Allendale: A Shunned House Part 2

The house was—and for that matter still is—noticeably different than its neighbors. Older by almost sixty years than what we think of as the grand, old antebellum mansions, Allendale was, in its day, a grand home for a man who has succeeded in taming the frontier. It started out, as so many houses back then did, as a one room cabin built by men for men to stay in. Once the women and children were sent for, a cellar was dug, a second room across an open breezeway was added, and the home took a familiar dog-trot shape. Later, though no later than 1815, a second story and a grand staircase were added and the whole thing was enclosed in white siding. The logs of the original cabin were, it’s said, left in place under the lathing and the plaster, so that traveling through the house is a bit like traveling back through time—one can travel from 1815 to 1790 just by going downstairs and entering the front room on the right, though it should be noted that the slight difference in sizes of the two front rooms, which otherwise appear to be mirror images of each other, might account for some of the sense of unease the house causes. Your mind is aware that something is wrong with the proportions, if not what.

An addition was put on in the 1960s, which juts out from the back of the house like the back of an uppercase L. This was when they dug the walk-out basement, from which you can see views of the river only slightly less spectacular than those viewed from the front of the house. This was supposed to update the house and make it more fitting for the modern families who might want to rent it, though no family lived in it again after the people for whom the addition was put on broke their lease. The new addition sits against the older part of the house like two drunks on a park bench, though perhaps the fact that the house is not square was only noticeable from the driveway.

The yard had a peculiar quality in that all the rocky surfaces seemed always to have some condensation on them. In the middle of a hot August afternoon, when the grass was brown and crisp, the stone steps that stretch down almost Peach Valley Road were slick, as if it has just rained, the moss that grew on them deep and lush. Even the stone chimneys sparkled most of the day, as if you have just missed a passing thunderstorm.

I’m That Voice You’re Hearing in the Hall

The very first album I bought was Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man. I had no idea about music outside what my parents owned. I think Mike Trotter had said that Billy Joel was good, but he wasn’t someone my parents listened to, as far as I knew and I had never heard him.

But I had this feeling that buying your first record was a big deal, and that it would somehow influence whether I’d be allowed to buy other records. And we went, either to Walmart or K-Mart and I purchased An Innocent Man. And I remember feeling kind of happy on the one hand, because my dad seemed to approve of the choice after he heard it, but on the other hand, mildly disappointed because my dad had music that blew me away and this? This was not doing the same.

Still, this is a good song.

This was followed up very shortly by Duran Duran’s Rio and, well, there it was. That was music that blew my mind. Something that my parents couldn’t introduce me to, because I knew it first.

But man, these songs! Even now, I listen to them and I am ten or eleven again and I can’t even think objectively about them. Are they any good? I can’t tell. Is there anything salvageable? Again, I can’t tell. It’s hard to believe that I ever used to love such music, that sounds so much like it was all composed by a shitty synthesizer, but, oh, boy, I did. And then I stopped. And I’m not sure why. I just felt like I heard everything out of them there was to hear.

At least for me to hear.


The Wide-Eyed “Good Lord, No.”

The dumbass running against Jim Cooper posted a picture of a gun on his Facebook page and the words, “Many people in Tennessee keep asking me about my opinion on Second Amendment rights. Apparently Tennesseans are part of that crazy crowd that Obama says ‘cling to (their) religion and guns.’ Well, then I must be part of that crazy crowd. Here is something that I usually have with me. Welcome to Tennessee Mr. Obama.”

And then, when he was asked if that was an implicit threat against Obama, he got to play all wide-eyed and innocent and said “Good Lord, no.”

Oh, really? Then why didn’t he post a picture of a Bible?

I truly hate this bullshit, that a person can do something that is obviously a threat and then, just because he makes the most puny bullshit effort to pretend that it’s not a threat, we’re all supposed to act like we believe his account of what his intentions were. Or at least we’re supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I honestly hope Cooper wipes his ass with this jerk.

You Learn Things About Yourself in October

The first being that, if you like immediate feedback on the things you do that scare you, you should not parcel it out over thirty-one days. Ha ha ha. Lord. Last night I was all “Oh my god, they hate it,” and then I reminded myself that there wasn’t really anything for you to hate yet. But still, serialized short stories may not be the wave of my future (and now watch me go on to somehow revolutionize the serialized short-story form).

The second being that, though I really disliked the first chapter of Libba Bray’s The Diviners–it’s just way too much, golly gee, I’m talking like a flappadoodoodle flapper drinking my fire water and appalling the squares who just don’t get kids today–I’m really glad I stuck it. Last night there were four “Oh, I’ll just read one more and then I’ll go to bed” chapters, which, I think, is the sign of a good book. At least so far. Her magical knowledge is solid, too, which is nice.

The third thing is that I will happily walk in the rain in October, when that same amount of rain would be enough to keep me inside any other time of the year.