Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December may as well have run straight up my ass and called my colon home

The last time you heard from me, I was moaning about my period. Now my period is over, and so is Christmas! Time flies when you're desperately trying to provide gifts for your friends and family and FAILING. I didn't fail a lot, but I definitely failed a little. I'm hoping to remember to buy the people I shortchanged in December an array of weird gifts throughout January so they will continue to be my friends. I'm just not very good at this, y'all.

OK, now for the holiday rundown.

On the Saturday before Christmas we had a housewarming/holiday potluck at our new place. I had to scamper myself around readying things that evening because I had the vodka hangover from hell when I woke up that morning. When someone like Zach calls, and offers you access to an "ocean of free booze," let me tell you that you should go, and it will be fun, but don't try to move before 3:00 p.m. the next day. I made some food and some mulled wine with orange zest, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and more importantly, brandy, in it, and our teeny-ass new apartment was soon filled with a bunch of people. It was kind of like a party in a dorm room. But, there was a reading & dramatic reenactment from an erotic lesbian spy novel, as well as li'l smokies, so it's safe to say a good time was had. When you make l'il smokies, the good time is pretty much guaranteed:

Doesn't that look wonderful? Tubes of meat, soaked in sauce, you have a deliciousness that is guilt-inducing on several levels.

On to the next major event of the past couple of weeks, which is the news that my adorable, loving, intelligent, hilarious, erotic, and thrifty husband, genius photographer, has started a little blog of his own in which he waxes poetic about the photos he has taken. It is right here. Also, remember that he is probably the best photographer in the Mid-South as far as weddings, parties, portraits, and anything else that could possibly ever be in need of photographing is concerned. So hire him! And read him! And look at him!

He's something I like to call "PFC," or Pretty Fucking Cute.

All right, onward and upward. On the afternoon of the 23rd, we hopped in my roller skate-like car and drove to my mom's house, where a time in my life that I like to call Amanda is a Fucking Lazyass Glutton began. Sure, I helped my mom with some cooking and picking up around the house, but otherwise we watched a lot of satellite tv and ate approximately 4,000 calories per day. Highlights of this time included my assemblage of Deb's chocolate peanut butter cake, which was probably one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life, with not a single crumb going undevoured. I have got to post some pictures of it, because I wanted it to look perfect and it came pretty dang close, if I do say so myself. Gift exchange with the family on Xmas eve was mostly pleasant, only occasionally punctuated my five-year old nephew offering screaming fits. Somehow he makes up for it when he starts talking about things like digging poop out of his sister's butt with a knife. I know, what the hell, but I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Brandon and I exchanged letters to one another on Christmas morning, which I am hoping to make a yearly tradition, and it was pretty nice to see us reiterating a lot of the same things to one another in them. On the 26th we drove to Knoxville to see our friends Rebecca & Michael in her parents' pimped out new house. While we were there, we watched The King of Kong, which I had heard a lot about but never seen. It was the best movie I saw during the break (although it doesn't take much to beat out Jurassic Park: The New World). Also, I have to say, BILLY MITCHELL IS A DOUCHE. Thank you.

I love documentaries more than anything. Good documentaries, I mean. Another terrific one I saw this year was My Kid Could Paint That. You should check it out. Totes.

All right. We drove back from Knoxville yesterday, stopping in Crossville at a wonderful used bookstore called The Book Cellar. We got a huge bag of books for $30, including A Summons to Memphis, The Kitchen God's Wife, Women Who Run with the Wolves, Household Saints, Bag of Bones, and a bunch of others. They were all $1 or $2 apiece! I love books. I could have stayed there for two hours, but B Dill gets bored after awhile. Also, we had a date with a Mexican buffet in Ashland City. That's right, I said Mexican buffet. I had told myself it would be my last hurrah before returning to Memphis and doing extreme penance for 6 days of unlimited cheese, bread, and chocolate. We ate at this buffet last year when returning from Nashville; it is Effing Ridiculous. Would you like some quesadillas? Oh, here's a huge pan of them. How about unlimited cheese dip and guacamole? Oh, right here. I ate some, realized I had not yet made myself sick, and returned for seconds. Or thirds. Who can keep up at that point? I was in a salsa haze.

That was our holiday, pretty much. Oh, of course there were all the little details that are none of anybody's business, but that's the news that's fit to print. I am working today & tomorrow and we're going to Chattanooga to visit B's brother on the 1st. Then we'll be going to D.C. in two weeks! It's a travelling time right now. But I tell you, I couldn't have a better partner. Yesterday I got my giggle box turned over and everything Brandon said made me collapse in laughter, which is maybe the best feeling in the world??

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ow, ow, ow: The pain of nature

TMI if you can't handle menstrual talk. I'm talking to you, single dudes. (The other night at the potluck, it was confirmed that men in realtionships can handle period talk much more easily when a group of ladies somehow brought up the P word and after 3 minutes, the only men left in the room were Matthew and Zach's step-dad, Bill).

So, I am experiencing my first period off the pill (technically the ring). It hurts like hell. I am someone who never, ever got cramps and I've been hunched over my desk all morning, sweating and swearing while my uterus feels like it's being folded in half, and then in half again, and then in half again. And again. This is shitty. I think I must have been that lucky, lucky person who experienced the best hormonal birth control had to offer -- no depression or weight gain, clearer skin, and no fucked up periods. I keep trying to figure out via the internet what's been really going on all these years of my life when I've been bleeding despite the fact that I haven't ovulated in 10 freaking years, but I'm too much of a dummy that can't grasp science to figure it out, other than the fact that my body is apparently now going back to its natural state. Which apparently includes the kind of pain that makes me want to curl up in the nook of the couch with a stack of recent tabloids and eat cream puffs.

I did sign up on this website, My Monthly Cycles, which helps you track your periods. It is pretty interesting to me, since I bought and browsed Taking Charge of Your Fertility last year, but decided it wasn't time to go off birth control when a discussion with my mother regarding the rhythm method resulted in her saying, "That's for Catholics, Amanda. Don't do that unless you want to have a baby." Also, I wasn't sure I was smart enough to chart my cervical fluid & other symptoms daily.

Ow. Ow. Ow. Cramps.

A completely on-topic link: My Beautiful Cervix. Midwife-in-training, with the help of an industrious boyfriend who owns a headlamp, photographed her cervix for every day of her cycle. I like this website because it enabled me to show B that everytime some seemingly odd substance comes out of my vagina, I'm not sick. Except that time with the salamander. KIDDING!

Even though it hurts, I'm really enjoying the idea that my body is slowly getting back to the way it's supposed to be.

Monday, December 8, 2008

One day late.

Yesterday was the six-month anniversary of our wedding (which was 6/07/08, fucking darling, right?) I wanted to post because in the past little while we have been so happy, or as we like to say at our house, "et up." As in, "I am feeling absolutely et up with love for you today, honey." And I wanted to say "Happy Anniversary," to myself & Brandon, eventhough a) it's really only a half-anniversary, and those are generally not recognized in our house, and b) B doesn't really read my blog very often. He's a technophobe.

I have this spooky, mystical, rock-solid certainty in our relationship. I can see all these ways that we have made each other different, happier people, and I just thrill at the mystery of our future.

I walked down the aisle to the Cat Power cover of "I Found a Reason," recovered by our wonderful friend Pete, who flew down to TN from NY just to come to the wedding and play guitar & sing at the ceremony. Here's the Cat Power version, accompanied by the least-weird homegrown video that I found on Youtube. There was one "for House fans." The internet is weird.

If you're reading this, I love you, darlin'.

Friday, December 5, 2008

personal history, by address

So, we are all moved in. That's the best feeling ever, although it is accompanied by the crushing reality that every room of your new place is filled with boxes. I have moved A LOT since I graduated from high school, I thought that I would document the list here for posterity.

