Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Halloween and I Want to be 7 Again!

Falling leaves, frosty mornings and Halloween.

Fall is here, and with October's drop in temperature, out come the hats and gloves, the leaf piles appear and the woodsy chimney smoke fills the air. In Me-ville, this is the most wonderful time of the year. I know. Andy Williams would argue, and once December rolls around I'll agree with him, but for now, it's all about the crunchy leaves under my boots, my breath visible in the air and an underlying current of spooky things.

In the small southern town where I grew up, not much has changed over the years. And I've noticed as I've traveled, that so many small towns across the U.S. have numerous things in common, one of which is that they don't evolve a whole lot. I like that about them. On the picturesque tree-lined streets where I spent my first 12 or so years, the lovely brick and wood houses have not been yuppy-ized. I'm not sure why, but I am pleased with this lack of change. The town is still all pretty much a colorized version of Leave it to Beaver land, and that's good with me. I go back and visit from time to time and am always pleased to discover that there is nothing to discover. (No upgrades needed here, thank you. We're good.)

Well, with the exception of one major change that I stumbled upon a few years back. My old elementary school, St. Clair Elementary, has been converted into luxury condominiums. Thankfully no extreme exterior changes were made. That beautiful old one-story red brick building with all the giant double hung windows, tall doors and high ceilings feels no different than it did when I attended class there for 6 years as a child. It still sits proudly beside a lovely park with huge oak and elm trees which seem to lead the parade and rule the world during Fall. The creek at the edge of the park makes the setting perfect.

I can remember my school's build up to Halloween each year. Around October 1st it seemed that the primary focus of all of our teachers was to create a festive Halloween spirit. Each classroom would be involved in it's own spooky project and our Halloween decorations would adorn every wall, door and window. We played creepy songs on record players (did I just say that?), we told scary ghost stories and turned all of our art supplies into witches, goblins and ghosts. What fun!

Walking home from school each day, we would plow through layers of fallen leaves on the sidewalks under our feet. Piles of raked leaves would burn and smolder in street gutters, filling the crisp, cold air with that unmistakable smell of fall. The trees were bare and whether the day was sunny or gray, Halloween was fast approaching and we could see and feel the evidence of that everywhere.

During these first days of October, my friends and I would plan our routes for trick or treating - weeks in advance. We noted which neighbors would be out of town (dark - no candy!), which houses had new owners (no idea what to expect!), homes with new babies (lights out early - don't be late!), even which homes had experienced a death in the family that year (should we go there or not? Our parents would make that call for us).

And then there was the handful of 'Witch Houses' in our neighborhoods, which we classified as such for a variety of reasons. Some had the whole creepy, dark and foreboding thing going on. Others were simply large old mysterious houses, occupied by grumpy old owners who would shoo us away if we happened to unwittingly take our games of hide and seek, or freeze tag onto their property. A few houses may have been labeled as 'spooky' only because their owners were rarely seen.

It's strange to remember the way our imaginative little minds processed thoughts and ideas back then.

One thing is for sure. Halloween and trick or treating spawned my insatiable passion (fetish) for houses. For weeks I looked forward to the moment that I could walk up the sidewalk and look through the windows of these old houses as we approached the porch to ring the doorbell and shout "Trick or Treat!". I anticipated getting a glimpse into the house more than I did receiving the candy it's owner would undoubtedly bestow on me.

Each and every house on our route had something that I wanted to see or experience. Yes, I was the goofy little bunny or princess (always something pink - ehhhk!) who would linger and lean in to look around as our Trick or Treat-ees had completed their end of the deal and were attempting to close their doors. I was ever ready to jump if we were invited into a foyer or living room. Each house had it's own feel and smell and I craved the experience of being inside any of them! (See? Fetish.)

Moving on.

Trick or Treat for Unicef. I was a Unicef rock-star. Collecting coins for this cause boosted my candy high for sure and gave trick or treating a whole new level of importance. I loved that!

Watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" during the week before Halloween was a huge treat, too. Back then there was no cable (gasp! I did it again!) so TV Guide told us what to watch and when. Just like Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas in December, this was an October tradition.

As was carving the pumpkin and placing it on the porch. The nightly lighting of our jack-o-lantern (we never called it that... only 'the pumpkin') was my dad's job and he made a great ceremony of this process for me each evening, once it was dark out.

Does anyone else recall a particular type of 'candy' available only at Halloween... the orange wax harmonica? And the red wax lips? Anyone? Anyone? I know. Buh-zar, but hey! There ain't no accountin' for some peoples' taste... or memory!

How about an old song which we learned in 2nd or 3rd grade music class that went:
Stirring and stirring and stirring my brew.
Ooooh-ooooh. Oooooh-ooooh.
Stirring and stirring and stirring my brew.
Ooooh-ooooh. Oooooh-ooooh.
Tip toe. Tip toe. Tip toe. Tip toe.

OK, Ok. I digress. But this is about memories of childhood Halloweens (and wanting to be 7 again!) So please indulge me and feel free to share yours, too. Try to top me on the candycorn-o-meter.
(I double dog dare ya!)

Happy Halloween Friends...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Passport is Open-Minded, Damnit!

After Tuesday's post of bitching about an upcoming trip to somewhere below the equator, I need to make clear one very important point.

I am not a destination snob. Honest! I'm not a homebody who sits all day watching the Travel Channel and armchairing judgments about far away places around the world - from the comfort of my overstuffed La-Z-Boy. I love to explore! Anywhere! I've even gone (sort of willingly) onto the Yukon River several times, so puh-leeze, do not mistake me for a 5-star - where's my pillow mint? - sissy, umkay? I like to be off the beaten path and miles away from the nearest tour bus. It's just that on my 'Places to See Before Somebody Shoots Me' list, South America is sleeping peacefully under a few dozen other snoozers. (It's the language thing.)

Now granted, I am fully aware that the people of South America totally rock the Casbah. I have many friends who travel there often and the South Americans have a great rep for being kind and caring. Even to North Americans! So I am definitely looking forward to meeting the wonderful people there. But on this journey, after landing in Lima, we will be no where near the big cities. While I'm aware that English is common around the world, I need to be prepared for small villages (where hopefully we won't look like food -kidding!) and the possibility that nobody can - or cares - to speak English. And beyond meeting the people, yes, there are lots of areas in Peru (Machu Pichu - duh), Bolivia (The Death Road - yeah!), Brazil (um, Rio - hellllo!), etc., that I would love to see. It's just that I don't want to see them now. I want to see them later.

You see, currently I am simply more open to concerns of whether there is any white wine handy to remove the red wine that I just spilled on my pants (yeah, it works!) than I am to what species of bug is stuck squirming in my sweat. Ehhhhk! How do you say yuck in Spanish!? Oh, yeah... ¡Yuck!

Call me crazy but the idea of extreme heat and unidentifiable flying/crawling/swimming things THAT DO NOT SPEAK MY LANGUAGE is not floatin' my boat just now. Though I'm working hard to get over it. Perhaps after I learn more from my new BFF, Rosetta, I'll be better prepared to scream, "WTF is that?!" in Spanish - and understand the answer. Once I am comfortable with everyday phrases such as, "Did you mean to go this way?", "Is there something in my hair?", and "Where is the hospital?", then my back pack will be stuffed (with bug spray and band-aids) and I'll be ready to go.

But until that time (which, hopefully will arrive before January), let me remind you that I AM LAZY. So naturally I'm dreaming of the U.K. and other places where some form of English is the primary language. Oh, and where spiders with fur don't live.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blogger is Kicking Rosetta Stone's Ass!

My Spanish lesson is calling and I'm letting it go to voice mail. Boy, am I gonna be in trouble for that.

