Sunday, February 14, 2016

Three Valentine's Day Wishes

1. The technology to deposit cash into my bank account remotely, preferably with handheld device

2.  24-hour clemency to write "GROW THE FUCK UP" beneath every romantic post on social media including engagement and wedding categories

3.  True Detective the television show never existed

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Shower Cold 4 Science

The benefits of taking cold showers were brought to my attention recently as much as twice, which is the exact number of times a "thing" needs to appear for me to become curious enough to try it for myself.

Call me crazy but I like my showers hot. Hotter than you. Call me soft but memories of getting a cold shower when expecting hot can still cause a ghost of misery and resentment within me to rise again. I don't approve of anything that is supposed to cure you of lust  and I have to admit I am turned off whenever I am asked to drop a pleasure in the name of health.  I had serious misgivings.

 On the other hand, I like a physical challenge, I like shit that is free, and I like practices that I can incorporate into stuff I already have to do. I'm a risk-averse endorphin junkie so I like cheap, safe thrills. And I love anything that promises to make me feel or look better. 

Now, I've embraced the cold shower before periodically as a wake-upper, hair-shiner, end-of-shower brace-for-the-worlder, but I have never made it a part of my routine and never for more than thirty seconds or so, sticking just my head under so as to avoid full contact. I read about it as a more-than-hair-deep self-help thing most recently on an astrology blog I follow, in which the author also mentioned a homemade coffee-ground and coconut oil scrub, and had seen it pop up on a few beauty sites as well.  But her writing especially convinced me. 

Being the good little Virgo I am I both embraced and enhanced the routine as well as doing some research on the medical, tactical, and mythological underpinnings of this practice. A quick google search reveals that it's popular with male bloggers writing about boosting testosterone and virility which I'm very much on board with co-opting for my own purposes. I'm fighting a bus cold, heartbreak, creative despair, and grieving at the moment so the additional claims of emotional fortitude, a natural high, and immunity-boosting panacea-copia of effects also seemed promising. 

I added a clementine peel to the coco-oil coffee ground scrub from grounds left over from coffee made this morning and ate pieces of the fruit as I stirred it.  I thought about my nephew while I peeled the clementine, how I'd arranged one in a star shape for him to distract from a hunger toddler meltdown attack mid-afternoon a few weeks ago.  I thought about writing this post. I waited for water to boil for more coffee and while the milk steamed I laid down and did some stretching on the floor, on my back, legs over my head. I rubbed eucalyptus oil on my chest and breathed in deep. My sister was home working and I interrupted her to tell of my heroic mission to endure this so-old-it's-new asceticism and worked some tea tree oil into my scalp (I like to really go for it when I self-care). 

{social media break}

I started the shower off hot because a few articles suggested this was still as beneficial (if vaguely wimpier) as taking a discrete cold shower. So I had time to wash my hair and use the scrub on comfortable, eucalyptus-y HOT open-pored skin and it smelled like fucking christmas and I thought of some good tweets. Exfoliating always feels great to me. Finally it was time. I reached out my hand and switched the knob to cold. 

It was cold as fuck. I felt like a chump (a very cold chump) for the first ten seconds or so. But I had a plan, which I recommend to you now: If y'all try this at home distract yourself during the initial cold-as-fuck phase with some other shower activity ( I gave myself a vigorous massage with the grapeseed oil that my sister keeps in the shower) and it will help you adjust. Because soon, very soon, less than a minute in, just as the internet had predicted, I started to feel....pretty good. Strangely good. Really pretty awesome. 

My heart was beating fast but it felt like the opposite of a panic attack. MORE LIKE A JOY ATTACK.  The cold started to feel warm. My scalp was tingling, the skin was tightening all over my body, a rush of sheer excitement was building in my chest, I had to let out a few whoops, give a few weird hops. I held my face and head underneath the cold water and just held on for as long as I could.  It felt like exercise without needing to exercise, sex without having to talk to someone. It felt like truth, justice, and the whatever way. 

