Category Archives: the main drag

Opposed

This past Saturday, I went to Underground, the largest live art show in the Metroplex. I volunteered to work the door and stay after and clean up the space. In mentioning this, I’m not trying to talk about my boundless philanthropy or selfless, supporting nature or anything. I’m just trying to tell you guys a story. Honest.

So, I’ve walked around, and I’ve looked at everything there, but there’s still a bit of time before my shift, so I go to get a beer. The bartender and I get to talking over my tasty stout, when he mentions his girlfriend (subtle, no?), and how it’s been ten years since he had a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.

I could swear your phone number came with this bottle.

“Whhhhere you guys gunna go?” I slur. Luckily, he’s a bartender, so he’s gotten used to pretending to ignore such things. “Well, she said not to make a big fuss, so nothing.” Wait, what?

This man is on the verge of relationship suicide. I must intervene. I must save him. Trying to forget the beer, I roll into action.  I explain that, though his girl told him she didn’t want a fuss and any of that highly commercial  and sappy Valentine’s Day romantic crap, she really does. “She’s just being polite, because she doesn’t want you to think she’s that girl. You know, that girl,” I say, making what I’m sure is a very cool and sophisticated hand/arm gesture. “Listen, don’t listen to what she said. I mean, about that. Listen to me. Okay. YOU. Need to take that girl someplace nice. Okay? Take her out. Now.”

I’ve never understood how guys don’t get this. We might say we don’t want you to make a fuss, but we really do. We want to know that you care, and we want you to show it in the goofiest and most embarrassing way possible. To women, that kind of cringe-worthy, mushy gesture is indicative of true affection. Don’t tell us you like us. Show us.

Is this embarrassing enough?

But then it occurred to me that maybe men don’t understand these things because they’ve never had to work with the same rules. Women are taught to deny their wants and needs, sometimes publicly, so people think us polite and demure. You might want that last cookie, but you decline because it’s the polite thing to do. This is also essential if you don’t want others to see you as that girl. You know who I’m talking about. The high-maintenance chick all the guys complain about. The bougie, not-quite-gold-digging princess you see in all the movies. That girl.

This dress is expensive. Get me another coffee.

Men are given something very different. Men are taught that if you want something, you need to stand up and ask for it, and if someone offers you something, you take it, no questions asked. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want it or need it. Just take it, and you can sort all that other stuff out later. (And, men, don’t think because I’ve glossed over this that I condone your behavior. This is pretty fucked up, too.)

Women who live declining life naturally (naturally!) expect fellow-sufferers will get it. Like as not, all women understand this behavior, because they’ve heard it before. Men, or most men, anyway, do not, because no one’s ever taught them that. They haven’t had to think that way.

 Interesting, innit?


Bare

I always wished to do something that looked effortless and inspired.  Like playing the piano or violin  Those talents, to me, always seemed so outwardly emotive, more so than writing or typing or playing the flute.  Your hands are involved with the details, while your mind wanders and spreads with the music.  Perhaps that’s just the romantic in me.

Of all the things I ever wished to be able to do, I’ve never wanted to paint. Oh, I considered it, once.  I thought it might be interesting, in the same way that I think it might be nice to one day go to Vegas, plant a tree, or ride on a train.  The desire was there, but very, very faint.  I remember thinking that painting would be as easy as writing.  I held the brush like a pen, and attempted what I thought would turn out a bold, steady stroke.  The bristles bent, and smeared cheap craft paint across the paper.

For the longest time, I had no say over my life.  When I was young, my mother decided things.  I may have chosen what to read, wear, and write, but my steps followed only hers.  I did not stray from her course.  Childhood did not fade:  after I grew up, it was much the same way, only now life formed my actions.  I let others lead me how they wished.  I smiled when they asked, spoke when they said.  I fashioned no will of my own.

Was I scared?  Was I said?  I ask these things, but I know not to answer.  It’s better, I’ve learned, to let it be faceless.  People say the scariest things are those with no meaning, no purpose, and no name.  This is not true.  The scariest of all is the fear with a name, for when you name something, you ultimately acknowledge it.  You can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist.


