Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Walking (in circles) Dead

Friday, October 12, 2012 By

I think, by now, my love of the zombie genre of everything is well known. So I thoroughly enjoyed the second season of The Walking Dead - although I'd have tied Carl to his bed if I was Lori. Stop wandering off, kid!
But at the end of the second season, the group of survivors - having enjoyed some relative peace at Hershel's farmhouse - has now been reduced and scattered by a large roaming horde of zombies. The barn has burned, the property is overrun, and lots of people got killed or eaten - so long, Dale, Shane, and those random relatives in the farmhouse, whatever your names were. Also, goodbye to innocence. Your time is up.

Season three of The Walking Dead starts this Sunday. And I'm stoked. Because I hear there will be blood. At the beginning of the episode, they group should still be camped out in an old grist mill. Shortly, they'll discover a nearby prison - which, as fans of the comics know, does not actually turn out all that well for the group. Not everything deadly is a zombie, ya know?

('ello, Guvnah!)

This prison, once cleared of zombie former prisoners, probably seems like it could be a fortress to them. High walls. Secure entrances. Shelter. Most likely, a food supply in storage. But it is, at best, an endangered island in a sea of death - kind of like the Maldives.

In addition to the obvious dangers, there are some that aren't so apparent. We know there's a shadow government doing god knows what. We know that everyone is already infected, and will turn when they die. And we know Merle is lurking out there.

Out of those three things, Merle would scare me the most. I'm not convinced he didn't steal their van back in the city in season one, load it with zombies, and then release it on the camp site by the quarry. Merle's a bully, a sadist, and very, very pissed off. But I guess we'll see what happens.

(Shhhh! It's a secret.)

These folks need to stop asking "Where?" while looking for a place nearby to hole up. Instead, they need to start asking "How?" while figuring out what they need to survive in the long term.

Zombies have weaknesses. They're persistent, and strong, but not smart or agile. They're also subject to environmental weaknesses, like everything else. So what should the group look for?

1. Somewhere cold. Zombies don't feel cold, but they're still made of flesh, even if it is rotting. Anywhere that drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit is a good spot to hole up. A frozen zombie is no danger, unless you trip and fall on its teeth. So the group needs to stock up on cold-weather gear at REI and get moving north.

2. Somewhere complicated. Zombies aren't masters of fine motor skills. They don't reason or learn. So don't go for somewhere with raptor-friendly doorknobs. Don't head somewhere with easy access. Don't go to, say, an old quarry with a sunken lake that basically serves as a big people-soup bowl. Go somewhere that is an effort to get to, to enter, and to navigate. A castle with a moat, surrounded by gardens designed in a maze would be good. But as we're nowhere near Versailles, they'll have to be creative.

3. Somewhere strong. As we saw at the farmhouse, a horde of zombies can tear down a house if they want to. Wood and chain link fences are not going to hold them back (Hershel. You delusional wacko). Whatever barrier they put between them and the zombies have to hold up against a horde. And a large enough horde can push down the prison fencing. So that place is not a permanent solution. Your best bets are thick stone, wrought iron, and hard metal. Adding cinderblock and concrete walls around wherever you decide to land is a good idea. So maybe, after you raid REI, swing by Home Depot and grab some QuickCrete.

4. Somewhere high. If a ladder is your entrance, this is a pretty decent idea. Because Zombies can't climb. (No, Zombieland, they can't climb an amusement park ride) They can't scale a rock face. They can't operate heavy machinery. They can't climb a mountain, or power a boat. Look at a map and get to high ground.

5. Somewhere that will last. Zombies aren't just mindless people-eating machines. They're also machine-like people who are being eaten - by bacteria and other organisms essential to decomposition. They can't "live" forever. At best, they have about a year to 18 months. So if you can outlast them, eventually people will survive. Maybe. The mathematical models that have been completed by the scientific community don't give us much hope. In a city of 500,000, a zombie outbreak would take only three days to decimate the population.

So, it looks like my original blog post from the first season might still be on the money. Get thee to a mountainside fort: why wouldst thou be a breeder of zombies? Stone Mountain is close by and will work for a short while, with the eventual goal of making it to Brasstown Bald.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times I yell at my television, the actors can't hear me. So good luck with Ricktocracy, Sheriff. And, Carl? Stay in the freaking house.

(Bonus bad-assery)


Friday, June 15, 2012

Bats in my Belfry

Friday, June 15, 2012 By

When Emerson and I moved in with my parents in April, I knew they had a bat in the attic. No big deal, I thought. I'll get rid of it.

So I've done things like put up bright lights, play annoying sounds, and put out bat repellent in order to drive them out. Make the environment inhospitable, and they'll want to move on, I thought.

Now there are four bats in the attic. And they're not going anywhere. 

So, this Saturday, I decided it was time for them to go. Thanks for visiting; vacation's over.

Four bats. They'd be easy to deal with. 

My plan was to get old towels and a cardboard box. I would throw the towel over each bat, shove it in the box, and then get the next bat. I'd take the box, drive out to the country, and let the bats go. Fly free, my friends. 

Good plan. Solid plan. Foolproof plan.

I waited until my parents left to run errands. I knew they'd never agree to this because RABIES. Everything rabies. You know how parents worry.

I dressed in long pants, long sleeves, gloves and a hat. I gathered four towels, a cardboard box from the storage shed, and lowered the attic stairs. The four bats hung on a screen over the gable vent. We put the screen up years ago so that animals couldn't get in, so obviously they were entering somewhere else. But I'll deal with that later.

I approached the bats, stepping on the scattered - and ultimately ineffective - packets of bat repellent. The bats took no notice of me. They just hung there, quiet. Nearly motionless. In the soft light, asleep, with their little bat wings folded against their bodies, they looked... GROSS. 

Seriously, in my mind they were adorable little furry winged pets. In reality, evil flying monkeys from Oz.

I tossed the towel over the first bat, and went to pluck it off the screen.

AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

That bat sent out a high-pitched distress call that awakened the other bats - no, not just the three on the screen with it...

... the TWO DOZEN or so bats that had been hiding under the eaves!

They had been nesting, hidden, in the dark recesses of the eaves. And now they were angry. And I was surrounded.

I don't know how many bats I hit as I made for the attic stairs. I just know that my running and shrieking did nothing to deter them from repeatedly dive-bombing my head. With RABIES. Y'all. I was PUNCHING bats in the air! Like, I punched A LOT of them.

I reached the top of the attic stairs and gravity did the rest. I hit the wooden floor in the hallway, rolled like a ninja, turned, and kicked the folding stairs back into the attic opening. YOU GUYS, I KICKED THE FOLDING STAIRS BACK INTO THE ATTIC OPENING!

Then I lay on my back, on the wooden hallway floor, and shook.

Emerson came running from the living room. "WUT HAPPEN?!"

"Oh... nothing... Mommy just fell down."

Mommy fell down a flight of stairs on the run from a shrieking horde of flying RABIES.

"Oh, I he'p you up. You okay?" she asked.

I did not think I was okay. But I checked myself out. No broken bones. No sprains. No bites or scratches, thanks to my protective gear and ninja-like reflexes.

I didn't tell my parents or Emerson exactly what happened. But mom called an exterminator. He'll be out on Thursday to modify the house so when the bats leave, they can't get back in. Then he'll return in a week to trap any remaining bats and clean up whatever mess they leave behind.

I don't know if I can properly express my gratitude that such heroes exist. But the check he left with had smiley faces where the many 0's should be.





Monday, June 11, 2012

I am the moron in the scenario - big surprise

Monday, June 11, 2012 By

Andrew: "So, you need the html?"

Me: "Yes."

Andrew: "So just click there to copy it."

Me: "I don't see the right code. It's just the embed code."

Andrew: "Wait - what?" 

Me: "I need to link the screen shot image to the video, so people can just click through from the home page."

Andrew: "So, you don't need html?"

Me: "What? Yes, I need the code to link to the video, but all I can pull from here is the embed code."

Andrew: "So... you want the url."

Me: [blink] "... Oh. See, you're using real words that mean things, and I'm expecting you to guess what I'm thinking."

Andrew: "Right."

Me: "You should work on that."

Thursday, June 07, 2012

City Song

Thursday, June 07, 2012 By

My BDCC level (Blood Diet Coke Content) was dangerously low, so I walked down Peachtree Road to get a sammich for lunch.

I started singing Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" as I was walking - because, in a city, they only deem you crazy if you're naked and eating someone's face. Just as I reached "...like a tiger defying the laws of gravity," a cyclist in a red helmet zoomed by me on the sidewalk singing "I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva; I'm gonna go, go, go, there's no stopping meeeeeeee..."

And he cycled off down the road.

It was awesome.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Court in Juky

Monday, June 04, 2012 By

I sent my friend, a family law attorney, a Fandango gift certificate. She is awesome, and she and her husband deserve some kind of date night.

Mary Anne: "Holy crap, woman! Thank you, but what was this for?" she texted me.

Me: "For not telling me to shut the eff up every time I freak out about custody proceedings. And then telling me to shut the eff up when I need to hear it. Also, I watched a 'Law & Order' marathon today, so I'm TOTALLY READY for court in Juky."

Me: "I mean, July. Although Court in Juky would be an interesting band name.

Mary Anne: "Court in Juky could have hits like 'No No Briscoe' and 'McCoy and Schiff Blues.'"

Me: "OMG, that's awesome. Imma let you finish, Kanye, but Court in Juky is the best novelty act of all time! Of all time!"

Mary Anne: "CIJ 4 LIFE."

Me: "Word."

Oh, look: There's someone named Juky on the Internet. But is Juky in COURT? Or, more pertinently, is court in HER? I didn't think so. CIJ 4 LIFE, homieez.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'd like to set fire to her pain

Thursday, May 31, 2012 By

I know I'm about to alienate most of my (now-tiny) readership, but I have to admit something that will make me wildly unpopular.
I'm tired of Adele.

Yes, I bought her albums. And I enjoyed them. And Emerson used to sing along with her on the car radio until one day she looked at me with big, Manga eyes and said, "Dis song make me sad, Mama."
Word. Dis song make me sad, too.
Look, I can relate to Adele's music. I own "19" and "21," and I hope that she keeps making music until "99." And I think she's fricking hilarious in interviews. I bet she's super fun to hang with. But I can't listen to her until she changes her tune, so to speak.

