Sunday, August 31, 2008

By Request

If you happened to listen to NPR this morning - or last Sunday - they've been talking about doughnuts. They even had someone who wrote the history of the doughnut or something doing a live online chat. Seemed like a sign from above.

"Ode to the Krispy Kreme"

(Or, how Southerns know way too much about where and when to get food that's bad for you.)

A while back I regaled a few willing readers with a tale of woe about how Krystal no longer makes vidalia onion rings. At the end I mentioned that one of Nashville's Krystals has a particularly onerous drive-through and how one night some friends and I almost became ensnared in said drive-through while trying to find an open doughnut store.

Confused? Intrigued? Hungry? Well, one very kind reader requested the rest of that story and I thought it only polite to oblige. (That'll teach her!)

So picture, if you will, a Saturday night and two friends - let's call them "HE" and "SHE"- and I went to a late movie in Green Hills (a neighborhood on the west side of Nashville). We got out of the movie around 11:00, and as we were leaving the theater, HE said he wanted to stop at the Donut Den to pick up some doughnuts for the next morning.

The "Den" is SUPPOSED to be open until midnight. But, as we found out from my last trip to Krystal, sometimes the universe disappoints. And sure enough, the Donut Den was CLOSED. (When I tell this story to people from Nashville they always scrunch their brow, become distracted, and start to mumble "but why would the Donut Den be closed?!?")

So, we pull out of the "Den" and onto the street. HE says that now that he can't get doughnuts, he really, really wants doughnuts. SHE and I say that now we're hungry too because of all the doughnut talk. (And no, the movie was not a late night showing of Laser Floyd). Someone - it was during the summer, I believe, so it was probably me - reminded us all that Krystal was up the street just a little further. Being a valid option when it's late and you're hungry for something to clog your arteries, we tried that. When we got to Krystal the line for the drive-through was almost out to the street. Decisions had to be made. And the rest of the conversation went something like this:

SHE: That's a long line. I don't want to sit in that line.
HE: Well, I'm not going in.
ME: No. Me neither. But we don't want to get stuck in that line - you get halfway and there's that retaining wall and then you're trapped. We could be there forever.
SHE: I can't get stuck in that line. I'll go insane.
HE: And I really wanted doughnuts. Krystal doesn't have doughnuts.
SHE: Maybe the guy at Donut Den was just taking the trash out or having a smoke and locked the front door until he got back. Maybe we should try again.
ME: But if we do we lose our place in line.

[silence as we all take a moment to ponder the options]

ME: Excellent. I'll call information. [dials 411]
OPERATOR: Nextel 411, this is Yolanda, what listing?
ME: Nashville, Tennessee. The Donut Den on Hillsboro Pike.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Here's your number....

[ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring... ring...]

ME: No answer.
SHE: Hey, the line moved.
HE: Damn it. I really want doughnuts. And now Krystal sounds disgusting.
SHE: Well, we knew that already.
ME: What about Krispy Kreme?
HE: It's not open.
SHE and ME: It's open 24 hours!
HE: Only the Nolensville Pike (on the south side) store is open 24-hours, but it's closed for construction - they're rebuilding it.

[Drive-through line inches forward]

ME: Rebuilding! But it was so cool - all retro with the Formica and chrome counter. They're keeping all of that, aren't they?
HE: No. It was all only held together with 50 years of grease. I heard the fire marshall said to level it.
SHE: What about the Elliston Place store (downtown-ish)?
HE: No. It closes at 11:00.
SHE and ME: How the hell do you know that!?!
HE: I have a friend that lives in Bellevue (The west side. Waaaay on the west side. Like Memphis.) whose claim to fame is how one night at 10 'till 11 he made it from Bellevue to the Elliston Place Krispy Kreme before it closed AND didn't get stopped by the police. He's very proud...
ME: I'm gonna call, just to make sure.
HE: I'm telling you - it's CLOSED.
SHE: Hey we're moving again - and we're getting closer to the wall. Hurry up.
ME: Well maybe since the other store is under renovation they're open later.
HE: I'm telling you. They close at 11:00.
ME: Let's just find out. What else are we going to do?
SHE: We're gonna get stuck in the damn drive-through if you don't hurry up.
ME: [dials 411]
OPERATOR: Nextel 411, this is Yolanda, what listing?
ME: [covering the phone and whispering loudly] Sonofabitch! It's the same woman!
HE: [starts giggling so hard he's about to pee himself]
SHE: Who cares! Ask her for the number. There are only three cars ahead of us before the wall.
ME: [speaking in a lower tone to disguise voice] Nashville, Tennessee. Krispy Kreme... On Elliston Place....
YOLANDA: Uh-huh... Thank you.... Here's your number...

