Monday, April 30, 2007

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

After my recent notes on The Hamlet wherein I expressed doubts about the existence of witchcraft, sorcery, satanic worship, and general skulduggerous goings-on within these environs, Whoever Is In Charge decided it was time I see with my own eyes irrefutable proof of the mischief.


In The Hamlet.

Occurrence Number One

While at the gas station on Sunday, the kid parked in the forward gas pump had pentagram decals on the back window of his Subaru.

Occurrence Number Two

After my visit to the gas station, I pulled into my private parking spot and lo! On the ground in the parking lot lay a crushed and dirty (not-so-pointy) witch hat.

Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


My little Hamlet, a delightful splice of Cicely, Alaska and Bedford Falls, is tucked into the base of the mountains. I cherish the extreme beauty and character of this spot; the colors of the dirt, trees, scrub, and sky are as familiar to me as the color of my own eyes and skin.

Here, the mineral-laden underground springs gurgle upward to spit out of fountains, and this water is thought to have numerous healing properties. Centuries ago, the Native Americans believed these springs to be sacred. In the 19th Century, scores of Tuberculosis patients moved to The Hamlet for the beneficial healing waters and extreme dry air. The patients occupied "T.B. cabins", which are still scattered around town, now inhabited by modern-day residents.

The characters around town are easily seen. Folks here don't necessarily try to blend in-- all eccentricities are honored. When I was a child, there was a man who wore a Santa suit year-round and gave candy to all the kids (I know it sounds creepy--he was really nice though); the guy who dresses like D'Artagnan, who one day swept his hat off his head, bowed, and gallantly offered to assist me in carrying my groceries up the stairs ("Mi'lady" he called me); the man who dresses like General Custer and has long flaxen hair and a sharp goatee (I asked him how he was doing one morning and he answered "I'm still walking and talking, so I guess I'm good!"); the guy whose early 70's model Ford pickup is completely covered in hand-painted text of biblical references, poems, and quotations; the couple who keep two llamas on their property and take them and their dogs on daily walks; the man who rode an enormous mule up my street, and when he dismounted to chat with me, the mule blissfully rolled on its back in my front yard and munched on some flowers; a beloved local artist, whose tall, lanky figure you can see moseying around the streets of The Hamlet,wearing a blue cotton shirt, black pants and suspenders, his long, flowing white hair and grizzled beard making him look like an Amish farmer/prophet.

For years, rumors have persisted that practioners of the black arts populate The Hamlet. People from our neighboring city ("Next Door") discovering I live in The Hamlet often ask, "Oh, you're from The Hamlet. Seen any witches?" One guy said to me with perfect seriousness, "Yeah... I wanted to buy a house in this area and did some research on The Hamlet. I found evidence of lots of witchcraft, so I didn't buy there." An odd statement, I thought. Having grown up in The Hamlet and lived here for many years, I have yet to see any "evidence" of witchcraft. Where did he find this evidence? Did he drive through The Hamlet and see little dolls made of twigs hanging from the trees? Did he visit a realtor's website and its 360-cam panned over a bloody altar? Apparently he knows something I don't.

The privately-owned shops in The Hamlet are run by proprietors proud to be off the big American retail corporation grid. They sell antiques, souveniers, handmade musical instruments, pottery, handblown glassware, and custom-designed jewelry. Most Hamlet stores cater to the tourist trade and during the winter months, storeowners will tell you that money is tight. Their businesses rely almost exclusively on out-of-town visitors the summer months bring.

There are many Victorian homes in The Hamlet-- some updated, some shabby. The influx of well-off young professionals are eager to renovate these homes (understandably). Developers are attempting to upgrade The Hamlet's purported housing shortage by building over-priced homes and condominiums, knocking long-time residents out of the housing market. Despite these changes, most long-time residents want to stay in The Hamlet and jealously defend the time-worn, shabby charm on display here. They are suspicious of change.

The politics of The Hamlet is a very hot topic for the locals. Over beers at any one of the local bars, you'll find residents discussing the state of the roads, the ridiculousness of the "upgrades" being given to our town in the form of faux-Victorian streetlights and wider sidewalks, the ineptitude of The Hamlet's council, the Barney Fyfe-esque police force, etc. Overall, the political climate is quite liberal here, unlike Next Door, which is heavily populated with fundamentalist Christians, homophobes, and the like.

