Welcome to my day. No, no, don't get up. Would you like some tea? I think we have some Earl Grey around here somewhere. It's nice in the rain.

What are these little bits of shiny white powder driftng slowly down around me? Well, I'll tell you.



Because I'm going to grind them down to NUBS.


WHY?! I'll tell you WHYYYYYYY....

Because it's 12:16 my time. Just after midnight. And in less than six hours I will have to get up, and pick out clothes that Have Not Touched Cat Hair, and take a shower, and throw clothes for the next day in a bag with a toothbrush and a book or something. And then I will have to drive to ass-fucking Santa Cruz.

And I will get there by nine, so that I can pick up my wretched ex-roommate. And take her to the fucking dentist to have I don't know teeth pulled and drilled and blown up or something.

And then I will go back to her apartment and trade her in for my ex-girlfriend. And then I, and she, and her younger brother, will drive for ever until we come to Garberville, a town the size of my ASS HOLE.

But that's fine. Except that in Garberville, we will go to her mother's house. And her mother is a scary control freak, with sudden mood shifts, a vicious pot addiction, and icy blue eyes. She can be very charming, which annoys me all the more.

But that's fine. Except that the drive is so long that we're spending the night. In the living room of the scary woman's very small house.

But that's fine. Except that the scary woman physically, emotionally, sexually, and ritually abused my ex, and it's creepy to be around her knowing that, especially in her house, especially knowing how triggered my ex will be around her, and especially knowing that that will probably trigger my own codependent need to fix her which will just make me mad.

But that's fine. Except that I just looked at the server time and realized that Friday (or Saturday, depending on how you celebrate it) is freaking Lammas. My first reaction was (as usual) "Oh damnit, I forgot. How am I going to come up with a way to celebrate another Pagan holy day on such short notice?" My second reaction was "Oh,CRAP."

Because I know that some of her fucked up asshole mother's ritual abuse crap happened on Pagan holidays, (as well as Easter and her birthday and whatnot else) and I know that this was one of them.

I REALLY don't want to do this.

And it's not that anything's Going to Happen; it's more, in fact, that it won't. That on top of all of this horror there will be this warped plastic face of Acting Like The Good Kid and Faking the Nuclear Family and Being Nice In Front of The Kid and the Friend, and that The Kid knows (probably) nothing about any of this and the ex will have to use all this denial to get through it - denial and it-wasn't-that-bad and nothing's-going-to-happen and what-are-you-talking-about?-she's-not-that-scary.

If I had realized what day it was when I was asked in the first place, I would have said no. But I should have said no anyway because I wanted to say no at the time. I wanted to believe that the drive would be shorter and we could just go back the same day. I wanted to say I would bring their brother back, so that he could visit for a week and be away from their mom. ARGH.

okay! it's my older brother's 28th birthday today! i love being the little sister, sometimes... i get to taunt him mercilessly. ::grin::

but besides that, on the whole, i'm feeling *much* better than i was. still fighting with blood sugar, and a seemingly random resistance to insulin, but, hey, shit happens. i'll figure it out.

and most importantly, i'd like to thank three notable members of the community, today: MacArthur_Parker and Apatrix for sending me a chunk of change out of the bottoms of their hearts (i'm going grocery shopping for the first time in a month and a half, tomorrow!), and Myrkabah for remembering that he owes me an awful lot of money, and attempting to pay some of it back.

on the whole, an encouraging week, and one in which i have yet to kill anyone. still two days left, tho... ::smirk::

Some days you just can't help but talk about baseball, and don't worry, there were not any riots on the diamond last night. I'll try and keep it all positive, but when talking about the Boston Red Sox there's always that air of non-chicken counting.

