"Just Listen to the Music of the Traffic in the City"

“Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty…”

Ah, living the life of a downtown girl.

Rawr!

This week I’ve been house-sitting two ferocious and poofy beasts in the upper-class lap of luxury – Five Points, Raleigh.  Not only do I walk to work (the Raleigh Review is located in Five Points Antique District), but I’ve been inspired constantly by the life of the stay-at-home dog walking mothers, yapping away on their cell phones with their toe-head children gleaming from the carriage strollers.

I don’t really fit in, in this crowd.

I’m not exactly downtown chic either, obviously. No kids, no burlesque skills, no dyed Keds.  I’m not alternative punk, I don’t have “around-town” boots, and I don’t have a dread amongst this lion curl hair.  I’m also not wealthy, nor do I own any Lily Pulitzer.  I guess you could say I fall under the starving artist category.

When you think of a poet gal, you usually think beret, or a girl who finger-snaps at the things she sees and likes (it goes way beyond smiling and giggling folks).  Sometimes these women wear threaded boots, or geometric leggings.  Sometimes they have buns of hair in the corners behind their ears.  Sometimes their eye liner is escaping into the corner crevices of their elegant eyes.  And sometimes, they wear large, belted coats lingering with cigarette smoke (D.Laux).  I don’t really have any of that going for me.  I have no bangs so I can’t slip them around my forehead, or fluff them, my hair barely holds any interesting bows or hair clips, and I usually wear loose, bohemian esque clothes instead of alternative “downtown girl” clothes. So, I feel a little out of place.  I feel a little like a girl in a book, an interesting girl, a used and fabulous girl, that hasn’t quite got her shit together.

“So, go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re – downtown”

The girls and Donna's adorable porch sign. Wait till you see the bomb porch I've been working with this week. ..and yes I realize no one says "the bomb" anymore.

This week in my downtown abode, I’ve been checking out the scenery around me to make sure I’m in the right place and the downtown fairy, with her bike helmet of sparkly dust and brewed coffee drops hasn’t left me in Wonderland again…damn, that fairy.  But, she hasn’t.  This is where I’m meant to be in the world of necessary poetry and Third Place Coffee.  I’ve been looking in the windows of the antique shops, finding chandeliers of blown glass flower vases, uprooted into light bulbs and color schemes.  I’m just lost in this antique menagerie and downtown coffee drinking, eight-o-clock sunrise life.  I’m still a bit too nervous to go into the antique shops, but that’s temporary.  When I’m rich and famous and own a house made of cobblestone and fairy dust, all of this will be chalked up to poor post college life and two-dollaring myself to death (as my faj likes to tell me).

I want to buy beaded lights, and neon lights, and starred tights that go with my eyes.  I want to rhyme – better.  I want to walk faster and not get lost or get off at the wrong bus stop.  I want to peek into every museum in Raleigh at least once a month and look at the art and inspire myself, and buy canvas and sell it in the little coffee shops hidden beneath the stairwells.  Doesn’t everybody though?  I feel like everybody, at one time or another, unless they have a perfect and quaint farm full of cattle, has had big NYC dreams.  Everyone would like the ability to clack their high heels along the subway platform without even looking at a Subway map or paying the one-way fee.  Everyone wants to know the quickest way to get the Village from whatever other areas are in NY.  Maybe everyone doesn’t really want to rent a closet in Brooklyn with the heating unit hanging half outside of the window, but I might.

I’m not really a city girl though.

Last time my parents and I traveled to DC, I got a little angst-ridden and by a little, I mean my face was a full house of emotions and no one person could get around them.   So, instead of squashing my New York dreams I’m trying to see how stressed I can make myself in the much smaller downtown of Raleigh.

Just workin' on our motor skills.

On Friday, I once again had to watch Hulk Hands for the entire day and while I tried to do something fun (riding the free R-line bus), it ended with carpet poop and wet pants. My nephew is the epitome of using his bowel movements against you.  Unlike my father, he likes to surprise his poop on me when I’m least expecting it…like while reading Green Eggs and Ham in two different voices for each character, “In a boat, or with a goat.”  However, before all of this and with the help of another curly haired monster, I was able to get a few good pictures out of it all.

My nephew looks just like me; people shake their heads at me in Chik-fil-a because they think I had him at a really young age, and so while he played in Marbles pee-soaked, and flushed-faced, I looked like a hell of a good “mother.”  However, I can’t let that judgment shit phase me because my nephew, Jack,  is an absolute superhero.  He has a theme song, he has the talking Spiderman hoodie, he has the Hulk Punching Hands and he knows all the words to Super Hero Squad.  However, he is also my birth control for every Friday.  I am so not ready to be a mother.

You can hear the ocean from a conk shell, but you can smell it from inside a starfish.

