Monday, June 25, 2007

Guest post: a story for you from Acy

Once upon a time, there was a dog who pooped in the house and the mother got him a new litterbox. And it was purple. And it was a girl named Sammy. And he started pooping a lot. The end.

(That's Sammy pooping in the house.)

-by Sammy Martin

(illustration by Angie)

Friday, June 22, 2007

First Official Acts of Summer 2007. Take note.

I know I've been talking about summer non-stop for days. This summer I'll do this and this summer I'll do that.

And NOW it's here! Finally. Geez, I'm so impatient.

Karen wrote about a gallery of photos of the first sunrise of the summer shot by John Fletcher here in Asheville, a photographer for the Asheville Citizen-Times. It is awesome, truly, and I say that admitting that it's hard to impress me with sunrise/sunset photos because I generally hate how sentimental they are. This from me, the Most Sentimental Person In The World. That's why the basement of our house is filled with broken down doll parts and rotting blankets because that ratty T-shirt stuffed in a ball in a disintegrating cardboard box? I wore it the summer I went to Indiana and watched my first R-rated movie. Don't ask me to throw it out because I'll cry.

But looking at these photos made me feel so excited about the changing season. I must have felt it coming yesterday when I went to the Turbokick class at the gym, the class where the instructor slowly more and more kickboxing moves to a routine that gets faster and faster until at the end of the session (which lasts over 30 classes, or so?) you're jumping around and punching at nothing like crazy. Well, I went to the last session of this class yesterday and the instructor told me that I'd probably be tripping around and not able to follow the choreography because these people have been doing this routine for a while. And it's advanced. Well, I nailed it! And she gave me a "shout out" in the middle of class for keeping up. And honestly, I could have gone for another 30 minutes, I was so pumped. Until she made us do squats and crunches that made me want to vomit. Fleeting, those feelings of victory.

I'm also excited by the fact that in my first Official Act of Summer of 2007, I will be driving my squeaking car to lovely Greensboro to see my awesomist of most awesome friends Kathryn and J.B., where there promises to be Mexican food, birthday celebrations and maybe some video game playing. (I'll be posting slideshows and other things here, so keep up!) And then to pick up my niece Acy for some awesome of most awesomist vacation summer fun here on Potato Knob. (Can guest posts by Acy be coming? Most likely!) Woop!

Monday, June 18, 2007

summer music

Do you have a soundtrack for your summers? The first one I ever had was in junior high when I stretched out on the carpet in Shannon's living room after we got back from the pool and listened to Top 40 hits of the 1980s. (Which are flooding the commercial radio airwaves up here. What gives?) Then there was that summer in the middle of undergrad where I lived on the edge of Biltmore Forrest and house sat for my Bulgarian friend who was married (and maybe he still is) to a now-famous author while I worked a shitty job at the college and divided my time among breaking into a neighborhood pool in the middle of the night (sorry neighborhood pool!), going to baseball games, making tempura and generally going a little batty. That summer I listened to Poi Dog Pondering and Sonic Youth and Tom Waits like crazy. When I hear them I feel nervously excited.

And now these songs, holy mother do I love them! They are my Summer of 2007 anthems. They have this free feeling that I love, this want to dance feeling that I crave. (And this all started because Frances sent me the link! Thanks, Frances! My music-loving friend! She knows I love anything with a dance routine!)

Here's a 2005 interview with Feist. And another one by NPR that aired over the weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My dad, the roamer

My dad used to like to tell this story about going to my grandparents' house in Mitchell County one time when he was younger and newly in love with my mother.

He was the original roamer in our family. He loved to be outside, working in the garden, running for miles and miles, riding the tractor on the farm. And when he visited my mom's house, he went for a walk in the mountains. There weren't a lot of people living around Tipton Hill then. There aren't many now. But people know when there was a new person around. And at 6-feet, 9-inches tall, my dad was hard to miss. So a few days later -- after my dad and mom left -- rumors started circulating around about this man people saw walking up and down the hills. "There's a hippy out there," people said. My grandparents eventually heard about this and, of course, said "Oh, that's just Eddie."

This is funny to me because I know hippies. I live in Asheville, after all, and my father -- who went through confused periods where he made us all watch Jimmy Swaggart crusades on TV and wouldn't let us listen to anything but gospel music -- was NOT a hippy. He was progressive in his own ways: he wore his hair a bit longer; he was remarkably anti-racist; and he was certainly an environmentalist.

Who would think that this man holding my sister is a hippy? And to the right, that's my rumor-squashing grandfather eating jelly beans with me on my grandparents' couch.

These are two of the last pictures I have of Dad, taken the day I graduated from grad school. He couldn't make it because he wasn't feeling well, but he had my sister take these Polaroids of him holding a "Good job, I (heart) U" postcard. That answers the age-old question of where I get my goofy sense of humor.

Happy father's day, Dad! I miss you!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

the vacation slideshow

My dad loved cameras. He had buckets of lights and bulbs and camera parts. He had tiny point-and-shoots. He had Polaroids. He loved his Kodak Disc Camera SO MUCH that when we left it on the Blue Ridge Parkway by accident during an ill-contrived picnic, he drove two-and-a-half hours back to the picnic site to find it.

