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Signing Off November 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — taliabuford @ 10:27 pm

…For now, at least.

Next Tuesday, finals for my first semester of law school begin.

The bad news: As of right now, I’m woefully unprepared.

The good news: As a journalist, I’m well versed in the art of understanding complex stuff on short deadlines.

With all that said, I need to set some limits on myself, because I’m still a procrastinator. That means I’m logging out of Facebook, substantially curtailing my Tweets and Imma neglect the blog for a little bit (as if you aren’t already used to that by now).

Also, a plea to you: I like to procrastinate. If I hit you up on gchat or engage you in some mindless Twitter banter, I beg you to ask me if there’s something else I should be doing right now. Because there probably is a book/outline/study guide I should be reviewing rather than weighing in on the merits of Pink Friday. Just saying.

So send me good vibes (and gummy bears to fuel my cram sessions if you’re feeling generous) while I study and slog through this material. I’ll catch you around mid-December.

-Talia

 

Word Up to the Marathoner November 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — taliabuford @ 12:00 am

This?

 

This right here?

 

Downright amazing.

 

And it makes me want to run again.

 

Big ups to my boy Gene for killing the NYC Marathon this weekend and inspiring all of us wanna-be runners in the process.

 

(Can’t Go) Home Again November 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — taliabuford @ 12:36 am

This afternoon, I got a call from my sister.

My mom is moving to another city.

For the first time in my life, Flint isn’t my home.

I’m going to miss it. As much as I hate that city, as much as I hated my neighborhood, East Bishop Avenue was home.

We had to leave because the city isn’t safe anymore.

Last week, my mom’s house was broken into. But that alone isn’t the reason we’re leaving.

It’s kind of an old bag for us. That’s just what happens on the Northside of Flint, Mich.

Yes, from Bowling for Columbine/Roger & Me/any other Michael Moore movie you have seen and loved.  And my hometown has been on that recession when the rest of the country was still in flush times. I just wish we could say we were on to the next one.

I can’t count how many times our house has been broken into. After a while, it doesn’t make sense to get mad. You just stop buying nice things, or if they get taken, you can at least put it into perspective:

No one was home. No one got hurt. No one got shot. It’s just stuff. We have insurance.

It literally happened at least once every 3 to 5 years. The last few times, I was always away. At school. At an internship. At work. At law school. I’d get the news and do what I could to help from whatever state I was at the time. This time, it meant getting my mom a plane ticket home to Michigan as soon as possible.

When I think about that house now, I remember all the hot summer days my mom made us follow behind her with the trash bag to collect the clippings as she lined the hedges that surrounded the property. I remember how it always amused me that I could turn off all of the lights in the house and still walk from the front door to my room without hitting anything. I remember playing on my porch. We had the best porch ever. It ran the entire width of the house and had this thick railing that you could sit on. It looked out at the vacant field across the street from my house and the large tree that sat in my front yard. I remember not learning to ride a bike because we lived at the top of a hill at the end of the street. I remember being afraid to go into the storage room beneath our stairs because there was always a spider that had built a cobweb near the light and I didn’t want to touch it. I remember the day we got new carpet. My mom did it, if I remember correctly, while we were at school. We left school that morning and our house had this ugly green brown shag carpet. When we returned, our house had this deep lilac colored carpet. I thought it was too bright. My mom loved it. It stayed.

I remember when we got the bars on our windows. Our house had been broken into so many times, we had them installed in hopes of keeping people out. I remember being scared that if there was a fire that I wouldn’t be able to get out of the window. I’d sit in my bed at night sometimes and rehearse how I’d get out if I needed to. (I’d pop the safety button on the window, slide it open, balance on the window sill and then dangle from the window and drop down to the ground below — this was a big deal to me because I’m short and afraid of heights.) I remember the time I got held up at gunpoint on my porch. I remember being so scared as I ran in the house to tell my family that I couldn’t even get words out. The man didn’t take anything, but my friend, who was sitting on my porch with me, didn’t come back to my house. None of my friends came to my house much. Though Flint is relatively small, I stayed in the “bad part” and some of their parents were worried about their kids being over my house. I never had a birthday party or a sleepover there.

The house I grew up in was small, modest. A white two bedroom house with a great big porch that I remember playing on as a kid. We had this huge tree in the front of our house and we lived across the street from a big empty field. When the owner cut the grass, we’d play kickball or tag in it. Otherwise, we’d take our phone cords and play double dutch in the shade of that tree.

The house next door was an exact mirror of ours. They moved out years ago and no one ever moved in. A few years ago, they demolished that house and my mom bought the lot it sat on. Slowly, the people I grew up with all moved away. The women my mother knew on the street, they moved away. When I came home after a few years, the entire street had transitioned from home owners to renters. The yards were unkempt. More houses than not were boarded up. Even though I’d lived on that street longer than most of the residents had been alive, I worried that my car would be broken into because it had Mississippi plates; they’d think I was a visitor.

