Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday night in the...

Last night I had my first NW Arkansas clubbing experience.

The experience started with me being late to pick up my friend Stephanie - not quite sure why I signed up to be the designated driver since I most definitely planned on drinking heavily. After about 3 minutes in my car she said: "are you a new driver?" She said it was because I was v serious about 10-and-2 and wouldn't break eye contact with the road for even a second, but she was just too nice to rehash the ignored stop sign and unnecessary swerving (the gravel on her road was freaking me out).

Dinner at Bordino's involved a few glasses of wine and a delicious bubblegum shot to accompany my now-routine wild boar sausage fettucine (still as good as the first time).

Post-dinner drinks at Theo's was a farce. The place was filled with girls of various shades of pale skin and blond hair in shoes they couldn't walk in (lots of clomping and small staggers) and uber-formal mini dresses. Seriously? In a college town that has the football team's pig mascot everywhere? Even the expensive jewelry store has a horrible (yet slightly more subdued) bronze hog in its window.

After a lot of yawning and some crew attrition Stephanie and I and a couple we had met (a v dorky guy and girl with Texas hair) finally swallowed our pride and paid the $5 cover to the only dance club on the main strip - Fix. It calls itself an "ultralounge." All snide-ness aside, though, it was kind of fun. The DJ was doing that annoying thing they all seem to do now which is play every song just long enough for you to recognize it and just short enough for you to be PISSED that it's over. But the songs were good for the most part, and once the couple left Stephanie and I had a pretty good time dancing.

Thankfully, the drive home was on mostly deserted roads, because I was up to a good 10 drinks by then and utterly exhausted because 2am is WAY past my usual 9pm bedtime. This morning has been a sorry story of ramen and Family Ties episodes, and now I have to buckle down and finish this presentation I promised my boss by this evening. SATURDAY evening - ugh.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The great outdoors

There is a drive-through safari 20 minutes from my house (there's drive-through everything around here). So when the kids came to visit we took my shiny new car there to get crumbs and animal saliva all over it.

Turns out ostrich are surprisingly greedy over-eaters despite their slender legs. Once they saw we were handing out bread they wouldn't stop following us and sticking their nasty beaked heads into our windows or tapping against them if they were closed.

It's amazing how friendly and forward these wild animals become once they learn that there's dried hot dog buns in it for them. My boss made sure to remind me to bring bread because the first time he went he could only find Cheetos in his car for his son to give the animals and the camel's nose turned orange from eating out of the bag.

Fried Brown Oreos

It's taken me a while, but I am finally getting around to posting pics from the Tonitown Grape Festival - I don't know how you've all been able to wait this long.

According to its historians, Tontitown has a long and distinguished Italian heritage since a group of Italians moved to that particular corner of NW AR a long time ago and never left (not sure if any additional waves came to join them, but considering the location, it's unlikely).

So once a year they hold a grape festival (I don't get the correlation either, but everyone else takes it as obvious) where they serve tens of people plates of over-cooked pasta bolognese and fried chicken (actually a delicious combo) and grape-colored soft-serve ice cream. There was not, as hoped, any wine to be seen anywhere at the festival. But there were fried oreos, which were AMAZING.

There was also an arts and crafts festival which was more like the cheapo trail end of a NYC street fair, except that they sold Confederate bikinis. For reals.

That says "Try Taking This Down," in case its hard to read. Apparently accepted public opinion of the legacy of the South is still up for negotiation down here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


This weekend, in addition to some work and some drinking with new acquaintances, I volunteered Sat and Sun with a food drive organized by co-workers. They had organized for bins to be set up outside of the area supercenters, and tags to be put up inside the store pointing out non-perishable items you could buy to donate to the drive. My job was to stand outside and let people know on their way in that they could buy to donate on their way out.

The horrible thing was, since we were standing outside stores with the cheapest goods in America, lots of the people we were asking to donate were the same people the food would end up being given to. And they were the ones who pointed it out. On multiple occasions people said things like "we can't even afford food for our whole family" or "he's been in the hospital for so long without a paycheck that I'm sorry but we don't have nothing to give."

