Tag Archives: tallahassee

crash into jesus

Even though I have an iPod, whenever I arrive in a new city my first order of business is to find a good variety radio station. Or better yet, a 90s station. I mean, we’ve met; you know me and 90s music. The best one I ever found was in Tallahassee. It broadcast out of Albany, GA, and I could only get it in my car, but man was it heaven. GenX Albany. Played all 90s, all the time. Until they killed it and turned it into a Top 40 station.

So now that I’m in Cincinnati, I’ve found three acceptable stations – two variety and one rock. One of the variety stations is clearly superior to the other two (read: plays more Hootie and La Bouche), but it broadcasts out of Norwood, and as far as I can tell, unless you’re physically in Norwood the station is pretty weak. Unfortunately, the other (much stronger) station on that frequency is a Contemporary Christian station. Sometimes it’s a battle – how much cheesy Jesus love do I want to put up with while trying to get my Deep Blue Something fix?

And then, something amazing happened. I tuned in to find the Norwood station and the Jesus station locked horns in a stalemate that left them essentially alternating phrases. The best part: it was some cheesy Jesus song versus DMB’s “Crash.” That’s right, the song about voyeurism. This, to the best of my artist’s rendering, is how it went:

“Touch our lips just so I know… you’re my salvation, you’re my redeemer… Hike up your skirt a little more and show… your mercy and grace are all that I need, and…  I watch you there through the window and I stare at you wearing not a thing… Jesus, you’re my everything… the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal… touched me and now I’m free.”

I nearly drove off the road from laughing so hard – it could not have happened with better songs. I don’t know that I will ever again be fortunate enough to hear something like this. Eric Cartman would be proud.

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road rage

This post is a long time in coming. A long time. I am going to try to keep this as concise as possible, because 1. I could go on forever, and 2. my blood pressure will skyrocket.

That being said, Tallahassee drivers are the worst drivers on the face of the planet. And today I encountered every. single. fucking. way. these people annoy me.

-The guy stopped at the red light in front of me didn’t notice it turned green until I reminded him with my horn. (This happens daily.) (I have also had to do this to cops.)
-At a different red light, the guy in front of me neglected to notice traffic was moving until I reminded him with my horn.
-Making a protected left, the person at the head of the line was so slow to react (and the person behind him and the person behind him) that by the time I, three cars later, got to the light, it was red.
-Someone cut me off without signaling then immediately slammed on the brakes.
-Someone was too impatient to wait an extra three seconds for the clear road behind me and merged in front of me, forcing me to slam the brakes. Then he never got up to speed.
-A guy pulled out in front of me to make a left but sat in my lane until he had a window to complete the turn.
-Someone tailgated me up my street; I was doing 40 in a 35. I signaled and braked to turn into my complex, but by the time they realized I was braking, they were too close to stop and had to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid rear-ending me.
-I don’t remember how many times this happened today, but I remember at least five instances of people apparently slowing down for no reason, then turning without signaling.
-The person in front of me doing less than 30 in a 55. On a two-lane road. Never turning, never speeding up.
-And the crowning jewel: In rush hour traffic, I am in the left lane, stopped at a light, about six cars back. The right lane is open as far as I can see. I signal right, check my mirrors, look over my shoulder, merge. As I pull up, the fucking assclown in front of me decides she wants the right lane too, and without looking or signaling pulls to the right, nearly sideswiping me. I have no time to lay on the horn, I slam the brakes so I don’t hit her and swerve into the turning lane. She doesn’t even wave as an “I’m sorry” gesture. I gave her the best double New York Greeting I could muster. Several times.

These people seriously drive like toddlers. “My space on the road. Mine. La la la I can’t see you. Ooh I want that space now. It’s mine too. *Swerve* Well you didn’t have your name on it so I don’t see why I should have to ask permission or tell you what I’m gonna do.” Honestly, they occupy their little spot, don’t feel the need to pay attention to their surroundings, and if they feel like cutting across three lanes, they will. Without looking or signaling. I could absolutely kill these people, but they’d probably do a better job of it themselves.

And the sad thing is, I’m not really asking a lot of them. I just want two things:

PAY ATTENTION. When you’re at a light, watch the light. When you want to turn or merge, judge the traffic window. If someone will have to slam the brakes, for God’s sake wait. If you want to change lanes, for the love of all that is good and holy look where you’re going. Make sure nobody is already in the lane. Check your mirrors. Look behind you. Make sure nobody is coming up fast enough that you’ll cause an accident.

