The North Carolina Diaries, Day 6 & 7

March 28, 2009 at 11:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Part 6: Bible Quiz Team!

Did I ever mention that there is a Spy Conference going on on Raleigh this weekend? Yes Yes Yes. I heard about it on the radio when I was driving into town on Wednesday. What a cool and random thing! This morning I found out about another not-so-cool but random thing: if the fifty children running around my hotel lobby in screenprinted t-shirts are any indication, there is a children’s Bible Quiz going on in town today. I am a person who likes—no, loves—children, but when there are tons of them running around a place of breakfast, with total reckless abandon mind you, I don’t dig them. I shouldn’t let this influence my opinion, but considering said kids are biblical scholars, I guess my expectations are higher. I scarfed by oatmeal and bailed. Damn kids.

Yesterday was my last day of research. I went back to the state archives, and once I finished my research, I spent the rest of my afternoon at the North Carolina Museum of History, which was extremely cool. A couple of the fun things I saw:

img_1531A nineteenth century ballet box. Secret ballet my ass! (This one was for Professor Einhorn, who made me appreciate antebellum electoral idiosyncrasies.)

img_1547From a 1920s-era mock drug store, every woman’s essential: Nipple Shields!

img_1532The implements for playing Native American stick ball, which seems like lacrosse, but with NO RULES. As in, the coach was advising his (female) players to “attack the player before you go for the ball.” Like rugby, with sticks!

If anyone ever finds themselves in Raleigh, I want to recommend the two places I went to lunch while in town, because they were both delicious: The Raleigh Times (named for the newspaper that used to be there, but now a cool bar and lunch place) and The Remedy Diner (a funky mostly-vegetarian diner).

Well, I guess that concludes my Southern Adventures. I may come up with (or, more likely, remember!) more anecdotes to add in the next couple of days, and I will also be adding photos once I get home, so that’ll do it for me for now. This will probably be the last personal post I do for a while, if ever. There are plenty of amusing things happening in current events and pop culture that need attending to.

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The North Carolina Diaries, Day 5

March 26, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Part 5: Hating the Rain

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I am, by nature, an overpacker, so of late I’ve made a deliberate effort to pack only the clothes I will need. This time, I am regretting it.

When I checked the weather last week as I was packing, I was under the impression that I was in for nice weather, high 50s through low 70s. I packed accordingly; the warmest thing in my suitcase was a cardigan sweater! When I got to Raleigh yesterday, it was sprinkling a little bit, so with the few hours to kill before returning my rental car, I headed to Target and bought a very rad $20 little boy’s jacket that was also waterproof. (Trust me, it looks cooler on the bod than on the website.) On my way to the archives this morning, the light sprinkling continued, but my jacket kept me dry. And by 4 pm, when I was heading back to my hotel, the rain had stopped altogether.

Tonight, however, the rain came back. I ordered my to-go dinner before realizing this, though, and so when I headed outside for the 1.2 mile walk to and from the restaurant, I got drenched. My jacket, shirt, jeans, shoes, and even socks were soaked! I had not packed any weather-appropriate clothes, not even an umbrella. I was really annoyed, and wishing I had kept my rental car for two more days. It’s supposed to keep raining through the weekend, too…

Research-wise, though, today was good. I took the right bus to get into Downtown Raleigh (win!), found great stuff in the state archives, and even finished early! It was amusing being the only non-staff member under the age of 60 in the room. Tomorrow’s my last research day. It’s weird, because yesterday I felt like I was only halfway done, but now my trip is almost over!

P.S. Found this little spelling gem in my research today (this article is from ~1890s):

img_1520I guess headline spelling standards just aren’t what they used to be…

The North Carolina Diaries, Day 4

March 25, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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Part 4: Fake Cheese!

My rental car, waiting patiently.

My rental car, waiting patiently.

