Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

Red Hot American Summer July 13, 2009

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All right, all right.

I’m forced to give in here and admit that the London post is going to take much longer than expected to pull together, and I’d feel like a bad friend, daughter and blogger if I left the slate blank for much longer without so much as a word to indicate I’m still alive, kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs a la John Mayer (anyone else captivated by the irony that he sings that line in falsetto – and that he still has a career?)

I’m writing to you now from Davidson, North Carolina, no longer an Ohioan, no longer 9 to 5-ing it, no longer sure of the future, and bizarrely at peace with all of this.

And assuredly having the best summer of my adult life.

Probably because it so closely resembles the summers of my childhood. Yes, we’re fixing up a house and I do wait the occasional table. But somehow I’ve been granted this incredible situation in which I (for a couple of months, anyway) have less cares and more free time, in which I ride bikes, go swimming, get enough sleep, go for ice cream, go to the movies, take late-night walks, take road trips, take naps. I was finally able to visit Evil Twin,  who’s now a mere three hours away, and not only did we go out on the town dressed to the nines and drank a few pints, we STOLE A DOG. Yep, this dog had run away from its home too many times and when it nearly got hit by a car, its family officially lost ownership rights. Now she’s Moose’s new big sis.

I live this way knowing that, just like summer break, the bells will soon be ringing, calling me back to a more regimented lifestyle in which there are rules and responsibilities. We’ll be taking another day trip to Wilmington to scout the campus area for apartments. J and I came to an agreement that  our safety and well-being are probably more important than being able to walk to the farmer’s market. And then there’s also an impending job hunt looming over my head.

But right now I’m going outside to catch some lightning bugs.

And the rest can wait.

~a

Oh, and, P.S.  Something completely unrelated, but nonetheless hysterical:
Designated Drivers

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All Good Things… May 18, 2009

BinkysMovingVan_edited1Question: If a moving van leaves Columbus, Ohio at 8am on May 31st, and the moving couple departs from the same location at 9:45am (running late due to animals, long goodbyes and several “final” sweeps of the house), how long will it take said couple to question whether or not they’re making the right decision?

Answer: Approx. -17 days.

That’s right, it really hit us last Friday – the questioning of our sanity, that is. J and I were sitting on the front porch at a friend’s house, celebrating someone’s birthday with a cookout and good conversation on a beautiful spring evening. A warm breeze tousled our hair; we ate strawberries and cream and sipped gin and tonic and laughed. A lot.

I looked at J.

J looked at me.

And the look said something like:

“Dude. Wtf?”

It was the pained expression of how-can-we-leave-all-this-behind? I mean, what were we thinking when we decided to chuck the city we’ve both come to love and defend?? (Actually, I think we were thinking how much we loathe only getting to have real lives 6 months out of the year due to Ohio’s atrocious winters. And we’d just been to Miami in March, which will make anyone want to go beach bum). So, okay – we had our reasons. But that doesn’t make it any easier, now that the Dark Ages of winter have subsided, to let go of some of the more positive relationships we’ve established here.

It’s the few negative ones I’ve established, however, that are helping to ease that blow.

Like the guy at UDF who insists on being weird about my ice cream order every bloody time I go in there? Him I can do without. (If he’s not giving me 12 scoops of ice cream, he’s doubling my Deep Freeze into a melty tower of ice cream doom). And the parking lot attendant I walk past every day who finally put his head out the car window and screamed, “Hey pretty girl, what’s your name?” perhaps not thinking that if I took this poorly (which I did), we’d have to have a nice, awkward moment EVERY MORNING that I have to walk by his car.

And then there’s the literal relationships: the ex I won’t have to run into because we’ll no longer live down the street from each other. I cannot WAIT to live in a place where I don’t have to hear all about his g.d. band and to not have to tell people that, no, I do not in fact enjoy his music and, no, I would not like to go see him play at the local bar, and, yes, he DOES sound like a blatant rip off of Bob Dylan and/or Bruce Springsteen (depending on the song), and, yes, I have noticed that every song sounds like the last and, oh yes, he does really seem to like himself. (These conversations are admittedly somewhat enjoyable as they round the corner and become full-on Haterade toasts)

Finally, there are a few that I can’t even mention due to the expanding readership of this blog. You just never know, and I’m not in the clear yet. Lame People I Can Do Without – you probably know who you are, anyway.