USE YOUR SIGNALS, GODDAMMIT. This is a matter of safety. If I see you signaling to turn, I’m going to back off and give you more room to slow down. If I see you randomly slowing down, I won’t have idea what’s going on. If you’re stopped at an intersection, everyone in all directions will benefit from knowing where you’re going. It’s hard to determine right-of-way when we assume you’re going straight but you turn instead. And if you’re going to merge, signal. I will understand your intentions and back off to give you room to pull in. I’ll give you leeway to get up to speed. When we’re driving bumper-to-bumper, three lanes across, at 60mph, the last thing we need is some cretin swerving without warning.

It’s like that bike campaign: “Share the road.” Except these self-absorbed bastards need to realize they’re sharing the road with anyone. At all.

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why i’m going to the shop tomorrow

Cholong and I had just spent the better part of the afternoon at cold, windy Alligator Point. Coming back into town on 319, heading north approaching Capital Circle, I move to pass a car on the right. He’s doing about 43 in the fast lane, and the speed limit is 45. I see the bank of plastic boxes in the back window and instantly realize it’s an unmarked patrol car. So I tap the brake and back it down to about 49, and begin passing him very slowly. The glow on his face from the in-car console confirms my suspicions. I continue to pass him. He pulls in behind me and starts creeping up on me, then almost immediately backs off. I’m doing 50. I can’t decide if he wants to pass me, or if he’s playing on the console, or what. I need to be in the left lane anyway, so I signal and move.

He moves in behind me and on go the blue lights.

Sonofabitch, what did I do? I wasn’t speeding enough to be pulled over. And if that’s his reason, that’s gotta be the most stupid unfair thing I’ve ever heard. 50 in a 45, please.

I pull into the Citgo station, kill the fuel, kill the iPod, roll down the windows. (The thought briefly crosses my mind that even if I wanted to flash him to get out of this, I couldn’t, as I’m wearing a sweater over a t-shirt.) He walks over. Says he’s with the highway patrol, and did I know my tag light is out? No, sir, I had absolutely no idea! (How the fuck would I know that?) He tells me it’s something a lot of people overlook but nevertheless it needs to be fixed. Yes, sir. I give him license/insurance/registration, he goes back to the patrol car.

I crack up. Really? A tag light? Like, the little light that shines on my license plate? Not even a stupid brake light? Holy shit. This guy is getting a running start on making his January quotas.

He returns and I put my serious face back on. He hands me my license and a folded sheet of paper, saying he’s not giving me a ticket or citation but a thing telling me it needs to be fixed (as if pulling me over and giving me an adrenaline jolt weren’t enough). He sends me on my way. He leaves the station before I do, because I’m still laughing.

On the way home, I notice that approximately every 5th car’s tag light is out. Wonder if he pulled them over, too.

Absolutely ridiculous.

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publix. where shopping is not a pleasure.

Over the last week or so, I’ve heard the same commercial on the radio a few times. It goes something like this.

“All supermarket grand openings are the same. The aisles are clean and bright, the associates are cheerful. They bring in the best meat-cutter and cake-decorator in the chain. But then two or three days later it all returns to mediocre. That’s where Publix is different. It’s always mediocre!”

Actually, she said that Publix always stays cheerful and spotless after the grand opening, that the cake-decorators are top notch and the meat-cutter will cut a steak exactly how you like it. I was just pretty sure she was going to say it’s always mediocre, because it always is.

Notice she said “meat-cutter” and not “butcher.” There isn’t even a meat counter. There’s a whole lot of plastic-wrapped meat in styrofoam trays, and a window, but tonight is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone attending that window. Presumably someone had a turkey question.

The labels on the plastic meat packages invariably say “always fresh, never frozen” and I invariably pull out the chicken with ice crystals on it. Tonight? An entire two-pound block of chicken necks frozen together, “never frozen.” Now, I don’t mind them frozen – I’d rather that than warm, certainly! – but don’t lie to me.

How about that seafood counter – it smells like seafood! Bad sign. That means old seafood, past its prime. Not fresh. You shouldn’t be able to smell seafood, and certainly not before you’ve rounded the corner.

