Follow Closely


I am, as they say, on the mend. Just about done being sick. Right after I finish watching “Demon Seed” starring Julie Christie (if you haven’t seen it, by all means get your queue in order)  I should be feeling good enough to get outside and maybe even try out my new Reebok Ankle Weights. They seem easy enough to set up don’t they?

I finally got my little sisters mailing address at basic training. They put the recruits on a news black out for two weeks and it is up to me to send her informative, encouraging messages in plain envelopes (no cards or unicorn stickers or glitter) and on plain paper. I wonder if it is a true news black out or if they just give them army news or fake news? I seem to recall her telling me that her friend who went through basic training for the Marines told her that his platoon was told that JLo had died during their news black out.  What a mean trick, eh? That’s how they break you down and make you a killer! JLo? She’s dead. You’ve got nothing to loose, nothing to live for now son! Hang on to this gun and shoot anything that reminds you of JLo.


Cold Prancing

I’m watching the part in “Working Girl” where Melanie Griffith has to quick get her sh*t out of Sigourney Weaver’s fancy apartment. Melanie doesn’t have time to cover up her strapless bra and high-waisted undies, she has to vacuum, NOW! There was a lot of panty prancing in 80s cinema, remember?

I myself am not prancing anywhere for the rest of the night. I’m suffering from a serious head cold brought on by the sneeze of a small child on Sunday, lack of sleep on Monday and Tuesday, and the general stress of starting two new classes in vastly different and dangerously unstable environments, oh and – I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from noise pollution from the row the couple downstairs has been having for the past two days and I think I’ve developed an allergy to the air conditioning vents in my company car, and maybe the cotton harvest is getting to me, and then there is the drop in temperature, and the irritation I feel towards Gretchen on Project Runway, and according to my wise coworker, I need to eat more beets.

I do have a box of Vicks-laced Kleenex. I wonder what Secret-of-My-Success go-getting mail-room clerk put those two ideas together and snuck it past the boss, was discovered by the CEO, got a giant promotion, and then married Harrison Ford.  In the movies it only takes one good smart business idea.


Half Pretty


From a garden in Tucscumbia, AL and part of my Rotting Flowers series.


The Key to (Murder) Getting By

I work in a nearly abandoned one-story office building in a nearly abandoned office park on the edge of the city where things get shipped to and fro.  In between all of the bustle of the shipping industry, people who work at and/or are trying to fly out of the airport are woven in the mix. It makes for bad street traffic and a stream of cargo trucks that are always spewing chunks of scrappy loads off at my windshield on my drive to work – they have signs on the back of them that say “Stay 200 feet back – not responsible for broken windshields” and I have a sign that I try to put in my windshield that says “Trying to get to work – not responsible for being forced to call that 1-800 number to report your inconsiderate driving! Sir! (or Ma’m!)”  But I might have to revise the wording because it hasn’t been that effective.

Our parking lot is really what I call a “picking lot” for people looking to pop a lock and grab a few items. My car remains untouched for some reason (maybe because the thieves can see the strongly worded sign mentioned above? I don’t know) but everyone else has had luggage, and license plates, and ipods stolen right in broad daylight. That leads me to believe it is our secretary or the sixty-year-old director of the non-profit looking for kicks (did you all hear that This American Life about Senior Citizens that  steal because the world has forgotten about them?), but the police have other theories.

Anyway – up until a few months ago we were the only business in the building. Times were tuff and no one could afford to rent office space even in the broken windshield side of town. Every once in a while we would get real life grifters coming in trying to run something like a fake UPS pick-up or purse repair scam. One of my coworkers had her pocketbook stolen while everyone sat at their desks.

Our safety and security expert came in from DC (we are an international non-profit) and determined that we should lock our doors at all times, including the doors to the lobby and to the bathrooms in the lobby.  He also told us, an office full of ladies, that we should not hang out at our cars after dark or wait outside of the office, in the abandoned office park after dark.

“Buddy system?” I asked and he said, “Exactly.” And I said, “Covered that in ‘82  -- got anything else new developing in DC?”

