the street from my house...oh yeah.

71. Homemade au gratin potatoes

72. Cream of asparagus soup - the cafeteria at my first corporate job served this...

73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip

74. Mushroom risotto - i've had all kinds of risotto...just not mushroom for some reason.

75. Fermented black beans

76. Garlic scapes - I just heard about this. When I plant my garlic, I will be sure to use them.

77. Fresh new baby peas - peas are, sadly, the only widely available vegetable I've not tried fresh. I HATE them frozen or in a can. Maybe next spring.

78. Kalamata olives

79. Preserved lemons

80. Fried green tomatoes - make them myself. mmm.

81. Chinese scallion pancakes

82. Cheese souffle

83. Fried apples

84. Homemade frijoles refritos - An experiment Stephanie and I undertook a while back. A successful experiment.

85. Pasta fagiole

86. Macadamia nuts in any form

87. Paw paw in any form -paw paws grow in my parents' backyard.

88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind

89. Paneer cheese

90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!) - no. But i want to...

91. Fresh pasta in any form - have made this myself too!

92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps

93. Green papaya salad

94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes

95. Pickled ginger - Sushi requirement.

96. Methi greens - this is fenugreek. As many salads as I've eaten, probably. But can't say for sure.

97. Aloo paratha

98. Kedgeree - I think this generally has fish in it. Strange addition to the list...

99. Okra - made a batch last weekend

100. Roasted brussels sprouts - This was my best food discovery of 2007-2008. Roasted with garlic, pine nuts, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Awesome.

Wow. I've only not eaten 15 of these. I didn't do so well on the "meat" version of the list...



August 30, 2008 :: Chucks vs Vans, St. Louis Cathedral

What else can I say about our trip to New Orleans:
  • I think I hate Bourbon Street. I mean, the hour or so we spent at Pat O'Brien's piano bar, swilling down $10 kool-aide-of-death and requesting songs the piano mistress hadn't played in decades (Tom Waits and Nina Simone fall to the bottom of the list when smashed 21-year olds in tiara'd bachelorette attire request Sweet Home Alabama four times in a row, I suspect), was really fun in a dank, touristy way. But nothing else on that street is. I promise you.
  • Because I disliked Bourbon Street so much, I think I'd rather don a tiara and parade through the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's, naked, than get anywhere near Marti Gras.
  • I didn't eat enough "real" New Orleans food...because we're not locals and I have no idea where the "good, cheap, authentic" type grub is. The $14 po-boy I had at the fancy french-named place was effing excellent...but I'm sure we could have done better. Anyone have some suggestions?
  • The night Blake and the guys finally played, I lost track of him for an hour and a half--until I realized they were on in 10 minutes and he was nowhere to be found. He had apparently snuck upstairs to a hidden third floor (!) of the ancient club to take a nap on a couch. While searching the Quarter for him, I encountered at least 5 bars/venues with awesome-sounding music coming out of them, and fantastic-looking, my-type-of-people clientele. I was thoroughly freaked out about not knowing where he was, but the impromptu pub crawl was awesome.
  • Best quote of the weekend: (From a coked-out radio exec wearing a tie-dyed Grateful Dead shirt whom we met standing next to the hotel elevator) "Daaaamn, Maaan. (sniiifff) Is this elevator goin' up, down, or sideways?"
  • I saw no ghost tours, no garden district, and no cemeteries. That, among other reasons, is why we'll be heading back for another weekend very soon.



August 29, 2008 :: North

Sometimes I think back, way back, to a sunny day when I was probably thirteen. I was trying (in vain) to tan in the backyard of my parents' house in Indiana, attempting to bronze myself into the confidence to wear skirts that bared my twiggy, pasty legs. I was reading Orwell, and thinking not about 1984, but about 1994, 2004, 2024. I wondered very specifically that day what my hair would look like when I was a grown woman, a real adult. I wondered if I'd have a job I liked. Who my friends would be. Where I'd live. I thought, "who will I marry?"

Sometimes the 2008 me wanders back there and plays the matching game. "I live hundreds of miles from this backyard. My hair is curly and short and brown. I can't believe people pay me to write - all day long. My friends are very different, though I still think about the ones I had then...." I've done it a lot lately, because I've finally answered the last question. "I'll marry a man named Blake." That I never would have guessed. I'd never known a Blake then.

