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Archive for the ‘Difficulties’ Category

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing recently.  Partially because I’ve been reading Lilibet’s book, and partially because I’ve been reading a lot of everything recently.  I know I’ve said it before, but I love to read, and I like to write.  I got the new Kindle recently, just the regular paperwhite, without the 3G.  This replaced the nook I have had forever.  My nook was the most basic and original nook, and we had a good run.  She still turns on, but the battery dies randomly, and when it dies, it reverts back to the factory settings and demands to have a software update before it will do anything useful like download a book, which is frankly unacceptable.   I obtained my first ipad, ever, this past Christmas, and I did a lot of reading on the ipad, however, the ipad is absolutely not summertime activity friendly, plus, reading on lit screens at night is suppose to cause insomnia.

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This is where I was going to sit and eat my lunch.

I have been on an intense reading kick*, and I’ve been checking books out from the library on my kindle.  Checking library books out on my kindle makes me happier than I can adequately express.  The tricky part though, is that you have to wait in line for certain books, and then you only have 14 days to read them before you have to give them back.  This is excellent justification for why I might have to stay home and finish a book instead of going out and interacting with real people.  Anne Helen Peterson (who I have a serious crush on) has an excellent article on the subject of obsessive reading.  It never occurs to me to stay home and write, and it is much more difficult for me to get lost in writing than in reading.  

My desire to write has more to do with this deep seated belief that we all need a creative outlet, a strange fear of being exclusively a consumer, and because it feels like something that I should be doing. My fear of being a consumer is not rational and does not apply to any other area of my life.  If it did, I would be compelled to be a member of the church choir and have a vegetable garden and take an art class and cook a lot more than I do.  It’s not like I’ve never done these things, I have, and I enjoyed them.

I am not under any delusions that I will ever write a novel or that my writing is adding significantly to the world. My love of reading is deeply ingrained, it is my primary mental escape, and I sincerely appreciate writers.  I guess it is similar to the intense desire of a foodie to learn how to cook, or the little kid that is obsessed with the Braves who goes out for little league, or the kid obsessed with whatever broadway musical is currently cool trying out for the school play.

I also think of it as an exercise in self reflection, and that the exercise in and of itself improves me as a person.  Sort of like jogging, or yoga, or any athletic endeavor makes your body feel stronger and better, writing improves my mentality.  My real job is almost exclusively writing, but it’s a different sort of writing.  It’s easy to blame my lack of writing to the fact that I write all day at work, but work doesn’t prevent me from writing insanely long emails on a daily basis and texting and gchatting for hours at a time, so this is pretty flimsy excuse.

I recently obtained a childhood psychological evaluation of 11 year old Charlsie.  I can not tell you how entertaining it is to read psych evaluations of your childhood self.  The test results document that at some point in my education I mastered the ability to read, while failing to learn how to write, and that by the fifth grade, I was reading at a 12th grade level, and I was writing at a 2nd grade level. Apparently this is a significant discrepancy in ability.   I was noted to have something called a “performance deficit” as opposed to a learning disability, attributable to my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that inhibited my ability to attend to details and to organize my thoughts for effective transfer to paper.  

From what I can tell, this means I couldn’t write worth a damn.  It’s almost hilarious that I now essentially write papers for a living. Eventually, I learned how to write (I think). I passed two bar exams, and they let me graduate from law school, so that’s encouraging. I remember fifth grade being a particularly difficult grade, but I remember most grades being difficult until I got to high school.  

Sometimes I wonder how difficult my life would be if I was unable to use a computer and I was dependent on my handwriting for written communication.  I see a good bit of childhood disability applications, and I read a lot of school records and psych evaluations and achievement testing results.  I think people get confused about how difficult it is to learn how to read and write, and don’t appreciate that everyone learns differently and at a different pace. Most of us learned how to read and write at an age where it felt effortless, and we can’t remember the actual struggle required to master the skills. (I’m not going to talk about math, because, ugh, let’s just not talk about it.  Unless you want to talk about Geometry, which I loved, because it involved words.)