And I’ve never taken a good look at those beautifully decorated cakes at the bakery, but I do know that their in-house bread contains enough preservatives to keep it lost in my fridge for three weeks without sprouting mold. Why bother? I could get Wonderbread for half the price.

The only way I can tell what produce is in season is by the quantity, not quality, of what’s sitting on the shelves. Only the apples seasonally improve. The oranges are always boring and bruised. This is Florida! That’s a crying shame! The berries range from mediocre to pathetic. Georgia peaches are rock-hard and mold before they ripen. The tomatoes are always pathetic. I can get fourteen kinds of peppers (most of them old and wrinkled), but I’ve never seen any loose leafy greens other than the lettuces and broccoli rabe, and the occasional collard green. No loose spinach, no escarole, no chard, nothing. The spinach and the collards come pre-packaged.

Almost everything is in plastic. Onions should not be stored in plastic bags, nor potatoes – it traps moisture and causes rotting. There is no reason to shrink-wrap a single potato, nor a single head of broccoli. I’m surprised they don’t shrink-wrap the cabbages.

Only in summer can I buy loose zucchini or asparagus. The rest of the year I can get them shrink-wrapped in a little black tray. Green beans only come shrink-wrapped. Turnips – six in a black tray. I can’t get loose carrots, loose mushrooms, loose celery. Why can’t I get loose celery? I want a single heart of celery – not a two-pound bag of it, not a snack bag pre-washed and pre-cut into 4″ pieces. I don’t like it raw so I’m not going to eat the rest of the two pounds. I don’t use enough to go through it while it’s fresh. I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for pre-packaged snack pieces. Why can’t they just sell it loose? I’ll give them credit, I can now buy loose onions and red potatoes, but I have a feeling that’s only because we’re in the cold months.

If this is their definition of wonderful, I feel bad for them.

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my ridiculous yesterday

Yesterday was the kind of day where nothing went right, but nothing went quite wrong either. Observe.

I got up early so I could go to Walgreens and pick up a prescription before I headed to church. As I’m gathering all my belongings, I realize I need a new Nalgene. Because mine is probably 5 years old and is starting to smell like old plastic, which no amount of washing can fix. So, leaving that home. I get to Walgreens and don’t have any refills left. (Dear Pharmacist: Thank you for giving me a 3-day emergency supply.) I also pick up a 1-L Aquafina.

So then I head to the Bagelheads. I grab a bagel for breakfast, a coffee (or something) for the day, a salad and a pistachio muffin for lunch. I get it into my car; the bag carrying everything smells like red onions. Damn. That’s gonna make the choir room smell great. I’m making the 45-minute drive to church, eating my bagel, and find one side of the bagel didn’t get cut through. It’s still attached. Makes for a mess.

I get to church. I play through the one piece of actual sheet music we’re doing. I take it to the real piano in the Sanctuary and realize the page-turns are impossible, since the music won’t actually stay open. I come back, grab another copy, and re-work the page turns. Creepy red-headed dude has come in and started hovering. He has zero social skills and just hovers me. Constantly. I ignore him.

I sit down at the piano and work through the new page turns. I feel something on my arm. I figure it’s one of my shirt-loops (that help it hold its shape on the hanger) come unhidden. It happens sometimes. I look over at my arm. It’s my bra strap. Not like it fell down and needs to be tightened – the strap came unhooked from the band (ladies, if you’ve ever worn a convertible bra, you know what I’m talking about.) How in all creation did that happen? Well, nothing for it but to fix it. I hide it best I can, head to the bathroom. I figure all five people present have seen, but really there’s nothing I can do. No biggie, it happens. I come out of the bathroom, all fixed, resume my place at the piano, and Creepy Redhead looks at me and smirks. (Dear Creepy Hovering Redhead: Go to hell.)

Service at 11 is uneventful, and goes somewhat long. On the way back to the choir room I discover (what I later found to be) a giant black caterpillar – about 3″ long and as big around as my thumb. Fuzzy, like a Woolly Bear. Kind of cool. Everyone leaves, I stay to practice. I discover I am getting a migraine. I get out my red-onion salad. I am reminded that red onions, and the smell of them, makes my migraines worse. Oh well. I also discover the salad is full of black olives. Not my favorite things ever. But I’m eating it – not only did I pay for it, I won’t get to eat anything else until about 9pm. I head outside with my salad. This lasts a grand total of 2 minutes due to bees and other stinging insects. I go back into the choir room and let the red-onion aroma run free. I down half my coffee in an attempt to alleviate the migraine. I wander back outside and check out the caterpillar. I come back in to practice.

