‘If there’s a taste in this life more inviting…’

Last night, thanks to a totally unexpected and completely solid move by my friend Ed, I got to see one of my favorite bands of all time perform live, long after I had resigned to never being able to do that. I had to leave work early and haul ass three-and-some-odd hours down the interstate to get there in time, but I did and it was incredible. I got to see some old friends and those warm greetings were good for the ol’ withered heart.

The show was lovely and spooky and sad and sloppy and beautiful and wonderful, the melodies at times held together just barely and threatening to break open and run away in different directions. The band was large and there was a rotating cast of instruments getting the spotlight: Trombone, trumpet, baritone, banjo. Jeff Mangum looked like he was wearing a Duck Dynasty costume — long hair, enormous beard, big bulky clothes. Louisiana solidarity, I presume. His voice sounded like as much of a clarion as ever, rising above the chaos. He seemed to be enjoying himself mostly. But what a thing to say about someone who was a room away, hiding under a hat and a beard and a guitar. We don’t know anything and we are glad he came out. I figure a good portion of us were there in part to make sure he understood how grateful we are for what he gave us and that he decided to give those of us who missed the moment the first time around another chance to get in on it.

Hearing “Oh Comely” live was surreal. A little close to an out-of-body experience, actually. I enjoyed that after it was over, someone in the audience yelled, “HOLY SHIT!” and Jeff said, “No one gets that.” Heh. Except we did. I kept trying to figure out how the whole show was happening in the same room as me. I don’t know if the kids who talked LOUDLY through the whole thing understood what the fuck they missed. Maybe they don’t believe in poetry and beauty and memory and the exorcism of demons through word and sound or the sanctity of real fucking art happening in your presence which is as close as you’re probably ever going to get to actual salvation but I feel bad for them in some ways and want to punch them in other ways. I would almost rather them sit there and stare into their phones and tweet stupid stuff rather than verbalize it where I have to listen to it while trying to have A Moment At A Show. Oh, other people. You challenge me to rise above. Literally. Because I think I’m getting shorter. (But kudos to Ed for yelling “Put your goddamn phone down!” to the chap holding a screen up high with TEXT MESSAGES ON IT. Not even recording. Cool story, bro.)

They closed with “Engine.” And because I am nothing but a moving, flesh-encased carton of hormones and regret and hope and sadness and joy, I cried.

Happy 10th birthday, T&G

I have been blogging for 10 years this month. I can’t figure out the exact day I really started because I began “blogging” using Geocities-hosted web pages that I slapped up on my old (dead) domain, theology-and-geometry.com. The Wayback Machine used to keep a bunch of my content from that site archived, but I’ve noticed over the years the amount that it indexes continues to dwindle, and now you can’t even really get past the splash page for any of the dates.

I would write a post — with hand-coded html formatting — on a basic page, and then for the next entry, create a new page for the previous post so it would link behind the first page, cut and paste the previous entry and put it on the new page and then put my new entry on the splash page. And so on. God, it was tedious. And then that November, Blogger happened. And that, friends, sealed the deal. Blogger made it so incredibly easy. And I could dink with how the whole thing looked a lot more easily than in Geocities. Also, Blogger would work on a Mac. Geocities’ PageBuilder thingy wouldn’t. Can you imagine?

So that is why my archives here only go back to November 2003.

I was a student then, a year away from wrapping up my college experience and thrusting myself into the workplace. Ugh. “Thrusting.” I lived with my boyfriend in a small one-bedroom apartment — with a laundry room! — that we paid $425 a month for. We had two ferrets. We had a rule that at night we would only watch things on TV that were nonviolent, nonthreatening and nonaggressive. I played video games. I wasn’t speaking to my sister and I don’t remember why. My family’s political incorrectness was really novel and annoying to me then, and made me question my DNA origins.

I worried constantly about grades and assignments and all three of my jobs. “I am tired of working 51 hours a week” is a thing I wrote, and EL OH EL because if I could drop into my 2003 self’s dreams I would laugh in her face about thinking that working 51 hours a week in college was going to be the last time I would work so hard.

It was a sweet little life. Not without its trials, of course. I sort of wish I had used my time in college to break out of my comfort zone a little more. Travel more. Sleep around, maybe? Do a lot of mind-expanding drugs? I don’t know. I say I should have done those things but I am pretty sure I would have felt completely ridiculous even trying to have some kind of typical wild college experience. I’ve been middle-aged my whole life.

