June 30, 2010

(semi) wordless wednesday.

This Buddhist temple is in my area. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of the area surrounding it (one tiny, lonely blue house to its right, one brand new, English countryside inspired business park to its left).

June 24, 2010

midnight in the garden of good and evil (the intensely long version)

I like diversity. I tend to get a little weirded out when I realize I'm in a room full of one kind of people; I don't think it's natural. I work in a largely Hispanic area (I've always worked in largely Hispanic areas), and I love the flavor...Latinos tend to be deeply family-oriented people who appreciate good food, passionate music and dance, and generally view teachers as the authority we actually are.

I live in a largely Caucasian, middle-class area that, about 5 years ago, started to see a growth spurt of people from South Korea. In addition to the constant complaining about all the illegals mucking up their way of life (we don't have that many illegals, and if we do, these complainers are more than welcome to head down to the local Dollar Store on any given Monday-Friday and round them up for the INS themselves--all the illegal men are standing right in front of it, looking forlorn, lonely, and out of place), these people spend a lot of time mourning the amount of store signs going up that are all in Korean. I love these signs...I'll never shop at those stores because I don't speak Korean, but I love seeing them, and knowing we're all living together and nobody's mass rioting on the streets about it even if they are writing slightly racist letters to the conservative editor of the really conservative local newspaper about it. I don't know why people wanting to set up shop in their own language and hang out with their own people is so threatening--Americans have infiltrated almost every corner of the world with our McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and MTV signage and other people have totally bought into that. Let others have a chance now, stop being so stingy.

So it's just natural I'd be involved in a group of girlfriends that's at least very diverse in world views/life approach which totally makes up for what it lacks in cultural/ethnic/linguistic diversity. About 4 of us are devout Christians With A Purpose. There's 1 Methodist, 1 Doesn't Go to Church Formally, and 1 What the Hell Kind of Beliefs are Those Supposed to Be? (that's me). Some of us are middle of the road politically, some of us are not Obama fans at all, and 2 of us think Obama should be King of the World and make all the rules, as long as he consults with the 2 of us first. Most of us have kids, or we have dogs which are as good as kids as all dog lovers will tell you. We all have men who tend to drive us nuts, and we all have lots of estrogen which makes us need to get away from our men and our kids and our dogs every now and then.

So we take trips. And we took a trip to Savannah, GA last year and had the best time. Which is why we went again this year. Below is a photoblog (with commentary) of our trip (as experienced from my camera). I tried to be as diverse as possible.

This is the staircase of the house we like to stay in when visiting Savannah. 115 West Park Ave. Quite haunted, particularly around 3:30 AM. Even if you have a trickster in your midst messing with the shower curtain and freaking out the two people who are sleeping under the creepy eyed people making everybody scream like Grade B horror movie queens. Because that's just the horror movie haunting stuff; the real haunting begins at 3:30 AM, when somebody walks down these stairs...and then never walks back up.

Jazz'd Tapas Bar, Night 1. Calamari. We cannot begin our Savannah ghost hunts before Jazz'd's fried calamari.

We took a segway tour. Which are surprisingly easy to learn, even for people with zero coordination skills. It's the helmet that makes it all worth it. Nothing says Geek quite like bike helmets.

This segway photo isn't geeky at all.

I had blue finger and toe nails the whole time. The bottle said "Turks & Caicos Blue." I think it was just "Really Blue." Please note the black skid mark on my left 2nd toe from almost being creamed by the segway, when I attempted to jump a hump. (Don't ever try to jump a hump in a segway.)

After segway geekiness, we visited Mrs. Wilkes'. Lots of people love Mrs. Wilkes, even President Obama. I highly suggest you eat here, even if you are no Obama fan. I'm no GW Bush fan, and I'm sure I've eaten places he's been. Anyway, go here, because it's true southern cooking and you eat boarding house style, which means you sit with people you don't know but by the time you're done eating you DO know and everybody exchanges emails and cell phone numbers and you make plans to visit over the holidays (just kidding. But Mrs. Wilke's does make you all clean up your plates and take them to the kitchen, just like at your grandma's.) (If your grandma is like Mrs. Wilkes.)