I head into the main hall (Sanctuary) and set up shop. I metronome from 1pm to 4pm, finish the coffee, the muffin, and most of the water. I manage to keep the migraine at a dull roar. I wander back into the choir room at 4:10 and find a rehearsal already in progress, that I’m supposed to be leading. I wonder why nobody came to find me. One guy says he was banging on the door, but didn’t I hear him?

Another rehearsal at 4:30, mostly me teaching the altos their parts on absolutely awful Christmas music. 5:30, wander back into the Sanctuary and set up for the 6pm service. I let the “organist” play the preludes today, as I don’t want to deal with it, or her. During the sermon I head up to the balcony and tally the preacher’s recurring words with the choir director’s wife (Preacher said “bottomless pit” 20 times). (Dear Preacher: You’re a lousy public speaker. Find more words and a less megaphone voice.)

Service ends, go home. Get back into town. I’m at the corner of Blair Stone, facing north, turning left onto Miccosukee. I’ve got my windows partway down, and I’m playing “You Can Call Me Al” pretty loudly. A car of people about my age pulls up next to me. The guy driving starts pointing upwards, like he’s pointing to the light on the left. Or maybe the sky. I have no idea. I never figured it out. He never said anything. (Dear Pointing Dude: What?)

I get to Seventh. I’m waiting to make a right-on-red onto Monroe. I feel a jolt from behind. I just got rear-ended. SONOFABITCH. I look in my mirror. Obviously I can’t see anything because dude’s in my trunk. I pull into the gas station on the corner. (Dear Self: Thank you for going from shock to anger to reasonable within three seconds. I appreciate that.) Thankfully, Dude pulled in after me. I took a breath, got out of the car. He gets out of his pickup, and the first thing he says is “Are you okay?” That was nice. We determined that I am okay and my car is okay. No damage, no scratches, nothing. He said he was driving barefoot and his foot slipped off the brake and he drifted into me. What do you say to that? (Dear Dude Who Rear-Ended Me: Thank you for pulling in after me, and I do appreciate your courtesy. However, if you’re gonna keep driving barefoot, I suggest pressing harder on the brake. Perhaps literally standing on it.)

I get home. I immediately take out my contacts, change into pajamas and make some leftover lamb tagine. I check my emails. I find one that says, essentially, “Can we rehearse my most ridiculous pieces tomorrow?” Still on the adrenaline rush from being rear-ended, I freak out a little bit. I stop tasting my dinner (a real pity, because it’s delicious). I send an email saying how-about-later-this-week-instead. I change back into real clothes and realize the migraine is gone, but I’m a little dizzy. I refill my water bottle, grab my music, and go practice for a few hours.

I come home, beyond exhausted. I need to make granola. Because if I don’t have breakfast, I will have to add about 30 minutes onto my commute to get a bagel. I pull together a batch of granola, stick it in the oven. It’s not getting crunchy. Why isn’t it getting crunchy. I added too much honey. I can do this in my sleep, what the hell? The consistency is more of a granola bar now. I quit. I went to bed.

So that was yesterday. How do I have the time to write this now?

I’m nursing a mug of tea. Because sometime yesterday, between the 6pm service and making granola, I developed a cold.

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airports

I’m currently in the Charlotte Airport. Normally I’d be sitting in a rocking chair, eating a caramel apple and reading a book, but my lappy has to finish updating before I turn it off. So, airports.

I’ve been in a few. The first airport I was ever in was the Oneida County Airport. It closed a long time ago. Long before current security measures. I love(d) everything about it. It was tiny. And by tiny I mean it had two gates – the left and right sides of a double door. I distinctly remember the plastic bucket seats in the “gate” area being attached together in back-to-back rows, and being the exact same seats as in a bowling alley. It was awesome. Time for your flight: walk out onto the tarmac, up the steps to the plane, say hi to the pilot, take your seat. Everyone got a window and an aisle. There were only 13 seats. It was absolutely deafening. And fantastic. That was my first flying experience.