So here’s to 10 years of writing it down. Gonna aim for 10 more.

Behold the vast emptiness of the Global Mall

Global Mall

Once upon a time the mall in Antioch was the hip shit. I know because I purchased basically every Christmas present there between 2000 and 2004. At some point after I graduated and moved to Memphis, the mall fell into some hard times and reported gang activity, and it closed down. Which is pretty surprising; it was a bustling area back in the day.

The mall is open again, and it’s rebranded as Global Mall at the Crossings. The whole idea is that it’s a melting pot of Latin, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures, which is pretty brilliant given Nashville’s changing demographics. It hasn’t been open very long and they are currently trying to fill up the empty shops.

We stopped by the other day to explore and so I could take a trip down memory lane, since I hadn’t been in that mall in nearly a decade.

It was incredible. Huge areas of the mall are still completely empty but you can walk around like it’s no big thing. It’s unsettling. Almost like you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing. I let my kiddo run around like the whole place was a playground. He found the shop that used to be a Gymboree or some such and had a blast making faces at himself in the kid-sized mirrors. I, on the other hand, tried hard to remember which stores had been where. To try to tie together my foggy memories of the place with the actual echoing building I stood in that day.

All I could think about, really, was how amazing it would be to shoot some archetypal zombie footage in that place.

I hope it grows and thrives and that they get all the vacant shops filled up, but if you get a chance to go see the mall while it’s still relatively empty, you absolutely must. Because how often do you really get to be inside a dead mall that’s taking its first post-resuscitation breaths?

Here are some (crappy iPhone) pictures of how it looks now.


Motivational poster

It’s 10 p.m. and I’m sitting at a blue plastic table, sipping a canned Coke. I’m surrounded by banks of whirring silver washing machines, and I’ve figured out that by sitting at this table, I can feel the blasts of cold air from the AC. It’s a nice counter to the heat radiating off all these dryers. This is the Wash Tub Coin Laundry, open 25 hours, according to a sign on the side of the building. I am not entirely sure that’s meant to be funny.

Visiting Laundromats every other week or so is something I’ve been doing since we moved. Of course, I should be doing it much more often than that but we literally use every piece of clean fabric in the house before I get weird about not having anything to dry off with after a shower, and surrender and load my car up with every rag we own.

Our landlords were kind enough to leave their washer and dryer in the house for us in case we wanted to adopt them, but they warned us that there was an issue with the washer that would need to be repaired. I tried to get a repair company to come out and look at it but they refused to do so since the house is rented. Besides, I think having the thing repaired to the degree it is probably going to need might cost more than I am willing to spend on a repair job. Just a hunch. I finally decided the other day to throw in the towel and just buy a new washing machine because going to the Laundromat is a pain in the ass when you’re single and you just have a trash bag full of your own clothes. It’s practically torture when you’ve got three towering baskets full of three people’s clothes — some of them sporting more than a little poop (I won’t tell you whose) — to wash and dry using every quarter you can possibly get your hands on.

The Wash Tub has an interesting ethos. There are three things on the wall that are not washing related:

• A poster featuring the characters of the Marvel Universe
• A poster featuring a blonde beach babe busting out of her bikini while reclining in water
• A calendar featuring pictures of churches

There’s also a pool table. When I first got here, there were a couple of guys playing a game. Now the guy who helped me get my clothes inside (such service!) is lying down on it, watching TV. There is a group of three teenagers who came in with no laundry; they just wanted to play the shitty arcade games, I guess. I feel like someone should tell them they’d get a better value for their money if they gave me their quarters to finish drying my jeans. It’s an investment.

I remember doing my laundry in college sometimes at that Laundromat next to La Siesta, near Murphy Center. (I seriously just had to sit here and think for a few minutes about what Murphy Center is called. Shameful.) I didn’t have any concept then of the sheer volume of laundry that was to come in my life. Just like I have no concept now of how much laundry is going to be involved as my child gets older and we stop being lazy and put him in two-piece outfits more often.

Life in Murfreesboro was ages ago. I think if I went back to my old haunts, I’d be really pissed that I let my youth slip away so quickly. But what can you do. I purposefully did not put a question mark on that last sentence. Because I am not asking.