One immediate bonus was that getting out of the shower felt magically warm instead of horribly painfully cold as when you take a hot shower in the winter.  I toweled myself off with manic glee, did ten push-ups just to up the Spartan, macho vibe, and re-applied the eucalyptus oil. I have to say I felt fantastic....all alive and shit.  It did not cure my cold but I didn't even care about the sniffles anymore. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror (read: purposefully stood in front of mirror and watched myself caress my own chest and arms) and saw that my skin was both rosy pink and seemingly lit from within with glow. I would not fucking joke about glow. It was real. 

I am going to do it every day and then go out into the world and use my powers and strength for good. And have incredibly shiny hair. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Introducing Avl Grit

Lookee here:

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day Poem

What year is it?
What time of year is it?
What a time we're having.

It's a beautiful night
and you cut a beautiful figure.

Eat my life
with the dainty spoon.
Make it last and last.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Items Found In Bag Last Opened September 29, 2013

1/3 roll of scotch tape

garnier fructis sky-hi volume mousse

depresser nozzle for garnier fructis sky-hi volume mousse

tea light candle, unlit

unused lavender soap in tissue paper wrapping

single imitation pearl earring, stud, backless

sinful colors professional nail polish in hot spot, dark blue shimmer

royal blue shimmer nail polish, origin unknown

empty visine bottle sans cap

organic peppermint essential oil

dale earnhardt jr racecar earrings purchased from Goodwill in Madison, CT, dangling

eyeliner pencil sharpener

covergirl natureluxe mousse mascara

rimmel glameyes day 2 night intense volume mascara

rimmel eyeliner pencil in pure white

jordana eyeliner pencil in espresso

jordana eyeliner pencil in dark brown

jordana eyeliner pencil in sapphire

burt's bees watermelon lip shimmer

burt's bees evening glow lip gloss

burt's bees super glossy nectar nude natural lip shine

lipliner pencil, soft pink, origin unknown

tiny green embroidered pouch to hold earrings, empty

first aid kit, tangle of earrings inside, single alcohol swab

retractable makeup brush stolen in college

six cvs brand 3 mg melatonin tablets in original bottle

single silver owl earring, dangling

blue four-inch plastic comb

bic ultra round stic grip ballpoint pen, black, capless

herbpharm kava liquid herbal extract in dropper bottle

rape whistle

skinny white hair elastic

the good witches' brew lavender spice bath salts

bach rescue remedy dropper bottle, empty

crest 3D white glamorous white travel toothpaste, empty

park ridge health 30 spf suncreen spray pen, procured at 5K

crest whitestrips, four, taken from parent's bathroom cabinet on trip home

peter thomas roth mega-rich body lotion and peter thomas roth mega-rich conditioner, two each, hotel-sized, gift from solo male traveler who visited the YMCA where I worked

single blue and silver dove earring, dangling

silver and pink lipstick case, sans lipstick

blue plastic foundation cap, sans foundation

round white thumbtack

orange clay buddha charm still in tiny ziplock bag, first gift from Roxy, came with card that said "sorry I walked in on you masturbating"

three quarters

one dime

single copper-colored hummingbird earring, stud

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Missed Connections

One ritual that I truly cherish is reading the Missed Connections section of the Asheville Craigslist. I sometimes forget about it for stretches of time, but other days I check it as often my email. Reading the missed connections for any city is like sinking into a warm bath of human neuroses and longings--an invitation to soak in need, want, fear, desire. I find the mere fact of their existence soothing--this quirky human instinct for connection and the pitfalls of its execution, a reliance still on the written word to communicate for the heart what the mouth cannot. And the typos! The typos are golden. Consider this recent gem of a post title: Beautiful girl riding her yellow bike threw the arts district. Pure poetry! 

The posts range from puerile requests for head to heartfelt odes to platonic beauty to heartbroken screeds and bitter warnings about the perils of love. I love it all with abandon. I feel like an anthropologist of my own community, sometimes literally shaking my head at what I uncover, a map of these mountains coming into place in my head microcosmically, all urges, locations, sightings laid bare, artifice applied and artifice ignored. How could one not love the plaintive cry of "I will not be doing any medium today work so please do not ask in your email?" So very Asheville, that exasperating and charming combination of Southern good manners and hippie idiocy and the entitlement of the chronically underemployed artistic type.