Mrs. Wilkes' banana pudding. I'm sure President Obama loved this as much as I did. I bet he and I could bond over some of this and figure out how to stop the Gulf Oil spill.

I like book stores. This book store was very cute. So I took its picture.

Then this man walked right in front of my picture. And so I took his picture. And then he walked away going, "I can't believe she took the damn picture!" Savannah is full of people like this man. (That's a good thing.)

If you like the movie FORREST GUMP, you'll appreciate these steeples (to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist; they're the steeples the feather flew past).

And I know you'll appreciate this square, Bubba Gump lovers. Because that's where Tom Hanks filmed his "Life is like a box of chocolates" scene. You can't actually catch a bus at any of the squares in Savannah; that's a Hollywood idea. But you can soak up Tom Hanks' essence right here.

Then we went into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where I felt an instant soothing, deep sense of peace. I like Catholic Churches because of this; I always feel an instant soothing, deep sense of peace when I go into them. Which is so very odd, because when the Pope speaks he sometimes makes me sad. And while I'm enjoying my soothing sense of deep peace, I always wonder: how many poor people could have been housed and fed with the money it took to make this place?

But then the deep sense of soothing peace washes over me again, and I decide Mary, Joseph, and Jesus surely have a some kind of plan to share it all with the meek and unfortunate.

Which is why I paid $3 to light 3 candles and say a prayer for my family's health and well-being, my very sick grandfather, and my sister-in-law's grandmama (who the Pope should canonize but probably won't since she's a Baptist who doesn't attend an opulent church like this anyway) (but I wasn't lighting a candle to the Pope--my candle was to Mary, Jesus' mom, who I really, really just like.)

(Plus, I always light candles when in Catholic churches; I think it's nice.)

Then we got bamboozled into a tour of the Harper-Fowlkes house. It was a good bamboozlement; we got a tour by the house manager, a super nice Savannah native with a very cute dog, and we found out that Robert Redford just filmed parts of a movie about Mary Monserrat (THE CONSPIRATOR) here with Robin Wright Penn and James McAvoy.

This is the courtyard of the Harper-Fowlkes House, where you can either get married or do like I did and stand around soaking up James McAvoy's essense (he filmed a kissing scene right here. A kissing scene, everybody.)
Belle, the Harper-Fowlkes House dog. She goes everywhere with you on your tour, and will lick your leg if you sit awhile on the back porch like the nice house manager lady let us do while the thunderstorm passed

("I've got to lock up and go to my car; if you girls leave before I get back, just shut the garden gate behind y'all," she said. She came back before we left, and locked the gate behind us. The last image of I have of this nice Savannah lady is her heading off in a drizzle, toward one of Savannah's old, quaint squares with her umbrella tucked under her arm, and Belle patiently waiting for her at the corner.)

This house is run-down spooky.

But guess what? You can live here, it's for rent! (spooky music)

This funny, funny tour guide taught us all about the haunted pubs in Savannah. Here, we are in the basement of the Moon River Brewery, where TAPS once filmed and got really spooky, scary shadow figures. This was the last stop of our tour, so after the tour guide and everyone not in our group left the basement, we stayed downstairs and scared the holy bee-poop out of ourselves. Good times, Savannah! Good times.

While out and about that night, we strolled by where atrocious people hang out and I saw this. I think the people who wrote this are actually suggesting the Marines should take over America, and that's a very Kim Il Jung-y thing to suggest. And that's atrocious.

The next day, we ate at Uncle Bubba's. Bubba is Paula Deen's brother, and he likes oysters. So he built himself a restaurant on some marsh lands, where I guess you can find all the oysters you feel like eating. But when you walk in, first Uncle Bubba treats you to a koi pond (I didn't see koi on the menu, so I think these are safe).