I remember wishing back then that the guy I'd marry would be smart. That he'd read lots of books. That he'd not be some meat-head jock, some guy's guy, some asshat that thought with his lesser member. I hoped he'd be cute. (probably cute...handsome has hardly ever intrigued me). That he'd be fun. That he'd like music and not be concerned with being "cool".

I wish I could remember more - or remember if I'm really matching these things up now because they fit so nicely with who I am marrying--if I'm re-writing history because it seems so right, or because I really wanted those exact things? I wish I knew.

And I wonder if now, when I think, "What will i be like in 2028? Will my hair be gray? Will I have children? Will I love Blake even more than I do now?" if I might be somewhere twenty years from now, re-writing today's wishes in my head to suit that present.



August 28, 2008 :: South

We came back talking about moving there. The candy-colored shuttered windows had gotten me. The music-friendly vibe, the fantastically cool ordinary folks, him. The fact that New Orleans is a city, but a small one; a scene, but a wildly eclectic one; a place that's surface-level debaucherous but somehow very sweet, impressed us both. Everybody falls in love with New Orleans, right? It's a dangerous new boy, that one that you coveted in 5th period math class, all brooding and damaged and probably really, really bad for you. It's that crazy week in a west-coast city on the corporate dime, $700 dinner on the Amex, four shots of tequila, giggling through the airport strip search knowing that you'll never breathe a word about the fun once you're back home. Everybody loves the Mardi Gras city, right--the masks and the pirates and the voodoo? We're just that ordinary, I guess. But we're also the kind of people who would absolutely pack up the dogs, drive down one weekend and just plain stay, because I think what I loved so much more than all that above, was the overwhelming everyday-ness I could see everywhere. I could see us chatting up favorite shop-owners on our way home from work. I could see us in the Pravda bar on Tuesday nights, playing chess. I could see us unlocking the big, shuttered door on an ancient, tiny apartment.

It's was the brightest vision I'd had in a long time.



August 25, 2008 :: All Hail the Green Fairy

So, the last thing I said (a million years or so ago) was something about absinthe, right? Ah yes. Considering I drank the gorgeous elixer above moments after I snapped this picture, I'm a bit surprised I remember.

Ok, enough romanticization of alcohol. The green stuff up there is fascinating, and caustic, and knocked me out like a handful of Benadryl. It was a welcome effect, as our first night in New Orleans went something like this:
  1. Enter Orleans Parish sweaty and tired, check-engine light on the Van blaring. Call club. Find out that club's owner's wife had just passed away.'s still OK to load equipment in, so come on over!
  2. Arrive at locked, vacant club. Wait. Chat with locals hanging out on stoop.
  3. Meet the fantastic Miss Kathy, who is from Blake's hometown, and who, coincidentally, knows everyone Blake knew in elementary school. Weird, but awesome.
  4. Leave equipment at Kathy's adorable French Quarter apartment. Drive, and park van at hotel.
  5. Bask in the glory that is our clean hotel room. It comes with fruit! And Cheese! And sparklinkg water! And a note for "Mr. Eric Francis."
  6. Eat cheese anyway. Screw Mr. Francis.
  7. Walk through French Quarter back to club.
  8. Find ourselves immediately swamped by jazz funeral. Eat memorial red beans and rice
  9. Go across the street to bar as club fills with rowdy (?!) mourners.
  10. One hour later, re-enter club to find that rowdy mourners outnumber concert-goers 10 to 1.
  11. Watch truly awful, tone-deaf singer woman embarrass talented (and very nice) studio musicians by wailing like a wounded dog in front of them, on-stage. Sing correct notes and harmonies very loudly, laughing hysterically.
  12. Watch Dave Chapelle-esque comedian do interim/band changeover show.
  13. Watch Dave Chapelle-esque comedian introduce second, abrasive comedian.
  14. Think, huh. That's interesting.
  15. Listen to second, abrasive, apparently racist comedian call Blake a "picnic-shirt wearin', Opie-lookin' mother f**ker" on stage, into the microphone, as Blake attempts to set up his gear.
  16. Watch as Blake swallows hard and holds his Southern-boy tongue. Breathe sigh of relief that I will not need to mount stage and break up fight.
  17. Listen to jokes get longer, louder, and truly offensive, then ponder future of night as hard-core rap group takes stage.
  18. Look around to realize drummer's wife and I are the only Caucasian people in the room.
  19. Watch some really interesting dancing.
  20. Get backed into a corner, surrounded, and begin feeling very uncomfortable.
  21. Leave club. Watch Blake & Kevin argue with concert promoter who has totally lost control of his venue.
  22. Agree on performance for next night.
  23. Shove through undulating, to be honest, scary crowd, to get equipment.
  24. Deposit equipment at the (again) fantastic Kathy's apartment.
  25. Find a quiet bar.
  26. Drink absinthe.
More later.