1. Fall 1999. Moved from my parents' house to dorm @ Lambuth. Ate many cheeseburgers and cup-o-noodles there, and was generally miserable.
2. Spring 2000. Lambuth ---> parents' house. Worked at the newpaper that summer. Had sex with ex-boyfriend in our respective cars in many locations around Decatur County.
3. Fall 2000. Parents' house ---> dorm @ MTSU. I lived with Angela, who really lived with her boyfriend. Had a light mental breakdown, I think. Met Liz.
4. Spring 2001. Dorm @ MTSU ---> Parents' house. See Spring 2000. Plus more pot, I think (It's hard to remember that kind of thing, heh heh heh).
5. Fall 2001. Parents' house ---> Apartment @ Nottingham in M'boro. Liz and I lived together and had a really good time unless we were having a really bad time. The bad times may explain why we didn't really talk from 2002-05.
6. Spring 2002. Nottingham ---> Parents' house. See previous summers. Later, rinse, repeat.
7. Fall 2002. Parents' house ---> Lytle apartment w/Wendy. It was a really weird place, and WF stayed @ her boyfriend's, all the time too. You know, that's a common phase for couples in their early 20s who are still too scared of their parents to officially move in together. The apartment was the upstairs of a big house that our landlord lived in, and he got really grumpy with me when I repeatedly let in a stray cat that frequented the yard. The cat loved getting high. From shoddy recollections, this was the time in which my substance abuse really kicked off.
8. Spring 2003. Lytle ---> Havenwood w/my ex, Logan. First time we officially lived together. Acquired two cats. Smoked many bongloads. Graduated from MTSU but continued an illustrious career at Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders. Was fat. Embarked on ill-fated experimentation with "open relationship," that would eventually destroy both my relationship with the ex as well as my then-best friend. In an incredible twist of fate, this was the same apartment complex that LT lived in with her ex-boyfriend. But we didn't know each other! Weird!
9. Spring 2005. Havenwood ---> Poplar (still with ex, but it was definitely the beginning of the end). Many, many sexy/dark/depressing things happened at this place, but I also lost 20 lbs., and isn't that all that matters? Weight loss, ladies, bottom line.
10. Spring 2006. Poplar ---> Parents' house. Stayed there all summer since my Daddy was sick. Drank a lot of cheap beer. This was when I started drinking in front of my parents. Started dating Brandon. Very exciting, very terrible time.
11. September 2006. Mom's house ---> E. Nashville. Signed the lease on the same day my dad died, horribly enough. B & I moved in together pretty immediately because it was GD fate. Called this place "ice house" because the floors were granite and it was so cold, all winter. Little did I know this was a precursor to every other winter we've had so far.
12. April 2007. E. Nashville ---> Mom's house. Actually just my stuff moved down there, and B & I went Wwoofing. My mother was certain of a disasterous fate, but looky, I'm still alive. Got engaged in Madrid, and a hundred other things happened too.
13. August 2007. Mom's house ---> Monroe in Memphis. We moved in on the Elvis death anniversary and it was so hot I thought B & T would have heatstrokes moving all our shit in. We realized that we were happy in Memphis in ways we never were in Nashville. Landlord unceremoniously kicked us out after selling the building (it's now Restaurant Iris).
14. December 2007. Monroe ---> Lawrence. Nice but very cold. Had several good parties here. And got married! And got fleas! And had lovely out of town company come & stay!

So that makes this last move, Lawrence to Evelyn, my 15th. 15th! I don't know if this is normal or not. Granted, lots of time I was simply moving from one place to another in the same city (I beat the dead horse of Murfreesboro for a ridiculously long time, and I'm here to say, it is totally possible to leave that town & never look back. People bitch so much about M'boro, and my advice is, if you want to leave & you can leave, save a little of the money you're spending on watered-down beer @ Jim's, and get together a deposit on a new apartment. Dream the dream, people.)

I liked making this list because I got flashes of memories I thought that I had forgotten. Flashes of myself standing in certain rooms of these places, and things that happened to me in them. All the afternoons I spent packing bowls with my ladyfriends, watching shit TV and eating loads of crap food. Having a sobbing fight with my ex in my car, parked outside our place since his friends' house caught on fire and they were staying with us in the interim. Meeting somebody for clandestine afternoon sex while our for-real partners were at work/school. (All these memories seem to have happened post-2004, because my brain is mush).

OK, you can return to whatever you were doing before I wasted your time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am, indeed, dreaming of a Smoky Mountain Christmas

Made it through the first of the family holidays more or less unscathed. We've never had a truly awful family gathering at my house, as we are of the "Avoid Public Confrontation at All Costs" school of Southern families, but unfortunately there are certain parts of my immediate family who fall a little short of the tolerance level that I am comfortable with, and there were a few tense moments in which family members vocally expressed both homophobia and racism. That's right, folks, it was TWO TWO TWO for the price of ONE, all in the course of maybe 30 minutes.

Because of the enlightened, liberal friends that I have who were also raised in rural West Tennessee, this is a topic that has been on my mind a LOT as of late. I cannot express the ultimate respect and awe that I feel for Liz, who recently committed the ultimate sin of verbally sparring with her father over the most tiresome issue of our region (make that our fucking nation), race. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am inherently anti-confrontational, and the simple knowledge that I have to, say, make a phone call to demand service, fills me with an anxiety so great that my hands shake while dialing the phone. HOWEVER. I don't know how much longer I can take this. I don't know how many more years I can be complicit to this fucking hate because it makes me sick and sad inside to know that it's being passed directly into the next generation. I can't imagine how I will react in the years to come, when I have my own children. I don't want them to hear shit like that, especially from people they're supposed to love & respect.

It makes my heart hurt, and I don't know what to do. It makes me wish Daddy was around, for some reason, although that may just be a kind of futile reaction to my own impotence in this situation.

In other words, DEAR ABBY, HELP!

Q: How did moving go? How are things in your new place?
A: I don't want to talk about it.

I'm getting all jingly/sparkly/jazzed about the upcoming holiday season. I'M GETTING A FUCKING CHRISTMAS TREE. YES I AM. And I plan to make paper snowflakes and cover them in glitter for a thrifty Christmas. Kind of like this:

Did anyone read that book? There was also a made for TV movie based on it, starring the incomparable Jason Robards:

They were poor, and her Daddy was kind of an authoritarian asshole and refused to let her have an Xmas tree, ever. And her mom was dead. (That's her grandmother knitting up there). And she was super-nerdy. But then, in an act of charity they got a free Xmas tree and she had saved the silvery paper from cigarette packs for MONTHS in order to create beautiful silvery decorations. I'm a bit foggy on the details from here on out, but I do know that at the end, her father's ice cold heart was warmed by all the Christmas good cheer and he was magically cured of assholism.

My favorite Christmas movie of all time, however, is probably this jewel:

Can you believe that this is the best image Google could come up with? Where in the fuck are all the Smoky Mountain Christmas enthusiasts? I know my Dolly-loving Tennessee girls are going to say "Amen" on this one... A Christmas movie with a Snow White plot! Orphans living in the hills! A sexy witch! Mountain Dan! What in the fuck?!?! I'm just glad it exists. Also, I have to say that I will uphold until my dying day that Dolly Parton is indeed a good actress.

Lord I've degraded very quickly. I'll hit "publish" before anything else flies from my fingers.

ETA: Goddamn, I love Dolly, but this makes me a little scared, then ashamed for being scared, but then scared again (click on it, it's too wide for this DUMB BLOG):

Please stop, Dolly! At least stop fucking with your face. I'm afraid you're approaching Wildenstein territory.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Someone told me... It's all happening at the zoo...

Things are incredibly busy and none too pleasant in my part of the world (end of school craziness + work + moving + crazy landlord situation). Luckily, I get a reprieve for Thanksgiving. I don't think I'll be posting until after then, but I wanted to provide this, one of my favorite internet videos that I find never gets old.

I want all of y'all to have a just plain lovely holiday, and I'll do the same. Kiss kiss.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trips out of town: One good reason for living

I suppose with the upcoming holidays, I haven't had time to start getting excited about the fact that we're going to the inauguration in January. Yes! We have a pair of lovely friends, Roger & Vivian, who we hung out with a bit before they relocated to D.C. in the late summer, with the usual "If you ever want to visit, just call..." and, in this case, we did. Shameless, huh? But they're sweetasses and even though they're being invaded by several friends that weekend, they told us to come on as well, so we will. Today I started my research of food in the area, which is Priority One for me when visiting a new city. So far, my major discovery is Ben's Chili Bowl (whose site, for some reason, my work browser won't allow me to visit, declaring it "Malicious," WTF). Behold!

I feel the rarity in which I eat sulfide-ridden hot dogs robs me of any shame that might be attached to the act. I love tube steak, I have to admit. I get particularly excited when I realize a special devoted to unique and/or extraordinarily popular hot dog joints is airing on television, and I watch them again and again. Hopefully Mr. Dill and I will have the time to someday crisscross the nation eating the best dogs it has to offer.

The last time I visited Washington, D.C. I was on a 6th grade field trip, which would've been approximately 1993, and all us kids wore those hideous shiny track suits that were so popular in that era. I remember having a purple one that I wore with a matching Mickey Mouse baseball cap from Wal-Mart; I had a looooong (Pentecostal length, mind you) spiral perm and VERY fat face. I wish I had pics to scan, I really do... I'd feel like I was telling you a very special secret if I showed you 6th grade Amanda. Anyway, we visited all the monuments but all anyone cared about was getting back to the hotel so we could go swimming in the pool. Except for me, who was a) chubby & self-conscious; b) not a good swimmer. I still have a "Cherry Blossoms of Washington D.C." shot glass that I bought as a memento, being unaware that it was meant for booze consumption. Oh, the charm of naivete!

