On a Lighter Note

I love men. I do. I don't know why I still do, but still...

I often wonder about the sheer stupidity, though, and the inflated sense of accomplishment. This morning, for instance, I caught Biggy watching this via the FJ Cruiser Forum (All FJ, All the Time):

For the sake of fairness, I challenge you to find a video that shows women in a parallel light. And Britney's Gina does not count.


How Could I Have Not Known?

I was waiting tables at the Gyro Wrap in Athens UGA. It was summer, and I was working the station I liked best, the patio—which was really just tables lining the sidewalk. She rode up on her bike and leaned it against the little railing that separated the outdoor seating from the pedestrian traffic. She took one of the deuces and lit a cigarette, maybe her only true vice. When I came to take her order, she introduced herself and asked if I liked my job.

I detailed the pros and cons by way of describing my various co-workers and customers: Slicing the lamb spam was Richard, I told her, who used to be a stockbroker on Wall Street but one bad Monday chucked his career and family to saw gyro meat in a small college town. He would bust you every time you crossed your legs, claiming it ruined them with spider veins. It was like a mission with him. And there was Ross the mopey musician, Kate the anorexic, and Rick the Romeo.

Down the list I went, until I got to the customers: those stinky table campers, REM, and their thrift-store-clad coffee klatch; old lady Connie with the sponge rollers and endless tales of woe; Dennis with the steel plate in his head, who was always slapping it and yelling, “Don-git-mee-stotted!”; that forty-something fatso Ort, who lived with his mother and who drank all the milk out of the coffee creamers; oh, and Ed Tant, better called Ed Rant, who was always protesting something.

Trying to both warn and entice her, I hoped she’d apply. From the moment we met, it felt as if we’d always known each other. You’ve had friends like that, right?

She did apply and started soon after, and those people I told her about became her stories, and our story continued. Scarlette Chartain Gordon was from Rome, Georgia. She called herself Carle, pronounced Carly, but her mother—to this day—calls her Scarlette.

She knew what she wanted and had no trouble asking for it. At Sons of Italy, she'd order pizza with anchovies—rinsed. She could tell if they weren’t rinsed, too, and she’d send it back. They hated to see her coming--and me, by proxy.

Men loved her. She didn't need them, so they loved her even more. They were always buying her things, bringing her things, fixing her things.

She was adventurous. Once she went to New York for a weekend and ended up staying for two years. I watched her cats that weekend.

She was supportive. She rode her bike beside me during my second marathon. I was listening to the Flashdance soundtrack and went off into my own world, which caused me to literally run into her back tire, spilling both of us onto the street, batteries flying out of our cassette players, knees and palms bleeding. She was the more injured but yelled at me to pick myself up and keep going. “Don’t you dare stop,” she scolded.

She was studious—but not too. I have vivid memories of studying at the Waffle House until 5 a.m., her blowing smoke rings over my head.

She was naughty. Though she hadn’t completed the requirements for graduation, she let her parents believe she was graduating. She donned a cap and gown, smiled as her parents took pictures of her with her classmate friends (She was two years older than I), marched in and sat with the graduates. I swore she’d never pull it off. Her family didn’t find out until she’d actually earned her degree and confessed.

She was fierce and persuasive. At one time we ended up in Atlanta together. She lived on 4th Street, more dangerous then than now. A man broke in through a window in the middle of the night and held a knife to her throat. She talked him out of raping her by taunting him to go ahead—saying that he’d get his punishment. She convinced him that she had an STD she didn’t have.

She always knew what to say. After Kelly died, she called me from L.A. “You still have a sister,” she said. “I’ll be your sister.”

She taught me ‘To assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.’

She taught me that grapefruit juice in advance of a 26.2-mile run would prevent “accidents” on the course.

She tried hard to teach me to simply be who I am. When I was 23, a newlywed, and expecting my in-laws for the weekend in our tiny studio apartment, I was frantic about cleaning and getting everything in order. My in-laws had never liked me because I’d shacked up with their son, and even though we'd gotten married, I suspected I would never please them. She told me something that has always proven true: “Be yourself, Tania. If they don’t like you, it won’t matter if your house is clean or not. It won’t matter what you wear or how you cook.”

I was hurt when she moved so far away, to LA. I’m a baby like that when people desert me. Ask my grandmother, or Josie, or Kathy. I cry in the car every day and pout for months afterward. I dream up some misery that might bring them back. I don’t call or write. I’ve gotten better about this over the years, but the residue is there. I’ll dial the numbers, but always is that tiny hmph! in the back of my mind when I'm on the phone.