I mean we already have the office-park security guy in the blue and white 1994 Ford Ranger coming around every five hours with a cell phone flashlight and a rolled-up newspaper – we don’t need some fancy guy trained in security systems and three-button suits coming in and telling us we don’t know how to look out for each other.

So, even though I’m not sure how it cuts down on petty vehicle theft, everything is locked now from the front to the back, if you leave the office you take your keys. To use the restroom, we have two choices, both of them are out in the lobby. The lobby to this place is actually quite incredible and must have been something in the seventies (or any other time there was more than one building occupant): Wide open walkway, big, square terra-cotta colored tiles, palms and ferns, square couches, skylights – the whole thing.  One bathroom is the regular one-user bathroom and looks like your standard every-one-accessible situation. The other bathroom is tucked back in the far corner of the lobby near an ‘exit’ and across from a janitorial closet/wash basin and has a heavy wood door, a large old-fashioned sitting area with a dusty rose love seat and brown easy chair, and three miniature beige stalls. I titled this the Murder Bathroom for obvious reasons (isolation and proximity to exit, multiple hiding places, and industrial washbasin).

The title caught on and soon all of my professional colleagues were saying, “Hey – do you have the key to the murder bathroom?” “I need the key to the murder bathroom” and we would laugh and say “oh we could totally get murdered in that bathroom.” and “if I was going to murder someone I would murder them in that bathroom” and “look out so-and-so might come in there and murder you”. And that is how we dealt with our uncertainty about our safety and the economy and our job performance (and how I dealt with my authority/boss-murder fantasies – but I digress) but nevertheless we were dealing! Us, standing alone in this nearly abandoned office building in a nearly abandoned office park.

And then someone moved in next door. A Charter School (just the offices – not that actual school). Before you think “oh god, I can’t think of anything worse.” I have to tell you – you probably can’t think of anything worse. So this charter school moves in and they bring a decent sized-staff. We watched them move in and every time another woman came up to the door with her pencil and paper and desk trinkets we’d think “they better stay away from the murder bathroom” and out secretary/operations coordinator says, “We are the only ones with keys to that bathroom” – and we believe her.

The principal comes next door and introduces himself and tells us that the school is “all technological – no paper!” and that on weekends real professionals come “from the entertainment industry to teach filmmaking skills!” and I think “oh gawd – filmschool is the new beauty school” and two of us are impressed that they don’t have any paper but the rest of us are like, “We are too old for that shit – you know who isn’t using paper either? The fools that keep jacking our cars out in the parking lot!!”

So we don’t get too friendly with the Charter School people. They drop by every once in a while saying that they would like to work with us and we are all like, “We are an internationally recognized non-profit with proven results-based outcome-driven performance measures blahdittyblah - why would we want to work with you and your two-bit cover for free production equipment?”

Day by day the sheer amount of females using the regular rest room starts to take its toll. The toilet seat gets loose, the door gets locked from the inside for no reason, the sink overflows, and there are never any paper towels. We determine that the Charter School women are fat-ass toilet-seat-breaking-heathens and we start to exclusively use the murder bathroom. From time to time one of us tries the other bathroom and comes back with a horror story. So for the most part we stick with what is rightfully ours and things are ok.

And then yesterday, as I was leaving the murder bathroom, and I mean right as my hand went to touch the knob, I hear a key in the lock, I am speechless, dumbfounded, I don’t know if it is actually the person that has been observing us and somehow, at night when no one else was there, broke into our offices and made an imprint of the key, and was waiting for the right moment – the late afternoon when everyone is sleepy from Arby’s and work –to come and finally commit murder – I mean OF COURSE the murderer would have a key – because he could let himself in and get busy murdering while the only known keys to the place are locked inside with the victim and the murderer – so he could remain there until everyone left for the day and then dispose of the body probably with a very strong acid from the janitors closet - it is perfect! So that’s where my head is at so I don’t quite say anything but I push the door open and I immediately see that it is one of the Charter School women! The same one that I have seen standing outside talking on her cell phone with her thong tangled up in the back belt-loops of her jeans. I say, rather meekly, “oh – sorry” even though she is the one that should be explaining howtheF she got a key to our private sanctuary – but she doesn’t hear me because she is on her cell phone but she looks up, sees me and SCREAMS. A Bloooooodyblood screeeeeeech completely out of proportion to any kind of danger any human has ever been in. In fact I am sure there have been people that haven’t screamed as loud after being pushed off a skyscraper. And it scared the piss out of me and I got super mad about it because my heart nearly exploded.