And then you can sit outside to eat, and enjoy lots of marsh land.

And two cats will harass you for some food (but they only like seafood, so get a hamburger if you hate cats that harass people).

I don't hate cats that harass people, so I got the crab cakes. Oy vey, these were the best crab cakes of my LIFE. I'm still having incredible dreams about these crab cakes.

Later that night, we put on our TAPS hats and became faux ghost hunters. We took a tour of the Sorrel-Weed House (on the tv show, they toured it as the Bader House, due to the fact somebody named Bader bought it...technically, it's his now, and all the haints within it).

But first you go a mini-haunted Savannah tour, where they take you by this house. Which is really beautiful in the day, but totally creepy at night. I think its claim to fame is a bodyguard was found in a pool of his own blood on the second story landing on the roof.

Pools of blood are always spooky.

Then we got taken to the back of another house, I forget which one. But it was creepy too. And supposedly haunted by kids. And I think I got an orb in  this picture, to the left of the chimney. It could just be dust, but I'm insisting that it's an orb. Orbs are how ghosts show up in pictures. Listen: just work with me on this. I can't lose my faux ghost hunter creds to dust.

See? In this picture of a newborn Miss M and her daddy, there is so totally one pink orb on the right side of C's neck. I think that's one of her passed away grandparents giving her a "Welcome to the World, Baby" kiss. Orbs/ghosts are real, y'all. REAL.

This is a spooky playground. It's not spooky in the daytime, just at night. And it's built on top of mass graves. Nobody in Savannah really ever bothers to dig up and relocate graves--they just build/bulldoze right now top of them. Some day, some toddler is going to be playing here and have a complete Poltergeist meltdown, I just know it.
This was our tour guide. He was very knowledgeable, in a spooky way. He'll make a really, really good ghost some day.

Outside the carriage house of the Sorrel-Weed property. Some slave girl having an affair with Mr. Sorrel hung herself here, and I think the wife got pushed out the window to her death by Mr. Sorrel. Mr. Sorrel clearly had some issues.

The outside of the Sorrel-Weed house. No orbs. But I did have an EMF detector with me.

This is a picture of the area of the basement where I got my one true EMF reading of the night. I walked in, and my EMF thing went "blip!" which means: ghost! But then the 1,000 other people in the tour group came into the basement and my ghost ran away and wouldn't come back. Stupid alive people.

The basement of the Sorrel-Weed House was where the TAPS Ghost Hunters got all their scariest activity. The most activity was in the slave quarters. So they've put up infrared cameras in there and invite people--if you dare--to go in (respectfully) and have a seat on the sofa in there. Sometimes, a ghost will tickle your leg. Or sit right next to you. Or, if you're like the lucky tween girls who had the (mis)fortune to join our group, get the poop scared right out you by our friend H, who went outside and sneaked up behind them at the window and made the cardboard covering it move around.

They all flew out of the room screaming, and the tour guide thought that was The. Best. Thing.

Here I am, in the lower right frame, pretending to work for TAPS. (Except I pretty much refused to go into the spooky room and a real TAPS person would be all over that place going, "What was that?" and "Did you hear that?" If I went into that room and heard something, I'd be out the door, and wouldn't stop til I found a well-lit gas station several blocks away to stay safe in.)

The Spooky Room. Which isn't really that spooky when it's lit up with your camera's flash.

The last day, we visited the African Baptist Church. It's the oldest, continuously run African-American church in America. We had a snarky tour guide named Joe. Some of us liked him, some of us didn't. I like him. He had a really bad attitude about women and marriage, but that didn't stop me from having a crush on him.

Also, he told us that the City Market area (just outside the church) was where they used to sell human beings, which is really wrong and even more ridiculous than writing "Impeach Obama/Marines Rule" on a mirror. But the slaves were suuuuper smart and totally sneaky: they built their church right there on the square, and so they just went ahead and put an Underground Railroad system right into it, with hidden messages and all, right under those crazy human traffickers' noses. So even though the white people in charge thought they were the Smartest Ones of All, turns out they were pretty dense. Hubris will do that to you. And I like it when hubris-y, cocky people get what's coming to them. I think the whole world should work like that, 24/7.