It’s like driving a car, or riding a bike.  I recently brought my bike back to Charleston from Augusta, where my bike had been living.  I haven’t ridden a bike in a long time, and I’m deathly afraid of getting hit by a car.  But, growing up, I rode my bike everywhere for years, and I felt great satisfaction in my ability to navigate intersections and balance and take on curbs and gnarly sidewalks, and it did not frighten me.  I stopped riding my bike when I learned how to drive.  Learning how to drive was a skill I put off as long as possible.  I made excuses for why I didn’t want to drive, I was scared of my mom’s car, I was tired, I would start driving tomorrow. But the truth was driving scared the everliving daylights out of me, and I didn’t want to learn how to drive.  I wanted to be the DJ in the front seat. I remember having a particularly hard time with right turns, which is real stupid.  I thought left turns were easier.  I also had a complete inability to back out of a driveway.  

I’m still not clear how I passed my driver’s test, but I did, and then I had a pretty terrific wreck six months later involving, of course, a right turn.  Now, I consider myself an excellent driver, I haven’t had a significant wreck since that ill fated right turn in the spring of 1997, and I’m having to re-teach myself my biking skills and re-gain that confidence. Learning how to read, write, ride a bike, and drive a car tend to be pretty mandatory life skills.  But if they weren’t mandatory, I might have turned out to be an excellent reader who couldn’t write and had to walk everywhere.  I wonder what other skills I might possess if they were mandatory.

*My recent literary consumption includes: The Abominable, The Secret History, Into Thin Air (I’ve been super obsessed with Everest as of late), The Bone Season, Play Dead, Box Girl, The Handmaid’s Tale, We Were Liars, Me Before You, and I just started The Vacationers.  I tried to read The 5th Wave, but I found it too depressing.  I think I may be over dystopia for the foreseeable future.

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Getting back to real life has been more difficult that I anticipated.  It’s been six weeks and one day since my surgery, and I’ve been back at work for more than three weeks.  I may have hit the ground a little aggressively, but there were some things I could not help. I could not help that I HAD to go see Libby run in the New York Marathon the first week in November.  It’s not my fault that it got cancelled last year. Libby had to train twice, and the least I could do was rebook my trip.  Plus, I really wanted to go, and I needed to see Betsy and Andrew and meet sweet baby Cash.  I can’t help it that being in New York necessitates a lot of walking.  Going to New York left me in the Boot for an extra week, but I was able to get around surprisingly well, and I don’t think the extra boot walking caused any lasting damage.

I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of music this month, which I was not expecting.  The first weekend I was back in Charleston, someone gave me a ticket to the Robert Earl Keen show at the Charleston Music Hall, at the last minute, so I had to go to that.  Then Michael Franti was at the Music Farm and I went with my sweet friend Anita.  Finally, The Avett Brothers played at the Coliseum last week, and those tickets were purchased this summer.  All three shows were fantastic.  I’ve seen REK and The Avett Brothers at the Georgia Theater, and it’s hard to compare any show to a Theater show, but the Charleston Music Hall is a really cool venue if you ever get a chance to see it, and the Avett Brothers are a completely different band than they were in the Georgia Theater days.  When I first saw the Avett Brothers in 2007, it was three guys, and the entire show was high energy Bluegrass Ska music.  Now there are seven or eight band members, and it’s a much more professional production.  It’s nice to watch a band grow up.  The show last week was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.  It was well paced, with lots of old music, and lots of new music, and we stood up the entire time.  The only thing I did not understand was the couple with the baby in the Bjorn in front of us.  Or the other couple with the two boys, aged maybe four and six.  The two boys were clearly miserable, with the four year old plugging his ears the whole time.  How is that fun for anyone involved?  And they stayed almost the entire show.  It’s not normal for kids to stay out til 11 on a school night, right?

Speaking of music, I’ve been enjoying the new Katy Perry album.  Hate all you want, she’s fun.  Also, I love Eminem.  I tolerate Rihanna when she is playing with Eminem.  I love that this new song is about seeming crazy.  I realized the other day that a casual observer would think I spend all day talking to myself.  But the reality is that not I’m talking to myself, I’m talking to the inanimate objects around me.  Example, I’m pulling sheets out of the dryer, and they are not dry,  “Dude!  You aren’t dry at all!  Look at this, you’ve gotten all wadded and tangled up, you are never going to dry that way.  Get back in there.”

