It’s the 1950s. Two COOL GIRLS are listening to some rock and roll. A third girl approaches.
Third Girl: What are you listening to? I’ve never heard of this sound before! It’s really h–ot
First Girl (interrupting): You weren’t going to say hot, were you?
Second Girl: That’s what our mothers say.
First Girl: Only old flapper girls trying to relive their childhoods say hot.
Second Girl: Only squares say hot.
Third Girl: No, I was going to say that it’s really…h…
She looks around in a panic, and sees them leaning on one leg, with their hands on their hips
Third Girl: …hip. It’s really hip.
Second Girl: What’s hip?
Third Girl: It’s better than chill. It’s better than cool. It’s not a temperature at all. It’s hip.
She shakes her booty. The Cool Girls gasp
First Girl: That’s so…
Second Girl: Hip.
First Girl: I know.
They all start dancing
Second Girl: Golly, it’s sure swell to rebel!
I live about twenty minutes outside of Raleigh, the 43rd most populated state in the United states. It has a population of about 430,000. I live right next to Cary, which has a population of 151,000. I live in the heart of suburbia — “encroaching suburbia” is what it can best be called. The farm that Lacey and I visited in October is about five minutes from where I live.
When I was driving home a few weeks ago, I turned onto Church Street and noticed that there was an awful lot of smoke. As I continued driving, I thought it smelled like smoke, too. The smoke was only getting denser and denser the closer I got to the Presbyterian Church. Finally I spotted a sign — fireman training in progress. I glanced across the street from the church and saw a house engulfed in flames. I saw a woman sitting in a lawnchair, watching. I saw maybe one fireman standing outside the house. That’s all I saw in the split second before I turned my eyes back onto the road.
I wondered if I should go back and watch. Clearly they weren’t stopping the one woman on the lawnchair. But I was also very tired, since I had been up since 5:00 in the morning. I decided to go home and stay home.
I regretted that decision. What happened to going out and living? Seeing new sights? How often did one get to watch a house burn down?
Two days ago I kept myself busy. I cleaned a fishtank, in preparation for goldfish. I reorganized my living room. I read two books — I can’t really concentrate, so I would pick them up, read a page or two, set them down, and walk away. I ate well. I was feeling satisfied with myself. So I decided that I would, indeed, go take a closer look at the burned down house.
First of all, if someone ever asks me for fun things to do in Morrisville, NC, “walking down Church Street” is not something I would recommend. Church Street has intermittent sidewalks and the ground immediately drops down from the road. I was frequently in danger of being run over.
In the ditch between the road and the burned house, someone has tossed a fresh stack of hay, making it easy for me to cross over to the burned-down property. Where did they get the hay? Why do we have hay? Church Street is weirdly rural, in the center of suburbia.
However, the burned-down house had police tape all around it.
“I am a responsible 28-year-old member of society,” I told myself. “I’m not going to cross that line.”
But I was so far away and could only take so many pictures from one angle.
“I just won’t walk on the house,” I said. “Just on the lawn.”
So I got as close as five feet from the house. Look at those pictures. Totally worth getting a potential trespassing fine. I have no idea what the “C” means. Condemned? I don’t know legal things.
“Yes,” I said, inspecting the house in the fading light. “That is a burnt bunch of house things.”
I went home.
But, of course, living close to condemned houses and houses flying the Confederate flag isn’t the only good thing about living in encroaching suburbia. Since we’re surrounded by farms, we got to go berry-picking!
They’re Sweet Charlie tomatoes from a farm near Cary. We picked them ourselves! In the sun! We had honey from the same farm! I bought a cantaloupe and a tomato plant. It’s the last days of berry-picking season, so there wasn’t much to get, but we managed to get a full bucket of blood-red strawberries (for pie, of course). I learned a lot! Strawberry plants have flowers! Honeybees are nice! Strawberries taste best right off the plant!
I haven’t posted in a month! It’s been a very busy month.
-James and I moved to a townhouse! We’ve been here for ten days now, and it’s been great. We have so much space. We can fit all of our furniture here. The most difficult part was getting the kitchen fixed up. We hadn’t realized how little storage this place has, so we had to buy a bunch of shelves.
They’re filled with dishes. The cabinets are full of food. Everything seems laid out nicely now!
-Every time I sit down to start a blog entry, I started writing fiction instead. Which is good. Except for the fact that I went a month without updating. Will my future children want to look at this blog and see what all of my thoughts were when their father and I were moving? (no)
-We bought a wedding dress! It is beautiful! Now I have to pick a printer for the Save-the-Dates and start working with my Ladies to pick out their dresses. The process of picking out the dress could be the fodder of so many blog entries, but, alas, that stuff has to be secret.
-I finally sought help for my depression. I visited an independent doctor (hard to find in this area, the intersection of UNC and Duke). My doctor introduced herself and explained the concept of the clinic (less patients, more time with each patient). We went through all the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and yes: I have anxiety and depression. Not a severe case, but definitely a case. So she prescribed regular exercise, medication, and visiting a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.
Something I was surprised to learn: my tendency to not want to get out of bed is a fairly common sign of depression. My tendency to not want to leave my car when I get to my destination? My inability to get off the couch when I’m hungry or have to pee and want to get up, but can’t? That is exactly the same symptom. Who knew?
Doctors. Doctors knew.
-Look at this writing though:
Asking about any sort of magic would look suspicious, and for days Martha was held up by not knowing how to proceed. In her twenty-two years of governing, she had never had a problem like this before. She turned the question over in her mind. She would be tickling Lily and start wondering if the local laundry girls would know anything. Hyacinth would take her two girls out for walks and would start making sniping statements, but Martha would be wondering if the local coven had some sort of signal to signify a meeting, and if so, what could it be?
The answer came rather undramatically. Lily woke up one morning red in the face, coughing, and hot as an oven. Martha and Dawn worried over Lily while waiting for the physician. For a while Martha forgot about the frog and the witches.
The physician explained it was just a sort of generic fever. He prescribed fluids, and stated that the room be kept as hot as possible to help the fever along. They were to summon him if the fever became any worse.
As he left the bedroom, he paused by Froggy.
“Has this been attracting bugs?” he asked.
“No,” said Martha. “But look.”
She tore off a small piece of bread from Lily’s bedside and put it in front of Froggy. Froggy considered the bread, then snatched it up. “He won’t eat bugs,” she added.
“Interesting,” said the physician quietly. “Have you consulted the Sisters?”
“I haven’t consulted anyone,” Martha whispered.
“The sisters meet at the full moon where the tributary meets the river,” said the physician. “Speak of this to no one.” Dawn and handmaiden entered the apartment. The physician said, louder, “Keep me informed on your girl’s condition, and make sure she stays in bed. Little girls get antsy after too much rest.”
“I’ll keep you informed,” said Martha.
“On the girl,” said the physician.
Martha smiled and curtsied.
I am a terrible writer. Just the worst. I don’t want to be blunt. I want to be light. I want to be like Jane Austen. I want to write sentences backwards just to point fun at social conventions. Believe it or not (especially given this example), my main writing strength is in dialogue. I couldn’t think of a way to get all this information across lightly.
So I’ve had to step back from wanting to write well and convince myself to just write. It might help that I joined a writer’s circle. They gave me a lot of good advice on improving a scene I’ve been struggling with in Pizza Boy and Maggie.