When I got back to the office the secretary asked me “Are you alright? I actually thought you were getting murdered in the murder bathroom.” and I asked her if she heard that and she is like “uh yeah” and I asked her how one of the charter school people got a key and she said “I don’t know. I thought we were the only ones with the key.” And then I realized that our secretary is one of those people that makes stuff up and presents it as fact. And I realized that I can’t trust anyone. Not the people driving the cargo trucks on Airways Blvd, not the DC security, not my officemate, not the people pretending to trim the bushes out side, or the kids making sandwiches in the officepark Subway sandwich shop, and certainly not that secretary. She belongs with the liars and the screamers next door, she belongs in one of their movies.


General Admission





From the outside, Joe Davis Stadium in Hunstville looks a lot like a roller rink. It seats nearly ten thousand people in general seating – nearly half of those seats are bleacher style. There is no video jumbotron. No loud batting songs. No “stand up and make some noise” cheerleaders.

It was Thirst-Aid Thursday (Thirst-Aid Thursday claims to be the hottest singles night in the city by the way) when we walked in and the plainclothesed usher, an older gal, asked us “You with Charlotte?” (meaning the other team from Charlotte, not a lady named charlotte) and we said no we are from out of town and would be happy to cheer for the home team and she said “Oh I was wondering because I haven’t seen you two around here before.” 

And then we watched shopping cart races and it reminded me of living in the Cass Corridor.


Regreta Carbo

So I got around to reading the side effects of the medication my nerve doctor “put me on” (I get grossed out when people say that so I use the quotes to let you know I know that no body puts me on anything without my consent – unless we are talking ‘bout Ferris wheels) and the list includes everything from your usual dizziness, tiredness, homicidal feelings, leg tingling and whatnot but I was shocked, just shocked to see carbohydrate intolerance and a feeling of being mistreated on the list. I think I have been taking this medication my whole life! Just a mis-treated chip-eater!! That’s what it all boils down to. Ever. 

Needless to say I jumped off that med train. I only like pills that party. Who would I be without pain to complain about? Just a person with a job to complain about?  All of this recent trouble makes me think about how I got in this mix in the first place (the big C) and how annoying it is that there is a TV show called The Big C.  But, I’ll leave that alone cuz there are plenty of blogs that rant about tv  - although there aren’t many that could do it with the wit, insight, and academic qualifications that I have, I choose to let the chasers chase and I will continue with my important work here. With you. Right here.

Let me tell you about the skateboarder I saw in Overton Park. The one leaning over a picnic table not far from the veterans memorial wearing a dark t-shirt and full blue jeans. Sweaty and hunched over, concentrating on something - when I got closer to him I saw that he had blood coming from both of his ears – so he was probably concentrating on not falling the f*ck over.  Concrete intolerance. Maybe I had just missed an explosion.  I was looking at him super hard, like turned off my ipod, staring, might have even opened my mouth to say something. And I walked right by - not actually saying anything even though human decency would dictate a person should acknowledge if someone is bleeding from their head, maybe even offer help.  But maybe you have never seen someone in a park with blood coming out of their ears.

Let me tell you about how older people far removed from child-rearing talk to kids. Kids that are ten or eleven – a good three years into cussing and secrets from their parents. They say “Ooooh look at you in that school uniform! What did you think when they said you were going to have to wear a jacket and tie?” and “Maybe if you are good I will let you use my automatic key lock!”  and “I’ll let you make paper airplanes if you promise not to take them to school tomorrow.”

Let me tell you about how the weather broke open and the air finally moved – transformed from a six-month old kitchen sink sponge to swiffer duster sheet and we easy-breezed it all up for 14 innings of a 16 inning game. I’ll tell you about that later. I’ve got some leftover dizziness and carbohydrate intolerance to take care of.