The weather has been crazy, yesterday it was 83 degrees, 90% humidity.  This morning it was 50 degrees, 60% humidity, with winds 20 mph.  The former is a lot hotter than you’d think, and the latter is a lot colder than you’d expect.  I’ve completed all of the levels of candy crush, and now we wait for an update.  In television news, you should be watching The Blacklist.  That is the only new television show I can definitely vouch for as amazing.  If you watch Homeland and Scandal, you should be reading this weekly blog series The Heroine Watch.  It definitely enhances what otherwise has been a season of extremely depressing and upsetting story lines.

I can’t wait until I can run and go to yoga and play tennis again, I’m hoping to be able to start doing more in the next couple of week.  I’ve been walking a mile in the morning and a mile at night, and standing up at my desk during the day, and I’ve been able to do that with occasional pain.  The range of motion in my ankle is limited in all directions, but I believe that it is getting a little better every day.  I still have some numbness in my big toe and on the outside of my heel, but the scar is healing well.

Until then, Briscoe and her pink gorilla are making sure my yoga mat feels loved.

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Briscoe was initially confused this morning during our walk, she’s never seen the Fort Sumter building closed.

So, the government shut down and I’m one of the 800k non-essential personnel who were sent home yesterday around lunchtime.  Since then, I’ve been completely incapable of making a decision.  First, I decided I was going to wander around downtown Charleston and play tourist.  Then, when I got home, I realized that I had all this nervous energy about being unemployed and the government not working correctly, and I couldn’t calm down about it, so I cleaned out my pantry and my refrigerator.  Then I peer pressured some friends to meet me for happy hour and hamburgers last night.  I’m not entirely sure why I got so strung out – the federal employees who are working aren’t getting paid until this fiasco comes to an end, and those of us who aren’t working could also get paid.  So a ton of people are in the same boat, and I truly believe that the government can’t stay shut down, and that it will all work out. I think I just didn’t anticipate being upset about it, and it made me realize how much I really love my job, and all I want is to do my job and get paid for doing my job, and it’s confusing to get sent home.  That being said, no one should feel sorry for me, I’m not going to starve, I don’t need to apply for bankruptcy, my dog is not concerned.

But once we got home, she decided she didn't care that much and got back in bed.

But once we got home, she decided she didn’t care that much and got back in bed.

I had a lot of big plans today, I was going to clean out my closet, and go out for a wander and maybe make friends with some tourists, and take some stuff back to Target and get supplies.  None of that has happened.  I’ve watched a great deal of CNN.  I never watch the news.  I like to read news.  The people talking on television and arguing grate on me and I generally can’t tolerate it.  But this is a special situation, and I’ve been watching a lot of news.  I flip around, because I do like to hear different sides, and I think most media outlets are spinning me a opinion, but I’ve watched more CNN than anything else.  And I’ve learned a lot through this experience.

I’ve learned that the biggest concerns for the people who watch CNN during the day, according to advertising, are 1.  “blood flow” problems of the sexual nature; 2.  picking a nursing home for an aging parent, 3.  life alert systems for old people who aren’t interested in a nursing home; 4, low “T”, and 5.  the best biological drug for rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.  And Wolf Blitzer is pretty feisty.  And I like the blond girl who reports from congress.  Clinton and Newt Gingrich are both aging better than Obama and W.  There is something about Ted Cruz’s face that really freaks me out.  I can’t put my finger on it.  Does he look like he’s made of wax?  Is that what it is?  Like you could make a statute of him out of fondant.  I know that doesn’t make much sense, and maybe it’s his mannerisms.  It’s like he moves as though he’s watching himself in the mirror.  Or like he can see himself on a live video feed.  I do have to hand it to the guy, he’s been super effective in accomplishing his goals, in a situation where no one else seems capable of accomplishing anything.  My approval and opinion of John McCain has never been higher than it is right now.  I want to give John McCain a big hug and buy him a drink.  Does he drink?  Did you see the article about how everyone on capital hill smells like booze?

Who do you think the girl is on the Obamacare homepage?  She’s been on the news more than anyone.  I hope she’s happy with the photo.  I thought Obama’s comment about comparing the webpage to the apple website was pretty interesting.   I got on verizon today to see about ordering the new iphone, I have an upgrade.  It’s backordered until November 11th.  I find that sort of unacceptable.  By the time I buy a new iphone, they are going to be talking about the new one.

