Monday, August 5, 2013

Old Soul

Every time I hear this song, it takes me back to central Illinois, somewhere around one in the morning around Halloween. It's a ridiculous bit of nostalgia now from a 20-year later point of view. But then, the bus nearly silent, resting my head on the cold window, looking out at nothing but black and the occasional set of car lights, my Walkman plugged into my ears, my brain full of the perceived trauma and angst that is high school life, this song made me feel, just a little bit, what it must be like to live on the road, wishing I had a home to go to. Thankfully, my journey was always short, and I really did have a home to go to.

Now I'm older, and this song stirs up different kinds of trauma. Deaths of loved ones, pain of betrayal, loss of trust, even sons and daughters of others who made a sacrifice I will never be willing to make...for an ideal.

Mark Knopfler should get a guitar throne in Heaven when his time comes. That man can lay on the heavy shit if you give him the chance.

For Junior

I originally posted this on Facebook when our sportbike club's "adopted son" Jake turned 21. He is now graduated from University of North Dakota, and is flying some badass helicopters in the Army, at Fort Rucker. I just stumbled across the post today and, even though I can't remember writing it, it IS my list, with an addendum, thanks to scattered advice from the interwebbage. Thanks, Mom, for suggesting it become a blog post.

* * *
I've been thinking about this momentous occasion for some time now and have miscellaneous thoughts I've pooled together, both from my own head and the internet...two INCREDIBLY EXPANSIVE repositories (suppositories are the ones that go in your butt, fyi) from which to cull.

Things I'VE learned...

* Get in all you can. You may be gone tomorrow.
* Do something that scares the crap out of you, even just once. After that, you can brag about it.
* If you're miserable, work to change your pattern. Nobody HAS to be miserable, they're just too lazy to change.
* Sit down and have a beer with your parents many times over. They are FOUNTAINS of good stories. You'll miss out when they're gone.
* Simplify your financial life. Interest rates are depressing.
* Have a slap fight with your sibling....just try not to get hit. Then it's no fun anymore.
* Play in the snow, mud, and rain.
* Keep at least one person in your life who looks out for you as unconditionally as you look out for them.
* Read. For fun. Lots. Just go into a bookstore and grab the first book you see. You may stumble on a new favorite genre.
* Throw your heart out there (not literally) for someone to catch (I'm still working on this one...).
* Hang out in a coffee shop and play dominoes on a cruddy Sunday afternoon.
* Be nice to everyone you meet. Everyone's fighting some kind of battle.
* Let a stranger in line ahead of you.
* Some turns are sharper than they look. Nobody will laugh if you're cautious. Mock, maybe...
* Listen to different music than you're used to.
* Laugh at least once a day.
* Meditate once in a while somewhere quiet, and feel what it's like to not have a single thought. It takes practice.
* Call an old best friend. Be prepared to talk for hours. (Perfect for the coffee shop!)
* Retain memories of funny events, no matter how insignificant they may seem. I remember I laughed for WAY too long, tears and snot running out just at how someone had accidentally thrown a cigar across the room while gesturing in a conversation. Eight years ago.
* Don't be afraid to fart in the grocery store. People will walk through at that moment no matter what.
* Entertain yourself with your farts. Work on the longest, loudest, highest-pitch and scariest.
* Spend some time with your extended family, especially aunts and uncles...they have the BEST dirt on your parents.
* Make your favorite comfort food.
* USE the good china.
* Buy a round, you know...when you're allowed to.
* Refuse money from someone twice, then take it. No sense being a butthead.
* Dress to the nines, for no good reason.
* Get in the car and go. Anywhere. On a whim. Pack clean underwear.

When it comes to things to do before you turn 40, the Internet sez....

* Don't die!
* Learn a new language.
* Visit a new country.
* Pay off all your debts.
* Sing horrible karaoke.
* Rethink your least favorite food.
* Go outside your comfort zone.
* Take up a new sport.
* Drive on Route 66.
* Kick your all-day caffeine habit.
* Take your parents out to dinner.
* Document your life.
* Stop the tchotchkes.
* Do something romantically cheesy.
* Drop 50 bucks on a bottle of wine.
* Ride a motorcycle. Well, gee whiz...guess you can check this one off.
* Teach a class.
* Have a kid if you want one.
* Learn to work on your own house.
* Buy a piece of real art.
* One-up yourself.
* Surprise someone.
* Sleep outside.
* Get rid of logo t-shirts.
* Ride a roller coaster.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Waving back breaks my concentration and fouls my "cool" aura

Ten Reasons Why Harley Riders Don't Wave Back
10. Afraid it will invalidate warranty.
9. Leather and stud make it too heavy to raise arm.
8. Refuse to wave to anyone whose bike is already paid for.
7. Afraid to let go of handlebars because they might vibrate off.
6. Rushing wind would blow scabs off the new tattoos.
5. Angry because just took out second mortgage to pay luxury tax on new Harley.
4. Just discovered the fine print in owner's manual and realized H-D is partially owned by Honda.
3. Can't tell if other riders are waving or just reaching to cover their ears like everyone else.
2. Remembers the last time a Harley rider waved back, he impaled his hand on spiked helmet.
1. Too tired from spending hours polishing all that chrome to lift their arms.