My foray into the world of online flirting-and-running-and-posting began when I moved here four years ago--nearly 24, heartbroken and with no idea how green I really was, plunged into small city life after ten months in a tiny rural winter town, two months before that spent completely alone on the road. I slept in a lofted bed in a house under construction where my twin's boyfriend was staying. The August days held a strange unsinkable heat. I sweated through my clothes every afternoon, lifting hair heavy with humidity off my neck, paying a series of men my last shekels to repair my truck, staring into the haze of blue mountains that framed each scene, licking sweat off my lips, wondering what on earth had brought me here, what magic the heat was working through me, that strangers said hello to me on the sidewalk, in the hardware store, everywhere and anywhere there was someone asking me how I was who seemed to really care.

 I went for slow runs around the block where I was staying, memorizing street names, climbing over gravestones in the cemetery on the hill where I discovered O. Henry was buried (tale of the magi the ultimate missed connection, perhaps) and falling spectacularly on my face on one memorable occasion downtown, sidewalk grit ground into the heels of my hands and knees. Not even a day later I woke up next to my friend in that lofted bed--the night spent sitting on the kitchen floor, eating tortilla chips, swapping jokes about having ashtrays for hearts, drinking a brew of found alcohols combined with juice on sale at Whole Foods--and sat up directly in the path of the heavy wooden ceiling fan, was nearly knocked unconscious by the blow and began wailing in pain, warm blood gushing from my temple over my face and covering my tank top, my sister's boyfriend Kyle performing wilderness first aid on me in my underwear, blood-spattered and shaky in the bathroom. I wore a band-aid on my face and banged up knees and hands for my first two weeks in Asheville, meeting potential roommates and employers and new friends with what I hoped was a bashful and not battered air. 

I moved into my own place, had my first series of jobs, fell for the Asheville classic (seduced and dumped by bartender of grandiose ambition with a pretty-young-thing fetish and limited emotional capacities) and back out of it (see: "men who would not, could not, find the motivation to take action to heal their own wounds"), dabbled in therapy that wasn't sticking yet. It was in this state that I experienced my first missed connection. I went out with my sister Laura, my friend Louisa, and their farm worker friend Alex to a trivia night at a bar in West Asheville, the neighborhood I had just moved into. I was wearing a shirt from GoodWill my parents had bought me during their September birthday visit, a soft navy blue polo with the words Yu Ken Cut It in white lettering where a breast pocket would go. The conversation ranged from rent to debt to trivia team names to handjobs, hilarity combining with the slight hysteria of the recently moved and currently broke.  We walked down the warm, rainy street, saw not-yet-familiar faces. We ended the night at a place with ping-pong and foosball and such, buying the cheapest cans of beer they had and sitting on stools at the bar. I don't know whether it's a trick of my imagination or not--knowing as I do now what would come next--but I think I remember making eye contact with a dark-haired man on my way to the bathroom, crossing my legs and turning toward him again as I sat back down at the bar--a pleasant little frisson of nonverbal flirtation.

I woke up the next morning, by which of course I mean afternoon, and scrolled through the internet alone in my bed, summer light streaming in, shirtless with my skirt tugged down my hips in tangled sheets, a hungover reverie.  I've tried to find the original text but it is gone to the ravages of time, another lost piece of craigslist ephemera, a fitting symbol of the fleeting temporality of missed connections in general. It said something about my glasses, my thigh-high black socks, my dark hair. I don't remember the exact words, and I eventually lost that shirt, but I remember that night.

That's what I love about missed connections: however much they misfire, misspell, mistake attention for attraction or friendship for love, they also record. A moment in time recalled in solitude (near enough to the essence of poetry, I've heard)  followed by another moment, building on the first, of creation or discovery. In either role one's hands are hovering above a supposedly dehumanizing keyboard. But in each case there is a drawing out of yourself, either into your written expression or in the act of reading someone else's impression of you.

