Wednesday, March 12, 2008

upstairs downstairs

Armed with a saucy ice pack thong, purple-trimmed gauze panties, a new butt bucket, and a fresh stash of vicodin, Doctor Butcher sent me home yesterday in the care of my friend Gwyn. Still reeling from the drugs, butt entirely numb, and generally wobbly, I took her out to lunch for turkey and orange marmalade sandwiches. Thereafter I landed safely on my sofa tuffet, we watched Fur... though I was mostly unconscious then napped the afternoon away. My friend Michael took the remote evening shift via IM and kindly waited for me to return from my dinner date with my porcelain companion, verbally slapping my cheek now and then to coax me back to the land of the upright.

nothing to do
nothing to do © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Managing only to rise around noon today, my mother and brother came by to... I'm not sure what precisely... my brother mocked me, in normal form. Mom got her cleaning whirlwind on, as per usual. And again I found myself heaped on the bathroom floor. There is something to be said for having privacy when one is not feeling well. The pressure to entertain/feed/talk to company when one does not quite have the energy to stay standing is a bit of a drain. No amount of 'can I just sit by the toilet alone and wait to barf' can prevent having to turn down one hundred offers to be brought something, anything! I know they love me. Even when my brother absconds with my little black mannequin hand are starts fondling the houseplants with it, and sticking it down his pants... and threatening to take photos of it so he can be just like me.

baby's breath
baby's breath © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The Butcher actually told me good things. Little reliefs. He said the final fix surgery might be as soon as a month from now. There have been times when a month seemed like an eternity, but I am measuring time a little differently these days. This condition has tested what I have always thought to be my iron-clad patience. And hell, probably yours, dear reader, if you've followed along in TMI horror, watching this all unfold in words over the many months. Do you return, hoping I'll never mention it again and I will just get back to the photo-makin-n-takin already? I do.

I have been busy though. Getting a jump on the abandoned house-cum-fashiony shoot location collecting in case I felt like I spent a day being kicked in the seat of the pants repeatedly for hours on end. Which, in fact, I currently do. But hopefully not for much longer. A number of adventures in abandonment have been taken in the past weeks with Gwyn or Michael, and some were actually inhabited, for better or worse.

fireside © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Memory fails me whether Gwyn was responsible for originally discovering Sumneytown House. Probably.
She is miles braver than I still. Something about this house unsettled me and I cannot put my finger on it now. The specific beauty of the backside of the house is a thing of unintentional genius which I have to return to do something with. The entirety of the white house is covered thickly in ivy, but when you come round back, the ivy exposes a smaller white house shape within its bounds, yielding the door.
It makes my heart leap a little.

atrium © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Inside the presence of squatters at least five years ago is apparent. The game of solitaire left on the floor with the coke bottle, by bed-blanket on the floor. The acoustics of the house were disturbing. While usually I do not mind splitting up and exploring a building a few rooms away from my companion, every sniffle and creak in this house felt like it was coming upon me from a sneak-attack angle. I was on edge the entire time I was there and found myself looking over my shoulder much more than I should, in a little house on a rural road in the middle of nowhere. If ever there was a bad vibe house, this was it. Beautiful, yes, but I never felt quite alone.

root cellar
root cellar © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Last weekend, redoubling efforts to find new and exciting places and fighting the ill-willed weather, Mr. Goldberg and I made a run for it in the pouring rain to the Shawmont Waterworks. And for our soaked efforts we were rewarded with a short, but spectacular burst of sun that put a golden sheen on the tiled floors, before we left. The building is situated right by the river on the towpath that goes into Roxborough and Manayunk. Despite the precarious state of the ruins, part of which are burnt and crumbling, it is not posted in any way.

alluvial © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

As Michael and I dodged the tall bushes and made our way through the front door to escape the rain, the 5-0 sat right outside the door and didn't give us a second look. Joggers, bikers, hikers all came by. We spent the rest of the evening and night driving around Philly, looking. Hoping to stumble across that possible something as the light drained out of the sky. A list is in the making.

