March Madness!

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, March 2009 ~~

There comes a time every year in Carrboro, when the daffodils are unfurling and bare dogwood branches are studded with buds that dramatically pause before bursting into dazzling bloom. It is a magical time, replete with the accompanying cheery trill of birdsong. And, yet, somehow I miss it. Instead of the glories of purple crocus and the flush of redbud, I am watching an orange ball go through a metal hoop against the hallelujah chorus of squeaking sneakers. Screw spring.

God, I love the sound of basketball shoes on polished wood. Continue reading

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The consummate fan: an interview with John Edwards

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, March 2009 ~~

College basketball has undeniably captured the imagination of the people of North Carolina, and Carrboro and Chapel Hill enjoy a full concentration of true blue fans. Former Democratic Presidential candidate and US Senator, John Edwards, is one such fan. “Part of it is tradition,” he said of his passion for the sport. “People who are my age have grown up being saturated with competitive, high quality basketball. We have had good basketball for decades.”

Of course, the million dollar question is… Continue reading

Can we talk about something else?

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, January 2009 ~~

As a white woman in a progressive society, I don’t often think about matters of race. After all, it doesn’t really affect me, right? As a white woman, I mean.

Oh, sure, I am aware of race. I have the sense that if someone is not white, then his or her race will be one of the main ways I will catalogue that person in my brain. “She’s the black woman who teaches…” “He’s the latino guy who writes…” I’m pretty sure I have never said, “They are the white couple who work…” I don’t mean to do it. I certainly don’t want to do it. It makes me feel a little ashamed. But I do it, and I’m not the only one. Continue reading

What’s in a name?

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, January 2009 ~~

I’m fascinated by language, words, names, and naming. Not just proper names, but the names that have been assigned to objects through the ages. The way mythology teaches of the world being spoken into creation, followed by the naming of all the creatures.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Names reflect consensus, agreement within a group of people that a word or sound belongs with a certain object. At some point it was agreed that the thing you hold and read, with pages of writing between two covers, is, in English, a “book,” and the leather thing you pull on to keep your feet warm and dry is a “boot.” Continue reading

Rock ’em, sock ’em

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, November 2008 ~~

My people are North Carolina people. Mountain people. My mother’s mother went to high school with Andy Griffith in Mount Airy. Mimi’s daddy, Quilly pack, was the original “Floyd” the Barber. My father’s mother’s father actually was the Deputy Sheriff in Pilot Mountain. I mean, Mount Pilot.

When Grandma Pack wanted some Yuletide mistletoe, she used her shotgun to blast some out of the treetops. And my father’s father’s father was a bootleg moonshiner. There’s a story about him shooting up the police station to break out his son. Or something. The details are a bit sketchy. Continue reading

The town, it is a changin’

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, October 2008 ~~

Sometimes I miss Golden Skillet. I’m sure I am better off since they’re not around, but it was fun when my mom would drop the old family truckster off at Sparkle Car Wash on Ladies’ Day and we could all sit next door and eat crispy, delicious fried chicken, waiting for the car to be cleaned. No, that is not my stomach growling. You must be hearing things. Continue reading

Burger envy

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, August 2008 ~~

I love a good burger. In fact, I fancy myself to be a bit of a burger connoisseur. There is something so completely visceral and just, well, satisfying, about eating something so decadent that must be gripped solidly with both hands. Fighting to wrap your mouth all the way around it. Trying to get all the goodness into a single mouthful. And though heaven knows you need a napkin, you really don’t want to stop and put it down to reach for something to wipe your chin.

A good burger, done well, makes a bun mandatory for soaking up the juices. A good burger, done well, will be seasoned just so – to let the flavor of the beef come bursting through. And a good burger, done well, will never be well-done. Continue reading

I like to ride my bike

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, April 2008 ~~

I was a child of the seventies. So the bike I remember most vividly was banana yellow with, of course, a yellow banana seat. The white plastic basket on the front had one pink daisy and one blue, both with yellow centers. For fun I put neon-colored straws on the spokes of my wheels.

I lived on Booker Creek Road, the last street in Lake Forest in Chapel Hill, in a J. P. Goforth house. I went to Seawell Elementary, which was the new school in town. I knew all the words to Free To Be You And Me. In the winters I prayed for snow. In the summers I smelled of lake water. Continue reading

What’s your sign?

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, January 2008 ~~

It’s pretty incredible to me that I can get through most days without noticing all the signs around me. Even traffic signs I obey perfunctorily, without really looking at them. But this week, as I have made my daily treks through Carrboro, I have been looking for signs. Actually looking at signs.

There are great big banners announcing events free to the public. There are little tiny hand-lettered signs reminding me to close the door. There are business signs. Information signs. Entertaining signs. For sale signs. Warning signs. Maybe even signs from above. But I really love the intimacy of the personal signs. “Face Up” scribbled on a sticky note on an office copier. “Turn off lights and printers” taped by the exit door. “86 Grouper” in a restaurant kitchen. “Check pockets” at the dry cleaners. And “Owes me 50 cents” on a vending machine. Continue reading

A Carrboro Century: Fitch Lumber turns 100

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, November 2007 ~~

Friday morning at Fitch Lumber Company had a decidedly festive atmosphere. Flyers were posted announcing Fitch’s 100th Anniversary. Working folks were gearing up for one last day before the weekend. Homeowners were making household purchases.

David Fitch was on the phone.

A couple of guys were tussling by the counter, where Marc and Mike were ringing up orders. Someone was in a headlock. Marshall was passing around a tin of butter cookies, encouraging everyone to have some. Michael Brown was pointing to the horns of former UNC mascot, Rameses #11, up on the wall. Continue reading