Because so much of what she writes (and thank god she writes most of her own songs) is about heart break. She takes every failed conversation in a relationship and picks it apart like zombies to a freshly-killed corpse (y'all thought I'd post an entry without mentioning zombies? It's like you don't even know me). 
Adele wades through her failures.
She wallows in them.
She wails.
Every dang song is about how much she hurts.
Hey, Adele, everybody hurts. But the R.E.M. song "Everybody Hurts" was at least on the same album that gave us "Nightswimming," a song about happy-go-lucky skinny dipping. Balance, baby. You can't kick us in the crotch for 12 songs.
And every song on "21" was about how much Adele's heart hurts. Well, she can just shut up. Because the rest of us - those of us who didn't just buy a freaking English countryside estate on which to burn her exes in effigy, or whatever she does to quell her pain after chasing pavements all day - have to pick up the pieces of our lives and soldier on.
We schedule summer camps and do housework and worry about our jobs, the bills, the attorney's bills, new software, old laundry and the soul-sucking commute into which we willingly entered because we knew, in our hearts, that this situation was the best option for our children.
And then, while I am embroiled in that commute, trying to see out the back of my head for the Morning Asshole who thinks he's going to get to work faster by weaving in and out of traffic without proper signaling, Adele invades my car radio with her searing misery.
Adele. Seriously. Get out of my car. You are bumming me out.
I don't want to roll in the deep, or set fire to the rain, or chase pavements, or find someone like you - because "you" are a liar and a jerk.
So, thanks, Adele, but I'll sing along to something else in my car. For two hours a day. Here's my new Heartbreak-Free Playlist:
  • "I will Survive," Gloria Gaynor
  • "Hit the Road, Jack," Ray Charles
  • "Stronger," Kelly Clarkston
  • "Kiss Off," Violent Femmes
  • "Respect," Aretha Franklin or Otis Redding
  • "Since You've Been Gone," Kelly Clarkston
  • "F*** You," Cee Lo Green
  • "Hate on Me," Jill Scott
  • "Heartless," by The Fray
  • "My Favorite Mistake," Sheryl Crow
  • "These Boots are Made for Walkin'," Nancy Sinatra
  • "That's Life," Frank Sinatra
  • "Song for the Dumped," Ben Folds Five
  • "Outta Me, Into You," Ani DiFranco
  • "Go Your Own Way," Fleetwood Mac
  • "Don't Stop Me Now," Queen
  • "Cry Me a River," Justin Timberlake
  • "Cry Me a River," Diana Krall
  • "Would I Lie to You," Eurythmics
  • "Goodbye Earl," Dixie Chicks
  • "Bye Bye," Jo Dee Messina
  • "Tyrone," Erykah Badu


Totally unrelated: This chart made me laugh.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why Kant I answer?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 By

"Mom?" Emerson asked one evening, just as I was drifting off to sleep. I jerked awake.

"Yes?"

"Why ders bad guys in da world?"

I really have no idea. Why ARE there bad guys in the world? We can talk about psychopathology and antisocial disorders and just plain jerks, but I honestly do not see any benefits to being "a bad guy." I think about it for a second, but as my brain is in the process of shutting down, I've got bupkis.

"I don't know, honey. That's a question for the philosophers."

"The philosophers? ... Where are dey? Can we call dem?"

Well, no. We can't just call the philosophers. First, the philosophers I know of are dead. Second, most of the reading I have done about philosophy over the years has been co-opted by a single Monty Python song. Really, universities, if you could put all of your lessons to goofy lyrics, your students would remember them a lot better.



Anyway, I told her I would look into it. She's primarily interested in ethics, but she has also expressed interest in ontology - "What does it mean dat we're alibe on dis earf?" Side note: I originally typed that as "oncology." Totally different realm of study. Anyhoodle...

Y'ALL. Never tell Emerson you will do anything. She remembers it. She chronicles it. She demands daily updates. So I started googling things like "Greatest living philosophers" and "philosophy for children."

The first search term got me living theologians, which - while not unrelated - were not what I meant.

The second search term turned up a whole movement about which I had been previously unaware. Philosophy for Children ("P4C") seeks to teach children reason, logic and argumentation. This is something Emerson has already mastered because she regularly kicks my behind in casual conversation. I'm interested in learning more about this, but it still isn't what I was seeking. Again, bupkis.

I begin to consider calling an old philosophy professor - the one who called me stupid every day as some wacked-out experiment in motivation - then realize it would be tantamount to child abuse. My other philosophy professor died years ago. The closest I can get is a priest or minister, who may have the best of intentions, but who would also have a dog in this fight. Hee! I just remembered that "dog" is "god" backwards. Perhaps Freudian that I chose that particular phrase, but I'm going to let it stand. And, anyway, we're back to bupkis.

But... wait! I do not have bupkis. I have an eclectic mix of personal and professional contacts!

I was sharing the above story with my coworker, as moms do, when she lit up: "I have a son-in-law who is a professor of philosophy at Boston College."'

Shut. The. Front. Door.

"Are you freaking kidding me?"

"Nope."

We fired off an email to him right then and there.

Now, I'm not fooling myself. I sent an email to a Ph.D. professor at a major American research institution specifically requesting 10-15 minutes of time to speak with a FIRST GRADER about some questions she happened to ask me. This is probably not what he had in mind when he spent tens of thousands on private post-secondary study. So I can't say that I'm clicking through to Gmail every 15 minutes to see if he's responded.

Except I totally am.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Having THE Talk... well, almost

Thursday, May 10, 2012 By

Emerson is a happy child, who laughs a lot. But that doesn't mean that she hasn't been impacted by the changes in our lives. She sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and peppers me with questions. Sometimes it's related to court proceedings or generalized fears. But the other night, it was a question of a different sort.

"Mama? How does the baby get out of your tummy?"

Screeeeeech! 

Hold the phone.

The difficulty with this question isn't the question itself; nor even the answer. It's what happens when you follow the question to its logical origin: How does the baby get into your tummy? And then we're having THE Talk. About sex. In the middle of an acrimonious divorce.

At this point, my best option is to fake a seizure, don't  you think? I would really rather spend $1,000 on an ER visit than have this conversation twisted and played back in court like my worst nightmare. 

That's the real bastard of contested divorce proceedings. It restricts the decisions you make as a parent. Because I've always promised Emerson that I would tell her the truth. If the answer is available, I give it to her straight, but phrased in an age-appropriate manner. If I don't know the answer, I say so - and we look it up. If I'm not comfortable talking about it, or if it's the wrong time for the question, I say that, too.

But when I know that my discomfort with talking about a subject is in conflict with expert opinion - or is simply ridiculous - I try to push past it.

"The baby comes out of the mommy's tummy through her vagina."

"WHAT?!" Emerson shoots straight up in bed. "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!"

I snort into my pillow. "Nope. That's how it happens."

"Ohmygosh! ... OhmyGOSH!" she laugh-shrieks. "... That is jus' blowing my MIND right now!"

She repeats that a few more times - "ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh" - and kind of hops up and down on the bed. She's freaked out, but also excited. She has learned something significant. She has glimpsed the knowledge of grown-ups, and can't decide where to settle her mind.

