Monday, July 30, 2007

When a Mess Can No Longer Be Justified as a Sign of Genius

Blow up your TV
throw away the paper
Go to the country,
build you a home.

I really couldn't take it anymore. My apartment was a remarkable mess. For a while I was fine with my mess. I knew where everything was, so it was fine.

Then one day I looked around and wondered where in the hell I was going to put my new DVDs and CDs. I saw the VHS tapes I had stacked in liquor boxes and the ones that wouldn't fit sitting in precarious stacks on the floor. On the kitchen table sat piles and piles of burned CDs that hold live shows and various mixes, etc. that acted as a great compliment to the piles and piles of junk mail. And then there was the blue chair. I used to love that blue chair. But after I moved out of the den of evil (a.k.a. where I lived with my horrible ex in Rome) and realized exactly how much his poorly trained dog peed on the thing, I haven't loved it quite so much. And after all, Misha had been kind enough to give me her big gigantic, wonderful chair.

At about the same time I started looking around at the mess, my mom offered to let me have her desk since she really didn't want it anymore and it was only taking up space. Well, that gave me the extra boost I needed.

So I took half a day off Thursday, and have been working on it for the better part of the past several days. Corey was sweet enough to help move the desk in Saturday. I also got a new bookcase type thing to hold all my VHS so my existing shelving unit could be the exclusive home of my DVDs. The cleaning quickly spiraled into rearranging. I got rid of the blue chair, built the new unit, set up the desk and repositioned the big chair. Dude, I even dusted the blades of the ceiling fan and knocked down cobwebs.

Here is the result.

I swear, it feels like total feng sui to me. I imagine the effect would be greatly amplified if I had thought to take "before" shots, but I probably would have been too embarassed to share them.

The desk was just such a nice fringe benefit of all this too. I love my desk. Now I no longer have to go all the way to my bedroom and crawl into the little hole my printer was in. Now it's all easily accessable.

Note the ghetto fabulous desk chair. It's one of my kitchen chairs with the cushions from the big chair (which were just taking up space because I never used them) in a body pillow case. Also note the especially ghetto fabulous hairband-tying method used to keep the pillows in place.

I'm so jazzed about all this that I'm going to start working on the rest of the apartment this week too. I'm going to try to get it all done during the week, because poor darling Corey had to put up with hyper, obsessed, cleaning-mode Jennifer all this past weekend, and nobody deserves to be subjected to that two weekends in a row. The garbage people are just going to love me by the time I'm through.

This isn't even half the crap I tossed.

Note the severly crappy blue chair. Alas. It was good to me while it lasted.

Anyway, once the whole place is spic and span, I will be a very happy little camper. I really think that having a neat place is really helpful to your state of mind. More than that, I think the act of cleaning is really cathartic too.

Breathe in that dust-free air. Aaahhh yes.

Now enjoy John Prine doing "Spanish Pipedream" - trust me, you'll recognize it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When Working to Live becomes Working to Work to Live

Yeah, that made my head hurt too.

I'm free now to direct a movie
sing a song, or write a book about yours truly
how I'm so interesting, I'm so great
I'm really just a f#!kup and it's such a waste
to burn down these walls around me
flexing like a heartbeat
we don't like to speak
don't talk to me for about a week.

I don't know why this is on my mind so ominously lately. Maybe it's the realization that I really am about to turn 30 and I really need to figure my shit out right quick. Or maybe it's just against my nature to be chained behind a desk. But then, that's just a cop-out. I wonder if ANYONE was meant to be chained behind a desk. And that makes me appear too "special" because I most certainly am about as normal as anyone - almost.

In any case, the point is, that there are not enough hours in a day. There are a thousand things I could be doing right now that could improve my mind, body, and/or spirit, but I can't because I'm trapped in the system of which everyone is a part. Money. You need money to eat, live, and in most cases, you need money to make money. So you have to work.

And while I'm sitting behind my desk doing nothing because all my work is done yet I have to stick around and wait for the phone to ring the two more times it might today, I can see our future (and our present) just as clear as day:

All our little spinning hamster wheels force the other little hamsters run in their wheels faster and vice versa and the cycle continues until half the little hamsters die of massive embolisms or heart attacks because they've been too busy worrying about the other little hamsters that make them look bad to realize that they were sick.

It's really quite depressing. We're too busy to raise our children right, too busy to enjoy ourselves, and too busy to take care of ourselves. I don't think this is what God intended.

I want to finish my book. I want to listen to my music. I want to learn how to crochet. I want to read more. I want to write more. I want to play around with my massive collection of craft paint. I want to travel. Yeah, I know I'm whining, but everybody has a list like this. It just doesn't seem right.

Tonight, for instance, I have to do laundry (which I probably won't do), write an article for NERA, do my Medical Terminology homework, study for a test, and read more Harry Potter. And folks wonder why I always stay up past one AM most nights.

So I do my best. I'm taking my MT classes to ease the stress of destitution a little, and I do what I can on the weekend. So I suppose we'll find a way. Reckon?

Well, I couldn't find the song I quoted ("I'm Free Now") but here's "Buena" by Morphine. Same album at least.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Paddling the Oostanaula

As that river rolls along
I'll be steppin out tonight
On the cool flow,
Floatin down
Down below
The bridge to the waters edge
From the ridge to the ledge
From the hills to the sea
I'll become a memory

I think I may have a new addiction.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I took Monday off work in order to participate in a preliminary paddle trip down the Oostanaula River. We started at the 225 bridge and went through Resaca and all the way back down to the 136 bridge. It took us about 6 hours, but the day went by SOOOO quickly.