[ring... ring... ring... ring... ring...]

ME: No answer.
HE: Really?! You don't say...
SHE: Two cars. TWO CARS!
ME: Maybe the Krispy Kreme on Nolensville is open again.
HE: Did I not just say that it was closed?
ME: Fine. But there has to be another Krispy Kreme in the greater Nashville area.
HE: Where?
ME: I don't know. Kentucky? But it doesn't matter though because I don't want to call information - it will be that same woman again. You call.
HE: It probably wasn't the same woman. How do you know if it was the same woman?
ME: Her name was Yolanda. What are the chances?
HE: True. But she won't know who you are and she probably gets a lot of doughnut-related calls this time of nigh ---
ME: Alright, alright! [dials 411]
OPERATOR: Nextel 411, this is Yolanda, what listing?
ME: [covers the phone again] You've GOT to be kidding me!!
HE: [giggling AND snorting]
SHE: THIS IS NOT FUNNY! We've already been sitting here for how long?? I don't even like Krystal. I HATE Krystal. I DO NOT want to be trapped in the Krystal drive-through. Do you understand me?!?

[Keeps ranting while I talk to information]

ME: [full of shame, not even bothering to disguise voice] uhhh, yeah. Nashville, Tennessee. Krispy Kreme on Nolensville Pike.
YOLANDA: Y'all are in serious need of some doughnuts.
ME: I KNOW. I'm so embarrassed. I thought I was calling some big national Nextel call center.
YOLANDA: No girl, I'm in Nashville. The only one here tonight.
ME: That's hilarious. We're in Green Hills and were going to go to Donut Den, but it was closed.
YOLANDA: [probably scrunching her brow] It was CLOSED?!?
ME: I KNOW. So we're in the Krystal drive-through as back-up, but we don't really want Krystal, plus you know, there's that wall, and we don't want to get stuck.
YOLANDA: Oh yeah. I know what you're talking about. And all those drunks in line. Takes forever.
HE: [uncontrollable giggling and snorting]
ME: [covers phone] Just wait here a second. [uncovers phone] I KNOW - so, then we were going to go to the Krispy Kreme on Elliston -
YOLANDA: Well, I thought it closed at 11:00, but I didn't know if I should tell you that or not.
ME: It's okay. Someone else in the car knew it would be too but I was hoping that since the one on Nolen --
ME: [covers the phone] No they won't. Just a second! [uncovers the phone] I'm sorry about that, Yolanda... I was just thinking that since the Nolensville store is under construction that maybe Elliston would be open later.

[car behind us honks]

HE: [no noise coming from him, just convulsions of laughter and small tears streaming down his cheeks]
YOLANDA: Honey - the construction is finished! They reopened Friday at midnight.

[car behind us honks again]

SHE: I'M GOING. TO KILL YOU. [does the mom-style awkward backwards reach from the driver's seat into the back to try to smack me and/or take my phone]
ME: [dodging and weaving] Nolensville reopened last night! Thanks Yolanda!

[SHE immediately whips the car out of the drive-through and back onto the road]

YOLANDA: Y'all have fun! Bye!

We drive over to the south side of Nashville to the newly-built Krispy Kreme. The drive-through line is out to the street.

SHE: Dear God, not again...
HE: [not fully recovered, speaking through gasps as he tries to catch his breath] There... Is... A... Krystal... Down the road... A little... [reverts to fits of laughter]
SHE: So help me...

This line is moving much faster though, so we wait. And as we wait you can see the people in line ahead of us pointing at the inside of the new store. No doubt talking about what it looked like for so long. The "Hot Donuts Now" sign lights up while we're waiting. People from inside their cars can be seen raising their arms and cheering. A car horn honks in enthusiasm.