I flew out to be in her beautiful wedding at the Japanese Gardens. She wore red and white. The bridesmaids wore red, also, dresses of our own choosing. A year or two later, I went to her baby shower at her mom's house in Rome. Getting pregnant had been difficult for her and she was full of joy.

Except for that graduation thing, she was honest to a fault. When I pulled up for that shower in my divorce convertible, a white POS Chrysler LeBaron, she was incredulous, laughing: "Is THAT your car?!!"

Carle and I didn’t talk often, but when we did, it was as if we’d never been apart, never skipped a beat. Sisters. It made me happy to know she was out there in the world, raising her son, teaching, imagining the historic novel she wanted to write someday.

As I was driving home from work on Monday, I checked my voice mail. I’d had sporadic cell service in the mountains, and somehow the messages had piled up and appeared all at once. Most were from MF, of course. One was not.

It was Carle’s mother, saying, “Tania, Scarlette has died. The service is on Saturday. Call me. Scarlette has died.”

It was Monday. I'd missed the service.

Later that evening, I mustered what it took to call her mother and ask the question. Carle had been diagnosed in July.


Further Permutation

A friend of mine is giving MF a run for her money in the photoshopping-skills department.

(If the reference is lost on you, go here and then here.)


It's a Jungle Out Here

You saw the gargantuan copperhead roadkill, and you've heard about our subsequent snake confrontations. I don't think I've mentioned, however, the other unexpected creatures I've encountered on my daily jogs or drives through this my neighborhood for the past 13 years. One family kept a white duck fenced in their front yard. When I'd run by it, the beast would chase me down the chain link and--I swear--BARK (only it spoke Quack) at me like a dog until I was long out of sight. There's a one-eyed cat that lives down the road, for other instance. And geese--which were surprising at first but have been here so long by now I think they have squatter's rights to the vacant lot on the corner. I've seen a coyote, vultures (truly the devil's own), and balding, tail-less squirrels. I shouldn't be surprised anymore, really, by the strange creatures that appear and disappear in this tiny corner of the world, between Publix and the fire station, but I am.

Jogging this morning before work, I saw these, which look like a cross between dog-duck and devil bird. I mean, what the heck?

Hat Redux

Because his drumline activities prevented him from seeing her this summer, JackMan chose to stay with his grandmother in Augusta for the entire T-Giving break instead of joining our mountain chaos. Sadie was kind enough to bring him home Sunday, which gave her an opportunity to play with Lo. She bought her sister the coolest toy ever--this block of dirt you have to chisel away with the little mallet/knife tool to find "dinosaur bones." Ingenious! They dug at it for an hour or so Sunday night, and then Lo spent most of Monday afternoon on it (with Jack's help--now I know what to get him for Christmas).

Sadie Blue loves the heck out of Lo, but I wonder if she really came just to wear the hat.

Ps--I should probably take Lola to get some eyes today.


What Is It About Younger Women?

It was all "I love Tania" before Miss George got to the cabin on Saturday. Then everyone dumped me.


Home Again

While we were in Dahlonega, Biggy--the same Biggy who drinks the fruity beverages--bought a few trash magazines, including Us, to peruse in the jacuzzi. I was thumbing through Us myself Friday afternoon when I came across a picture of Marc Anthony and JLo. Wow, I thought, he looks just like..., prompting me to ask my husband:

TR: Hey, who does he look like? And it doesn't have to be a human.

Biggy (who never tries very hard): I don't knoooow. Whoooo?

TR: Brody.

Biggy: Yeah, I guess he does.

He should have gotten it, seeing that the dog spent the holiday in the cabin with us, doing that constant little sad squint-wink all day. Later on, during the dinner preparations, I bet Biggy that Mamoo would get it immediately. I took the picture into the kitchen:

TR: Hey, Mamoo,who does he look like? And it doesn't have to be human.

Mamoo (never skipping a beat of her mashed potato whipping): Brody.


How Thankful Am I ?

Kooser is featuring my poem "Raking" this week. Look for his column in your local newspaper.