I went with a fellow member of the NERA board (David "Bumper"), and the executive director of CRBI (Joe) who kind of helps NERA out from time to time. The purpose for this preliminary run was to make sure the river didn't have any obstructions along the route, to see how deep (or shallow) the water is, and to get together a map of the route that pinpoints points of interest and problem areas. But really, it was just an excuse for us to get out on the river.

Bumper and I took a canoe and Joe took a kayak. Bumper, being the gentleman he is, did most of the paddling, but I did enough to get my arms properly sore. I absolutely loved it.

The water was pretty shallow, but we didn't have to get out and carry the canoe at any point which is a good thing since I'm a wuss and it would have sucked. At the start point, we put in right before the confluence of the the Coosawattee and the Connasauga rivers. These two rivers come together to form the Oostanaula.

The Conasauga to the left and the Coosawattee to the right.

We paddled a good ways, and I just felt like the Lady of Shallot, man: only much less formally and more sloppily dressed - and much less mournful and dead.

We kept on a paddling and having a good old time. I had no idea our river was so pretty. Granted, it's nothing spectacular, but it's ours and you see the county a lot differently from the river than you do the road. And it's so relaxing and just...nice. You know, a really beautiful step out of the ordinary.

The next feature we came across was an old fish wier. For those who don't know, a fish wier is basically a trap that helped the Indians catch more fish quicker. The one we saw may have been put there by early settlers, but it's more than likely a Cherokee structure. They're really simple but brilliant in design. They're usually like a very small dam that doesn't extend above the surface of the water, made of logs and rocks. Most of the time they're built in a sort of "V" shape that kind of chanels the fish to a mid-point. But the one on the Oostanaula was actually diagonal across the entire width of the river. I assume this made it easier for them to fish from the banks or a shallower side of the river.
Joe's Kayak on the Fish Wier

After the wier, we came across a couple of bridges and even a few rapids! Well, I doubt anyone would really call them rapids, but it was fun going through some of those little shoals. There were a couple of areas that were pretty slow and without a whole lot of places of interest, but I enjoyed those areas as much as any. It was really peaceful and it was nice to just paddle and smile and contemplate for a while.

As we came closer to the 41 bridge and the interstate, we came across one of the coolest areas of the river. It's also the deepest, and features a really nice, big rock formation. The water there is about 20 or 30 feet, which is really deep for the Oostanaula. With this combination of factors in Joe's brain, he decided he'd venture a jump from the rocks. Bumper and I were a little concerned about a bit of a shelf area that Joe could have hit if he hadn't jumped out far enough, but he missed it by a long shot and was all smiles after he surfaced. He suggested that we try it. I said, "Not no, but hell no." I think Bumper would have tried it if he hadn't had me in the canoe. Again, being the gentleman he is, I think he would have considered it abandoning his ship and putting his passenger in peril.

Joe jumping off the rocks into the deep water.

Peeking from inside a bit of a little cave.

From this point forward, I had begun to get a little tired and the wind was blowing directly into our faces, so I devloped a little bit of a headache. But that really didn't diminish my good time. For a couple of miles, we kept coming across features in the river we thought might just be natural shoals, but there were too many of them and they were too similar. They were basically piles of rocks coming from either bank, leaving a bit of a chanel in the middle. At first we thought they might be fish wiers that had been partially washed away, because they had the basic beginning of that tell-tale "V" shape. But after Joe thought about it and saw how many there were (at least four to my recollection), he concluded that they might be navigational structures used to keep the cotton barges from getting too close to the shallow banks. Made sense to me, so that's what they'll be in my head until it's proven otherwise.

After the series of navigational doohickies, we again came into some slow water, but at the time, it was pretty much what I needed. The sun had come out and I was getting rather warm. I also used this time to perfect my paddling technique until Bumper basically told me to give it up. Oh well. I'm sure I'll have it down by the time I go with Corey in August.

Toward the end of the 14-15 mile stretch, we came across the old landfill. There's still so much crap in the water, it's not even funny. I hope we'll be able to do a large-scale clean-up over there at some point, because it's ridiculous how much old shit there is messing up our waterway. Sigh. In any case, right after the landfill, we came to the old pump at the water treatment plant where Calhoun used to pump all its water. Now, as I'm told, they get our water from the Coosawattee, which did not experience the massive amount of carpet dye pollution in the 80s that the Oostanaula did. Back then, the water would turn colors and you could cut down a tree and see several multi-colored rings in the cross section. Why are people so stupid?

The last bit of the journey passed by the new river park, which has been sadly overlooked and half-assed by the city government. We're working on that too.

After several native mussel shells, a sunburn on my knees and the top of my hand (don't ask me how), and a pair of sore arms, we arrived at the Hwy 136 bridge, where we got out. It was funny, because my mom works right across the river from the boat ramp and she called saying she saw me. It was cute. My mom is awesome (most of the time).

I'm really looking forward to the official trip in August. It'll be SO MUCH FUN with Corey, and I'm pretty sure we'll both be asking for canoes this Christmas.

Here's some Old Crow Medicine Show doing "James River Blues" - they rule.

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