ETA: If y'all have any good restaurant or any other recommendations for D.C., let me know. We'll be there a few days before the inauguration. I'm hellbent on getting a visit to at least one Smithsonian in.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

oldie but goodie

As of yesterday, I am officially *off* the hormonal birth control. First stop, VCF. The package has a cute little sexually active cartoon woman on it. She wants to talk to me frankly about contraception. I will not let you know how the VCF is, probably, because that's TMI, and although my middle name could be TMI, I have to draw the line somewhere. It seems like I do, anyway, but why is that again? Oh yes, because it'd rather embarrassing for everyone, because I'd mention:

a. queefs
b. menstrual blood
c. that thing that happens sometimes when a dude's balls slip up inside his body
d. all of the above!!!!

Maybe this game gets tired for y'all, but I'll tell you, IT NEVER DOES FOR ME, SUCKERS!

School is fast coming to a close, and for me, it is forever. Or at least for now. I have decided that this whole graduate school thing is definitely not for me at this point in time. I know people who have had very successful forays into advanced degrees but for a variety of reasons, I'm not going to continue with my master's. We are making other plans, and although, at first, I felt the dread of failure welling up when I thought about quitting, it was soon surpassed by the idea of how stupid it is to continue something when you know that you shouldn't, and one thing keeping you going is the dread of others' judgement. I say "Fuck that shit," so I'm quitting and I'm not ashamed, world.

Last night, in the course of searching for a recipe for wilted lettuce, a dish my mother makes in the springtime when her greens & radishes are ripe in the garden, I cruised through old Myspace blog entries. I am really happy that I was blogging often there in '06, because it means I have these pretty honest-sounding, well-constructed accounts of my summer -- daddy's sickness and the very beginning of my relationship with my husband. Like this classic! From September 30, 2006!

"I'm living in East Nashville with Brandon -- we will steal your lawnmower. Our apartment is really incredible, a deal we stumbled upon after a stressful breakfast at the Knife & Fork. I can see downtown from my kitchen window. We are so busy loving each other that everything else seems like half-time until we can get together again, and I feel like things are so much better now that I am older. Knowing what I want to hold onto is so much easier, and I'm certain he feels the same thing. We just want to have a good happy life with one another for as long as the momentum lasts -- and I think, I hope -- the momentum can last for as long as you choose for it to, as long as you keep gas on the fire. We laid in bed the other night watching a Metro helicopter spotlighting, trying to track down some criminal, safe in our sleeping nook with the cats stomping on our heads. I don't know how life can be so happy and sad at the same time, honestly. It makes you feel heavy with guilt and light with the ease of love and freedom. I'm like a science experiment in which you float an object in the middle of a glass of water."

Hmm, I can't help but think "Why can't anything I write these days be as perfect as that is?" Maybe because now my life is pretty normal , and back then it was so tumultuous, in the best and worst ways.

It's a ridiculously busy couple of weeks coming up -- moving & the end of school, which means papers & test, not to mention Thanksgiving, which we'll spend at my mom's house, joined by Brandon's brother & his girlfriend, which is awfully terrific. I've made the resolution that the holidays spent with my family will be exponentially more fun if at least somewhat under the influence, so I must remember to buy wine and/or liquor before leaving Shelby county each time. God, it would be so much easier if drinking around my brothers/their wives & children wasn't so fucking taboo. Do you know how many people I know whose entire families cannot make it through a gathering without a liberal helping of liquid courage? I don't want anyone to get smashed, I'd just like it if we could relax together in the best way: under the influence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm gone tomorrow... baby, follow me down

As I was driving to work this morning, a rather frenetic sense of just fucking being alive washed over me, and I filled up with a certain kind of energy that you feel when you are very lucky. It's much better than caffeine. The only problem is that I have to come waste it here, and although I'm very willing to shill food stamps to people because Lord, everybody wants to eat, I can help but selfishly wish that I was either a) sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River, drinking a 40; 2) sipping a galao with my husband in a small cafe in Porto, Portugal; or 3) lounging naked on springtime clover eating a Tomboy cupcake. Instead, I guess I'll try to hang on to some sense of vitality until 4:30, which I am telling myself is NOT a long time away.

I am feeding my mood with the Avett Brothers this morning because they are like the best band ever ever ever. Seriously. If anyone needs to know, I can burn you a copy of my "Amanda's Ultimate Avetts Mix," some of my favorites. I have every CD of theirs in my catalog now, thanks to my lovely brother in law:

It makes me particularly proud because I turned him onto them. I'm kind of like a Christian missionary, see? But instead of forcing my religious beliefs on indigenous peoples, I'm just spreading the gospel of music holy music.

Yesterday I discovered a seller on Etsy that just knocked my socks off, and made me consider papercutting, which, I am ashamed to say, I never had before. A few examples of her gorgeous, intricate work:

Aren't those incredible? She has a whole blog devoted to her papercuts here, and you can find her Etsy shop here. I think I will get my mom & niece a couple of her smaller storybook character prints to frame for Xmas presents, and I really really want one of the larger ones for myself. I bookmarked it on our computer, we will see if Mr. Dill remembers that I did so. Time will tell. I want to just order one for myself right this minute but I'll have some self control.

What else, what else? Oh yes, inspired by posts by Mrs. Lies, and the experiences of other married friends I have who have gone off the pills and been pleased with the results, I have decided to ditch the hormones. Liz has been induced into reading Henry Miller by this, for God's sakes, how can I ignore that? So now I have to decide what alternative I want to use. I wish I could just go to Walgreens and buy a sampler platter, like appetizers at T.G.I. Friday's. I have experiences with condoms, but that's it, so I believe I'll weigh my options. Since I'm a child/young adult of the 1990s, I feel the impulse to try the Today sponge, in a nod to Elaine on Seinfeld, but I don't know if contraception choice based on a sitcom is wise.

Monday, November 10, 2008

so I'm going back to the place where we met, I'm going to find the beer bottle we left

The hatches have officially been battened; I am sitting under our huge down comforter, nestled on top of the electric mattress pad, or as I like to refer it's "Mama's Gift from Heaven." We inherited my parents' king sized bed and all its accessories, and my mother had invested a lot in the past few years. It has a couple of nice memory foam pads as well as the lifesaving warm-up-your-cold-ass mattress snuggle. Boy, it's nice. 

B & Toby are watching The Fall in the office, but it is too cold for me in there. I really, really want to watch this movie, but I'll do it tomorrow since it's VETERAN'S DAY!! Hooray veterans! Thanks to your sacrifice, I get to sleep in on a Tuesday. Why don't y'all honor me by taking tomorrow off killing Iraqi and/or Afghani and/or Pakistani civilians?? And I'll go buy some outerwear at Goldsmith's. Do you see how everyone wins?? 

I have to do homework & start packing tomorrow. We did the application process today for an apartment in Cooper Young, which is slightly old & busted, but quite a bit cheaper than our current place, and has a washer/dryer. And... drumroll please... heat that (supposedly!) works. Works well, even. Time will tell, but I feel all right about it. The dangerous part is that it is within eyeshot of Black Lodge and I feel that our movie rental bills could possibly sky rocket. 

All in all, we had a really nice weekend. On Saturday I met my mom in Jackson, and we watched The Secret Life of Bees, which I thought was worth the $5.50. Well worth, possibly. My mom and I had both read the book not long after it came out, and meeting her in Jackson for a movie has been something I've meant to do for a long time. It's about 1/2 way for both of us, and it's nice for us to spend a couple of hours together. The movie portrayed the South in the way it should be: slow, sweet, & golden. Oh yes, and pervasive racism, and hate crimes! (Nervous laughter!) That night we first went to Ashley & Will's, then to Leslie & Mark's. God I'm hotlinking like a whore. I'm all "Look at the people I know! Behold their internet presences!" At the end of the evening I realized a) we weren't totally wasted; b) we hadn't offended anyone; c) no one had offended us. All in all, a success. It is weird to consider yourself mature simply because the thought of spending time with others that you may or may not know very well doesn't fill you with incredible fear & revulsion. 

For some reason, every night by 9:00 p.m., my back seizes up with this weird stiff pain that makes it tough to bend over. What in the hell will become of me if I'm having back pain of this sort at 27? I carry every bit of tension around in my neck, and when Brandon touches it to feel the muscles, drawn taunt in the manner of rubber bands, he wrinkles his nose with disbelief. I don't know what could ever fix that. Are chiropractors just a big screw?? In Decatur County, there was one, and my daddy used to call him "The Rubbing Doctor." I'll leave you on that note. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dobamanuts for Democracy

I'm back at work today after waking up on Wednesday morning with a splitting headache and calling in sick. I'm sure it's a brain tumor, not the Franzia. Yes, I'm absolutely chockful of class. From what David told me the other day, the husband and I share sophisticated drinking tastes with one Ms. Janice Fullilove. I don't know about Ms. Fullilove, but I have great appreciation for the "Chianti" variety.

