Friday, January 30, 2009

Straw Bale Homes And Other Alternatives

Straw bale housing is hundreds of years old, sort of an old school housbuilding method actually, but it's considered alternative housing now. I was interested to see this article about planned public housing projects with straw bale construction in the UK.

I've long been fascinated with dome homes. I like these because they're not covered in shingles. This company sells kits for attractive dome homes that aren't gloomily shingle covered, and they also make kits for 10-sided round homes with a more conventional roof. I like that better because it seems less likely to leak. The company's based in Illinois, but someone has built one of their "Decahomes" in Virginia. Sometime this spring I'd like to go up and take a look at it.

This company is building a dome subdivision in the mountains of N.C., and they have a dome rental cabin up there too. I'd like to go spend a weekend in it sometime soon.

So, if I had a house and garden, I'd definitely plant some of these this year. I'd most likely buy the seeds from here. And I'd want to get some fruit trees and native bushes from here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Solargon/Urban Homesteading Thoughts

The cat was sick on Wednesday, and it made me glad we aren't living in just 700 square feet of alternative housing. Were that the case, the entire dwelling would likely have been polluted with cat shit.

Tessa, our 11-year-old ginger cat, has been more affectionate and needy lately so I suspected she wasn't feeling well. I went out for about 20 minutes Wednesday morning and when I returned, my suspicions were confirmed.

She jumped onto a bar stool in the kitchen to be petted. When I did so my hand came away cold and wet, and when I looked I saw splotches of shit all over her back.

Tessa is growing out a lion cut, which means when her long fur was cut the groomer left a puffball at the end of her tail. That puffball looked like a paintbrush freshly dipped in brown paint. Tessa likes to walk around and switch her tail about, so she'd splattered herself and gone Jackson Pollock on some walls. I found smears and spotches here and there all over the house. If this had happened in a Solargon, the density of the catshit contamination would have rendered the home uninhabitable. As is was in 1,300 square feet with both doors open I gagged twice in the process of cleaning up.

Sick cats aside, I know a clutter counselor/organization coach who could probably show us how to live in 700 square feet of alternative housing without resorting to murder-suicide. But when I think about it, I realize we've been in this situation before.

Before we were married, Wyatt lived in separate dwellings and had a mortgage each. It was like the universe knew we were about to get ahead, because Wyatt got laid off right after we got married and a couple of months after that I was hazed into quitting my job. I managed to sell my place despite the crashing real estate market, but since then sharing a residence and mortgage has not made things as easy as I'd hoped. We both went back to school, which required some cash outflow, and the economy tanked, which sucks because both our current jobs depend on people having disposable income they want to part with.

I'm not sure what kind of devilish feedback mechanism is at work here. Perhaps it's the Law Of Conservation Of Shit To Worry About, which I wrote about here and here.

Still, when I read articles like this, I am once again prompted to obsess about alternative housing.

Theoretical Urban Homesteading

Was talking to a friend about my obsession with round alternative houses. She lives in one of those Glenwood bungalows I mentioned here. It's a great house, but like many houses built in the 1920s and 1930s in Glenwood, it needs a lot of work. I told her the larger Solargon house kits cost around $36,000. "It would almost make more sense to tear my house down and put up one of those," she said. But that's exaggerating, first because she estimates it would only cost around $20,000 to fix up her house, and also because her house has more than twice the square footage of the Solargon.

Plus there are a lot of other Solargon costs, because you'd have to factor in the price of the lot for a building site, and cost of pouring a foundation, and costs of getting somebody to put the Solargon together and wire and plumb it, new appliances, etc.

Then again the Solargon is likely to be more energy efficient and save money over time, partly because it is small. And rehabbing an old house is always more expensive and complicated than you thought it would be.

I have a large husband and two cats. I don't know how well we'd all fit into about 700 square feet laid out like this. It's not terribly different from what we have now, just smaller, but we'd certainly have to get rid of a lot of stuff. But we got rid of a lot of stuff when we got married and moved in together, and it was painful at the time but in retrospect not such a big deal. If it meant being able to jump off the hamster wheel of bills and debt, well I don't think we'd notice the lack of stuff so much.