My sister found some old cassettes in my parents’ attic

They’re from the late ’80s, when my brother and sister and I would leave our boombox on record for hours on end, until the tapes would run out. They are packed with preciousness and hilarity. I have fuzzy memories of making some of these recordings in our old house, perched on a bunk bed with the bedside lamp on, a blanket hanging from the top for some privacy.

My mom let me hear some snippets when she was in town this weekend because she has a tape player in her Explorer. I have got to find a tape player so I can get them all recorded digitally before the tapes themselves melt or worse.

Here’s a bit I caught on my phone of my mom and me listening to a tape (meta!) where I am singing a Bon Jovi song and then, later, trying to get my 2-year-old brother to talk.

Evan and Lindsey on tape in the late ’80s

Hope you enjoy my drawl, y’all.


How many Chipper puns should I try to make for this title?

I caught wind on Twitter that Chipper Jones is retiring. I haven’t kept up very much with Chipper or baseball in general for many years, but back in seventh or eighth grade, I fell hard for Chipper. I just happened to see his face flit across the TV during the game and I was instantly in love. He had that easy boyish grin that always hooks me. I watched the game to find out his name and from then on did everything I could to find out every morsel about his life. This was pre-internet so it wasn’t easy, but I was very devoted. I watched every game that I could catch on television and recorded them, even if I had watched them live. I clipped stories from the newspaper that mentioned him, and clipped his box score if he’d had a good game. I watched SportsCenter for highlights of the games to catch a glimpse of him. I amassed lots of Chipper and Braves memorabilia — glossy photos, pennants, keychains, hats, shirts, magazines. I drew rudimentary portraits of Chipper and hung them on my wall. I was his biggest fan.

Our eighth grade class took a trip to Atlanta to a Braves game (I don’t remember why now; I will have to consult my diary) and I was sort of convinced in that eighth-grade way of thinking that I was going to be able to meet Chipper Jones and he was going to fall for me despite my braces and my being 14 freaking years old. Turns out our seats were on the third-base line (yay!) but we were way out in the outfield. Not even within yelling distance of Chipper. (Now I don’t remember anything about the game except the extremely drunk GROWN-ASS dude who put his arm around me and had people take our picture. My teacher, Mrs. Yeiser, tried to confiscate the roll of film, heh. She did not get it. Now where is that dang picture?!)

So, I didn’t meet and snag Chipper. But I kept hope alive.

I remember being so upset that Hideo Nomo won rookie of the year that year instead of Chipper. And now where is Hideo Nomo? HE DON’T PLAY BALL NOMO. I’m sorry. But the snub stung and may have fucked up my head a little bit.

I really got a reality smack across the face during a game one day many months into my crush, when the camera panned over some big-haired lady in the audience. She was wearing a cowboy hat and she was very blonde. The announcer mentioned that this was Mrs. Chipper Jones and my heart fell out of my chest with a wet thud. Wait, he was MARRIED?! To a lady wearing a COWBOY HAT?! And so that day I began mopping up my messy affections for the third baseman from Marietta, Ga., realizing they were a pipe dream. Also I probably had some other dude I was crushing on at the time so I had to reserve my energy and pour it directly into that ridiculousness.

So, fare well in your retirement, Chipper. I’ll always have fond memories of your prickly little goatee and your chewing-tobacco habit. You know, I always thought that was super gross but I was going to make an exception just for you.

Shot in the dark

When the Japan quake and tsunami hit, I started thinking about two Japanese girls I used to be pen pals with in grade school. Girls? Yikes. They’d be old ladies like I am now. I couldn’t conjure up the name of one of the girls, but the other’s name has stuck with me my whole life: Hitomi Imanaka. I remember the stationery she’d use when she wrote me: It was etched with one of those quintessentially Japanese androgynous smiling cartoon characters, and shellacked with stickers. Her English was rough (my Japanese was nonexistent) and her handwriting was shaky with large counters and bowls — very deliberate. I don’t remember what we wrote each other about, but if I had to guess: Pets, television, movies, school. I have her letters somewhere. I hope, as I continue my spring cleaning, I’ll run across them.

I searched Facebook and found a Hitomi Imanaka. I sent her a message, asking if she was my pen pal from ages ago. I mostly wanted to ask her where she lived and if she was okay.

It wasn’t the same girl.