Due to indecision, Briscoe and I spent a lot of time today sitting on the front porch.  It was a beautiful fall Charleston afternoon.  The strongest impulses possessing me today are the desires to eat and buy thing.s, Denise said that the government’s irresponsibility is triggering desires to be irresponsible.  At high tide, Briscoe and I went and watched the dolphins.  I anticipate my evening plans to including some pasta and wine, and tomorrow is a new day for congress to get it together.  Stay classy, my friends.

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Adelante is a Spanish word that means to “go forth” or “forward” and can be used as an interjection to mean “come in” or “go ahead.”  The Adelante is my friend Dan’s sailboat, and Dan has been gracious enough to invite me sailing on several occasions.  The Adelante has provided many long afternoons of laughter and happy times out on the water.

The Adelante, Race Week 2008

An intact Adelante being transferred from land to sea in 2012.

I love this photo of Meghan!

I think this is my favorite Adelante photo, complete with Meghan looking good on the mast.

High times on the high seas, Memorial Day, 2013.

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The Happiest Hour

“Have you already left your house? Slight change in plans, I’m going to come pick you up, be outside in five minutes.” Five minutes later, I was sitting on the curb on the corner of my street.  It was Friday afternoon, and I had escaped work early to join in a happy hour sail for Edie’s birthday.  Dan had the Adelante all ready to go at the city marina on Lockwood, and we were going to leave Edie’s car at the Yacht Club on East Bay.  The plan was to sail around the harbor, and dock at the Yacht Club.  It was a perfect day, with a perfect breeze.

Friday, August 8, 2013, the Adelante is ready to set sail.

Friday, August 9, 2013, the Adelante is ready to set sail.

When Dan picked me up, I suggested that we stop at the Harris Teeeter and pick up some champagne for Edie’s birthday.  He assured me that he already had two bottles in the cooler on the Adelante.  Dan is smart like that.  Edie and her brother, Brooks, were waiting on us in the parking lot of the yacht club.  I was wearing my favorite patagonia dress, and Edie said she was glad I decided to go with “sailboat cocktail” attire.  In no time, we were at the city marina, setting sail with a cold beer and a perfect breeze. I’m very much a sailing novice, but it is something I would like to learn to do.  There are a list of things I feel like you should know how to do, most of which I do not know how to do.  Drive a stick shift, sail a sailboat, clean a fish, apply a tourniquet, start a fire without matches, land a plane.  You know, life skills.  I do know how to call 911. 

When it comes to sailing, I have this fear of over correcting and knocking the sailboat over, which Dan has repeatedly assured me is not going to happen.  He says the worst that would happen is that I could knock some people into the water.  I related a story of my mother requesting that I use a life vest at all times, and Dan assured me that we had plenty of life vests in the cabin, but that he did not anticipate anyone needing one. The cooler had a couple cans of Gosling’s Dark and Stormy, and I remarked that Dan was the first person to introduce me to the Dark and Stormy.  Brooks assured me that Dan introduced the entire city of Charleston to the Dark and Stormy, and that Dan single handedly convinced all the bars that not having ginger beer available was unacceptable, and that we all have Dan to thank for the availability of this summertime staple. The conditions were perfectly breezy but the water calm, and I ended up at the helm, steering.  Everyone tried to talk me through how to head into the wind, or fall off, and a lot of other terms I still haven’t grasped, but I’m working on it.  I tried to “feel” the wind and to watch the little arrow at the top of the mast, and I tried in vain to catch the giant cargo ships in the harbor.  I was instructed on the optimum amount of boat tilt, and tried to get my sea legs.  

The trick to being at the helm, is figuring out a way to not get distracted.  It went something like this – I would get comfortable in my abilities, and start feeling confident –

Edie:  “Did you see that?  Over there?”

Me:  “Where?”

Dan:  “Charlsie!  Look Alive! What are you doing?!  Head up!  Fall off!  Agghhh!”

Me:  “Gah!  I got it!  I think, wait, I’m doing it wrong, hang on, I just spilled my beer everywhere.  Are we going to hit that boat in front of us?”

Regardless, I did well enough where no one took away my steering privilege, and when we got out past Fort Sumter and turned around, I got to yell, “Prepare to come about!  Coming about!”

Fort Sumter from the Adelante.

Fort Sumter from the Adelante.