When we get to the speaker box back of the store, there's a banner over it that says "Welcome Home." We order. We get our doughnuts. We start to eat them before we're done paying. Before we get halfway back home we're well on our way to a blissful sugar coma.

HE: You know what you should name your Chinese kid?

[puzzled pause as we try to figure out what he's talking about]

ME: What?
HE: You. You were talking at dinner about how you plan to one day adopt a little girl from China.
ME: Yeah...
HE: Well, I know what you should name her.
ME: Please don't say Krystal.
HE: [snort] No.
ME: Krispy Kreme???
SHE: Oh, you're appalled at Krystal, but you offer up Krispy Kreme as a viable option.
HE: Nooooo.

[Long pause again, then...]


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Lovin' Week 6

No Title Necessary

It would be nice to say that this photo was taken on a two week stay in a rambling old beach house. In reality it was taken during a four-hour stay in beach chairs my mom and I bought at the Piggly Wiggly. But that's just fine. It was what we needed and, let's be honest, the beach is wasted on someone like me in the summer. The thought of putting on a swim suit makes me break out in hives and by 11:06am I start to get too hot. I'd much rather hide out in the mountains in July and August and then creep down to the beach in November, or January even. What can I say? I'm a circus freak. A good PR person would say that I just enjoy the serenity and isolation of the beach in late autumn and winter because it allows for more introspection and creative thought. But circus freak is probably more accurate...

The photos were taken on the Isle of Palm, just outside Charleston, SC. My job's annual conference was in Charleston this year. I had a nice suite for the week that I wasn't really going to get to enjoy so I invited my mom to come along and enjoy it for me.

The schedule during the week went pretty much like this:

7:00am - Start Work
7:00pm - Stop Work
7:05pm - Leave Hotel in Search of Food
8:30pm - Work From Room While Watching the Olympics
9:00pm - Michael Phelps
11:00pm - Stop Work
11:30pm - Sleep

God bless Charleston and it's totally walkable downtown with a restaurant every 1/2 block. It made eating dinner soooo much better than Room Service Chicken Pasta Whatnot that I would have ordered every night like I have the past two conferences.

Thursday - the last day of the conference - I was finished early so we went for our first trip to the beach. It was lovely. We walked along the water's edge until we worked up an appetite, got our flip flops all mucky, thoroughly soaked our capri pants from the knees down and let my hair go all Rosanne Rosannadanna in the humidity.

We spotted what looked like a restaurant just up from the path to the beach so we decided to check it out. Downstairs it was your typical touristy beach bar/restaurant - The Banana Cabana - with life preservers and fishing nets tacked to the wall, patrons drinking unnaturally green alcoholic beverages, live music from a guy who looked suspiciously like he might subject me to a Jimmy Buffet song at any moment, and a menu with all kinds of deliberate misspellings and inappropriate apostrophes, like "cap'n's fish 'n' chip's."

The menu for the upstairs restaurant featured various freshly-prepared seafood and locally-grown produce with artfully worded descriptions of the daily specials. It looked delicious. And fancy. At least fancy for Rosanne Rosannadanna and her mucky flip flops and wet capri pants. And after running around and catering to every whim and whine of 200 conference attendees and one boss for four very long days, the mere possibility of climbing the stairs to a maitre'd who would look down his nose at us, ask the dreaded "do you have reservations?" and, if we're lucky, give us a table by the bathroom, was just more than I thought my ego could endure. Oh but the alternative... fried things in plastic baskets... the threat of a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" sing-a-long... Room Service Chicken Pasta Whatnot was starting to sound like a viable alternative to the decision before me.

Thankfully my mother is much more brazen than I am when it comes to some things. Stops people on the street to ask for directions. Strikes up conversations with total strangers in line at the grocery. Makes friends with hotel housekeeping. For me this strategy usually ends in disaster, but she usually winds up learning a more interesting route to her destination, the best out-of-the-way restaurant, or getting extra toiletries without even having to ask. So, we march up the stairs, are greeted by the greeter guy, and she immediately asks "are we too casual?" He looks sort of confused for a second but says "absolutely not." We get a seat by the window with a view of the ocean. It's all simple and elegant and casual and not a bit pretentious. And the food... holy-moly. Shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage and heirloom tomatoes that literally melted in my mouth.