This picture is what I think of when I think: Savannah.

Occasionally you see sad things like this, at gas stations.

And even sadder things like this.

But mostly, Savannah is very quaint and old and full of charm, like this.
 You should go visit. Today.

June 16, 2010

(semi) wordless wednesday

(because (a) i am currently suffering writer's block, (b) i think this blog needs more pictures, and (c) what the hell.) (i do realize i just broke wordless wednesday's unspoken rule, but that's what i do, people--i'm a rebel! a renegade! a blogger without a cause!)

with unfortunate bangs

with unfortunate bangs swept to the side (where they shall remain until they are back to normal) (ie, no longer bangs...i'm in the process of slowly murdering my bangs).

And the moral to this edition of (semi) wordless wednesday is: bangs only work on certain faces and in the 70's everybody. 

Here's a much cuter wordless wednesday picture, with hair poofs instead of bangs (hair poofs would be most unfortunate on me as well):

June 14, 2010

haphazard is a weird word.

But so is random. Random is a really weird word, and I've noticed that today's youngsters like to throw it around a lot, in a really random way. If you have a bad hair day, someone might call your hairdo "so random." Or maybe you said the wrong thing: "Wow, did you hear what she just said? That was so random." Or maybe someone cut in front of you in traffic while you were texting and driving: "*&$%$#@*!!! *&^%#*&!!!! SO random!! Random **&^%$#@s!" 

You know what's really random? The fact all of those randoms have applied to me, over the last 72 hours: 

1-I got a hair cut, and for some ungodly reason, told the woman: "I'd like bangs." And now I have bangs, which she did a beautiful job on, but I haven't had bangs for at least 8 years, and I suddenly remembered why I grew them out 8 years ago in the first place. That's random gone bad.

2-Recently, I became tongue-tied while making small talk and for about 5 (50?) minutes, we both stood around awkwardly wondering what to say, until finally the other person just looked at me and said, "Well, it was nice talking to you." And abruptly walked off. That's weird random.

3-I don't text and drive--it's dangerous and irresponsible and also I have an old razor phone and it takes forever to keep punching the keys to get to the letter I want and I just don't have that kind of time. But I *do* curse with random &^%$#@&s a lot while driving. I try not to do it in front of little Miss M, but occasionally someone is just such a bleeping bleeeeep bleeeeeep bleeeeeeeep, it just happens. 

I tell myself this is just a fact of Life she needs to learn early, and I take a deep breath, find "3 Little Birds" on the CD, and we commence to move onwards and upwards by singing "Don't worry! About a thing! 'Cause every little thing, gonna be all right!" That's when you take poor-behavior-role-modeling-by-an-adult random and turn it into redirecting-through-the-artistic-medium-of-song random.

Here is Miss M, whose existence on earth was random (when random is a happy surprise of a random). In this picture, she is not having a bad hair day (people under 10 rarely have these), she clearly doesn't care about making enough small talk that everyone feels at ease, and if she cusses out other drivers it's all babble cussing and so I won't be getting any frustrated phone calls from teachers at her daycare center. For now.

M, mesmerized by an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba I chose randomly from the hundreds saved to our DVR.

June 11, 2010

random observations from yesterday.

Yesterday I met an EKG technician named Confidence. He was from somewhere in Africa. He came into the room very carefully, and so I didn't have a lot of confidence in him at first but when he began doing his job, he did it rapidly and with great oodles of confidence. I really like it when people fit their names.

One year, I worked with a boy named YourMajesty. He'd been given that name because his parents wanted him to get beaten up in middle school (I'm being facetious; they named him that because they clearly felt the current Queen of England was the wrong choice). Magic (his alternate identity since exactly 99.9% of teachers refused to call him "YourMajesty") was very sweet, deeply dependable, and did not have one single royal entitlement about him. And that's nice. Because that name choice could have gone a couple of different ways. Which is why I'm glad he was like Edgar the Peaceful, King of England, and not King Henry the VIII, that crazy "off with her head!" King of England.