And we turned around with no problems!  Sailing back into the harbor was easier, and Dan handled the docking of the Adelante.  It was all in all a very successful sail.  After the sail, we walked across East Bay to Edie’s friends Bo and Anne’s  house, and participated in some porch sitting, and then some kitchen congregating.  Edie left with her car to go to the mexican restaurant for Birthday Dinner, and Bo was nice enough to take Dan, Brooks, and me to the city marina to get Dan’s car. When we got to Dan’s car, we realized the keys to the car were on the boat, so we had to go by Dan’s house and get his spare set.  This was no big deal at the time.  Once we had Dan’s car, we met Edie and company at the mexican restaurant for a delicious meal.  We all went home happy and full of good food and good times.

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“If You Haven’t Run Aground, You Haven’t Been Around.” – Old sailing maxim 

Saturday afternoon, Brooks and Edie were at the beach out on Sullivans, around station 28 1/2.  Dan appeared seemingly out of nowhere, from the tidal pool.

Edie:  “Dan!  What are you doing?  Where did you come from?  Who are you with?”

Dan:  “See that commotion off shore?  The fire and rescue boat?  I was out there, and now I’m here.  Can I use your cell phone to call the coast guard?”

Turns out, the Adelante set sail on Saturday with Dan and three other friends for a fateful final voyage.  Through a series of unfortunate events, more than half a mile of the coast of Sullivans, the Adelante hit a sandbar, and the rudder broke off, and in the process of escaping the sandbar, an unknown structural imperfection was exploiting in the 35 year old boat, resulting in a crack in the keel, and a short time later the Adelante went down. Dan says that there is a persuasive technical argument to be made that the Adelante did not, strictly speaking, sink.

She just fell over.

She just fell over.

And took on some water.

And took on some water.

All crew members were left on the sandbar, in four feet of water. It was too far to swim, but a kiteboarder was able to drag all four crew members to the beach.  The news picked up the story.  I’ve been singing the Gilligan’s Island song for days.  A three hour tour, a three hour tour. http://www.wistv.com/story/23117498/stranded-boaters-saved-by-kiteboarder-off-sullivans-island?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9191035.  

The important thing to remember is that no one was seriously injured (one crew member required stitches for a leg injury), but it was a sad day. Remember Friday night when we went to get Dan’s spare set of keys from his house?  Um, yeah, so that meant that on Saturday, both sets of Dan’s key were on the Adelante.  And the Adelante was upside down, drifting into Breach Inlet.

The tourists in this photo are classic.

That’s not Dan in the foreground, in case you were wondering. Those are classic, unidentified tourists.

Shockingly enough, the dry bag washed up on the beach, along with several other personal possessions that went down with the boat, and the keys were recovered along with a couple of cell phones.  The water bottle I left in the cooler of the boat on Friday did not survive the wreckage.   Sunday, Dan and George were left with the grime task of watching the recovery of what was left of the Adelante.

Sunday recovery of the Adelante.

Sunday recovery of the Adelante.  George was there for emotional support.

Presumably a bad time to ask about the sunglasses and water bottle I left on board Friday afternoon.

The former home of the 1200 lb keel.

The former home of the 1200 lb keel.

The Friday after her last sail, the many friends of the Adelante gathered at Salty Mike’s for a farewell happy hour in memory of all the great times, and to thank Dan for sharing her with us. We all raised a Dark and Stormy in tribute, and felt lucky to have spent time on such a beautiful old boat!

Salty Mike's D & S

Salty Mike’s D & S

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Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, man, I’m feeling like a craft project? I really never do. And reading about craft projects on a lot of blogs and especially pinterest is frustrating. Because, let’s face it, people are lying when they tell you it was super cheap, super easy, and didn’t take any time. Maybe two out of three might be sometimes possible. But if it is cheap, it wasn’t easy, and it definitely took a long time. Christy is good at being honest about how long something took, and I promise you that her arts and craft skills are in the top 2 percentile of people under the age of 50. Unless you grew up in South Georgia and have a lot of patience, you shouldn’t attempt most internet DIY projects. Especially if the alternative is going to cost a lot of money. Like refinishing furniture. I know you don’t want to pay for it, but really, it’s not worth the heartache. Suck it up and pay the money, and cut corners somewhere else.