Despite all of these, for the first time since I’ve started serial relocating, the mass of “Things I will Miss” is formidable. So much so that when J gave me that look, and I returned it, I really did have to think hard about what we’re on the verge of doing.

And yet….

I came out on the other end of all that contemplation still ready to pack my bags. Because this time, we’re doing it together. And this time, we’re going to do things the way we want to: create friendships that can be our own and not remnants of previous relationships; control our house (i.e. without the t.v.-as-background noise philosophy and as though Mr. Clean was our bald-headed third roomie – which could make a really awesome sitcom, come to think if it); fill our bedroom with playpen balls because we’re grown-ups now and it’s our turn to decide what that means!!! (Thank you, xkcd).

I’ve done one helluva job as a loner for the majority of my life, and I can’t speak for J (actually, I can; he’s lived with girlfriends before and is admittedly terrified of ruining everything…), but I’m hell bent on learning to live with someone else. I want a partner this time around. I’ve done Independence! and I’m tired of doing it all alone. Now that I know I’m capable of surviving without anyone, I want to do more than just survive.

And I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather take that ride with.

~a

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

In the event you have no idea to what I was referring...

 

The Ballad of Evil Twin May 8, 2009

Filed under: happiness,life,road trip,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 7:31 pm
Tags: , , , ,

n28501299_31455424_110Let us begin with a little clarification: Evil Twin is neither evil nor my twin.

I would say she is merely my sister, but that’s not entirely true either. Evil Twin has been everything from my sworn enemy to my best friend. She is my partner in crime, my creative cohort and, if we’re being honest here (and why not?), a source of both inspiration and frustration.

Our history begins in a hospital waiting room. E.T. (ha!) has come to see her new little sister for the first time. She is 3 years old and small for her age, dwarfed by the chair she sits in. Someone, perhaps mom herself, places a bundle of blankets and pink, wrinkled baby into E.T.’s arms. Someone has a camera on hand to capture the moment, and here is what the evidence shows: E.T. with her elbow on the armrest of the chair, leaning her face on the palm of her hand, eyes rolled upward to the camera, brow furrowed, mouth pouty, barely holding the screaming, red-faced baby in her lap.

That snapshot is a pretty accurate portrayal of our first 16 years together. Me: trying, and perpetually failing, to gain her approval. Her: trying, perpetually to be left alone. There were moments of triumph for me during those years – times when her guard would drop just long enough for her to allow me to tag along on a shopping trip or evening at the coffee shop – but these were few and far between.

Flash forward to E.T. leaving home for college: Everything changed. I’m not entirely sure what occurred here. Perhaps I had finally done enough growing up that she and I had something to talk about? Perhaps the first move (we’d made many as military brats) without us awoke a new appreciation for her family? Your guess is as good as mine. The certainty here is that we quickly became allies and haven’t budged as such since.

Now flash WAY forward to 2:28pm, Friday, May 8, 2009. Evil Twin is currently on her way to Columbus (likely somewhere in West Virginia). Just her and Moose (Gabe’s little quasi Chihuahua cuz). She is strong, fierce, independent. She is recently separated.

Yes, Evil Twin feels as though she’s awoken from a blurry dream, many years long. Rather than crumble along with her marriage, though, she’s done something quite the opposite.

I don’t know what set the snowball rolling exactly; I could take an educated guess. I got a call from her one evening, and the rest was history. Within weeks she had asked for a separation (with inevitable divorce, as her husband’s behavior has only served to put any doubts to rest), found friends to stay with, then a room to sublet. Those first few nights I spoke with her, she was terrified and having difficulty imagining life without her husband. Well I knew she could. The whole family did. I mean, this is the girl who, during a high school trip to England, took a train from London to Ipswich BY HERSELF, then trekked across the moors on foot to reach the tiny hamlet and sturdy old home where my father had lived for a year as a child. But her state of mind was a testament to the power of influence from someone you think you love and you think loves you.

In the past couple of weeks, she’s been involved in volunteer work, taken an interest in Super 8 film and started a personal blog. She’s nurturing the few friends that were hers and hers alone (most had been mutual, if not just her husband’s), imagining up plans and inviting people along. She’s offered to be assistant director for a local production of Cabaret.

In short: Evil Twin is back.

