Tag Archives: southern living

Play Me Something Country: A City Woman’s Morning in the Fields

Oklahoma has the longest drivable stretch of Rt. 66 in the entire country. I decided to take advantage of it this morning after dropping my sister off at work and stealing/borrowing her car. I had dreams of driving all the way to northern Texas before I had to return, but didn’t even make it out of the second county because things got interesting.

Here’s a play by play of my morning until 9. And it only got more interesting from here, but you’ll have to see the made for TV movie about my life to find out what happened.

6:00 A.M. CST

Dropped my sister off at work. Have her wheels for the day. Will try not to destroy anything.

6:05 A.M. CST

Pulled up to Beverly’s Pancake House. Looks like some waitresses just started their smoke break. Hope I don’t interrupt it by being that 6 A.M. customer.

Beverly's Pancake House

Beverly’s Pancake House

6:06 A.M. CST

Am definitely that 6 A.M customer and definitely interrupted their smoke break. Tried to apologize for it and the waitress told me not to worry about it, baby. It’s nice to be called baby by an older woman sometimes.

6:46 A.M. CST

Am taking this pancake, this strip of bacon and what’s left of my hashbrowns on the road with me, along with the rest of this book I’m reading, “Lessons from a Desperado Poet.” Time to hit the road. I’m heading to Rt. 66 East.

7:01 A.M. CST

Got turned around somehow. Don’t really know where I’m going but might make more sense to just go on Rt. 66 West since it’s right in front of me.

7:11 A.M. CST

I love everything about what what I’m doing right now. The sun is still rising, the roads are still clear, and I got the entire west of the U.S. in front of me and more diners than I know what to do with. This is awesome.

7:45 A.M. CST

Time to fill up the ‘ol tank with gas. Probably shouldn’t have hopped that curb quite so much. Hope these tires aren’t misaligned now and that my sister doesn’t read this post.

7:58 A.M. CST

Got a coffee from McDonald’s too to seal the deal after taking a piss. Man I can’t help using this country lingo after listening to country jams all morning. Not sure I’m saying them right though. Oh well, ain’t y’all!

8:12 A.M. CST

Saw a sign for Chester’s Party Barn after passing through Piedmont. Looks interesting. I’m going to investigate.

Chester's Party Barn

Chester’s Party Barn

8:21 A.M. CST

Still no sign of the party barn but I’m on a dirt road now. There’s no one out here. I like to stop the car on the road and get out and walk around and feel the solitude. More birds than you can shake a wooden spoon at.

8:27 A.M. CST

Where is Chester’s Party Barn? Is this a trap? Am I going to be shot?

8:42 A.M. CST

Found the party barn. Apparently they do comedy shows. Could this be a new venue for me?


8:43 A.M. CST

Realized there’s dirt all over my pants and the back of my sister’s car. I guess this is what all those country songs are talking about. They make it sound fun, but this kind of sucks.

8:53 A.M. CST



8:59 A.M. CST

Damn I think I’m lost.

9:10 A.M. CST

Found my way again! Just need to follow the signs in the opposite direction of Chester’s Party Barn. Also, I saw a hawk!

9:23 A.M. CST

Stopped at the McDonald’s again to go to the bathroom. Didn’t buy anything this time, but on account of the dirt on my pants, it looks like I went out into the fields to do a drug deal or have a love tryst in between McDonald’s breaks.

9:32 A.M. CST

Back on Rt. 66 West. We’ll take it just a little longer to see where the adventure goes.

NB: this is not Rt. 66. Just pretty picture.

NB: this is not Rt. 66. Just pretty picture.

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Why Does My Mouth Taste Like Garlic and Other Deep Questions Inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

Why does my mouth taste like garlic?

Who’s more of an animal, me or the black bear I saw this morning?

When I touch a rock on top of Rattlesnake Point, does the rock touch me back?

Is life an infinite amount of moments or one long moment?

Are all trees part of one big tree that is slowly spreading across the earth and will eventually sprout from our abdomens?

Do flies get annoyed by their own buzzing?