This was my favorite collaboration of the day.  I don’t think it needs to be said why (maybe a little imitation goes a long way).  Anytime you can get two boys in the discovery room of a science museum – I suggest you take that moment and run.  From bird puppets eating worms, to telescope views into the construction next door – you can’t go wrong.  These two boys especially liked the ocean section where I got continually eaten by the inside of starfish. I might have been losing my mind earlier with wet pants and too-smart three year olds, but it quickly became one of my favorite Jack memories.

Yesterday, however, I had the great expanse of downtown at my fingertips and although it was slightly misting and we had to retrieve under-the-seat, car coats from Christine’s car closet, it was worth it.  We went to Sparkcon, which is a music, arts, literary, geekery three-day event in Downtown Raleigh.  Now, if you’re town has an annual event filled with bugs, street painting and video geekery – then I don’t know if Raleigh can compete – if not, it’s time you took an adventure time down to quiet, 4g and southern hospitable Raleigh, NC.  Christine and I became kindergardeners, fingers painted forest green, and noses coated in chalk on the streets of Hargett and Davie.  Little girls were waltzing around on hopscotch tip toes yelling at their parents, “Don’t step on the art.”  It makes me want to bring a three year old to the art museum and see if when I touch the painting, they understand what a filthy human being I am.

Christine and I, with our recyclable coffee cups to the side (our one glimpse of adulthood) finger-printed our jeans with high-lighter chalk and drew a tree straight out of Peter Pan.  Not only that, but groups of teenagers, children, and their wet and drowsy adult chaperones spent the weekend street-painting for a competition.  Here is some of the art straight out of the tobacco roots of North Carolina.  Who says kids bred with agriculture and burnt orange dirt don’t have an artistic side?

Dyed Woman (one of my favorites)

I thought this was a bear playing an instrument, but he's totally smoking a pipe.

My jungle TOMS and the John Lennon themed chalk art.

My cat, Jasper, is the new Mona Lisa

"This was going to be an awesome naked cat. Unfortunately the ground is wet and I have a chem exam."

I think that last one is my favorite.  Who can finish a painting in the wetness while they’re simultaneously cramming for a chem exam?  This is why I avoided chemistry like the plague.  Even chem 101, the easy, english and art kid chem – I took astronomy…let’s learn about stars and horoscopes please, and thank you.  (Why do people say they avoid things like the plague?  It’s not like people could ever really even avoid the plague…they were stuck getting it and rotting inside…it’s history.  If you could avoid it, wouldn’t you. Stupid analogy).

"Poetry is Necessary, and so are trees and pirates."I think the most important street art of the day though, was Christine and I’s work of mastery.  Neither of us are much past doodling, but we did find some fond memories of middle school notebooks and hearts around crush names.  I need a drawing intervention where my family gathers around and lets me know that just because I won drawing contests at five, doesn’t mean my abilities have come much farther since then.  The most I have skills for is stick figure humans, stick figure animals (usually birds and other things that fly, ya know…pterodactyls etc) and hearts, stars or horseshoes.  Both of us are skilled in other areas.

I felt, however, I needed to send a message to the Triangle with my street art and for a while now I’ve been obsessed with this bumper sticker on the counter of Lily’s Pizza, “poetry is necessary.”  In an effort to step out of my usual “fREADom” message, I decided to do that in brilliant rainbow, and beyond colors.  Christine was down for helping me and getting her fingers coated in charcoal chalk and so we took on the task of an hours worth of doodling and a magnificent tree at the end.  I think for the amount of time we spent in the middle of Martin Street  (an hour and a half) with the rain misting our cheeks – we did a perty good job on making our drawing come to life.  Maybe I’ve upped the sales for poets all over the world today if anyone saw this and actually took it in.  I just really enjoyed that people wanted to take photos of our art when there were so many other talented squares up and down the street.  Come on, that Jasper Dean cat and psychedelic woman – we can’t exactly beat that.  I’d make this less obtrusive and put one picture, but where’s the fun in that…you should see us in the creative process.

Creating. Enduring. Misting. Sweating. Camera-ing.

My fingernails are never a girl-normal color so take it as it is. : )

Finished Product, Chalky hands.

It was a journey trying to figure out what the heck we wanted to draw.  People had Adventure Time Finn’s everywhere and rainbows of names, scratches, sketches, etc.  The mini-me in front of us with her curls contained in a ponytail was writing her name with her entire family.  That’s one of the plus points to being the youngest. You may be the spare and not the heir, but your older brother is forced into drawing your name on a crowded street of children.  My brother was forced to go to all my Saturday Church basketball games (thank goodness he didn’t get struck by lightening when entering the Chapel) but he also had the honor of introducing me to Nightmare Before Christmas and Rocko’s Modern Life.  (Maybe Rocko was the beginning of all my Australian needs).  So, sometimes it’s cool to be the older brother too (how do you all feel?)

I feel like this blog is going nowhere and as much fun and excitement I had yesterday in the rain – with my matted and winded hair, I can’t make it come out in words.   It’s not exactly writer’s block – it’s just the block of words flowing from my toes to my mouth.  They’re forced to travel the entire length of my body – it’s like a filter that stops me from saying absolutely miserable things to people on the street.  Because believe me, I’m thinking them.  I think they’re all just getting stuck in my guts and intestines.

