Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Remember what "Worn Out" Truly Means.

I want to go to Magnolia Mountain
And lay my weary head down
Down on the rocks
On the mountain my savior made
Steady my soul and ease my worry
Hold me when I rattle like a hummingbird hummin'
Tie me to the rocks on the mountain my savior made

Yes, I would love to go to Magnolia Mountain right now as Ryan Adams describes it - as long as the pollen count up there is reasonable.

You know, in past years I have often lamented at my great lack of activity. I like being busy. I like having things to do – important things. It gives me a sense of worth, which I think any decent person strives for. Well, now that I have a lot to do, I’m wondering if I am worthy.

So as you know, I’m about to start classes at Coosa Valley Tech for Medical Transcription. And as most of you know, I am also on the board of directors for the New Echota Rivers Alliance (as secretary because apparently I just look so damned secretarial). And as some of you know, I went hiking this past weekend after a long time of not hiking – which resulted in the searing ache that now resides in my hips. So yes, I’m a busy girl. But suddenly, I’m about to be a lot busier.

NERA has been trying to help the many (insert sarcastic snigger here) agricultural and environmental agencies of Gordon County get together a grant. A grant that would fund and support and pay us to monitor the possible sources of non-point pollution. Non point pollution (according to my limited knowledge) is pollution that doesn’t come about from the natural erosion and cycles of a river or creek left to its own devices. By monitoring, I mean that samples would be taken from the river and tested using a kit provided and available from the EPA. Our concern with this grant would be the Salacola Creek watershed (my Calhounian buds might know what I’m talking about). The Salacola Creek watershed has apparently been ransacked by sediment – sediment that ain’t supposed to be there. We would be testing (and trying to find the source) for various types of sediments that don’t belong and are aging the creek and its watershed too rapidly. In short, it’s a big friggin’ muddy mess and we have to figure out what’s causing it.

So we had a meeting tonight about this Grant and our plan for it and how to go about getting it written. Somehow, I ended up being the only NERA member present – and I am the least knowledgeable of all the NERA members when it comes to politics, rivers, and pretty much everything else this meeting was about. So I sat there with the strangest sensation that I had a dunce hat on my head as members of various important municipal organizations talked way above my head.

Luckily, I’m good at asking questions when I overcome my natural shyness. And I must have looked pretty smart (man are they fooled) and very secretarial (do I really look that secretarial?) because they charged me with the task of summarizing (on paper) all that we plan to accomplish at upcoming public meetings. So I will be breaking out the highlighter sooner than I thought. I’ve got to shuffle through fifty pages of scientific talk that would be impossible for me to decipher if I didn’t have a decent knowledge of Latin and Greek roots, a menial knowledge of how river systems and erosion work, and basic knowledge of geology and physical geography (I knew those classes would come in handy one day). But it’s all okay, because it’s for a good cause. I’m just terrified of making a terrible fool of myself and (worse) NERA.

But my darlings that’s not all. No, my eyelid would not be twitching now if that was all. NERA also has a fundraiser coming up (on my birthday no less) that is just barely holding together. It would have already fallen apart if not for our fearless Executive Director, Mr. Clayton Jones, who I think puts up with a lot more than he should. As a result of this gigantic mess, poor worn-out Professor Jones has appealed to dear sweet secretarial me to write a press release announcing the fundraiser concert. (Plug time – Mike Compton from O’ Brother Where Art Thou fame, his buddy David Long who is also a damn fine mandolin player, the super remarkable James & Rachel Bryan, and Professor Jones himself are performing in all their bluegrass/string duet glory – Calhounians take note: it’ll be a hell of a show – it really will.) Because I’m such a sucker for overworked, underappreciated, worn-out men doing good works, I agreed to help. But I’m also a sucker for making sure an event my name’s attached to will succeed in helping us to clean up and venerate our lovely little river.