I've never seen American poverty like this. I'm used to seeing people dressed raggedly and clearly crack addicts, or clearly lower-income but still dressed in clean/trendy clothes, or just straight homeless trying to find things in the garbage.

But people in rural American look like photographs from the Steinbeck/Oakies era. Their clothing had dirt permanently washed into them, they were missing teeth (granted, in this part of America that could be due to poverty/no dental care, but it could also be the result of meth), but they own cars and probably live in the rickety houses with lawns filled with car parts that I drive by sometimes.

None of this should really be surprising (although when my co-worker told me some people eat cat food because it's cheaper than meat I couldn't believe her), and it's not the level of poverty that shocked me, it's how it was manifested. Even people with nothing prioritize, and what they prioritize here (or what they have to, e.g. a car) is so different from what the same people prioritize in New York. I wonder how long it'll take me to get used to this place.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Man's best friend

Now that I have a cat I need a cat carrier - I can't continue using that Raisin Bran box with the jagged holes. So I went on-line to find something and what I found was that people are insane about their pets.

They need to stroll them around in prams - when I saw this I thought had directed me to the wrong category.

They can't leave them alone for even a second, even bringing them along on bike rides.

And they can't just let them sit in the car of course, or in a regular carrier - instead they need this contraption.

City Kitty v City Mouse

Monday I brought home my new kitty cat in a family-sized Raisin Bran box and named her City.

It took her a few hours, but she soon became familiar enough with me to be doing sweet things like curling up in my lap and going to sleep. Her purring is as loud as a monster truck and she can be so cute and affectionate. She likes to drink water from my water glass, and sticks her whole head in the glass when I tip it over for her. At night she jumps around my bed, waking me up so I jiggle my toes under the duvet and send her into a frenzy of pouncing with her tail and back hair sticking straight up. She was also litter trained the moment she walked into the house, and already at only two and a half months is fully capable of taking care of herself.

But when she is not acting cute she is a hellion, and she does much more rabble-rousing than cuddling. She insists on hanging out on the dining table whenever I'm eating, sticking her poopy butt or tail into my plate when I push her nose out of it. If I am successful in actually getting her off the table she climbs over the dining chairs and onto the kitchen counter and still-hot stovetop, which forces me to stop eating AND COME FETCH HER. Argh. Her other favorite activity is walking over my computer keyboard while I am trying to check my email or get work done. This time she only walked over the caps lock key but she has turned it off before, closed windows and files, and turned the screen light down to darkness while I wasn't looking - until I figured it out I thought my computer was dead for good because all my pushing of the power button wasn't doing anything.

This picture is from her very first evening at home - apparently she likes the dirt in the treepot and refused to stay out of it. Instead she would jump in, paw around, then jump out to trail dirt crumbs all over my livingroom. I solved the dirt problem by tightly covering the inner pot with plastic bags, which makes it a pain to water every day and is I think slowly killing the tree (still a preferable outcome to dirt all over my floor).

Just looking around my apartment now there are signs of City destruction everywhere. Yesterday's mail is scattered on the floor around the dining table (where I had placed them originally), teeth marks on all the corners. My dishcloths are strewn on the floor of my kitchen even though I've put them back on the oven rail a million times already this morning. When I tried to explain to her that she shouldn't play with them because they would fall off the rail and onto the floor again, she responded by jumping on them and suspending herself a few inches from the floor by digging her nails into them. Of course she looked so funny I couldn't bear to let go and drop the towels and her onto the floor to teach her a lesson.

There is even a ghetto-looking cardboard box that my peaches came in that I personally covered in catnip and filled with an envelope, plastic bag and dishcloth. Of course, after all my effort, she hasn't even looked at it and instead continues to wreck everything else in the house except what I've tried to distract her with. And now she's managed to get into the kitchen sink and is licking my sponges.