I want to be the sort of person with a tastefully decorated house that exudes my own personal style and actually looks “finished.” I also want to be the sort of person who makes up her bed every day and knows where the extra batteries are in her house. The sort of person who doesn’t run out shampoo or paper towels or dog food. The person with the clean car, who didn’t spill coffee on their shirt on the way to work, with the brushed hair, the right make up. The girl with the immaculate office and painted (not chipped) nail polish. If this person actually exists (I have my doubts).

It is hard to look finished, but when you’ve been to a truly finished house, you can tell. My life and my house have not been finished in a long time. Being finished is expensive, and requires nice fabric, well framed artwork, window treatments, throw pillows, the right accent pieces. These things can feel overwhelming, and time consuming. Plus, it is easy to get away without being finished.

For some reason the crafty urge hit me last week, and I really wanted to make window treatments for my living room. This is something I’ve been considering for a long time, but life is expensive. When I found out I was moving to Charleston, I had exactly ten days to wrap up my life in Augusta before I started work. Obviously wrapping up life takes more time than that. I was short on time, short on cash, and short on emotional stability. I had only owned my house for about 18 months, and most of my cash savings had been eaten up in the buying and fixing up process of house purchasing.

My old couch had seen better days and weighed about a bazillion pounds. The junior league took it off my hands. I had to find a renter for my house, and find a place to live in Charleston. I found my apartment through a series of frustrating disappointments, and I was able to negotiate down to a price I thought I could afford. I moved down here with a love seat and two pretty comfy chairs, but no ottoman and no real couch. I said I would get a real couch when I got my feet back under me. When I say things were tight, I mean I couldn’t afford to pay the pet fee and my security deposit all at the same time, so Briscoe had a wait a month to come to Charleston.

Due to a series of unfortunate expensive events (unanticipated expenses for the house in Augusta, having my appendix taken out resulting in unanticipated medical bills, my old trusty car finally dying and having to buy a car) that first year in Charleston was a doozie. I honestly don’t remember a lot about it, but I do remember that my dream of a new couch was not currently on the horizon. I was in survival mode with austerity measures. I didn’t have internet, and I had the most basic cable. At least swimming in the ocean was free.

After my first year, I sold my house in Augusta, I got a big raise, and I had a roommate for about six months. I was able to join a gym and go to yoga more often. I could afford internet and real cable. I felt like I could breath again. The shower pan in my bathroom broke, and my landlord evicted me for three weeks in August and renovated my entire bathroom. Being evicted was worth not paying rent for a month and the end result of a fantastically new bathroom in the place of previously vaguely creepy old bathroom. But still, no couch. And I couldn’t even think of window treatments until I got the couch handled.

Finally, in Spring of 2012, I ordered my couch from Pottery Barn. And I used the interest free option from the pottery barn credit card to pay it off over the course of a year. Since then, I have been thinking about my windows. Plotting and scheming, and returning things to stores that didn’t work like I had hoped.

Two weeks ago, I started trolling fabric stores and craft stores in hopes of being inspired. I found these curtain rods and ring clips at Big Lots that encouraged me. Finally, I remembered about the time I used a drop cloth as a make shift slip cover on that old heavy couch in Augusta, and how great that worked in a pinch. And I decided I would look into making window treatments out of a drop cloth.

Last Thursday, I found this drop cloth at the sherman williams by my house. I took it home, opened it up, and started thinking. The drop cloth had a seam down the middle of it, that made it two 4.5 X 12 panels.

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I picked the seam out, which took a long time. I would say this was the most labor intensive part of the project, but I was watching television while I was picking, and it was sort of a soothing mindless exercise. Then I spent a long time trying to figure out how I wanted it to look. Briscoe was highly annoyed by the furniture moving and the overall disruption.

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I finally ate dinner at 10 pm (this is another reason I don’t start craft projects, once I get going I can’t stop). By 11, I had a prototype hanging up on some nails, and I decided that was enough for one night.

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Sunday, I picked back up on the project, and I worked on the length, and how I wanted the top to look, and I picked out the seam on another drop cloth for the other window. I didn’t actually sew or stitch anything, but I just used the little clips that were attached to the rings.