When I think about it, the biggest space problems we'd have are related to books, kitchen stuff, clothes, and cat litter boxes. Not that cat litter boxes are all that big, but you can't put them just anywhere. Built-in storage might solve the book, kitchen stuff and clothing problem, but living in a small space with litter boxes is still going to be tricky.

I went on vacation to Mongolia one year, and spent some nights in a ger (otherwise known as a yurt). From the outside they don't look very big at all. But something about the roundness and openess of them makes them seem pretty big and comfortable on the inside. They're covered in felt. It was astonishing how cool they were in the scorching-ass heat of the Gobi desert, and how warm they were in the cold Hinti Mountains once somebody lit a horse dung fire in the stove. I love round living spaces.

That's one thing I'd want in my Solargon that might be hard to engineer and would take up valuable space: a wood stove. Though I would probably try to burn horse or cow shit in it. To hell with chopping wood. Cow or horse shit is probably one of the most renewable resources on the planet. We could sneak into pastures, or hell, maybe even get permission, and bag up free heating fuel every winter.

Our biggest obstacle is that we're already pinned down by mortgage payments, don't have enough cash handy to outright pay for land and a new Solargon, don't want to have two sets of mortgage payments, and the housing market sucks so it might take a while to sell our place. Renting makes a lot more sense in some regards. When you want to move you just give notice and leave regardless of how the real estate market looks.

More Dreamhouse Thoughts

Have been thinking a lot about the Solargon house issues mentioned in my last post, and have decided that daydreaming of the ultimate homestead site is a safe alternative to alcoholism or crack addiction, so I'm going to indulge in it.

As long as I'm dreaming, I want a geodesic greenhouse too.

And I want to put one of these freshwater fish farm and salad kits in it. The greens and herbs in the long tray are fed by fish poop, and in subsisting on fish poop they keep the water healthy for the fish in the big tank. I think it's intended for tilapia farming, but I'd probably try native bluegill in there.

It would be nice if we could live in an Eco-Village of LEED-certified houses like Solargons, maybe 20-30 of them, either in the city or somewhere within 15-20 minutes of it. I want my friend W.M. to live there. Hear that, W.M.?

More about this topic later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Internal Dialog about Solargons

Love this - it's a house made from a kit.

Problem is, once you pay for a foundation and land, it's cheaper to just buy a good old bungalow in Glenwood.

But this Solargon is probably much more energy efficient and low maintenance. It looks so cool.

But so what, they'd never give you a permit to build this in the city anyway, even if you could find and buy a lot to put it on.

Well then, to hell with the city, I'll move out to Rockingham or Stokes or Randolph County and live in a Solargon.

You better invest in a primo TV and a satellite dish then, 'cause there won't be anyplace nearby to hang out, and any neighbors you have will probably hate your hippie ass. And you should build a still because you'll likely be living in a dry county. And buy lots of CDs 'cause you'll be spending a lot of commuting time in the car going back and forth to work, and oh by the way you'd better buy a newer car without so many miles and get a job you'll hate so you can make your new car payments and buy gas. And if you're going to do all that you might as well live in a tent because you won't actually be spending much time at home. And figure out how to make your own tofu because grocery stores where you will be living won't have stuff like that, or wheat-free bread.

This sucks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Side Effects of Love

Been feeling goth lately, craving to hear dark and gloomy/angry music. I guess it's the time of year. It makes me want to wear black and smoke cigarettes and be all existential. Was trawling YouTube for the music of my youth yesterday and found the ultimate combination of Country heartwrench and goth gloom - Sisters of Mercy meets Dolly Parton!

Another thing that's casting a pall over my frame of mind is memories of court earlier this week. A good friend of mine is going through custody hearings with her ex-husband over their two children. It really put things in perspective for me. I remember back in the day when they first got together, and how it seemed like such a great relationship. It wasn't perfect but it looked to me like they got through their differences in a mature and loving way. I was moved by how calm and sure and supportive he was during her labor with their first child. She cried when the pains came and he held her hand and said "Just think baby, when this is over you won't be pregnant any more." They both seemed to groove on family life.

Fast forward a number of years, and they're both sitting in court with stress visible on their faces. They've got new loves sitting behind them in the benches, and two kids waiting outside the courtroom. All that's a lot to manage. It's been a harrowing time for them. It's possible that if they'd gotten regular marriage counseling early on, and if they'd each gotten some individual counseling too, maybe all this could have been avoided. But parents in young families become so isolated - there's never the money or the time for that kind of thing, and it's not culturally supported. It's easier to pick up a cocaine or prescription drug habit to cope. And to numb yourself to the fact that your life is losing its juice and spiraling out of control. Family life is a lot more difficult than anyone appreciates.