August 12, 2008 :: The rubber and the road

I love road trips. And tomorrow I will be leaving on a rather fantastic one that will entail at least two (a third is in flux) rock-type shows, a suite at a hotel I know will be clean, well-appointed and feature ice-cold air conditioning (Starwood-owned hotels just plain rock the hell out of any motel 6, La Quinta, HoJo, Best Western-type establishment. Oh, so much do they rock with the mod decor, the Bliss products, the Tazo tea with your little coffeemaker...), awesome food, awesome drinks of the mixed variety, fantastic architecture, and 1990's era mix-tapes blasted obnoxiously from a '91 Econoline van speeding due south from Atlanta.

This is band-trip #2: Musicians and significant others go to New Orleans. Woo hoo!

I need a nap just thinking about it.

I feel unprepared. I haven't had a lot of time to explore what I should do or see while we're there. That's nothing new for me, really. What's weird is that I almost expect the city to just suck me in and show me where we need to be. My better judgment knows that this has backfired in the past and left me and company meandering aimlessly through various places (one snoozer of a trip to Baltimore stands out), but I can't shake it. Maybe I'll do a little googling this afternoon. Just to be safe.

I will take pictures. I will try hard to not drink too many hurricanes. (My father tells me a weakness for rum-punchy drinks is something I've inherited from my mother. Knowing her and the stories, I don't have a chance.) I will rock my face off, with abandon, at every opportunity.

I will write you when I get back.


August 6, 2008 :: "Laid Back"

Wow. Been a long time. I think this blog has already captured the 3 words I’ve felt inclined to say this summer. Between the heat and the smog, the crazy month at work and now the dead month, I’m out of whack, uninspired, and on the edge of making some kind of drastic change. Ideas this week have included digging up the entire yard and re-planting every square inch, dreaming about full time freelancing, and selling 90% of what we own and buying a tiny vacation trailer to pull behind the truck. All of them still sound awesome.

Anyway, it’s a bad day to be considering big things, however, since it is that day this month, that day that wreaks havoc on my emotions and better judgment and apparently, vital organs, as all those below the belt feel as if they’ve been punched. I cried last night. About voting. Something’s really off, and Mr. Rainey is doing his best male duck-and-cover, bless his heart. He’s so sweet, it makes me feel bad even thinking about how short I was with him about his driving, his socks on the floor, the record cover design we’ve been working on, his existence, in the room, next to me on the couch, taking up all that SPACE….yeah. I’m really sorry and apparently really crazy.

At least though, I’m not online dating. (Nice segueway, huh?) Oh, but my friend is, and she has a question for all men out there. What’s up with describing yourself as “laid back?” It’s ubiquitous, it seems. If you’re male and you’re on one of the very popular dating service sites, you’re apparently the easy goin’ist guy you'd ever hope to meet. Which makes you suspect, simply because, having dated a good number of men, I know the odds are not in your favor that you are actually in any way “laid back.” This is the truth of advertising. Yell loud enough that you’re something, and it’s a given that you are exactly the opposite of that something, and are trying very hard to cover it up. Who knows? Maybe it’s that, or maybe they’re just lazy, or inarticulate, or their moms have told them they’re laid back. All of those things bring to light other problems that make them not a good date. But that’s another post.

Regardless, all of this makes me very happy that I am taken, and hope to stay that way. I guess I’d better be nicer to him about the socks.



July 31, 2008 :: A quart low.

Monday night I came home with the intention, and, uniquely, also the motivation to clean the house. Blake was out with a friend, the dogs were acting fairly well-behaved in the front yard, so I broke out the Method spray and the swiffer and the vacuum and got down to it. An hour or so later, laundry in arms, and with Ollie (now inside) trailing merrily behind me, I rounded the corner from the bedroom through the hallway toward the kitchen (where the laundry machine lives). I did this with the grace and calm of an adult human. Ollie, on the other hand, made this maneuver with the spastic, jelly-legged entropy of an 8 month old puppy. Totally appropriate, but not without consequence.