I’m finally seeing the girl who planned to move to overseas with me (even if we never did it…), the girl who jumped in a car to drive to Canada with me because we had a couple of days to kill, the girl who had always imagined something greater for herself than becoming a housewife and hockey mom. Here is the girl who’s acceptance I always wanted and finally have (no kidding – the night she invited me out with her and bought me my first Milky Way Latte, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven). In truth, we’ve accepted each other, flaws and all, and have found we make quite the team.

Part of me, I think, has been waiting for this version of her to emerge (there have been temporary glimpses over the years, some of my favorite memories) as long as I’ve known her. It’s just a bit mind blowing to finally see her standing, in full color in my living room. She glows.

Yes, it’s painfully beautiful to see the real Evil Twin step forward. There are many things I’ve hoped for; and many times I’ve been heartbreakingly disappointed. So when something like this, something I’ve hoped for perhaps since I lay writhing in my sister’s lap 28 years ago, actually comes to fruition? Have you ever been so happy it hurts your chest a little? And you risk short-circuiting your keyboard with your stupid happy tears?

Well, you get the idea then.

~a

 

The GHP Part III January 19, 2009

…. We met up with J’s Dad and sister at a little restaurant by the lake. It was late in the evening, and we were starving, and I looked like hell (still on the mend from my illness with a nasty, lingering cough that was oh-so-ladylike…), but I was excited to finally see in person at least two of the until-now fictitious characters in J’s stories. We arrived first, and ordered drinks, and as the two of them walked in, I felt this bizarre sense similar to what you might feel upon seeing Jude Law or Jennifer Aniston (or whoever) in your grocery store buying milk or kumquats (or whatever). I had seen them in so many pictures, and had such a crisp idea of them in my mind, and now, here they were, real-life people. And not at all scary. And, in fact, very much like myself and my family.

We had a great dinner, then headed home to pass out for a long night of much-needed sleep. It would be the last of its kind until we arrived back in Columbus.

There was much touring of the area, and the weather was unseasonably warm, so I fit in a run and we walked into town and around the local college campus. (It seems my campus-phobia is on the mend, and I may soon even be able to return to school, should I perhaps desire such things…) J’s older brother and mom flew in on New Year’s Eve, and his Dad decided we should all try this renowned soul food restaurant in Charlotte called LeWon’s. It was in a tiny little strip mall on a questionable side of town, and shared a parking lot with a gas station. The interior wasn’t much to talk about, but MY GOD. When they put that food down on our table, the smell was almost overwhelming, and everything we tried was phenomenal. We left stuffed and schooled. Never judge collard greens, mashed potatoes and candied yams by their cover.

From there, J’s parents took off for New Year’s in Charleston, SC, and the rest of us headed home to prepare for the festivities. The party began relatively early and wound down in the wee hours on New Year’s Day (actually, it even continued after that when, a few hours after some had finally gone to bed, others returned to make breakfast for everyone). What happened in between is hard to summarize, but the key moments were these:

-Evil Twin and In-Law return to join in the party.

-Massive, four-table beer pong tournament is organized

-At midnight, the hands-down biggest guy at the party pops the cork on a bottle of champagne, sends spray flying, splashes a bit on this weird, little guy that no one invited. Weird, little guy gets booted (by force) from the party. Peaceful merriment resumes.

-An hour later, flashlights are seen in the back and front yards. The local cops caught Weird, Little Guy who was underage and had an illegal blood-alcohol measurement. He sings like a canary and tells them where to find the party. They try to enter the house without a warrant, and we immediately usher the few underage guests (J’s little sister is only 18.) up to a little room upstairs. (Or, as one of the guest astutely put it, “We had to pull some Anne Frank sh#t on those underaged kids.”

-Cops try to search the house, but J reminds them that they have no right to do such things without a warrant, and appeases them, instead, by have all of us bring our I.D.’s to the cops. After ruining the mood for a good hour, cops let us off the hook, tell us to keep it down and finally get lost. Merriment resumes.

-We get a roaring bonfire going (by which I mean, Evil Twin and I use our pyromaniac tendencies to stoke the fire with empty beer boxes, random trash items and the occasional alcohol). Sparklers ensue.

Admittedly, I crashed early, but only because I knew very well that another night of partying would follow, and as my body is unaccustomed as of late to such hardcore debauchery, I knew I should rest up. The next night proved to be much of the same, with the addition of marshmallow-roasting and hot-tubbing. And this, my friends, is the origin of the newly-minted terms “brominizer” and “brominization.” Apparently the process of adding bromine to water is called brominization, but this also seemed the perfect descriptor for the excessive man-love that occurred as a natural effect of the joyous reunion of a large group of male friends and relatives. See below for examples.