Election night turned out to be really awesome. I made spring rolls, and Brandon cooked up some dumplings from the Viet Hoa and we gorged ourselves while listening to NPR. I had fallen victim to the liberal paranoia, which I'm pretty sure sprang from flashbacks to 2004, and B and I agreed that we wouldn't go out until it was looking good for Obama. I prefer not to let others see me when I'm suffering, that's all. Anyway, after Ohio was in the pot, we threw the wine & leftover rolls in the car and headed to Mr. Whitten's, where there were a lot of merrymaking and excitement and happy voters. Part of us were sitting in the living room, some people were out on the porch, and B was in the bedroom on the phone with Simon in Chicago when the banner popped up on the television naming Obama the winner, and we all just erupted with screaming and laughing and motherfucking relief. It was quite beautiful, and I was really happy to be in a group of people to share it, it made it all the more poignant. When John McCain made his concession speech, there was a cut to a teary-eyed Sarah Palin, and I couldn't help but yell "SUCK IT CLEAN, BITCH" even though everyone was supposed to be quiet.

Like I said the other day, my country making me a little bit proud doesn't happen very often, because I'm an ungrateful socialist, I suppose, and although I don't think Obama's gonna cure AIDS or anything, I'm just happy that a majority of my fellow Americans voted the most liberal of all U.S. Senators to be our Commander in Chief, and an African-American to boot.

It was noted on Jezebel today that Michelle Obama played Barack the Mariah Carey song "Hero" when they were waiting to hear the results, and I was quite touched, as this is a song that I learned in chorus my freshman year in high school, that I punish my husband with at least once a week. He tries to smother me with a pillow when I do it, but I'm tough and I'd never let anything like a pillow-smothering keep me from singing this very very special song to him, especially.

I am officially bored with work entirely, and although my inbox is filling with alarming rapidity, I am finding it hard to give a fuck.

After I recovered enough to go out into the sunlight yesterday, we went apartment hunting. Although B is quite grumpy about it, I refuse to spend another winter in ice house. Due to the delightful combination of high ceilings, complete lack of insulation, and the presence of only two wall-mounted pitiful ass gas heaters in our house, it was pretty much like we didn't have heat last winter. If you put on two pairs of pants and sat directly in front of the teeny heater in the living room, you wouldn't die. Otherwise it was total misery. I'd usually come home from work, turn on the dryer & the stove in the kitchen, and just hang out in between them until it was time to go crawl under the electric blanket, which needed to preheat for a minimum of 30 minutes. Yes, my life was a hell. If anyone sees anything that looks good around Midtown, please let me know. I am looking for a place that's less than $600/mo., I'm totally tired of throwing away money on rent that we could put towards something real & sustaining. But no, we're not going to buy a house here.

According to the ladies in the cube next to me, government cheese was really something, but I'll never know because you haven't been able to get it for 20 years. I wonder about it. Was it processed cheese food? Surely it wasn't, like, cheddar. That seems to swank for the gov't to provide. What's up with American cheese anyway??? I'm sure that gov't cheese was American, and in my humble opinion, American sucks. I'll eat it on a cheeseburger, but that is for tradition's sake only.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Truly Horrifying

In honor of this, the spookiest of holidays, I decided to post a series of YouTube clips that are both dear to my heart and incredibly disturbing. Those who have known me for more than a couple of years can probably remember a time in my life when I harbored what some might term an unhealthy obsession with little girl beauty pageants. There was no sense of pedophilia involved; more like a feminist-driven anger. My obsession was born one late summer evening in the late nineties, when browsing the satellite TV channels at my parents' house, I happened upon this little gem:

Painted Babies. This documentary was made by the BBC, and featured two little girls, white trash Asia and spoiled rich girl Brooke Breedwell (I am totally not kidding). I instantly realized the rewatch value of this doc, and taped it onto a VHS that became worn in the next few years, as myself and my sick friends viewed it time and time again, memorizing key lines and critiquing it in ways it was never meant to be critiqued (we had a habit of doing this, most memorably with the classic Lifetime film For My Daughter's Honor; that's a story for another day, however). The most exciting part about PB is that they just made a sequel, and my mother has promised to tape it for me. Painted Babies at 17!

Anyway, some years passed, I taped some more specials, slowly building a master VHS that had Baby Beauty Queens from A&E, and also an episode of American Justice about the Jon Benet murder. Then, in 2001, HBO did me the great favor of getting into the game with my next featured selection:

Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen (dammit, embedding is disabled)

This lovely focuses mainly on a little girl named Swan, and her trashy (and now, unfortunately, dead) mother's quest to win them money and fame on the beauty queen circuit. However, it is worth mentioning that there is an INCREDIBLE subplot regarding Shane & Michael, a gay couple living in Alabama, who for a few thousand dollars can turn even the homeliest little girl into a champion. I can't tell you how it makes me feel inside when I see Shane do a complicated choreographed routine, swirling a blazer and strutting so enthusiastically for an audience of one 4-year-old girl who is expected to mimic him, but I can tell you that your life will change for the better if you see this too. I've learned through scouring the internet that Shane and Michael have since seperated, and it really bums me out. Bums me out that Swan's mom is dead too, but... you know...

All right, the final selection for any BBQ (that is Baby Beauty Queen, not bar-be-que) virgins out there is a totally new doc I discovered when rewatching these a few weeks ago, and that is

Toddlers & Tiaras (once again, embedding disabled)

I have only watched this one once, so I don't have much to say other than you will get to see a toddler spray tanned until she cries, and there's a pair of African-American lesbian moms who, for some Godawful reason both a) live in Jackson, MS [I just don't imagine Jackson is too gay-friendly. If I was gay, I'd save my money until I could move to a major city. I'm just saying, is all] and b) have decided to put their adorable, sassy little girls in this terrible pageant. Regardless, it's really interesting, not to mention the fact that their friend handmade their dresses from material they bought at like Hobby Lobby, which would normally be disastrous, but since he's so fierce, they turned out amazing.

All right, those are your spooky Halloween goodies. I'm going to "work" for another hour, go home, strap on my moustache and tie and go to Bette's H'ween party. Hope everyone has a safe weekend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In which Amanda exercises her civic duty

Today I early voted for Barack Obama at the Pyramid Recovery center in South Memphis. The whole process took nearly an hour and a half because there were so many people there, and, also, the computer system went down temporarily (Goddamn, these electronic voting machines are a bad idea people. A bad idea!). When I arrived, I counted approximately 30 people in line ahead of me, and when I left, there were at least 50 still waiting, including a huge group of kids that had to have just turned 18 this year; they were all baby-faced and flirting with one another while waiting their turn, but really well-behaved. There were also people there so elderly that they could not walk without assistance; the turnout today in S. Memphis really ran the gamut.

In line, I looked up on the wall to see a trio of portraits: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Nelson Mandela, and I was seized by my own satisfaction in being able to vote for an African-American man for president in a city, in a region, that has seen so much violent oppression of minorities. My stomach clenched and my eyes filled as I thought about Dr. King and all the other activists who did not live to see this day in America, a day in which it seems (not getting overly cocky here), a majority of people are eager to put a black man in the White House.

Maybe I was relieved because there have been so many stories in the press in recent weeks that exposed the inherent racism that still thrives in this country. I hate it when stories like that become commonplace, and they have, and it makes me so sick and sad that people cling so desperately to hate. Even members of my own family find it easy to toss off comments that reveal their own distrust and distaste of Obama, indeed their own negativity toward anyone Not White, and I'm so pathetic that I can't even find a way to express how wrong they are.

I cannot speak of race eloquently, so I'm not going to try. But when I stepped up to that little machine, I took a deep breath and stared at the screen for a long time; I wanted to register the moment in my memory, and I wanted to really feel it in my heart. Every once in awhile I need a day like this, in which I feel a little bit proud of my country and the things that can be accomplished here, the -- dare I say -- Change that can occur when wrongs turn to right.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Keywords, Pt. 2

Will I ever tire of this game? Probably not.
People are crazy. And sick. And weird. And, yes, sometimes just inquisitive.

Keywords that sent people to my blog:

"his finger in my belly button"
benefits of playing with tambourines for children
cumming gaces (?)
jim beam and headache
jim beam bedroom
jim beam vomit
long, tall lady sex (I really like this one)

OK, in retrospect this list is not as good as the last one, but I've already typed it now. I haven't posted all week and it leaves me troubled. Will my dear readers, lovers of the words "cumming," "animals," and "Jim Beam" desert me if my internet presence fails?

