Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Van is a Vampire, a traveling tale of synchronicity

Sometimes everything fits, like pieces of a puzzle. Sometimes things just go together, like bread and butter. Sometimes timing is everything, and the past and the present fuse in a way that makes futuresense.

And sometimes the puzzle is a few pieces short of a box, the bread is moldy and the butter is frozen, and the only sense made out of the past, present and future is that you have always been and will continue to be a great big dork.

I’ve just returned from a short trip to Traverse City, Michigan, and all of the above applied.

To begin: My van is a vampire.

There’s something about travel that causes menstruation. The last thing I want to think about when tooling around the country is what state my uterus is in. Believe me, I wish I could leave it home. I suppose that day is coming given that my moon time has lately caused more blood loss than childbirth. But it’s not just perimenopausal, whisker-sprouting broads like me who are afflicted. My poor teenager, who has enough stress simply as a result of her age and interests (or disinterests, as would be more likely), has to carry around period baggage. Going anywhere? Guaranteed to bleed. It’s one of our rules to live by. I just hope my jeans (Totally rockin’ Lucky deep dark blues that I got on clearance at Macy’s because, seriously, I’m never in style and I’d never pay full price for some scraps of denim. Think of my African daughter! The guilt….) wash out as nicely as the motel bedspread.

I’ve been wanting to see Traverse City since I was a little girl. My grandfather was born in Traverse City, and my mom talked about it with such fondness and pride that the city has always held a regal spot in my heart. My great-grandfather, Quincy Edward Boughey I, was apparently a man of prominence in the city, and a street and a hill are named after the family – or after him, I’m not actually sure.

The girls and I visited Boughey Street on Boughey Hill. I laughed out loud when I saw the yellow houses on the corner. I grew up in a yellow house. I bought two yellow houses. We are re-siding our house and guess what color we picked? Yellow. Not that I love yellow. It's that we are too cheap to re-side the garage, too, and since we are re-siding, we want the house and garage to match. Right now, the house is a ghastly yellow six-inch aluminum siding. The garage is a less-ghastly, four-inch, light yellow vinyl.

Anyway, this particular trip came about because Eric, my ever-loving husband, decided to attend a seminar at Interlochen College of Creative Arts, about half an hour from TC. When I met Eric in 1990, he had this plastic board called a Chapman Stick that when he tapped he made music. Not much later, he quit. But a few years ago, when our lives blew up, he grabbed hold of his Stick again. This summer, Interlochen held a Stick seminar taught by Emmett Chapman, inventor of the Chapman Stick, and Greg Howard, Stickist extraordinaire. Eric couldn’t pass up this opportunity, and neither could I.

Eric packed his Sticks (yes, he has more than one now) and his amps. He forgot a sweatshirt. He always forgets a sweatshirt. And why would you really think of a sweatshirt in August, right? I packed sunscreen and swimming suits and beach towels (and supermegavortex tampons and onlyslightlysmallerthandiapers pads). Northern Michigan missed the memo that it’s summer. Eric bought a sweatshirt to add to his collection of sweatshirts purchased on summer vacations. I drank a lot of hot drinks, unsuccessfully dodged rain drops and finally just holed up in our chilly, humid motel room reading Harley Jane Kozak’s second Wollie Shelley mystery, Dating is Murder. Saturday night, having finished the book, I flipped on the TV after hunkering under the blankets and who should appear on my screen but the lovely (and hilarious) Ms. Kozak herself. She has such fine features and exquisite hair. And she was hugging Scott Bakula. What could be better? Now I can say I’ve seen the last five minutes of “Necessary Roughness.” But I’d still like to see the whole thing for Harley’s sake.

My grandfather, Stoepel Boughey, son of the aforementioned Quincy Edward I, was visiting from Florida that awful day in 1986 when Harley's "Santa Barbara" character Mary was tragically killed by a poorly tethered neon C. My grandfather and I were finishing up a rollicking game of cribbage when the poor, fallen, crushed nun Mary said, “God’s here,” and I bawled my eyes out while my grandpa laughed at my anguish. "Santa Barbara" was a funny, crazy, well-crafted (for a while) soap opera. They even did one episode in iambic pentameter, but that was well after Harley's unfortunate departure.

So, tragic deaths and Traverse City: In poking around Traverse City history through the magic of the Internet, I discovered my great-uncle Quincy Edward Boughey II, my grandfather’s brother and nemesis, was a telephone man who died as a result of electrocuting himself installing a phone in his own home. My brother Doug is a telephone man.

See? Past and present. Things go together. Just not the way you might expect.

Next time: Peaches, porn, grinders, bars and brown people – Wisconsin and Michigan really are miles apart.

Check out Harley Jane Kozak's blog, The Lipstick Chronicles, which she shares with the rest of the Book Tarts, a group of women who write mysteries and blog about life and its many accompanying mysteries.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let's get some shoes

Eric bought new shoes today. I love shoes. I guess I really am a girl.