The Dogs of Tuscumbia

Found on truck near fire and police station:


Admired in special display at Ivy Green (Birthplace of Helen Keller):




I see no reason why it’s wrong to wish bad things on other people.  Thousands of perfectly kind and productive humans get murdered, maimed, and cancerfied every day. Why can’t I try to suggest some better options for the Fairy of Horrible Fate?

You know why? Because many people are afraid of their thoughts and foolishly believe in karma.  My legitimate suggestions for disbursing harm and bad-luck put  giant cracks in their wall of repressed desire and bring reason to their retarded, avoidance-based interpretations of eastern religion.

You know who I respect? The pre-teens that called B up and told him that his Justin Bieber review was stupid, that he was old, probably couldn’t dance, and that he should get hit by a truck. That’s the kind of healthy, albeit not really in proportion to the offense, expression we all need to return to.

So, to the nurse who not only made me suffer through two ridiculously base conversations over the course of three hours, but never called me back to help me out with my migraine meds while I paced, suffered, and watched the zags go by – I hope your dinner tonight includes a parasite that toils inside your small intestine for six months, six months that you spend in the bathroom while your first born child learns to walk and you can’t see it even though you are only a room away, but your face is in the toilet, and you get a sore on your face (probably in the shape of a toilet) that never heals and is extremely painful and you run out of pain meds and no one ever, ever helps you and your husband never comes home from going to the store to buy butt salve for your ugly face. 

Even though the answering service is closed for the night (that’s how I know you aren’t going to call back), I hope you get this message because I am thinking it. All powerful thinking!!


Home from the Rickyard


This is how they make the charcoal for the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey mellowing process. Do you see the metaphor? A mile-high flame later contributes to a mellow experience.

I’ve been out of town. Before I went out of town I saw the transformer (as in the power supply box thing) blow up like a thousand dollar spree at an Arkansas fireworks outlet and all of the power go out on our block a few minutes before midnight. Seems everyone can’t be running air conditioners full throttle in hundred degree temperatures in 2010 – we should have had a block meeting and formed a cooling station in one our carports. It got crazy nutso hot in here. But that is enough about that – see my alternate blog titled “Hotter than the Hottest Sin” if you want to talk about Memphis heat.

While I was out of town I saw many things but the only thing sticking with me right now in the moments before sleep, aside from the Lynchburg Rickyards, is an overheard conversation between a Cracker Barrel waitress and the uglier half of an old couple. The woman (who did not appear to be of discerning taste - at least about fashion or hair-combing) asked the waitress several times how the baked potatoes were that evening and insisted that she was really, really picky about baked potatoes and could not, in good health, tolerate the sight of a grayed baked potato.

I would not order anything that I was that fearful of myself, but I guess age gives you that kind of courage.

I hope I can sleep. I hope I can get it out of my mind; grey baked potato, grey baked potato, grey baked potato, grey baked potato what color should you really be?


Wet Air Hot Heat What?

It might have been the moistest hottest day in Memphis yet. I wrote that sentence yesterday and I am glad I didn’t publish it until today because today might have been the hottest moistest day ever. This blog is about accuracy and this week is about a heatwave of tsunamic sweat proportions.

Last night I saw a (hilarious) comedy show in a bar with no air conditioning and that wasn’t even the funny part. I believe it is too hot for air conditioning to work anywhere there are more than four people gathered. So far, MAC-Donalds (that’s how they say it here so don’t trip), the post office, and my office are proving me right.

I talked with people all day about the weather because it is so interesting how more of us aren’t dropping dead.  One of my sweet senior citizen volunteers called me and when I asked her how she was handling the heat down there in the Delta she said “oooh Sara, I was out at my grandbaby’s school and it was so hot I got angry with myself – don’t you know I’m about to put myself in heaven!” Lord above I could listen to her read the numbers on a thermometer and be entertained for hours.


Hot and Busy

Nothing new.

  • I haven’t decided yet if I am going to try and see these g-d racing boats on the river today. We went yesterday and boiled in our pants and saw a trickling of jet skis and two people wearing life jackets setting up a giant bouquet of American flags on a little corner of Mud Island.
  • Makedas Butter Cookies
  • I’m following this minor league moniker madness contest. Hawkins Gebbers has my vote. But I do love Sharlon Schoop and Sequoyah Stonecipher (both in the same tough bracket).