In her crazy joy, she slid into the 50 pound mirror leaning up against the back wall of the hallway, and brought it down on her--glass shattering and splintering into every crevice on that side of the house. I heard it fall. I saw her run ahead of me. And then, I saw the blood.

Catching an excited puppy in the best of situations is not easy. Catching an excited, bleeding puppy on the verge of shock as you yell obscenities at the situation (though, for all she knows, you're yelling at her), is nearly impossible. She made it through the kitchen and entire living room, trailing crazy wisps of high-velocity spatter before I caught her. As I give her the once-over, slippery with dog blood, I'm wondering if she's lost a whole LEG. But, it seems she's only bleeding (though profusely) from a 2-inch gash on the lower part of her right hind leg. And she's being ticklish as I check her out. Squirmy. Playful. Dorky. I think "good god, dog. If you do bleed out, at least you'll go out having a great old time."

At 7:50 in the evening, the options for emergency veterinary services are slim in ITP Atlanta. The vets are all closed. The one place I knew of, the "24-7! 365!" variety didn't have a vet on call that night. (I think they should change their advertising.) So, I broke down and called Banfield, the Pet

I've had run-ins with them before. One particular run-in with both the dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers reception staff and the impatient, defensive vet that I'm fairly sure got my name flagged in their computer system as raving b**ch #1.* But I deferred to the bleeding dog on the floor next to me, and called anyway. Huge mistake.

The woman that answered sounded as if I'd woken her from a nap. I told her, hurriedly, breathlessly, that my dog had been in an accident, was bleeding quite a bit, and could I bring her there. She said I had "8 minutes". I asked them if the vet could wait maybe 2 more than that? She said, with a sigh, "call (previously mentioned not-quite-24-hour vet)." I said "they don't have a damn vet on call right now!" My tone was, well, probably exasperated at this point. She told me "not to cuss at her." I reeled, and said, uh...ok...well, so can I bring her to you or not? She told me not to yell at her. She then put me on hold. For at least 3 minutes. I don't know, because that's when I hung up.

I'm imagining calling 911 and getting this response. I'm imagining speaking with an officer at the scene of a bloody accident and being walked away from. I'm running over in my head all the MUCH BETTER ways this woman could have handled my panic and my rushed tone. Much better than being concerned that I was bothering her in the last 8 minutes of her shift. Also, in what universe is "damn" a word so bad that you'd need to call a person on it? At this moment, Ollie still bleeding, running out of options, I'm considering this awful woman the worst person on earth. I don't like the feeling, but I'm hoping she's now panicking on her end, trying to explain to the vet how she might have just killed someone's dog.

Rant over. Another phone call got me to a local boarder/vet who was cleaning up for the night. She was calm, helpful, sympathetic, and told me exactly where I should take Ollie. We ended up at a gleaming, bustling, friendly ER-heaven for pets - a giant teaching hospital attached to what I'm guessing is a veterinary school. They were awesome. Expensive as hell, but awesome.

Ollie will be fine. She has stitches, she's a cone-head for the next week or so, and we have no way to see ourselves full-length after we dress in the morning. But all is well.

Except in my head, where I still can't believe uncaring wastes like the Banfield receptionist exist.

*Briefly, here's that story. The lovely miss Jane, my other dog, was a stray picked up by a charitable but non-dog-compliant friend. She had early-stage heartworms, barely adult worms, just above the level where they give the dog a couple Heartguards, a shot of Jim Beam, and send them on their way. Upon finding this, Banfield apparently saw both a sick dog and a huge sucker before them--and proceeded to double-treat jane with Ivermectin (the insecticide that kills the worms), as well as trump up charges, overnight stays, extra exams, and countless duplicate services they apparently figured I wouldn't notice. I called them on it--pointed out charges that made no sense, and test after duplicate test. To say they were defensive was an understatement. I told them what I thought of their idiot staff and their money-grubbing policies, and took all 4 of my pets at the time elsewhere. I also canceled the bank card from which they were getting payment on the "wellness" plan they'd also suckered me into. They dropped the plan and left me alone. I think I made my point.



