08 November 2009

Of Ukuleles and Airstreams: Ramblings

I don't think of my family as odd. But every now and then I make mention of some detail at work and get a look like they think I am making it up. Yes, I really do have a first cousin (once removed) who leads a senior citizen ukulele band. I had the pleasure of seeing the YesterUkes recently at an Airstream rally near Table Rock.

Their ages span several decades, and their repertoire a century or two, at least. This was the second of their gigs I've attended, and they have definitely taken it up a notch, with one member providing sound effects to accompany "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" and another performing an impressive falsetto rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

When I hear some of their stories, I'm inclined to disbelief myself, like the one about the octogenarian whose wife finally made him give up his airplane for a motorcycle. Or was it the other way around?

They are definitely a fun and unusual bunch, and well worth a watch. If you visit their blog (there's even an imbedded video or two), you can see their schedule, which runs out to late 2010. Who knew there was such a demand for ukulele groups? And did I mention they occasionally feature kazoos?

But what I came here to talk about was Airstreams. The YesterUkes played against a backdrop of Airstreams of every size and variety, and it reawakened my hankering for a silver bubble of my own again. I won't be in the market anytime soon, but my husband says I can have one, as long as he gets to plant a hedge maze in the back yard. I think that's a fair deal.

As for my weird family, unfortunately, I don't even think we make the top ten. My cousin the ukulelist (is that a word?) put it in perspective: Her husband has a cousin who refurbishes computers for Tibetan nuns.

Top that.

28 March 2009

A Brief History of a Long Love Affair

Though many of you have read this already, I realized that it was not posted in its entirety here, with the previous link going nowhere thanks to the demise of TIBU.

Chapter 1
In which the fifteen-year-old Hero and Heroine exchange glancing blows—the Hero’s, a pointed quip from Oscar Wilde followed by the insinuation that Heroine would languish virginal forever; the Heroine’s, a sharp kick to the shin with a very pointed shoe.

Chapter 2
In which Hero and Heroine are driven by Hero’s dad to see The Breakfast Club, and Heroine falls in love when Hero squeezes her a little tighter during the scene where Judd Nelson details his father’s abuse. Heroine’s standards are evidently not that high. The mall cops subsequently catch Hero and Heroine making out behind a transformer in the parking lot, a fact they do not share with Hero’s dad when he picks them up. The following night, Hero and Heroine talk on the phone until morning, when Heroine’s mother almost catches her as she comes to wake her up for church.

Chapter 3
In which Hero and Heroine date for a few months, not exclusively, which results in moments of hilarity for both Heroine and Hero’s dad when both Heroine and Other Girlfriend (who does not know about Heroine) show up for Hero’s track meet. On one occasion, Heroine almost gets caught shirtless on her couch when her dad comes home early. Sadly, Heroine later cuts school with Former Boyfriend, whom Hero thought she’d given up entirely, which contributes to a growing rift and their eventual break-up. This does not stop Hero and Heroine from almost doing it in the back seat of her ’60 Beetle on her sixteenth birthday.

Chapter 4
In which Hero dates a series of women far less attractive and intelligent than Heroine. (What did you expect when the story is being written by Heroine?) However, Hero and Heroine still talk from time to time, exchange Bob Dylan album-cover notes on the desk they both occupy in different class periods, and occasionally make out on Hero’s dad’s kitchen floor when Hero’s girlfriend-of-the-month (okay, there really weren’t that many) is out of town.

Chapter 5
In which Hero and Heroine go away to college, Hero to Tennessee, Heroine to Maryland. About a year goes by. Heroine is completely over Hero, a fact she is determined to prove when Hero calls out of the blue during a school break and asks if she wants to do something. Hero and Heroine go for burgers, drive around the countryside for a while, and end up making out in Hero’s dad’s station wagon. Heroine learns that determination isn’t always an adequate defense.

Chapter 6
In which Hero and Heroine exchange letters and long phone calls for the next couple of years. Hero visits Heroine at college, and Heroine drives through Knoxville to pick Hero up when coming home for Christmas. For reasons neither can now remember or understand, they still don’t do it.

