Basically, Election Night

​We got all excited about the chance of floofy flakes.  Up to ten inches, they said. 

We bought the prediction-  then we bought all the bread, milk, and rock salt.  We made soup and stew and filled our Netflix queues with four days of distractions. 

We ignored the nagging little voice that tried to squelch our excitement, reminding us that we don’t get that kind of winter here.  We get days and days of crunchy rain and power outages,  not sledding and snow man building.

Then The Weather Channel, which watches over us from their climate controlled bubble atop a hillside in Columbus Georgia sent us their ambassador of weather anomalies, Jim Cantore.  And our inner skeptics gave way to the child-like excitement for snowcréme – for which we also bought the supplies.

At three o’clock, it began to rain.  By 7:30, we had sleet.  We fell asleep telling ourselves what a nice base of ice we were building on which our ten inches of pure white joy would be awaiting for us to wake up and begin sculpting.

What The Weather Channel and our local broadcasters knew, but did not tell us – due to wishful thinking, or collusion with the sled manufacturers, we’ll never know – is that a layer of lofty, warm air was pushing through our upper atmosphere.  Our snow was melting into rain above our heads and then turning to ice before it reached our rooftops.  We hadn’t a snowball’s chance in, well, Raleigh of accumulating ten inches of snow.  Any snow, for that matter.

But we wanted it so bad!  The overwhelming majority was excited.  If we’ve got to say goodbye to warmth and sunshine, bring on the snow!! Instead, the tiny, icy hands of winter grabbed us right where it hurt – in the hopes.

Those who stocked up on liquor are going to fare much better than the rest.  Gone are the French toast and snowcréme – we’re pouring White Russians down our throats now.

I’m a ring tailed dreamer


If I learned anything from last week’s trip to Tennessee, it’s that when I’m home I  need to get out more.  Every person I passed on the street in both Nashville and Memphis could rattle off a dozen things I needed to see while I was in town.  I can’t do the same for Raleigh.   There are places and things that thrill me, but those have zero tourist value.

My friend, Jen is visiting for the week. She arrived Thursday night and we giggled until two a.m.  I let her sleep in on Friday morning while I consulted TripAdvisor for things to do in Raleigh-Durham.  Since it’s winter, fully 4/5th of their suggestions were off the table. Who knew we were so outdoorsy? One possibility leaped out at me, furry arms wide open.  There was no time to properly vet the idea before it was clinging to my neck and poking leaves in my mouth.

I quietly knocked on Jen’s door and invited myself into her room.  I bounced on the corner of her bed and said, “Hey, do you want to paint with lemurs?”

A typical response for someone waking up to this question might be,  huh?  But Jen’s not typical and that’s why I love her.   She said,  “Hell, yeah!”

And I really don’t want to tell anybody how to live their life, but maybe those ought to be the first words we all utter every morning that we are lucky enough to wake up.

We spent the few remaining minutes of the morning getting dressed and looking deeper into the offerings of the Duke Lemur Center. We met in the upstairs hallway, disappointed. Jen had envisioned some sort of human-lemur collaboration, producing a joint piece of art. I’d imagined I’d get to hold a lemur by the tail, dip him in paint, and smear him on my canvas. Either one of us could have been right, but no. For $95 each, Duke will let visitors pick what color paint a couple of Lemurs step in before running across a sheet. And you get to keep the sheet. It’s just this woman’s opinion, but that activity neither rises to the price tag, nor the legal definition of painting with lemurs.

By the next afternoon I’d taken my children to visit with their father for the holiday weekend and dropped my husband at the airport for a week of skiing and Sundance Film Festival-ing. We met up with some friends for books, drinks, and dinner. To the outside world, I looked fine. But on the inside, I was still really bummed about that whole lemur thing.  Then my brain turned on.

If ideas came in color, the one I had next would have been hot pink and orange.  I invited our friends over for Sunday night. We would go to Walmart and buy stuffed lemurs!  I have plenty of stretched and primed canvases, and paint, at home.

Looking back, I have no idea why I was so certain Walmart would have lemurs. Nor can I explain why, when Jen was just making a helpful suggestion, I replied with such “judgey indignation” that, Ptshh. Dollar General doesn’t have Lemurs!

By the time I’d driven to the Toys R Us side of town, I was starting to feel like my brain had thrown a party that I wasn’t invited to. There was sangria and lemur painting up in there. But out here, in the cold, harsh, real world, there were no lemurs and I’m pretty sure that is some kind of racist bullshit. After striking out at a craft store, I remembered World Market.

Jen stayed in the parking lot to call her family back in Dallas, so I entered World Market alone.  By nature, I am not a shopper.  I don’t have the focus to comb through aisles of things so I walked right up to Tracy, the nearest sales person.  She appeared to be about 30 and of at least average intelligence, so I begged for her help.  “Do you have anything in here that is a lemur, or has a lemur in it, or on it?  I just need a lemur and it doesn’t really matter in what form.”  My point is, I clearly said lemur several times. And obviously, I was already showing signs of willingness to settle.

Jackpot!  She nodded and walked me to a shelf filled with all sorts of animal-shaped ornaments.  Or toys.  I couldn’t really tell what use these things were, except that they were about to satisfy my acute fixation on lemurs.  Then she pointed to the only two llamas on the shelf.