Yesterday marked Major League Baseball's trading deadline. No more trades can be made, although minor leaguers can still be called up to the majors for another month or so. All the talk going around on various sports shows and the newspapers is that the Red Sox were the "Big winners" at the trade deadline. Of course, with my bias, I like to agree. General manager Theo Epstein did the one thing that the Red Sox have been lacking since as long as I can remember, built up their bullpen. While many of the Fenway Faithful were very irked to see Shea Hillenbrand leave the team, I have to admit that Byoung-Hyun Kim is pitching remarkably well as a closer. He was a great acquisition as the only team in the American League who has seen his funky side-arm delivery is the New York Yankees. As a closer, he sees very little "action" on the field, keeping him as an unkown to most teams. However, he was not the best acquisition.

Epstein managed to wrangle away Scott Williamson from the Cincinatti Reds and Scott Sauerbeck from the Pittsburg Pirates. I know, you're saying to yourself "Who the heck are these people?" These people are saving the Red Sox. These two men can gap the dreaded 7th and 8th innings if need be. Sauerbeck, a southpaw, is dominate against left-handed hitters. Fenway Park is rather friendly to leftys as they have no Monster to contend with on their side of the field, not to mention the shallowness of the right field wall.

The Bosox also picked up a fifth starting pitcher, Jeff Suppan. Let's forget about the fact that Suppan has a career ERA over 4.00, and a career record well under .500 (he's 59-71). Forget about all that, because Suppan is in one of the best years of his career. Currently 10-7, Suppan has an ERA of 3.57, kept his opponents batting average under 2.70 and has three complete games. Solid. And that's exactly what the Sox needed. A complement to their trio of Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield.

But will they win it all? There's still a good chance that the Red Sox, while greatly improved, might not make the playoffs. They're currently 3.5 games back of the dreaded New York Yankees in the division, and the Oakland A's are a mere game and a half back in the Wild Card. That spells trouble in Beantown as all this great wheeling and dealing could be all for nought.

However, there is one thing that the Red Sox's fans now have, hope. Instead of a poor general manager, who loved to make horrible trades and didn't treat the players well, like Dan Duquette did, we have a man already nicknamed Theo Ballgame. That's a nickname that sounds familiar to the faithful. Even if Boston doesn't shake the nastiness of past ghosts, there is always next season, and the season after.

Davidian's World Series Predictions:

I might as well stick my neck out early so the beisbol fans on this site can rib me now. My pick for the World Series is the Boston Red Sox (You didn't expect anything else did you?) and the Atlanta Braves. Yeap, an all Boston World Series (the Braves used to be the Boston Braves back in the day, before moving to [Atlanta, Georgia|Hotlanta). The Braves are a hot team, and the only other team I see giving them any sort of contention is the San Francisco Giants. Currently, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros are the other two teams from the NL to be involved in the playoffs. I don't think either team compares to the Giants or red hot Braves, who own the best record in the majors. However, we have to wait until October to find out. I hope Boston can handle the party :^)

Cicadas: I first became aware of them in 1996 when I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Alexandria, Virginia. "What the hell is that mechanical sound that's been going on for three hours?" I wondered.

I don't think we had those in Utah. We had crickets. Cicadas are so Christmassy with their jolly fat green bodies and their fake-looking buggy red eyes. I have read that cicadas "drone," but I wouldn't agree with that. It's definitely a mechanical, or electrical -- an electro-mechanical sound. Imagine a robot endlessly winding a watch while being dissolved in acid.

As you can probably tell, I really like them. Here in Kentucky I'm surrounded by them all summer. If you don't have cicadas at your home or place of business, try some today!

Helping friends unload a decadent scarlet sofa behind a consignment store, I witness a situation which seems a scenario out of a Marcel Dzama painting, come to unruly life:

A cloaked man in a wheelchair, smoking, directs a cowgirl, ineffectively affixing stars on a stucco'd back-alley wall with a staple gun.
Arkansas at night, at the cusp of July, is the loudest place in the world. Cicadas, katydids, crickets, bugs of every description in a Halleluia Chorus of fecundity and territorialism. My cousins Sparks and IRONS2358, his wife WooWoo, Noteponymous, and I had been called there to bury my grandfather, and Notepo could not sleep for the noise, the heat, the humidity, and the stresses of emotionally supporting me and our child, and meeting the Inlaws. Sie hadn't met 90% of my family before, even though we've been married for more than a decade.