Chapter 7
In which Heroine graduates from college, begins a series of love poems for Hero, some of which will be familiar to our readers, and travels to visit on Hero’s birthday, thinking she will look for jobs in consideration of moving to Knoxville. Despite Heroine’s feeling that she’s getting a bit of the cold shoulder, Hero and Heroine finally do it. The results are rather unremarkable, but at least Heroine can feel satisfied that now she really is finally over Hero. It isn’t until some months later that she learns that Hero had been in love with someone else at the time.

Chapter 8
In which Hero and Heroine fall into the habit of a phone call every six months or so, often at a moment of crisis for one or the other of them, most often for Heroine. Heroine meets the man she will most unfortunately decide to marry, though not until after moving to Florida to get an almost entirely useless (but loads of fun) master’s degree in poetry. At some point Heroine finishes the series of thirteen poems (thirteen for the number of days between their birthdays) she has written for Hero and sends them to him. Not too long after her wedding, which our Hero does attend, Hero and Heroine and Husband attend Hero and Heroine’s high school reunion, hang out getting drunk together, and end up crashing at Heroine’s parents’ house. But Hero does admit to Heroine that he always thought they’d end up married, prompting Heroine to ask whether he thought she would wait forever.

Chapter 9
In which Hero and Heroine fall out of the habit of phone calls, until by some accident they talk just before she’s about to move to Arizona with Husband, while Heroine is visiting the town in South Carolina where Hero now lives with his dad. When she sees Hero, she learns the only reason she is able to talk to him at all is that Hero’s attempt at asphyxiating himself next to a train track in upstate New York was foiled by a conductor smashing out the rear window of his car. Heroine resolves to keep closer tabs on Hero, having been starkly reminded that he is a person she does not want to do without.

Chapter 10
In which Heroine moves to Arizona, and the story becomes markedly more melodramatic for a time. Husband, hereinafter Bozo, who has always been occasionally abusive, becomes increasingly so over the course of a few years. Hero and Heroine have more frequent phone conversations, but Heroine reaches a point where she feels it impossible to improve her lot in life and for a time verges on suicidal. This probably would have remained the case, does she not find the gumption to cheat on Bozo with Hero at the Microtel while she is home for the Christmas holidays. This is considerably more remarkable than Hero and Heroine’s last experiment.

Chapter 11
In which Hero and Heroine continue to meet from time to time, on holidays or when Heroine visits her best friend, who has conveniently moved to Knoxville, where Hero has returned some time before. Heroine still does not manage to leave Bozo, though they are sleeping in separate rooms. Despite Hero’s offers for her to stay in Knoxville on her visits, Heroine will not take the financial risk of leaving her job. One night when Bozo returns from the bar and she’s on the phone with Hero, which is not unusual, he pinches her hard enough to bruise and make her scream, which is also not unusual. The phone call ends with a stern lecture from Hero and his assertion that he cannot listen to this anymore. And a reminder that she has credit cards.

Chapter 12
In which Heroine, the day following said phone call, packs up her car and goes to the Red Roof Inn, whereupon Hero makes a cynical remark about how long it will be before she goes back. But Heroine does not, at least not for any length of time, though she does remain in a manipulative tug-of-war with Bozo for far too long that she only escapes with a great deal of help from friends and coworkers, by the end of which she believes Bozo has made enough menacing phone calls and forwarded enough unflattering e-mails that Hero really isn’t speaking to her anymore.

Chapter 13
In which Heroine finally files the divorce papers and faithfully calls the police whenever Bozo shows up at the Airstream where she’s been living. It is still many months before she is granted a divorce, since Bozo will not open the door to be served papers. But happily, in the meantime, she has run into Hero online and found that he has not, in fact, changed his phone number, and it was only by some fortunate accident that his number didn’t work when Bozo dialed it during the last stages of his attempts to manipulate Heroine.