The next morning we headed back out to the beach where we waded in the surf again (above), followed silly birds around, read for a bit, and I fiddled with the fancy camera from work and took lots of morning-sunlight-on-ocean photos.

And four hours at the beach worked out just fine. Hopefully I'll get to go back to the beach this winter... you know... for some introspection and creative thinking... but it was nice to be on the "real" beach in summer with the rest of the world like a normal person. Well, as normal as you can feel with Rosanne Rosannadanna hair...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Your Feedback is Important to Us...

I'm streaming C-SPAN on my computer while I work so that I can listen to/watch the DNC roll call. So I thought I'd take a poll.


__YES __ NO

It's one of my favorite parts. I love all the pomp and circumstance - "I Jimmyjoe Hooter, representing the fine delegates from the birthplace of Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson and Minnie Pearl; the home of the Great Smokey Mountains and Jack Daniels Whiskey; symbolized by the iris, the poplar tree and the Power T, do hereby cast our 85 votes from the three grand divisions of the great Volunteer State of Tenneessee... for Barack Obama!"

OK, so it's not EXACTLY like that. But I'm not far off. How can you not get excited? Normally I get to watch this pagentry from the comfort of my own home while I clean out closets or balance my checkbook, but they've moved it earlier in the day because of the potential Hillary drama.

What's a geek to do?

Monday, August 25, 2008


This snarky, superficial observation from the weekend comes not out of any real ill-will, but only from having a pile of crap on my desk too overwhelming to think about at the moment. So I'm invoking the Scarlett O'Hara defense ("I'll think about that tomorrow"). Well, for the next 15 minutes anyway...

Dear Joe Biden: I love you, man. Seriously. Couldn't be happier that you're Obama's running-mate. (If for no other reason than this brings the total count of people I know, or know of, from the state of Delaware to TWO.) But... when you're giving your first big speech as the Potential Next Vice President of the Free World, could you maybe have gotten a haircut? I know that we were all given short notice that you were chosen, but I'm assuming you got a better heads-up than the rest of us. And speaking of a Heads-Up... I'm also going to assume that there was probably one somewhere in the Springfield, Illinois area.

Dear Mayor of London: I don't know anything about you, but I bet I would like you too. Your name is Boris. How great is that? You strike me as a guy I'd enjoy sharing a pint of Guinness with in a pub. Some would argue that you too need a haircut, but I think it's cool. Sort of a young Ryan O'Neal meets Andy Warhol. However... I watched you on the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night (Horrid London intro/preview/whateverthehellthatwas, by the way. You get David Beckham and Jimmy Page to fly to China and that's all we get? And don't even get me started on that weird bus and those umbrella dancers...) and I was wondering if maybe in 2012, when you're on television in front of another gabillion people, you could try buttoning your suit jacket? Just a thought.

Say what you will about Hillary or the Queen and their hair and their outfits, but they would have made damn sure they were properly groomed and appropriately buttoned. And one of them would have would have not only waved that Olympic flag around like a champ, but she'd have done it while also carrying a handbag...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Lovin' Week 5

"Hot Tomato"

This week I would like to take a moment and acknowledge my little corner of the planet located on the east side of the river in good ole Nashvegas. We're an odd bunch over here. A former Victorian enclave turned ghetto turned urban frontier turned hodge-podge of what makes Nashville one of the best kept secrets in the land (in my opinion).

I would argue that my region of the country is a bit of a dichotomy - a yin and yang - of mint juleps and moonshine, bluebloods and backwoods, parasols and overalls, B.B. King and the B-52's. We defy stereotype and yet are some of the most stereotyped people around. I would also argue that my state is an even more intense example of that contrast, my city even more so, and my neighborhood - well, let's just say we take this yin and yang concept to a whole other level.

My neighborhood is a place where you're apt to see a young woman jogging down a sidewalk and sharing it with a homeless guy, striding by people hanging on their front porch playing guitars and mandolins, being passed by a car with the base up too loud, and then bumping into her neighbor on his way to Drag Queen Bingo at the corner bar that sits a block from one of the best child care facilities in the city.