I've seen a lot of court cases, have witnessed how rattled some people get when they take the stand, so you'd think I'd be able to stop that from happening to me. But you take that oath and sit in that chair next to the judge and the mean-faced attorney cross-examines you and you quickly develop a case of Alzheimer's with a touch of straight-up brain damage, stumbling over questions like how often have you seen so and so since such and such. It sucks.

I felt almost physical pain in listening to testimony from both sides. How did it come to this? When you first fall in love, you feel so lucky. You have total faith that the luck will not abandon you, that this love is sanctioned by fate. You have children, and feel determination that you will provide the completely safe and solid environment it will take to give them the childhood you didn't have. You see the wreckage of broken hearts and families all around you, in your own childhood, in your friends and on the news, but you think you can stop it from happening to you. And when it starts to, you become something far, far from your best self.

Thoughts about this subject create the conditions for internal/spiritual gloom. I just wish the best for all the parties involved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

South Mountain State Park

This is a great place for cold weather hiking, especially if you like waterfalls. It's about two hours from here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wanted: A Good Bar

Wyatt and I sometimes like to play dominoes when we drink in public. This is a tradition we started in New York on our honeymoon. That bar was ideal because there were no TVs in it and there was no cigarette smoke. You could go onto the balcony outside to smoke in the searing cold if you wanted, and the view of Manhattan was worth the frostbite. Now I know we can't have a view of Manhattan in Greensboro but I it would be nice if we could have at least one cool bar where you could play dominoes without having six different TVs strobing at you.

A cool bar, in my opinion, provides people with a comfortable setting for getting out of the house. That's why I don't like a bunch of TVs there: I could fucking watch TV at home. TVs are distracting. They suck you out of conversations. You try to ignore it, but you see movement out of the corner of your eye and your sentence gets derailed, usually by something stupid like the latest Old Spice commercial. I don't like having to fight attention battles like that.

The ideal bar would be a no-smoking venue. I know that's a lot to ask but one smoker takes up a lot of room.

Okay so Saturday we went to a bar for beer and wings and to play dominoes. The bartender saw us with them and told Wyatt that it's illegal to play card, domino, or dice games in bars/restaurants. Holy shit, I didn't know that. The bartender said we could go ahead and do it but that if cops or the owner walked in he'd have to come over and tell us to stop. Which was nice of him - Thanks dude. But then Wyatt proceeded to beat me at the game and I was quite bitter and wished we had left the damn things at home.

Wyatt and I surmised the reason it's illegal to play games like dominoes and so forth in public places is because people might gamble. But whenever I've seen people gambling in this town it was with video poker machines.

If things keep on like this people are going to forget what it was like to sit face to face and talk to each other. They're going to stop living their lives like those lives are important, all because they're so wrapped up in watching other people live on TV, and screens will be the only thing anybody knows what to do with.

Anybody know what kind of birds those are?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blessed Times and Thankfulness

This week I needed some work done on my car, so I dropped it off at Cummings Auto on Spring Garden Street. That's a good location because a) They seem to do good work and they're not sketchy b) it's within walking distance of a number of good locations where you can kill time while your car's in the shop.

It was a clear, cold day - hat AND scarf weather. I paused in the Cummings parking lot after handing over my key and sorted my options. I decided to visit Jake Midnight first, and walk down to the Coffee Break if he wasn't home. When I stepped onto his porch, I could see Jake standing in front of the wood stove in his living room.

Inside, it was nice and warm. The couch was gone and a sleeping bag near the wood stove seemed to have replaced it. Jake stretched out on that, and his big black dog stretched out beside him. They looked really cute together. I sat in a chair and we talked about people we know, who's been sick and who's where and what they're doing and so forth. Then Galina came in from the kitchen and she sat on the sleeping bag while she played guitar and sang two songs she's written recently. They were pretty good, kind of wistful but in a "cest la vie" way, not an "I'm a cutter and I need antidepressants" way. Jake accompanied her on harmonica for one. Then he played a song on the piano.