Chapter 14
In which Hero and Heroine plan for Hero to drive to Phoenix from Jackson, Tennessee, where he is currently living, with the unspoken understanding that Hero will actually be moving there, inspired perhaps by two rather pointed mix CDs that Heroine sent Hero for Christmas. Hero arrives in Phoenix, albeit by way of Vegas, where he stops to meet two chicks he’s been playing poker with online, which is okay, because about the time he reaches Vegas, Heroine is departing after her own Vegas weekend with Former Sugar Daddy. Both swear to each other they behaved themselves, but Heroine does not tell Hero that she did show her boobs for an impressive sum of money.

Chapter 15
In which Hero finally arrives at the trailer park where Heroine lives in her Airstream and a short time later is adopted by Slinky the cat. Since they have not lived in the same place for nineteen years, both must view the experiment with a certain amount of trepidation, but the early results are quite exhilarating and involve far less conflict than Heroine at least would have expected. They overcome the difficulties of retrieving Heroine’s dogs from Bozo, and, after Landlady at long last manages to evict Bozo, removing a houseful of garbage that would have made even Arlo Guthrie quail from the rental where they thereafter live for a year. Heroine’s mother, though aware of the ongoing saga, expresses her surprise, confessing that she thought Hero’s love had really been all in our Heroine’s head.

Chapter 16
In which, a happy year-and-a-half later, Heroine finally procures a job in South Carolina near their families, leading Hero and Heroine to undertake a move that proves to be fraught with difficulty, a part of the history that, as our readers may know, is chronicled elsewhere. As with any major change, they face adjustments and conflicts, but after nearly a year, Hero and Heroine continue to live in relative bliss, though with one less dog than before (sadly) and the cat. They have a vegetable garden, featuring a tomato plant that threatens to swallow the house. The chapters hereafter are sure to be happier than most of those before, meaning that they will be of little interest to anyone except our Hero and Heroine themselves.

08 February 2009

The economy of the list


  • economics objectives
  • local sausage
  • won-ton wrappers
  • cabbage soup
  • bills
  • laundry
  • laundry
  • seam ripper
  • laundry
  • fingernail clippings

03 February 2009

So long, and thanks for all the fish

This was my final post on Thisisby.us, a writing site that captured my attention (to say the least) for some time. As of 12:01 a.m. February 1st, TIBU ceased to exist, and I got this in just under the wire. (Actually, I unintentionally saved it as a draft first time around and didn't realize it for a while.) There's nothing particularly remarkable about it, as farewells go, but since I've been asked, I'm reposting it here.

So I never did write my follow-up on Reviewstream, for which I apologize, especially as I did get the 5 bucks for the votes all of you were kind enough to give me. (For the record, I still think it’s a lousy site to write for, and their customer service responders are downright rude.) I guess I just lost steam when I found TIBU was going away, and this coincided with a rather alarming increase in my workload, so I just haven’t been here much in the last couple of months. I regret all I have missed that will, evidently, be lost for good (or at least harder to find) in a matter of hours.

Despite my recent absence, I feel compelled to say a few final words at the graveside, as it were. This site got my writing wheels turning again, for which I am grateful. Though most of what I posted here, poetry-wise, anyway, was mostly old work, it got me putting words on the page again. I’ve forged new friendships with whom I share the love of writing. I am hopeful that these connections will be fruitful and long-lasting.

I also found myself in the midst of contention from time to time, which I don’t necessarily consider a bad thing. Wars of words sometimes make us think, and I certainly found much to think about here.

But most of all, it was just great fun. And grand illusions aside, that may be the best we can wish for from anything.

05 January 2009


One would think the creativity to cram one’s religious beliefs into the allotted space on a license plate would come with a sense of irony. Not so, evidently. The bearer of a “GOD1ST” tag barreled past me yesterday so fast I could barely read it, weaving hell for leather among three lanes, alternately tailgating and cutting off other motorists, as if, indeed, God were at the wheel and taking the creed quite literally.

Great character reference for your deity.