Saturday, January 24, 2009

Life is an '89 Cadillac

There are entire websites devoted to songs about Cadillacs.  One of these sites even lists bands named after Cadillacs (Caddydaddy's latest count was 11).  

As for me, I didn't full appreciate the Cadillac (because it's not a car, it's a Cadillac) until I met Willie.  And then three years after that.  

Willie's '89 Sedan de Ville was the car in which he got continuously pulled over on the West side of Chicago (for being a white guy driving a Cadillac in a non-white neighborhood).  It was the car that landed me (and not Willie) in handcuffs after Willie and I got pulled over in Uptown (for being white in a Cadillac while driving on Wilson Avenue).  The cop's search of the car was cut short, however, when they spotted an actual drug bust opportunity not 20 yards away.

Willie's '89 Sedan de Ville was the car that made you look two feet taller since the interior fabric on the roof had come detached and hung lower and lower each month.

It was the car that Willie liked to joke was older than his students.

But, most impressively, it was the car -- and I mean Cadillac --that made it from Chicago to North Carolina in 14 hours straight last summer when everyone said it couldn't.  Even though Willie had to refill the oil every 180 miles due to a leak, even though he had the windows rolled up (and no A/C) so that he wouldn't lose any aerodynamic-ness,  and even though I was on-call to come get him if he broke down between Chicago and Indianapolis, the Carolina blue Caddy brought him home safe and sound.

Sadly, the state of North Carolina does not respect such feats.  Willie's '89 Sedan de Ville, with it's rusted bottom and broken tail light, and lord knows what else, would not pass inspection.  After sadly accepting this fact, Willie had trouble just giving his beauty away.  Finally, Habitat for Humanity agreed to take it.

I'm glad I wasn't home to see it carted off yesterday.  The Cadillac looked good parked in front, hanging out with my blue Fit, and I miss it already.  Here are photos of the Caddy's last moments with us:

(You can kind of see the low-hanging ceiling in the center of the car.)

See that truck parked up ahead?  Luckily, that's Willie's, too.

And although it's not a Cadillac, having this toothpaste green Ford truck parked out front is not too shabby.  Although I don't know how to drive it yet, my dog sure looks good riding in it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let it Snow

This morning, as if it weren't one of the best days ever anyway, we woke up to a few inches of snow on the ground in North Carolina.  I. Was. Stoked.

North Carolina, on the other hand, was in a state of emergency.  Literally.  Schools, offices, businesses -- everything was closed.  

This was what I had been waiting for, the freaking out, run-on-bread-and-milk weather that people had promised me.  And the whatever-you-do-just-don't-leave-the-house response did not disappoint.

This is a picture of my street this morning:  (That big old pinkish house on the right is the one that costs so damn much to heat.)

Not much to sneeze at, right?  But I don't fault North Carolinians for making a big fuss.  They're not snow people.  

And even if I was one of two people at work today, I'm just glad that I still live in a state where I can wear boots and crunch around in the snow. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Space Heater: Woman's Best Friend

For the record, the temperature is the same today in Durham, North Carolina as it is in Chicago, Illinois: a whopping 18 degrees.

For the record, my first winter heating bill in North Carolina was significantly higher than my highest winter heating bill in Chicago.  

Both of these on-the-record facts prompt me to ask the question: what the fuck?  

I could list about thirteen caveats and keep-in-minds here, including the fact that much of the Midwest and eastern parts of the country have experienced record-breaking cold this winter, that no matter how bad it is here, I know I can't complain because my poor midwestern brothers and sisters have it way worse for way longer, that of course my place costs more to heat now because a) it's a two-story, four-bedroom house, and b) it has just about the worst insulation you could imagine.  The floors are especially freezing.  Put your hand over an outlet and you can feel the cold air coming in.

True: two weeks ago, it was 50 degrees and sunny here.  True: it's supposed to be 50 degrees and sunny here next weekend.  And the biggest true is that I know I'm going to get my butt kicked this summer when I, as someone who hates being over-heated, endure my first North Carolina summer.