(YourMajesty was Jamaican, which is not even close to England and so I really have no idea why I'm using England as a reference at all.) (I hope YourMajesty-Magic doesn't get beaten up in middle school for having the nickname Magic. I hope he learns to do some really cool magic tricks that will wow all the budding gangstas in the school so much they leave him the hell alone, or that he'll change his name again. Maybe leaving out the vowels and making it Mgc, something mysterious. He was a sweet, smart boy. Sweet, smart boys should become president of the United States, not get jumped all the time by hormonal punks.)


After meeting Confidence, I got on an elevator with an elegant couple in their late 60's-mid 70's. They'd been holding hands and talking quietly while waiting for the elevator, and they were extremely debonair: the man was wearing black khakis and a well-pressed light blue polo shirt, he had slicked back white hair, and I almost asked him what cologne he was wearing so I could get some for me, it was THAT good. The lady sounded just like Paula Deen, and she had one of Paula Deen's cute, silvery hairdos. She was wearing a black pencil skirt and a crisp white button down. She didn't have any gaudy jewelry on (for some reason, older ladies in my area dig big ass necklaces and earrings, the bigger the better). She just had on her wedding ring and a simple silver watch.

And then I noticed she was wearing sparkly black flip flops, which I think I've seen at Target. That was a happy surprise. And I immediately decided that's how I'll dress when in my late 60's: understated, but with a plucky punch at the end.


Later, I was driving home with M and I saw Santa Claus walking down the street. M was in the back singing to Bob Marley's "Don't Worry" (she sings babble until she gets to the part where he goes "Don't worry...'bout a ting...'cause every little ting....gonna be all right" and then pipes up at the end with her backup: ".....be all right!"). And I saw him: Santa's hair was all crazy, and his beard was in bad need of a trim. He was wearing red pyjama pants, and a white t-shirt with stained armpits. He was bent over and really laboring to make it up the hill. 

I really wanted to pull over and offer Santa a ride; he's clearly being overworked, even while on vacation. But I think Santa may have been holding a bottle of liquor in the small brown bag he was carrying, and I didn't want to ruin everything for M (or me). 


June 9, 2010

a list (with 1 mini-book review at the end).

1. Regarding my June 3 blog post, below, and the aggressive list I threw into it with all of the summer mental health projects I intended to accomplish (back on June 3, 2010). Update: I have visited this many funky coffeehouses since posting that list: 0. I have not painted anybody's room in my house; I have not even visited one of the major chain home improvement stores to choose an electrically funky paint color to paint anybody's room. Random House and Simon & Schuster still have no idea who I am, and I have written nothing to give them any idea. I think I'm still safe.

2. On the other hand, I have swum (swam?) more. While brooding. 

3. And I did leave my friend Erin 2 (3?) long winded bloggy comments on her blog.

4. And I did write one pointless blog the day after June 3. But it was so pointless I deleted it after a week. (If you must know, it was an exceedingly shallow post about blog niches and making money off of them; I decided after brooding over it--see #2, above--that (a) if I'm going to make money off a blog, it will have to somehow involve a 5 star getaway to a private island in the South Pacific where Gerard Butler awaits me half-naked and holding mimosas, and (b) I think I do actually have a niche: it's called Random Stupid Crap, and that's not a joke.)

5. I did a swim aerobics class today. While scissor kicking/doing the twist underwater, I brooded about why the anorexic people keep hogging all the inner thigh and ab muscle weight equipment upstairs. And then I brooded about why my stomach was mocking me by flapping around underwater...for the love of Mark Spitz, you'd think water would be the ONE place it wouldn't flap. And then I brooded about how I was going to get the chlorine out of my hair and if this would have dire consequences at my hair coloring appointment on Friday, and why do I keep wasting money to get my hair colored at all anyway? And then I brooded about the unfairness of being under 50 and still having a lot of gray hair anyway...stupid genes. And my plantar fasciitis has apparently moved to my lower back; would this constant twisting motion make that worse? 