We drove down in a single day and night, eighteen hours of interstates, accidents, road constuction, dead possums, and increasing heat. Minieponymous was a trouper, this hir first real road trip. Of notable incidents on the road, there were few (a moment of luck where choosing to cut west instead of east around Des Moines saved being caught in the logjam of traffic behind a single-vehicle rollover, astonishingly bad service in a combination KFC/Taco Bell two establishments that, IMHO, should not be joined together, getting lost in a small town in the middle of the night when there wasn't even a cop around to flag down for directions).

The day before the funeral was an unplanned parade of visitations, meetings with family, seeing Grandma. Seeing Grandma. Heartbreaker. She has Oldtimer's, and all she wants to do is go home. But like Lou Reed said, {She} is home. You see, the small neccessary fiction the family used to get her to accede peacefully to the home was that she needed to help take care of Grandpa. She started backing before his body lost the last of its warmth.

Warmth. Grandpa was not what you'd consider a conventionally warm person. I learned something, after his death, that changed forever my attitude toward my mother. (And my mother-problems, cliche that it is, have been a major motivating force in my psyche for the span of my life. It's only recently that I've started to learn that I'm not a complete failure, that mistakes are not the end of hope, that perfection is by definition impossible.) What did I learn? That out of the entire family, even considering the successes of some of us (one cousin owns a gold mine in South America, for example), the two he respected the most were IRONS2358 and I, because we followed our own path no matter what, and chose being true to ourselves even when it cost us dearly in the conventional sense. He loved the black sheep.

Ever been to a Southern Baptist funeral? They suck. The closest the preacher came to saying anything about Grandpa was a tale of how he (the preacher, not Grandpa) was a hellraiser in his youth. Then came a diatribe about how their god said hat salvation is in faith, not reason, so using your mind or questioning doctine was a sin. Then they open the coffin lid, and everyone in the church files by, looks at the body, shakes the preacher's hand, and thanks him for the sermon. I was holding together until Grandma walked by and took her last look at her husband, the man she'd been married to since she was fifteen, raised two children, migrated to California and back, traveled the country, and, in the end, spent the last few years in one room with, playing cards from sunup until going to bed at sunset. She looked so lost, adrift in a world where most people are strangers.

Grandpa had lost a lot of weight before his death, but, when we carried the coffin, it didn't seem to matter - it was heavy, as if each of his years weighed three kilos.

The only part of the trip that tasted at all like a vacation was the three hours we spent (we being almost the entire family) shooting off fireworks. Arkansas fireworks are not the same as Minnesota fireworks. Even the small cones shoot balls of fire into the air, where they explode, throwing sparks out over the dry forest. When we were setting up, some of us were setting off bottle rockets, and my cousin exploded one right under my ass while I was squatting down loading a bundle of rockets into a tube. Half an hour later, we were setting up a double mortar shell display. We counted off, one, two three, and my fuse took right away.

His didn't.

This year, there was a brand of mortar that was recalled. As he tried to light his fuse, about six feet away from my tube, my mortar failed and exploded in the cardboard tube. You know how big they look in the sky? You should see what a groundburst look like.

He wasn't hurt, but when he could hear again (about fifteen minutes later), I told him it was karma for the ass blaster.

The next day, we left town. As we reached the county line, the radio played a threefer from the Grateful Dead. As they sang of the road, the distant highway that you'll have to walk alone, the tears that had been leaking for days came full force, salt pouring into my mouth, trees blurred into a single mass.