July 21, 2008 :: Bruce Berry was a workin' man...*

It's taken me a full week to recover. After four shows, four days, three states, and a gazillion hours in a sweltering 1991 Econoline van, I came to work heat-stroked, worn to the bone, and more grateful of the invention of air conditioning than I'd been in years - and I didn't play a NOTE or exert myself in front of even one person, much less several hundred per night. Blake, Blake and Kevin are better men than I.

I feel, after this first trip into band-on-the-road-land, like I've fulfilled some kind of karmic, full-circle thing in my life and my parents'. Growing up, I kind of thought that everybody's basement was full of audio equipment, instruments, and long-haired dudes with microphones in their hands. I think I thought "when you grow up, you buy a bread truck, load your significant other in the back with the amps, and drive town to town, staying in every seedy motel along the way." That was "adult" for my little brain - since the stories my parents told all centered around clubs with chicken wire over the stages, little rest-stops along neglected highways and lead singers who saw God in midwestern bathroom mirrors. It was all day-jobs and red-eye flights, laundromats, tour buses, and weeks in the Big Easy hovering over absinthe fountains. It was obvious to me that they had this really interesting life before my brother and I came along, and I thought that would be my life too. I've mentioned this before, but when I was born, my arrival was toasted by a couple hundred strangers in a smoky bar, miles away from me and my mom in the hospital. How could I have not thought this stuff?

Obviously, as I got older, that vision changed a bit. But last weekend, I couldn't help but feel the ghost of all those stories creep down the road with us. I had a blast. I ate pork rinds for dinner and slept in a hotel where all the drawers were full of used porn. I woke up in the back of the parked van at midnight to the sound of enthusiastic, ear-splitting Judas Priest covers. (the opening band in Ft. Walton Ever seen a 6'5" LARP aficionado in leather pants do something called "the dance of the T-Rex?" yeah. Wow.) I've got my own stories to add to the pot now. And we'll do it all again in New Orleans in a couple weeks.

I wonder if they've still got the absinthe fountains?

*From Neal Young's "Tonight's the Night"



July 17, 2008 :: pwned

Well, that little internet-speakage is a bit rough, actually. Let's just call it a symbol of sticktuitiveness on both of our parts. In general, I don't like many of the wedding-esque traditions (including garter-tossing, male patriarchs being required to "walk me" anywhere, having/holding/obeying, etc and etc). And this engagement-ring thing even is something that we bucked for the longest time. But, you know what, I like jewelry. And when you have a very sweet person who wants to marry you saying "but I WANT to buy you a piece of jewelry," what are you going to say?

I said yes. Three times, actually: once during the "discussion" proposal months ago, once when the ring came the first time, months later (in a size that would only fit a toddler), and again when a Kendra-appropriate sized ring arrived about a month ago. (i have "muscular" fingers, the jeweler tells me. Hey, I type all day--the free weights of digit workouts.).

So, here it is. Your first glimpse of wedding glory: the ring.

Hand-made, hand-hammered sterling silver with inlaid freshwater pearls. Totally one-of-a-kind.

I totally love it.

(Sorry about the quality of the picture. I plan to take a better one with the better camera...just haven't gotten around to it. It's summer, and the blood (and brain) are running on energy conservation mode.)



July 8, 2008 :: Helllooooooooo.....

Er hm. Yeah, yeah. I'm here somewhere. Work wedding house fourth Waits parties vacation laundry crankiness freelance tequila gardening tattoos whining sleeping cooking...there you go for reasons that relate to not posting.

Actually, there's kind of another reason too. I'm a little honked off at the internet in general right now. Disappointed. Mainly in the timbre of the typing out there. In a couple places, it's slowly eating away at my faith in humanity, and I'm finding that a bit hard to deal with.

Bitchy bride to stop reading you--everyone's got problems, and the fact that you're in a hair-tearing tizzy because your MOH (that's Matron of Honor in douchebag wedding text-parlance) is wearing a dress that might "upstage" you makes me want to slit my wrists. Irrational ranting on the neighborhood message're making me feel like I live among lunatics who are likely to storm my door and ride me and Mr. Rainey out of the hood on a rail. Bad grammar, terrible spelling, awful sentence construction vomited out in the heat of snarky, close-minded comments to otherwise high-minded publications....something is obviously terribly wrong with the American educational system, and I might move to Canada. Tomorrow.

Ergh. Ack. Grrrmph.

That's why.