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Anthony is visiting the house. There he is standing in the hallway. I hand him a pot of quinoa flakes that I plan on cooking in a minute. Almost immediately he spills them all over the floor on purpose. I get mad and start yelling at him.
Me: "Really?! Really, Anthony? This is the first thing you do when you visit us here is make a mess? Those are my quinoa flakes!"
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Waking up at 1:34 p.m.
Wheat Flakes and Berry Cobbler Granola with Almond Milk.
Dropping my car off at the shop to install new tires.
The sun's out today but the wind still has a chill to it.
Egg Drop Broth with Sourdough Bread and Popped Potato Chips. Orange. Granola Bar.
Ana shows up and we go to the gym together.
Movie Monday presents: Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Present are Ken, Darren, Andre, Leisa, Jessica, Leah, and Will. Everybody is supposed to dress up in his or her own lingerie or sexy attire and a mask, which relates to the theme of the movie when the elitists conduct the strange rituals with a cloak and mask. While Ana bakes up a batch of Chocolate Cupcakes I put together a makeshift dinner: Kale Salad with Cranberries, Tomatoes, Carrots, Black Beans, and Sourdough Bread.
We all knew the extent of what we were getting ourselves into with a borderline 3-hour film. Ana runs upstairs to take her own intermission. I follow behind to inquire about her attitude – something's seems amiss like maybe I said something or did something that offended her. I can't figure it out and she won't put it in plain words right away. She brings up the fact that we don't have sex as often as desired. I enjoy our sex – it seems to happen at least once a week or so. Maybe it's just my age but that's enough for me. But it's not like I'm opposed to making it happen more. Just talking about it like this puts pressure on the both of us and then the joy and fun of seducing each other loses it's appeal – it's like an automatic quit button and it frustrates me that she keeps pressing it. She realizes she's been complaining a lot. Softening her up has become a task for me as of late. I remembered I bought her a pack of Ferrero Rocher chocolate, her favorite. I pull it out of a drawer and say, "I know how to get you out of this mood..." and then hand it to her. She smiles real big. They say chocolate is the way to a woman's heart. I think they're right. We delight in a few pieces and head back down to catch the ending of the film.
After taking care of Will's upset alcohol stomach with some ginger tea Ana and I resign upstairs in the bed. We get deep into bed talk about confidence and assertiveness and various personal topics. She lightly rubs my bare chest. I love this feeling – it relaxes me.
[i] Images taken by Ana, Leisa, and Josh.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:52 AM
Waking up at 11 a.m.
Wheat Flakes and Berry Cobbler Granola with Almond Milk. Mango.
All day shift at China Wok.
Trail Mix. Granola Bars. Baked Salt n Vinegar Chips. Black Tea with Honey.
Cold. Windy. Rainy. The sun is still hiding. It seems like it'll never come out. What did we do to deserve an unusually long winter?
Delivering an order to a dude I recognize from the basketball courts. We share the familiarizing handshake. He doesn't tip me and even uses the typical excuse saying "I'm poor right now, man." It's such a predicament for me because I want to respect this guy in the way I respect him on the courts but now I can't.
Ana of course visits and accompanies me on a few runs.
It's a busy day for deliveries.
Off work and back home.
Tofu with Broccoli, Onions, Carrots, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.
Watching Out of the Furnace (2013).
Loose leaf Tea and Milk Chocolate.
Sleep at some point.
[i] Poe Illustration. Harry Clarke.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:47 AM
Waking up on and off throughout the morning having to talk on the phone with my mechanic about my car and having to cancel my shift at work at China Wok. Ling doesn't sound too pleased.
Sharing breakfast with Ana. She tries to make these egg and banana pancakes like last time but we don't have any oats nor do we have the right pan for this. They turn out very black and gooey.
Berry Cobbler Granola and Wheat Flakes with Almond Milk.
Grocery shopping with Ana.
Sharing Pita Bread, Hummus, and Mixed Greens.
Picking up my car and then a brief run on the treadmill at the gym.
Working at China Wok for three hours making easy money.
Orange Roughy with Squash, Green Peppers, Carrots, and Wild Black Rice.
Watching Out of the Furnace (2013).
Organizing and tweaking.
Loose leaf Tea.
Sleep 4 a.m.
[i] Image by Stephanie.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:42 AM
Waking up just before 10 a.m. James puts on a few waking up songs on his phone.
We walk on over to Gillie's to make it just in time for breakfast. French Toast on a French Baguette with an Egg and Coffee. It's Ana's birthday. Becca got a box of candles, the goal being to light up a candle on anything Ana eats today. I poke one into her buckwheat pancakes, light it up, and we all sing.