Vices

So, I smoke.  Not a lot, you understand, but even a rock such as myself (ha!) needs a crutch to take the edge off life.  I smoke cloves.  I’m not a goth, I just really like them.  Also, regular cigarettes kill me.

As of September 2009, it is illegal to sell (but not illegal to possess) clove cigarettes anywhere in the US, along with beedis and flavored blunt wraps.  There was some malarkey about how these “candy cigarettes” are more attractive to children and, therefore, a “gateway smoke”.   *rolls eyes*  Yeah, bullshit always goes in quotes.  I’m not going to into all the problems with this stupid, ill-conceived and murky piece of legislation because that would be boring.  At least, for you guys.  (All two of you.)

Djarum and a couple other kretek manufacturers got around the ban by wrapping their cigs in cigar paper.  But these new cigars taste like crap; I would rather smoke herbals than light up another one of them.  So, after researching just how expensive it would be to import my own private stash of clove cigarettes, I just said fuck it and started making my own.  Here’s my recipe for all you desperate clove smokers out there.

50g Pipe tobacco (regular tobacco doesn’t make a good mix)

20g Whole cloves

Bagged tea (one bag makes 6-8 oz)

Brewed tea (use 1 tea bag for 6-8 oz)

Grind your cloves, preferably by hand, being careful not to grind them too fine.  (This will make your tobacco taste like shit.)  Combine ground cloves, tobacco, and the contents of one bag of tea and mix thoroughly.  Pour in enough brewed tea to saturate the mixture.  Place in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for one day.

Next day:

Thinly spread your tobacco on a cookie sheet.  Heat oven to 200° (at the most) and place tobacco in oven to dry.  Check every 10 minutes until done.  Tobacco should be dry to the touch but not crispy.  Store dried tobacco in airtight container.

Raw papers and filters are, to me, the best stuff out there.  The few others that I tried gave a noticeable menthol-y taste to my cigarettes, even the non-menthol ones.

If you’ve never rolled before, or, like me, can’t manage a hand-roll, my little Job cigarette rollers have worked the best for me.  I tried the roll box, and the metal flap hand roller, but I just couldn’t get them to work.  The plastic ones, by the way, make really good, tight, fat rolls, but those rollers break easily.

If you do use this recipe, please leave feedback.  I’m always looking to refine my recipe, and would appreciate any comments.

EDIT:  So I kinda messed up on the bagged tea measurements.  The ratio should, more accurately, be 20:50:1 instead of 2:5:1.  Oops.  Sorry, ya’ll.


Adventures in Cooking or Booze Sauce

Tonight’s post is brought to you by Drunk Spinster Productions.

I’m trying to make a hula hoop.  I never learned how.  As a child, I was too uncoordinated to master the basic back and forth motion required.  (Funny story: a few weeks ago, the lady that tried to teach me told me that hula hooping is just as easy as fucking.  I guess that explains why all the little boys in my elementary school liked the girls who could hula hoop.  It also probably explains why I’m single.)  All the ones in Walmart are way too light for me to learn on, and the mastar hoopers charge more than I think one is worth.  This is the root of my industriousness.  I, Jamila Richardson, am cheap.

I already bought irrigation hose, but have been having a bitch of a time finding a coupling that fits. This is, in fact, the third Home Depot I’ve been to and I still can’t find what I need.  Why, I ask, would the silly bastards not carry the requisite fittings and accessories for their stock?  Angry and annoyed, I step out of the irrigation section and cross over to the plumbing aisle, and as I scan the boxes on the shelf, I realize something.  All this time, I’ve been looking for a coupling that will fit inside the tubing, when, in fact, I should have been looking for a nipple.  Damnit to all layers of freaking hell.  So I buy the nipple, work my magic on the tube, and tada! I now have a brand new hula hoop.  But, unfortunately, a brand-new hula hoop that is still too light for me to learn on.  I’m really annoyed at myself right now.  I want a drink, but all I have is gin and I don’t have a suitable mixer.  Also, I’m hungry.  I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

this

Why, yes, Virginia, you can put gin in spaghetti sauce, but only so much of it.  My last few tries at cooking had turned out pretty decent, so I was confident I could pull this off.  But while I may fancy myself a Rachael Ray, tonight’s little experiment informed me that I am, in fact, the Bob Ross of culinary arts.  A post-stroke Bob Ross with only one eye.  (Ok, Bob Ross never had a stroke, but it sounds funny.  Don’t trample on my illusions, dear readers.  Don’t.  You.  Dare.)