It's not a perfect place or utopia - obviously, since some of my neighbors have to live on the streets. We don't do as good a job as we should of integrating all of our diverse populations. And we have our other difficulties - like a bit of a crime problem (there are a series of bumper stickers for our neighborhood - one of which says "we'll steal your heart and your lawn mower.") And the ongoing challenge of not crossing from urban renewal into over-gentrification.

So far the Yuppie insurgents (as I like to call them and then try to remind myself that "inclusive" means including everyone) haven't scrubbed every corner clean and cram-packed it with fake urban cuteness, but some have certainly tried. I complained once at dinner that I thought we were headed too far in that direction and spent much of the meal whining about outrageously high home prices and my new neighbor with the BMW and Weimaraner. When I left the restaurant I was relieved to find myself parked between a pickup with a confederate flag decal and a Prius with a bumper sticker that said "Dick Cheney eats kittens" because I knew that my weird little part of town would live to see another day.

One of the ways our overall spirit and oddity manifests itself is in the fairly-new August tradition of the Tomato Art Fest. Why the tomato (and why tomato art) you ask? Because it's a good Southern summer staple? Because we grow a particularly special variety in East Nashville? No. It's because the tomato is "a uniter, not a divider - bringing together both fruit and vegetable."

There's a beautiful tomato contest. And an ugly tomato contest. Tomato art show for adults and for kids. A costume competition for dogs. Salsa dancing and a Bloody Mary contest. There is a pageant that crowns a tomato queen and king on that Friday - one of the requirements being that you are able to lead the parade the next morning (pictured above). The parade on Saturday is a second line parade in the New Orleans tradition - started by some our Katrina evacuees on the one-year anniversary. It goes for only two blocks or so, stops to form a circle of singing and dancing, then turns and goes back to the other end. It's a brief, noisy, unstructured, sweaty, costumed, conglomeration of bedazzled umbrellas, kids on bikes, dogs in capes, women with crazy hats, men in platform shoes, and a guy playing a washboard-type thing with a spoon. Doesn't get much better than that:

Please excuse my poor digital-camera-as-video-camera skills

This year's winning bumper sticker:

More pictures from the parade

Post parade

Tomato-themed crafts for sale


Even though it's usually crazy hot for Tomato Fest (last year I ended up showering twice before noon) I know that you can't really have a Tomato Fest in October or May, and well, a cooler-weather Apple Fest or Cabbage Fest just wouldn't have quite the same flair.

So I'd like to say thank you to my neighborhood for giving me a reason to not only be grateful for where I live and for the most-delicious tomato, but also for making me enjoy the lovely onset of August.

Did I really just put the words lovely and August in the same sentence? Yes, I guess I did.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Well if He isn't, He Should Be

From the New York Times Duh Section:

"Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?"

It's been noted in writing here at least once and in my conversations with anyone who will still listen to me without rolling their eyes (a small, but tolerant clan) that no other man on the planet achieves the level of smart AND funny (and cute) that Jon Stewart does. No one. And I stand by this by saying that if I ever get a raise again, it will go to getting cable back in my house just so I can watch "The Daily Show." So yeah, I'll tack on "most trusted" to that list of adjectives as well.

But seriously, read the article, it's a substantial and well-written piece full of brilliant and hilarious quotes from him ("Mr. Stewart has said he is looking forward to the end of the Bush administration 'as a comedian, as a person, as a citizen, as a mammal'"). Not to mention a photo that is going to give my This Old House poster a little competition...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Observations

I have been good and taking my pictures and thinking of summer-related essay topics, but the first week of August all I did was work and last week all I did was work and watch the Olympics so I'm two installments behind. But I can't help it. Work stuff aside, I'm an Olympics geek. Normally I have a slight preference to the winter games, but during the last summer Olympics I was painting my kitchen cabinets. It was just me and Bob Costas for howevermany weeks painting and sanding and learning the minutiae about every athlete. So this year I feel like I'm being reunited with a lot of old friends. I'll get back to my summer assignment shortly, but to get the typing fingers limbered up again...