But none of this camera love compared to when he got his first video camera in the mid-90s. He carted that huge thing (which looked, in comparison to today's models, like a camera a TV crew would use) to the beach on one of our last trips there together. He set up his tripod, and stood there (was he in his red Speedo? I can't remember) and filmed HOURS UPON HOURS of the waves coming in and out and the birds flying overhead. He told me once, If I could have been anything, I would have been a photographer for National Geographic. In a Speedo, probably.

So when I present to you this little slideshow of my recent trip to Savannah, know that I come upon this honestly, this urge to record every little thing. And let me tell you how awesome it was to travel with someone who takes more pictures than me! And who laughs like crazy when I make her pose in front of fiberglass elephants in the parking lot of a fireworks store! (Which is not included in this little show because, really, nothing can compare to the alligator shot.) Ha ha!

I'm loving summer already! Thanks, Dad!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

There's thunder in the distance and I feel the wind moving in. The window next to my desk is open as it most always is. The paper flowers that swag in front of the window -- the green faded to almost gray, the reds and oranges still bright, the yellow turned now to white -- remind me of being in New York City several years ago, ducking into a gift shop and sifting.

Today I feel like being anywhere but here. Could I be where the storm is coming from? Could I be where these flowers are made? There's nothing particularly wrong with being here. It's beautiful, in fact. It's quiet and I love the sound of the storm coming. But, today, I miss the feeling of going, the anticipation of something unknown, possibly wonderful and soul-stirring, before you. I'm aching to leave.

For me, that's the best and worst thing about traveling: the ideas and realities of leaving and arriving. Whenever I leave some place, all of the sudden that place is the most beautiful, most beloved place in the world. But so is the place I'm going to. It's the in between, maybe that I love the most. A sentimental anticipation. Yes, maybe it's the unknown that I miss. The surprise. The suspense.

This morning I was perched cross legged on my blue yoga mat. I go there on Tuesday and Thursday mornings when I can swing an hour away. Allison instructed us. Be content, she said. Be content where you are, in the moment, in your breath, in the space you reside. Let go of expectations. That's funny, I thought. So I sat there, breathing, moving through the asanas. But, somehow, instead of showing me how content I am, it showed me my malcontent, pointed to the places inside where contentment hasn't shown its face in years.

The thunder is closer. The sky is getting darker and I hear rain on the leaves.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Question: Are we as old as your mom or do we need to get as drunk as your mom?

Us, in Savannah, at Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons restaurant, over plates of delicious fried crabness: "Where is there a good bar around here?"

James, the bartender: "Um. Try The Warehouse or Bernie's. If you go to (XXXX), say hey to my friend (Something) Martinez. He's the second best bartender in Savannah." (Ba-da-dunk)

Us: "OK. Ha ha."

Chris, the bartender-in-training who looked to be all of 15 years old: "Don't listen to him. Go to Wet Willie's. It's so good I got my mom drunk in there once."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

My goal this summer (like it isn't most summers) is FUN.

As in picking strawberries alone in a field. As in taking helicopter rides. As in packing my bags for a quick trip to Savannah (riverboat ride? maybe. Tybee Island? definitely).

Monday, June 4, 2007

A Monday story

We ran underneath the helicopter blades like squirrels running for a tree trunk, dogs nipping at our furry heels. We scampered. We ducked and dodged. Flinging ourselves up the little step welded on the side of the helicopter, we tumbled into the back seats. They were small. We had to fold our long legs in as we fumbled with the seat belts. 'How the hell do you buckle this thing?' I thought. OK. Got it. I'm an idiot. I see Pat making sure the door is closed. I look at my door. It is plastic. I pull the handle to make sure it's closed because what if?

The roaring was deafening and we lift up. Straight into the air. We shimmy this way and that way then head out over the green grass. Where do I look? Up? Down? At the buzz cut on the back of the pilot's head? I look out the door window as the grass disappears and turns to trees. Tiny, tiny kids run around the ballfield as tiny parents sit in lawn chairs along the side. Poor kids. A blue trampoline is alone in a back -- or is it front? -- yard. I love trampolines!

There's Hendersonville! From this vantage point, it looks impressive! But I know better! Cars poke along as we soar above them, banking hard to the left. If my seat belt broke, I'd fall on that white car. Will my seat belt break? What happens if my seat belt breaks? I look at the pilot's head. He's not worried. There's no sweat. No shaking. OK.

Time to go back. It's been all of 4.5 minutes, but I'm ready. I see the green field approaching. Sure, I love taking off. Then, I love feeling suspended above everyone, like I have a secret to tell but even if I wanted to tell them, I couldn't. They couldn't hear me, so I keep it to myself, a smile on my lips, like Mona Lisa but with bangs. But, I admit that I have a surge of relief to see only the grass bending in a manic dance in the helicopter's wind and not a burning careening crash awaiting me. I love flying.