All the while, my hips still hurt, I haven’t heard from my advisor at CVT who I hope will get me signed up for another class, I don’t know if I’m going to get a HOPE Grant yet, I have to find a good example of dialogue I’ve written for my writing meeting Thursday, I have mixed CDs to make for other music-addicted people like myself, I’m worried about the lack of rainfall, I’m worried about two or three of my closest friends, I’m worried about my Grandmother and my Mom, I’m worried about my Dad, I’m broke, and my car is acting like its transmission is a little pissed off. Oh yeah, and I have to work 8-5 every weekday.

No wonder my eyelid keeps friggin’ twitching.

Somebody go get me a fifth of Jack Daniels. Please.

And here is just a taste of some Mike Compton and David Long. Yes, I'm still plugging.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wow, I'm a Student Again

I’m an expert on Shakespeare
And that’s a hell of a lot
But the world don’t need scholars
As much as I thought…

And this is exactly why I became an official student at Coosa Valley Technical College today. I’m glad Jamie Cullum (and over half of the English majors I’ve ever met) can commiserate.

When I was in high school and college, I was such a snob, thinking that Technical Colleges were so beneath me. What the hell ever. After receiving a rather brutal slap in the face that has repeated itself over and over again for the past five years, I have discovered that this could be the smartest thing this little scholar has ever done.

The idea to go into Medical Transcription actually originated when I rang up a former Shorter classmate and fellow English major at Barnes and Noble. She told me that she had gone into the field. She emphasized how simple it was to get the certification and how many jobs are out there and how well it pays. But for some stupid reason, I stayed put and held fast to the idea of raising the money to go ahead and get my MFA in Creative Writing. What the hell was I thinking?

After two more shitty retail jobs, a long stint as a substitute teacher, and now my good, but boring and less-than-lucrative office job, I’ve finally awakened and realized that there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to get to Graduate School like this. So the idea came to my head again. This happened relatively recently. My usual process of implementing a plan like this is to think about it for six months, talk about it, and procrastinate. But I’ve run out of time for that idiocy. Now is the time for action, damn it. So I went to CVT about two weeks ago and gathered all the information and paperwork. And today, I turned it in, signed up for at least one class (I’ll have two before the end of the week – gotta figure out which of the business courses I’ve got to take first), got a T-shirt, and walked out an official student at a technical college. Classes start April 2nd. Talk about action.

To tell you the truth, I’m rather excited. I looked over the course descriptions and (I think / hope) this is going to be a cakewalk that will end in a much wider job market for me. Shoot, man, one of the classes is Medical Terminology, which puts an emphasis on learning the histories, etymologies, roots, suffixes, and prefixes of medical terms. What could be more up my ally; word-obsessed geek that I am? Plus Biology was the only class I actually ACED in college. Odd for an English major, huh?

I really do miss being a student and taking classes. I’ve always been a geek, yes. I loved classes in college. I hated tests and papers, but I loved the classes. I can already see bringing in my list of Latin and Greek roots, suffixes, and prefixes; and my classmates begging me to bring copies to help them study. I suppose it’ll also be a bit weird to be in a desk as opposed at the front of the classroom, teaching. It’s been a long time since the tables were turned. But it’ll probably be a relief too.

My only concern at this point is…well…not so much my classmates, but myself. I admit that there is still a bit of an elitist in me, which is ridiculous because I have no real right to feel superior to anyone. I hope that reality has knocked enough of that out of me that it will become a non-issue once I get started. And I am a little nervous about how my classmates will take me. I can’t help the words I use or the way I organize notes or the way I naturally make worksheets for myself (there’s still a little bit of teacher in me too). I just hope they won’t think I’m uppity for these things. From what I understand, there aren’t many college graduates attending the Calhoun campus of CVT, so I’ll really have to watch myself and what I say lest I be thought “high and mighty.”

Because, truth be told, I’m a mite lonely. It’ll be nice to make some new friends and to have conversations every once in a while. Misha’s still in Rome, but she’s so busy and she has a boyfriend, so I can’t see her as much as I’d like. And Krishna had to up and get married and move to Florida. :^( (But she knows I still love her). So I’m kind of on my own a lot. Although much of it is my own fault for being so shy and having this weird thing in my head that makes me feel like I’m bugging people when I call them…Well, that’s another issue for another day.