If the Blue Ridge Mountains are actually green but only appear to be blue, does that mean there is no truth?

If a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, and straight roads are impossible to find in the mountains, does that mean beauty is inefficient?

If I put my clothes into the dryer to make them less wet, and put a dehumidifier in my room to make the air less damp, does that mean that dryers are dehumidifiers for clothes?

Do the trees ever get tired of humans wondering if they make a sound when they fall down?

If someone told me that the Blue Ridge Mountains are the oldest mountain range in the world, and I believe them, does that make it true?

Can I control things with my mind?

If I talk to the trees, does that make them my friends?

If a woman falls down in the forest and starts screaming, but there’s no one to hear her scream, is she actually screaming?

What’s worse, dying by bear attack, or dying having never been attacked by a bear?

What’s for dinner?

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If Acting Doesn’t Work Out, At Least There’s Always Panning for Gold in Dahlonega, GA

Dahlonega, GA

Dahlonega, GA

All the time in the world + a car + nothing else to do = a trip to a town that has fallen off the face of history. You know the kinds of towns I’m talking about, the ones that have preserved their old town squares and turned them into tourist traps full of ice cream parlors and fudge shoppes and handmade candle stores. Once the living, beating heart of a real city, the downtown is now the equivalent of a decorative chamber pot at grandma’s house.

Dahlonega, GA is one of those towns. You can find it by driving northeast from Atlanta until you strike gold, literally. According to Wikipedia, this was the site of the nation’s first gold rush in 1828. Even the famous saying “There’s gold in them thar hills” came from here, though apparently it was misquoted from some dude who actually said “There’s millions in it…” which makes him sound less like a two-toothed idiot and more like the civil servant he actually was.

At any rate, there’s still gold in them thar hills and considering I’m fresh out of a job, I thought I’d try to win it all back by doing a little panning myself at the Crisson Gold Mine. Crisson is an Appalachian (read: unsexy) version of Las Vegas for grade schoolers and retirees, which were the only other people there. For only $10, you get the chance to strike it rich. What a deal!

After about 10 minutes of gold panning, my back hurt and I wanted to stop but I didn’t. I’d caught mild gold fever and the chance of winning big kept me dunking my pan into the water and sifting away. 10 minutes after that, I was done with that crap and had painstakingly gathered enough gold flakes to do absolutely nothing. The flakes were probably worth no more than ten cents but at least the experience had made me sweat. I hadn’t struck it rich this time, but that’s the risk you take when you roll the dice in Appalachian Las Vegas.

We stopped in downtown to get some bad fried seafood from a charming beach-themed restaurant. Two retiree couples (the only other people there) gave me the stink eye for wearing skinny jeans that showed part of my ankle, but I stunk it right back to them with my able body and sharp eyesight. 20/20, gramps!

On the way back to Marietta, GA, we saw a hawk and a gigantic inflatable eagle advertising a car dealership with the slogan “Red, white and you!” Georgia FTW.

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Are you in Georgia? Use this checklist to find out (or at least narrow down the possibilities)


Georgia on my mind.

As of this moment when I am writing this sentence, I am in Georgia. I drove east from Nashville into the heart of the American Southeast and watched the sides of the highway fill up with those shapely Georgia pine trees. So I know that I’m definitely in Georgia.

Unless I don’t. Sometimes I forget where I am. Maybe I’m just in the East Bay where it also gets hot and there are a lot of trees. Maybe I just took the BART train one too many stops and got off in Orinda and started calling it Georgia like a crazy person.

Luckily, I made myself a checklist of ways to determine if I’m in Georgia. If you ever find yourself in this kind of situation, feel free to use this list. If you check off 5 or more of these, then you’re probably in Georgia or at least the Southeast portion of the United States or I’ll eat my socks.

You know you’re in Georgia when….

1. There are more deer, fireflies, squirrels and frogs than people.

2. Liquor stores are called package stores, which causes some people to think of genitalia and giggle.

3. When you accidentally oversleep and end up going for a run at 9:30 on a July morning, the experience is equal to being burned with the heat of a million suns while running in a sauna and choking down steam.