After that a stop into Gobble Cakes, a cupcake bakery. Ana has an unrelenting taste and love for sweets. And it's common for her to become indecisive when faced with too many appealing options.
Will is planned to come to school here sometime in the near future so we take a brief car trip around VA Tech campus as Becca and Devon identify the buildings made of Hokey stones.
Then to a cozy thrift store with cheap price tags.
Then, stopping at Lucie Monroe, the coffee shop Tim manages. It's a spacious artsy café with custom painted ceiling tiles. I can feel a heavy drain to my system – I can't determine whether it's a caffeine crash, marijuana hangover, or general lack of good sleep. Either way, I've lost my energy for this trip.
Chill guy time at the cathouse while Becca trims Ana's bangs at the salon nearby. Sipping on Pineapple Green Tea and eating some Black Beans. We all have our respective gadgets, whether it be laptops, a Nintendo DS, or an iPad, and we're quieter than the cats.
After an hour or so the girls return. We say our farewells and we hit the road...
Snacking on Granola Bars.
James takes the wheel and gets us through 81 and most of 64. We notice a gradual rattling sound coming from the front of the car and it makes the car wobble ever so slightly. By the time we stop at a Wawa the problem has become more noticeable. Even after checking underneath the car and around the tires there's nothing to be found. It doesn't seem to be an engine or transmission issue but the sound is still there. I take the wheel and try to maintain a safe distance and speed as the sound gets progressively worse. I have the hazard lights blinking just to forewarn the nearby drivers. A cop pulls us over to check that everything is good. I lie and say that we're just driving carefully and slowly because of the weight in the car. If I told him something was wrong then we would have made us wait for a tow, and that would've been very expensive considering we're still about two hours out. Pressing on.
"It'll be a miracle if we make it home." I announce to everyone.
And just as we're entering the interchange ramp to I-264 the car calls it quits. Will and I discover now with the lights on our phones that the lug nuts on the passenger side wheel have fallen out and the car is propped up on the tire. I rotated my tires over a month ago so maybe I didn't tighten the nuts enough and over time with the centrifugal force and heat from the long trip they just came loose. It slowly comes to me that this whole situation could have been avoided if I had checked the lug nuts before we left. Now I know. Jes, our savior, comes to grab Will and James to give them a ride back to their cars. I call my insurance and have the car towed at no cost cause it's only 15 miles away from the shop. It starts to rain as we wait patiently. Getting a car towed is such an ordeal and takes much time. It was midnight when we broke down. Two hours later Ana and I finally make it home safely. It's not a complete road trip without some kind of car trouble.
Unpacking and settling in for sleep at 3:30 a.m.
[i] Images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 1:04 AM
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A movie is being shot in a room where I'm attempting to catch some sleep. I pile into the scene and curl up into the corner out of the way. The director, not expecting my presence, takes a liking to my spontaneous part. Cecily's motherly nurturing side comes out and she wraps her arms around me. Even though nothing's really wrong with me I continue with my role. The scene is over and everybody leaves...
I have a small bag of mushroom-shaped glass reminiscent to the pigmented glass bongs you'd smoke weed out of. Inside of these are encased psychedelic mushrooms that are supposedly worth about $1000. None of it makes any sense especially the reason why I have these in my possession. I'm scheduled to meet with someone to hand them over. With two buddies of mine by the bank of a lake. We grab a canoe and attempt to paddle to an island made of parachute material. The canoe fails. And now some people are after me desperately trying to steal these mushrooms back. I'm running in and out of alleyways of what's understood to be Blacksburg. I manage to creep inside a barn where African animals are housed. A gang of monkeys and baboons surround me. One of them grabs my arm. A couple pre-teen girls, understood to be the drug lord's daughters (the ones who are after me), have found me and force me to hand over the mushrooms. It turns into a less hostile situation when the older one takes a liking to me – we start kissing and I pretend to be her age – pretending to be in love for the first time.
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At 10:32 a.m. I officially open my eyes to the ominous steeple of the church next door watching over me through the trapezoid shaped windows. Mango, the cat with a cow coat hops up on the bed and vies for affection.
Getting brunch at Gillie's across the street. We just missed breakfast but I make do with an amazing Focaccia Pizza with Salmon, Mushrooms, and Spinach. Will claims to have a hollow leg where his body stores all the insane amounts of food he consumes.
It's hiking for us today. We drive on the windy-squiggly back roads littered with farmhouses, cows, and silos. We encounter a pasture of alpacas down at the bottom of the slope, not something any of us expected to find here, but there they are with their puffy camel-like faces and funny-looking features.
At the hike site. Our destination: Dragon's Tooth. It's about a 5-mile hike up the mountain roundtrip. It intersects with the Appalachian Trail. Some parts are still snowy and muddy, and other parts are dry and rocky. It's challenging and rewarding.