"This...! This...! This is... SCIENCE!" she finally exclaims.
"Yep. This is called biology, which is the study of living organisms. Part of that is how they reproduce," I explain. This conversation - this scientific discussion - I can handle. I table my idea to fake a seizure to get out of this conversation.

"So... the babies come out of their mothers' vaginas?"
"Yes, in animals that don't lay eggs, or reproduce through cellular replication - which is a whole other thing, nevermind," I answer.

"So.... did I come out of YOUR vagina?"
"Oh, yes."

She stares at me, fascinated, occasionally glancing down, much to my amusement. My promise of honesty stops long before a pelvic examination.

"How?"
"Well... when a mommy's body is ready to have the baby, everything gets kind of... stretchier," I explain, oversimplifying by about a million percent.

"Like... it opens up a little bit?"
"Yes, a little. Although not enough to make it easy, that's for sure."

She laughs, heartily. "Is it like when you poop?"
"Well, sort of. But it doesn't come out of the same place, obviously."

"Really?"
"Yes. Girls have three openings to expel things."

"And... boys only have two? One for poo and one for pee?"
"Yes."

She considers this for a few minutes. And then...
"Nothing good comes out of a boy's body, does it?"

And THAT is when I faked the seizure.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I'm all out of stories

Tuesday, May 08, 2012 By

"Tell me a story, mama," Emerson said.

It's a nightly ritual. We read a book or we tell a story. Sometimes we share (mostly) true stories about relatives in childhood, like "The Time Mommy Fell Off Her Bike in the Middle of the Street and Cried a Lot." Sometimes she wants a "made-up" story, like "Emerson and the Tale of the Solid Gold Bootie" (an instant classic).

But last night, after 48 hours of minimal sleep due to her illness, I was tapped out.

"Let me read you a story," I suggested. "What would you like - Harry Potter? Junie B. Jones? Captain Underpants?"

"NOoooo! I want a made-up story! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeth?"

"I just don't have any ideas, Doodle," I sighed. She's 7 years old, after all. That means I've told her approximately 2,500 stories. There's only so much I can do. Not even Hans Christian Anderson had such a demanding audience!

"PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEETH!" she begged, and clung to me. And then my brain melted and I heard my mouth agree.

"Okay. But give me a starting place."

"Umm, how about zombies?" she said. This girl knows her mama.

"Okay," I agreed. "There once was a Sheriff whose name was Rick Grimes..."

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dining in a small town

Friday, May 04, 2012 By

Recently, Gawker gave us this awesome piece about small-town food journalism. The companion pieces are hysterical! It reminded me of growing up in a small town outside of Atlanta, Ga., and I thought I'd share my rambling memories.

I remember when the second McDonald's opened in Conyers, Ga. Up until that moment, kids' birthdays were backyard affairs - but a lucky few got to choose between a Burger King birthday party (with gold paper crowns) or a McDonald's birthday party (with a vastly superior playground).

Then they opened the second McDonald's, right down the street from Burger King on Hwy 138. This road was the main drag, the strip all the late-70s/early-80s teenagers cruised in their Firebirds and Mustangs and hand-me-down Lincolns. And even though most people in town had to drive right past the Burger King to get to the new McDonald's, every kid I know had their birthday party at that Mickey D's that year.

To the residents of Conyers, rating a second McDonald's was A Sign. It signified growth, change... perhaps even status. The town colloquially divided the two locations into "The Old McDonald's" and "The New McDonald's," and West Avenue's business appeal faded like the sun-bleached railroad ties that constructed the playground of The Old McDonald's.

Soon after, the Wendy's in the A&P Shopping Center moved to the same stretch of highway as its two competitors. Gone were the faux Tiffany lamps and newspaper-printed Formica tables. Blond wood and burgundy vinyl surrounded the all-you-can-eat salad bar. It was a dominating expanse of exotic vegetables like shredded carrots, pickled beets and chopped broccoli, over which spilled a splatter-pattern of salad dressing, reminiscent of the Spin Art toys that were so popular at the time. SAHMs of Rockdale County hated that toy. But they loved that salad bar.

Slowly, other restaurant signs winked on in the darkness: the "fancy" locally owned Italian place, with its overcooked rolls and pasta slick with cheap olive oil; the Greek pizza place, with the temperamental owner who hated teenagers and kicked us out more times than I can count; the Arby's that opened right beside the four-screen movie-theater-cum-arcade. I think I ate curly fries every day of 8th grade.

But for a "real" dining out experience, Rockdalians still had to travel to the culinary cluster surrounding the two closest malls, South Lake Mall in Jonesboro and North Lake Mall in Tucker. Y'all. We put the full weight of our proud Southern literary tradition to bear on those mall names.

At either mall-adjacent development, we could enjoy any culinary offering that mid-market suburbanites could imagine - from the exotic fried-with-sauce offerings of Main Chow Mein in the mall food court to the full 38-page menu and hanging-fern treatment at Bennigan's.

But it wasn't until I was in high school that it happened. You heard the whispers. You couldn't believe it. But then site prep started and suddenly it was real. It was The Great Coming of The Applebee's. A real Applebee's in our town! Y'all. It was a bar and a grill. The importance of this combination could not be understated. It was like the virgin run of the Reese's cup. Who put their peanut butter in my chocolate?! Doesn't matter. We're getting The Applebee's. Lo, how its light shine in the darkness. And it was good.

I'll admit that The Applebee's Bar and Grill had its naysayers. "It'll never last," they said. But it did. In fact, it thrived. And there were The Mozzarella Sticks. And though The Mozzarella Sticks were but few, a miracle occurred, and The Mozzarella Sticks did multiply and feed the masses. And the people rejoiced.

Tragically, I never ate there. I was very busy being a Sort-of Socially Conscious Person who hung out in Little Five Points, signed a lot of petitions I never read, and refused to eat meat. Dropping in on philosophy classes at New Acropolis didn't leave much time to spend money with the Proletariat. As a result, I missed a Rockdale High School Rite of Passage: That Applebee's Date Where You Tricked the Waitress Into Selling You Alcohol.