This time, the burglars didn’t take much. Our televisions and valuables were still there. Instead, they took the copper pipes that ran through our basement. As they worked, they tore the metal from the baseboard, unleashing gallons of water in our basement. My mother said when she got to the house, the pillows in her room upstairs were still damp from the moisture in the air. Our water bill for last month? Hundreds of dollars.

I know I”m probably being selfish by being upset that my room isn’t going to be there anymore when the place where my mother has lived the last 30 years is going to be gone. I think we’ll all miss it a little.

I just wish I had gotten a chance to go home one more time.

 

Let it never be said that I’m not a good friend or “The McRib experience” November 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — taliabuford @ 9:11 pm

This is so many kinds of messed up, I’m not even sure where to begin.

Let’s start with Gene.

This is a big weekend for Gene. He turned three score a few days ago and on Sunday, he’s running the New York City Marathon. I called to wish him a Happy Birthday, but a phone call seemed too ordinary to celebrate such a momentous occasion.

“Tell me how I can immortalize this and celebrate this with you,” I said to Gene over the phone.

He hemmed. He hawed. Then finally:

“You could eat a McRib for me.”

*scratches record*

“Excuse me?”

Now, I have never had a McRib in my life.  For the uninitiated, let me explain. The McRib is a boneless rib-shaped pork patty dipped in tangy barbecue sauce with fresh onions and pickles, all on a bun. It also apparently has 500 calories — almost as many as the KFC Double Down.

I remember the McRib being sold when I was younger. But I’d never eaten one. I was happy back then with Quarter Pounders and

Chicken Nuggets. As I got older, I stuck mainly to fries and crispy chicken sandwiches ($1 menu, holla). So the idea of eating pork — not even BEEF — from McDonald’s just didn’t seem appealing to me.

“Are you sure?” I asked Gene, who, ironically enough, is a vegetarian.

“Yes,” he said. “You look like the sort of [expletive] who eats McRib sandwiches.”

He wouldn’t elaborate, but I’m pretty sure I should have been offended. I mean, exactly

what kind of person eats McRib sandwiches? Oddly enough, in the days after I accepted the challenge, Twitter exploded with people extolling the virtues of the McRib. Personally, the response I got as I told more people about it was less enthusiastic:

Said Tasha: “You’re going to destroy this delicious delicatessen by placing your ‘Mc’ in front of it.That’s unacceptable.”

Said @BelmontMedina: that is true friendship of a kind i am not even willing to contemplate.

I put it off long enough. It was Saturday and in less than 24 hours, Gene would be running his marathon. I needed to consume a McRib. And I needed to do it now.

I pulled into the McDonald’s on New York Avenue and looked for something to twitpic. If I was going to subject my stomach to the McRib, the world was going to know it.

As I waited to order, this man came up to the driver’s side of my car and asking me to spare $3 so he could get some food. I placed my hand over the $5 bill sitting in my lap and told him I didn’t have any change. What about $2? $1? I shook my head and told him I was paying with a card. He walked away dejected.

I took it as a sign of bad things to come.

“Welcome to McDonald’s, how may I help you?”

“Can I have a McRib,” I said, laughing. I honestly could not believe that I was actually ordering this monstrosity.

A few minutes and $3.02 later, I had the bag in my hands and rushed home to eat it. I opened the bag and pulled out the box. The words “Tangy Temptation” seemed to mock me from the cover. I had a feeling this was going to be neither. Inside, the sandwich actually doesn’t look horrible. But as soon as I opened the box, I didn’t smell barbecue sauce, instead, I was overwhelmed with the smell of pickles. I like pickles. *pause* So I continued.

I tentatively took a bite. The sandwich is mostly bread and those pickles. As I chewed the meat, I tried to find the words to explain what I was eating. The meat literally tasted like nothing. There were no juices, no flavor, no nothing. It tasted like thick, wet cardboard. Or, to put it another way, it tasted like those rib sandwiches you had in school lunch that no one ever really ate.

I think I was most disappointed – well, most is a relative term – at the sauce. It’s billed as tangy barbecue. It tasted less like barbecue and more like weak ketchup.

I ate it begrudgingly.  I stopped after a few bites to look at what I was eating.

That wasn’t a good idea.

I kept eating.

Halfway through, my stomach started to growl as if in protest.

I forced myself to eat 3/4ths of it. But as I got down to the bottom half, the meat slipped out of the bun.

I didn’t have the heart or the desire to place it back and continue eating.

So I closed the box and threw away what was left.

About an hour later, my intestine still feels as if it’s going to revolt against me for forcing my stomach to digest a McRib.

In case I don’t make it, now, dear Gene, I ask a favor of you:

1. Kill this marathon tomorrow,

2. Never ask another human to consume the McRib in your honor ever again.