Over the River and Through the Woods

Since my divorce in 1995, I've pretty much conceded Thanksgiving. I wanted the kids to feel good about continuing the tradition of dinner at their MaMa's in Augusta, where we'd gone every year, because I'm no idiot--that woman can cook. They were used to the houseful of people--the bustle, the genuine sense of holiday, a difficult thing to reproduce if you suck in the kitchen, are estranged from most of your own extended family, etc. etc.

But having been married again for almost 8 years, and with Lola's being plenty old enough to feel the absence of her brother and sisters, it has been a real struggle to create a tradition for her, happy T-giving memories she can look back on when she's twenty-five, living in NY, with an awesome SO (that means significant other, MF) and a cool dog, whining about how shitty her life is.

Every year, it's been something different: I've cooked for students (and they ate it!), gone to the beach, followed the in-laws to whatever destination...My mom has been pretty much left to her own devices, too, going down to her brother's in Florida for the past couple of years.

This year, though, Biggy came up with another plan--maybe the start of a new tradition. He found a cabin in Dahlonega, and not a cabler this time--a NICE one. He, Lo, Lo's friend K, dog-Daisy, dog-Stella, Mamoo, Granny, two of their dogs (which?) and I are going up this afternoon. Georgia and Jack are doing their usual stint East, then due in the mountains (with homemade pies) on Friday.

We'll eat, watch movies, mountain bike, hike, play Scrabble, yell at the dogs (and each other), and sleep.

I'm actually looking forward to this.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.


A Gift For MF

This morning, I laid out a cute pair of jeans and a "Little Angel" t-shirt for Lo to wear. But, when she came downstairs, I saw she had her own ideas.

Did I actually let her go to school like this?

Yes. Yes, I did.



So MF sent Lo THIS from NY, and now we're all fighting over it. We're going to have to set up a schedule.


Holiday Mamoo

Lest you wonder how I got so f'ed up...

Above is Mamoo--at work!!--celebrating Halloween. She was supposed to be "Mama" from the show Mama's Family.

And below is her house--six days BEFORE Thanksgiving!!--when I went to pick Lo up last night. These pictures don't even do it justice, as the flash was not cooperating, and I couldn't get everything in the frame anyway. Later, when I take Lo's friend K home, I'll get shots in the daylight--of the seemingly hundreds of inflatable Santas and Snowmen that didn't turn out.

Both Mamoo and my grandmother were into the wine, I might add. Notice my child, in costume, skateboarding in the dark.

Some people drink and dial. Mamoo decorates.

Update--In the light of day:

Bonus--Her neighbor's dogs:



Hey, I ain't doing this for my health. There has to be something in it for me. A little love.

I'm not posting again until I get ten new comments (from 10 different readers).

You come. You see. You should say.

Hope to be back soon.


Friday Night

Since Lo was spending the night with Mamoo, JackMan was at an away game with the marching band, and GareBear was visiting his grandparents, Georgia went with Biggy and me to Suburban Tap. After dinner (around 10), we stopped by the store to get ice cream. Biggy and Georgia got out of the car:

Biggy: T, are you staying in the car?

TR: Yup.

Biggy: Well, don't go to sleep. You've got to go pick Jack up.

TR: You pick him up.

Biggy: No, you.

Georgia: Poor Jack.


So Howard's recent post cracked me up. The joke's on me any time I see my former students living the good life-- traveling the globe, filming commercials or art directing photo shoots, making more money in one year than I've made in my entire "career."

But to get on with this, Howard shot a video of the posh two-story bungalow w/whirlpool and sauna, where he stayed in LA, so I'm countering that with the sweet MO-tel suite we stayed in while we were in Daytona last spring. The Tropical Manor is--seriously--my idea of living large:

Check in here.

Freebies in the lobby.

Don't ya love the color?

Every couch is a hide-a-bed.

Through the kitchen to the master bedroom.

Adult swim & kiddie pool.

There's also shuffleboard and plenty of mullet-watching for your entertainment.

Friday Nostalgia


What Some Consider Normal Conversation

So I'm driving home from work yesterday, and MF calls me on my cell. She tells me her doctor is prescribing yet another medication, this one an antidepressant. Here is our conversation:

MF--I'm not too happy about this.

TR: Just give it a try. I've heard pretty good things about Zoloft.

MF: Not me.

TR: Have you heard anything particularly bad?

MF: Yes.

TR: Such as?

MF: You can't get off.

TR: Well, I had that problem with the Celexa at first, but it went away. And R had the same problem with Lexapro, but it got better for her too. Even Z, who's on Effexor mentioned that but said it wasn't bad enough to stop taking it. It's not as bad for women as it is for men, for some reason.