And the one time I intended to eat there - at the cast party after our high school Spring Musical - I totaled my parents' Oldsmobile on Salem Road with four other people in the car. Yea, though I walked through the scene changes of the musical with the wholesome religious message hidden amidst debauchery and gambling, I will fear no dark blue or maybe black pick-up truck that turns left in front of me when I have the light. A-hole.

I went off to college and the Conyers haute cuisine scene kept growing. Other restaurants joined The Applebee's. There was the short-lived Boston Market and some other small chains, and then the one-off local eateries that people referred to colloquially by location: That Thai Place in the Kroger Shopping Center; The Sushi Place Over By the Publix, and The Sushi Place Over On the Access Road. Finally, there was The Great Hooters Controversy. And rebels did protest the addition of The Restaurant of Sodom. But the zoning commission found no legal reason to refuse it. And the complimentary hot wings did grace the zoning commission's meetings for eons.

About 10 years ago, they opened Stonecrest Mall two exits away from the main highway. There is yet a third McDonald's across from the mall - in addition to various Darden and Brinker corporate restaurant offerings that are packed out every night. In about 20 years, Conyers/Rockdale County will probably serve as another cautionary tale of unregulated growth, a la Jonesboro/Clayton County. Though, technically, the mall is in Lithonia, but no one seems to realize that.

"The Old McDonald's" was torn down decades ago, and a Longhorne Steakhouse was built in its place. That Longhorne Steakhouse was then replaced by another Longhorne Steakhouse. In the future, aliens will visit the site and some extraterrestrial archaeology grad student will excavate the layers of construction and then write a thesis about how we built monuments to honor cows (Here's a secret: Egyptians just thought cats were just really tasty).

In time, the small town I grew up in was replaced by a traffic-choked suburban strip mall collective that is almost indistinguishable from any other of the small municipalities that surround Atlanta and transition commuters from urban center (Fulton County) to suburbia (Rockdale County) to Piedmont forestland (Newton County).

But there is a movement to preserve the "historic" Old Town Conyers, the four-block radius of two-story storefronts that adjoin the old railroad depot. There's a Thai Palace in an old historic house on Railroad Street. There's a homemade ice cream store called Creamberry's just a couple of blocks over. The old Evan's Pharmacy still offers lunch counter service and fresh lemonade.

Things are moving along in Conyers. You can get almost any cuisine you'd like. And they even have a tourist trap. The Whistle Post Tavern gives out free drinks whenever the train rumbles through Old Town. Y'all... it's a bar and a grill.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Third-world problems? Maybe if we were talking about the drinking water.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 By

Alice and I are deciding where to eat for lunch.

Alice: Do you want to eat at Convenient Location A or Convenient Location B?
Me: I don't know. That's like asking me to choose between salmonella and E. coli.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Graduate students are the worst

Friday, March 09, 2012 By

Alice and I are discussing graduate school programs. We are ambitious, see. We have dreams. But these dreams, they cost ALL the money and dollars. And time... who has it? Still, Alice thought she'd found an online solution. But then I pooped on it.

Me: That's not covered under the Tuition Assistance Program.

Alice: Figures.

She reviews an in-state communications masters, but it's difficult to have confidence in an online masters in communications when the school's own website is nearly unnavigable.

Alice: Looks like a masters in public administration from ASU, it is!

Me: It'll be worth it. And mostly free. Then you can stop being a tool OF The Man and start BEING The Man.

Alice: You should put that on some coffee mugs.

Me: That should be their marketing tagline. Let's call them now.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

I'm going to write a musical about this

Thursday, March 01, 2012 By

We're talking about our perceptions of a very obnoxious individual.

"I just can't imagine him ever being young."

"Oh, come on, can't you imagine him in a bar rocking out to, like, Boston?"

"I wonder what kind of music he actually likes..."

"I bet he thinks he likes jazz. But he really doesn't."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do not call at 1 a.m. and chomp Doritos in my ear, druggie

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 By

It's after midnight when my phone rings. Holy crap, someone's dead.

"Hello?" I croak, sleep and the remnants of bronchitis clouding my voice.

I hear chewing. Chewing! Whose parents did not teach them phone manners? THIS GUY.

" 'ey," he chomps.

"Hello," I spit, through gritted teeth.

"Uhh.... [crunch crunch] Who's this?"

(sigh) "Probably not the person you're looking for."

"Uh, well, [chomp, smack] I was calling about someone who has Oxy for sale. My back is really killing me."

"Definitely not the person you're looking for."

"But-"

[CLICK]

I miss the days when I could slam down a phone. Cordless and cell phones don't really drive the point home.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Burn!

Monday, February 27, 2012 By

So after three days off due to bronchitis, I returned, triumphantly, to work. There was no ticker-tape parade, but I felt like a winner because I was there instead of in bed.

Boss: "You take off more time than Obama! But, unlike Obama, we're actually glad to see you when you return."

Me (snicker): "Thanks just so much."

Boss: "How are you feeling?"

Me: "Meh."

Boss: "Yeah, you look bad."

Me (grin): "That is not how you talk to a lady."

Boss: "I know."

HA! Working with smart people has its benefits...sometimes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Jamaican me crazy

Friday, February 24, 2012 By

Me: "You're going on a mission trip to Jamaica?"

Amy: "Yeah."

Me (snicker): "To convert the heathen Jamaicans?"

Amy: "NO. Dork. We're organizing a women's conference."

Me: "Oh, that'll be awesome! Have a great time!"

Amy: "We're also bringing lettuce."

Me: "Lettuce? Because lettuce is a staple of Jamaican cuisine?"

Amy: "Yeah, I don't really know."