So The Jon has decided to go check out the Amazon River in January and has included me in his Peruvian adventure. We will be in Latin America for almost a month so he believes we (I) should speak (and understand - key point) the language. With this thought (fantasy) in mind, he has purchased the Rosetta Stone for Latin American Spanish and is expecting me to spend an hour each day 'in class' (just because he gets up each AM, walks to the gym, works out for an hour, walks to work, spends 9 or 10 hours saving the planet, then walks home and prepares his dinner - and I don't. Please excuse my own language but - WTF?).

Oh, I know what you're thinking. You think that because I am a stay-at-home-bum, kept woman or pampered pooch, that I should be his beck and call girl. Pffffft.

OK, I'm kidding. I get it. I do. His request for me to learn Spanish is not unreasonable since he's totally got my back. And I know I should be grateful for this trip, and I am. Sort of. But you see...

The problem is that I do not learn well those subjects with which I have no interest. And I have no interest in learning Spanish because I have no interest in checking out the Amazon. Hell, even if I DID want to go, I wouldn't want to learn Spanish. Not that I have anything against Spanish - it's a lovely language which I realize could come in handy when in Spanish-speaking jungles. But I am lazy. Therefore, expecting me to dedicate an hour of my busy bon-bon popping (cream puff if you prefer - I'm easy) day to something I am totally NOT INTO, is a stretch which could land us both in a beddy, beddy, bahd place. If I'm at the helm as translator, that is.

How do I know this about me? Because I took flying lessons before and guess what I learned. That I did not want to fly. I aced Flight School, passed the FAA written exam and ever-thang (scored a 97! I'm not a total slouch...), but still learned first and foremost that I did not want to fly. My ex-husband wanted me to fly, but me? Not. So. Much.

(I'll bet you guys thought I was going to say that I crashed a plane. Ha! No way. Only an ultralight. But that was way before I ever thought about flying an actual AIRPLANE. And nobody was hurt... though I must say it was pretty weird to suddenly be above some really tall trees when all I had planned to do was taxi. I'm pretty sure that a hippo wouldn't have landed much harder than me and that silly ultralight - and it was said that while falling, we looked like one.)

See, I'm the opposite of a control freak. (Did I mention that I AM LAZY?) I like to sit back and watch others control my fate, ya know? Well, that's not entirely true. If I sense pending doom I will usually recall that I forgot to feed somebody's (?) cat. Buh-bye. But you get my point.
Me? Translate? Really?
OK, well... he asked if you want to swim a roasted shoe with mustard and sewing.
Not really. He said you need to take me to Paris...

Speaking of Paris, The Jon has taken me there twice. He was born in France and I was not. He speaks a wee bit of the language and I do not. And I cannot tell you how many times the wonderful people of France have told me that the next time I visit their country, I must speak THEIR language. Sure thing, ami. When cochons fly!

Actually I would almost like to learn French. But remember? I am ... what...?... right!... Lay-Zeeeeeeee.

So being the really lazy travel partner that I am, here I sit, blog, blog, blog, hoping that I don't get an unexpected mid-day visit from you know who. But in case I do, you'll be happy to know that I am prepared with my headset on, all plugged in and ready to pull up my minimized Rosetta screen.
Hola querido. ¿Cómo fue su día? ((*-*))

Ooooh. Just saying that has made me feel all creepy guilty. This means I gotta go to Peruville now. So I'll check back after I'm all schooled up. Hope you guys are having a great day - ¡Gracias para está aquí!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

3 Lovely Followers - and a Cat

Wow. I just looked, and I have 3 lovely followers - and a cat!

I'm honored (and kinda creeped out) that anyone is following me. This is just my third post, but because of you, I've decided that I like blogging, and that now I'm going to make a concerted effort to be a good blogger. (That 'concerted effort' part is way good for you guys. Really.)