With the first pour, I had actually managed to add the optimal amount of gin.  But then I got cocky and poured in a second. Now, instead of slightly-boozy yet still delicious spaghetti sauce, I had horrible dry, ginny tomato water.  Yuck.  I tried to temper the taste with garlic, and when that didn’t work, I threw in some salt.  Then I added butter, more butter, black pepper, more salt, more garlic, basil and some rock sugar.  Now it tasted like spicy gin.  So I did what anyone else would have done:  I threw in some vinegar.

Vinegar is actually a pretty good save for a lot of culinary disasters.  Too much sugar?  Add some vinegar.  Too much salt?  Add some vinegar.  To much semen?  (Well, I haven’t actually tried that, but I’m sure vinegar would work, because semen is a base.)  But besides all that, I really, really like vinegar.  I also like Worcestershire sauce, so I added some of that, too.  And it worked.  My sauce was equally yummy and boozy.  Two birds with one stone, woo!

Moral of the story:  if you’re trying to cook with hard liquor, you should probably stick with vodka.


Idles of perversity

The phonetic “idle” is an interesting homophone.  Each word has a different meaning, but the implications are similar.  You can read an idyll, romanticize it, and idolize the things you imagine it to represent.  For those in search of a concrete oasis, you can travel abroad to experience a truly idyllic moment, or define your own and dream forever of finding it. In Japan, they have these “A.I. Dolls”, incredibly lifelike love dolls you can rent for sex.  (Clever play on words, isn’t it?  That’s one, two, three, four, five meanings referenced.)  Idle hands are said to be the Devil’s playground.  Cars may idle, but you, as a person, should not.  There are religious idols: the golden calf, the wooden cross; things that only lend more complexity to a jumble of beliefs.  Then there are your own personal idols, those people you worship who never manage to live up to your vision of them.  Maybe you know this, but most likely you don’t.  Taken singularly, they all seem to have their respective meanings and places. But all suggest an overwhelming ability to fantastically delude ourselves.

Be careful, warrior.


: /

I worry about things, but I don’t want to seem crazy.  I think about stuff, but I don’t want to be labeled obsessive.  It’s like there’ s no accepted medium.  Gah. Double-edged swords suck ass.


Meat and marrow

I submit this post to you today in hopes of clearing my mind of familiar troubles.  Dear readers, I am unsettled.  This gift I had for writing–or maybe thought I had–has atrophied.  I can’t do what I once could.  I now stumble for words and phrases, and the ease with which I used to create has receded, pulled back like a wild thing easily startled, a deer or a flower, Sleeping Grass you dare not touch.  This frightens me.  What am I if not a writer?  Writers create, writers seduce.  They can be nasty or standoffish, but the moment you read the story–or poem, song lyric, whatever–you feel that connection, see all those tender bits laid bare, years of intimacy distilled down into a single page, words simple but rife with double meaning.  At least, that’s what good writing means to me.  All of my favorite writers are what others might call navel gazers: those who choose internal narrative over dialogue, raw emotion over action.  Neil Gaiman, whose light sci-fi sits shotgun to perception.  Marguerite Duras, whose stream-of-consciousness style captured the oft-buried emotions of her protagonists.  John Paul Sartre, who accurately described my own feelings of remoteness.  These writers I love and emulate.  I fear I shall never reach their levels greatness.

I’m editing this story, or, rather, trying to edit it.  I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, maybe too much dialogue, but every rewrite has been stilted, jerky, not at all smooth and flowing as I would prefer. Either I skimp on character direction, or I put in too much, and I just can’t.  Get. It. Right.  And I feel stupid and sub-par and bad, because it’s always what I’ve wanted to do and I can’t do it and I’ve had all this time and what am I if I’m not a writer?  *sigh* I’m just so discouraged.