He asked if I wanted some homemade applesauce - who could turn that down? And he brought me a bowl of said applesauce with whole almonds and a little yogurt to garnish. Never in a million years would I have put all that together as a tasty combination, but it sure was. Then Jake made me some mate tea sweetened with honey. I noticed no activity outside the hive in front of the dining room window, and he said all his bees died. Sucks.

I hadn't seen them in a while, and it was nice to catch up. All this made me feel like the universe was cradling me in loving arms, which was nice because I was distressed about having to spend hundreds of dollars on car repair.

But when I went back to the auto shop the bill was $30. Bless you Cummings Auto! And thanks, Jake and Galina!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Just In Case

This is a cool link to help people logically think about what they can/should do to prepare for uncertain times.

I hate to be alarmist but when you remember how helpful the govt. was following Hurricane Katrina, it becomes clear that we need to be making our own plans in case things go to shit.

Because the govt.'s plans for how to deal with the total collapse of everything is most likely to be this here, aimed at us, and not care packages or social programs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dating Myself With High Singing White Guys

Former Styx piano player and vocalist Dennis DeYoung believes that the success of the band's song "Babe" can be attributed to the fact that "People just like to hear white guys singing high." So he said in an interview on VH1 classic I saw Wednesday night. What exactly did he mean by "singing high?" I've been preoccupied with that question. The weather's bad so I've been wasting a bunch of time - first by watching the aforementioned interview and then by trawling YouTube for old Styx videos.

I thought that line about white guys was pretty funny, mostly because DeYoung delivered it without cracking a smile. He said he wrote "Babe" as a birthday gift for his wife, and when it became a hit single it earned him "a year of unlimited slap (I'm assuming to the ass) and tickle" privileges with her. Hunh. That bit of information was also delivered like a statement by an evening news anchor. It was a nice, dry kind of funny, very different from all the usual rock stars who take themselves so seriously. He's aged well - which in my mind means no hair dye and no toupee. He's still trim and I hope I can complete the graying process as gracefully as he has.

In retrospect I guess DeYoung was the most interesting member of Styx. In my middle school years, I was focused on Tommy Shaw because I loved the Paradise Theater album and he was the only marginally attractive member of the band. Just prior to the release of their next album, Mr. Roboto, my best friend Josephine and I went through this really weird trade - she was working herself up to be intensely fixated on Shaw, but I'd seen him first, so she wanted to swap fixation rights: Richard Gere for Shaw. Or Judson Scott for Shaw, since she knew I had interest in those two and could argue that she'd seen them first.

I didn't see what the big deal was, why we couldn't both lust after Shaw, but she insisted that she needed sole rights. I countered that I didn't feel a similar need for a monogamous fan relationship with Gere or Scott, so the trade to me didn't mean much to me. But she carried on and begged and pleaded and finally I agreed to this weird-ass arrangement, since Shaw had acne scars anyway. And other than "Renegade" and "Blue Collar Man," all my favorite Styx songs were DeYoung's.

Josephine was capable of a passionate fan dedication that I was not - a wall of her bedroom became a shrine to Tommy Shaw. It was covered in photos of him cut from magazines. And when she found a picture of Shaw with his arm around Plasmatics singer Wendy O'Williams, she threatened to beat O'Williams' ass. I'm glad that confrontation never had to take place.

Looking back on that time of our youth, I can see that we came of age at the cusp of a new era: MTV had just been born, but most of us country-ass kids didn't have access to it. You could still be not all that good-looking and make it as a rock band, and Styx is a good example of that. And when I look at my freshman high school yearbook, I can see we didn't have the same image consciousness that kids today have. We look younger and more awkward, with worse skin. It's easier to tell how young we were than it is to clock the ages of kids today. Cable TV changed a lot in this culture.

At the time, Josephine wanted me to get fixated on Dennis DeYoung even though he was married and plain, I guess so we could both plot how to lose our virginities to members of Styx. I wasn't interested because in my eyes Deyoung had zero sex appeal. But now if somebody held a gun to my head and said "You have to become sexually obsessed with one of the members of Styx circa 1985 or die" I'd pick Deyoung. He was pretty funny in that VH1 interview, and I respect a man who doesn't dye his hair.

I'm nostalgic for musicians who aren't model material. How likely is that to come back into fashion?