Me: "Well, you can't have a jerk chicken salad without lettuce."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You people do not appreciate me nearly enough

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 By No comments

Emerson and I were walking across the Georgia Health Sciences University campus, chatting, on the way to my car. She's in a goofy mood and repeatedly head-butts me in the butt.

"Doodle, cut it out. You're bruising my bootie!"

She laughs. "Okay, mama. Wull, tell me a story, then."

"Okay.... how about a joke? Knock-knock."

"Who's der?"

"Impatient cow."

"Impatient -" "MOOO!"

She stops and shakes her head at me, with a wry grin. "Tomorrow? Bring a better joke."

Damn!

"Hey, that was a good joke!" I protest.

"No," she giggles.

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes, it was."

"Wull, maybe a little bit funny."

"Yes."

"Okay, it was pretty good."

"Well, thanks so much."

Monday, February 20, 2012

One item crossed off my life goals

Monday, February 20, 2012 By

I really didn't get this Pinterest thing until I thought of a way to use it that made sense to me. And, lo, the best comment I have ever received followed shortly thereafter:


Friday, February 17, 2012

Who's getting rich quick? (Not this girl)

Friday, February 17, 2012 By

"Okay, I have this. Million dollar idea," I burst into Allison's office. I am all Kramer up in this joint.

We are always sharing our genius inventions. One day, we will actually have one. But then I'll get distracted by shiny and evil genius Channing Sherman will overhear me and run with it, waving goodbye to us as he sails away in a boat made entirely out of money.

"Okay, let's hear it," Allison says.

"Chocolate. Salad."

"... How... How would that work, exactly?"

"I have no idea. But if we can invent it, we are set."

She is not impressed with this idea. Chocolate and salad are two things that people generally don't think of as going together but if we can somehow satisfy chocolate cravings with a healthy salad...! Besides, the juxtaposition is what's genius about it! It's unexpected! Right? RIGHT??

Alright, fine, haters! What are YOUR genius ideas?



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

All I wanted was to find an apartment

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 By


Monday, February 13, 2012

You down with OPC? Yeah, you know me.

I'm down with Other People's Children. But some kids get on my nerves. Yes, I said it. I don't like your child, random mom at the park.

"What's that you're playing?" asked a boy of 8 or 9 years old, as I simultaneously killed the walking dead and watched Emerson on the playground.

"A zombie-shooting game. Rated M for mature."

"Can I play?"

"Not this time, sweetie."

"Please?"

"No."

"Please?"

"No."

(stomp) "PLEASE?!"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because it's my phone."

"Please?"

"No."

"WHY NOT?!"

"Because I'm not going to hand over a $300 phone to a child I've never met."

A few seconds pass.

"Sweetie, please move your head out if the way. ... Please move your head out of the way. ... Move your head, please... Young man, cut it out."

"Can I play?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I already told you. But an additional reason is also that you're being rude."

He covers my screen with his hand. My character dies. I am not ruling out the possibility that he could, too. I never raise my voice to him, but I am irritated at his attempt to bully me.

"Well, you just ensured that you will never, as long as you live, be allowed to play with my phone."

"Why?"

"Because you are rude."

He tries to snatch the phone away. I do not raise my voice.

"Kid, get outta here before I tell your parents that you just tried to steal my phone."

He leaves.

Good.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flights of fancy

We're at the park, and Em has made yet another group of instant friends. They run, breathless, to where I am lounging on one of the wooden play structures (the better to keep an eye on them).

"Are you her mom?" one boy asks.

"Why, yes, I am. How are you today?"

"Good. When do y'all transform into fairies?"

I look at Em. She is chagrined. Busted.

"Em? Tell him when we transform into fairies."

"Uh, well, only at night," she says, cautiously, visibly hoping I don't plan on ratting her out.

"There you go. Only at night," I tell the curious boy. They sprint away.

"Em?" I call.

"Yes?"

I frown and shake my head.

She nods. "Okay, mama."

I want to encourage her creativity - I do. But I want to channel it away from creating some inaccurate mythology about herself. To focus her on all the good things she has in her life now, as opposed to how great life could be if she had magic powers. Because wouldn't all of our lives be transformed by magic powers? But they don't exist. Basically, I want her to stay grounded.

A while later, they run up to me again.

"I turn into a bat at night," the boy tells me.

"Well, that is quite the magic power," I reply. Just then his mother calls him over and he runs off, giving me a few moments with Emerson before he returns.

"Hey," I say.

"What?"

"What do you think I want to talk to you about right now?" I ask.

"Umm... prolly that I lied to him about being a fairy."

"Well, 'lie' might be a stronger word than I would like, but it's accurate. These stories are fun, Emmie, but you're just as cool without magic powers. You're smart, funny, a hard worker, beautiful, kind and fun to play with. You don't have to be a fairy on top of all that."

She grins and hugs me. "Fanks, mom. I'll tell him the truth."

"You mean Bat Boy?" I grin, and she giggles. "I think it's okay to continue playing your make-believe game for now. Just remember that it's make-believe."

Bat Boy runs up to me again. "I'm a baaaaat!!" he screams, and his mother chides him from her bench. We wave and smile at each other.

"Well, that's nice. Maybe we can fly around together," I joke, and Emerson giggles again.

"No," he says. "Because I would eat you up. I'm a bat."

And they run off again to play. Fairy Girl and Bat Boy. Supernatural creatures. Natural enemies. Instant friends. 



Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Love notes

I put a note in Emerson's lunchbox. It said: "Emerson, I hope you have a great day at school. I love you very much. Have fun at ballet! Love, Mom. P.S. - There is a special treat in here for you." And I put a square of Dove chocolate in her lunch.

Well, apparently, she opened her lunch to check the contents. Because in my folder at work, I found this note:


It says, "Mom, I (heart) you. You are special to me. I do not need a treat. You are my surprise! You are a special girl and you are a big big big surprise! You are my Valentimes. Love, Emmie. (smiley heart man)"


Yes, that's right. My kid is The Best Kid on the Whole Planet!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Things I will never do

Monday, January 30, 2012 By 1 comment

So it's the end of the first month of the year, and I've realized that I will never keep a New Year's resolution. Apparently, neither will you. But that's okay. Because there are many things we'll never do in our lifetimes.