When I first thought about blogging, I really didn't consider that there would be so much interaction with other bloggers. I never read blogs or knew anything about blogs, other than hearing some snarky references to them periodically on the news. So I always thought of blogs as your basic, run of the mill rant-spaces or cyber venting zones where I could just show up, be self-absorbed and cynical, then return to Glenn Beck (not really). I certainly did not expect to be so entertained or become connected. I must admit that now I look forward every day to reading what you all have to say!

Let me give you a wee bit of background ( but mostly make an excuse for what you may experience here). My former day job required that I cater to strangers - with lots of money that I wanted - for 10 or 12 hours a day. So at the end of the day, you could not pay me to interact with another human unless it was food or alcohol-related... meaning that they were bringing me some. Now that I'm a stay-at-home-bum, I've gotten ssssso much better.

Psyche. Now I'm actually going all hermitty. It's just bizarre.

But nevertheless, I'm giving blogging a shot. I've discovered that your blog world here is indeed a fun place to hang out (thanks for letting me in), and even though I'm fairly (stunningly) anti-social, let me say that I'm grateful that you ladies and cat are here with me. You are witty, and smart, and cynical (I hate that about you) and kind. It's the coolest place really.

I just ask that you forgive me when I don't reply to your comments right away. I get distracted easily, so as with my emails, voicemails, and text messages, my responses to comments may get bumped for other activities (such as sleeping, staring out the window or nothing.) Please don't be offended. I hope to be as attentive as you all are someday. I'm not counting on it and neither should you but I'm hoping.

Meanwhile, please remember that I really appreciate you, and that I think you are all scathingly brilliant!
Cheers -

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Just Threw Up in my Mouth

Yes, I just threw up in my mouth. That was after reading my buddy, Mark's TMI about a drinking incident involving Copenhagen (not the one in Denmark - the one in his back pocket). Or was it a Copenhagen incident involving drinking? (Either way, my stomach is still turning as I hunt and peck here...)

Anyhow, his waaay TMI story reminded me that in my checkered and polka dot past, I have an alcohol-related chew story, too!

OK, so we went to this big fancy party - evening gowns, tuxes, blah, blah, blah - and afterward we go back to my buddy's house to consume yet more alcohol and attempt to play cards. We park ourselves around the kitchen table in all of our sparkling finery (Hell yeah, we're white trash! - well most of us are white), and he promptly pulls out his Cope. Or was it Skoal? Those were the dark ages, I can't recall... Anyway, so I'm watching him carefully place this wad in his lip and I'm thinkin' 'Wow, I've never tried THAT. I want some!' So I grab the can and ceremoniously reveal that I think I want to try it. Geez! Youda thunk I'd offered up the sacrificial virgin AND a Whopper. Lemme tell ya, he knocked over his chair, his beer AND his broken carburetor as he scrambled to get on his feet. Oh, he was all over that - "Somebody grab the camcorder!" he yells, then says to me, "Here, let me help you with some" as he cranks out my lower lip and stuffs a wad the size of Rhode Island in my totally virgin kisser.

Well, words cannot describe. I never even closed my mouth. Once that crap was in and I experienced the stunningly stunning smell, taste and feel of that nasty-gram in MY face, I leaned over the table, pulled my lip back out and watched as that s*** fell out in a series of slow motion 'plops' onto a new deck of cards and a stack of WHAM CDs.

I can remember screaming "Geh ih owwwt! Geh ih owwwt!" - no, my tongue would not go near it or even down the street from it.
(can't imagine what the neighbors concluded)

Of course I didn't remember the event the next day. There was no evidence of tobacco in my teeth (because back in the day, if I drank, I got bombed, I barfed. It was my standard M.O. - sorry if your shoes ever got in my way. For this reason I ALWAYS brushed my teeth before passing out.) And with no evidence or memory of performing the highlight event of the evening, I didn't believe them when they said I'd crossed over. So you can imagine my delight when the video tape surfaced. Oh, thank GOD for that. I'm pretty sure it was one of my buddy's proudest moments (guys, I was in sequins. Visualize.) He probably still has that tape.