This entry is a re-post from my old Blogsboro site about a year ago.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sad Ass Country Songs

The other day I happened across Red Sovine's Teddy Bear on the radio. I didn't know what it was at first, but clocked it as circa 1975 because it was all about CB radios - had "Breaker 1-9" in it and so forth. It was so sad in that over-the-top-1970s-country way it made me laugh:

"Now, I'm not supposed to bother you fellows out there
Mom says you're busy and for me to stay off the air

But you see, I get lonely and it helps to talk
'Cause that's about all I can do, I'm crippled, and, I can't walk!"
I came back and told him to fire up that mike
And I'd talk to 'im, as long as he liked

"This was my dad's radio", the little boy said
"But I guess it's mine and mom's now, 'cause my daddy's dead!"
"Dad had a wreck about a month ago
He was trying to get home in a blindin' snow

Mom has to work now, to make ends meet
And I'm not much help, with my two crippled feet!"

I just assumed it was playing on one of the college stations; that some fringeboy DJ was trying to show off how eclectic he is. But soon I heard that it was indeed a country station. Good to know that country stations are capable of a little variety.

Though I was a big John Denver and Statler Brothers fan in my early childhood, I soon became vehemently anti-country. I got tired of all that whiney stuff. I wanted Dolly Parton to stop simpering and take a shotgun to Jolene and her man too - to hell with both of them. In middle school Alabama was played to saturation levels at every school dance. I rebelled and started buying ABBA and Queen records; decided Country fans were losers. Swore to never again own a pair of cowboy boots.

In my adulthood I became a fan of alt country people like Joe Ely, Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Lyle Lovett, and the Be Good Tanyas, people that true redneck country fans turn their noses up at and who you only hear on college stations. College radio is how I finally got acquainted with Johnny Cash, a man with a proper sense of humor. He might sing about sad stuff occasionally but he did it without any whine.

It seemed like there was a conspiracy to keep all the cool country stars off commercial radio. The Dixie Chicks won me over with "Earl Had To Die" - wasn't an ounce of whine in that song - but then they went and got themselves shithoused for publicly complaining about the war, something that I thought was pretty cool. It was like the Country music world decided "Alright, girls, you're too cool for us now. The appropriate thing to do is go to war, or date a soldier, and later write some songs so you can whine about how you suffered. If you survive. And if the president tells you to jump off a cliff and create a hellish mess for civilians at the bottom, don't question it." I don't get country fans.

Here recently Wyatt borrowed some equipment to allow him to convert records to CD. I look forward to listening to the Statler Brothers and John Denver records again and seeing how they sound now. I think country still mostly sucks at this point but if the Sex Pistols and The Clash had somehow made themselves part of the country genre it might not. But then again, they'd probably never have been heard. Country fans seem to prefer whiney drivel that all sounds the same.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vacation Jones

Wyatt and I had a shitty day Monday. You could say it was because he had to make four trips between a mechanic shop and Jiffy Lube to get his car inspection done, and then had to spend an hour in line to buy textbooks for his upcoming classes. You could say it was because I spent some time on the phone trying to straighten out something that was fucked up and I was unsuccessful, and so disheartened about it I didn't even try to straighten out some more fucked up shit on the phone, and felt bad about it. You could even say we've reached our capacity to withstand days of rain without getting Seasonal Affective Disorder.

But really I think was because our expectations were thwarted. We meant to go camping at Merchant's Millpond Sunday and be there until late Monday afternoon, but the weather didn't cooperate. It's a wonderful place to visit in the winter cold - no bugs, no snakes, and no people - but not when it's raining. Water falling into the canoe and getting your knees wet is bad feng shui. And we were tired like the old folks we've become.

So Monday became a catch up on chores day, which felt like a ripoff, especially since most of the catching up came so hard. Finally we sat down to dinner and I put in a video slide show my friend in Arkansas sent me. I didn't quite know what to expect. It turned out to be photos and a lengthy narrative of and about her vacation to Eureka Springs last summer. Images of lush countryside filled our eyeballs, along with picturesque old country downtown settings you'd like to prop back in a chair in, cool looking ponds and shaded, mysterious springs. Photos of restaurants they ate in and juicy descriptions of the food they ate and how good it was.