aqueduct © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Citing a gorgeous day and time running out pre-asskicking, Gwyn asked to join me on a driveabout the next day. Michael and I had spotted this one house on our way to Shawmont that looked exquisite and vacant, but our stomachs grumbled and so it made the shortlist of soon to return-tos. Gwyn is a fantastic catalyst... and so we went directly there to start the afternoon's quadruple threat. We walked down the hill to the house, there was little traffic and no signs of life at the house. We trucked through the side yard and onto the back porch which was marked only with NO HUNTING signs. Whew. Not posted. The back door had a note "Locks changed May 1 2007." and a new tough as nails deadbolt. We peered through the back window at the heaped piles of stuff and pined audibly. We paused at the side of the house to take a few shots and then came round front to do the same. I said to her, it would be a shame if I didn't at least try the front door, with its sagging wooden stairs and mailbox sitting in the door frame. I marched right up as the traffic cleared and pushed. And then I kicked. And kicked again. To no avail. We walked to the other side of the house and peered up at the one high window, vines flirting with its edges.

And realized. There was a light on inside. And a live houseplant by the window.

And with that we made our swift exit. Let it be known that if your house looks like it might be abandoned, you don't have a car, your paint is peeling... well I might just try to kick down your door. Brace yourself.

eye of the storm
eye of the storm © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Tail between my legs from making a gross miscalculation, I suggested we go back down to Waterworks as I wanted to do some stuff on tripod which I had been without. There was an 8-pack of wishing-they-was-thugz highschoolers, little white boys in their hoodies, with their girlfriends patiently standing by sipping Wawa coffee. They sized us up, nodded and we all went about our business quietly. It looks like they come here frequently from the tagged abundance.

I had mentioned to Gwyn earlier about another site in Fort Washington one of my acquaintances had mentioned to me and I suggested we might drive aimlessly to see what we might stumble upon. We drove through Plymouth Meeting to get there and I whimpered at the sight of some old favorites that I had passed by a million times but decided they were far too conspicuous to ever take a stab at. The first, at a rather major intersection, was positively dreamy inside. I had caught wind that it was going to be remodeled inside. What we found was someone had started to take coats of paint to the already delicately aging interior. The remains of a strange mix of furniture and a truly astounding palette of colors made for quite an impression of the once or would-be homeowner. Upstairs in a sunny room, a pillow, blanket and a pile of strewn thongs from a female squatter from some 6 years ago... the sky blue checker painted floor, the mauve faux finish in the collapsing attic, the cranerry sitting room with orange trim, the breath of lavender trim in a tiny white room... looking through the warped victorian glass down on the too-near traffic.

monotony © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

I felt like I had found my secret bunker. I wished for this house to be mine.

cranberry orange
cranberry orange © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The next house down the street had been mostly tucked in the woods and held more mystery and less charm. What we found inside was completely gutted, only support beams where walls had once been. The whole structure barely as big as my apartment, mostly boarded up, an impenetrable garage around back, no story left to be hinted at.

topping © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The road back home took us by a site suggested by one of Gwyn's friends which left us fairly gobsmacked at its allure. And it was very very Posted. The older house and barn tangled with wisteria vines, certain to bring a cascade of spring blooms in a matter of weeks. Nowhere to park... we gave up for the moment, before we could score five in one afternoon. But fresh plans are in the works and Gwyn has already found a way.

skylight © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

It is extraordinarily late and I have to work tomorrow once more, sans the cushion of drugs that have been making my stomach recoil worse than the initial pain. I just got word that I am going to be a featured artist on Gawker, via my constructs project, as of March 13th. My most recently commissioned construct is available tiny online here and soon in print. I should have a more graceful end, but forgive me I have been a little cloudy these days and didn't give this post sufficient forethought before needing some zzzzs. Good night.

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