The Hamlet locals have a decided snobbishness about our side of town (because it's so cool) and avoid the "East Side" as much as possible. My girlfriend "Gwyneth" calls the East Side "The Brave New World" and we joke about the poor bastards who have bought brand new, quarter-million dollar homes directly under the flight path at the airport. The East Siders love it out there; it suits them perfectly. There are mega movie theatres, strip malls, chain restaurants and big department stores that suit their every need. On our side of town, we tend to see movies 1.) at home or 2.) venture to Downtown Next Door's old renovated theatre which typically features art films or film festival winners. At Christmas, we try valiantly to shop for gifts at our locally-owned stores (this is very difficult to do, but it IS possible. Sometimes, though, you do have to make a run to Toys-'R'-Us or Borders; it's practically unavoidable). When we eat out, we tend to gravitate to family-run places, but once in awhile we go to the dark side and eat at Next Door's Olive Garden (because of the salad dressing, don't you know, and those fucking heroin-laced breadsticks) or other chain-type places.

Of course I love our cemetery, as it is small and quaint. I visit it quite often not only because I like cemeteries, but also because many people I know are buried there: Lisa's grandmother, Delphine, who could make me laugh until I cried and who also had a perpetually perfect manicure. Jamie and Jeff, both plagued by depression and who both committed suicide. My brother-in-law, who died on a terrible Christmas Eve ten years ago, and the top of whose tombstone is still smeared with the long-ago lipstick of my sister's kisses. Tina, a life-long equestrian and horse lover, who one day fell off of her horse and suffered fatal head injuries. Deanna, whose sweet face is memorialized on her tombstone in a brooch-shaped photograph. Danny-- who I didn't know had passed until I saw his stone a year ago while taking a quiet walk among the graves-- has a pine tree next to his stone, which is dressed with faded Christmas ornaments dangling from the branches. From the cemetery, you can faintly hear the excited screams and cheers of kids up at the track of my old high school located just over the ridge, providing an additional shade of eloquence to the place in which you stand.

I'd like to say I'll never move from here, that I'll live out the rest of my life in The Hamlet, but Mom was right when she told you to never say never. I hope I'll always see the lilacs bloom in the spring here; the snow frozen on the mountains well into the summer; the gold leaves falling slowly to the ground in the fall and the perfect hush of a snowy night, snowflakes falling out of the sky illumed by the street lights below my house. While I am here, I know it's such a perfect place to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Unfettered Excitement

I now have a computer! I will now be posting on a regular basis rather than scuttling, crab-like, from place to place begging for computer time.

My heartfelt thanks to The Hessian for giving me this fabulous setup.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chad Jones, 6684

After the bars let out the other night, I was treated to another freak show beneath my bedroom window.

A guy was walking up the street and boy was he pissed. He was screaming at the top of his lungs:

"THOSE FUCKERS STABBED ME IN THE HEAD. STABBED ME! COME ON! COME ON OUT! CHAD JONES 6684! CHAD JONES 6684! FUCKERS! FUCKERS FUCKING STABBED ME IN THE HEAD! 6684 MOTHERFUCKERS!" etc. Up the street Chad went, yelling, screaming, then he made a u-turn and came back down the street, screaming about getting stabbed in the head, how "they" had done this to him, and now where are they, they're hiding and they aren't gonna come out and face him.

A poor soul, apparently a friend waiting for him, said in a low voice to Chad, "Dude. Let me take you home. You'll feel so much better about this tomorrow." So Chad and his unfortunate babysitter left (in a car, natch).

Chad Jones 6684? Is this his spy number or something? "Jones. Chad Jones." Sitting at the roulette table in a tux, sipping a martini, with a big knife sticking out of his head.

So being the nosy bitch I am, the next morning I went downstairs right away to look for blood from 6684's head wound. No blood. No knife. No nothing!

I know-- the knife was a metaphor! That's it! Or maybe not. Maybe Chad is just a maniac with a drinking problem. Just like all the other drunks under my window.

God Is Great, Memsahib.

Well, dear readers, I have finally gotten a job.

I will be working for my fair city at the public works department, which includes sewer, streets and the like. I originally wanted the asphalt raking job they had open, but they filled that right away. Instead I will be their secretary/receptionist.

I've learned so many lessons this last year; I can't begin to count them. I've learned:

- That you can do without those nice cushy extras. If you've got a roof over your head and food in the fridge, you're good.
- Humilty-- it's a lifestyle.
- Don't assume the good things in your life are a constant. They can disappear tomorrow, so appreciate them.
- I've learned to shop at Wal-Mart, even though their produce sucks, because it's cheaper than anywhere else.
- Most importantly, having faith in the future is the most valuable thing you can possess.

Thanks to my friends and family (particularly The Brunette who gave me a heads-up on this new job) during this last year. Without you, I would have been living in my car. That would have sucked.