In any case, it will be really nice to be able to use my vocal chords some a couple days out of the week. And it’ll be really nice to have the prospect of a more substantial career.

And now, just because I’ve discovered how much The Replacements kick ass, here’s “The Ledge.”

More on my recent musical epiphanies here – if you’re bored and so inclined.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Many Misadventures of a Scatterbrained Girl or My Weekend

Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pumps don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles

Okay, so the lyrics here from Bob's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" may seem a bit random, but the last line kind of comes into play later on. And I like to brag that I can sing all the words to that entire song. I'm so accomplished.

So as most of you know, I went down to Tallahassee this weekend to visit my dear sweet friend Krishna. Krishna moved down South nearly a year ago and has since come to visit her old Georgia friends many times. But nobody had gone down to see her. So I figured it was her turn.

Aside from a few vehicular and familial snags, the trip was well-planned. I even had super directions with insets of maps I had found online. Of course I barely paid attention to them once I got going. And it did take me a while to get going. It took me an hour to get my errands run in Rome, so I didn't really get on the road until two in the afternoon.

All was smooth sailing down Highway 27. I liked it. I don't do so well in traffic or on interstates, so 27 was the perfect route for me. I didn't stop until I got to LaGrange. Krishna had directed me to get onto I-185 for a few exits. I followed her directions, but got hopelessly confused because I stayed on 27S. So I decided, "hell with it" and continued on 27. Well, I didn't realize that somewhere near Calloway Gardens, 27 was being detoured. Nothing is more obnoxious than a detour on an unfamiliar road. I followed this detour for about 20 miles before I just got too confused to tolerate it, so I stopped at a gas station and got directions from a very bored and possibly gay LaGrange conveniance store worker. I ended up on I-185 for about two exits, but soon found my way back to my good friend, 27S.

On through Columbus and Fort Benning I drove and drove. And before I knew it, I was out in the middle of nowhere. And I mean nowhere. There was NOTHING on either side of the road except for trees. It was very pretty, though. It was around dusk as I was driving through this desolate place, and the hills around were very pretty in the fog. Still, I had to call Krishna just to give me something to do while I was driving through this place. Soon after I hung up with her, I passed the best road name ever. I mean EVER. Benevolence Pumpkin Road. I kid you not. BENEVOLENCE PUMPKIN ROAD!! Not even the adjective, "benevolent" but the noun. I laughed for like fifteen minutes until I passed a Sheriff's Department car and got pulled over for going 77 in a 55. Bad monkey.

Many hours and many miles later I finally rolled into Tallahassee. I was SO happy to see Krishna. And she's such a good hostess, she even had supper waiting for me. Their little house is nice. It's the perfect size for Krishna and her husband, and I'm super proud of her for being more grown-up than me. And her cat is precious, although I now see why Krishna keeps calling her a "strange kitty." We didn't do anything really on Friday night because I was wiped out and I had arrived too late to do much. But Krishna and I did have a couple Jack and Cokes and talked for several hours. Something I have missed SO MUCH about having Krishna around. We always have something to talk about, which is a rare thing for me.

Saturday after all were awake and showered, Krishna and I took a pilgramage to Krispy Kreme. Ooooohhhhh Krispy Kreme. Because we are so far away from one up here in the NW Georgia sticks, any opportunity I have to get some REAL, fresh Krispy Kremes is always taken advantage of. I ended up with a dozen (actually, 14 because the little dude at the counter was very sweet and gave me four of the blueberry ones because they're smaller) and Krishna ended up with a dozen. We sat in the glow of the glazing machine and happily chowed down on a lemon-filled (in my case) and a cinnamon apple filled (for Krishna).

