Sweet sweet, sweeter sweeter

A few weekends ago J and I drove to Raleigh to see Caitlin Cary, Jason Isbell and Kevin Kinney at the Pour House, one of my favorite bars in Raleigh. The singers, all members of other bands, were doing a reprise of a show they did together last year, in which they told some stories, sang songs (naturally) and drank a lot of whiskey. I like it when performers drink as well as the audience, so this immediately made me happy. Before the show all three were just wandering around the bar, hanging out with their friends and whatnot, and I kept trying to get J to go and talk to Jason Isbell, who sings in one of his favorite bands, the Drive by Truckers ("favorite" = listens to them non-stop in vehicle and sings along and then says to wife, "just one more, I promise" but really he means we are never, ever going to listen to anything else again). Since J, of course, would have nothing to do with my plans of befriending the young, hip singer, I had a lot of fun, instead, pretending like I was going to talk to the guy when he'd walk nearby, and J, in his always endearing fashion, would pretend he had no idea what I was doing and began saying "what?" and "huh?" and getting that terrified "please PLEASE DON'T do this to me" look in his eyes and then briskly bringing up a topic of conversation that had nothing to do with anything, like you know, about the beer, for instance: "This is really good beer." ("Please, Cara. Please do not a)talk to the singer b)call out his name c)tell me to go talk to him when he is walking nearby. Please don't. Please. Just look at me and talk to me about the beer.) You should know that J gets this way whether it's a semi-famous singer or just some random individual he knows from Chapel Hill. After the singers took the stage and J had calmed down (both because there was no more threat of my attempting to make friends with semi-famous people and because he'd had a few drinks) we settled into the smoky crowd of fans and listened to a really great show. People sang along - the right words and also the wrong words, but nobody cared - and swayed to the music and talked back to the singers when they asked questions or beckoned for more whiskey. We were feeling pretty awesome when we stepped out into the frigid night air and then deflated like two beer-filled balloons when we went to start my Honda and it emitted an awful, burning smell, sputtered and shut right back down. After several more attempts we began to worry about the car exploding (we jump to conclusions sometimes) and called AAA to get the vehicle towed back to Chapel Hill. We rode up with the driver all the way back. J fell asleep and I struggled to stay awake, thinking about how I had to go to work in five hours and about my car, bumping along on the truck in back of us.

We hadn't eaten dinner, so by the time we got home (which involved walking to J's car that he'd left at work after dropping the Honda off at a repair shop) all we wanted to do is get in bed, get warm and eat snacks, which come to think of it, is the best thing you can do anytime, anyplace, even if you haven't just ridden 40 miles in a tow truck.

It turned out, we discovered a few days later, that my car's air compressor unit had locked up and the whole system needed to be replaced, which costs thousands of dollars. This is when I started thinking about a new car - how that was all I wanted and how my current car has been nothing but trouble and shouldn't I just get a new car? Of course I should. Several days later I found out that the case I'd made to Honda ("I just don't think this sort of thing should happen") had WORKED and they were going to pay for the entire repair. Then I realized how awesome my sweet little two-door is and how I never wanted to let it go, not ever, sweet little car.

This is the incident that preceded the holidays. This was the first Christmas that J and I shared and we decided that it would be best to drive 567 billion miles up and down the east coast. We did and it was amazing. Not only was I not even the slightest bit sad upon waking up Christmas morning and realizing I was in, good God, Connecticut! - being denied the chance to wake my brother up early and enjoy my parent's too-strong coffee and presents in the living room - but I was, well, incredibly happy sitting in a different living room with a new family with whom I now share a last name: McDuna. We made it back to DC in time for dinner with my family, amassed more presents and spend a relaxing Monday eating candies and cheese and cracker platters before getting up the next morning, hours before dawn, to drive back to North Carolina, which, as you all know, is my favorite thing to do (to those of you who do not know me, it is my least favorite thing to do).

Of course you know what I'm getting at here: I got another urinary tract infection, and as my father so aptly pointed out to me in an email: "Cara. Love. Mom and I think that your u infections come when you are under sress and tired. Tjhe christmas season for exemple." It's true. This is my body's weakness and it flares up when my body is stressed, when I've been traveling a lot or not sleeping enough, or, tjhe christmas season, for exemple.

So after a wonderful, if busy, December, I ended the month leading up to the New Year's holiday with a raging U.T.I. and the promise that I'd try and calm down a little, or maybe eat less sugar, or maybe just become more content, for my poor tract's sake after all. Tuesday night, following an afternoon sick at home watching "Best in Show" and then a few episodes of "Six Feet Under" with J, we realized we were hungry and it was time for dinner and because I felt somewhat better we decided to drive down to Foster's market for some (healthy) takeout before we plopped back down on the couch for some more marathon television watching. When we got in the Saturn, which we've been sharing since my car's been in the shop, I was assaulted by a harsh, high-pitched chirping and wondered if I crushed a tiny bird in the door. But no, it was only a CD. A CD, in fact, that I had purchased, adding to the mania. The Birds of the Carolinas audio CD, to be exact, which features naturalist and author Stan Tekeila's commentary followed by a wide range of bird calls and songs. The best part, and by that I mean the best part to make fun of, is when Tekeila includes a mnemonic to help the birder remember what each one sounds like. Like the bird who says "Drink your teeeaaaaa!" or, my favorite, the song that goes, "Sweet sweet, sweeter sweeter."

After I got the picture and realized that there was no bird in the car, per se, but merely a bird CD, I chided my new husband about his hobby, lovingly, and we talked a little bit about some steps he could take to get even more serious about birding if he wanted to. I already knew about these very steps because when we were at my parent's house I'd spotted an email my mother had printed out and left for J, which was, no lie, the nerdiest email I'd ever seen EVER and which included birding tips from her coworker's brother and a paragraph that began "If he wants to get more serious about birding..." and then went on to name some crucial instruments like a scope and tripod. So, yeah, I told J, yeah I know all about the scope and all about that nerd email. Talking about some things other than how many times I had to go to the bathroom helped me to feel better, and so did the night home and the hours of sleep and now I'm ready, strong, for an entire weekend of New Year's festivities before the long, boring winter months set in, the months that are, really, exactly what we need.