Things I'll do this weekend: go thrifting for my "well-dressed man" H'ween costume. Cook a chicken & cornbread for dressing for the potluck Sunday. Clean house. Do laundry. Force myself into doing school work (I've really slacked this week). Smooch on husband. Avoid hangovers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

When I don't have anything to say, I'll just repost something political from now on, OK?

Ok, I read this essay earlier and it kept resonating with me, and I just had to repost it here. In my mind, it's the ultimate truth about this election, as well as the generalized present day bullshit political climate in this country. It was written by Joan Didion, and has reminded me that I need to read The Year of Magical Thinking, immediately. It also makes me wish I was smarter.

P.S. I got it from here, and it's really short, so you need to read it. Read it now.
Election by sound bite
Obsessed by "lipstick on a pig," economic "free fall" and other "great stories," America has failed to see the real challenges it faces.
By Joan Didion

Midway through August, before the Democratic and Republican conventions, Chris Matthews made an offhand judgment on MSNBC that pretty much summed up the political mood in which the country found itself: "I've seen this election before, I think it was 1988." He was referring of course to what was supposed to have been the certain 1988 victory of Michael Dukakis over George H.W. Bush, and to the ways in which a political party, most reliably the Democratic, can get overtaken by its own enthusiasm for being victimized; but what he said resonated beyond the concerns about Senator Obama's candidacy just then beginning to surface.

It resonated because what seemed striking about the long and impassioned run-up to this election was not how different it had been -- but precisely how similar it had been to previous such seasons.

We had kept talking about how different it was, but it wasn’t.

On a single mid-September morning these phrases would appear on the front page of The Washington Post: "stocks plummet," "panic on Wall Street," "as banks lost faith in one another," "one of the most tumultuous days ever for financial markets," "giant blue-chip financial institutions swept away," "banks refusing to lend," "Russia closing its stock market," "panicked selling," "free fall," and "the greatest destruction of financial wealth that the world has ever seen."

These were not entirely unpredictable developments.

For at least some months it had been clear that we were living in a different America, one that had moved from feeling rich to feeling poor. Many had seen a mandate for political change. Yet in the end the old notes had been struck, the old language used. The prospect for any given figure had been evaluated, now as before, by his or her "story." She has "a wonderful story" we had heard about Condoleezza Rice during her 2005 confirmation hearings. "We all admire her story." "I think she’s formidable," Senator Biden said about Governor Palin a few weeks ago. "She has a great story. She has a great family."

Senator Biden himself was said to have "a great story," the one that revolved around the death of his first wife and child and taking the train from Washington to Wilmington to be with his surviving children. Senator McCain, everyone agreed, had "a great story." Now as then, the "story" worked to "humanize" the figure under discussion, which is to say to downplay his or her potential for trouble. Condoleezza Rice's "story," for example, had come down to her "doing an excellent job as provost of Stanford" (this had kept getting mentioned, as if everyone at Fox News had come straight off the provost beat) and being "an accomplished concert pianist."

Now as then, the same intractable questions were avoided and in the end successfully evaded. The matter of our continuing engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and our looming engagements throughout the region had been reduced to bickering over who had or had not exhibited "belief in the surge." "Belief in the surge" had been equated with the "success" of the surge, and by extension of our entire engagement in Iraq, as if that "success" were a fact rather than a wish. Such doublespeak was rampant. The increasing destabilization of the economy was already clear -- an average of 81,000 jobs a month were lost all through the summer -- but discussion of how to resolve the bleeding still centered on such familiar favorites as tort reform. This word "reform" kept resurfacing, but the question of who exactly was to be reformed was left to be explored mainly on "The View," by Barbara Walters.

The leading candidates duly presented their "health care solutions," not one of which addressed the core problem, which is the $350 billion a year it costs, according to a Harvard Medical School study, to cut in the commercial insurance industry. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we were assured, had run into trouble not because of the systematic deregulation of the financial industry, the delinking of loans from any imperative to get them paid off -- but because, according to Governor Palin (who had apparently missed the briefing at which it was explained that neither entity received government funding until the recent necessity for bailing them out), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "too big and too expensive to the taxpayer."

Time got wasted in the familiar ways. The presence of Barack Obama in the electoral process allowed us to talk as if "the race issue" had reached a happy ending. We did not need to talk about how the question of race has been and continues to be used to exacerbate the real issue in American life, which is class, or absence of equal opportunity. Instead we could talk about what Barack Obama meant by "lipstick on a pig," and whether it was appropriate for him to go off on vacation "to some sort of foreign, exotic place." The "foreign, exotic place" in question was of course Hawaii.

We could argue over whether "intelligent design" should be taught in our schools as an alternative to evolution, and overlook the fact that the rankings of American schools have already dropped to twenty-first in the world in the teaching of science and twenty-fifth in the world in the teaching of math. We could argue over whether or not the McCain campaign had sufficiently vetted its candidate for vice-president, but take at face value the campaign's description of that vetting as "an exhaustive process" including a "seventy-question survey." Most people in those countries where they still teach math and science would not consider seventy questions a particularly taxing assignment, but we could forget this. Amnesia was our preferred state. In what had become our national coma we could forget about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch and AIG and Washington Mutual and the 81,000 jobs a month and the fact that the national debt had been approaching $10.6 trillion even before Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke mentioned the imperative need to spend, which is to say to borrow, $700 billion for securities backed by bad mortgages, a maneuver likely to raise the debt another trillion dollars. ("We need this to be clean and quick," Paulson told ABC.)

We could forget the 70 percent of American eighth graders who do not now and never will read at eighth-grade levels, meaning they will never qualify to hold one of those jobs we no longer have. We could forget that we ourselves induced the coma, by indulging the government in its fantasy of absolute power, wielded absolutely. So general is this fantasy by now that we approach this election with no clear idea where bottom is: what damage has been done, what alliances have been formed and broken, what concealed reefs lie ahead. Whoever we elect president is about to find some of that out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"They hanged 13 natives at a time in honor of Christ Our Savior and the 12 apostles"

Clip from the film "The Canary Effect;" you can get more information here.

Happy Thursday! I leave you with the subjugation of native peoples!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

so it's better my sweet, that we hover like bees, 'cause there's no sure footing...

I'll tell you what I hate, and that's having an evening like I did last night. Come home from school, take off your bra, reheat the pineapple tofu leftovers from the Saigon Le, talk to your husband and say, "Stay at the bar as long as you want, I've got homework to do anyway," eat some salad with entirely too much ranch dressing on it, throwing your fears of fattyhood to the wind for the moment, sit down in front of the laptop to study genetics and attachment theory and the like, only to find yourself totally seized by THE TRUTH. THE TRUTH will not leave your pathetic little brain alone; it talks to you in both the voices of a sing-songy little child as well as a smug, know-it-all adult. Last night THE TRUTH shared with me the shivery proposition that all this school nonsense might be a total waste of time, and it's possible I get done and still find myself in total hate with whatever job I have, which, as THE TRUTH helpfully reminded me, I am right now. In hate with my job, that is. It smirked as it said "You always talk shit about college being a waste of time, do you really think it's your hope for this so called 'better life,' Amanda? What a chump."

THE TRUTH is really fucking rude.

So I slid down the mega-slide of doom, which happens to me pretty rarely in these modern times, especially considering the depressive mess I was from, oh, I don't know, 15-22? When reaching the bottom of the mega-slide of doom, I can stare at a wall for hours. I guess the idea of proposition of living in complete misery for the rest of my life entertains me so much, I don't need anything else. If I saw someone staring at a wall like I do in these times, I'd say "Jesus Christ, that person is fucking depressed!"

I hate remembering things like, in my life, I'll spend more of my waking hours being paid for working somewhere instead of getting to spend time with the people who actually mean something to me, and I have to have a full-time job in order to have health insurance so that anything that might happen to me wouldn't destroy our lives financially. All this, plus you just die at the end of it all, anyway. Sometimes I just don't think I am cut out to live a conventional life, but I've been hammered into the shape of it by the way I was raised and my poor little brain just freaks out and feels desperate when trying to figure out a way to escape it all.

I'll be better in a few days, I always am. I don't really stew in misery that much anymore, something I am really grateful for. There are a lot of things I am grateful for, actually, don't get me wrong. I am so happy that we have these great friends in this city that love us as much as we love them, and I'm happy that I have an understanding mother who is my best friend in a lot of ways, and I can share so much with. I'm so happy that I have a partner who I can lay in bed with at night and be completely entertained and entertaining by dumbass shit we do for one another, and laugh until I cry with him. So, I'm not miserable. I am just boringly confused and uneasy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photo tour of the potluck life...