I didn’t want to come off as judgey and indignant again so I picked up the llamas, one white, one brown, and carried them to the register.  The line was moving slowly, so I had time to name them.  This is where Jen found me, with both llamas standing in my outstretched palm, like they were freely roaming the countryside of Peru.

“Serena, what are you doing?”  Who sounded judgey and indignant now?

“Shhhhh.”  I didn’t want Tracy to hear this.

“But those aren’t lem-”

“Shhhhh!” I hushed her, louder, and kind-of jerked my head towards Tracy, who was now helping another customer.

“They’re not lem-”

I interrupted her again, with a staccato whisper and more head jerking.  “I.  Know.  They’re.  Not.  Lemurs.  But she thinks they are.”

Jen’s face showed nothing but confusion.  “But why are you buying them?”

I didn’t actually have an answer for her, so I moved my palm to the nearest shelf and set Jake and Elwood free, along with any hope of painting with lemurs.  I hesitated at the door, trying to convince myself that painting with llamas would totally be as fun as painting with lemurs, but my one-track brain would have none of that.  Besides, everybody knows Llamas are for raffling off, not for painting. I returned home, defeated.

We still had our party Sunday night, but it changed from a lemur painting party into a yoga pants party.  There was moonshine sangria; there is always sangria.  The next morning I nursed sore cheeks from laughing so hard the past few days and it was not lost on me that, yet again, things didn’t turn out the way I (hastily) planned; they turned out better.

My frantic search wasn’t a new one.  I’ve always been hunting lemurs in one form or another.  I have these ideas, sometimes silly, sometimes even sillier.  And you know what?  I have an awful lot of fun trying to catch them.  

Hell, yeah!



The Stones

imageMy fundamentalist mother believed Rock N Roll was from the devil and responsible for my older brother’s drug problem. In her effort to save me the same fate, her car and home radios were permanently tuned to a Christian station out of Black Mountain which primarily featured fire and brimstone type sermons.

She fancied herself a vocal artist and had a gigantic collection of accompaniment tapes of “contemporary” Christian music. Back then, all contemporary meant was your traditional hymns, as played on a 72 key, battery powered keyboard.

I wasn’t completely cut off from secular music. My dad’s restaurant had a juke box that snuck me a little Conway Twitty or Dolly Parton every now and then.

There was the friend whose parents had a band. When I visited, they were usually getting high having band practice out in their barn, so we’d put on some Dwight Yoakam or Skynyrd and dance like fools.

No, I mean actual fools.

Once I got my own radio I was still stifled by the lack of stations I could pick up. With a house that sat in a pockmark on a mountain, the choices were slim. Little known fact I’m making up right now: EZ listening sound waves travel further than the waves made by good music.

As a teen my horizons were expanded by an automobile capable of driving into town to meet the better radio waves at the Boone city limit. Coincidentally, that was also where we met the pizza delivery guy.

Most of my favorite artists are the ones I was introduced to between the ages of about 16 and 18. And often, by the time I was introduced the bands were already breaking up or dying off.

While none of them have resurrected yet, many have gotten back together, so I’ve made an effort to go see all the good music, live, before they start dying off again – or finish dying, as the case may be.

Despite the years and mileage on these people, I have not been disappointed! In the last few years I’ve seen Tony Bennett (twice), Eagles, Journey, Steve Miller Band, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young, to name but a few. At each show I’ve been captivated by the clarity of their voices, their mobility, and the muscle memory in their arms and fingers that allows them to still play the songs in the exact same way they did 30 or 40 years ago.

Just last night I got to see The Rolling Stones! The show was fantastic. The music, the energy, the wardrobe! But I’ve got an embarrassing little confession; like many, many before me, I have fallen victim to the mesmerizing powers of Mick Jagger’s crotch.

It’s not like I would expect him to shop off the rack, but he was wearing skinny jeans that were custom tailored to allow for the saggyness of an aged man’s scrotum. You could say those Stones really have some longevity.

And he wore them quite well, I might add.

How Suburban White Women Bond


I went on my feeble, little jog this morning,  then headed to DD for my coffee.  While out, I decided to stop at Target for a couple of camping supplies: batteries, twizzlers, bubble gum.  You camp your way, I’ll camp mine.

I was still wearing my knee-length stretchys and racer-back top.  Most of my hair was still in the bun I threw it in before the run,  which means the straps of my sports bra weren’t hidden.
One of the things I love about being 40 is that I rarely feel self concious anymore, and this morning I was feeling extra-not self concious.


I, as it turns out,  am a very approachable person – to strangers.   I know me to be an overly critical bitch sometimes, but apparently this isn’t a vibe easily picked up on by the uninitiated.

After paying, I was on my way out the door when a Jersey-accented lady behind me (in similar attire, because that’s Wakefield pre-10am dress code) says, “Oh, I just hate those racer-backs, don’t you?”

I don’t know why,  but I assume she is making reference to my VBS (visible bra straps, not vacation bible school).

“Yeah, ’cause you can’t get in or out of the racer-back bras without tearing a rotator cuff,” I reply.

“Well there’s that, but they also squeeze you and show your back fat.”

That bitch.

But then she walked in front of me and I realized she was right.  Her back fat was all bubbled up in her armpits.

I think we’d be pretty good friends.