Gorgonzola does America in a Month

Day 2: to South Bass Island to Mackinaw City: Long portage through Michigan

(Day 1)

So the alarm goes off, it's 8:00 AM and I'm in a strange hotel room, a little threadbare. I look out the window and see open water, across a drained swimming pool. But not familiar water. It hits me: I'm in Ohio. That's Lake Erie out there. The glaciers from the last Ice Age forgot to replace a big divot and it filled up with rainwater. Later some people came along and nearly killed everything in it. The hotel's threadbare because they're about to tear it down.

Fortunately, my room in this doomed hotel comes with a critical amenity: A coffee-maker, capable of brewing up the stuff that lets me stop thinking of the world in those terms. But I still want off the island. Properly cleaned and caffeinated, I pay my bill (probably the last person to ever do so), catch the bus to the ferry,

OK, ok, I see I took pictures on the ferry ride back, so I must not have been that grumpy two years ago today. Getting back to my car in the ferry parking lot, I see it didn't have a window smashed in, as one of the previous occupants of the spot did. Stop at grocery store, get stamps and something to eat, and mail postcards.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the postcards. One ritual I tried to maintain throughout the trip was to mail postcards from interesting places such as Put-in-Bay. Recipients included immediate family members (i.e. parents), relatives I would stay with on the trip, plus a noder or two.

In my greaat wisdom, I decided to avoid the Ohio Turnpike toll on the last 20 miles to Toledo. This involved taking Ohio 58 to US 20, to the bottom of Interstate 280 just southeast of Toledo. Surprisingly, Northwestern Ohio reminded me of Maryland's Eastern Shore: flat farmland with occasional woods and run-down gas stations. All in all, I probably drove an extra half-hour to save $1.50.

Toledo presented me with my first taste of serious road construction on the trip. I-280 was being rebuilt, with a high cable-stayed bridge over the Maumee River, the largest highway project in Ohio history. (A search of Web archives indicates that the bridge is still under construction as of this writing, because ODOT had to abandon a complicated gantry system of feeding bridge sections across the river). Construction made for breathtaking road diversions and more than one backup as three lanes funneled into one. Driving I-93 through Boston in the middle of the Big Dig was easier. Eventually, I exited onto US 23 and headed on up into Michigan.

About halfway to Ann Arbor, Michigan presented me with another taste of heavy road construction. MDOT had decided to repave US 23 by alternately closing northbound and southbound lanes an hour at a time. So, I sat for an hour with a couple of thousand other cars, waiting my turn.

Moving again, it was interesting to watch the entire paving process spread out over several miles: demolition, re-grading, rebar, and the use of giant paving machines to pour the concrete. I was behind schedule, so I skipped the delights of Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City. I stopped only for fuel in KawKawlin just north of Bay City. The Northern Michigan accent is striking, almost like the accent foisted on the faux Minnesotans in the movie Fargo.

The only other stop before Mackinac City was a scenic overlook from which you could see Lake Michigan. This was also the last place I had any reception on my cell phone for quite some time.

Mackinaw City is at the extreme northern tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and has three reasons for existence:

  1. The Mackinaw Bridge, gateway to the Upper Peninsula.
  2. A park dedicated to the first European settlement in the area, Michilimackinac, complete with a reconstructed fort.
  3. A staging point for tourists taking the ferry to Mackinaw Island, tourist trap extraordinaire.

I had a good time wandering around the reconstructed fort and buying books about it and the bridge, but as you already know, I'm always ready for a boat ride.

My first impression of Mackinaw Island was: Horseshit. Literally. There are no automobiles on the island, and a lot of newlyweds who enjoy being carried in horse-drawn carriages. And so the pungent aroma of equine leavings was the first thing to hit me when I stepped off the ferry.

Dinner consisted of overpriced scallops past their prime at the Chippewa Hotel (the wine didn't help any). I headed right for the ferry afterwards. The last impression I had of Mackinaw Island was...you guessed it.

I felt a bit more human after a few minutes on the water, and got an excellent shot of the bridge just before the boat reached the mainland.

(Day 3)

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