1. I am not tired - nor will I tire any time soon - of Michael Phelps coverage. Run him into the ground all you want to NBC, I can take it. Dooce named him to her top five list of male celebrities - twice - and I would have to agree with her. I did do the math first though and while it isn't entirely impossible, I am not realistically old enough to be his mother. So I feel okay in going on and on about him. What is it exactly? Is it that he is both terribly hot and adorably dorky all at the same time? Or that he is hottest WITH the swim cap on. What other human even looks good - let alone BETTER - with a swim cap on? He needs another gold just for that. Or that when asked if he was going to get to enjoy the rest of his time at the Olympics, he said he was, but that he did want to get home soon because he missed his dog. That would have made ten gold medals if I were judging.

2. Speaking of swimming... it's been well-established that I am not a flag-draped, "U-S-A" chanting patriot. I get just as excited for other countries when they do well in the Olympics. But when our men's relay team came from behind and beat those snarky, trash-talking, little Frenchie bastards it was almost like I was nine years old again watching the US beat the Soviets in hockey. Not quite - but still pretty damn good. It was made all the better when they showed such good sportsmanship and class and walked directly over to the French team after the race and shook their hands. Makes me want to wear one of those Uncle Sam hats. Okay, not really...

3. One of the many things that keep me from being a flag-draped, "U-S-A" chanting patriot is someone like the women's pole vaulting coach. If I could hand Michael Phelps gold medals for Wearing a Swim Cap Hotly and Total Adorableness for Missing His Dog, then I would so award this dude golds for Extreme Jack-Assedry and Being a Serious Tool. An American pole-vaulter-woman comes in second, losing only to what is apparently the Greatest Female Pole-Vaulter in the Known Universe Ever. After winning silver, she goes over to her coach in the stands - and he berates her! And he's mic'ed so the entire NBC viewing audience gets to listen as he says things like "When you can't even do [pole-vaulty lingo] what do you think is going to happen!?! All you get is silver! That's what happens!" Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I'd be such an arrogant and condescending pig toward a woman who carries around a giant pole for a living...

4. There are a lot of adjectives to describe gymnastics. Funny and refreshing usually don't make the list though. It's always so serious. Everything is so dire and intense. But with the scrappy US men's team's jubilation in working toward an unexpected bronze medal and Bela Karolyi getting all riled up about underage Chinese and bad judging, gymnastics has been a breath of fresh air. I love it when people on camera stop with all the pretense. So many other times we have to endure people who are disappointed WITH A SILVER MEDAL or are so prepped and rehearsed about what to say on camera that it gets to be tiresome. But when the guy on the men's team turned to the camera and genuinely and excitedly shouted "Bronze medal, baby! That's how we roll!" or when Karolyi in one of his tirades kept shouting "ez repoof!" (is ripoff) about the judging of the women's vault - I was cracking up.

5. There have been several "celebrity" deaths this spring and summer that have really affected me. They each seemed to be a genuinely good person who went about doing what they loved with passion but without a lot of fanfare. Most famously in the news have been Tim Russert and Bernie Mac. And even though I didn't know them, I really do miss them. But while watching the Olympics I have also been missing Jim McKay. For my whole childhood he was the voice of the Olympics (not to mention the Kentucky Derby). I can hear his voice and see his golden blazer perfectly in mind. NBC has covered the Olympics for a while now and in general I think they kind of suck at it (even though I do admit to having a geeky crush on Bob Costas). No one did the Olympics like ABC and that was mostly because of Jim McKay. He would have really gotten a kick out of Michael Phelps, the men's gymnastics team, and Bela Karolyi. Plus I'm pretty sure he would have had a few choice - but tactful - words for the French relay team and that pole-vaulting coach.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Bet She Can Pronounce Nuclear Correctly...

Every so often someone asks me if I would ever vote Republican.

My response to that has always been "I'd rather eat glass."

Well, after careful consideration and soul searching I've decided that response really needs to be modified.

It will now be "I'd rather vote for Paris Hilton."

Who knew she was funny? Or had an energy policy?

Already a vast improvement...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer Lovin' Week 4

"On Holiday"

Just as a little preamble - I do love the way the British say things so much better - what mouthy Yank came up with the word "vacation" anyway? Bah! Send it to the dust bin!

Anyway... Sadly, I was not the one "on holiday" this weekend. But the Tennessee sales tax was.

