Monday, October 26, 2009


I used to travel on business quite a bit. I never once took a trip that didn't end up being a little crazy in some way, but the nuttiest trip I ever took was to Boston. I won't go into all of the details here, but it did inspire me to write a song.

I've been neglecting both blogging and playing music lately, so maybe if I jot down the lyrics, it will count a little towards both.

I have issues with presenting song lyrics in my blog (refer to previous song lyrics post). But I've also found that the older I get, the worse I spell, the worse I edit, and the less I care, so I'm proceeding with that general approach toward the blog. It's this or nothing tonight.

(Funny thing: My band once played at Bottletree in Birmingham, and we opened with this song because it's very fast and energetic, kicking off with the boomwhackers in F and C. The show was a benefit for Black Warrior Riverkeeper, and it so happens that the president of the company I work for is also the father of the Riverkeeper, so he was there in the audience. I guess it was okay, because I still work there.)

The name of the song is Boston, but I like to call it the punkass song, just because it's fast as hell and we do it with a lot of attitude.

Flying underneath the stars into Boston / I had never seen constellations on the ground
I named them after the people I knew / One was Elizabeth, one was you
The lake was like a black hole pulling us into the runway / Into the runway
The drinks were a poor substitute for feeling genuinely better / Genuinely better
I dial 8 and then 1 and then your number / You're like the pen on the desk in the hotel
I just figure you're there for me

Crawling out of bed at six thirty in the morning / 23 degrees in the sun and the snow is
Blinding on the way to the big boardroom meeting / B-O-R-E-D, big boardroom meeting
Where the power is wielded in points on a white screen and we all ask our questions / All ask our questions
The strategy hovers like a preying mosquito, we will curse when it bites us / Curse when it bites us
I try to keep my shit together / I'm a professional, shit together
But I just want to go home

Too bad no one was there to see me step out of the stretch limousine
In front of the Days Inn / Pimping in Atlanta on a layover night
Three days later we're back again with the hot spring breakers
Wearing their flip-flops, wearing their fake tans / With their teeth as white as the snow up in Boston

Saturday, October 24, 2009

why i don't miss my microwave

I haven't had a microwave in years. Even after a friend gave us one during our move out here, I didn't use it, and it has since been dropped off at a donation site. It finally occured to me one day that it didn't take much longer to boil water on the stovetop than it did in the microwave, and pretty much everything that will cook in either an oven or a microwave tastes WAY better when it's cooked in an oven. I don't really do frozen dinners, and popping a potato into the oven is no more difficult than popping it into the microwave -- you just have to do it earlier.

Microwaves take up a lot of space, they're loud, and sometimes you put things in them that really don't belong. I mean, you would never throw a styrofoam container full of leftovers into the oven thinking, "If it doesn't cook for very long, it's okay, right?" And with a microwave, you can't always tell which plates are going to warm up nicely and which are going to burn the living crap out of you. Give me a good oven-to-table plate -- I know it'll burn the crap out of me every time. That's what pot holders are for. You wouldn't dream of removing anything from the oven without a pot holder, but how many times have you grabbed hold of that mug or bowl or plate in the microwave, expecting it to be hold-able, only to discover it's not?

We once threw a party at our old house in Roebuck Springs, and someone showed up with some sauce that was supposed to be heated in a microwave. When she discovered we didn't have one, she didn't know what to do. It reminded me of the time I was talking about my old 45s to a much younger friend, and he asked me what a 45 was. My eyes got really big and then I laughed. Not at him, but at the reminder that we all exist in our own cultural contexts.

I showed the party girl how to empty the sauce into a saucepan and heat it on the stovetop using a very low flame. Perhaps this will come in handy someday when she's lost in the wilderness of someone else's kitchen.

But the biggest reason I don't miss my microwave? Three words: red sauce splatter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

the joy of hugs from other people's children, and how not to make a sit-upon

This year, I decided to become co-leader of Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama Troop 449. Troop 449 shares its meeting time and space with another troop, so tonight the room was packed as we made sit-upons and square knots.

A sit-upon is like a stadium seat, and making one is very much like making a pillow. So much like making a pillow that I sort of forgot all about the idea of a stadium seat and pretty much started helping them make pillows. A pillow is best when it's very fluffy, and its seams are very tight. This is because your head doesn't support the weight of your entire upper body.

Imagine you're a sweet little brownie scout. You stuff fluff and newspaper into a plastic bag, so that it will be water proof. You don't intentionally stuff air into your plastic bag, but it's there, and you don't squeeze it out, because your co-leader doesn't tell you to. Your co-leader wants your pillow to be fluffy. You tie up the plastic bag, air and all. You put your plastic stuffing bag into your vinyl sit-upon after sewing three sides of the vinyl together. Your stuffing bag doesn't take up all of the space inside the vinyl, so your co-leader helps you tighten and gather your stitches around it. You now have a nice, fluffy, oddly-shaped pillow with air inside of it that can't escape, because you've tied it into the fluff bag. What you have is a balloon-pillow, really. For your butt. Which is all well and good until you actually sit upon it, which if you'll recall is the entire point.

The way I choose to imagine it is that most of the parents were too busy talking to all of the other parents to notice as their dear little brownies proudly sat their dear little butts upon their dear little balloon-pillows and blew them right out -- popped the seams off without even the satisfaction of a whoopie cushion-ish noise to turn it into a hilarious prank.

Now back up a bit, to when the girls selected their pieces of vinyl. Leah got the one piece that had something like 500 holes along the edges. WAY more holes than any other piece. She was very insistent that she use that piece, and began sewing it together. She asked for help only once, when her holes wouldn't align, and she stayed late to finish. By the time she was ready to stuff it, all of the blow-outs were old news. She knew to squeeze the air out, and I knew to leave her stitches alone. So she ended up with the best sit-upon of the bunch. It looks and feels just like a stadium seat. And suddenly I am aware that this could be bad for me. That this could appear as though I have pulled a classic cheerleader's mother's stunt, sabotaging all of the other girls so that my daughter appears to be the best. She even decided to finger knit a handle. Next thing you know, she'll be embroidering her name on the front and adding fringe along the edges.

So yeah, the parents might not appreciate my mad crafting skills (or Leah's), but I think their children actually like me. Several of them gave me happy little hugs, for no apparent reason other than the joy of hugging. Lucky for me, hugs are unbreakable.