Ten Reasons Why Goldwing Riders Don't Wave Back
10. Wasn't sure whether other rider was waving or making an obscene gesture.
9. Afraid might get frostbite if hand is removed from heated grip.
8. Has arthritis and the past 400 miles have made it difficult to raise arm.
7. Reflection from etched windshield momentarily blinded him.
6. The espresso machine just finished.
5. Was actually asleep when the other rider waved.
4. Was in a three-way conference call with stock broker and accessories dealer.
3. Was distracted by odd-shaped blip on the radar screen.
2. Was simultaneously adjusting the air suspension, seat height, programmable CD player, seat temperature, and satellite navigation system.
1. Couldn't find the "auto-wave back" button on dashboard.

Ten Reasons Why Sportbike Riders Don't Wave Back
10. They have not been riding long enough to know they're supposed to.
9. They're going too fast to have time enough to register the movement and respond.
8. You weren't wearing bright enough gear.
7. If they stick their arm out going that fast they'll rip it out of the socket.
6. They're too occupied with trying to get rid of their chicken strips.
5. They look way too cool with both hands on the bars or they don't want to unbalance themselves while standing on the tank.
4. Their skin-tight, kevlar, ballistic nylon, carbon fiber, kangaroo leather suits prevent any position other than fetal.
3. Raising an arm allows bugs into the armholes of their tank tops.
2. It's too hard to do one-handed stoppies.
1. They were too busy slipping their flip-flop back on.

Top Ten Reasons Why BMW Riders Don't Wave Back
10. New Aerostitch suit is too stiff to raise arm.
9. Removing a hand from the bars is considered "bad form."
8. Your bike isn't weird enough looking to justify acknowledgment.
7. Too sore from an 800-mile day on a stock "comfort" seat.
6. Too busy programming the GPS, monitoring radar, listening to iPod, XM, and talking on the cell phone.
5. He's an Iron Butt rider and you're not.
4. Wires from Gerbings are too short.
3. You're not riding the "right kind" of BMW.
2. You haven't been properly introduced.
1. Afraid it will be misinterpreted as a friendly gesture.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Me, as seen through the state of my closet

I've been wanting to get back into blogging...but I can't seem to hear that familiar "Aha! A blog topic!" pop into my head. Thankfully, I am breast friends with a high school Honors English teacher who will stunt-double as my baseball bat-wielding muse. With that, I present....

*  *  *

A current snapshot: my closet is a playground. A post-explosion scene. A rumpus room. Shoes have been wrestling with each other; finding a matching pair involves "digging." The "dirty" clothes threaten to avalanche on the next hapless victim to walk by, though he/she would have warning since the majority of the spill oozes out onto the floor of my bedroom. The shelf of sweaters and t-shirts are hanging over my head like half-melted glaciers...waiting to bust off and add to the mess below. This, after "going through" my clothes and trucking a bunch off to Goodwill. This, after crating up a majority of "off-season" clothes and shoving the boxes under my bed.

I'm not the neatest person I know, but then I'm not exactly hacking my way through ceiling-high piles of ephemera with a machete just to get to the bathroom to pee, either. Hey, I've got a hamper you know. I think it's the same one I've owned since I was a teenager, and the included pivoting lid has since given up and disappeared. The problem is just that it fills up quicker than my four-week allotment of underwear. Yes, that's the gauge. I've purchased enough freds to keep me from doing laundry for four weeks. Unfortunately, it turns out that the bigger clothes render my hamper useless after two weeks.

Never fear, though. At the four-week mark, the laundry gets done, somehow there is a shelf and a hanger for everything and the shoes get paired back up and at one glance, the sequined Chucks can be located. I can even shut the door. Not bad for someone lacking a dresser. Problem is, as the weekdays creep by, and I'm either happy to shed my clothing onto the floor at the end of the weeknight or rustle through the clean stuff before the crack of dawn, there it goes again.

I guess the best way to see how my closet relates to me, is how I've seen my life so far. I'm wandering along, neat and tidy and ordered, and gradually there's a sweater avalanche, then there's chaos. I ignore it, then kick through it, dig for a shoe, wallow in it so to speak, and then one day, walk in and, "JEEZ," clean it up. Eventually I'm back to neat and tidy and ordered. Until the next sweater avalanche hits.

Which has got me thinking...why wouldn't I just keep it neat and tidy and ordered? Maybe the Universe will thank me with a neat and tidy and ordered life, for a bit longer than four weeks worth of underpants.

Monday, September 24, 2012

You say "uvula"...

This area of Wisconsin is filthy with one fest or another throughout the summer. Each town has its corn fests, broiler fests, bean and bacon days, beef-a-ramas, oktoberfests, beer fests, blues fests, you name it.

One summer, probably a handful of years ago, Fahjah and I went to one of the local fests. As we stood off to the side, each enjoying a corn dog...

Pop: "There's no unweird way to eat a corn dog in public."