MF: Huh? You mean they didn't have to keep taking it indefinitely?

TR: (Silence)

MF: (Silence)

TR: (Silence)

MF: (Silence)

TR: I think we've just had a pretty funny miscommunication.

MF: (More silence)

TR: (Waiting)


TR: Obviously, a lot of people I know.

MF: Have you EVER heard me talk about anything like that?

TR: No... (True, I was actually impressed.)

MF: Oh my gosh! Too much information.

TR: (Laughing uncontrollably)

MF: I've gotta go. I'm gonna throw up now.


For Howard's Home Shopping

Ever since yesterday's Betty post, which reminded me, I've been looking for this--an ad I saw in a magazine while we were at Fripp last summer. I was shocked by it--and yet delighted. Later, I saw it in almost every women's mag all season. This is clever advertising. And now that I've found it online (it took LOTS of searching), I'm sharing it with you.

Last one regarding this subject. For a while, at least.

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

So these are the neighbors I wrote about before, the ones with the boat in the drive, the ones who looked like they were having a garage sale for a year, the ones who pressure wash the concrete AROUND the trash. The ones I called the county on.

They're the very same neighbors who have the breeding bicycles and the hot tub sitting in the yard. For a while, the dad appeared to be building a shed out back, which was actually attached to the house. He'd framed it, and it sat there, unfinished, for months, until he started this new project (weeks ago), and the shed just up and disappeared. We're not sure what he's doing here; he filled in the big picture window that was in the front...removing some peripheral siding...What's going on in there that they'd want no window?

And why do THIS when, obviously, they're in need of a porch to sit on?

Meanwhile, someone bought the house across the street from them--finally!--and has already gutted and rebuilt it, painted, added a deck, and landscaped. Do these people have no shame? They don't even technically qualify as white trash. She's a girl scout leader, room mother, seamstress. He is a consultant who works from home. Could this be a bad case of ADD? Are they hoarders? Can anyone diagnose this?

Here's a view of the back (taken from my car, too far away, in the rain). The pic is dark, but you can see the jacuzzi on the right:


Betty Beauty

You know how I'm always saying I learn something new at work every day? Well, this afternoon, I went to TalentZoo to get some contact information I needed and saw a link to an AdAge article about this product.

Now I'm really confused. Does this mean hair is back in fashion?

Stop The Putrefaction!

Someone left the TV on in the sunroom overnight, so when I sat down with my coffee this morning to see the scores of comments generated by my last post (one--my husband's), I could hear it in the background. I assumed, from the tone and rhythm of the voices, I was listening to a couple of televangelists, but then some of the actual dialogue started catching my attention, something about a woman who "...pulled a three-foot 'rope' out of her body, like a piece of black rubber..." and how the Almighty Cleanse Formula 1 is "a pusher...a mover...it re-educates the bowel..." I learned that Danny, the poopevangelist, discovered a "colony" of pinworms floating in his toilet bowl when he was 28. And all of this while I was eating my Publix breakfast bread.

Did you know that John Wayne had 40 pounds of fecal matter in his body when he died?

Elvis had 60.

For your viewing pleasure and edification, a small sample of the infomercial can be found here. (You know you want to click on it.)


The Cult of Gator

While I was busy being a good parent this weekend, making sure George was exposed to fine dining and great cinema, Biggy was corrupting my youngest in Gainesville:


Just Me and Georgia (and Al)

Georgia and I had planned to drive up to North Carolina on Friday and spend a couple of days checking out some colleges. Seemed like a good weekend for the trip--Biggy was taking Lo to Gainesville to watch the Gators play, and Jack would be in Indianapolis for his band competition. But then it occurred to us: Biggy was taking Lo to Gainesville, Jack would be in Indianapolis; we'd have the whole house--the whole peaceful house--to ourselves. Why not wait to go to NC when they'd all be home? For now, there was nothing to get away from.

Hotdamn, we had about 56 hours of girltime, free and clear. We could dress up in black and heels and go somewhere nice for dinner. Or wear flannel pants all weekend and eat icecream out of the carton. We could run at the river without rushing back so Greg could go to Home Depot. We could sleep late and read the Sunday paper in any order we wanted.

Yeah, we stayed home.