Small gifts

Sunday is universally regarded as a day of rest.  Not just by religious types; even your basic secular folks view Sunday as the pinnacle of non-work.  I am no different.  For some reason, though, I had decided to do stuff.  I have no explanation for this sudden, strange inclination.  Perhaps my mood had something do with it.  The last two days had been very good indeed.   Sunday afternoon, I awoke in even temperament.  I started some laundry, picked up my prescription decongestant (half of a two prong remedy to rid myself of a nasty middle ear infection), and bought food for the day.  Then, remembering the advice of my new friend, I checked the free section of Craigslist—I did need a few things, and free is always amenable.  After a bit, I’d found what I thought was a good bet, an after-garage-sale bonanza in West Plano.  The owners had left the stuff sitting in the driveway, waiting for scroungers like myself to haul it away.  With directions firmly in phone, I set off.

By the time I got to the place, there was almost nothing was left—just a couple of old mops and a stained baby bumper.  I hadn’t really expected to find anything useful, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  I got back into the car and, five minutes into a disastrous attempt at reverse navigation, I was pulled over.  In uppity West Plano.  Eesh.

I hate being stopped, and I’m broke, besides.  I should have been disgusted with myself, but I wasn’t.  Perhaps the niceness of the last two days had something to do with my easygoing attitude.  The cop was very pleasant, and calmly informed me that not only was my taillight was out, but I was missing a license plate in front (which I wasn’t even aware was an offense, but there you go.  There I go, Toyota.  Thank you for not drilling any license plate holes in the front bumper, I really appreciate that).  I was just starting to ruminate over the cost of a ticket I didn’t have, when the cop came back and gave me a warning.  I think I heard angels singing.

In the car, congratulating myself on not pissing off the cop for the amount of time it took for him to give me the warning, distracted and simultaneously fiddling with my GPS so that I might actually get home, I BAM–ran up on the median and blew out my tire.  D’oh.

Yeouch.

I had a spare, of course, but it was hot as balls, and I didn’t know how to work my jack.  (In my defense, readers, I’d only had one flat with this car.)  To top it off, I’d bent the wheel.  More d’oh.

Three men (separately) drove by and asked if I needed help, but  I pride myself on not being the typical female in distress, so I told them no, but the last one got out to help anyway.  Blessed man.  He taught me how to use my jack, for which I was so grateful that I purposely didn’t sneer inwardly at the law enforcement patch on his starched shirtfront pocket.  (I really, really don’t like cops.)  I should have been exasperated with myself, but two missing hubcaps and a bent wheel later, all I could think was that I now had a legitimate reason to buy me some rims.  And that, after all that, I deserved a beer.

This nasty--um, CHEAP beer was my reward. Hum.


First flight

This weekend, a new friend and I went to an amusement park called Zero Gravity Thrill Park.  Zero Gravity only has five rides, but all five are the most hardcore in the metroplex.  There’s the bungee jump, the free fall, the slingshot, the swing, and the skyscraper.  His favorite, he told me, was the 16-story free fall.  He had such a smile on his face when he said it; dreamy and content.  Happy.  I’m such a sucker for a smile.  I suggested we go on it.

Dear readers:  I am a wuss.

My wussiness is a fact of nature, like species-specific circadian rhythms, or the simple-yet-mystifying mechanics of soap.  I won’t sleep in a tent.  I can’t get under the bedclothes without first taking a shower.  And I absolutely hate roller coasters.  I’ve ridden the beasts less than ten times in my life (excepting the Mine Train, which doesn’t count because it isn’t a real roller coaster), and only then with persistent goading from family members.  It’s not that I’m afraid of heights–I’m afraid of falling from heights.  I’m afraid of the climb.  I worry that the track will break and the car will fall backwards, and I, strapped into that car, will fall backwards, too, until I finally hit the ground, horribly and painfully, snapped back against hard-packed dirt and unforgiving metal.  My brain is my own worst enemy.