Me: "I know. Then there's the danger of stabbing myself with the stick in the hangy-down at the back of my throat."

Pop: "Uh huh." (pause) "Isn't that the vulva?"

Me: I shake my head. "Lower."

Pop, in a lower voice: "Isn't that the vulva?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stop your damn whining already

Apparently, I need an explanation regarding the use of stereotypes. People seem to treat them like derogatory names and get all weird when they are mentioned in conversations. Don't confuse this with pejorative words that are meant to hurt or offend.

But back to the stereotypes. Are they not based on fact for the most part? Can the majority of crackers jump? Are our dark-skinned brothers and sisters not more inclined to be fluid in movement while dancing? Do butch lesbians not dress like dudes?

My guess is if you're offended by a generalized statement of your race, creed (treehuggers avoid shaving), religion (Lutherans love lemon jello), or gender (women are emotional), you probably have a more personal problem.

Then there's people who rush in to defend another race's issues. When the Native Americans get pissy about schools using their tribes as mascots, I'll back them. But not when some fat white PTA mom starts picketing. Besides, if I was Native American, I'd be pretty flattered. There's no high school I can think of whose mascot is  "The White Guy" (no, we don't really know for sure what the Lancer is under that visor). I suppose if there was we whites would be stereotyped as oppressive. Woops, there's another one.

So here's the thing. If you're a woman, and somebody tells you women can't drive, but you are a good driver, have an umbrella drink, and let them have their opinion. Don't start railing on the person, you'll make us all look emotional.

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's just cherry ice, yo

If I had to pick the one innovative thing on the planet that has altered the fabric of good-natured humanity for all time...

The familiar strains of a bullhorned lullaby drifting through the humid summer air a few blocks away would send Bromas and I into a shrieking, money-sucking whirlwind of glee. No coat pocket in the closet was safe from the grasping hands in search of cash when the creepy white delivery truck with the side window tracked onto our collective radar. Yes, once you threw yourself in front of the crazy-eyed driver, you could count on finding a Chocolate Eclair or a Bomb Pop and that mushy, gross chocolate chip cookie sammich. But the one ice cream novelty that, time and time again, sated our lust for sugar and cherry flavor was the Screwball. With that mushy, gross gumball in the bottom.

As we aged, and the happiness of childhood was slowly swapped out with the ennui of adulthood, the Screwball had faded into distant memory. Until, that is, a day that normally wouldn't have been anything more than a mopey event, turned out, well, screwy.

My grandfather had passed away in October of 1999. The following Spring, Bromas had come to visit from Eau Claire and intended to pick up Grandpa's seldom-driven and well-kept 1984 two-door, two-tone Caprice Classic (remember when the gashole (I said it) was behind the rear license plate?). It was a classy, smooth-riding, velour-coated, land yacht of a car.

While we were hanging out in the driveway of our soon-to-be-sold grandparent's house, Tom (age 24) and I (age 28) were in conversation and abruptly halted when the tinny sounds caught both of us simultaneously: SCREWBALLS!

Nothing else was said, it was a mutual agreement on what we must have and when we must have it. We hopped into the couch on wheels. Tom played wheelman and I hung my head out the window like a Labrador Retriever, tongue lolling, desperately zooming in aurally on that childhood need. Once the ice cream man was spotted, Bromas halted in front of the frightened driver and his white truck, this scenario all the world looking like a modern stagecoach holdup, as if to say, "There is no way IN HELL we're letting you get away without the gold."

I waited in the car while Tom went around the side of the truck. And returned with Screwballs. A CASE of them. After I stopped laughing hysterically, it occurred to me that, being in that car, Grandpa meant for us to keep one more memory of him, just for us. Riding down the expressway, windows open, radio blaring (push-button baby!), glomming down Screwballs. Just a pinch of childhood revisited.

* * *

Fast forward to 2005. Fahjah and I embark on a three-day dual Harley excursion with stops in the Wisconsin Dells, Spring Green and Prairie du Chien. As we arrived in PdC after a good span of time hanging out around Frank Lloyd Wright's old hangout (and TOTALLY dumping Fahjah's custom-painted Softail at the bottom of FLW's driveway), I spotted an ice cream truck. The Screwball bulb popped on and I switched it back off. Then I thought, "Why the hell not?" and went ape-shit. My father could only follow after me in what had to appear to him as a fit of throttle stickage. After barely remembering to put the kickstand down, I ran straight up to the window of the (again) creepy, white delivery truck's side window, pushed aside an indecisive young boy and his flabbergasted father, and ordered breathlessly, "TWO SCREWBALLS PLEASE!" The look on my own dad's face was priceless, as I tried to spill out the Screwball history and shove my face in the plastic-coned goodness at the same time.

Of course, in the spirit of good old sibling rivalry, Bromas and Fahjah were on a trip somewhere together not long after, and needed to rub in that they were enjoying another round of Screwballs.

Jeebus help me if I wasn't so easily amused. When my time comes, if you decide to show up for my "wrap party," Screwballs are on the house. Then you'll know.