So it was kind of a vicarious mini-vacation, a consolation prize at the end of the day. I was tempted to get bitter with jealousy, but mostly I wanted to cheer my friend on and tell her to get down with her bad self. I've never before considered Arkansas a vacation destination but I'd love to go to Eureka Springs now.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

People and Places

Perhaps I'm biased, but I think personal names that are also places are very cool. Guys with names like Cleveland and girls with names like Georgia are almost always good people to know.

The idea that people can also be places is captivating. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman series there's a section of landscape named Fiddler's Green that sometimes gets bored, rolls itself into portly human form, and wanders around looking for adventure. I wish I could find it, but there's a Buddhist quote about how landscapes of the world contain mountains and rivers and heavens and hells, and finishes by saying people are the same way.

Lyle Lovett does this song - "Give Back My Heart" - where he sings "I can't be no cowgirl paradise." He was really onto something there. When people really fall under the influence of infatuation, it's because they think they've glimpsed the promised land in somebody else. Carrying such promise for somebody else can be quite a burden.

Here lately I'm starting to realize that promised lands are really a set of conditions which arrive within your own head. This realization doesn't help much because making your head a friendly place for such conditions is much easier said than done.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


My goals for '09:

*Make a tenable living by developing my client base,
*find a sustainable way to stick to a dairy and wheat-free diet,
*increase my gym time to 2-3 visits per week,
*return to yoga or chi kung or belly-dance classes or some combination of those,
*continue writing at my current level of output,
*give Wyatt better housecleaning support,
*find a way to garden and grow some of our food,
*learn to cook tasty meals within my dietary limitations,
*pay Wyatt back 50% of the money I owe him,
*get health insurance,
*find a volunteer outlet,
*continue to be thankful for the interesting and beautiful moments in life,
*continue deepening my spiritual practices and become consistent with them,
*stop making things harder than they have to be,
*continue learning Spanish.

Last year my gym and writing time hit the skids. I made some improvements in sticking to the wheat-free diet, but I still spend too much time off the wagon and of late I've been caving to intense cravings for cheeseburgers.

In the past couple of weeks I've improved my gym attendance, but it doesn't help that when I make that second turn on the indoor track I'm looking right at the sign for the Hardee's across the street. They have ads in their windows advertising a two chili dogs for three dollars deal, and it makes me want to run out and worship at the altar of demon fast food.

Taking a cooking class was on my list for last year. Didn't even come close to getting that one done.

My income has generally increased from month to month, excluding those first few weeks after news of the banking crisis hit. Hopefully business will continue to improve.

This is a long list. How am I going to keep up with my progress on this?

Hickey Factory

The cupping kit is a wondrous invention, but it leaves hickies, and those can be hard to explain.

I bought a cupping kit to use at home on sore muscles. While some kits are glass and require the use of fire, mine are simply plastic suction cups. Put one on a muscle with a knot in it, suck out the air with the special air-sucking gun, leave it on for a few minutes and the knot lets go. I use it on Wyatt's deltoids when he lifts weights too much, and I use it on my shoulders whenever they get stiff.

Afterwards it looks as if you've been loved up by an octopus - you're left with perfectly round, purple circles. They look like bruises but they're not sore like that. Wyatt has fair skin that stays scarlet for a week and half after a cupping treatment.

Several months ago Wyatt was in pain from lifting weights, so I cupped his back and shoulders. A couple of days later we went to the gym. On the way back to the car afterwards, he told me he'd struck up a lively conversation about Virginia Tech football with another guy in the locker room. But Wyatt said he noticed when he got out of the shower and went to get dressed, that guy no longer wanted talk.

"It's just occurred to me these hickeys must have scared him," he said.

About a week and half after this incident, Wyatt and I were at the gym doing time in the sauna. After several minutes we both needed a break, so we went to sit in some chairs by the pool. Across the room a man walked out of the dressing room and started staring at me. I looked back. He kept staring. Do I know him? I thought. No, he doesn't look familiar. Is he trying to pick me up? Maybe I'd better look away before Wyatt thinks we're flirting. The man kept looking at me until he went through the door to the weight room.

"That was him," Wyatt said. "That was the guy who stopped talking to me."

Then it all made sense. Sort of. I assume he was staring because he'd identified me as the hickey monster, but I don't know if he was staring in amazement, horror, or in an attempt to get me to offer to hickey him.