Today was a slower day; since I had finished my research early yesterday, my only task to complete today was to drive myself to Raleigh, return the rental car, and check in to my last hotel. Cake! After checking in to the hotel at 3 pm, the rest of the day was spent watching TV, working on a group project, and organizing my notes from my research. I have, as such, only three things worth mentioning:

1. This morning’s breakfast at my hotel in Whiteville included two new items that were not served yesterday: gravy and omelettes! I was excited to have biscuits and gravy—which used to be one of my absolutely favorite breakfast foods—for the first time since I was about 13 years old, when I got food poisoning from a bad batch at a hotel and threw up just as we pulled into the driveway of our house. Luckily, no stomach drama today. The remarkable part of the breakfast, however, were the mini “cheese” omelettes. These babies were coaster-sized circles of egg-ish stuff folded in half, hamburger-style (remember elementary school!) and filled with liquid cheese in the middle. Now, I’m not a cheese snob, and I actually LOVE the fake nacho cheese you get at baseball games, but this was no simple liquid fake cheese. This stuff tasted like the orange-powder-mixed-with-water combo that you pour on top of Kraft Macoroni ‘n Cheese. I probably shouldn’t admit that I ate the omelette, but a gal’s gotta have her protein for a day on the road!

2. I picked up dinner to go, as I have done every night on this trip, at a cheesy but cute tropical-themed restaurant next to the hotel. I sat near the front of the place as I waited for my order, and heard a few words that I have not heard in years: “Will that be smoking or nonsmoking?” Man, here I was all worried about whether I could talk on a cell phone or turn right on red in North Carolina, and I didn’t even realize that there are still states where you can smoke in restaurants! What a sheltered girl I am.

3. While driving the four blocks to return the rental car, I encountered THE WORST INTERSECTION EVER. Seriously. I was on a side street entering a busy main drag. My light was red, with a sign next to it that said “Right Turns ONLY M-F 4-6 pm”—it was 4:05. I was in the left right-turn lane, from which I am always a bit nervous to turn right on red (not to mention the fact that the intersection was so crazy busy that 80% of the time there were cars stopped in the middle of the intersection), so I sat for 10 minutes waiting for my light to turn green. IT NEVER TURNED GREEN. It suddenly dawned on me that the prohibition on driving straight or making left turns meant that THE LIGHT WAS NOT GOING TO TURN GREEN FOR THE NEXT TWO HOURS. I was going to have to battle the madness of the intersection without any protection. Finally, there was a momentary break in the flow of traffic and I lunged forward, finally making my turn. Worst. Traffic. Planning. Ever.*

*A side note: when I got back to my hotel, I actually saw that intersection on the news, being covered for a story about the “dangerous” traffic conditions that kept nearly causing accidents. Just so you know I’m not exaggerating!

The North Carolina Diaries, Day 3

March 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Part 3: “Do you know your PIN? Press Yes or No.”

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The majority of my day, namely 10:30 to 4, was spent in the library, reading microfilm reels, pamphlets, and newspaper articles. The first thing that cracked me up today was actually in the middle of my research. The microfilm I was reading were negatives of the original newspaper, so the text appeared in white while the background was black (or, in the case of one reel, purple!). This didn’t strike me as odd until I saw the Wedding Announcements.

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Few things are creepier than seeing a bride in a pitch-black dress and veil.

For lunch I drove down the street to Sonic (yes!) for a quick sit-in-your-car lunch. Attached to the car-side menu and speaker was a credit card swipe. I ran my debit card through the machine, which then asked me, “Do you know your PIN number?” Under what circumstances would you answer “No”? “OMG, thank you for asking! I totally stole my mom’s Visa to grab some snacks with my buds, and I have, like, NO idea what her PIN is! Thanx, Sonic!” As I started to drive away, one of the kids in the car parked next to me asked, “Can I come with you?” Sorry, dude. Pickup FAIL.

Oh! I almost forgot: I ate the instant grits today! They were Original flavored, which is to say pretty blah (and salty, somehow), but as a major fan of polenta, I wasn’t surprised to find that I dug them! I even tried to order some at Bojangle’s tonight—I thought I had seen “Breakfast All Day!” on the menu last night, but I was wrong—to no avail. Maybe I’ll forgo free hotel breakfast tomorrow to get me some non-instant grits, with cheese!

P.S. Jam comes in packets like ketchup here. How smart is that??