And so it went, and there was plenty more I’m leaving out, I’m sure. But that’s a fairly accurate summation of how I went rogue for 11 days.

Thank you to all involved. We must do it again sometime.

~a

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In Which I Time Travel (The Only Possible Explanation) December 10, 2008

So I’ve been awake now for, oh, 3 and a half hours, and, up until about 5 minutes ago, seriously believed with all my heart that today was Thursday.

I have just been informed otherwise.

I swear I’m 27 going on 77 sometimes.

Didn’t help that I awoke late and rushed out of J’s house to be greeted in the face by fat drops of 33-degree rain and gusting winds (which generally are blinding when you have very long hair).

Which gets me thinking – I don’t know about you, but the winter in the state I live in goes a little something like this: Mid-November the chilly rains set in. By December, the odds of having more than 2 sunny days in a row match those of winning the lottery. Temperatures will undulate just above and far below freezing for months, resulting in alternating rain and snow. This may end, if we’re lucky, by April. (Although, I distinctly recall moving out of my dorm in May one year of college in an endless frigid rain).

Must we bend to this inevitable nasty weather, hang our heads like drooping flowers and give in to hibernation and lethargy for 5 months?? Easy as it would be to give in to temptation and live in sweatpants and pajamas and watch marathon sessions of The Office until May, I have to believe I can do better, that my curiosity and joie de vivre can thrive even when my world is a popsicle.

I feel like we’ve been doing a good job so far…. but it’s only Month 1. If we look at this as a 5k, we’re just getting warmed-up. So, here are some ideas we’ve done, and some still to attempt. Granted, some of them are specific to my neck of the woods, but feel free to swipe them for your own, and to offer additions, too:

When the weather is chilly, but not too precipitous:

1) Take a road trip to a nearby shopping destination (I’m NOT talking outlet malls. Think more along the lines of tiny, quaint and/or eccentric locales with town squares or main drags dense with little shops and eateries – if you look hard enough, they’re everywhere). A dusting of snow generally triples or quadruples the nostalgia-factor.

2) Take in a play. Chances are, you definitely don’t do this enough when the weather’s grand (although, here we have a Shakespeare in the Park company that puts on relatively entertaining outdoor shows), so take this opportunity to discover a community theater or local company. Some of the small, fringe ones put on the most intriguing stuff, so if you’re not exactly up for another rendition of “The Sound of Music” or “Death of a Salesman,” try one of these instead. (They also tend to be much more affordable than traveling Broadway series-type shows).

3) Local music. I cannot toot my effing horn loud enough on this one:) Having been on the stage-side of the music scene for so long, I know the winter months are bleak for musicians. Do them (and yourself) a huge favor: cozy up in a warm, little venue (I’m not saying you must go to some piece of shite dive bar only to have your eardrums blown out by an uberloud punk band – unless you like that sort of thing), grab a beer or a glass of wine, and be serenaded by an acoustic duo or a bluegrass band… or a girl who maybe rocks the piano a little too hard 😉 My roommate’s doing a holiday show in which she will front the band whilst tap dancing. Always ridiculously entertaining.

4) Go to the zoo. No. Seriously. I know it’s cold, but our zoo, and many others across the country, deck themselves in trillions of lights each holiday season, and usually offer features like ice skating, hot chocolate/cider stands and pics with The Claus’. Animals? Lights? Animals AND lights?? What’s not to love?

5) Go to the art museum. Yet another trip we don’t take nearly enough in the warm months, because, let’s face it, who wants to spend two or three hours indoors when it’s 78 degrees and blue-skied outside? Now, however, escaping into a brightly-lit, heated building sounds like a treat. Evil Twin and I have been known to hit up art museums whenever and wherever we can. One time we took the audio-tour of an Egyptian exhibit (with headphones that know which piece you’re standing in front of and give you details accordingly) and I can’t remember why the narrator was so hysterical (I think maybe he just sounded like a pretentious windbag, but who knows?), but Evil Twin and I couldn’t stop laughing at him, and because we had headphones on, our laughter was the only sound in the cavernous rooms and we kept getting dirty looks from the elderly volunteer woman. Awesome.