I’ve flown to a few places – Orlando, Phoenix, San Francisco, Detroit, Dallas, Tallahassee, New York City, Syracuse, Geneva. I’ve been laid over in probably twice as many airports. They never cease to interest me – it’s like being in someone’s home.

Atlanta and Detroit strike me as being very similar – okay, but boring. They’re pretty well laid out, but there’s not much to do. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. There’s the obligatory place-you-can-buy-things every few gates, but no place to hang around except at your gate. And Atlanta is loud. Gates are on top of each other, no space to move around, constant commotion.

I’ve been in the JetBlue and the International terminals of JFK. The international terminal is pretty small once you get past security, and there’s very little to do, considering the amount of time one has to spend in it. There’s a few food stands, a Peet’s coffee (best vanilla latte ever), a newsstand and a souvenir stand. Outside security, there’s shopping galore and several eateries, including a pretty posh sushi/caviar bar and an excellent bookstore. But not a lot of place to sit. The JetBlue terminal is actually pretty great – large centrally located “food court” area, things to do, spacious, fairly quiet. My main beef with JFK is the hike between terminals. Sure, there’s the tram, but it’s still a hike on top of that.

I hated the Syracuse airport until I found the Tallahassee airport. Syracuse has 30 gates. Tally has 16. Syracuse has eateries and newsstands. Tally has a “food court” once you get past security. Tallahassee turns up their Airport CNN network loud enough to preclude any reading, and it’s inescapable. Tallahassee’s airport doesn’t have hot coffee. ‘Nuff said. (Imagine a 9 hour delay there! It sucks.)

The Geneva airport is almost exactly what I would have pictured (if I had tried.) Clean, efficient, comfortably spaced. All the ads on the walls are for Swiss banks or Swiss watches. Pretty awesome. Check-in counters are a bit of a zoo, but online check-in eliminates the need to stand in the two-hour line. Security is incredibly swift and efficient – and fair. Everyone gets a swift pat-down, regardless. Bonus: train stop attached to it.

My favorite airport? Charlotte. Where I am now. Really good layout. You can run from one end to the other in 5 minutes. Central area is full of things. Sushi bar, NASCAR bar (currently showing the FSU football game), and a killer BBQ place. Not too far away are the best caramel apples ever. Starbucks are strategically placed throughout the airport. There are windows everywhere – the place is almost entirely naturally lit during the day, something I don’t think can be said of any other airport I’ve been in. There’s a giant airplane mobile, and during Christmas giant trees appear, built out of poinsettias and pine. But the best part? The rocking chairs. In the central area and the corridors leading between and to the terminals, are white rocking chairs and potted trees, in true Southern hospitality. So you can just sit back, enjoy the free wi-fi, take in some sun, watch the planes land, whatever. When I got stuck here overnight last Christmas, I was quite happy it was here and not somewhere else. It’s really a relaxing atmosphere.

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tallahassee, there’s a log in your eye

I have my radio on as I’m driving today. I’m digging some Third Eye Blind. I’m heading north on Blair Stone, approaching Park. I see fog ahead. Fog? at 3pm? It’s 95 degrees outside. Maybe it’s smoke. I get closer to the intersection and I see it’s mist. Tallahassee is watering their medians. The sprinklers are on the medians, shooting vaguely toward the medians, but are also sending about half their spray out into the street. In addition, they’re spraying at about a 60 degree angle into the air. The water is evaporating before it gets back down to the median, causing the mist. I drive through some of the spray. By the time I went to hit my windshield wipers, it had already evaporated completely. And any good gardener can tell you that water that hits your plants in the middle of the day will burn them, much the way a sunburn burns you.

I head up the bridge toward Tennessee. A commercial comes on from the City of Tallahassee Utilities – a commercial explaining how to conserve water, energy, and money in the summer. First point: water your plants in the early morning or late evening so it doesn’t all evaporate. Second: make sure your sprinklers are pointed at your plants, not your driveway, so you’re not wasting water.

I remember I have to pay my utility bill when I get home. I open the envelope. And as usual, in their envelope I have the statement itself, a return envelope, and three other printed pieces of literature explaining to me the importance of recycling. The same three I get every week. I pay my bill online.

Tallahassee, I uh, I think there’s something in your eye. It looks like a log. Just sayin’.

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