Things I will never do:

1. I will never finish an entire tube of Blistex without losing it.
2. I will never learn more numbers of Pi than just 3.14.
3. I will never slam a revolving door.
4. I will never construct a triangle from its angle bisector. Effing heck, I don't even know what that means.
5. I will never win the cinnamon challenge.
6. I will never travel in space.
7. I will never count to infinity - and beyond.
8. I will never tame a unicorn.
9. I will never escape from a black hole.
10. I will never escape to Witch Mountain.
11. I will never understand the appeal of "Seinfeld."
12. I will never get my acceptance letter to Hogwarts, Harvard, Starfleet Academy, or the Xavier School for Higher Learning.
13. I will never smoke. Anything.
14. I will never volunteer at a clown convention.
15. I will never climb Mt. Everest.
16. I will never kiss anything with an exoskeleton.
17. I will never ask anyone for their "buy-in."
18. I will never abandon my child.
19. Of course, there's this...
20. I will never get anything else pierced... again.
21. I will never voluntarily take a class on taxidermy.
22. I will never watch a "Jerseylicious" marathon.
23. I will never finish the Ghettoburger at Anne's Snack Shack.
24. I will never become a Disney star.
25. And, finally, I will never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

So, I suppose I shouldn't be worried about one little New Year's resolution, when there's SO MUCH that I will never do.








Friday, January 27, 2012

What on earth is she learning in school?

Friday, January 27, 2012 By No comments

I'm listening to a lecture by Lawrence Krauss, and Emmie has half an ear tuned in.

"Mama? Was Einstein real?"

"Yes, Einstein was a real theoretical physicist who did a lot of work that gave good knowledge to the world."

"... but den he turned eebil?"

What the...?

"No, Emmie, he didn't turn evil. Where did you get that idea?"

"I dunno. Nebbermind."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rapper's delight... not so delightful

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 By

As I approached a group of acquaintances recently, I heard one say, "...beaten up and thrown in jail!"

I bounced up: "We can go toe-to-toe in the middle of a cell...!"

They turned and looked at me as if I had eight tentacles, all enthusiastically waving child porn. Uh-oh.

"Umm... We're not rapping, are we?" I said.

No.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Appalachian Emergency Room, Part II

Occasionally I post a story about my sister's part-time gig at a natural foods store in North Georgia. This is another installment.

A woman in her 60s (we'll call her Nana) came into the store and asked for aloe vera. The store carries a number of different kinds - gels, liquids, some for internal use, some for external use.

"Nana said, 'I had a cyst removed from down there, in there,'" Kelli said. "She was pointing to her vagina, really pushing the point across about where it was located. I was like, I GET IT! IT'S YOUR VAG!"

Nana shared a detailed history of her medical experiences, visits to homeopathic doctors, etc. She wanted to know how Kelli could help her.

"I am not a physician or a homeopathic doctor. I am a part-time retail clerk. Why tell me about your vaginas and wieners?" Kelli said.

Nana wished she had known about the miraculous pure aloe gel when she'd had children, because childbirth had basically ripped her in half. And now everyone is freaked out by Nana's vagina for forever. Anyway, the cyst removal left a spot that gets irritated. Nana wanted to treat it with aloe, per her homeopathic doctor's recommendations.

Kelli continued: "She said, 'Because sometimes it just gets so irritated that I can't stop messing with it.' Again, THANKS FOR THE VISUAL OF YOUR VAGINA... ma'am."



Friday, January 20, 2012

Definitely related to me

Emmie and I are taking advantage of a gift card we had to Yumo, a sushi restaurant out in Evans. We are in high spirits, and she is cracking joke after joke.

"You are really on a roll, Emmie," I giggled.

"You mean a shushi roll?"

And then she laughed so hard at herself that she almost fell out of her chair.

Sorry, Alice Wynn. It looks like there will be no future shortage of jokes for Popsicle manufacturers to print on their sticks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Separate and not equal

I had some free rental codes to Redbox this weekend. I let Emerson pick a movie on Friday, and I picked one on Sunday. Apparently, my choice was not to her liking.

"But...! I wanted to pick da movie!"

"It's mommy's turn, sweetie."

Then she proceeded to be a little buttface through the whole thing. It honestly took me 4 hours to watch a 90-minute movie, because she could not be quiet. Finally, I sent her to her room for smarting off to me for no other reason than she was feeling irritable.

When I let her out of her room, she was even more wound up. And it was all my fault, she said.

"Mama, I'm angwry wif you."

"That's fine. You're allowed to feel angry," I replied, totally not giving a crap.

"You're not being fair."

"I'm okay with that," I said, turning the movie back on.

"Are you eeben lithening to what I'm thaying to you?" she demanded.

"Uh... to be honest, not really. I think you've had a lot to say today, and you've been pretty rude to mommy. I'm going to finish this movie, and you're going to do something quiet."

She glared at me. I ignored her. She put her hands on her hips. I continued to ignore her. She stomped her foot. I choked back a giggle.

"Mama, I fink you are not being like Martin Luther King. An' dat's a bad fing."

Uh, what?

This was totally worth turning off the movie to hear.

"Okay, I'm listening, Emmie. What's on your mind?"

She burst out with her explanation. Here it is, verbatim:

"It's Martin Luther King Day, for Pete's sake! And Martin Luther King wanted us to be equal - to be the same thing. Every children in this country wants to boss the parents around a little. So they just want to boss them around sometimes or a day because children are not sussposed to be in this argument. If anything happens to any children I'm gonna fits [fix] it because children are not equal to grown-ups. They're not even making this 10 percent fair. This is just a plain piece of meat. It doesn't feel like I'm in charge because mommies and parents don't even do what the children says. Period."