Ana's Pochohantas Theme:
We reach the top of the peak of Dragon's Tooth, a collection of long jagged rock formations standing proudly at the highest point of the mountain. Climbing atop the rocks – nourishing ourselves with homemade Granola bars and various fruits and snacks. A fellow hiker we meet is in the progress of walking the whole trail – he started in Georgia and hopes to finish in Maine. We offer him one of the granola bars for sustenance. Will and I manage to reach the highest point on the cliffs. Feeling strong gusts of wind that make you feel like you could fly off at any moment. Will points out that just being up here and knowing that just one false move could send you plummeting to your death "really makes you feel alive". I couldn't agree more.
While catching our breath and relaxing on the rocks we come up with the silly idea to film our rendition of 127 Hours with Will getting his arm stuck in a crevice and being forced to cut off his arm with a pocket knife.
We make it back to the car in one piece and with our spirits rejuvenated.
Dinner at The Cellar, a crowded dark-lit basement bar. Getting Black Bean Gyros with Curly Fries. Sharing some kind of dark ale with Will and James.
Back at the cathouse for special brownies, haircuts, and card games. Going through the photos with the Photo Council as we like to call the process of going through the pictures, deleting the unworthy moments, and keeping the cherished ones.
I had a little piece of the special brownies but I wasn't expecting to be affected by it in any real way. Later, I feel it creep up on me after Becca finishes cutting my hair.
Cuddling with Ana on the air mattress Becca provided for us. James is sleeping on the couch next to us. We giggle for 30 minutes straight at every noise and move he makes on the couch. We can't control it. She had one of the brownies too. We keep saying silly things to each other and acting humorously paranoid about the cats.
[i] All images by me or Ana.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:13 AM
Waking up bright and early at 9:40 a.m. Onward to Blacksburg in the wagon – I'm at the wheel, Ana by my side in the passenger seat, Will and James in the backseat.
Coffee with Coconut Creamer. Grapefruit and Clementines. Chocolate Honey Peanut Butter Almond Granola Bars.
While James snoozes I engage with Will in a discussion on various topics such as the future of civilization, the digital age's effect on spiritually and the changing of values and culture, numerology, etc.
Snacking on Baked Salt n Vinegar Chips and more of those Granola Bars.
On I-64, loop around Richmond, to I-81, and deep in the southwestern mountains of VA – the snow covers the surface of the hilly farmhouse landscapes. This is sort of my first road trip with Ana. She's got her paid week's vacation and I'm certain she's enjoying the liberating feeling of getting out of town, as am I. I have fond memories from days of yore in Blacksburg, from all the Tokyo tours – playing basement and house shows with our fellow musicians in The House Floor. It seems like such a long time ago...and it was.
We link up with Becca once we arrive in downtown. She's watching over two little Chihuahuas. This grabs Ana's attention right off the bat.
We check out some of the thrift stores from the last time we were here. Gathering all the interesting items, some functional and some not so functional. At one of the thrift shops while each of us are checking out another man in his 40's is also waiting and seems to get impatient while the lady bags some items. He storms off and mutters to himself, but just enough for us to hear, "This is ridiculous...these faggot ass bitches..." It was kind of hard to catch but Will and I definitely heard it. What he said was completely uncalled for but I didn't take too much offense. It just didn't make any sense. He was only two people behind in line. Will describes the reason for his behavior, "He probably led a mentally frustrating life of ignorance."
We pick up Tim from the cathouse – he's the manager of a coffee shop in Christiansburg and a friend of Becca's. I like to call it the cathouse because of the three cats that roam about, not to mention the porch cats that live out in the street. We all caravan to Café Mekong, a Viet-Thai restaurant – Tim, Becca, Kai, James, Will, Ana, and I.
Sharing Shrimp Pad Thai, Chinese Broccoli, and Green Tea with Ana.
We got invited to TOTS (which stands for top of the stairs), a comedy club down the street. Some black comedian made known on BET somehow is performing a standup act. Sipping on a Shock Top. Ana enjoys her fruity Bahama Mama mixed drink.
Then to the London Underground for foosball and more drinks. I spot Pete, the drummer of The House Floor, there. We probably haven't seen each other in many years since he moved to Brooklyn with the band. Now he's back here, the band broken up and with scattered lives across the country.
Settling into the humble old house where Tim resides. Ana and I cuddle under the thick comforters we brought and sift through all the photos that were taken today, determining which ones to delete and touching up a few. The cats provide plenty of entertainment and don't hesitate to lie down at the foot of the pullout bed.
[i] Images by me, Becca, or Ana.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 11:57 PM