Well, we had our second potluck on Sunday night, and I have got to say, first off, that these fools can cook. Earlier in the week I had sent out a big email suggesting that we have an Italian theme, and everybody went all out and once again the food was muy delicioso. Which is a fucked up thing to say, technically, but I don't know any Italian. We had fresh pasta and meatballs, toasted lasagna, antipasto, vegetarian white lasagna, wild mushroom risotto, an Italian spinach dish, some awesome sauce with eggplant, and a lovely selection of wine brought by the wonderful David, who keeps any party well-lubricated. Since we were expecting to have several people over, Brandon set up the photobooth and took some pretty lovely pictures. He's so smart, y'all.

What can I say, other than these folks can photograph as well as they can cook. The whole set can be found right here, including one of Brandon with NO SHIRT ON. Back off ladies. Potluck will be back in session not this coming weekend, because I'm going to Decatur county to hang out with my mom and attempt to make & can butternut squash chutney, but the next, October 26. I think we are going to do the whole traditional Southern home cooking thing, so y'all can put on your thinking caps, which, in this case, may be camo trucker hats, and start conceptualizing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photography Love -- NSFW

I got Brandon this book for his birthday, and when we were browsing it in the tent during our camping trip, I came upon the work of the photographer Justine Kurland, and was just overwhelmed by my appreciation. The first set are from a later series, "Of Woman Born," the next four are from an earlier series she did with adolescent girls in gorgeous landscapes. I just love these, so I wanted to share them. You can read an interview/profile of her from the NYT here.

"The Milk Sucker"

"Mama Baby Procession"

"Waterfall Lesson, Drawing Stick Figure"

"Walking the Rowena Dells"

"Raft Expedition"


"The Mud Puddle"

"Jungle Gym"

"Grassland Drifters"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

you're a mean ole daddy, but i like you

Is it just me, or am I being bombarded by images of jiggly flab bellies on a large number of websites these days? Even the fantasic food blog Smitten Kitchen sometimes has large ads that scream suddenly, out of the midst of images of glorious full fat foods, suggesting that maybe I need to lose weight, and the simple act of clicking will reveal calorie-burning secrets I've never even considered. The tummies on Myspace are really too much; I wonder if it's targeted for women, or those of a certain age, or if everyone gets them. I know that sometimes, when they catch me off guard, I suck in my breath and my gut at the possibility that I look just like that when I take my shirt off.

I'm in need of a butcher; Sunday night potluck is on again this week after our Arkansas hiatus last weekend, and the theme is Italian. I am determined to make meatballs with beef, pork, and veal, and after visiting a butcher in Millington on our first camping trip, I'm pretty convinced this is the way to go. Note to self: Check Viet Hoa and see if they have veal. After all, they have duck heads.

School has been kicking my ass this week, but I have to say that the more I am immersed in the cirriculum, the more I feel as though I am doing the right thing. The bottom line of all my policy studies so far is social justice, a concept I can confidently say means a lot to me. I've been learning all about Clinton's welfare reform, why it is bullshit/doesn't work, and, most interestingly, why corporates appointees had a say in the changes and the corporate interest in welfare reform. It's a lot like listening to Democracy Now; the truth about the nation is gut-wrenchingly depressing, but putting your fingers in your ears and pretending that none of it exists is even moreso. Anyway, all this reading and studying has at least saved me from the string of violent hangovers that seem to have affected my Memphis peoples this week.

OhmyGod tonight I will make veggie sushi rolls and EATTHEMALLUP because the sushi craving has hit and I haven't made any at home in a coon's age.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

they'll make a moving for-tv movie on lifetime about my life

Today I'm obsessed with the song "Underground" by Kimya Dawson. Behold:

Some people hate Kimya Dawson, I'm sure. Like, people who can play guitar really well and bitch about musicians only knowing 2 chords. Last year at about this time Brandon and I discovered the sweet brillance of her album Hidden Vagenda and spent great amounts of time on the road singing along at the tops of our lungs. When I was going through a box the other day I found another CD of hers that I had lost promptly after buying it, and brought it out to my car and have been revisiting it. It's appropriate since it was in the fall when I first got into her music. Anyway, this song has a lyric that is kind of sweet and morbidly depressing at the same time, something Kimya's really good at, that goes like this:

"So I tattoo instructions on my ass, that say don't ever put this body in a casket, burn it and put the ashes in a basket, and throw them in the Puget Sound, I don't ever want to be underground, oh no"

I agree with Ms. Dawson, please, please, burn me up. I am a little torn as to what to do with the ashes, however. I am sure that by the time I die, there will be a lot of places I've gone that I could feel very confident about being scattered. But what if my family wants to keep me with them? That would be just fine. I feel like when someone dies their loved ones are so overwhelmed that it would suck to leave them with a decision to make. I was OK with seeing my dad in his casket, but after the funeral I had nightmares about his body underground and I still do sometimes. Including one in which I had to hire a cleanup crew to dig him up and like, clean the moldering moss off his body? Yeah, maybe that is TMI.

Somebody please comment and tell me what you want them to do with your body when you die. I am morbidly curious.

Last night I went to Mezcal with Toby and Brandon -- this is our Monday night, post-school tradition -- and sometime during the meal I got a phone call from this ex-friend (God, I hate using that term, it makes me feel so DRAMATIC and IMMATURE, but it's honestly the truth). I didn't know I got the phone call until I got home, since my phone was on silent, but I also had a follow-up text from her that said something about her calling on accident and not to worry because she'd delete my number so it would NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. This is someone who I had been friends with since high school when things went South, and I thought the text was the most pointless, immature thing ever. Pretty much like saying "Please don't be mistaken. I still cannot stand you and will never be able to stand you again." I find that the friends I had in high school, on the whole, when worse came to worse with our friendships, acted much like we would have at 17. I have to include myself in this appraisal, too. Has this been anyone else's experience, that if you've known someone since you were a kid, in your interpersonal dealings with this person, there's some sense of arrested development?

I feel pretty confident that since I have asked pointed questions to readers today, that no one will respond. That will show me.

The Brandon Dill birthday spectaular phenomenon is planned for Thursday night. I am having his little friends over, and buying him soda and making pizzas. Also possibly ordering wings? Ugh, I just realized that there's an obvious connection between events in our lives in the past 6 months and my desperate attempt to mother him this Birthday day. I am not sure that I like it, but caring nurturer me cannot -- must not!! -- be stopped.

Also, I just caught myself choking myself a little bit at my desk. I'm a pervert.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Last night, I dreamed...

So, last night I drove Mr. Dill and I down to Oxford, MS for the much discussed Neko Case show. I have things to say about this town. First off, it was weirdly off its rocker because the presidential debate will or won't be there today. (Jesus McCain, suck it up and get down there and get your ass handed to you. We all know you're not doing anything in particular in Washington, dumbass.) Ok, Oxford. I didn't hate it, it just left me, as it did Liz some time ago when she went, with a big Meh. Meh. I'll tell you something I did find incredible irritating about Oxford, and that was its mens' fashions. I don't know what has happened to young prepsters in the South, but Jesus Christ on the cross, thank God I'm not a different person in a different place, because there is no way I could stomach thinking these dudes are attractive. Let me tell you the basic uniform for a guy, age 18-28, in Oxford, MS, on a Thursday night in September. 1) Light blue collared shirt. This may or may not be worn with a white undershirt, depends on how studly you are feeling. 2) Khaki shorts or pants. 3) Brown leather loafers with no socks. Not wearing socks shows everyone how Goddamn casual you are, and that you're too Johnny Reb to give a fuck. (Don't their shoes stink really bad? Any pair of shoes I've ever tried to wear without socks, especially leather, stunk like the Devil. Maybe I'm just disgusting.) 4) Visor or cap shoved down over what I hate most about the Southern Prep, THEIR BIG BANG OF HAIR. Do y'all know what I am talking about? I'm talking about this:

Our two friends on the left are sporting the megabang. The one in the middle demonstrates how it looks under the most favored headgear of all frat boys, the "I'm too Johnny Reb to give a fuck" weathered baseball cap.

Here are some Ole Miss boys and girls. Notice the guy bangs??? Omnipresent, like Baby Jesus.

If the girls feel like being cute, they wear mini-dresses such as these. If they're on their period, they wear short athletic shorts with baggy Bid Day t-shirts. But they still straighten their hair. I bet y'all are surprised to hear me pull a term like "Bid Day" out of my ass, and I'll tell you, I'm surprised too.