And then the instructor yelled at me that I needed to focus and keep my shoulders underwater while scissor kicking/twisting. So I brooded about that until the stretching started.

6. I just finished a really good book called Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Abraham is a medical doctor with a deep talent for writing. He's written a book about healing and forgiveness and family, which also happens to infuse a lot of really important information that might help you one day if you need to perform emergency first aid (or, if you're me, it will cause you brief moments of hypochondria and a general sense of helplessness upon realizing we're really all just giant, walking petri dishes). And yet! I highly recommend it even if you are a hypochondriac, because it could make you cry at the end (I'm incredibly hormonal lately) and it said a lot about human connections. Also, it (mostly) takes place in faraway lands and I am always (always) drawn to novels that take place in faraway lands, for some reason I will brood on during Friday's swim aeorbics class.

June 3, 2010

helping my mojo go mo.

I have been in a tiny bit of an emotional slump lately. It started last Tuesday when I came down with some weird, communicable disease most possibly given to me as a lovely parting gift by one of my 2009-10 first graders. It involved wacky febrile temperatures that soared into the low "I feel like poop on a stick (not just poop, everyone...poop on a stick)" 100's, and then would dip shockingly into the "are you even alive??' mid-90's range. And my throat swelled, which would send most normal people running to their doctors for a strep test and some antibiotics, but not I. Because 4 out of 5 times these throat swellings of mine stump the doctors (literally, 5 times I've had this kind of throat swellage and only 1 time did a doctor emerge from the culture test room and announce the strep test was positive) (and that was the time I thought I had somehow managed to stuff a baby cow down my throat in my sleep and would spend the rest of my life receiving life sustenance via IV drip as a moral and natural consequence for that type of weird animal abuse).

So it started with the Annual Mystery Throat Illness, and then I was involved in a bit of a political scuffle (these always depress me because I'm just not into political debates, yo. But I think the right wingers spreading 21st century right wing notions are addicted to misguided, under-informed, supremely negative toxic talk, and I think the Universe would be so frown-y with me if I didn't at least call them on it whenever I see it and I see it...a LOT), and after all THAT I cleaned the downstairs of my house so deeply I think I may have bleached off a large handful of my nose hairs. This threw me into a fit of insomnia well past 2 AM during which I watched 2 entire back-to-back episodes of Bridezillas, for the love of holy matrimony and now I'm really sleepy.

In other words, my silly sass is off; my flirty funk is skewed.

And so I said, Amy? You know what you need? You need to make a list...no, no, no! Not those dorky lists you made on Sunday night, one for each day of the upcoming week, ambitiously outlining in great detail every single thing you intended to accomplish...none of which have had one single thing crossed off of any of them, I will pointedly note. I mean a list of the things you can do this summer that will shut up that Grumpy Dwarf living in your head. You, girlfriend, need to give yourself mental health projects this summer.

And so I will do the following:
  • Visit more funky coffeehouses. 
  • Write more pointless blogs.
  • Leave more bloggy-type comments in other people's blogs. 
  • Find other people's blogs to blog in (E and Val, rest assured I will be doing this on yours DAILY).
  • Paint a room in my house. 
  • Paint a room in my house some type of electrically swank color (I bet little Miss M will dig electric swank purple).
  • Swim more, brood less.
  • Write crap short stories that make sense to no one but me. Random House and Simon & Schuster can weep after I'm published post-humously.
I think the last goal is a rather lofty one, and one that any publisher from Random House or Simon & Schuster would laugh their wordy butts off at, with much mirth.

Endnote: I predict I'll be more successful at visiting funky coffeehouses and blogging in other people's blogs than any other goal I've aggressively placed on this list.
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