"So... you're saying that I'm not living up to the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr., because I don't let you be the boss and make the decisions?" I asked.

"Right. I think that children should be the boss a little. Because I don't really lite parents bossing us around because it's not very nice. You already do 'blah blah blah blah do the dishes blah blah blah blah get dressed blah blah blah blah do the floor' - lite that. And I don't really lite that," she said.

"Emmie, I try to involve you in our decisions. But there's a reason that I'm in charge. While children are capable of making good decisions, and you mostly do, parents make better decisions, generally speaking. Sometimes, of course, we make mistakes, too."

She was standing on the bed now. She put both of her hands on my shoulders and stared at me intently.

"Mama. You need to be lite Martin Luther King. An' he showed us how to all be friends. An' how to be nice to each other. An' how to be equal." She waved her hand back and forth between the two of us. "How we should be equal."

I stared at her, torn. On the one hand, there was so much that was good in what she was saying. And ownership does breed responsibility. On the other hand... no.

"You know, that was a really strong appeal to my emotions and my sense of morality, Emerson. I have to applaud you for almost making that work. What law school do you want to attend?"



Friday, January 13, 2012

Teach math skills early

Friday, January 13, 2012 By 1 comment

Emerson is mad because I put her to bed early.

"But I'm lonely."

"Yes, Emerson, a punishment is supposed to make you uncomfortable."

"Wull, dat's done. Can we stop now?"

"No. Go back to bed."

"But... why would you wanna mate me umcumpftorbul?"

"Because maybe that feeling will help you to remember to bring home one of the 65 jackets you've lost this year."

"Sixty-five?!"

"That's called hyperbole. I was exaggerating for impact."

"Sixty-five, mama? Really?"

"Well... two. I was rounding up."


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Honesty suits her

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 By 1 comment

I sent Emerson to bed early because the child cannot keep up with a single article of clothing unless it is stapled to her body. After having left her jacket and bookbag god-only-knows-where for the I-long-ago-lost-count-th time, I'd had enough.

But 30 minutes later, she came stomping down the hall like nothing happened.

"Can you scoot ober? Can you share da blanket?" she asked.

"Just what are you doing?" I retorted, and she began to stammer a reason why she should be out of bed.

"Wull, so I was in da bedroom and... wull, see, there was... oh, nevermind. I'm a wuss. I'm juss scared to be by myself."

She didn't get out of her punishment, but we both had a good laugh.

Monday, January 09, 2012

All Emerson wanted for Christmas was...

Emerson got almost everything she wanted for Christmas, except the iPad she desired so greatly. She'll have to make do with my iPod Touch until such time as pigs fly.

Conveniently for Learning Express Toys, however, Emerson's birthday is coming up at the end of the month. But now I have no idea what to give her. I asked her what she wanted, but she got so much stuff from her very loving and generous extended family that I don't think she has any ideas, either. Seriously. She has so much stuff that she can't even imagine anything else to want. First world problems: We haz dem.

So this morning she told me that she wants a parrot. I tried very hard not to laugh in her face.

No, I'm serious, people! She's going to get something ridiculous like a cemetery plot for her 7th birthday, because she has maxed out all the major categories of children's toys:
  1. Toys that make annoying sounds
  2. Toys that hurt your foot when you step on them
  3. Toys that startle you when you walk through the house at night
  4. Toys that cost more to play with than they do to purchase
  5. Toys that devour batteries like Takeru Kobayashi eats hot dogs
  6. Toys that make such a huge mess that I conveniently misplace them in the back of her closet
  7. Creepy dolls that may kill me in my sleep

    The only thing we never have enough of are books and science toys. If you have any good recommendations for such things, I'm all ears.

    Actually, that might be all that's left of me after her enormous Baby Alive toddles into the bedroom one night and murders me.


    Friday, January 06, 2012

    Meeting madness

    Friday, January 06, 2012 By

    Me: So I spent all day yeterday thinking that I had missed an important meeting. I was trying to figure out what to do about it. Then, this morning, my boss asked me about it. I said I had nothing to update. Neutral, right? Turns out the meeting was today. I spent all yesterday thinking it was today.

    Alice: Don't you have some kind of electronic device that helps you keep track of these things?

    Me: Um... yes?

    Wednesday, January 04, 2012

    Well, this game is off to a good start...

    Wednesday, January 04, 2012 By

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    Loser choices for New Year's Eve

    Me: I don't know what I'm going to do NYE. I'll be in Atlanta, I think.

    Alice: Go to the Clermont Lounge. I'm sure it'll be kicking.

    Me: That is the kind of thing one does with a group of drunks at 3 a.m. It's not fun before then. It's just sad.

    Alice: True.

    Me: Ooh, Kansas is playing the Peach Drop. We can ring in the new year with the existential crisis that is "Dust in the Wind."

    Alice: LOL!!!!!

    Me: Start 2012 off with some morose navel-gazing. Happy times.

    Alice: I'm sure there will be lots of bikers/rednecks whooping it up.

    Me: The other grown-up option is the annual downtown countdown, with Ed Kawalczkqxkwvpgh (formerly) of Live and Naughty by Nature. What a weird combo.

    Alice: Glad the '90s are back... When Jayson worked at the dining hall at UGA, one of the guys he worked with had to get coke for Ed Kawlakghsdfhhblech when they played the Athens Fairgrounds.

    Me: I'm not complaining - unless someone starts playing "My Heart Will Go On" and then Hanson roller blades through the room while everyone does the Macarena, in which case, DEATH TO ALL. I like 90s music. BUT THERE ARE LIMITS. And I hit that limit when the younger cousin of my friend went to the Soul Bar for 90s night. She was wearing torn jeans, a flannel shirt and Docs. She said she was "in costume." I almost drop-kicked her off this planet.

    Alice: LOL!!!!!

    Me: I was all:










    Alice: I just almost spit hot chocolate on my monitor.