Our stomachs properly full of the most unhealthy pastry known to man (if it's not the most unhealthy, let me know what is so I can try it), we headed for the one place in Tallahasse Krishna most wanted me to visit: Vinyl Fever. All right, so Vinyl Fever is what a record store ought to be. CDs by a huge variety of artists at decent prices and a vast section of used CDs. It's a huge store. And I was in my own little Paradise on Earth. I'm not sure how long we were there. I always lose track of time and space when I'm in such a kick-ass record store. Krishna and I were like a couple little girls in a candy store. I ended up spending way too much money, but it's been a very long time since I've bought any music (ack!). When I took my CDs to the counter, the dude working there flirted with me in the best possible way - going on musical taste. Tom Waits always brings the love.

The Florida State Capitol Building - what were they thinking?

We had lunch (we allowed Krishna's husband, Cliff to join us after Vinyl Fever) at a good seafood place and continued to just kind of galavant around Tallahassee. We enjoyed the lovely view of the very phallic Capitol building (I mean, REALLY phallic), and went to a few stores and whatnot. We really just had a lovely time. I also noticed that there are a lot of really good-looking men in Tallahassee. A LOT of good-looking men. And they're not all oiled-up muscle men, nor do they really seem to be fanboys. They're just...good-looking. And when I made this observation to Krishna I got the strangest sense that she was trying to sell me on this little town. Hmmm...

Once we got back to Krishna and Cliff's house, we really just took it easy. We all checked our e-mail on their super cool wi-fi network and Krishna made us supper. She's such a sweetheart and made spaggetti with meat in it despite the fact that she's a vegetarian. Later on, we broke out the Whiskey again and I proceeded to get my ass beat at Mario Cart.

The next morning I had to get going because I wanted to get up to Macon to see my friend Adam before it got too late. It's just as well, because poor Krishna suddenly had a sinus attack or something similar and wasn't feeling so great. We said our goodbyes and I miss her already.

I had to take I-75 to Macon, and althouth I don't much like the interstate, I didn't mind braving it to see Adam. I ended up taking 319 up to Tifton to catch I-75. 319 was fairly uneventful except for the slight little mistake I made in Moultrie. I ended up on Business 319 instead of regular ole 319 North, but all that transpired was that I had to take a few funny little turns in downtown Moultrie.

75 was a little crazy. There were more people on the road than I had anticipated, but I managed okay. It really didn't take too terribly long before I was in Macon. I got to town at about three, which was exactly the time I had been shooting for. If you knew how rarely this happens to me, you'd understand why I was so impressed with myself.

I found Adam's place easily, but I was earlier than he had expected. He had promised me food, so we went in search of it. Well, a search it was indeed. He had mentioned a very good pizza place. We found it, but they were closed. Then the idea of a home cooking place was shot down when they turned out to be closed. Then we though, surely a Sushi place would be open. Well, it wasn't. All during this pinball game of trying to find food, Adam pointed out a few things about Macon and we had some good conversation as we always have done, so I didn't mind the running around. I just felt bad for Adam having to drive me all over creation.

Finally, we ended up at Cheddar's. It's a nice place and they know what "medium rare" means. I was very pleased with my steak and it was so good to sit with Adam and laugh and talk. He's one of those folks from the old days that I have always really missed. It's so rare to meet a good-hearted, level-headed, good-looking man of a certain age, and Adam is all three. His ex must be out of her mind.

After we ate (well, I ate - Adam had eaten already), he drove me around Macon to show me certain points of interest. It's a nice town. Lots of beautiful old houses that are sadly run down. But some of them have been remodeled and are beautiful again. He showed me the Mercer campus and his house as well. I love his little house and it just breaks my heart that he's going to have to sell it and start all over again. Divorce is so ugly.

We really had a good time riding around, and mostly it was just nice to hang out with Adam. I get a feeling that he's trying to sell me on Macon just as Krishna was trying to sell me on Tallahassee. We'll see kids.

Anyway, I said goodbye to Adam sooner than I would have liked, but I really needed to get home at a decent hour since I had to work the next day. So I headed out. 75 continued to be a little crazy, but all went pretty well until I stopped for gas.