Friday afternoon, we went for a leisurely jog, after which we got cleaned up and went to Ippolito's for pasta. The food was great, and the little waiter boy was excellent. George commented on his perfect balance of being solicitous yet giving us space. I said I was impressed by the fact that he was obviously smitten with her but showed great restraint.

After dinner, we went to see The Departed, which I liked and she loved. What's not to like about a movie with Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and some beautiful new chick (Vera Farmiga) we've never heard of? It was full of intrigue, excessive violence, and clever dialogue.

During the ride home, I mentioned that it reminded me of The Godfather and found out George had never seen it. I was appalled by this failure of parenting. We decided to devote Saturday to Parts I and II. We cleaned the house (she offered to help!), jogged, took the dog to the vet, went to Publix and, lastly, stopped by Blockbuster. Back home, we put giant sweet potatoes in the oven to have with Brussels sprouts (since no one was around to make fun of us), and went down to the basement, Biggy's big-screen hidey hole, to watch the movies.

We made it through all but the final hour of Part II before I started dozing off and Georgia made me go to bed.

This morning, we drank our coffee and read the paper, spreading it all over the table and floor--something Biggy hates, and then we watched the rest of Part II. In the afternoon, we ran at the river, then thanked each other for a great weekend before she took off to spend a couple of hours with Garey--to throw him a bone before he heads back to Tech.

We only argued one time, because I made a reference to my philosophy that kids should be the boss of their food and their hair. (That's not to say I think kids should eat Hersheys Kisses for breakfast--just that I won't make them eat food they hate. And I don't care if they cut, frost, buzz, mohawk, or dye their hair--even platinum or fuschia.) Evidently, George has never forgiven me for allowing her to get blueberry highlights that time. She claims her hair has never been the same--that it changed her hair DNA or something.

She feels strongly that Lo should eat steamed cabbage and shouldn't be allowed to choose her cut or dye her hair until she's 18.

This conflict, which occurred while we were jogging yesterday, was heated and brief. We quickly agreed to disagree.

The rest of the weekend--smooth sailing. Perfect, really.


Friday Nostalgia

1988: I was 25, living in an apartment in Decatur. I had a toddler, was pregnant with my second child, and my 23-year-old sister lay dying right up the road, in Emory Hospital. I'd have to beg my husband to come home for an hour so I could visit her.

He didn't love me.

Jeff, playing night and day on VH1, became my fantasy husband.


Why I'm Better At Guitar Than Lola

Tonight, while Georgia and I were jogging:

G: I need to talk to you.

T (w/slight whine): What abouuut?

G: You have got to make Lola practice her guitar every day. She's not going to come home from school and get the book out on her own. She wants to dig in the yard with her friends--that's what she'll do all day if you let her. And stop telling her she can't take lessons anymore if she doesn't practice. That's ridiculous. YOU have to make her practice, and keep taking her to her lessons. It's going to take some discipline on your part.

T: Well, it was her decision to take guitar lessons to begin with, so...

G: Exactly! She should always be involved in an activity. She got to choose her activity and now she has to stick with it. That will teach her commitment. I wish I had started something when I was little and stuck with it.

T: Like softball?

G: I started softball when I was 12, and I sucked. I'm talking about 6 or 7. When Lo is 17, and she can play any song she wants, it will make her happy. You should know this stuff, Mom. You've pretty much raised three kids already; look at us.

T: I know. You guys are awesome.

G: We don't like the directions our lives are taking.

T: What?!

G: We have bad habits. Your fault.

T: Yeah, but you're really cool people.

G: Are you going to do something about this?

T: All riiiiight. I wiiiiill.

G: No excuses either.

(I get my allowance tomorrow.)


The Old Zombie-In-The-Closet Gag

This morning, at 6:25, I was awakened by a blood-curdling scream--George's. After the half-second of panic that I imagine comes naturally to most any mother who hears her child in such utter distress, I started laughing, along with Biggy, and then--quickly--Lola, as she scrambled into our room to join us in our revelry. We'd (Lo, Jack, and I) already been victims to a milder extent, yesterday, but we were merely practice.

Georgia's scare was Biggy's plan perfected. He set it up while she was sleeping. She gets up before sunrise, is all alone downstairs, would still be half asleep, and wouldn't have her contacts in...

A few minutes later, she crawled up the stairs. As she whimpered in my bed, I could only hear her every other word: "late...school...note...zombie...heart attack...asshole..."

I've never seen my husband so happy.

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