Lawnmowers and wedding ponchos

Blogger just redid its format so I can see all the drafts of posts that I've started without publishing or deleting over the years and I just found this line from November 2009: I may be in denial but I still refuse to believe that I need a binder to plan a wedding. God, I'm stubborn sometimes. Enough people tell me I need a binder and I will steadfastly refuse to buy (into) it. My wedding was a still screaming success but that binder represented something much larger to me, as do lawnmowers.

I can't remember ever consciously thinking about lawnmowers but when we rented this house in Nashville with a yard and Matthew mentioned buying a lawnmower, I FLIPPED. I instantly hit a wall of hatred for lawnmowers and I straight-up refused to buy one, or at least a large, loud, gas-powered one. "Fuck lawnmowers," I believe I put it. Because I'm not completely irrational, I admitted that our house is attached to a yard, a yard we'd been thinking would be awesome for Patsy, and that it needed to be mowed but I would only consider a hand-pushed rotary blade mower. Or scissors. "I will get down on my hands and knees and cut every blade of grass in sight with scissors before I buy a big lawnmower."

Matthew was intrigued by my vehemence and probed at my reasoning: Was it the expense? The environment? The noise? Did the lawnmower represent the suburbs and I was recoiling out of some sort of urban principle? No, yes, yes, and yes again. I don't care for big yards. If I'm going to have a yard, I'd prefer some trees, flowers, vegetables and rocks to keep it from being so grassy. And if I do have a lot of grass, I'd prefer to also have some sort of grazing animal who keeps that shit in check. Note: Patsy has been grazing. She bites at the grass with an OCD-like tic when she gets excited but then she comes inside and pukes so the positive is outweighed by the vomit. In the end we didn't get any lawnmower because our landlord gave us the number of a guy who will cut the lawn for us. Matthew's allergies have kicked in so badly here that he can barely breathe at times and I'm rarely home so this is the best option for now.

Now, back to weddings! Everyone knows that when I got engaged, I dreaded all the fuss. I was extremely self-conscious about telling people at first because the news often elicits a lot of squealing and "let me see the ring"s and it made me uncomfortable. If I were in a rom com, I would be the friend of Jennifer Aniston who rolls her eyes and smokes a lot of cigarettes. Mandy once likened me to Miranda from Sex in the City. My close friends all get it and buffered their comments like this, "I know how you are but I'm soooooo excited for you!" And that was just fine. People who don't know me quite as well have told me not to be "too cool for school" and that I'm "trying" to be some way. I can usually brush it off or explain myself but every now and then it totally gets to me and I've cried to Matthew, literally tears rolling down my face, that I'm not trying to be anything. I'M BEING MYSELF. Ask my mom. I was like this in f'ing preschool. I declined her offer to go to Disney World when I was ten. Sometimes I wish I knew how to be more gushy. I wish I loved costume parties, board games, team sports, and lawnmowers but I just don't.


Sara gave us a framed photo for our wedding, a photo of a fence. Handwritten in cursive underneath is something along the lines of tearing down our heart-fences and how we will not be safe but we will be saved. We didn't put it up in our Kentucky home but it hung in the hallway in Oceanside and it's in our bedroom in Nashville. I sent her a photo of it the other day when I was lying in bed looking at it. She wrote back and said she was happy I liked it, that she thought it might be too cheesy for me when she bought it. "Even I let the cheese in sometimes," I wrote back.

Two of my friends were recently engaged. I heard about Casey first and I pretty much started jumping up and down and had to call her because I was in Tennessee but if we'd been in the same city, it's possible that I would have squealed right in her face. How's that for a turn of events? I'm really, really happy for her. A bit later I called her back and left a long message on the topic of engagement photo shoots and how so many people not only do them but seem to find themselves picnicking in their shoots. I'm guessing, but I doubt most of these couples ever go on picnics until they get engaged and the next thing you know they're sitting on a blanket in a field, cracking up, holding hands, and feeding each other grapes. Because Casey's sense of humor is similar to mine, I think her and Bob's engagement picnic would be hilarious so I offered to fund the shoot. She hasn't gotten back to me on that. She did, however, send me an incredible photo the other day. A few months back we had a long, protracted Facebook exchange on the subject of ponchos when I bought a poncho on impulse and was still grappling with the implications. Yes, ponchos have implications. Casey was all for the poncho even though it was vaguely reminiscent of the baha circa 1995 and when she got engaged I said I'd get her a wedding poncho.

WELL, THEY EXIST. Who am I to make jokes about a wedding poncho? Or bridal cape as this Etsy shop calls it.


My favorite book so far this year: Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan. I found it at Parnassus Books, an independent book store in Nashville opened by Ann Patchett and Karen Hayes, and until these essays I had no clue I was so interested in Bunny Wailer, Christian rock festivals, ancient cave paintings in Tennessee, Tea Party marches, strange and violent animal behavior, the One Tree Hill house in Wilmington, DE, Michael Jackson, the questionable death of a census worker in Eastern Kentucky, long-lost Blues recordings, or the forgotten work and possibly repugnant personality of French German naturalist Constantine Rafinesque. Oh, and Axl Rose.