And before you put your hand on your hip, wag your finger in the air, and say "oh don't you go participating in the 'sales tax holiday' after you chastised Hilary and PawPaw for wanting to have a 'gas tax holiday'!" let me say that it is SO. NOT. THE. SAME. THING. I won't go into too much of a rant since I'm supposed to be using my time for these posts to put happy thoughts into the universe and onto the interwebs. BUT I will just say that a nine-point-freakin'-seven-five-percent-sales-tax on clothes and a slightly less obscene tax ON FOOD is regressive and an abomination. However, a tax on a non-renewable fuel source that is also a major pollutant should be taxed even more than it is now for those reason and whole variety of others. Granted, that tax money should be going toward public transportation and to mitigate the pollution created by gasoline-burning engines instead of going toward - oh I don't know - BUILDING MORE ROADS. But enough...

The Tennessee Tax Free Weekend is a fairly new thing. I had been going with my mom to Atlanta to visit friends and family for the weekends of the Georgia sales tax holiday. And yes, saving sales tax really does not warrant a trip to Atlanta BUT there are always lots of additional sales and such on those weekends AND Atlanta has stores we don't have. The Container Store. Crate and Barrel. A pretty good outlet mall. Nordstroms. Ikea. The Container Store. AND if you already have people there you want to visit and its too damn hot to do anything with them outside, what are you going to do? Go to the new aquarium? That would be nice, yes, but let's compare both activities. Both crowded. Both cost money. The aquarium would be educational, yes, but I already know enough about jellyfish to satisfy me for a while. On the other hand. Stackable laundry baskets? Cute boxes - with label holders on the ends - that would contain my VHS collection of Northern Exposure episodes? A bookcase with a name I can't pronounce that I could assemble myself? Tell me more!

I take it all very seriously. Make a list of things I need. A list of things I want. A pre-determined amount of money and an estimate of what can be spent on the "need" versus the "want" lists. I don't buy shirts I only sort-of like just because it's a really good bargain, but I leave room for the serendipitous lamp or bowl or little tan Kenneth Cole mules (that I'm still wearing four years later and get compliments on every time I do - btw). It's like a hunting trip - lots of preparation and game plans but with the thrill of the unexpected. Only no cammo or firearms or bloodshed. Well, usually no bloodshed. There was the time my step-father decided at the last minute to go with us and then asked if we could spend the afternoon at a used bookstore...

So, finally Tennessee legislators got a clue and started a Tax Free Weekend for us. Not quite as exciting. But good. No outlet mall or Nordstroms, but Macy's proved pleasant and profitable. No Ikea, or Crate and Barrel, or Container Store, but a good time can always be had at Target. And with my ongoing lack of funds and a lack of living room ceiling, anything more would not have been feasible. We did well though. Here's my haul. (Hey, get me - posting pictures of my stuff like the preppy bloggers do. Someone stop me before I get something monogrammed... )

Jones New York classic black dress pants that will from this point forward be worn at least once a week. Not an enormous bargain but I've finally come to the conclusion that I have to spend good money on pants. Clinton and Stacy would be so proud.

Nine West black shirt. You can't really tell, but it has cute little pleats. And I normally hate the way I look in buttoned down shirts so this was quite the find on multiple levels.

Liz Claiborne shirt, but in green. In the picture this color is cute, but in person it was not. So I got it in a much-cuter, grass green, but no picture of it exists in cyberspace for some reason. I promptly wore it the next day to work with dark wash jeans and cute, black, rounded toe flats.

(If I had added "black patent leather headband" or "kate spade hobo bag" to that sentence you would have had permission to come and smack me around with something that stinks of patchouli.)

Target was equally exciting but less photogenic so I won't post any pictures of the hairbrush, thank you notes (God help me, they were pink), or string cheese. But the dogs did get their annual back-to-school collars.


(And hell if I didn't notice until now how preppy they are too. What is wrong with me! Don't worry though, pigs will fly before I put my dogs in sweaters or rhinestone collars. Well, as a joke / photo op, but not seriously. Elsie would smother me in my sleep. Oliver on the other hand would probably enjoy a little something sparkly...)

So there you go... another summer adventure has come and gone. We plotted, we scoped, we stalked, we pounced and we left triumphant. And nothing had to be strapped grotesquely to the hood of the car. Or monogrammed.