After that experience I started reading the section religiously. I looked for clues, talked and texted about it with friends, witnessed the sometimes beautiful, sometimes awful words of those unable to speak but full of feeling. Sagas unfolded, tales of betrayal, divorce, pregnancy, marriage--tremors of trouble and new love throughout--the trembling hope of  a first meeting, the pangs of consummation, the isolating wrench of lost or broken relationships. I looked for myself in the listings, scanning for mention of any recent outings, place names, key descriptors.  I looked for my friends, and exes, and coworkers, any identifying detail setting off a chain of conjecture. Sometimes there would be a lull, with only a few postings a day. Holidays were a sure sign that there would be a flurry of yearning, a rush of  people trying to make something happen with someone, anyone, even a stranger in line at the family dollar, serving you food in a restaurant, making their way across a parking lot with child in tow. I would have a romantic or erotically charged encounter with a stranger and peruse the section for hours or days afterward, hoping to see a note. I would fantasize about writing my own posts, although I never have. To the owner of the perfect red Nissan pick-up outside the yoga studio with flowers on the dash--I'm still looking for you.

If nothing else reading missed connections has proven to me that there is truly someone out there for everyone--in the most basic sense, others are looking at you, seeing you, attempting to make themselves known. There's no way of knowing who you might attract. These listings are evidence of nothing less than the sheer potential available to us. Sometimes this is not a pleasant revelation--there is humor and light and poetry in these pleas and also cruelty, violence, pain. When I'm feeling the worst about the world and the worst about Asheville I see the story played out in this online arena as proof that many people are ignorant, sexist, trapped, greedy, hungry for power. At other times I see the sheer joy of the people living in these mountains, drinking their coffee, selling their art, trying to survive--and taking a moment to compliment someone's smile, to let it be known that someone else's beauty or warmth or charm changed their life for the better, however briefly, to offer condolences to those still seeking love or those recently burdened with loss, to ask to be seen.

To see and understand that duality exists, to see and understand that multiplicity exists--this is the true education of the missed connections enthusiast, and it's why I can't tear myself away from them. They represent the unavoidable realities of the human condition. And Kevin, whoever he is, has a lot to answer for.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Twenty Minutes: January 13th

It takes twenty minutes to pick up the trash off your bedroom floor, start a load of laundry, make your bed, send an email to an ex-lover, put your shoes in the closet, screen a call asking you to donate blood, listen to Solomon Burke sing Cry to Me twice and Serena Ryder sing racing in the streets twice, put your books away, pick up all the half-empty coffee mugs and water glasses, turn some lights on and off, close the kitchen cabinets, hear the sound of your breath moist in your chest, take a gulp of coffee,  look at pictures of your friends three thousand miles away, know what tv they’re watching and music they’re listening to and food they’re eating. Just twenty minutes after salad and bacon for breakfast and a book of essays and a cold sit on a misty front porch. Warm bruises from a lover underneath ripped jeans, eggs baking in an oven, dreams hovering around the edges of consciousness still, speaking of war, speaking of floods, dreams violent and strategic, warnings of incalculable loss. The fact of the holes in these socks, the cold floor on my feet.  A problem worth fixing, in the mind of my lover, who gave me his cast-offs upon noticing the holes in these, who teased me about the manliness of their faded blackness, rough against smooth legs. Some fragility there and some shuddering of ego.  What can be found in the fact of these socks, in my obstreperousness in not replacing them--some sense of  poverty cheerfully accepted or duty abnegated? My casual shrug when he asks me why I’m wearing socks with holes in them--these are my socks, I said. I crave his noticing and his delivery of it has this flip side, his attention, like the marks on my skin, can be measured less in good or bad than by a quality of wholeness. He asks me if I've washed my hands when I eat leftover chicken from the fridge with my fingers, and my body stiffens in offense. But he comes over, asks me what is wrong, makes amends for hurt feelings, for colliding world views. Sometimes he dreams about tidal waves and this morning I read about Mars moving into Pisces, rigid structures of force encountering primal flow. I don’t think about washing my hands in that way, don’t or won’t or can’t replace my broken things, don’t care if the period stains aren't totally washed out of my jeans, if my shoes are muddy. I prefer the total effect, lipstick smeared across my freckles into a blush, the wet corners of my mouth, the stretch of skin and bone and muscle between my shirt and my hips, the intent and the artifice of shaved legs, perfume, lingerie. “I like this, but I don’t get the point of it,” he comments on the sheer nude bra, a scrap of purposeless lace. “That is the point.” I say.