Where am I going with all this? (Things like this happen to me. I start a blog with some purpose in mind, and then coffee drives me into a shaking frenzy unable to transition into The Bigger Picture.) OK, so what I am trying to say is simple: These people get on my fucking nerves. But then I think, Amanda, you're a smart girl, delve deeper. The notion of sororities has long bothered me. Of course, this originated in my own, leagues-deep insecurity in early college when faced with packs of these tan, seemingly perfect girls; I channeled that insecurity into hatred, but now that I'm older and have more perspective, I still have a problem with the notion. I think that a sorority is just another way of grooming a woman into the pretty disgusting societal ideal of what she should be. Their uniforms, their identicalness, it all grosses me out and makes me sad for them. This article says it all much better than I can; it's a great one from Rolling Stone, written in the aftermath of the Duke rape scandal, and the first time I read it, I nearly wept with gratitude that I was too fat, nervous, and weird to be accepted into Greek life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How does stress affect the brain, anyway?

We had a nice weekend out at Shelby Forest, camping with Dave and Amy. The ultimate in miracles has happened, you see, and we have found couple friends, in the town that we live in, that we can agree on, and who seem to want to be friends with us as much as we want to be friends with them. This is an elusive animal, as I think those of you who have been/are in relationships can attest. Either one half of the duo doesn't get along with someone in the other duo (usually split along opposite gender lines), or the dynamic between the other couple starts to get to you after awhile, and what was once your casual analysis of the relationship explodes into a situation in which, after every episode of hanging out with them, you end up saying things like "Did you notice how he said/did this thing and SHE JUST LAPPED IT UP?? THAT IS SO ANNOYING!!!!" Anyway, the point is, as of right now, Dave & Amy are our couple friends and we like it. I like it, anyway, I can't speak for the rest of the three of 'em.

We went to Shelby Forest because it was close by and I was happy that we'd picked it. Camping had never really occurred to me before 2007, I don't think? I had a tent that I'd bought for Bonnaroo... 2004?? I believe, and it had merely hung out in my closet/under my bed since then. I think that my enjoyment of camping relates directly to what a pseudo-spiritual guy told me soon after meeting me one time, that I was a "householder." I really squee over getting to set up a little home away from home in the woods. I think I'm certainly a householder. The intense joy I feel when seeing my primary colored Fiestaware stacked up in the kitchen cabinets confirms this. I feel the same satisfaction when smoothing a plastic gingham tablecloth over a concrete picnic table, rolling out our sleeping bags in our newly popped up tent, and spreading Patsy's homemade cherry preserves over a slice of peanut buttered bread in the chilly morning time, surrounded by trees. I am planning a birthday camping spectacular weekend in Arkansas for my best husband next weekend, and I believe we are going here, Petit Jean State Park, which the internet has told me was Arkansas's first ever state park. Say what you want about Arkansas, it does have all that natural beauty.

Yep, Mr. Dill's birthday is next week, his 28th (it feels surreal to be getting so close to 30) and I am orchestrating gift-giving and special dinner-making to make up for last year, when I had just started my job and was broke as a joke and only gave him a subscription to Aperture magazine. I am super proud because not only have I had both his gifts, which were ordered off the internet, in my possession for more than a week, I have secreted them away in my work cubicle away from his prying eyes. Score! My goal is to prepare more surprises and pull them out at random times from October 2-5, at which time all birthday celebrating will finish. It's funny because he doesn't really give a shit about his birthday, which I took full advantage of in both 2006 and 2007, but Goddamnit he deserves some attention and I'm going to give it to him.

The last point I want to touch on is the fact that I am considering initiating a weekly Sunday night potluck at our humble abode on Lawrence Avenue for old & new Memphis friends. When we first moved to Memphis, we happened to stumble upon Brandon's ol' MTSU friend, Jen, at El Mezcal, and she and her husband invited us to one they had each Sunday night that was attached to viewing of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I miss the tradition, especially since Fall is coming and the cool weather is inviting me to make homemade mac and cheese and pad 5 additional pounds onto myself. We will not be watching any tv shows, but we will be talking and drinking wine (if anyone has the forethought to buy it on Saturday). We would do it at like 7'ish, and anyone would be invited to come and bring friends with them. We can get a real little network built, and it's the perfect night for Lindsey & Dave to hang out. I will be discussing this more with youse guys in real life, I hope y'all want to do it.

P.S. I have been spending at least two hours daily at work listening to Suspense old time radio. Is that really weird??

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

let it leave me trembling, trembling

I'll tell you a phenomenon I love: Listening to music that reminds you of a particular time in your life and having the same feelings that affected you then rise over you in an awesome wave. That is an incredible feeling. I am sitting at work this morning listening to Neko Case's album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (and no, she's not the only music I EVER listen to) and I am stricken with the sensation that I am driving my car down the interstate on a hot summer night and falling in love with Brandon Dill all over again. I remember one particular night distinctly, driving the both of us from Wendy & Mark's in Nashville to B's hovel in Murfreesboro, right after I'd gotten this album. Despite the fact I should have still been traumatized by the end of a long-running relationship, I knew deep down inside myself that what Brandon and I were feeling about one another was pretty dang undeniable and I was so fucking excited about the whole thing every minute. And I still get really excited, even though sometimes we are freaked out about money or generally pissy or bored. I really believe that things are better with him than without him, and better than they would be with anyone else because something that lives inside the both of us, something deep and old that connects to our hearts & our minds, that part of the both of us recognized the other as soon as we looked at each other and paid attention. We try to remind each other how lucky we are to have found one another quite often.

I had a lovely time at my mother's this weekend. The air is crisping up and her orchard is full of apples, pears, and muscadines. If you've never eaten muscadines before, they are very sweet when they get ripe but have a thick, bitter skin and seeds. When I was a little girl my father used to !PoP! the pulp in my waiting mouth and this is the way I still eat them today. I tried to teach my five year old nephew how to feed them to me in this way, and ended up with a mouthful of fingers.

My relationship with the land I grew up in, the house my great-grandparents built there in the 1930s is very deep and complicated. There's some kind of psychic impression that has been left there by the four generations of Yarbros that poured their love and work and lives into the place, and I feel like it's my destiny to end up there with my own family someday. Finding a way to survive there would be wonderful for Brandon and me, but it's a hard thing to figure out, because the nearest towns offer nothing in the way of opportunities financially, much less socially. In some kind of fantasy world, we could have a retreat for all types of creative people and that would solve both problems at once. I have long had dreams of living in that house and inviting a huge circle of friends to visit twice a year to eat fresh food from long tables scattered across the back yard while lightning bugs flash and naked babies run around with great abandon. Maybe this is possible? Some practicality in me pooh poohs the possibility, but it's the same little voice that tried to tell me it was impossible to go live out of a pack in Europe for three months, and I did that, so you never know.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday good stuff of all kinds

I don't know about you guys, but I'm happy it's Friday; Brandon and I will be visiting my mom this weekend while all the rest of the Memphis folks get TEE-rashed at Cooper-Young fest but it's okay, because I love my mom and she makes me lots of good food and gives me all her elder woman wisdom when I come around.

Last night I uploaded a video to YouTube for the first time ever, and I'm going to try and do some more soon. When we are travelling B always shoots lots of video on my little camera, and we've been meaning to start postin' em on ye olde internet for a long time. For a grand, adorable debut, I give you: Puppet Bike!!!!

Now, we saw Puppet Bike outside the poster shop where we bought this (let me tell you, it took much hemming & hawwing to make a decision). I don't know the gender of the person inside the Puppet Bike stage thingy, but whoever it is, I love them. This is probably the most awesome street entertainment I have ever seen, because it is so unexpected and out of the ordinary and CHARMING. Look at those puppets! I'd say what you need to do right now is go get in your car, or, be more environmentally responsible/cheap and get a megabus ticket and get your ass to Chicago and DO NOT REST until you see this puppet wonder for yourself. Amen.

Also, in the grand tradition of Liz, also known as Bette Davis Lies, also known as Peggy Noir, I wanted to post a recipe that I cooked last night, boosted from Recipezaar. I have to say that the dinner I made last night was one of the best dinners I have cooked in my life. Like, definitely the top 10. And it was vegetarian! And it was an incredible amalgam of spicery! Yes! (Can you tell I've had my morning coffee??) OK, so I made I Can't Wait for Chole, which I had made before, except this time I added some sliced zucchini in with the chickpeas because I am in lust with zucchini. But the real star of the meal was the COCONUT RICE, people. The recipe follows. Make it. Make love to it, and thank Mother Earth that coconut milk exists.