Ain't that the truth.

Other fun things about Sparkcon – skating showdown, Morning Times Coffee, Bug Fest 2011, Tarot readings and just instant creativity in the Raleigh community.  I don’t know if anyone has experienced this before, but being around such an inspiring environment just made me want to settle in with my cup of peppermint tea, ignore my tired and half-slipped eyes and keep on scrawling with that pencil deep into the night.

For the past week, I’ve been reading like nine books at once, unfortunately, and while I thought the last one, Super Sad True Love Story was a real work of science-fiction (really not my usual topic), my friend Alison has informed me that it’s not new at all in the science-fiction universe.  And while, I wasn’t thoroughly depressed after reading it like I should have been, I was really impressed with the author’s big words.  I have to mention that he’s a Jewish Author because I feel like that’s a title to all Jewish Author’s out there (hence why I’m capitalizing) because for some reason they get huge press, and are always Best Sellers.  I feel like there’s some cult out in existence marketing Jewish authors to death.  I don’t have a problem with it, Jewish authors write like the rapture has come.  Keep em’ comin’, Jewish Mafia.

So, today was a nice break from reading at all, especially the endless poetry books I have poured down on myself.  Sometimes, it’s just time to take a break from reading and writing.  Sometimes you need a moment in your own fictional universe to doodle in your notebook, do some math, drink something warm from a cup that can be 100% recycled – maybe even do a jig if you feel like it.  I really wanted to celebrate the lack of books drowning in my purse, with dining on bugs at Bug Fest 2011, but I couldn’t find the chocolate covered ant stand.  Nor, did I get to hold a tarantula to make all my hairy – eight legged dreams come true.  My friend Nat is either in a corner crying and reading this, or searching her house for webbed beasts while she reads this (fear and loathing in Carborro).

My fictional Universe was even inspired with some psychic tarot earlier today.  And lucky me, I received the “Universal Thumbs Up Tarot Card” as the girl so eloquently told me.  I’m sure she was putting this in laymen’s terms for those of us who can’t speak to the dead, or conduct a crystal ball – but I felt good about it.  She also told me something about boys, which is always interesting.  Every girl wakes up in the morning to jump on her labtop, phone, or astrological book to find out what sort of love is coming her way that day (oh just me and some of my old roommates, oops).  Oh, boy. Christine got good cards too so the Sun and Sky and both of our horoscope symbols are smiling at us from above tonight. (Too bad I’m a goat, and goats don’t really smile).

And now, here I am in the Raleigh Review loft (Donna’s house has no internet) thinking I overdid the pictures in this blog, but still wanting to add more.  My impulses and synapses are arguing about it while I’m just thinking about sleep.  The kittens are noisy in the night sometimes; jumping about and pulling at the curtains, but my dreams have been overwhelming and sleep hasn’t been coming easily.  I’m always such a little puss in a new environment.  I did find a night light to make the night not so scary and the black crack of the closet not overwhelming the pillow talk I have with myself before bed.  So, in an effort to make myself feel better and less contained inside the expectations-of-bloggers-shell…I’m going to add more pictures of geekery and excitement for your, and my mom’s viewing pleasure.  She loves this stuff.

Here’s my last week in a picture blog:

Plum chairs, and a porch. A REAL PORCH - WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE.

"A small mouse family can live in here and float to the beach." - Jack

Sparkcon - NCSU Design School Geekery.

More geekery with the two biggest geeks of them all.

The end of a fabulous week. Pink sewer tops and Bug Fest

That’s your small glimpse of a dandy Downtown Raleigh experience.  If you want to visit my humble town – there are ample hotels, motels and couches for your visiting pleasure as well as 4g internet (I’m just really excited about this because we only got it like a month ago) and lots of … yappy, old women, dog walkers.  Had to throw that in.

“And you may find someone kind to help and understand you.”

11 thoughts on “"Just Listen to the Music of the Traffic in the City"

  1. bea mannes says:

    What a great review of your “Cassie from the block” existance in the big city, although Raleigh isn’t quite NY city. Of course, I loved all the pictures, especially the rocking chairs, you and Christine, and the starfish. All pictures tell a story, and yours filled me in.
    We look forward to your return to the “country” of N. Raleigh. See you soon.

  2. wideawakeness says:

    I was about to write about how I DIDN’T bring Neeko to SPARKcon… and then I read this and gave up. The Naked Cat was my favorite, too. Well, that, and the Adventuretime-themed chalk art (obviously).

    I wish I could have adventured with you. It looks like you were doing more doing where as Abby and I were doing more talking…

    I guess that’s what happens when I’m not hiding behind a lense.

    The Botanical Gardens are SURELY not dead right now. I remember visiting them in September last year. Just let me know when you want to attempt reaching photography gold (again).

    Love.

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