But still.  My little pinky just about froze off as I stupidly tried to go running this morning with the dog.  So, signing off from the South, woe-is-cold-is me.

P.S. After reading my Chicago friends' blogs, with the pictures and description of snow and minus seventeen degrees and shoveling and people saving parking spots with beat up old chairs, I take it back: I have no problems, nothing to complain about.  Carry on.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Lighter Shade of Blue

When I was merely a visitor to the state of North Carolina, going to a men's basketball game at the Dean Dome was cool, like getting to sample the local culture.  And a crazy "other" culture it was, what with everyone, and I mean everyone, in their Carolina blue gear, drinking out of their Carolina blue cups, following every single play like it was the last thirty seconds of a close game -- the cheers, the gasps, the chance to win a free Bojangles sausage biscuit if the Tar Heels scored over 100 points.

This, of course, is supposed to be their year, and since a championship would put many people I know in a very good mood, go Tar Heels go.

But now that I quote unquote live in North Carolina, going to a UNC basketball game reminds me that I'm not from here, that I didn't go to school here, that I'm not blond and preppy.  Now when I go to the Dean Dome, I feel a little homesick.  I miss my stinky lovable Cubs, say what you will about Northside Cubs fans, and the Bulls, even though I've only been to two games ever.  Hell, I even miss the Bears, even though I don't know how to watch a football game.

Of course, it's Chicago and home that I miss, and I have no desire to change the color of my sports team blood.

I will, however, be happily fascinated by the cheerleaders, since my little college in Northfield, Minnesota didn't have any.

Between watching the girls pull down their skirts every time they finish a round-off, and trying to decide which pom poms girl is my favorite, there is plenty to distract me from my homesickness.

So, yes to good moods and free biscuits and this being the Tar Heels' year.  But secretly, deep down, and always, go Bulls, Bears and especially Cubbies.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bravo, Indeed

This week, just when I was beginning to write the introduction to my heart-wrenching memoir called "Ha-ha-funny-joke-I've-had-an-interesting-four-months-in-an-anthropological-kind-of-way-and-now-I'm-ready-to-go-back-to-my-real-life," two television miracles happened to me.

The first was actually less miracle and more obsession; it was brought to my attention that I can watch "The Dog Whisperer" on channel 70 five nights a week.  People had recommended the show to me, although I hadn't put two and two together that 1. the show is on National Geographic, and 2. we get that channel.

I had already developed a mild obsession with Cesar Millan after reading Cesar's Way.  But, this week, after spending way too many hours in front of channel 70, it got bad.  

I was tickled every time the National Geographic announcer called the channel "Nat Geo," as if the channel were named after a cute little talking gerbil.  I marked on my calendar that this Sunday, I cannot miss the show "Inside the Dog's Womb" followed by "Inside the Cat's Womb."  I found myself tearing up at the 100th anniversary episode of "The Dog Whisperer," where Cesar Millan gets to meet his childhood hero, Lassie.  Yes, it got bad.  

I'm now channeling all my energy into trying to assess what kind of energy I'm channeling to Fonzie (although Cesar would say, "Don't try, do.")  

I've found myself starting a few too many sentences with, "But Cesar says," and wondering just how much Mr. Millan costs, as most of his clients seem to be rich as hell.

Luckily, another television miracle occurred this week, this one a real, true miracle, that might be able to balance out my channel 70 obsession.  As of December 31, North Carolina cable now gets Bravo TV.  That's right, just a mere two channels up from Nat Geo, I can now watch reruns of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," and, most importantly, catch up on Season 5 of "Top Chef."  I'll ignore the fact that on the first day of Bravo TV on Time Warner Cable in North Carolina, the station ran a marathon of "The Biggest Loser," a show that doesn't even air on that channel.  I mean, I can't be picky with my miracles.

But, between going inside the womb of a cat and seeing what Padma is wearing, you betcher bottom that I'll be watching what happens.