4. The trees are taller than 5 tall men stacked on top of each other.

5. There are more American flags than people and one on every porch.

6. American flags and colors are suitable for decoration in the months preceding and following the 4th of July.

7. Cheese sauce (also known as queso) accompanies salsa at Mexican restaurants.

8. You can say hi to the people on the street without seeming like a creep. They are friendly and will respond positively.

9. Front porches are everywhere and they’re filled with furniture.

10. Kudzo (an invasive plant that looks like ivy) is everywhere, and it is unstoppable. Longterm, it’s probably a more worrisome enemy than many other countries and militant groups.

11. The chicken biscuit reigns king.

12. Chick-fil-a has a presence in the local Kroger.

13. The forecast for every day in July is humid with a chance of thunderstorms and a 100% chance of y’all.

14. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the humidity, but something about the place seems timeless, like you could buy a home here and live forever while the world spins around you.

15. Jeep Wranglers.

16. Peach lore and Civil War generals make up 90% of local nomenclature.

You might want to hate it. You might want to love it. At the very least, you should sit on the front porch and enjoy a chicken biscuit. If you turn out to be in Orinda, take a walk and then head home, friend. Georgia will await you another time.

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Country Music: Proud of Itself

wranglers at Deer Valley Ranch, the former vacation destination of our family

In many parts of the country, a fondness for country music brings a plague upon one’s career and friendships. Country music, outside its native habitat, is as popular as pungent body odor in small vehicles. It is to be masked and not spoken of, its producer’s cheeks reddening in shame and the rest embarrassed to be in the presence of such a foul substance.

Despite the widespread prejudice, country music actually isn’t all that bad. While growing up in OK, I listened to and resented country music all the time, since most of my family members enjoyed it and would play it relentlessly on the radio and at home. Years later at Boston University, this caused the bizarre sensation of both revulsion and pride whenever I heard a country song.

The revulsion resulted from years of carefully practiced loathing, and the pride came from me belonging to something different than the rest of my mostly coastal colleagues. Eventually I came to appreciate the twang-infested music as something unique to the specific subculture in which my adolescence was submerged and an art form that can be quite beautiful in those rare instances where it is done properly. And when it is not beautiful, it is generally hilarious.

Mostly for the ha-has, I’ve been drinking in the country music as much as possible during these short weeks in Oklahoma, but I have realized that a lifetime would not be enough to fully understand the breadth and depth of the genre. Where else do you find such tender descriptions of trucks, tractors, and other vehicles of labor? In this modern music wasteland, what other than country music will dare to describe innocent love in barns, hayfields, and blue jeans? What about all the myriad ways whisky, Jesus, and America are intimately connected with the problems one has while courting the farmer’s daughter?

What I most admire about country music, however, is its ability to admire itself. Since the dawn of the genre, it has been lauding the country lifestyle and the country way, in small towns full of simple, country men and women that like to do country things.

Songs like “I Got My Country On,” by Chris Cagle, “These Are My People,” by Rodney Atkins, “Where I Come From” by Montgomery Gentry, and “Where I Come From” by Alan Jackson, among many others, celebrate a rustic problem free, healthcare free lifestyle. In this highly fictionalized country world, there’s a lot of front porch sitting (AJ) with preacher men in cowboy shirts (MG). It’s where people do things with their own two hands (CG) and give this life everything they have and then some (RA). It’s a wonderful, wonderful, place, and anyone listening to this music would probably imagine a haven of small town goodness, unspoiled by the modern world.

While modernity may not have touched it, the world in which country music lives and from which it sprouts has unfortunately been spoiled by high divorce, obesity, diabetes two, and poverty rates.

However, I am confident that a genre with such hits as “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and “Somethin’ Bout a Truck” will have the creative energy necessary to face this rampant decay with some great ho-down tunes that will get knees a poppin’, heads a bobbin,’ and boots a stompin’.

If you have any other winning country music titles, please feel free to pass them along and I’ll see you down at the barn for the next line dance.

Picture Credit: Trip Advisor

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