6) If it has snowed, but the temperature is tolerable, bundle the hell out of yourself, and go for a walk. Do it up right: slide around on the ice (J and I successfully redefined “ice dancing”),  stop to make snow angels in a fresh patch, nail each other with snow balls. Walk to a restaurant or coffee shop where you can warm up and drink something warm before heading home.

When it is just too effing cold to leave the house:

Before you resort to flipping on the television, please consult the following list:

1) READ!!! For the love of god, do not watch t.v. when there’s a good book around. (Check my reading list if you need suggestions)

2) Um. Blog? If you’ve got one, this is a good time to fatten it up a little.

3) Cook or Bake. Warm the house up by putting your oven to use. Now’s a great time to try out recipes you didn’t have time for before. AND you end up with something warm and gooey (and potentially chocolate??) to eat when done.  (Bonus if you make something that allows everyone to lick the bowl).NOTE: If you take the aforementioned dessert or meal and sit in front of the t.v. with it, you lose major points. Sit in front of the fire, or light some candles at the kitchen table, and chow down on whatever you’ve created while you watch the snow fall outside instead.

4) Clean the house. I know this sounds lame, but while Spring Cleaning gets all the glory, there’s something to be said for using all this time cooped up indoors to perk up your prison cell 😉

5) I don’t know how to put this….. um…..”Quality Time” with your S.O., if you have one. And by “Quality Time” I mean whatever that means to you and yours. I put intimacy WAY before Lost reruns.

6) Get your friends together for Rock Band. Or find out which one of your friends has Rock Band and/or MarioKart capabilities, and organize a winter concert and/or tournament at their place. I used to be adamantly anti-video game, but with the advent of the Wii, these things are much more valuable – not only can I actually play them (due to the more obvious controls), but they require interaction and can be great social activities.

7) Devote some time to your inner artist. Whether you play music, draw, paint, sculpt, craft or write (or anything else I left out), spend some time doing a little art for art’s sake. No pressure. No deadline. Just your imagination and a couple of hours to give it some exercise.

8 ) Speaking of which, just because you can’t make it to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t get a workout at your place. Plenty of free downloadable workout videos exist on the internet, or, if you have an animal like Gabe, give that sucker the attention he craves, and I guarantee you will both get a workout.

Right, well, my stomach has just informed me via strange noises that it is beginning to consume itself, so time for lunch. Promise I’ll be back to fill this list out a bit. At its current length, you’ll be out of ideas by New Year’s Day. While I scarf, please enjoy the following xkcd comic, entitled “No One Must Know“:

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~a

 

In Which We Take a Road Trip to Visit Evil Twin November 13, 2008

Filed under: music,road trip,travel — curiouserx2 @ 6:19 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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Leaving work soon to run home (and by run I mean drive), take the dog out, throw a few final things in my already over-stuffed suitcase (mine is the kitchen sink approach to packing) and be ready and waiting when J pulls up to whisk me off to North Carolina for the weekend. This little roadtrip was spawned from the discovery that Amanda Palmer (one half of the piano/drum punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls) would be making a solo tour stop in Raleigh, but not in my own city. And because my sister (some people have made the ludicrous observation that we could be twins, so she is forever known here as Evil Twin), because Evil Twin lives in Raleigh and I will make up most any excuse to see her (What? There’s a transvestite scrapbooker’s convention in “stone’s-throw-from-Raleigh” Apex?!?! By god – we have to go!), J and I decided to make it a long weekend. He hails from a little town outside Charlotte, so the plan is this: drive down to Charlotte tonight, trying desperately hard to not stop at every single rest area on the way (this would be me trying, not J), crash in his empty family home for the night, cross the state to Chapel Hill the next day, where we’ll visit J’s cousin and some old friends, meet Evil Twin and my brother-in-law for dinner there, then drive down to fair Holly Springs (which just got a brand new Walmart of which its residents are so damn proud – and this is why Evil Twin will never get me to join her down there) for the rest of the weekend. Amanda Palmer plays Saturday night, and I suspect we’ll drag our feet leaving on Sunday and maybe, MAYBE get home before I have to be at work Monday morning 🙂

I’m taking the laptop with me in hopes of doing a little writing on the way down and back (hey, it could happen). Otherwise, I can at least promise a photo-log of some sort or another (do I smell a collage in the works? F@#% yeah I do!)

~a (This is one of my favorite xkcd’s… )

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