The park was a lot smaller than I had expected.  There were a good number of people, but virtually few lines.  Spectators.  Yet another thing I tried not to think about.  The free fall, we found, was shut down; there was too much wind. For perhaps the fifth time that night, my friend turned to me and asked if I want to stay.  I could see the concern in his eyes, and I knew he wouldn’t think any less of me for doing so, but I was just  so tired of being a punk.  I told him I wanted to stay, and he steered me over to the Skycoaster.

The Skycoaster is like a giant swing.  One to three people are harnessed to a cable, attached to a central pivot, and pulled back as far as possible.  At the signal, one pulls a rip cord to release the locking mechanism and engage the swing.  I looked at the woman already in the swing being reeled up to the top, heels pressed to her eyes, as her children catcalled from below.  I felt the anxiety slowly start to build.  “Don’t worry,” he said.  “They’re hang gliding harnesses.”  “So it’s like flying?  I’ve always wondered what it would be like to fly.  I’ll hold out my arms, then.”  Flippancy, I thought, would release tension, and redirect my nervous energy into more benign areas.  It worked, kind of, and I instead thought of those childish daydreams I had of flying, felt awe instead of apprehension.  Then he said for me to pull the rip cord.  I considered the ramifications of playing an active role in my own very probably and painful demise, and instantly deflated.

The trip up was a bitch.  Sight only increased the pull of gravity, so I kept my eyes shut for most of that.  When we finally stopped, and I opened my eyes, I for one split second thought I was going to start screaming and crying in terror. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long before the attendant gave the signal.  I quickly compressed my thoughts and pulled the cord.  The bottom dropped out of my stomach, and then I did scream as we wooshed down and then up, up past the horizon.  The lights of the city were tiny and muted, but pretty in the strangeness of my vantage point.  It was scary.  It was beautiful.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

Sample vid from the Zero Gravity website.  None of these girls are me.

Soon we reached the apex of the first swing, and as we fell away into the next climb, the grandness of the moment–wind coupled with near-weightlessness and the knowledge that you’re as close to flying as a human can ever get–turned frigid terror into wide-eyed awe.  I couldn’t get over what I was seeing. It was magical in a way that my stodgy, cliché-hating self cannot deny.  Even now, three days later–more than enough for me to overthink, to downplay, dissect, and analyze–I can’t help but say that it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.


Essentials

I absolutely love pens.  I feel about my pens the same way some feel about their cars.  They’re important to me, and when I find a special one, I cherish it until I either lose it or it gives up in exhaustion.  Some might find it strange.  I find it strange, but more and more I think that I should just accept it. Musicians are particular about their instruments.  Artists are choosy about their paints and brushes.  Why am I so unforgiving about my love of pens?

I like notebooks, too.  I like anything you write on or with, really.  I love going to the school section of the store (any store) and looking through their writing goods. I’ve spent a small fortune in pens. Loose-leaf paper, as well, though I almost never use it. I can’t think into a word processor like some, I have to write everything out longhand, so it’s necessary, right? Right? I’ve tried to break myself of the habit, but it’s so hard to pass up such pretty things. I romanticize things easily.  Anything odd catches my eye.  This entry, for example, was written on a loose-leaf sugarcane paper I found at the office supply store. I like this paper: it’s tan, not bleached blinding white.  The boundary line colors blend easily into the surface, so it’s easier to read, and it’s so nice and crinkly when written on.

The Zebra G-301 Gel

I’m very demanding of my pens.  Nothing too cheap or flash, they must be dependable and comfortable in my hand.  One of my favorites is the Zebra Gel Roller.  It only comes in medium point, which I’m not fond of, but it’s so smooth.  (*sigh* Love is never perfect.)  My notebooks, too, I hold to similar standards.  No high-priced journals for me.  I must have something modest, functional, and, above all, college-ruled.  Spirals aren’t good as regular writing notebooks, they bend too easy.  Hard covers are more versatile than plain card, but they’re so hard to find. So many requirements!  Only the stately composition book comes close. Do you know how hard it is to find a college-ruled composition book? They’re not cheap, either.