I don't know where I was, but I stopped at a BP station. It was prepay only, which I don't like but I can deal with it. So I pulled up to the pump and I went in to get a Diet Dr. Pepper and pay for 20 bucks in gas. I paid, went outside, got into the car, and headed off. I had gone at least 30 miles before I realized that I had forgotten to pump my gas. So I hope somebody had a good time with my twenty bucks. I felt like such and idiot and I still do, because twenty bucks is a small fortune for someone like me. I stopped somewhere in Jackson and had to pay with my debit card. Bleh.

Anyway, Atlanta was crazy as usual, but all turned out well, and I got home at about eight thirty.

It was a hell of a trip, but it was worth all the little problems along the way. I'm in one piece and I got to see my friends. All is well with the world.

So here's some Bob.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

In the Name of "Duh..."

You rhapsodize about beauty
and my eyes glaze
everything that i love is ugly
I mean really, you would be amazed
just do me a favor
it's the least that you can do
just don't treat me like I am
something that happened to you

So I’m listening to this Ani Difranco song – bitter in that beautifully painful way that she’s bitter – wondering if she’s just melodramatic or if I’ve just never really been in love.

I’ve tried not to make this blog about my dating life, but it’s definitely an issue in my life as it is and it’s definitely something that I think about. By American standards, I’m not all that old and nowhere near an old maid, but by Calhoun standards, I might as well be dead. I get really annoyed when I go to a shower or a wedding and all my relatives are looking at me like, “Well? What’s your problem?” I’d be surprised if one or two of them didn’t think I’m a lesbian. I’m just not one to settle. I refuse to marry just for the sake of getting married. I absolutely refuse. I’ve broken up with many a man who was wonderful and seemingly perfect in every way by “marrying” standards. Many ladies around me (including my office manager) look at me like I’m insane and proceed to name off potential sweethearts based solely on the fact that they are single. I think about explaining to them that I don’t want to marry just anybody, but in the end, I realize that it’s pointless because I’m not going to make them understand. I will only marry a man I love. I mean really love. Somebody who I can dance to “Bewitched” by Ella Fitzgerald with without feeling too self-conscious or shy. Somebody with whom I can be the girl I am in my head (and my heart). Damn it.

Which brings me back to the first issue. I really don’t think I’ve ever been in love with anyone. When I think about past beaus, I feel no real ache at their absence, nor did I ever. The closest I come to an ache is when I think about a man I dated about five years ago who was wrong for me in every single way. He was eleven years older, only in the area for the summer, and averse to being in one place for too long. But we got along beautifully. Had wonderful conversations (among other things), and we were utterly comfortable with each other. While it lasted, it was the best relationship I probably ever had. I miss him and think about him ALL THE TIME. But I never get this burning feeling of need and loss when I think of him (well aside from the very occasional moment when I’m really reminded of him by something or when I’m lonely and given too much time to think). I usually just kind of sigh and think, “Well, shit.”

I suppose when I say I’ve never been in love, I mean that I’ve never really gotten far enough inside a man to really know him and be dazzled or pleased with everything I saw there. And God knows none of them have ever really tried very hard to get too far into my heart and head. I imagine it would be a scary place to a newcomer.

And then I wonder if my idea of love is wrong. Which I think everyone’s is until they really feel it. And I think of my friends who have been married and divorced and still suffer for the loss. But do they suffer for the loss of the person, the stability, or the habit of being married? It must be different for every case, of course, but I’m sure that in some cases, it may be all three.

The only conclusion I can come to now is that loving somebody is the ability to be the person you are in your head with them and knowing that they have the same ability with you. So I’ve never been in love. Because I’ve never really been able to be the girl I am in my head with any of my exes – except that one man I mentioned. But he couldn’t be the man he was in his head with me. So I reckon it’s all for the better.

I’ll just keep my eyes and my mind open and maybe I’ll get lucky one of these days. And you can double entendre that as much as you want.

Now more bitterness from Ani Difranco.
This is a great song from her Dilate album.

What would you most like to see on my new website for unpublished writers?