The North Carolina Diaries, Day 2

March 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Part 2: Playing College Student

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Today I was back on campus to finish reading materials from the North Carolina Collection. The first thing that amused me today was reading the Police Log in The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper on campus (which was, I should mention, extremely impressive!). Now granted, I was coming from a college town that is flanked by two of the most violence-ridden cities in the country—specifically, #5 and #9—but even by those standards, the crimes described were totally vanilla. Here’s what’s happening in Chapel Hill, and I quote:

  • Indoor painters might have stolen personal items while inside a Chapel Hill house
  • A 13-year-old was caught driving friends around Franklin Street
  • Someone attempted to climb a tree to get onto the roof of Phillips Middle School
  • Someone attempted to steal a rugby shirt from Johnny T-shirt
  • The owners of a house on Pleasant Drive told police a dog was stuck in a fence in their yard [spoiler: the dog wriggles free when the police arrive!]
  • Someone’s bike was reported stolen
  • Someone informed Carrboro police Friday that several stray cats on Lloyd Street are now missing

That last one is definitely my favorite. How, pray tell, can a cat be “missing” if it’s a stray?? Also, if every stolen bike was reported in the Daily Cal, the Crime Log would stretch from Page 2 to Sports.

After leaving campus, I got a rental car and drove off to my second city: Whiteville, NC, the only city (literally) in Columbus County. Even the woman at Enterprise was dumbfounded when I told her where I was going. I think I may now be in the “South South,” because everyone here has accents, and the woman working at Bojangle’s (more on that in a minute) called me “Baby” when she asked me if I wanted grape or strawberry jam with my biscuit.

img_1487Seeing as I was now in the South South, I knew I had to consume exactly four things: biscuits, fried chicken, grits, and sweet tea. Lucky for me, I was able to knock three of the four out in one meal, thanks to Bojangle’s Chicken n’ Biscuits. My $6 combo meal consisted of: 4 chicken strips, 1 biscuit, 1 massive tub o’ mashed potatoes and gravy, french fries, and a giant sweet tea. Delicious!

Tomorrow I will head over to the Columbus County Public Library to use their archival collection. I think I saw a Sonic down the road. Sounds like lunch!

The North Carolina Diaries, Day 1

March 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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It is Spring Break of my senior year of college, and I am in Durham, North Carolina doing research for my thesis for the next seven days.

Yes, I am a nerd. But it’s (mostly) on the university’s dime, so that must count for something, right?

I will be spending the week traveling between three cities to use three different archival collections. Seeing as this is my first time in North Carolina, not to mention my first time in the South (though this is the “North” South, as my friend pointed out), I am, already, constantly amused. The same friend recommended that I document the awesome quirks I encounter, so here we have it:

North Carolina:
Seen through the eyes of a
Lifetime Californian

Part 1: Grits and Headstones

Let’s start this off right: food! The hotel I’m staying in provides free breakfast in the mornings. Mostly it was standard fare—eggs, bacon, bagels, muffins, coffee, juice, even make-em-yourself waffles!—but the stand-out foodstuff was a little basket filled with what I at first thought were instant oatmeal packets… but then I noticed that the flavor options were Bacon, Butter, and Cheddar Cheese. Jigga what?! Turns out I had stumbled upon a regional food market gem: Instant Grits!

I snagged a packet to smuggle back to the Union with me, natch.

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After breakfast, I spent the day using materials from the North Carolina Collection on the UNC – Chapel Hill campus. Once I had finished my research, I wandered through the gallery at the other end of the building.

img_1449My first favorite part of the collection was four pieces of confederate currency from the Civil War that read: “Six months after the ratification of a treaty of peace between the Confederate States and the United States of America, the Confederate States of America will pay to the bearer on demand ONE DOLLAR.” I guess that makes sense, considering the fact that specie was probably being reserved for wartime costs rather than paying private citizens, but it still made me laugh!

My other favorite piece was a small display about North Carolina’s former identity as “The Golden State”—who knew?! The display was very clear about the fact that California’s gold rush was not the first. Z-snap!

img_1461The one thing that toally creeped me out today was was the cemetery on the UNC campus. I decided to walk around campus for a while after I finished my research, and I was delighted by the sprawling lawns, beautiful brick buildings, and bright-colored flowers. And then, between the playing field and the theatre was a MOTHERFUCKING CEMETERY. Is that really necessary?? Really, I totally adored the campus, but the cemetery. Too much.

Overall, my impression so far is that the legend of Southern Hospitality is so true! All the people I have met so far have been sweet, friendly, and generous. I could get used to this…

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