Athens of the South

Before Nashville was Music City, it was called Athens of the South because it had more institutions of higher education than any other Southern city in the 19th century, the first public school system in the South, and an educational leader who aimed to bring the classics to Tennessee via the study of Greek, Latin, and Philosophy. When the time came for the state to celebrate its 100th birthday in 1895, Nashville had an expo and built an exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, minus the ruins. Today it stands in Centennial Park.

Laughing quietly to myself

About how I sat on the couch yesterday and teared up because I loved the song Matthew played for me on vinyl. When we got back from the bar last night, I did some research and found out it's a cover from MIAMI VICE. I am forced to admit that the song, Crockett's Theme, originally by Jan Hammer, covered by FPU then remixed by Tiga, a song (FPU version) I was already starting to think of as my song might be best accompanied by a shot of Don Johnson walking down the beach in a white blazer and lavender pants.


Laughing quietly to myself

About how I thought I was texting Matthew but accidentally wrote our van driver in Scranton and 1) called him baby and 2) told him that the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea of vacationing in Canada. "I don't even know your name," he said after reading the texts aloud to everyone in the van. Thanks, Phil.


Matty does stuff like this.


California and back mix

This time last year I thought about putting together a mix called Coast Highway. We were a few months into our California year and I was spending a good amount of time driving up and down the Coast Highway and I-5, playing music in the car and thinking about how scenery affects my choices. In footwear: I was regularly wearing flip flops even though I don't like flip flops. In music: it got sunnier to match the relentless beam of Southern California light. I still adored the darker stuff but it was harder to connect to in such proximity to so many stoned surfers. On our drive back towards Ohio and Nashville in December, I considered but didn't follow through on making an I-40 mix. And over the many times I've driven between Cincinnati and Nashville these past three months I've thought, "Okay fine, now it's the I-65 mix, are we doing this or not?"

This mix is all of that. I don't know how to describe its character except as snapshots of wildly different landscapes and highways and (mental) states through music. To drive in California is awfully different than in Tennessee. In California the drivers are aggressive and they are assholes but they're good at what they do. SoCal is a car culture. They drive fast and you have to get used to it but once you do, you know what to expect and it's all good. Note: so California of me to say "all good" like that.

In Tennessee, the drivers turn corners and into driveways with the speed of a snail but the rest of the time they are ERRATIC. Highway drivers cut lanes, many at a time, with no provocation, no blinkers, and without the space to do so. The only predictable element is that there seem to be no agreed upon rules. I was on a rant about it when Matthew told me, "Well, you know Tennessee only started requiring driving tests in 1998."

"WHAT? There are a bunch of old people on the road who've never taken a driving test?"

"No, there are a bunch of 30-year-olds on the road who've never take a driving test."

"That explains so much."

Hello - Lionel Richie feat. Jennifer Nettles - Lionel gets back to his Southern roots. Just go with it.

Future Starts Slow - The Kills - Inspires some of the best seated-in-a-car-dancing I've ever done.

Dark Allies - Light Asylum - Makes me want to beat my fists on my legs, head bang, and throw myself against a wall. My dream house has a room with padded walls.

We Have Everything - Young Galaxy - "Help me forget all the worry worry, just split the sky and free me to be golden" = cross-country driving optimism.

The High Road - Broken Bells - The high road is hard to find. Or is it?

Midnight Rider - Patti Smith - I was sitting at a Burbank train station when I finished Patti Smith's book Just Kids and my impulse was to turn back to page one and read it again. I started re-listening to her music then and haven't stopped.

Baptized in Black Light - Kenna - I like referring to Kenna as my boyfriend or as our "brother husband" when Matthew is within earshot. I am sort of kidding.

Celestica - Crystal Castles - Speaking of Mormons, I associate this with palm trees and the Mormon temple on the side of the highway near San Diego. I think this would come as a surprise to the Canadian duo.

Ok - Beastie Boys - The Beastie Boys are in my personal hall of fame and I listen to them on every single highway I ever have, and ever will, drive on.

B.S.E. - Young Galaxy - Intoxicated by reinvention. Intoxicated by transformation. Yes.

Look at Miss Ohio - Miranda Lambert - "Miranda" and "Lambert" are two of the new words I've learned since working in Country music.

10 Mile Stereo - Beach House - We bought the Beach House CD Teen Dream from a record shop in Carlsbad just after moving to California.

Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap - When I play the drums, my practices will probably be a lot like this video.

Goth Star (Pictureplane Cover) - HEALTH - Last.fm tagged this as "witch chill". HAAAAA. There should be a Mad Libs specifically for music genres: just add "chill", "wave", or "gaze" to your noun of choice.

Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake - Zola Jesus - "I love the feeling when you hear a song that is so overwhelming and powerful it makes your veins hurt. I'd like to write one of those songs one day" - ZJ

Toledo, OH