1 cup long grain rice or jasmine rice
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 inch peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Bring the coconut milk to a boil in a medium sized pot.
2. Add the rice, ginger and salt.
3. Stir and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to low and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. While waiting, heat the shredded coconut in a skillet, toasting it lightly.
6. Remove from heat and set aside.
7. When the rice has cooked for 20 minutes, fluff it with a fork and throw out the ginger root.
8. Toss with toasted coconut.
9. Garnish with chopped cilantro just before serving.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I love this game

Keywords that people have searched for that lead them to me, according to Google Analytics:

animals eaten alive videos
amanda tall video
animals cumming in woman
animals cumming in women faces
cummin all over mom
cumming all over the place
jesus on a vacation far away
milk tall mature women novel
picture of a lady afraid
puppy eaten alive video
sexy lady pilots
tall pussy
woman breastfeeding puppy video

Oh, you internet psychos.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

well it's hot in the yard, and cool in the bed

I decided I'd better blog before some well-meaning blogosphere passerby read my last entry and assumed that I had thrown myself down an old well. Or something like that. Honestly, I am doing fine today, and in the past week I have had a gutbomb of anxiety off and on but I think it can be attributed to the dread of tomorrow's anniversary as well as my clenching fear regarding the upcoming election.

I have been reading this blog lately, as recommended to me by Liz. She actually pointed me to Nienie's sister's blog, because the sister is taking care of Nienie & her husband's four kids since they were critically injured in a plane crash in August. Yes, very heavy. One of the first entries I read was this one, in which Nienie describes the back to school dinner party she had for her two school-aged children. It was freaking incredible. When I am sucked into some kind of real life drama that is playing out on the web, I am always stricken by an "Oh my God, this is real life" feeling. Anyway, reading her blog makes me feel so very underwhelmed by my own creativity that I want to cry. That is something to work on.

Last Thursday I was stricken by the certainty that I needed to cut off all my hair, and handled the urge the way I usually do, but making an appointment at Dabbles (one of the most embarrassing names ever for a place of business, surely) for Saturday and rushing there to get John, a very nice stylist, to cut it all off for me. Behold, a shitty Photo Booth image of yours truly sans flowing locks:

Jesus Christ on the cross, I am fairly sure that a Very Large Man that sits near me is afflicted with whooping cough or another such malady that launches him into coughing fits that goes ON and ON and ON, and is the kind in which you can detect phlegm. Sounds like he is going to die and I can't muster anything more than disgusted annoyance. What kind of person am I.

B has a wedding in M'boro this weekend, and I am going to my mother's. This burgeoning autumn weather makes me want to drive in the car, don't know why it does that. Also makes me want to go camping, which I think Baby B and I will do, in Arkansas, for his birthday in October. He will be 28. 28! He is old! We are nearly 30! But we have a savings account, feels good that we've at least accompanied that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch"

My dad trying to force my trifling-ass nephew's birthday gift on his head; early March, 2006

In less than a week's time, my family will mark the second anniversary of my father's death. He was 69 when he died on September 11, 2006; I was in Nashville, he was in Jackson, TN. He died alone in a room where he'd been taken to have tests administered. My mother and brother were in his hospital room a few stories above. Every time I visit Liz, I drive by that ugly ass hospital and think about it all, and sometimes I laugh bitterly.

The day of his death I was in training for the one and only job I had during my 8 months in Nashville, doing sales calls for a medical transcription company. The people were nice, but I am not a person who should have ever worked in sales, because I simply don't give a damn about selling things. Anyway, I'd had my cell phone off all day and when I got off work I had a voicemail from a friend, also from my hometown, who had heard that things had turned bad with Skip (that's my dad) and my family had been called to the hospital. I had no missed calls from my mother; she didn't know what to do at the time. I was 3 hours away; she didn't know that he was going to die. I didn't know what to do myself, after I spoke to her, I got more and more upset and wasn't sure about driving myself that far; I went to my best friend's house and sat waiting for her. I got a lot of mosquito bites, which I relished, because I thought I should be feeling some physical pain; things with Daddy were bad, and I wanted to feel on the outside the way I did on the inside.

Eventually I got a call from my sister-in-law that he was gone, and even if I'd left Nashville as soon as work had ended, I wouldn't have seen him alive again anyway. My mother has told me since that she is glad I did not see him that day, because he was (obviously) so deathly ill. She always adds that the last day I did see him, two days prior, he had been lucid enough to tell me goodbye, and asked later where I'd gone, and when she'd told him, responded with "Good, she doesn't need to be hanging around here with us old people, anyway."

My father had huge hands, and he could fix or build anything. Even after he retired, he worked pretty much morning to night every day outside, doing whatever was to be done that season. He tilled, planted, weeded the garden. He cut and hauled wood to keep the house warm. He built my mother furniture and bird feeders and whatever else she needed. 69 might seem old to some people, but my dad was so damned hardy and healthy; the nurses and interns at Vanderbilt never failed to mention his dark brown (farmer's) tan when he was being examined. He had an electric sense of humor, and when he was in a room, you couldn't help but pay attention to him, because he was so charismatic and funny. 

I got home and all my family was there. My dad was gone. I hugged everyone; somebody gave my mom a Xanax. Drug of choice for white Southern people dealing with loss. Everyone left and I sat at the computer to write his obituary for the newspaper. My mother went into the bathroom to shower, and a few minutes later I heard her wailing; an animalistic sound that came from low inside her and went on & on as she pounded on the wall. We hardly cried together during the course of his illness because we didn't want to admit to ourselves, to anyone else, that, all of a sudden, his life had an expiration date. The doctors never gave us a timeline. They never said, you have 6 months, 6 weeks, but as soon as he was diagnosed a cursory check of WebMD confirmed that the odds were against us. 

I lived at home with my parents that summer, from May until September; on June 1st, at Vanderbilt, they cut my daddy open and tried to remove the "very aggressive" tumor, as well as part of both his pancreas and small intestine (I think; my memories of organs have ran together in the past couple of years; could've been his stomach) in a surgery called the Whipple procedure. He was in the hospital for a month and when he came home, he had an open incision across his belly that had to be flushed and repacked and bandaged twice a day; a nurse did it in the morning and my mom did it at night. He had to try and heal from the inside out because he'd had complications when they'd initially sewn him up. My mom didn't think that she could do this until she started doing it, and then she did it every day like a champ. He couldn't eat until his intestinal track had had enough time to recover, so there was a tube, kind of like an IV, that ran into his shoulder and delivered him the nutrients that he needed to survive (straight into his heart, I believe; if that makes any sense). We had to hook him up to the bag every night, prime the pump, and let it run until morning. This went on for weeks, no food, no drink; just a bag of life potion disguised as a blue backpack that ran on batteries. He could however, have a wet swab to keep his mouth moist. 

I could go on an on about this horrific experience. I question why I am putting this up anyway; no one wants to read this; no one wants to think about my pain or the possibility that they themselves could experience something similar. But I think it's important that since I feel an urge to document this time in my life, I do so. Maybe I will not publish it. I don't want to try and make y'all respond to this, because there's nothing to say, nothing to do. "I remember, I remember," that is what I am saying to myself and to everyone else. 

I don't know how people cleave to religion after facing sickness and death. I wouldn't say that I had any faith to speak of when the whole mess started, but at the end of it, I was left certain that there was not a God, and in the off chance there was, I was really, really pissed off at It. If there was a God, assholes would get cancer and die. Racist fucks with venemous hearts, for example. Men who abuse their partners and children for shits & giggles. Not my dear, sweet Skip, who believed in ol' JC 'til the day he died, even having a vision of him while hopped up on pain meds and waiting to go into surgery. "Don't worry about me, y'all," he said to my tearful mother and I. "Don't worry about me, because you see who's right here next to me? Jesus." I appreciate the fact that my father was comforted by his strong, unquestioning faith, not afraid when walking through the valley of the shadow of death, only heartbroken to leave us all behind, but faith has not comforted my grief. I don't believe it has offered my mother any relief, either, although she sure has tried. I am ultimately mystified when people praise God in the face of great tragedy. It's obvious to me now that life is a series of random events that are sometimes terrible and sometimes wonderful, and it doesn't how much you talk to some invisible person, whatever's gonna happen's gonna happen. 

I think I'm done now. I wrote virtually nothing when I was living at home, but I do have a lone word document on my laptop that I wrote in the late summer; I'm going to close with a paragraph that I cherish because it is something I wrote about him while he was still with us. 
"Tonight I sat in the bedroom with him – I was going to check on him, he’d been in there laying down, hoping the hiccups would go away – and I held his hand, kissed him, hugged him, until we started to talk. He asked me if I knew what the doctor had said, and I gently reminded him I’d been there. You don’t know what to say a lot in times like these. We talked about how sometimes people lived for years with cancer. I didn’t say “But it’s already making you this sick, and that can’t be a good sign.” I didn’t say “I don’t want you to die,” which is what I think every time I’m in his presence. It seems selfish, and I know he knows anyway."

"It’s so quiet down here – if this is the end, shouldn’t we be talking and making sure we mark all this time with its true importance? Yet we cannot do that, because it would be admitting it might be the end, which is not something any of us want to say. Or feel. Or believe."

My lovely parents; Christmas 2005


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