(Eric got some fancy Nikes on megasale at Kohl's. Apparently they can even communicate with his iPhone. That's a little scary. And what are they saying? "Slow down! Wait for your wife!" "No, move faster – she's PMSing!" I don't know. I don't want shoes calculating my steps and calories burned and likely mapping where I've been and sending it to my insurance company so they can deny my claims for being a lard-ass, or worse, to the government for being a liberal. Wait, that's OK again. For now. Babbling – shutting up.)

When I was little, before I was in school, I had a pair of hiking boots. You know the ones that everybody wore in the '70s? The suede, round-toed clodhoppers with black, very marking soles, heavy as a broken heart. Loved 'em. My brother Doug had a pair just like them. Of course. Anything that Doug had I had to have, too. He was Jesus. And he had a Jeep that he apparently thought could walk on water because he was always getting it stuck in the muddy bottoms of a mucky river.

I had some other boots, too, when I was even younger. Rain boots. Someone took a picture of me wearing nothing but my boots. And when my Kelsey was little, I took a picture of her wearing nothing but her boots. I thought it would be cute to put the two photos next to each other – like mother, like daughter. The psycho at Walgreen's who developed the film called the police, fearing my little naked 2-year-old might be the victim of some variety of sexual abuse. How you can look at a picture of a child, scarcely past a baby, and even have sexual thoughts cross your mind is beyond me. I hope the police investigated the lunatic.

It's funny how many of my shoes I remember. I had an ugly blue pair of knock off All-Stars in kindergarten. My first-grade shoes were remarkably similar. My mother told me to write my name on them, so I took a magic marker and wrote absolutely everywhere. I was perfectly content, but she had a fit about me ruining them and she should have known better than to give a magic marker to a child (yes, she should have) and I'd have to wear them anyway. Well, then I was ashamed of them, embarrassed, and I absolutely did not wear them. She had bought me another pair a couple sizes up, and I wouldn't wear those either when I finally grew into them, even though I hadn't marred them with even one black dot.

Many of my shoes didn't fit well. My mom wanted me to get a lot of wear out of my shoes so she didn't have to keep buying them. So, I got them too big and wore them until they were way too small. When my toe pushed out the end of one particular pair I was quite fond of, overtaking the sole, my dad declared my feet had been damaged because of my ill-fitting footwear. I think he might have been right, actually. My big toes point the wrong way, as though I've been wearing high heels since birth, and I certainly haven't. He was always in my corner after that, getting me comfortable shoes I liked, even if they cost more than $4.99.

I wasn't at all brand conscious until about 5th grade when Nike waffles started appearing on the feet of my friends. Even though I thought they were weird and ugly, they were making quite a splash, and I didn't want to be left out. I fondled and sniffed a pair of blue ones with a daring yellow swoosh at Athlete's Foot one day at the mall. How I pined for them. Sometime in middle school I talked my mother into getting me a pair of Nikes, but not the nice blue and yellow waffles, just a pair of light blue ones with a plain sole and a white swoosh. Very subdued, and much cheaper. But it was still a hard-earned accomplishment. They weren't really any more comfortable and they didn't wear any better, and that disappointed me a bit. I didn't insist on name-brand shoes ever after, but my mom still didn't like spending more than $8 on my feet. Unless the shoes were leather. Bring on the GASS. Ugh. I had to wear those big clunkers forever.

These days, well, I'm not exactly sexy in my selections, but my feet feel good, crooked toes and all. And I'm willing to drop decent money on a pair of running shoes, but you'll never find me at a boutique shelling out for couture. (Unless I drop about 30 pounds and decide to get some thigh-high black leather boots. I'll definitely blog about that and include pictures. Please don't call Walgreen's or the police.) I do have a pretty cool collection of Chuck Taylors, though. My latest: light blue oxfords with fuzzy clouds and farm animals and little silver lightning strikes.

Eventually I'll have a photo of my sweet Chucks. Kelsey took my picture, but it's been sitting on her camera, and now I can't find it. And I wrote this so long ago, that the photos I popped in there from around the web (with full credit and links, of course) have gone the way of ether.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who's that kid with the Oreo cookie

Oreo limited edition Strawberry Milkshake creme: edible, nothing I'd ever buy again.

Of the non-ordinary Oreos, I like the mint and the peanut butter. I seem to recall a mocha flavor, but it might be my mind's wishful thinking.

Speaking of mocha: Nestle's Mocha Crunch – eew. I don't think they're making it anymore because, you know, eew. Awful color, funky consistency, chemical flavor. nass-tee

I do like it when candy companies do limited-edition flavors. Some are fantastic, like Kit Kat's dark, mint and orange flavors. Yum. I wish I'd stockpiled those darks. Apparently they have dark minis in multiflavor bags, but they're in there with those awful white chocolate ones. So not worth the money. Spew.