This past week I decided I needed to hit up Mountainside Antiques in Jasper, GA. I advise everyone to shop in more rural areas- the prices are better. Another tidbit of info you may not know, most of these shops will give you 10% off if you ask. Also, I've found things in the past but thought, I'd be much happier if I could get this for $75 instead of $100, and I all I do is ask the person running the register to call the vendor. It almost always works. I feel like most of you know this trick but some probably do not. The worst thing they can tell you is "No" and then make fun of you when you leave (which I am certain this one lady did with my green 574 New Balances, though I did get a discount... "what are them ugly green sneakers that chick was wearing?!" )
Every time I'm antique shopping, it takes all that is inside me to resist buying taxidermy. I know... this sounds bat shit crazy. But I want some deer heads and other oddities, like, desperately want them. What is that? It has to be a medical condition. In Ellijay one time, Breana wandered off in a shop and when I found her, she had been contently playing with a bunch of taxidermy animals. She never much cared for the American Girl Store, but if I took her where there were some dead, stuffed animals, she was in heaven! In Jasper the other day, I was seriously wanting this one $275 coyote where the head was in tact, eyes alert and mouth was mid-growl but the body was deflated, like you could wear it around your neck when you're f*cked up or something. I figure the best way to do taxidermy for beginners is a mounted deer head- I don't need to upgrade to the ones with the feet. I mean, why the feet? Do you hang your damp towel to dry on a foot? Are they supposed to be like hooks? I just want a head. And then I'll move on up the weirdness scale and get some tabletop animals that are showing their teeth. Basically what I'm saying is aside from a bunch of mounted heads, I also want creatures that resemble my angry Yorkie, but in a more rabid, permanent, predictable form. I envision my great room one day coated in a moody, dark color, with a cowhide rug on the floor, and this $2,500 emerald green velvet tufted sofa from Anthropologie I've been obsessing over, and the room will totally be flanked with dead, furry friends on my walls and tabletops. If my older sister is reading this, she is vowing to never step foot in my future taxidermy great room and she is thinking, Kristen, what is wrong with you?! Every deer head I passed, I had to check the price tag. If it's under $100, I'll buy it! And I'll dress it up with lights & garland for the holidays while it's hanging in my great room! And give it a name! And terrify Breana's friends during sleepovers! But no such luck on this shopping trip.
In 2012 I got my insurance license. We had some friends in Thomasville, GA that were killing it with their insurance renewals and during this time, it seemed like a smart move. At a glance it looked perfect: work from home, make my own schedule, work part time, make lots of money. But I cannot use enough expletives on how much I hate selling insurance. Don't get me wrong, there are many faces to insurance and some people love it. But It's not what I was put on this Earth to do. I always cringed when someone I knew and treasured found out I was selling insurance, like they were later telling a family member, "Mm-mm-mmmm, that Kristen Tracey with all that talent, she's now selling insurance to old people in trailer parks. What a waste! Bless her heart!" Targeting the low income Medicare market was my specialty. I called it Mediscare. Those with Medicare and Medicaid can really get a good plan with features like free dentures (though it is not compliant to say "free") and $200 toward eyewear and the "free" transportation to doctor visits! What a deal! I did meet some lovely people who could honestly benefit from these plans. I met other people who lived in government housing and I'd hear stories of their "friends" who sell their pain killers to drug dealers. Because I chose to work the rural areas in North Georgia, I can tell you where the good antique shops are (& vineyards. Don't judge. Selling Medicare Advantage makes you visit vineyards, by yourself, in December, and you meet really fun people who are traveling in a group and they finally ask you after some good conversation, "Are you here by yourself?" And you're like, "Yes, I sell insurance and my next appointment just up the street isn't until 3:30... I really like this one Chardonnay, don't you?" And then they look at you funny.)
I had this one appointment, I think in Summerville, GA. I pulled up to the address and it was a mobile home in disrepair. They had built a screened in porch on the front and when I walked up to knock on the door, a baby in only a diaper, no bigger than 18 months, was owning this space, and shut off from the main living quarters. Knock, knock, oh hi, baby, can I come in? These people treated the baby like a dog. It was never cruel, just fascinating to witness- a different way of life. I forget the baby's name but the people were constantly yelling, "Baby, git back on the porch! Leave that insurance lady alone!" And then some family member would emerge from the back and guide baby back to the porch and shut the door. All baby wanted to do was walk about in his diaper and tell me "hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi....." on repeat. Okay, baby, "hi", now back to the porch you go. So... This trailer, with the baby shunned to the porch, they had deer heads everywhere. Like 20, okay, maybe 8, and they were all hanging above their really nice, new and super big TV, adjacent to their vertical blinds that were so oddly colored red with a sharpie or marker. It was really weird. Often people I sold insurance to would always leave me with a good 2 minutes by myself in the room while they would try to locate their Medicare card, and usually I'd text Boyd (sometimes with a picture), "these people are messed up." But I wanted some deer heads and I offered this baby-on-the-porch woman $50/head. She laughed it off but minutes earlier she was crying about her missing teeth, how some grown kid of hers was about to lose his feet and how she could barely make ends meet. Fine, keep your heads. Heads beat Teeth. Rock, Paper, Scissors, Deer Heads, Teeth... shoot! Some people always had every single spawn of theirs living with them- their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, too. I can't judge since I lived with my Mom for 8 months but I joked with Boyd once that I had created a Mediscare Advantage "Bingo": Deadbeat son living with "Momma", dog shit on floor & nobody cares, odors you can't put your finger on, some family member without a shirt, cigarette smoke everywhere (which I admit I sometimes liked, maybe because it masked weird odors, or maybe it reminded me of shady bars & good times in my early 20s), and someone showing me things I never, ever wanted to see, ever, like "Look at my oozing leg." I mean, this was a shit job (but good pay! Oh, hey there, double edged sword!) I found balance with antique shopping and would often come home with newly purchased vintage items and I'd work diligently on a creative project or build a gingerbread house in the evenings. I was busy. Not entirely happy, but I'd attempt to make my little world beautiful again after a half day of ugly.
Back at Mountainside Antiques this past week, I didn't buy any deer heads. One day I will though, and I've only been saying that for the past 3 years. But I did come across 2 mirrors that will become perfect chalkboards. I'm so excited about these. One is huge, has a great shape and I think I'll paint the frame off-white and distress it. I can imagine its chalkboard exterior all dressed up for Christmas, hanging above a breakfast table or in a dining room... I am so excited to bust out some Christmas boards! The other mirror I bought is smaller and is an antique table top mirror, framed and sits upright on it's own. I think this would be great in a foyer on a table, on a mantel or in a child's bedroom. Eeeeeeeek, fun projects ahead and I can't wait! (I'll post more on these via Instagram once they're painted & ready to sell) Also approaching, mid-October is the start of Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment, which means I will be hitting the streets (sometimes dirt roads) of North GA working 2 days per week while coming home with applications and crazy stories. Until then, I thought I'd round up all the chalkboards I've done recently... we'll keep things pretty while we can, for now anyway.