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Oh, and I actually screwed in the hardware for the curtain rods, and hung the rod up properly. This is the finished product. The 9 X 12 drop cloth was $19 for the first one, then there was a sale when I bought the second one – $15. The ring clips were $8 and the rods were $6 a piece from Big Lots. And I probably spent, in total, at least eight hours. Depending on how much you want to bill me out for, the labor was the most expensive part by hundreds of dollars. I’m happier with the one on the left than the one on the right. More tweaking is anticipated.

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There is a striped mosquito in my house.  I have mosquito bites all over me from walking Briscoe.  This morning, I received three bites in about five minutes from these giant striped mosquitoes.  I caught the tail end of a news report recently talking about a new invasive breed of mosquitoes, and after spending time observing the one in my house and realizing that it did not look like a normal mosquito, I googled striped mosquito.  Yep.  Here are some upsetting headlines –

Asian tiger mosquitoes have blood lust for humans.

Get ready for invading Asian tiger mosquitoes

Asian tiger mosquitoes expected to swarm USA.

Georgia mosquito population set to explode.

Asian tiger mosquito poised to invade.

It is almost more than I can do to even read these articles.  Apparently these blood suckers were happily imported to Texas in tire shipments, because tires are notorious for having standing water.  THANKS, TEXAS!  This where I become a giant proponent of chemical warfare in the war against mosquitoes (and roaches and grasshoppers for that matter).  Let’s fumigate stuff before we unload it next time.  The mosquito is repeatedly described as having a “blood lust” for humans, but it will also bite your cat, dog, or whatever sort of strange creature you love and let live in your house.

This article gives some fact and fiction of mosquitoes.  My favorite is – Mosquitoes are more attracted to women than men: FACT (this is why I always carry Off! and often times an Afterbite pen with me.  And because I’m Polly Prepared according to Sister Natalie.  My personal favorites are either the wipes or this little travel buddy.  I like to keep the wipes in little formal clutches like for weddings, and the little travel buddy in my regular pocketbook. Afterbite is also helpful for a beach bag, great for a jelly fish sting.  And Cutter is excellent and pretty much a necessity before a backyard party. I don’t think it encourages lightening bugs though, fyi. )

These mosquitoes are considered especially fearsome due to their fantastic disease spreading abilities.  The Asian Tiger transmits more than 20 diseases, including West Nile fever, dengue fever, yellow fever and two types of encephalitis. It also can transmit chikungunya virus, an infliction that is rarely fatal, but causes debilitating symptoms, including severe joint pain, fever, achiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash and fatigue. People usually recover in a few weeks, but the virus is not very pleasant.

Right, so I read people’s medical records all day and I’m a straight up hypochondriac.  In the highly probably event that I contract one of these debilitating diseases, and waste away in front of my giant television watching bad TNT dramas, this blog might suffer, and for that I apologize.  Please send gifts of gatorade, baked goods, and dvds.

I get itchy just thinking about it.

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At the end of April, my friends and I attended the Charleston Jailbreak. I worked a full eight hours this particular Saturday, and when I got home from work, I was super enthusiastic about life and ready to have fun. We met at our friend Adam’s house for a drink and a brief dance party in the kitchen before heading over to the Jailbreak. It was a great group of people, the weather was fantastic, and I was really happy with everything and everyone.

The Jailbreak was in full swing we when arrived, and I strongly encourage everyone to attend a Jailbreak at some point. The music was loud and awesome, and there were modern dancers wandering from room to room who would randomly breakout into choreographed numbers. There was every kind of artwork you could imagine, and I’m a sucker for artwork. The atmosphere was invigorating and life affirming, the darkness was perfectly complimented by the bright colorful lights, and I was with some of my favorite people.

By the time I stopped being distracted by the dazzling environment and hulu hoops, I tried to buy some food at a food truck. In an unfortunate turn of events, the food trucks grossly underestimated the crowd, and were mostly out of food. One truck gave me some grilled chicken and peppers, and I tried not to worry too much about it.

Then I found a piece of art that I HAD TO HAVE. It was an oil on canvas of palmetto trees. The street I live on is lined with palmetto trees, and I really liked the colors of this particular painting. And I adore trees. Especially paintings of trees. Greens and blues and browns with shadows of pinks and reds. Denise told me I should think about, and come back in an hour if I still wanted it. Obviously, an hour later I DID still want it, so I dragged Denise back to the painting and bought it. There was still about an hour left for the party, so I paid the artist, got my receipt, and said I would pick it up the next day.

We stayed until the bitter end of the party, and although I know we were there for at least three hours, probably four hours, I felt like we were there for 45 minutes. I remember sampling some interesting craft beers and restraining my desire to buy puppets and monster stuffed animals. As the party shut down, for reasons I still do not understand, I stopped by the room where my painting was hanging out, and convinced the volunteer clean up people to let me take it home with me. The artist had already gone home, but I was proud to show them my receipt.

I was the happiest person in America with my new painting, except for this one little voice inside my head that said, this is a bad idea, you should have left it and picked it up tomorrow. I ignored that little voice, and traipsed to the closest restaurant/bar with my painting in tow. We sat at a high top table, and I proudly leaned my painting against the wall on the little panel ledge. After a while, my friends refused to continue discussing my new treasure, and we moved to other topics and new friends.

At some point, a friend offered to drive a few of us home, and I jumped at the chance. As in, I jumped up, and left my painting leaning up against the wall. I realized that I left it when I got home, but by that point it was too late to go back, and no one answered the bar. I told myself that it would be there the next day, and not to worry.

The next morning, I went by the restaurant/bar as soon as I thought someone might be there, and the first worker said that if I left it, it would be in the manager’s office, who was not there yet. So I went home to worry. The artist, a gem of a person named Sam, called me to tell me that I could come pick up my painting between 2-4 that afternoon at the Jailhouse. Mortified, I had to confess to Sam that I took the painting with me the night before, and proceeded to leave it at the bar. I confidently told her that I was SURE it was still at the bar, and I was waiting for someone to call me back about it. I felt horrible, like I would feel if I left the gate open and your dog got out, or if I backed over your kid’s bike with my car, or if my dog ate all the cupcakes you just made and was standing on your kitchen table with icing all over her face. Or if you produced a piece of artwork and I got drunk and left it at the bar. Like that. Damn those food trucks and loud music.

Sadly, the restaurant/bar never found the painting. I assume it is hanging up in someone’s house around these parts, and fingers crossed I’m going to run across it at a party one day. Then I’m going to get loud. But on that day, and many days afterward, I beat myself up about the lost painting. I beat myself up for being fiscally irresponsible to buy something I wanted for purely aesthetic reasons and then immediately lose it. I beat myself for not eating dinner and overindulging in the spirits. I tried to chalk it up as a donation in support of local artists, reasoning that I’d wasted that amount of money before in much more frivolous endeavors and mistakes. I could have gotten a speeding ticket. I could have exploded my car battery with improper use of jumper cables (this ranks up there with one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done, and I was 32 years old at the time). I could have left a favorite pair of very beautiful heels at a wedding reception where I shouldn’t have been wearing heels in the first place because of injury, and not recovered them (I did actually recover them the next day, but I might not have). I could have gotten too excited at a wedding reception and jumped up and down, resulting in the sunglasses on my head falling to their shattery death on the concrete. I could have dropped my cell phone in the toilet (fyi, a bag of rice does wonders) or dropped it and cracked the screen. I could have dropped a friend’s new iphone 5 and cracked the screen. I could have missed a flight and had to rebook at a gouging rate. Really, the possibilities are endless.

But even after I stopped beating myself up, I was still real sad I lost the painting, because I really liked it. I considered asking Sam if she would paint me a replacement if I paid her, and I asked Catie, one of my favorite artist friends, if this was a good idea. She couldn’t really decided, so I didn’t. I just didn’t have the nerve.

Three weeks later, I got a text from Sam. She wanted to know if I ever found the painting, and if not, that she would repaint me a replacement, because she felt terrible that I bought a painting that I didn’t get to enjoy. I tell her I would LOVE for her to repaint me a replacement, but that she had to let me pay her for the supplies and the time. Sam said that she felt like I had already paid for the painting, and that she felt that the good karma would be enough payment. Y’all, I was so excited.

Two weeks after that, Sam delivered to me my new priceless piece of artwork. I know y’all have been waiting with bated breathe – so here it is!

Image

I am even happier with it than I was after the Jailbreak. This is just a photo I took of it hanging on the wall of my office, and I still haven’t decided exactly where it will live permanently, but I love it. I hope I make lots of new friends one day so I can retell the story over and over at my house without my current friends strangling me for being repetitive.

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